The Valley Flora Beetbox

Valley Flora's newsletter, sharing news from the farm, seasonal updates, and more!

CSA Newsletter: Week 17 from Valley Flora!

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Carrots
  • Eggplant - lots this week! Consider making a batch of baba ganoush! It freezes well for later.
  • Leeks 
  • Lettuce
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale

On Rotation:

  • Sweet Corn - Heads up, this is our final harvest of corn and predictably there is corn ear worm in some of the ears. Corn ear worm is the larva of the moth Helicoverpa zea. We always have them in our latest plantings of corn. Even though they are gross to behold when you peel back your corn husks (your chickens will love that big fat caterpillar!), the problem is easy to solve: whack the tip off the ear of corn, give it a rinse, and your'e good to go. You can do this! 

Happy Fall!

Quite fittingly, Fall is off to a stormy start today. You have potatoes and leeks in your basket so you can make soup and get cozy. It'll be a fleeting taste of autumn though - temps are supposed to spike back into the eighties next week. But at least until Friday you can pull out your plaid flannel, stack some wood, and watch the rain come down. Kinda like a pratice round for the next season to come. On the farm it means we might finally get the rest of our onions cleaned (we've been waiting for a rainy day) and make some more progress on the new horse shed. We've taken advantage of every possible sunny moment in the last week to get winter squash and potatoes out of the field, but those things will get put on hold while it's wet. It's turning out to be a great season for our storage crops - onions, potatoes and squash - which bodes well for the fall and winter to come. The only issue is figuring out where to put them all in the barn!

Strawberry U-Pick is Closed this Week

We are hitting pause on u-pick due to the weather. The patch will be closed this week on Wednesday 9/23 and Saturday 9/26. We'll reassess next week with the return of sunny weather to see if we can eek out a few more u-pick days before the season is over for good.

Have a lovely week, savor the rain.

The new Palacio de Caballo (Horse Palace): Not done quite in time for this week's rain, but soon enough!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 16 from Valley Flora!

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Napa Cabbage - the foundational ingredient in kimchi, but also wonderful shredded into light slaw or salad. At this time of year when we have sweet peppers and apples, I like to make a napa/apple/pepper/carrot slaw with a rice-vinegar vinaigrette.
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Onion
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets - Red, Gold and Chioggia
  • Strawberries - we are stunned by the strawberries right now. Abundant, beautiful, better than ever! Normally there wouldn't be strawberries in the Harvest Basket at this point in the season, but they just keep giving! U-pick is going to be FANTASTIC today (Wednesday)!
  • Cucumbers

On Rotation:

  • Eggplant

I can't believe it, but yes, still strawberries! We are a bit baffled by this late season run in the berry patch - we haven't seen anything like this in years! If we get our much-hoped-for rain later this week it might start to slow them down, but right now they are phenomenal. Come upick today, starting at 11 am! And if you want a special order flat, let me know and we'll see if the weather cooperates: name, pickup location, number of flats and phone number.

Peppers Peaking: Now's the time to order up a few bags of red Italian roasters or assorted colored bells. Peppers are available in 5 pound bags for $22. To order, email Bets your name, pickup location, type and quantity of peppers you want, and a phone number. 

Help Support Farmworkers and Immigrants Impacted by the Devastating Wildfires: The wildfires have affected us all, but many of us are lucky enough to still have a home to go to. That's not the case for many immigrant Oregonians who tend to be most impacted by the smoke, have lost everything and don't have a safety net to fall into. In recognition of the devastating effects that wildfires have had on immigrant Oregonians, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund Coalition is pivoting to raise and distribute funds to impacted individuals and families. You can donate to their effort through CAUSA, Oregon's immigrant rights organization.

Strength and safekeeping to everyone in the terrifying path of fire right now, and to all those coping with hazardous air quality. We give thanks for clear air overhead today, temporary as it might be. Come on rain!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 15 from Valley Flora

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Hot Peppers - Jalapeño & Serranos (1 red serrano & 1 green serrano)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

On Rotation:

  • Collard Greens
  • Lacinato Kale
  • Sweet Corn
  • Zucchin

Bulk Sweet Peppers Available by Special Order!

It's that happy time of year when the sweet peppers are coming out of the greenhouse by the bucketload! Now's the time to order up a few bags of red Italian roasters or assorted colored bells. Peppers are available in 5 pound bags for $22. To order, email Bets your name, pickup location, type and quantity of peppers you want, and a phone number. If you can manage to not eat them all raw, you can preserve peppers in a myriad of ways, listed here from easiest to most advanced:

  • Chop and freeze. No blanching necessary. Just cut 'em up and throw 'em in a freezer bag. Adds color and great flavor to soups, stir-fries and other dishes come winter.
  • Roast, peel and freeze. A great addition to soups, quiches, pasta, pizza, sandwiches and more all winter. Here's a quick tutorial on three different ways to roast peppers: https://toriavey.com/how-to/roasted-bell-peppers/
  • Roast, peel and pickle: https://www.freshpreserving.com/blog/pickled-roasted-peppers
    • I make pickled roasted peppers every year but use a brine recipe that doesn't call for much sugar or other spices: For 3.5 pounds of peppers (roated, peeled, cored and seeded), mix 1.75 cups white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar, 1Tbs sugar, 2 Tbs pickling salt, 1 garlic clove chopped. Simmer all together for 10 minutes before pouring over packed peppers in sterilized canning jars. Leave 1/2" headspace, close jars with hot canning lids and rings, and process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

It feels awkward to be talking about fire-roasted peppers on this apocalyptic day, when I woke up to the heavy news of so many Oregon, Washington and California towns and forests burned to the ground. Never has fire threat - and climate change - felt so close to home. Temperatures reached over 100 degrees on the farm yesterday, and we were cloaked in low heavy smoke. There was a fire scare up Floras Creek yesterday morning, attended by a bunch of Coos Forest Patrol trucks zooming up the road first thing. Fortunately it was a false alarm. But numerous friends had to evacuate their homes, from the North Bank of the Coquille to the Santiam to Ashland. Our hearts are big and broken thinking about the devastation that is sweeping through our state, and for our neighbors north and south of our state borders.

Yesterday as we labored through harvest under the suffocating skies, I felt a level of disappointment in our species like never before. This is our only planet, our only home, our only chance to be human, and yet we can't quite seem to turn the ship. We watch while the "house" burns down. What does it take for something as big as climate change to finally hit home for enough people that we reach a critical mass to change behavior, shift policy and foment change, and to do it fast? When you live here on the southcoast where the temperatures are amicable, the cool, damp fog is just off-shore, the forests are green, it's easy to think climate change is something that's happening somewhere else. It's hard to imagine our corner of the world engulfed in flames. But yesterday I could imagine it, and east of Bandon some of it was. 

Food and agriculture are major drivers of climate change and I applaud all of you for making the choice to eat locally and to eat lots of veggies (that are grown mostly with solar power, thanks to the 12 kW PV system on the roof of our barn). Twenty years ago my concern about the environment and climate change was one of the motivating factors that led me into organic, regenerative farming: I wanted to do something that was positive for the planet and good for my community. It's great that something delicious can make a difference, but at this point it's going to take more than a local salad to double down on atmospheric carbon. Yes, pile your plates high with plants grown close to home and start your car as little as possible, but also elect leaders who take the climate crisis seriously. And most importantly, hold on to stubborn, purposeful optimism. Because we won't turn the ship unless we believe we can, and will.

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 14 from Valley Flora!

Please note this is NOT our farmstand availability email. This is our weekly CSA newlsetter primarily intended for our subscribed Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly box of produce from the farm from June through December. You cannot order farmstand produce from this email or directly from our website. Rather, farmstand availability emails are sent out on Thursday and Monday mornings to folks who have signed up for Wednesday or Saturday pickup, respectively. To learn more or sign up for a farmstand pickup day, click here.

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Red Onion
  • Sweet Peppers - all the peppers in your share are sweet Italian types this week; no hot peppers....:)
  • Red Potatoes - the first dig of the season. I have a love-hate relationship with potatoes. I love growing them (it's something we do almost entirely with horses, from planting, to cultivating, to harvest, so therefore I wish we could grow 20 acres of potatoes!). But I hate all the sorting. When you grow potatoes, especially organically, there are a LOT of impefect ones - cracks, holes, scurf, funny knobs, insect damage, greening here and there. So many ugly little tubers that are pefectly fine on the inside but don't meet my produce beauty standards on the outside. I realize that I am perpetuating the supermodel myth of beauty, and that we all know it's what's on the inside that counts, but it's hard to liberate myself from my own vegetable pageant standards. It means we dump bin-fulls of the ugliest spuds, we donate a lot to the foodbank, and finally we try to skim the cream for you. That said, even some of the not-so-pretty ones get by us in the hustle of wash and pack. If that's the case with some of your potatoes this week, I am going to try to not apologize right now and instead encourage you to get out your veg peeler. If any of your spuds have a green spot, it's safe to cut or peel away that spot and still eat the potato. You wouldn't want to eat 5 lbs of greened potatoes in a sitting, but if you're cutting off a spot here and there you'll be fine (greening indicates the presence of solanine, a natural but toxic compound that develops in potatoes when exposed to the sun). You'll see potatoes in your share every few weeks now for the rest of the season. Which, by the way, is halfway over! This is week 14 of 28!
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Parsley

On Rotation:

  • Melon - We surprised our Bandon and Port Orford members last Saturday with a melon (and in fact, stumped one member who emailed me to say: "There's something in my share I don't recognize...it's round, dense, tan, and looks like a melon..."). Her hunch was right, this is "Sarah's Choice," a delicious cantaloupe-type melon that Abby grows for us. Supremely sweet and aromatic, we look forward to these all year!
  • Corn
  • Lettuce

Strawberries Still Peaking!

I can't believe I get to say this, but the strawberries are still pumping! What an amazing, quasi-miraculous late season we're having. Usually by now they're slowing down and We the Farmers are glad for it. But yesterday's harvest might just have been the best of the year. When the fruit is that beautiful and abundant it's hard to resent all the crawling on your knees ("oh please sir, can't I pick another row?). That being the case, I'm putting out the call (probably the last time) for special order flats. If you want some, give a holler via email with your name, pickup location, number of flats you want, and your phone number. Flats are $45 apiece delivered to your pickup site.

OR, come u-pick! The u-pick crowd has thinned out because no one thinks of September as strawberry season, but here at Valley Flora it's better than ever! Wednesdays and Saturdays from 11am to 2:30pm.

 

Pickling Cukes on the Horizon

Our late planting of pickling cukes has just begun to produce. I dont know what kind of yield to expect, but if you're interested in pickling, email me your name, pickup location, quantity (in 10# increments), and your phone number. If we have plenty we'll be offering 10 pound bulk bags for $30. They are a small, European-style gherkin, great for pickles or fresh eating.

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 13 from Valley Flora!

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Serrano & Jalapeño Peppers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Corn

On Rotation:

  • Green Beans
  • Head Lettuce

All of this bounty at our fingertips all day long, and then there's this....

The Dirty Secrets of Organic Farmers (a new segment in your weekly CSA newsletter!)

Last week, my mom was deep into her 12th hour of a 14 hour workday, buried in tomatoes, her brain on the fritz from not eating all day, and she dug this gourmet gem of a lunch out of the freezer (left by a houseguest at least a year prior, nicely freezer-burned around the edges...). I walked into the barn at 7 pm for the final stretch of packout and had to take the picture.

Whatever you might imagine about organic farmers sitting around a big lunch table leisurely eating beautiful family-style meals bursting with seasonal produce, yeah, you can pretty much scrub that from your mental imagery. It's leftovers from the night before when you're lucky enough to have cooked plenty of extra quinoa, or it's quick quesadillas and some salad, or in this case, when things get really dark, it's freezer-burned pre-fab pizza that not even the dogs will try to steal off the table. 

We have often mused about the irony that attends this time of year, when we're buried in beautiful produce but don't have any time to cook with it (much less eat it): wouldn't it be great if some chef or inspired cook wanted to take a sabbatical, come camp out at the farm for a summer and make the crew a meal once a day with whatever was ripe in the field? Or in the very least, if we could just get a taco truck to pull up to the barn around 2 pm each day.....Meals on Wheels for farmers!

Ah well, in the meantime, we'll get by with the sweet pepper eaten at a trot in the farmroad while hustling to get the cilantro harvested before the heat of the day presses in. That, and of course, quesadillas.

Split Screen - What our CSA members are doing with their produce:

Bravo!!!!!!

