The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

Week 9 of the Winter/Spring CSA!

In the share this week:

  • Artichokes
  • Shallots
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Redleaf Lettuce: Big mondo heads out of our high tunnels! This was a winter trial that turned out better than planned!
  • Sunflower Shoots: Our micro/shoot yields shot through the roof this round of production, so you're getting a full HALF pound of sunflower shoots this week instead of the intended 1/4#. They're great on salads, in sandwiches, in smoothies, or by the handful straight out of the bag.
  • Mixed Greens
  • Yukina Savoy Tatsoi: This is a glossy, dark green pac choi with spoon-shaped leaves that might almost fool you into thinking it's spinach....
  • Pink Radishes

The first artichokes of the season! Many of you have heard the story of these artichokes - that they've been propagated in our family for over 50 years - and I am so excited to share them with you this week. The original plant came out of a friend's yard in Bandon in the early 70's, which my Mom grew and divided in her garden throughout my entire childhood. Many a spring dinner centered wholly around these artichokes when I was a kid (and the requisite butter/mayo that must attend them). I took plants to Portland when I lived there in my 20s and grew them in my own garden. When I returned in 2008, I divided my garden plants and brought home 40 starts that I planted into the first Valley Flora field. Simultaneously I started a few hundred Green Globe chokes from seed. It was obvious after the first year of production that our family artichoke outstripped the Green Globes in every way: hardier, more productive, more beautiful, more delicious, and nearly choke-free (not very much hair around the heart, especially in the small baby chokes). Harvesting these artichokes this week made me feel so lucky to live on this planet, surrounded by swooping swallows and apple blossoms amidst a canvas of electric spring green everywhere! I'm thinking that when the time comes to "retire," I'll revert to 100% horse powered artichoke production and keep it simple: me, my trusty steeds, some simple antique farm equipment, and a patch of thistles. Sounds like heaven.

I also spent some of my artichoke-harvest-time trying to tame the gnawing egg of anxiety I'm feeling about drought and climate change. I find that my daily sense of well-being is inextricably linked to the 10-day weather forecast. When I see an inch of precip on the horizon, I am awash in good feelings that all is well on planet Earth. But when the inch turns into a half, into a quarter, into a tenth, and then vanishes altogether - with nothing but more sun in the forecast - I feel despair. All this sun has been amazing for getting the season off to a great start, but I am desperate for it to rain (running irrigation at this time of year is downright wrong). This is not the Oregon of my memory, of my childhood. This is California, creeping north. This is the creek getting lower. Is this the beginning of the end of farming on Floras Creek (no water = no farm)?

I found myself thinking about what we can do: so far we have invested in solar so that almost the entire farm runs on the sun; we rely on horses instead of tractors for some of our fieldwork; we don't drive very much; we re-use our harvest and delivery bins for years and years; we bought a used Sprinter van that gets 25 mpg to curb our fuel consumption on the delivery route (wish it was electric, plugged into our solar panels!); we get on an airplane maybe once a year and buy carbon offsets when we do; we eat a plant-based diet for the most part, with local meat only making an occasional appearance; we buy bulk; we wash and reuse and eventually recycle our plastic bags; we vote.  

All of these things are built into our daily behaviors, but I wonder what more we could do, shy of quitting the farm and throwing ourselves headlong into climate activism. It seems unlikely that many of us are going to quit everything and go on the stump with Gretta Thunberg, so probably we should ask ourselves every single day: what can I do today to make the planet less hot? I do love a nice hot shower at the end of the day. Maybe I should try to make it shorter. I do drive my pickup back and forth around the farm; maybe I could rig a bike trailer that could haul my seeds and tools instead. I do donate to climate change efforts; maybe I should give more. And then the tiny little things combined with the big gigantic things (like the Paris climate agreement) - maybe it adds up to a future where my little Uma, who, at 6 years old, proclaims she wants to be a "watermelon picker" when she grows up, will be able to do just that? (Watermelons do require quite a bit of, er, water.)

In the meantime, I'd better get a prescription of anti-depressants because the Thursday rain forecast just got downgraded (again) from 0.15" to 0.09."

Big sigh. Don't let me ruin your week, but maybe it'll motivate you to ask the same question every day: What can I do today to make the planet less hot?

 

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: 

Week 8!