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 12 from Valley Flora!

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Red Cabbage
  • Sweet Corn!!!!! - Corn season kicks off this week! We have five successive plantings in the field, so expect to see sweet corn in your share pretty often for the next month+! I don't think you'll have too much trouble eating this much corn fresh in a week (or a day) - steamed, grilled, raw! - but if it's too much for you I suggest freezing it. You can either cut it off the cob and freeze it raw, or blanch it for a minute in boiling water and then cut if off and freeze it. I like to spread the cut corn out on cookie sheets and freeze it, then put it into freezer bags (so it's not a solid frozen block when you go to use it in the winter). 
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro

On Rotation:

  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Lettuce - Not everyone will get a head of lettuce this week. As the days shorten dramatically in August, our lettuce slows down and we usually have to hit pause for a week or two in order for our successive plantings to catch up. Once it resumes we should have weekly lettuce for you again well into November.

 

Onion Harvest!

This week we completed the harvest of our 2020 onion crop, a process that involves pulling them out of the ground, loading them into the trailer, hauling them to the greenhouse, and finally laying them out on our propagation tables to dry and cure. It was a beautiful year for onions! They got a great start this spring thanks to weekly rainfall in May and early June and ideal growing temps. Every square inch of greenhouse space that isn't dedicated to seedlings and starts is covered in onions now. Once the onion tops are crispy-dry, we'll start cleaning them: snipping off the tops and roots, sorting them by size into bins, and stowing them in our dry storage room. It's the first crop that begins to fill our fall/winter treasure chest of storage crops: onions, winter squash, potatoes. Look for some new varieties of onions in your Havest Basket soon: Cipollinis, yellow onions and red onions coming your way!

Have a great week! Thanks for eating VF produce!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 11 from Valley Flora!

In This Week's Harvest Basket:

  • Romano Green Beans - flat and wide and tender and deeeeeeelicious! Give them a light steam or sautee for maximal enjoyment (don't overcook!).
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli - monster heads!!!! And probably the last of the summer harvest, so enjoy. Until fall, Señor Broccoli! (Although this week's heads are so big you might still be gnawing away at yours come September...)

On Rotation:

  • Eggpant

Pickling Cucumber Update, Plus Beans, Plus Strawberries...

I've been getting lots of inquiries about pickling cukes this summer. We had a banner year in 2019, so it goes without saying that we would have a complete crop failure this summer. There are none to offer at the moment, HOWEVER, we replanted and with slightly better luck should have an abundance starting in September. I know that's probably later than many of you usually make pickles but if you're willing to wait we should have lots in about a month. That gives you plenty of time to round up your dill seed and pickling salt and crocks and canning jars. 

Green Beans are pumping and are available by special order in 10# bags at our wholesale price of $50. 'Tis the time for dilly beans, canned beans, frozen beans, or just eating a heap of beans. To order, email us your name, pickup location, the number of 10# bags you want and a phone number.

Strawberries are so lovely and abundant right now it's hard to stop picking on Tuesday and Friday! We're almost caught up with our special order list, so if you'd like to order some by the flat we can probably take care of you this month. Flats are $45 each. Email us your name, pickup location, the number of flats you'd like and a phone number.

A reminder to everyone to check labels carefully on special orders and on salad shares before you take them home. There have been some mix-ups in the past few weeks that could have been easily prevented by taking a few seconds to double check labels. Thanks for your help!

Enjoy the August abundance!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 10 from Valley Flora!

Week 10!

  • Onions
  • Fennel - at last! Our first planting intended for the CSA baskets in June succumbed to some weird foliar disease, so the fennel has been a long time coming this season. I'm a huge fan of fennel - which I know not to be true of every human on the planet - but it's one of my top ten favorite veggies. It has a mild anise flavor, wonderful cooked down or sliced thinly and eaten raw. The fat, juicy bulb is the main part of the plant we eat, but you can also use the ferny tops as an herb. This week you have all the farm ingredients you need to make finocchioa wonderful summer dish built around fennel, tomatoes, onions and basil. It stands alone, or you can eat it atop pasta, fish, polenta and more. We have a pretty broad collection of fennel recipes on our website if you want to branch out further.
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli/Broccolini
  • Eggplant - Just starting to yield in the field! 
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Green Beans

Beautiful Flowers and Handsome Roosters!

Zinnias, dahlias, statice, strawflowers, sunflowers, black-eyed susans and more! The flowers are in full bloom on the farm and open for u-pick on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting at 11 am while the strawberry u-pick is open. If you come to u-pick, you might even get to enjoy the company of our oh-so-social resident farm rooster, Robinson (aka Ricky Bobby). He's really more like a dog than a chicken: he follows at your heels, comes when called and likes to share your lunch. He showed up out of the blue at the farm in June and has stuck around, making himself comfy in our equipment shed. I hate to admit just how fond I've become of a rooster, but really, what's not to love about a chicken that likes to ride in the car, socialize over lunch, and look handsome in the moments in between...

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 9 from Valley Flora!

Please note to all our customers who are receiving this newsletter: this is NOT the list of available farmstand produce for the week. This weekly BeetBox newsletter is primarily aimed at our CSA Harvest Basket members who receive a weekly pre-paid tote of produce for our 28-week CSA season. There has been some confusion among folks who are trying to order farmstand produce from this email. Our weekly farmstand availability emails get sent out separately to everyone who has signed up for a farmstand drive-thru pickup day on our website. All that info - in case you want to source farmstand produce - is here. Thank you!

In the Harvest Basket this Week:

  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Carrots - Your carrots will likely be coming loose by the pound from now on. At a certain point in the season bunching gets slow and difficult because the carrot tops get weak. We dig fresh poundage for you every week and leave the tops in the field to feed the soil microbiota.
  • Cucumbers
  • Italian Parsley
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Long of Tropea Torpedo Onions - a specialty onion from Italy that doesn't cure or store well, but is wonderful fresh! If you had a handful more of them you could set them up as bowling pins....:)
  • Strawberries - they're back!
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes - It's on in the tomatoes! Bets, mi madre, is the tomato farmer (she also grows your zukes, cukes, parsley, basil and peppers) and she is now officially neck deep in her busiest, heaviest season. By the way, a sidenote about my mom: she is a badass! She's in the second half of her seventh decade of life and she's still farming full bore, lugging heavy buckets of stunner produce out of the field all week. Thanks, Ma, for adding some bling to the CSA share this week!

On Rotation:

  • Cauliflower
  • Heirloom Tomatoes

Strawberry Update: Best Week Yet!

It's shaping up to be our best week of strawberries so far this season, with lots more on the way in the coming weeks. We're seeing an incredible flush of flowers and new fruit, which bodes well for abundant u-pick in August. We opened up more beds on the u-pick side of the patch this week, and anticipate being able to give even more over to u-pick soon. I wholeheartedly recommend making time to fill your freezer in the next few weeks while the picking is at its peak! The patch opens at 11 am, Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you're coming a long distance with high hopes of bringing home a big haul of berries, aim to arrive when we open.

 

The horses have been throwing their weight around in the field every week, doing their part to keep our crops well-cultivated and weed-free. We worked Jack single this week to get into some tight crops that are just about to close in - Brussels sprouts pictured here, as well as asparagus, artichokes, leeks, kale, chard, and more. Jack is a Belgian/Morgan crossbred, and hands-down the best horse I've ever had. He works beautifully in harness and is also just as willing to saddle up and hit the trail. He's a handsome devil, all heart, with a sense of humor to boot.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 8 CSA Newsletter!

In the Harvest Basket this Week:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli or Broccolini

On Rotation:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower

Flower U-Pick Opens this Week!

The flowers are coming into full bloom on the farm: dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias, statice, strawflowers and more! The public is welcome to u-pick on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the same hours we're open for strawberry u-pick (11 am until 3 pm, or until the strawberry patch is picked out). We have clippers available, but encourage you to bring your own buckets to keep your flowers fresh on the trip home. Check in with Sarah at the strawberry u-pick for clippers and to get directions to the flower patch.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 7 CSA from Valley Flora!

In the Harvest Basket this Week:

  • Dazzling Blue Lacinato Kale
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onions - big, juicy and sweet!
  • Zucchini
  • Kohlrabi - the last of it until late fall...
  • Cilantro
  • English Cucumbers

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower - purple or neon green

Strawberries on Pause this Week

Qué lástima (what a pity), our strawberries are having a minor hiccup right now. We're in the midst of an episode of Type III bronzing in some of our Seascapes: some of the fruit is rough, leathery and seedy, which renders it unmarketable. Type III bronzing is thought to occur after fruit exposure to environmental stress in the form of high heat (over 85 degrees), extreme solar radiation, and low humidity. We're seeing it in our youngest plants primarily, where the leafy canopy is not fully developed yet. It happens every year to some extent, but is particularly bad this week. I'm guessing the culprit was the week of hot weather we had in mid-June. It takes strawberries 4 to 6 weeks to transform from blossom to fruit, so the fruit that was just forming in mid-June is maturing into ugly seedy berries right now. Bummer. It means no strawberries in the share this week, but fingers crossed for a return to beautiful harvests in the coming weeks.

There isn't a lot of research on bronzing, and actually some controversy over whether it is caused by environmental factors or a pest called thrips. I have a call and an email in to the UC organic strawberry expert in Santa Cruz in hopes of shedding some more light on the issue. We did make an interesting observation yesterday during harvest, which was that the June-bearers, which have a huge leafy, protective canopy, show no sign of bronzing, and our most mature Seascapes have very little bronzing. However, the side of the strawberry patch that was planted latest last fall has the worst of it. It suggests that the timing of planting in the fall could make all the difference. We typically start planting our new strawberry crowns in November and finish up by mid-December. If getting them in the ground in November can prevent bronzing episodes the following summer, it argues for dedicating more labor to planting strawberries as early as possible in November. 

The good news is that the strawberry u-pick, which includes our June-bearing varieties and our most mature Seascapes, is mostly unscathed. So if you're desperate for some berries this week, venture out and experience strawberry harvest first-hand. The beds are somewhat limited right now, so plan to get there at 11 am if you have your heart set on filling a bunch of buckets.

Here's a quote I have always appreciated, as someone who has crawled countless miles picking strawberries in this lifetime:

Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones bruise at even too heavy a human touch. It hit her then that every strawberry she had ever eaten - every piece of fruit - had been picked by calloused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represented someone's knees, someone's aching back and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat. Why had no one told her about this before.  -- Alison Luterman, What We Came For

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 6 CSA from Valley Flora!

In the CSA Harvest Basket this Week!

  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Purplette Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Hakurei Turnips

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Mini Cucumbers

Want More Food?!

If you're getting through your Harvest Basket each week and still wanting for more, remember there are a couple ways to source more produce directly from the farm:

  1. Strawberry U-Pick! Open every Wednesday and Saturday starting at 11 am at the farm. The berries are sweet and red now that our summer weather has arrived. Keep in mind we have some new u-pick systems in place this season due to COVID-19, so be sure to read up about the u-pick before you come.
  2. The Farmstand Drive-ThruDue to COVID, this spring we pivoted to a new pre-order, online farmstand system with drive-thru pick-up at our barn. We're using a customer-friendly online platform called Cropolis designed for small farms selling to local markets. There is no open-air, drop-in shopping this season. Instead you sign up for a farmstand drive-thru day - Wednesday and/or Saturday - on our website. Once you do that, you'll automatically start receiving our weekly farmstand availability emails and be able to place an order for drive-thru pickup. In addition to our produce, hot sauce and jam, you can also purchase Aguirre Farms local organic eggs, Farmstead Bread and Langlois Creamery sheep milk through our new system.

And, if it's too far for you to come to the farm, you can also find our produce at the Port Orford Community Co-op, the Langlois Market, Mother's Natural Grocery and Coos Head Food Co-op each week.

Thanks for eating locally!

Newsletter: 

Week 5 from Valley Flora!

In your Harvest Basket this week:

  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mini cukes
  • Beets - some members will get sweet red beets, others will get Chioggia beets (pink skin with a pink and white bulls-eye interior)

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Zucchini
  • Arugula
  • Mizuna - mizuna is a mild, light green, serrated Asian green - wonderful as a salad or alongside a slab of fish

A few quick notes about storing your produce and keeping it perky for as long as possible:

  1. Any leafy vegetable, like lettuce, herbs, bunch greens and baby greens, do best in the fridge in a sealed up plastic bag. They like it between 34 and 40 degrees with high humidity. Broccoli, broccolini and cauliflower are the same way. Best used in the first week.
  2. Root veggies like carrots and beets, and dense veggies like kohlrabi, store the longest if you take the tops off and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. They'll keep for months without tops, but won't taste as good 3 weeks from now as they do today. 
  3. Zucchini and cukes prefer life at around 50 degrees with some humidity, but who has their fridge set to 50?! Nobody, I hope! They'll go soft on the counter, so your best bet is to put them in the fridge in a plastic bag but use them within the week before they get slimy.
  4. Strawberries will last on your counter for a day or two, and will continue ripening as they sit there. However, you can get a lot more life out of them if you keep them in a tupperware in your fridge. Not that anyone is actually making it home with a full pint of strawberries....If you are, you probably don't have kids in the backseat :)

Farm Updates

  • NEW laminated checksheets are going out to all pickup locations this week! Please mark yourself off each week with the dry erase pen!
  • BULK BASIL by SPECIAL ORDER! Primo tops, no stem, $18/pound. Pesto-lovers rejoice! To order, email Bets your:
    • Name
    • Pickup location
    • How many pounds you want
    • Daytime phone number

Farming Improv

I have one regret about college and it's that I didn't take an improv class. At the time I had my schedule packed with other classes: fiction writing workshops, sustainable development in Latin America, ecological forest management, biology, econ, statistics...

The thing I've heard over and over from friends who did enroll in improv is that it was the most valuable class they took. My friend the labor organizer, my friend the OSU farm advisor, they swear that improv has served them in life more than any other course. Darn, I guess I really blew it in undergrad.

But good news, my Stanford alumni magazine came in the mail last month and had a whole spread about the "8 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Improv: How to apply just-go-with-it wisdom to your career, realtionships and well-being." The funny thing is, some of the guiding principles of improv have been guiding the management of the farm without me realizing they had anything to do with improv. Even better news: I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the college credits!

  1. Pay Attention: Yup, keen observation is by far the most important skill for keeping a highly diversified farm like ours humming, and for averting occasional disaster. Everyday I'm paying attention to every detail, with eyes, ears and nose cocked to all the sensory information the farm is throwing at us - why is that row of cauliflower an imperceptibly lighter shade of green - is there fertility stress? Why is the pump cycling so often - do we have a leak somewhere in the mainline? How big are the newly budding broccoli crowns and what's the weather forecast and should we pick them today or will they hold until Friday?
  2. Don't Go it Alone: It's all about working together - one giant spontaneous choreography each day to get all the work done between dawn and dusk on the farm. We're all leaning on each other to pull off a successful season, and the energy of every single person on our crew is essential.
  3. Trust that the Scene Will Evolve: Things are in constant flux on the farm, so extremely seasonal is our model of production. It helps to remember that one setback - like symphylans in the spring Brassicas - will give way to some other success, like beautiful June carrots. We are never stuck in one failure for too long, the failures teach us how to be better farmers, and in the end the diversity of the farm carries us through. 
  4. Stay Positive: It's easy to think it's the end of the world, but it never is. The glass-half-full mindset is the place where we proactively solve problems on the farm. The pressure tank exploded? OK, I guess that means it's time to replace it, build a better pumphouse, and plumb the system smarter than we did the first time.
  5. Accept the Offer: Saying "yes" to whatever is going on at the farm lubricates the wheels of creative innovation. COVID-19 means we can't run our farmstand? OK, Coronavirus, we'll turn it into a drive-thru!
  6. The Journey is the Thing: "what makes improvisers so good at creating something out of nothing isn't as much about what they do as it is about how they do it..." We farm because we love this place, we love working together as a family, we love to eat well, and we believe in organic, regenerative agriculture and it's ability to transform communities - from the living community in our gut microbiome all the way up to how humanity interacts with this planet. Yeah, it's about growing carrots, but it's also about a whole lot more.

My advice to you this week: say yes to beets! Accept the offer (even if you are sure you don't like beets), stay positive (they really might taste good!), don't go it alone (share them with friends), trust that the scene will evolve (i.e. you won't get beets next week!), and know that the journey is the thing (you tried them and confirmed for yourself that you really still do not like beets so you decided to carve them into stamps for your kids and you made really cool vegetable art).

A+!!!

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 4 from Valley Flora!

Happy official summer! It arrived with a bang this week, with temps in the mid-eighties at the farm the past couple of days - dreamy weather for all the eggplant and squash and corn and beans and tomatoes and melons; a little less dreamy for all the sweaty farmers. Grateful to have legs that can march me down to the creek and throw me into the drink late-afternoon!

In your share this week:

  • Red Ursa Kale - at last! Our new plantings of kale and chard are hitting full stride now, which means we can finally leave the bitter taste of spring symphylans crop failure behind us. Red Ursa is an heirloom variety that I love for it's beautiful colors and tender leaves, and it's a great variety to use for kale chips. One of our farmstand customers is a kale chip fiend and she shared her recipe, below, with me. If you don't have a food dehydrator, you can also make kale chips in your oven on low heat: https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-kale-chips/
  • Bunch Carrots
  • Mini Cucumbers - a little sampler of our favorite early mini-cuke. Not enough to make a dish, but enough to get you excited about cucumber season to come!
  • Abby's Spinach
  • Basil
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Fava Beans - the big, fat green pods in your tote are fresh favas. This is one of the not-so-common things we grow for you and the season is fleeting. You'll likely only see favas this week and maybe next week. They're a delightful fresh bean but they take a little effort to prepare, which is why I consider them a "weekend" food - one of those things that I'll cook when I have the luxury of a little more time. Ideally it's also one of those things you dig into with a bunch of friends - sit around and shell favas and talk story - but that might not be in the cards this COVID season. So....maybe shell favas while visiting friends on Zoom...? That's how I got 40 pounds of artichoke hearts preserved earlier this spring, in the Zoom company of college buddies around the country. If you're new to favas here's how to prepare them: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-prepare-fava-beans-gallery

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Snap Peas

 

Cory's Kale Chips

2 bunches kale

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup tahini 
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or 3/4 if you're a salt fiend like me)

Remove all main stalks from the kale and cut leaves into large pieces. Wash and dry the pieces in a salad spinner so they're fully dry. Make sure they're fully dry.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together.

If you don't have a mixing bowl big enough for all the kale pieces, use a stock pot to toss them with the dressing until all the pieces are evenly coated. This process takes several minutes, using both hands.

Lay out the coated leaves on the food dehydrator trays and set to 135 degrees. For really crispy kale chips, eave them in for 18-24 hours, but best to check on them after 8 hours and play it by ear from there. 

 

The 2020 Valley Flora Crew!

It's high time you met the team that's growing, packing and delivering your food this season! Pictured left to right:

Sarah Snow and Allen Williams joined us this season after 7 years farming in Idaho and Hawaii. Sarah has the hardest job on the farm: keeping track of all four of our kids during the week, along with helping with harvest and running the U-Pick. Allen is a core part of of our harvest and field crew and is in charge of Saturday deliveries. He is also regularly called upon to reach for anything stored up in the stratosphere. We feel so lucky to have these two in our midst!

Bets, Cleo, Zoë, Abby, Jules, Pippin, Uma & Roberto in a not-so-social-distanced clump in the middle. Yes, that's Cleo stuffing her face with homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. The kids got really into baking during "homeschool" this past spring, which is paying sweet dividends on Fridays now - they've been baking Friday treat for the whole crew. In this picture, taken last Friday, we were celebrating Roberto's birthday! Roberto has been part of Valley Flora since 2010, and what beautiful decade it's been! Roberto has thrown himself into the farm heart and soul and helped make Valley Flora what it is today. 

Jen Faraci on the far right, sporting the latest Valley Flora washline fashion (you wouldn't believe how that neon orange brings out the green in her eyes!). Jen joined us this spring and wears multiple essential hats at the farm: greenhouse manager, field and harvest crew, Wednesday deliveries. She says she's wanted to work for Valley Flora for years so she could get a free VF baseball hat. Mission accomplished. Might have to get some new merch made so we can bribe her to stay forever.

Not pictured is Donna Smith, who is running the farmstand drive-thru this season. Hats off to Donna for taking on a brand new, logistically complicated system and making it run smoothly - with a smile! A round of applause!

This little farm wouldn't chug along without this team working together. And speaking of teams, there are a two more members of the crew who pull a lot of weight around here:

Enjoy the food, have a great week!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

CSA Week 3 from Valley Flora!

In your share this week!

  • Strawberries
  • Kohlrabi - a green one and a purple one. If you're new to kohlrabi, it's the bulbous thing with the up-do of leaves. Cut the tops off and then peel the bulb with a sharp knife or good veggie peeler. It's juicy and crunchy inside, a little bit like jicama. I prefer it raw, but you can also add it to stir fries and other dishes. My five year old goes nuts for it cut up into veggie sticks. Douse it with chili and lime if you like it ala Mexicana!
  • Head lettuce
  • Bunch carrots
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Hakurei Turnips - the white roots that look like big radishes. These are a Japanese salad turnip, and pretty much the only turnip I grow because they're so dang good. Munch them like apples, or slice up on your salad. Buttery and tender. If you want an even more refined flavor, peel them.
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow onion

On Rotation:

  • Red mustards greens, bunched - lacey maroon leaves, eat raw or cooked - has a little kick!
  • Tatsoi, bunched - dark green spoon-shaped leaves, eat raw or cooked.
  • Braising mix, bagged - a mix of Abby's baby kale and mustard greens
  • Spinach, bagged - Abby's succulent baby spinach

The Color of Food

Tucked up Floras Creek it's easy to feel far removed from the headlines, from COVID hotspots and urban riots. It's easy to feel like race is not a pressing topic in our quiet, rural (mostly white) community. But this week I found myself really giving that more thought. I recently got my stimulus check in the mail and wanted to donate it to an organization doing good work on racial justice, ideally somewhere close to home. But what I realized is that there aren't any organizations that I know of to give that money to right here in Curry County. Is that because race is "not an issue," or rather is it because race has been such an issue - for so long - that we haven't even gotten to the point of addressing race constructively in our little corner of Oregon? 

I learned for the first time this year about Oregon's Exclusion Law of 1844: a law that banned Black people from living in Oregon. Another black exclusion law was enacted in 1849 that made it illegal for Blacks to to enter or reside in Oregon territory. It meant that when Oregon became a state in 1859 it was the ony state in the Union with a black exclusion law on the books, which was expanded to prohibit Black people from owning property and making contracts. These laws remained in place until 1926. Even though the same racist sentiment pervaded all of the U.S., Oregon was the only place bold enough to write it down. That wasn't part of my Oregon history class in high school.

My mom has an old letter written by a Civil War veteran who moved here in 1885, Samuel T. Malehorn. He settled on Floras Creek and started a fruit farm and nursery on the land where Valley Flora now sits. In 1896 he sent a letter to a friend and fellow war vet, encouraging him to move to the area:

"It is all timber, light and heavy, rolling land, well watered, productive, all of it adaptive to good fruit. I am 4 miles from the beach, which is about right, 15 miles north of Port Orford. There are still good choices for homesteaders near me...Deeded lands can be bought from $5 to $40 per acre now. 40 acres is enough for a family to live on. You can build your houses with one cedar tree by hand. Fish and game everywhere. There is no poisonous reptiles or insects, you can lay out under a tree anywhere safely. It is blessed and glorious country, the best in the U.S."

I've always loved that letter - such an affirmation of this place where we live and farm - but this week I realized another significance of that letter. Samuel Malehorn was a white man, inviting a fellow white comrade of the 29th Regiment to come to Oregon. He could live here - and so could his white friend - because they were white. They had access to cheap homesteads - and therefore land and the means of production - where Black people didn't. Oregon's historic racist exclusion laws set us on a course that put property ownership - and power - into the hands of white folks only. 

This history is no doubt part of the reason that your farmers here at Valley Flora are white, not black - why my family "owns" this land, not a Native American family or an African American family or a Chinese family or Latino family. We are standing on and supported by the very big, broad shoulders of institutionalized, systemic racism.

That's uncomfortable. And it's high time to be uncomfortable, since most of us probably don't have a clue what it's like to be really uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable, as in not able to breathe because a cop is kneeling on your neck because your skin is not white.