In your share this week:

  • Frozen Strawberries! Be sure to grab one bag per Harvest Basket from the blue coolers at your pickup site today!
  • Shallots
  • Red Cabbage
  • Cauliflower 
  • Mixed Greens
  • Green Butterhead
  • Sunflower and Pea Shoot Mix
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Bunch Carrots

It's been an enormously productive few weeks in the field with all this sun shining down on us - what an amazing window of opportunity on the farm at this planting-intensive time of year! I'm equally grateful to see that the rain is returning in earnest this coming week. Everything could use it: the creek, the pasture, the newly-planted seedlings, and the farmers who have been going non-stop for the past few weeks. We hope to have all of our onions in the ground by week's end (all 16,000 of them), as well as all the potatoes (4000 row feet, or 1/3 of an acre), plus our next weekly wave of broccoli, lettuce, and carrots. And then come Saturday, ahhhhhhhhhhh, let it rain. Maybe I'll sleep in.

There's a good chance you'll see artichokes in your share next time; they are just starting to pop (a few weeks later then in recent years). I'm relishing our new patch, which we established last year in an effort to renovate our original artichoke plants. They are healthy and vigorous and I'm hoping for a bumper year. Better stock up on butter and mayo and get ready for some dipping! :)

Have a great week, eat lots of salad, be outside all that you can!

xox

Zoë

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 7!

In Your Share this Week:

  • Cauliflower
  • Tetsu Kabocha Squash
  • Radishes 
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Spring Raab
  • Cebollitas
  • Baby Butterhead
  • Radish Micro Mix
  • Chard

This has been the most striking change of season from winter to spring that I can remember on the farm. As if on cue around the spring equinox, the sun came out, the swallows returned in a cacophony of birdsong, and the north wind started to blow. This past week we've been in overdrive mode: mowing down all the cover crops, opening up ground for spring plantings, spreading pallet-loads of soil amendments, and getting thousands of starts into the field. I've lost track of what day it is, in the blur of blue skies and hours of squinting into bright sun from the tractor seat. Ironically, despite the countless inches of rain we've had all winter, we had to drop our irrigation pumps into the creek this week and put pipe in the field to help all the new transplants along. 

Nothing embodies our emergence into spring better for me than the first tender heads of lettuce from the greenhouse. Butterhead salads again, whoopeeee! You're also getting chard hearts this week, the final harvest from plants that we set out in the field a whole year ago. For some of you, the radishes are coming in bulk (for whatever reason the tops didn't grow tall, which makes bunching tricky). This is round 3 of 4 in the miraculous, frost-sweetened, overwintering cauliflower department (our last variety is still to come, next time).

Hope you're enjoying it all - the food and the weather - and feeling lucky to be alive.

Thanks everyone,

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 5!

What's in your Share this Week:

  • Baby Bunch Carrots - hurrah! Our first harvest from our overwintered greenhouse plantings. Seeded last September, this is our winter "candy carrot" variety that performs well in cold weather. It's a 6 month waiting game for these babies and always a full-blown celebration when we finally get to dig our first sweet, crunchy harvest.
  • Winter Baby Greens - a mix of mustards, mizuna, tatsoi and other Asian greens
  • Shallots - our longest-storing allium. This variety is supposed to produce single shallots, but very often it throws doubles. I wish it wouldn't do that because the outer skin is thick and tight, which in our damp climate can trap humidity between the two shallot bulbs (even in our climate-controlled, insulated storage room). It means that you might see a faint trace of grey mold between the two bulbs when you start peeling back the outer skin. It's minor and only affects the skin, so not to worry. Just peel away and you'll have a beautiful lavender shallot waiting for you just beneath the surface.
  • Red Beets
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Spring Raab
  • Italian Parsley
  • Tetsukabuto Winter Squash - our longest-keeping winter squash, built for the apocalypse (the Japanese name translates to "steel helmet," a nod to it's super-hard skin). If you don't feel like eating this squash right away, that's fine; it'll still be good in June. It's a yummy kabocha type with sweet dry flesh that shines in Thai curry, tempura, or hacked into wedges and roasted with olive oil and sea salt. Take care with this one when you're cutting into it!
  • Radish Micro Mix - a new mix we're growing this winter, as colorful as confetti. It's got a spicy kick - goes great on tacos!
  • Pea Shoots  - Bonus! We hadn't planned on doling out more pea shoots to you this week, but we had a bumper harvest this week and decided to share! If you didn't try that pistachio pea shoot pesto recipe I suggested last time, do it! Soooooooo good! 