It's hard to know what to proactively do with this heavy realization, especially in June when most of my bandwidth is occupied with beating back the weeds, harvesting peas, and planting seeds left and right. But this morning I did something that felt really good. At the recommendation of a friend who has worked on racial justice issues for decades, I donated my $1200 stimulus check to the Movement for Black Lives Fund, a coalition that's made up of over 150 organizations that are working to coordinate actions, messages and campaigns for the Black Lives Matter Movement nationwide, and to funnel resources to frontline organizing efforts where they're needed most: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/movement-4-black-lives-1

Martin Luther Kind, Jr. said, "Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." It's time to see what's behind the shadow.

Newsletter: 

Strawberry U-Pick Closed this Week Due to Rain (Sept 23 & Sept 26)

We are hitting pause on the strawberry u-pick due to the rain this week. We may be able to reopen for the last bit of September/early October if the sun returns in earnest to ripen up some Fall berries. Stay tuned for updates here on our website and on Instagram/Facebook. Happy Fall!

The strawberries keep surprising us. We've had our best harvest of the year in the past couple of weeks, go figure in mid-September! We've opened up lots of beds for u-pick and the fruit is big, sweet and deep red. Now's the time to fill the freezer and make jam!

The U-pick is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 11 am until 2:30 pm, or until the patch is picked out. If the berries get picked out before 2:30 pm, we will close early. Apologies that we can't promise an exact range of open picking hours. If you are traveling a distance to the farm and you are hoping to do a big pick, we recommend getting to the farm at 11 to guarantee there will be enough berries to justify your trip. 

Inside Tip: We usually have more beds open for u-pick on Wednesdays than on Saturdays. That's because the berries have one more day to ripen over the weekend so there is more fruit to go around on Wednesday.

Remember that our strawberry season goes ALL SUMMER LONG, into September! We mainly grow a day-neutral variety called Seascape that yields from May until the fall rains arrive in earnest. It's a long, lovely season so there is ample time to fill your freezer and your belly!

Keep in mind that we will be implementing some new policies to keep everyone safe in the strawberry patch this season in the context of COVID-19:

  • Face masks will be required for all u-pickers, including children over the age of 2. We will have handsewn facemasks available for purchase at the u-pick if you do not have your own.
  • The u-pick stand will be set up in our field opposite the original farmstand this season with a dedicated person staffing it. Please park nose-in in the designated parking area on the left just after you cross the bridge over Floras Creek.
  • Everyone will be required to wash their hands before entering the strawberry patch and before checking out. We have handwashing facilities for your use in the field.
  • We will be limiting the number of people in the field at any one time to one group per row, so you may experience some wait time when you arrive until a row opens up - kind of like waiting for a bowling lane :). If the patch is full when you arrive, please give Sarah, our u-pick manager, your name so she can put you on the waiting list. She will call your name when a row opens up. 
  • We're requiring all pickers to use our lined buckets for harvest; no outside containers for harvest please. Once your berries are weighed and paid for we can transfer them into your own containers to carry home.

Strawberries are $3/pound.

We accept cash, check and Farm Direct Nutrition Program coupons only; we cannot process credit cards or Oregon Trail cards in the field due to our rural, offline location.

Please leave no trace: take all garbage and personal items home with you.

No pets allowed.

Thanks for respecting these guidelines, and happy picking!

Newsletter: 

CSA Week 2 from Valley Flora - June 10th!

Good morning all!

I meant to take a photo of this week's produce during packout yesterday, but was buried in strawberry sorting until late evening! Take a pic when you unpack your veggies in your kitchen this week and email it to me!

This week in your Harvest Basket!

  • Bunch Carrots - I've been especially excited to have carrots for you in June. It's been a farmer goal of mine for many years to have a year-round supply of fresh carrots on the farm, without a lapse in any month. This is the year I finally pulled it off and I'm been pretty tickled. To do it takes a combination of planting the right winter varieties, having a spring crop in the greenhouses, and getting an early February seeding established for outdoor May/June production. The weather cooperated, the seeds all germinated, and we've had sweet, freshly-dug carrots all year. Whether we'll ever be able to pull it off again is up to the weather gods...
  • Purple Radishes
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Tokyo Bekana Pac Choi - the lime green ruffly head with white ribs, great in stiry fry.
  • Artichokes - there's a story behind them, read up below!
  • Sunflower Shoots - my favorite micro shoots: tender, nutty, great on salads or atop a main course. I also put them in my smoothies.
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Fresh Red Onions - an overwintered variety called Desert Sunrise. This was an experimental planting that did pretty well - our first real success with overwintering onions, after a few years of trying different varieties and watching them all bolt in the spring :(. These were seeded last September and planted in October, tended for 8 months in the field, and finally harvested this week. Labor of love, and probably not at all profitable(!) but great to have big onions so early!

The Story Behind the Valley Flora Artichoke

In the early 70s my parents landed in Bandon, a little bit by accident, and the place got ahold of them. They stuck around, they made friends, they owned a little restaurant on Beach Loop for awhile, they fell in love with the southcoast. Eventually they traded the restaurant for the farm and settled in on Floras Creek, Abby and I were born, the years unfolded. Early on my mom, Bets, got some artichoke plant divisions from a friend who lived on Short Street in Bandon, near the old Coast Guard building on the waterfront. She heeled the plants into her garden where they thrived and fed us many an artichoke every spring throughout my entire childhood.

When I fledged and eventually landed in Portland with my own place, she gave me some divisions for my garden. They took off and yielded there until 2008 when I packed up my life and moved back to Langlois to start up Valley Flora with my mom and sister. One of the things I stuffed into the 26' U-Haul, next to my wheelbarrow and houseplants and blender, was a bucket full of artichoke divisions that I unearthed from the garden at the last minute.

Home on the farm, I opened up new ground for an artichoke patch in the field and planted one of the five rows with the plants I'd brought down from Portland. The other four rows got planted with Green Globe plants I'd started from seed. Within the first year it was obvious that our family chokes eclipsed the Green Globes in every way: hardiness, productivity, flavor, beauty, and best of all, they barely have a hairy choke inside. In fact we always tell folks that you can eat the small chokes "bottom up" once you get a few layers of outer leaves out of the way (with a little help of some melted lemon butter or aioli). It wasn't too long before I had torn out all the Green Globes, divided the mother row of chokes once more, and replanted them to fill out the rest of the patch. We've been harvesting and selling chokes from these five rows for the past decade and they've garnered a little local notoriety. B&B Farm Suppy orders artichoke plants from us to sell to their eager gardening customers every spring, and the artichokes themselves have a loyal following.

Fast forward to 2020 and I recently found myself telling this story to someone who had eaten our artichokes for the first time and was inspired to write to me about it. She had lived most of her life in Monterey, CA, near the artichoke capitol of the world, and had struggled to find a decent artichoke ever since she moved away - until this spring when she tucked into a VF choke that she bought at our farmstand. "Yours are da bomb!" she wrote. "...incredible!" 

I told her the story of these chokes, and while doing so it dawned on me that it's been almost 50 years since those artichokes ended up in my mom's garden. They've now fed three generations of our family - and lots of our beloved customers as well - which makes them a bonafide heirloom at this point. We still have no idea what variety they really are, which only makes the story better. This year we gave them a new lease on life and transplanted divisions into a whole new corner of the field with more space. Five rows has turned into nine, and because they're young first-year plants they're yielding a little later in the spring than usual. Normally the season is over by now - peaking in April - but we're getting a small June flush in the new field that we're glad to share with you this week.

If you've never cooked an artichoke before, the easiest way is to steam them (stovetop or pressure cooker) until tender-soft (25-25 minutes stovetop, longer for big chokes, and around 8 minutes in the pressure cooker) and the outer leaves pluck out easily. Then melt some butter or whip up an aioli (we like a little mayo with lots of lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh thyme) and dip away! I don't bother trimming the spines off the leaves: too much work, and you can navigate the spines easily enough if you're careful.

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cook_and_eat_an_artichoke/

For the more adventurous, there are lots of other things you can do with artichokes: artichoke dip, roasted artichokes, braised artichokes, and more. Have fun. Oh, and a quick sidenote: artichokes do NOT pair well with the tannins in red wine, so if you want to have a glass while you enjoy your chokes, stick to white or rosé. :)

Have a great week!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Our CSA Season Kicks Off this Week!

Hello CSA Members!

Your first CSA delivery is coming to your pickup site this week!

Whether you're getting a Harvest Basket, a Salad Share, or both, thanks for jumping on board with us for the 2020 season! To our new members, an extra special welcome!

I'm Zoë, the one you'll hear from each week via this farm newsletter/blog, which will normally go out on Wednesday mornings. I send it out preemptively - on Monday - the first week of the season, to ensure that everyone is awake and knows that their VF veggies are coming for the first time, either this Wednesday or this Saturday, depending on your pickup location

This newsletter will also always be accessible (and look prettier) from our website. Like any email, you have the choice to opt out and unsubscribe, but PLEASE DON'T! This is the main way we'll communicate with you this season and keep you updated about delivery schedules, pickup reminders, what's in your share and other important info throughout the season!

If you haven't already read up on all of the very important info about your pickup site, please do it now! Our pickup sites are unstaffed, so we rely on all of you (and anyone who might pick up for you - spouses, friends, family) to learn the drill and do your part to make the system work. I beseach you (and will continue to beseach you) to READ all the signage at your site and know the pickup protocol posted on our website. Thanks!

And now for the fun stuff - what's in the Harvest Basket! If you're a veteran member, you know that the Harvest Basket changes weekly, depending on what's in season on the farm. Also, there are times when certain crops are "on rotation," which means one pickup site might receive it this week and another will receive it next week (it's how we make sure everyone gets their fair share of crops with limited production). Each week I'll try to give you a complete list of what's in your share, but some weeks there might be a surprise in your tote that's unlisted, or you might not get something that is on the list because we guessed wrong and got skunked in the field (yes, nature really does bat last). Nevertheless, we work hard to make sure it all evens out in the end and that your share is diverse and delicious throughout the season. Also, although we say that the share averages around $30 in value each week, that also fluctuates with the season. You might get shares that are under $30 in value at the beginning of the season and shares that are worth far more than $30 at the peak. 

If you're a new member, more than likely you are going to find yourself face to face with some vegetables you've never seen or eaten before. According to our long-time members, that's part of the fun. Many of them have learned to love things they thought they hated, eagerly anticipate veggies they'd never heard of before, and become prosyletizers for produce they didn't know was worth preaching about. And of course there are those who still detest beets and fennel, despite my best efforts to convert them for a decade. That's OK, too. The CSA will never make everyone 100% delighted, 100% of the time, but it will hopefully feed you well, help you learn a few new tricks in your kitchen, and now and then provide you with something you can gift to your neighbor (the one who DOES love beets and fennel)!

Sometimes I will offer up a recipe that I love for a particular thing, but not always. The internet is an amazing source of recipes these days, searchable by individual ingredient, so I mostly leave the menu-planning fun to you and your search engine. That's usually how I cook dinner: come home with a bucket of broccolini, type broccolini into the search bar, and see what new inspiration jumps out at me from the myriad recipe sites that are out there. I love epicurious.com. We also have a not-too-shabby collection of recipes archived on our website that you are welcome to access and add to, searchable by ingredient, called the Recipe Wizard. You can access it directly from the top menu on our website.

This season is starting off in the most unusual way ever for us. We suffered a significant setback this spring when our early Brassicas - the kale, collards, broccoli, broccolini, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips- were attacked by symphylans, a soil-dwelling arthropod (looks like a tiny white centipede) that feeds on root hairs. The symphylans stunted all of our early plantings, adding up to almost complete crop failure. We replanted, but it put our essential early season crops behind a month or two, which has been no small source of anxiety for me as a farmer, knowing we had to fill 125 CSA totes this week - totes that are usually full of kale, broccolini, kohlrabi, turnips and other cool-season Brassicas.

Fortunately, my unforeseen saving grace was a one-week window of good weather in February when I was able to plant peas, carrots and beets a month early, all of which are now ready for harvest a month sooner than usual. On top of that, we grew some overwintered onions which have done great (you'll see those soon in your share, maybe next week). And we put in some early experimental plantings of zucchini and cucumbers in our greenhouses, which are yielding. So, the bottom line is that the the June shares might look more like typical July shares, and then in July you'll see some of our typical June staples, a month late! It always works out in the end, somehow....

This week your Harvest Basket is shaping up to look like this (still subject to change as we harvest this week):

  • Bunch Carrots
  • Pac Choi: a little holey due to flea beetle chomping, which is extreme this Spring - maybe due to our mild winter
  • Head Lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Zucchini
  • Pea Shoots: tender micro shoots, great as garnish on a salad, or as a salad, or eaten plain by the fist-fulll :)
  • Baby Arugula 
  • A SunOrange Cherry Tomato plant: We don't grow cherry tomatoes, but we give you a plant - our all-time favorite variety - to grow in your own garden, planter pot, or 5 gallon bucket! They're like candy. Plant it deep, feed it a balanced organic fertilizer, keep it warm and protected from the wind, and give it something to cimb up. You should have little sugar-bomb tangy cherry tomatoes by late August, if not sooner.

And maybe included, possibly on rotation:

  • Radishes
  • Asparagus
  • Strawberries
  • Artichokes
  • Sugar Snap Peas

Alrighty then! I'm off to jump on the harvest crew and help get your produce ready. Set yourself a reminder to pick up your food this week, right day, right time, right place! Read the signage! Don't forget to wear your mask at your pickup, for the sake of everyone! Questions, send me an email and I'll do my best to get back to you ASAP (but don't be surprised if it takes a couple days).

Thanks again for being an essential part of our farm!

Zoë

p.s. this is how Uma (age 5) and Jules (age 3) say you should eat your pea shoots this week:

 

Newsletter: 

New Farmstand Hours for May!

For the month of May, the farmstand will be open on Thursdays from 9 am to 4 pm. We will not be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but the Thursday offerings will be more abundant and diverse.
 
It is self-serve, honor system. Please bring small bills or a check since no change is available.

 

Asparagus, artichokes, beets, carrots, Abby's Greens, kale, and other goodies may be available each week.

 

We anticipate that we'll open the farmstand for regular summer hours and service on Wednesday, June 4th. Starting June 4th, summer hours will be Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 to 3 pm.

 

Please respect the honor system, and come enjoy this beautiful spring season on the farm!

 

 

Newsletter: 

Mark Your Calendar! Farm Tour and Potluck May 17th!

Remember to mark your calendar for our Spring Farm Tour and Potluck on Saturday, May 17th - rain or shine!

  • 11 am - Tour of the fields, greenhouses and barns (and you'll meet Maude, my giant draft horse!)
  • 1 pm - Potluck in the field (in the barn in case of rain)

We'll provide dishes and utensils for the potluck.

 

Please RSVP by May 12th. Bring friends and family - all are welcome!

 

Things to bring:

  • Sturdy walking shoes (rubber boots if it's wet)
  • Raincoat or umbrella
  • Water bottle
  • Camera
  • Potluck dish

 

We don't get many opportunities to meet our farm members in person throughout the season so we'd love a chance to put faces to names, and to give you a glimpse of where and how your produce is grown.

 

We hope to see you at the farm on May 17th!

RSVP

Directions to the farm.

Newsletter: 

Week 28: December 9th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • The Last Week – Brrrrr!
  • A Mighty THANK YOU!
  • Please Share your Feedback with Us!
  • 2014 CSA Sign-ups
  • The Year in Review

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Shallots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes – Red, Yellow Finn and/or Fingerling
  • Carrots
  • Sunshine squash

 

On Rotation:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Romanesco cauliflower

 

The Last Week - Brrrrr!

This is it: your last installment from Valley Flora for the season. This week’s basket is a true testament to the possibility for local, wintertime eating. We’re halfway through December in the midst of a deep cold snap, but there’s no lack of food in your totes. We filled them with almost twenty pounds of veggies – most of it fresh-harvested from the field (all but the squash, shallots and potatoes, which have been in storage).

 

That said, the field is looking pretty bare. We’ve picked and dug and pulled and cut just about every stick of food out there (save for a good stash of parsnips). A week of hard cold has also brought an end to certain crops that might have persisted longer were it not for the 18 degree nights.

 

The cold has presented a few problems to this last harvest that you may notice. Each day we’ve had to wait for the field (and the veggies) to thaw before we can harvest. On Monday, that didn’t happen until late afternoon so the thaw window was very short. As it turns out, some of the Brussels sprouts – which were thawed when we picked them – re-froze in the harvest bins in transit to the cooler (which feels balmy at 38 degrees compared to the outside world). During packout yesterday, we discovered that some of the sprouts at the bottom of the bins (cold air sinks) were more like sweet Brussels sprouts popsicles. Hopefully they will hold up, but I encourage you to eat them immediately before they turn to mush.

 

Also, the kale was hard to rehydrate (it wilts in extreme cold), so some of it is not as perky as you are used to (but again, very sweet).

 

And finally, our last bed of romanesco, which some of you will receive this week, seems to have survived the cold but may have some frost damage. Hopefully the flavor will make up for any other quality shortcomings!

 

A Mighty Thank You!

Were it not for all of you making the choice to eat locally, our little farm could not exist. As many times as we have been on the receiving end of the gratitude, I want to return the sentiment a hundred-fold. Because of you and your commitment to Valley Flora, we are able to do what we love on the land that we treasure. There are three generations on the farm now, from Bets down to Cleo and Pippin, plus the invaluable help of Roberto, Roxy, Aro, Jake, Tom, and John. It’s a small and humble operation, but it fills our lives with purpose, meaning, and deep satisfaction. We love growing this food, and even more knowing that it’s directly feeding the local community. We wouldn’t be able to do it without you.

 

From all of us at the farm, a heartfelt THANK YOU for being part of it!

 

Please Share your Feedback with Us!

We're not putting out a formal survey to our members this year, but we would still love to hear from you if you have feedback of any kind about your CSA experience - positive or negative. Just send us an email with your thoughts. We are in the midst of planning for next season so this is the perfect window to share your input with us!

 

2014 CSA Sign-ups

This season is not even over yet and we are already knee-deep in planning for 2014: making next year’s field maps, teasing out the crop plan, and ordering seeds. (Believe it or not, we’ll be sowing next year’s onions, leeks and shallots in the greenhouse in less than 6 weeks)

 

Many of you have been asking about signing up for next season. We plan to do priority sign-ups in January. Anyone who was a member of the CSA this season – that being anyone who got a Harvest Basket, eggs, bread, salad share, and/or tamales this year - will be included in the priority sign-up process in January. If you are included in the priority sign-up process, you will be guaranteed a Harvest Basket if you want one. (Our Harvest Baskets are limited and always sell out so we give priority to returning members each year. There is usually no limit on eggs, bread, salad, or tamales).

 

We will send out a direct email to our entire 2013 membership in early January with specific sign-up instructions for 2014. Please be sure that we have your correct email address so you don’t miss out on your sign-up invitation.

 

Then, starting in March, we’ll move on to our waiting list and sign up wait-listed individuals until the Harvest Baskets are sold out.

 

The Year in Review

The chart below is a crop-by-crop recap of the season summarizing what we projected we would put in your Harvest Basket and what we actually put in it.

 

The thing I love about this chart is that every discrepancy in the projected versus actual quantities tells a story. For instance: we had a beautiful, warm spring this year, which made for a great crop of onions. It also meant that perennial crops like artichokes came on early – so early that they were almost over by the time the CSA started in June (hence the smaller share of artichokes). Major shortfalls in strawberries, celery and basil this year were due to disease pressure that wiped out all or portions of those crops. It was a warmer, more humid summer than we normally get, which created ideal conditions for diseases like Septoria and downy mildew. All told, the total value of food we put in your Harvest Basket this season was equal to $776.44, based on our farmstand pricing. You paid $765 for that food.

 

Whether it’s pests or weather or any number of other factors, your CSA share is largely defined by the forces of Mother Nature – and our varying ability to work with and around her. It's a constant dance.

CROP

PROJECTED

ACTUAL

DIFF.

NOTES

Scallions

1 bu

1 bu

 

 

Leeks

8 ct

11 ct

+3 ct

 

Purplette Onions

4.5 lbs

7 lbs

+2.5 lbs

Great onion year

Red Onions

6 ct

10 ct

+4 ct

“ “

Walla Wallas

4 ct

6 ct

+6 ct

“ “

Yellow Onion

8 ct

9 ct

+1 ct

“ “

Shallots

3.5 lb

3.5 lb

 

 

Artichokes

2 lb

1 lb

-1 lb

Early spring; artichokes were ending before CSA season began

Asparagus

1 lb

1 lb

 

 

Beans

0.5 lb

0.5 lb

 

 

Beets

12 lb

10.5 lb

-1.5 lb

Mice ate last bed of beets

Broccoli

16.5 lb

20 lb

+3.5 lb

Good spring crop

Brussels sprouts

3 stalks

2 to 3 stalks

 

 

Cabbage

6 heads

6 heads

 

 

Carrots

20 lbs

21 lbs

+1 lb

 

Cauliflower

2 heads

1 head

-1 head

Lost a planting due to cabbage maggot

Romanesco

1 head

1-2 heads

 

 

Celeriac

3 ct

3 ct

 

 

Celery

14 stalks

0

-14 stalks

Total crop failure due to Septoria disease pressure

Corn

18 ears

20 ears

+2 ears

 

Cucumbers

No projection

3 ct

 

 

Escarole/Radicchio

2 heads

2 heads

 

 

Fennel

6 bulbs

8 bulbs

 

 

Arugula

1 lb

1.5 lb

+0.5 lb

Sunny fall weather = late bonus greens

Braising Mix

0.5 lb

1 lb

 

“ “

Chard

5 bu

5 bu

 

 

Kale

7 bu

9 bu

+2 bu

 

Mizuna

None

0.5 lb

+0.5 lb

“ ”

Pac Choi

7 heads

6 heads

-1 head

 

Spinach

2 lbs

2 lbs

 

 

Collards

None

2 bu

+2 bu

 

Perennial Herbs

6 bu

7 bu

+1 bu

 

Cilantro

3 bu

3 bu

 

 

Dill

3 bu

3 bu

 

 

Basil

5 oz

1 oz

-4 oz

Crop failure in greenhouse

Parsely

4 bu

3 bu

-1 bu

 

Kohlrabi

5 ct

4 ct

-1 ct

 

Lettuce

33 heads

26 heads

-7 hds

Crop losses due to downy mildew pressure all summer (weather-related)

Parsnips

6 lbs

6 lbs

 

 

Peas

3 lbs

2.5 lbs

-0.5 lbs

 

Hot Peppers

10 ct

9 ct

-1 ct

 

Sweet Peppers

20 ct

23 ct

+3 ct

 

Potatoes

28 lb

38 lbs

+10 lbs

Bumper crop

Radishes

5 bu

6 bu

+1 bu

 

Rhubarb

½ lb

1 lb

+0.5 lb

 

Strawberries

24 pt

15 pt

-9 pt

Crop failure in July

Summer Squash

16 ct

24 ct

+8 ct

 

Apples

No projection

2 lbs

+2 lbs

Great orchard fruit year!

Plums

No projection

2.5 lbs

+2.5 lb

“ “

Turnips

6 bu

6 bu

 

 

Tomato plant

1

2

 

 

Cherry tomatoes

5 pts

2 pt

-3 pt

Late blight wiped out crop after Labor Day rain

Heirloom tomatoes

3 lbs

3 lbs

 

 

Red tomatoes

13 lbs

13.5 lbs

+0.5 lb

 

Acorn squash

2

3

+1

 

Butternut squash

2

2

 

 

Delicata squash

8

12

+4

 

Sunshine squash

2

2

 

 

Spaghetti squash

1

1

 

 

Winter sweet

1

1

 

 

Pie pumpkin

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 27: December 2

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce: Monster Kohlrabi & Scarlet Queen Turnips
  • Tamales This Week!
  • Stuff Some Stockings with Cranky Baby Hot Sauce!
  • Last Two Weeks!
  • 2014 CSA Sign-ups

 

In your share this week:

  • Delicata Winter Squash
  • Green Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Scarlet Queen Turnips

 

On Rotation:

  • Broccoli
  • Radicchio
  • Chard

 

New Produce

Monster Kohlrabi: You’ve gotten kohlrabi from us before this season, but never any that were as big as a baby’s head. This is our late-season storage variety, and in my opinion, the best-tasting kohlrabi there is. Just like the other varieties, you need to peel the tough outer skin. What you’ll find inside is a tender, sweet, crunchy treat that is something akin to jicama crossed with broccoli stem. This is my favorite kohlrabi for raw-eating, plain or with dip. But you can also cook it up - steamed, sautéed, stir-fried or roasted.

 

This variety is intended for storage, so it’ll be fine in your fridge if you don’t get to it for a month or two. Our household stash keeps all winter long in the cooler, no problemo.