All in all this week, a nasty couple days to be farming outside. This kind of weather is what we've always referred to as "lamb-killing rain:" temps in the low 40's/high 30's, steady rain, a cold wind. That combo is colder than 30 degrees and snowing, owing to the damp chill that penetrates bone-deep. It can suck the life right out of the wet, newborn lambs that get born in the middle of the night in some far corner of the pasture. We raised sheep when I was a kid and I was my mom's right-hand helper during lambing season. I remember the heartbreak of finding a dead or torpid lamb out in the pasture on morning patrol before school. (Most of the time the ewes that were showing imminent signs of labor would be penned in the barn ahead of time so they could birth indoors, but sometimes a ewe would birth without showing pre-labor signs. And always it was in the middle of the night.) 

We'd bring the half-dead lambs in by the woodstove, wrap them in old sweaters, tube some warm milk into them, and cross our fingers. Sometimes an hour later they'd be up and bouncing, a complete resurrection. But not always. With lambing season in full swing all around us right now, I can't help but hope that the lambs are weathering the weather all right, ideally under the roof of a barn.

For us, thank goodness for wool long underwear (gratitude to the sheep), our layers of down (gratitude to the geese), and our final wrap of Grunden's raingear (gratitude to the petroleum industry and the fishermen). It's just the hands that stop working after awhile. A lot of the crops we harvest are not glove-compatible. Gloves - particularly insulated ones - rob us of our dexterity and make knifework clumsy and slow, so inevitably we end up with ten naked, achey, and numb digits. Good luck working your zipper at a certain point in the day...

But then there's the hot shower, the woodstove, and a heaping plate of fresh-cut salad waiting for you at the end of the day, which usually evens the score.

Have a great week!

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 4

What's in your share this week:

  • Yellow Onion
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Arugula
  • Pea Shoots
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Spring Raab
  • Autum Frost Winter Squash
  • Cauliflower

There are a couple winter miracles in your share this week: purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower! Both of these crops were seeded last July, planted in August and have been weathering winter for the past many months. Even after years of growing it, winter cauliflower never fails to amaze me. We have a mild enough climate here to pull it off - usually successfully - but nevertheless I'm always surprised when those pearly white heads start to show themselves, at a time when it doesn't seem like there could be anything to eat out there in the field. Winter cauliflower is also the tastiest of all the cauliflower we grow because it matures in cold weather, which sweetens up those Brassicas like nothing else. We grow four different overwintering cauliflower varieties that mature in succession, so hopefully you'll get to enjoy another two or three rounds of cauliflower before May.

Similarly, the purple sprouting broccoli in your share is a special thing. It requires patience and a lot of space, but what a treat once those neon purple florettes start to shoot skyward. We grow three varieties that mature between February and April, so it'll also make a few more appearances as we head into spring.

If pea shoots are a novelty to you, this is a great chance to become buddies with them. You guys are getting a full half pound this week - twice as much as planned - because our seeding did so well in the greenhouse this time around. Lengthening days and some sunshine are making all the difference in growth rates in the propagation house right now. I like to eat pea shoots raw in salads, or as the main body of a salad, but you can also sautee them or try making a pea shoot pesto. Here are two different riffs on that notion, one with pistachios and lemon juice and the other with toasted walnuts.

https://www.loveandlemons.com/pea-tendril-pistachio-pesto/

https://www.fresh52.com/recipes/pea-shoot-pesto

I wish I could say that the peas were bagged in the biodegradable cellophane bags we were so excited about last time, but we had a major disasco (disaster + fiasco) this week with the new bags. On Monday we harvested and bagged up all the CSA and farmstand pea shoots and micro mix and then put them in our walk-in cooler for the night so we'd be ready for packout on Tuesday. When we pulled them out of the cooler on Tuesday, we discovered that the new bags were practically melting and anything in contact with the bag was soggy AND wilted. It seems that those marine-degradable bags were already well on their way to breaking down and not doing our produce any good at all. We had to unbag everything (yes, hundreds of bags), toss the wilty shoots, and rebag them all in good ol' turtle murder poly bags. Sigh. The bag vendor has never heard of this problem and is trying to figure out if we got a faulty batch, or....?

So in the meantime until we can resolve the bio bag issue, please do your best to reuse the plastic bags we give you (as many times as possible!) and then recycle them when their life is over (McKay's in Bandon has a plastic bag recycling bin in their foyer; it's worth asking at Ray's in PO and Bandon, and anywhere else you shop for groceries).