 

Scarlet Queen Turnips: It’s hard to resist growing a hot-pink vegetable, especially for this time of year when the palette of farm color has been diminished to mostly greens and browns. They’re a relatively mild turnip (like radishes, all the kick is in the skin). They should keep for weeks in the fridge.

 

Tamales This Week

Tamales shares go out this week. If you are a tamale member, look for your final tamale share in the blue cooler at your pickup site this week.

 

Stuff Some Stockings with Cranky Baby Hot Sauce!

A few years back, Bets endeavored to make the perfect hot sauce and she succeeded. Handcrafted with homegrown serrano peppers that are vine-ripened to a sassy red in the greenhouses, Cranky Baby strikes the perfect balance between hot, sweet and tangy. Think Tabasco, only 100 times better…

 

(Even if you don't like spicy stuff, it's worth investing for the label alone. That's our very own Pippin in the highchair, with a little help from PhotoShop...)

This year’s vintage is now available to our CSA members by the case (12-five ounce bottles per case for $48). It’s shippable if you want to mail it out, and you can fly with it if you’re traveling for the holidays. If you only want a bottle or two, it’s also available at our farmstand ($5/bottle) this week and next week.

 

To order your case, please email us your:

  • Name
  • Pickup Location
  • Quantity of cases you would like

We’ll deliver to your pickup site.

(Cranky Baby is approved for farm-direct sale by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.)

 

Last Two Weeks!

We’re winding down. The cold snap that's moving in this week is adding some definitive punctuation to the end of the season. You’ll receive your final Harvest Basket/eggs/bread NEXT week, the week of December 9th. Final pick-up dates are as follows:

  • Valley Flora: Wednesday, December 11
  • Coos Bay: Wednesday, December 11
  • Port Orford: Friday, December 13
  • Bandon: Saturday, December 14

 

2014 CSA Sign-ups

This season is not even over yet and we are already knee-deep in planning for 2014: making next year’s field maps, teasing out the crop plan, and ordering seeds. (Believe it or not, we’ll be sowing next year’s onions, leeks and shallots in the greenhouse in less than 6 weeks.)

 

Many of you have been asking about signing up for next season. The plan is to do priority sign-ups in January. Anyone who was a member of the CSA this season – that being anyone who got a Harvest Basket, eggs, bread, salad share, and/or tamales this year - will be included in the priority sign-up process in January. If you are included in the priority sign-up process, you will be guaranteed a Harvest Basket if you want one. (Our Harvest Baskets are limited and always sell out so we give priority to returning members each year. There is usually no limit on eggs, bread, salad, or tamales).

 

We will send out a direct email to our entire 2013 membership in early January with specific sign-up instructions for 2014. Please be sure that we have your correct email address so you don’t miss out on your sign-up invitation.

 

Then, starting in March, we’ll move on to our waiting list and sign up wait-listed individuals until the Harvest Baskets are sold out.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball

No promises, but your LAST TOTE of 2013 might include some of the following next week:

  • Leeks
  • Brussels sprouts or Romanesco
  • Kale or chard
  • Shallots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Sunshine squash

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 26: Thanksgiving!

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • Wednesday Pick-up Reminder!
  • New Produce (and a Recipe) for Thanksgiving: Parsnips & Sunshine squash

 

In your share this week:

  • Shallots – 1.5 pounds
  • Brussels sprouts – 1 stalk
  • Carrots – 1.5 pounds
  • Celeriac – 2 heads
  • Kale – 12 ounces
  • Mixed herbs – thyme, rosemary, sage
  • Parsnips – 3 pounds
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes – 5 pounds
  • Sunshine winter squash - 1

 

WEDNESDAY PICK UP REMINDER!

This week we are delivering ALL Harvest Baskets, Eggs & Bread on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27th

  • There will be NO DELIVERY to PORT ORFORD on Friday, November 29th.
  • There will be NO DELIVERY to BANDON on Saturday, November 30th.

 

These are the specific times for pickup at each location on Wednesday, November 27th:

  • Valley Flora: unchanged – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Coos Bay:  unchanged – 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Bandon: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 12 noon (no end time)
  • Port Orford: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 10 am (all day)

 

New Produce for Thanksgiving

Parsnips: Parsnips are yet another of those emotionally-charged vegetables, loved by some and loathed by others. They have a potent, powerful flavor that is not to everyone’s liking, which is why I’ve included one miraculous recipe in this week’s newsletter – a recipe that might just cause the most staunch skeptic to cross over to the parsnip-liking side. If there is one new dish you add to your Thanksgiving menu this year, let it be this one:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/roasted-winter-squash-and-parsnip...

 

I’m speaking from personal experience. I’ve never been wildly in love with parsnips, but I appreciate them for the fact that they’re a sturdy food that offers some diversity to our late-fall and deep-winter diet. They are willing to grow in our climate and they’ll store for months, so they have a few merits. I’d call my relationship to them something like “respectful tolerance.”

 

But exactly one year ago today, I vowed passionately, out loud, that I was divorcing parsnips for good. Never again would I plant them. It was over between us.

 

It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 2012, and a fury of a storm was blowing through. Roberto was in Portland for the birth of his second son, and I was hustling to try to get all 100+ CSA totes packed in one day with the volunteer help of my sister and Farm Angel Tom. Near the end of the pack-out, we ran out of parsnips. It was pitch-black-dark outside and the rain was driving sideways, but I had no choice but to venture back out into the field and wrestle some more parsnips out of the ground.

 

If you’ve ever dug parsnips before you know that “wrestle” is no exaggeration. It’s the best verb in the dictionary for this particular job. Parsnips send down a long taproot, deeply anchoring themselves into the ground. There is no digging spade in the world that can fully loosen a parsnip (we have broken two trying), so you have to do your fair share of grunting and tugging on each root to haul it out of the ground. The parsnips tend to break in the process, or get scuffed by the spade, and somehow we’re always digging them in a driving rain, slathered in mud, by the weak glow of pickup headlights. To top it off, our parsnips get an ugly orange rust on the skin, and the biggest ones inevitably split and get spongey. All in all, it’s a defeating harvest – especially after tending the crop for six full months (we seed them in May each year).

 

So went the script that night: mud, rain, headlights, ugly roots. After a half hour in the mud – and already twelve hours and thousands of pounds of produce into my harvest day- I had enough bins filled and I loaded up the pickup. I stripped my muddy rain bibs down around my ankles, slid behind the wheel, and turned the key. The pickup wouldn’t start.

 

I was a ½ mile from the barn and the only way home was on foot, dragging the loaded harvest cart behind me. Part way there, I saw headlights creeping along the road, searching for me through the storm. When Tom pulled up, I was on the verge of crying, or laughing. Both.

 

“You OK?” Tom asked.

“Never again, Tom. I will never grow parsnips again! I am divorcing parsnips!”

 

Two days later my family sat down to a big Thanksgiving dinner, at a table laden entirely with food we had grown. One of the dishes I made was the maple-glazed squash and parsnips. It probably seems odd that I’d try that recipe, given the beating I’d had two days prior. Maybe subconsciously I was giving my relationship with parsnips one last chance. Or maybe it was just the butter and maple syrup that caught my eye. Either way, that dish was the best thing on the table that night. Parsnips redeemed.

 

This year I’m happy to report that for the first time ever, we dug parsnips in the sunshine, and there were plenty to see us all the way through our big, 110-tote pack-out today. Sure, they were still ugly and rust-streaked and amputated, but that’s what veggie peelers are for. Nobody’s perfect. Relationships take work. A little butter and maple syrup never hurts either.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

 

Sunshine squash: Tropical, sweet, intensely flavorful – sunshine squash is our all-time favorite kabocha-type winter squash. It’s a great Thanksgivingsquash because it’s festive and versatile. It plays a star role in the parsnip recipe above, or if you’re vegetarian it’s a great squash to stuff and bake like a turkey. It peels relatively easily, and it stores for a long time on the counter. Also makes great soup!

 

Farmstand Open 3 More Weeks!

The farmstand is still open and well-stocked with all kinds of produce (even a few late tomatoes, still!).

We will be open every Wednesday through December 11th from 10 am to 2 pm (including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving):

  • Wednesday, November 27th 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 4th, 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 11th, 10-2

Come stock up!

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following next week:

  • Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Escarole
  • Kohlrabi
  • Turnips
  • Delicata squash

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 25: November 18th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule - Mark your Calendars!
  • Winter Farmstand Going Strong
  • The VF Crystal Ball: What to expect in your Thanksgiving Share

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Pac choi
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Delicata winter squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

Nothing this week….

 

Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule - Mark your Calendars!

 

WE WILL DELIVER ALL HARVEST BASKETS ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27th

 

There will be NO DELIVERY to PORT ORFORD on Friday, November 29th.

There will be NO DELIVERY to BANDON on Saturday, November 30th.

 

We do this for two reasons:

  • To ensure that everyone gets their food in time for Thanksgiving
  • To give ourselves a brief holiday from harvest and delivery during Thanksgiving celebrations.

 

These are the specific times for pickup at each location on Wednesday, November 27th:

  • Valley Flora: unchanged – 9 am to 5 pm
  • Coos Bay:  unchanged – 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Bandon: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 12 noon (no end time)
  • Port Orford: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 10 am (all day)

 

If you will be out of town for the holiday and won’t be able to pick up your Thanksgiving tote, we are happy to hold it for you in our walk-in cooler until you return. To make special arrangements with us, please email us

  • Your name
  • Your pickup location
  • ALL of the items you usually pick up each week (i.e. Harvest Basket, eggs, bread, etc.)
  • The date you plan to pick up your Harvest Basket at the farm.

I’ll reply to your email with detailed pick up instructions from our walk-in cooler at the farm.

We need to hear from you by this Friday, November 22nd if you need special arrangements.

 

Winter Farmstand Going Strong

The farmstand is still open and well-stocked with all kinds of produce (even a few late tomatoes!). So far the weather has cooperated beautifully each week on our farmstand days. Miraculous.

 

We will continue to be open every Wednesday through December 11th from 10 am to 2 pm (including the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), so come stock up!

  • Wednesday, November 27th 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 4th, 10-2
  • Wednesday, December 11th, 10-2

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What will most likely be in your THANKSGIVING SHARE…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following (hopefully it will all fit!):

  • Shallots – 1.5 pounds
  • Brussels sprouts – 1 stalk (2 halves)
  • Carrots – 1 to 2 pounds
  • Celeriac – 1 to 2 heads
  • Kale – 1 bunch
  • Mixed herbs – thyme, rosemary, sage
  • Parships – 3 pounds
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes – 5 pounds
  • Sunshine winter squash - 1

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 24: November 11th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Gold Shallots, Celeriac, Romanesco, Winter Sweet Squash
  • Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule (PLEASE READ!)

 

In your share this week:

  • Gold Shallots
  • Broccoli
  • Romanesco Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Head Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Winter Sweet Squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

Nothing this week….

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Gold Shallots:Shallots always find their way into your tote late in the season, primarily because they are our best-storing allium, outlasting onions by months. A long-time CSA member told me this week that she had just used up her final shallots from last season, more than a year old. They are a great storage crop to have in our quiver, helping to round out late-season harvest baskets and keeping our kitchens stocked well into the new year.

 

They also tend to feature prominently in holiday recipes, so you’ll see them again the week of Thanksgiving and the final week of harvest baskets (the week of December 9th). If you have a Thanksgiving recipe that calls for lots of shallots, you can expect another 1 ½ pounds at Thanksgiving and they are also available in bulk at our farmstand, at the Port Orford Community Coop, and at Coos Head Food Store.

 

Shallots are more closely related to garlic than they are to onions, but I use them interchangeably with onions. Vinaigrette recipes often call for minced raw shallot, and you’ll see plenty of recipes calling for crispy fried shallots and caramelized shallots. Our website has an eclectic array of recipes that call for shallots, if you want some inspiration: http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/shallots

 

If you are of a mind to squirrel them away, they’ll keep the longest in a cool, dry, dark place.

 

Celeriac: Introducing another of the gnarly fall foods, celeriac is also known as celery root. Don’t be intimidated by its gruff exterior; inside is a smooth, creamy-white, celery-flavored root that’s a great addition to mashed potatoes, soups, salads, roasted veggies, stuffing, pilaf, etc. It offers all the flavor of celery stalks, with the integrity of a potato (it’s fine to eat raw, as well). We love it at Thanksgiving in stuffing, and to give an extra twist to our mashed potatoes (just peel, cube, boil with the spuds, and mash).

 

Celeriac stores like a champ – a long, long time in your fridge – but I encourage you to experiment with this first specimen so that you can include the next round of celeriac in your Thanksgiving meal with confidence (more coming the week of November 25th).

 

Romanesco Cauliflower: To be eaten, not just gawked at! Romanesco is beautiful to behold with its lime green spiraled minarets (an infinitely-repeating fractal!), but it’s also a huge treat to eat. It has the texture of cauliflower but an even better, nuttier taste and texture. Wonderful roasted with Brussels sprouts, or lightly steamed. It makes a splash on a platter of veggies and dip.

 

Romanesco keeps for at least a week in the fridge in a plastic bag. Enjoy!

 

Winter Sweet Squash: This is a new variety for us this year. It’s a Kabocha type, with flaky, sweet, dry flesh (great for soups, pies, stuffing, ravioli filling, or plain eating with butter).

 

Our Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule

Mark your calendars! For the week of Thanksgiving:

 

WE WILL DELIVER ALL HARVEST BASKETS ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27th.

There will be no Friday delivery to Port Orford on 11/29 and no Saturday delivery to Bandon on 11/30.

 

We do this for two reasons:

  • To ensure that everyone gets their food in time for Thanksgiving
  • To give ourselves a brief holiday from harvest and delivery during Thanksgiving celebrations.

 

These are the specific times for pickup at each location on Wednesday, November 27th:

Valley Flora: unchanged – 9 am to 5 pm

Coos Bay:  unchanged – 12 pm to 3 pm

Bandon: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 12 noon (no end time)

Port Orford: Wednesday, 11/27, starting at 10 am (all day)

 

If you will be out of town for the holiday and won’t be able to pick up your Thanksgiving tote, we are happy to hold it for you in our walk-in cooler until you return. To make special arrangements with us, please email us

  • Your name
  • Your pickup location
  • The date you plan to pick up your Harvest Basket at the farm.

I’ll reply to your email with pick-up instructions. We must hear from you by Friday, November 22ndif you need special arrangements.

 

In case your menu planning is already underway, your Thanksgiving tote will likely include the following:

  • 1.5 lb Shallots
  • 1 stalk Brussels sprouts
  • 1-2 poundsCarrots
  • 1-2 Celeriac
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 1 bunch Mixed herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano)?
  • 3 lbs Parships
  • 5 lbs Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • 1 Sunshine Winter Squash

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Pac Choi
  • Lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Potatoes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Delicata Winter Squash
  • Parsley?

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 23: November 4th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Brussels sprouts, Delicata squash, Reine des Glaces lettuce
  • Reminiscent of Spring: Pac choi, Hakurei turnips & mizuna
  • Tamales This Week!
  • Waiting on the Broccoli: Racing Persephone

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pac choi
  • Reine des Glaces lettuce
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Hakurei turnips
  • Mizuna
  • Green peppers
  • Delicata winter squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Romanesco cauliflower

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Brussels sprouts: So begins our fall season of the weird, the gnarly, and the Dr. Seussian: Brussels sprouts on the stalk! I imagine there will be some bartering going on at drop sites this week, for Brussels sprouts are one of those iconic love it or hate it foods, right in there with beets. I know for a fact that Valley Flora Brussels sprouts have made converts out of some staunch detesters in the past, so you might think twice before giving them away.

 

There are some great recipes on our website if you need to be convinced:

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/brussels%20sprouts

 

Or do a simply roasting: clean up your sprouts, cut them in half, toss them with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven at 400 until the edges are browned.

 

The reason that some Brussels sprout haters actually like our sprouts probably has to do with the fact that we don’t harvest them until late fall when they’ll have the best flavor. Cold weather, and particularly a frost, will bring up the sugars in all Brassica plants (kale, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.), reducing their bitterness (aka, the “stanky gym sock” flavor). The sugars act like cellular antifreeze to help the plants survive the winter, so as they sense cold temperatures they actually pump out more sugar and sweeten up. We usually hope for our first light frost on the farm at the beginning of November. We got it last week, right on time, so the sweetening is underway out in the field.

 

The vast majority of the Brussels sprouts in the U.S. are grown on the central coast of California where temperatures rarely drop to freezing. As a result, store-bought, out-of-season Brussels sprouts do in fact taste like old gym socks. I wouldn’t eat those things either!

 

Kitchen tip: Brussels sprouts do take a little patience. The lower sprouts usually need to be cleaned up, and they will store the best if you snap all the sprouts off the stalk and keep them in the fridge in a plastic bag. They have a great shelf life – like little cabbages – and will keep for a few weeks at least (longer if they’re cleaned and then stored).

 

Delicata Squash: The number one favorite winter squash, it’s here. You’ll get it two more times this season, so no need to hoard. Their flavor is exquisite, but part of the reason they are so great has to do with how easy they are to prepare: Just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake face down in a pan with a little water until soft (20-30 minutes). I like to eat them with a pat of butter melted in the middle. You can eat the skin as well.

 

Reine des Glaces Head Lettuce: The name aptly translates to “Queen of the Ice.” This is as close to an iceberg lettuce as we grow, but with a spiky, punk rock spin. It has all the juicy crunch of iceberg, and holds up just as well under a bleu cheese dressing. We did it up last night in wedge style, with sliced peppers and a homemade, creamy feta dressing. No need to be ashamed at how much you’ll enjoy it. I mean, hey, if 80s style is back (so soon?), why not iceberg?

 

Reminiscent of Spring: The return of some old friends        

Hakurei turnips, mizuna, and pac choi are all making a showing in your share this week, not seen since early summer. The cool weather of fall is ideal for these crops, so they make a second appearance as reliable bookends to the season.

 

Tamales This Week!

Tamale shares go out this week. Look for your labeled share in the marked blue cooler at your pickup site.

 

Waiting on the Broccoli: Racing Persephone

Our broccoli and Romanesco cauliflower plantings have been excruciatingly slow to mature this fall. The autumn broccoli harvest would normally be over by now, and the Romanesco should have appeared in your totes two weeks ago. But for some reason, they are only just now starting to head up to harvestable size. I wasted some of October worrying that they wouldn’t get there in time, but it’s looking hopeful now.

 

Why the worry? This week we’re entering what’s known as the “Persephone Period,” the winter months when there is less than 10 hours of light each day. That’s the point when plants pretty much stop growing (including the broccoli and Romanesco, so I've been hoping they'll mature before the days get too short). It lasts until the end of January, at which point the days start getting longer and there is a sudden jump in growth again. We have a great visual indicator of the Persephone Period on the farm: our kale plants. We harvest kale all year long. During the spring, summer, and early fall it grows back every week, fully replenishing itself. But from now through the end of the Harvest Basket season, we will be taking money out of the bank, so to speak. The leaves won’t re-grow and by the middle of December our kale plants will look like naked sticks with a small tuft of tiny leaves at the growing tip (you’ll notice in the coming weeks that the kale leaves in your share are smaller and smaller, and they will be packed by the pound instead of by the bunch).

 

The plants will stand naked through January like this, and then suddenly at the start of February they will send up new leaves, size up old leaves, and be bushy once again. We’ll emerge from the Persephone Period, kale leaves a-blazing, and start having to mow our lawn again.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Shallots
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Winter Sweet Winter Squash

 

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 22: October 28th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Butternut Squash
  • Phatty - Fat Leeks!

 

In your share this week:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Rainbow Beets
  • Head Lettuce
  • Winterbor Kale
  • Radishes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Arugula

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Butternut Squash: Everyone goes nuts for butternuts – they’re probably tied with Delicata for number one favorite winter squash. And for good reason: they are almost pure meat (very small seed cavity); they’re easy to peel; they have a thin skin (no death-defying, ninja, knife battles); they make a stellar, creamy squash soup; and they roast up beautifully.

 

But never was there a squash so finicky; they are somewhat difficult to grow, not very productive, and even harder to successfully store. We’ve had bad luck with butternuts rotting in storage and developing weird skin blemishes (only skin deep, but ugly nonetheless) - to the point that we’ve questioned whether we should even bother growing them.

 

But the demad is insatiable, so we tried again this year with a new organic variety called Nutterbutter. It’s quicker to mature than many varieties (which is helpful in our temperate climate), and it’s supposed to have great flavor. It also turns out that it produces smaller squash, for better or for worse. As a result, you’re going to see two or three butternuts in your tote this week – enough for a really big pot of soup, or a handful of other dishes. The squash are mostly blemish-free this year, but there are a few with some of those brown skin spots. As in year’s past, we’ve only found them to be skin-deep, so don’t worry if you get one with a birthmark. It’s nothing a vegetable peeler won’t take care of, lickety-split.

 

This is the one and only time you’ll be getting butternuts this year, so enjoy them. They should last on your counter, in case you want to drag the pleasure out for awhile.

 

Phatty – Fat Leeks!

Another experiment this season: a couple of new leek varieties. This one is aptly called Megaton (you’ll see the other variety at the very end of the season). They are by far the fattest, heaviest leeks we have ever grown, and they are much faster to harvest and clean – all good things to a production farmer. But the true test is flavor. This week I’m going to do a side-by-side leek taste trial, and you can, too, if you have any leeks leftover from two weeks ago. The last leeks you got from us were King Richard, an old-time favorite of many farmers that we’ve always grown. Their only drawback is that they tend to be much less uniform and skinnier, which makes harvest more of a chore.

 

I’m going to cook up some King Richards and some Megatons in separate pans, done the blindfold, and see if Megaton also wins out on flavor, or not. If it does, I dare say it’s worth spending three and a half times more on the seed.

 

Let me know what you think. Do you like big, fat leeks? Or do you prefer a handful of skinny leeks? What about the flavor? Would love to hear your opinion on it all.

 

Fall Farmstand Hours

We have switched to our fall schedule and the farmstand is now open on Wednesdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm. There is still the stray tomato to be had at the stand and the last of the summer peppers, but autumn food is taking over – winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, bunched greens, radishes, broccoli, and much more.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts?
  • Romanesco Cauliflower?
  • Pac Choi
  • Thyme?
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Hakurei Turnips?
  • Delicata Squash

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 21: October 21st

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Spaghetti Squash
  • Cover Crops and Strawberry Crowns
  • Remember, No More Abby’s Greens Salad Shares
  • Fall Farmstand Hours

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow Onions
  • Carrots
  • Braising Mix
  • Parsley
  • Head Lettuce
  • Red Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Spaghetti Squash

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Spaghetti Squash: Probably the most-maligned of all the winter squash (hippy food, sneer!), spaghetti squash deserves a chance in your kitchen. In this day and age of widespread gluten-intolerance, perhaps its day to shine has finally come. It’s different from all the other winter squash in that it does truly resemble spaghetti inside once it’s cooked. You can bake or steam it (some people like to poke it full of holes with a knife or fork and then bake it whole until soft). Once it’s cooked, you can scoop out the “spaghetti” inside and dress it up with good old fashioned tomato sauce, or cream sauce (especially good with chantarelles and herbs), or anything else to suit your taste.

 

Cover Crops and Strawberry Crowns

You’d think we’d be done planting by this point in the season, but there is one last flurry of seeding and transplanting going on right now. Over the past two weeks we’ve been broadcasting hundreds of pounds of cover crop seed – a mix of rye, oats, red clover, vetch, and field peas – which will grow through the winter and provide erosion control, beneficial habitat, and a lot of nutrients for our soil. Next spring, we’ll till all that biomass back into the field, providing nitrogen and rich organic matter for next year’s cash crops. Our over-wintered cover crops usually grow to 6 feet in height and provide spring forage for bees and other beneficial insects.

 

We’re also in the midst of our fall strawberry planting. This time every year we plant new strawberry crowns that we order from a nursery in Northern California. We get them established in the fall, which gives the plants a head start and encourages them to begin fruiting more quickly in the spring. In addition to our beloved standby, Seascape, we’re planting two new trial varieties this year that are supposed to be more disease resistant and better tasting than Seascape: Albion and Sweeet Ann. It’s hard to imagine beating the flavor of a Seascape strawberry, but we'll let you be the judge of that next year.

 

Remember: No More Abby’s Greens Salad Shares

Last week was the 20th and final week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares. There will continue to be Abby’s Greens for sale at our farmstand each Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm. You can also find Abby’s Greens at the Langlois Market, Mother’s Natural Grocery, Coos Head Food Store, and probably at the soon-to-open Port Orford Community Co-op (grand opening November 1st from 10 am to 5 pm).

 

New Fall Farmstand Hours

We have switched to our fall schedule and the farmstand is now open on Wednesdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm. There is still the stray tomato to be had at the stand and the last of the summer peppers, but autumn food is taking over – winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, bunched greens, radishes, broccoli, and much more.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Thyme?
  • Radishes?
  • Butternut squash

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 20: October 14th

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Leeks, Savoy Cabbage, Acorn Squash & Pie Pumpkins
  • Winter Squash Kickoff!
  • Last Week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares
  • New Fall Farmstand Hours

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow Onions
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Fennel
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Rosemary
  • Head Lettuce
  • Hot Peppers
  • Acorn Squash
  • Pie Pumpkins

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Leeks: Long and lovely, mild-mannered and deeply flavorful, leeks are like a gateway drug to onions. They rank on the mellower side of the allium spectrum and can be cooked up in any recipe where you would normally use onions. They are most famously paired with potatoes in potato leek soup, but don’t stop there. The possibilities are endless and delicious.

 

Prep tip: Sometimes dirt gets caught within the inner rings of the leek. Cut the leek up the center the long way and then slice the leek crosswise, discarding the root and leaf ends. Rinse the sliced leek in a colander to wash off any dirt and then cook.  Will store for a few weeks in the fridge in a plastic bag. If the outer layers get funky, just strip them off to reveal pristine leek below (like cabbage).

 

Savoy Cabbage: A curly-headed cousin to regular smooth cabbages, savoy cabbage is light and tender. It can be used in all the same ways.

 

Acorn Squash: Acorns have dark green to black skin, with deep ribs. They often have a bright orange spot on one side, where they were in contact with the ground. This is one tough-skinned squash, so be extra-careful when you cut into it. Acorns are among the more ubiquitous squash varieties in the supermarket and are maybe a little less intimidating to some folks. There are a couple of recipes on our website that I really like if you want to do it up fancy-ish, or turn them into a main dish:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/acorn%20squash

 

But if you’re in a hurry or more inclined towards the simple, I suggest simply halving your acorns, scooping out the seeds, and placing them face down on a baking tray with a little water in the tray. Bake in the oven at 400 until you can pierce the skin with a fork and the flesh is soft, about 30 minutes or so. We eat them with a pat of butter melting inside, and I have been known to put a splash of maple syrup or a sprinkle of brown sugar on them.

 

They also make great lunch food if you bake them the night before and then pack them for the next day. The hollow cavity begs to be stuffed with something – feta, rice, nuts, salad, sautéed onions, or all of the above.

 

Like all the winter squash you’re getting, Acorns will store for a couple months at room temperature, so no need to stress about eating them right away if you have a perishable produce pile-up right now.

 

Pie Pumpkins: These cute little pumpkins can double as Halloween/Thanksgiving décor and/or the key ingredient in a homemade pumpkin pie. They will store for a couple months on the counter – like all the squash varieties – so if you want to save yours for Thanksgiving you can. (We also have all the winter squash varieties for sale at our farmstand on Wednesdays if you want to stock up in a big way for winter eating!)

 

My sister is the queen of homemade pumpkin pie. I know, I know: what a wholly un-modern thing to bake the pumpkin, make the filling, craft the crust, and see it through to steaming completion. But once you’ve had the real thing, with a dollop of whipped cream on top, there’s no going back. So be forewarned if you have a stash of canned pumpkin pie filling in your pantry: you’d better be ready to put it up for adoption after you try the real thing. Here are a few variations on the theme:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/recipe_search/results/pie%20pumpkin

 

Winter Squash Kickoff

This week marks the official start of winter squash season! In the nine remaining weeks of the Harvest Basket season (the last week of the CSA will be the week of December 9th), you are going to meet an array of different winter squash. All of them are cured and ready to eat, but will also store for another few months, either on your countertop or in a cool, dry, dark place. There is no need to refrigerate winter squash; in fact their preferred storage temperature is around 50 degrees. Even though they look tough, handle them gently. Bruised winter squash won't store as long.

 

Many people are new to winter squash and often relate to them more as seasonal décor than food. We’re here to encourage you to EAT them, because they are fantastically sweet, delicious and versatile. We’ve grown a selection of our all-time favorite varieties and each week I’ll give you tips, suggestions and recipes that will help you enjoy them. Don’t be intimidated by their tough skins, large size, or funky shapes. Winter squash is one of the highlights of seasonal eating in our climate, and lucky for all of us it was a good year for squash on the farm!

 

A word about kitchen safety and winter squash: Their skin is often tough as nails, so be very careful cutting into them. If you’re cutting a squash in half or into slices, you’ll want to use a large, heavy-bladed, sharp-tipped knife (not a thin-bladed, paring, or delicate ceramic knife). We once broke the blade of our best knife while trying to hack open a winter squash, so now we only use a heavy-duty stainless steel chef knife for the job. It’s best to insert the tip of the knife into the squash first and then work the blade down and through the flesh of the squash. Be careful that the squash doesn’t spin out of your grip, or that the knife slips. Always be strategic about where your hands are and where the knife is headed. If you have a microwave, some people suggest nuking the squash for a couple minutes to pre-soften it before attempting to cut into it.

 

Enjoy the parade of squash coming your way. They are a seasonal delight, and not particularly perishable – in case you need some time to warm up to them.

 

Last Week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares

This is the 20th and final week of Abby’s Greens Salad Shares. If you’ve been getting a salad share all season, enjoy this last bag of greens. There will probably continue to be Abby’s Greens for sale at our farmstand each Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm. You can also find Abby’s Greens at the Langlois Market, Mother’s Natural Grocery, and Coos Head Food Store (depending on supply).

 

New Fall Farmstand Hours

We have switched to our fall schedule and the farmstand is now open on Wednesdays ONLY from 10 am to 2 pm. There is still the stray tomato to be had at the stand and the last of the summer peppers, but autumn food is taking over – winter squash, parsnips, potatoes, bunched greens, radishes, broccoli, and much more. We anticipate being open each Wednesday through mid-December.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Braising Mix
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Red Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Spaghetti Squash

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

Week 19: October 7

In This Week’s Beet Box:

  • New Produce of the Week: Escarole
  • Produce Smugglers and Roadkill Tomatoes: A Delivery Escapade

 

In your share this week:

  • Yellow Onions
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Yellow Finn Potatoes
  • Escarole
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Rainbow chard

 

On Rotation

This means that some pickup sites will receive it this week; others next week or in a future week.

  • Broccoli

 

NEW PRODUCE OF THE WEEK

Escarole: It looks like lettuce, but it’s actually a member of the chicory family (lumped in there with radicchio, endive, friseé, dandelions, and other such bitter greens). And yes, unadulterated, it is mildly bitter, which will probably please some of you more than others. But if you are suspicious of bitter foods, don’t toss your escarole out just yet. It’s a versatile green and there are lots of ways to prepare it that won’t make you pucker up. Here are some good options:

 

Salads: Wash your escarole well (it tends to collect dirt more than lettuce), cut it into ribbons, and then let it soak for 10 minutes in water. This tends to leach out any trace of the bitterness. You can then use it raw just like lettuce. I like to pair escarole in salads with sweet ingredients like dried cranberries, diced apple, pomegranate seeds, and candied nuts. Add some goat cheese or parmesean and you have a gourmet salad. It’s also good with avocado and citrus. I usually make up a honeyed-lemony vinaigrette of some sort to go with it.

 

Cooked: Escarole is more durable than lettuce and it holds up well to cooking. Check out this long list of escarole recipes on epicurious.com: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=escarole&x=0&y=0

 

Your escarole will store for a week or so in the fridge in a plastic bag. Note that last week’s rain did some damage to the heads, causing some exterior leaf rot. I tried to clean them up as much as possible, but you might encounter a small amount of rot on some of the outer leaf margins. Just cut or tear those sections out; the majority of the head should be perfectly fine. But you might want to eat it sooner than later. Thanks for understanding!

 

Produce Smugglers and Roadkill Tomatoes: A Delivery Escapade

Last week I was sitting here at my desk, working away at the newsletter, when the phone range. It was Roxy, our delivery driver, and she was on the side of the road on Beaver Hill with some bad news. Frank (our white delivery van) was acting up: the oil light was on and the oil pressure gauge was bobbing wildly, in spite of the fact that I had just topped off the oil the day before. Frank was, as he always is on a Wednesday morning, packed to the gills with the Coos Bay Harvest Baskets, coolers, and boxes of produce for Coos Head. All of us on the farm had already-impossibly full days ahead of us, between office work, fieldwork and juggling our kids.

 

The dilemma: keep driving the van and hope it didn’t blow up (the Coos Bay CSA pickup was scheduled to start in 45 minutes), or go to Roxy’s rescue. My mechanic is currently out of town for 6 months, so we decided to err on the side of caution. I told Roxy to stay put and we mobilized. Better to sacrifice a day than have to buy a new van.

 

My mom and I raced north in the little green farm pickup and her old Volvo station wagon. When we reached Roxy, she told us that a cop had been there. He wanted to know what she was up to. She explained that she delivered for Valley Flora, but he insisted on searching the van. She opened the back doors for him and showed him the tower of Harvest Baskets.

 

“What’s in the totes?” he asked suspiciously.

“Vegetables.”

“I need you to open one up for me, ma’am.”

It dawned on Roxy at that moment that he thought she was smuggling drugs.

“Now mmmmm-mm, doesn’t that look good?” Roxy said with just the tiniest trace of sass as she popped the lid off a tote and brandished a full October Harvest Basket.

 

By the time we reached Roxy, we were overdue at the Coos Bay CSA site by almost an hour. We hustled all the CSA totes into the pickup, tied them down hastily, and crammed the rest of the Coos Head boxes into the Volvo. I sped off up Beaver Hill, the speedometer reading 70, and looked in the mirror just in time to see my mom pulling a U-ey in the middle of 101. I pulled the pickup over and got out. A lid had blown off one of the Harvest Baskets, but all of the produce was still there. A few minutes later my mom pulled up with the lid, we re-tied the ropes and added a bungey net in hopes of keeping everything in place. My stomach was strung tight with urgency. It was already 1 o’clock.

 

Off we went again at break-neck speed, but it was only moments before I saw a flash in the mirror and watched in horror as, slow motion, a red lid followed by a red tote cartwheeled through the air and crashed onto the highway, catapulting produce in every direction. Ripe tomatoes exploded, purple beets skidded, lettuce shredded, brittle carrots snapped, and a bunch of parsley bounced twice before coming to rest on the white line. I’m pretty sure I said something that looked like this: #@$%@!! And then my mom and I started laughing. Was this really happening? The very thing that I have hoped for six years would never happen?

 

If there was a scenario-meter to measure situations from best to worst, I quickly realized that although we were rapidly plummeting towards “worst,” we weren’t there yet. Jolene, the site host in Coos Bay, is not only an awesome human being, she is also a CSA member (those two things seem to go hand in hand) and I quickly realized that I could bring her a replacement tote the next day. So long as we didn’t lose another harvest basket off the back of the truck, we might still be able to pull this mission off. We re-tied the load yet again and set off at a mild-mannered 50mph.

 

Over an hour late and belching white exhaust (the green farm pickup has some issues right now, too…oi vei!), we arrived at the CSA site and off-loaded all the totes, with a promise to Jolene that we’d bring her a new one the next day. (A big thank you to all the Coos Bay members for their patience, and to Paul, the CSA site organizer, for his help!).

 

As for Frank, the long and short of it is that we’re pretty sure now that his problem is nothing but a faulty oil gauge. Which means that the entirety of last week’s escapade was a fire drill, no more. That, and fodder for some newsletter story-telling. Roxy and Frank made it home from Coos Bay today without a hitch, and hopefully the oil gauge will only be dancing for another week. The mechanic made room for us next Monday.

 

The Valley Flora Crystal Ball: What MIGHT be in your share NEXT week…

No promises, but your tote might include some of the following:

  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Winter squash
  • Fennel

 

Recipes Galore

Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.

 

For recipes and ideas, check out these links:

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/forum/4

Our own collection of recipes, where you can contribute and share your favorites

 

http://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/recipe-searcher

Our website’s recipe “search engine,” where you can hunt down recipes by ingredient

 

www.epicurious.com

A vast collection of recipes, searchable by one or multiple ingredients

 

http://info2.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php?cmd=RE

A storehouse of recipes, searchable by ingredient

 

http://helsingfarmcsa.com/recipes.php

A Washington farm that has a good collection of seasonal recipes

Newsletter: 

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