Have a lovely week! Celebrate winter cauliflower!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 3

What's in the Winter Share this Week:

  • Candy Carrots
  • Red Beets
  • Leeks
  • Micro Mix
  • Curly Parsley
  • Winter Greens (baby arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, mustard, kale)
  • Bunched Asian Greens
  • Spaghetti Squash - Like most of you, spaghetti squash is not usually the first winter squash I reach for in my kitchen, but out of the blue I had a spurt of spaghetti squash inspiration a few weeks ago. I cut some squash in half and baked them face down in the oven (I always add a good layer of water to the sheet pan to help steam-cook my squash in the oven and prevent sticking). Meanwhile I made up a pressure-cooker batch of homemade chili from our farm-grown pinto beans that I'd soaked the night before. When the spaghettis were done we ladled chili into the cavity of the squash and ate them as spaghetti-chili boats. The spice of the chili played off the sweet mellowness of the squash, and it saved me the effort of having to bake cornbread. It won approval from the whole gang, age 4 to 46. Highly recommend!
  • Butternut Squash - last of the season.
  • Kohlrabi - still ugly on the outside, still pearly white on the inside. This is it for the season.

On Rotation:

  • Spring Raab and Purple Sprouting Broccoli - Bandon members will see a bag of kale & cabbage raab with some purple sprouting broccoli mixed in this week. Raab is the flowering tips of overwintered Brassicas - the final edible gift from our kale plants that have been in the ground for almost a year. It has wonderful, sweet flavor when steamed or sauteed. We usually drizzle it with olive oil and some ume plum vinegar after it comes out of the steamer. It's also fantastic roasted in the oven at 400 degrees with olive oil and salt until you get some crispy browning. Just keep an eye on it so you don't cross the line into blackened raab. It cooks quickly! FYI, we got a new shipment of biobags last week so the raab is packed into a fully compostable/marine degradable wood fiber cello bag. It's been hard to source them, but we've finally found a supplier who can provide an eco option in the volume we need. We'll be using them for all the bagging we can from here on out.

The Ubiquitous Chickweed

Some of you who garden probably recognize this plant, scientific name Stellaria media. Chickweed. Perhaps the most ubiquitous fall/winter/early spring weed we have on the farm, it thrives in cool, moist weather and forms a low-growing succulent mat of greenery capable of swallowing entire plantings of cilantro, onions, greens, lettuce, chicory, carrots, or any other early or late-sown crop that ends up in its path. We spend our fair share of time battling chickweed in the cooler months of the year. If I were to tally up all the hours our crew member, Allen, spent crawling through our onion planting pulling chickweed last spring, it would probably add up to weeks of his life. (Sorry about that, Allen).

You will most definitely find a few sprigs of it in your baby winter greens this week, and probably your bunch greens, too, despite the countless eye-straining hours we spent trying to sort it out of the mix during harvest, wash and bagging this week. The good news is it's entirely edible. Not only that, it's really, really good for you: super high in vitamins, minerals and protein, and it actually tastes good. So why all the painstaking effort to keep it out of the salad mix? Good question. Chickweed is one of those plants that has always belonged in the "weed" category of our farming minds; something we battle so that other cash crops can thrive instead. But little by little I have begun to wonder if it's time for a paradigm shift. A "weed" is purely a human construct. It's "a plant that is not valued where it is growing, usually of vigorous growth, especially one that tends to choke out or overgrow more desirable plants" (thank you Merriam Webster). What if, instead of fighting the chickweed we embraced it? Harvested it? Washed it? Bagged it? Sold it? 

We'd be rich!

(And you'd be really healthy!)

One of my favorite seed farmers/organic ag gurus is firebrand Frank Morton. He founded Wild Garden Seed in Philomouth and has dedicated his life to developing regionally adapted, open-pollinated, open source, organic varieties for farm and garden. He's also been a champion of the fight to protect Oregon's world-class, specialty seed-producing Willamette Valley from intrusion by GMO canola production (great article on this issue here). Frank once preached a mighty e-sermon to our farmer listserv about all the virtues of chickweed (this was in response to someone's post about "how do you deal with all the f***ing chickweed on your farm in the winter!?!"). Frank hotly contested that chickweed was nature's gift to our farms, covering and nourishing our soils through the winter, providing early spring forage for hungry pollinators and beneficial insects, AND to top it all off, it tastes great and is way more nutritious than kale! We should all be getting down on our knees and thanking the chickweed gods. And oh by the way, you can buy chickweed seed to INTENTIONALLY PLANT ON YOUR FARM from me, Frank, on my website. Amen.

I think most of us chortled at Frank's sermon that day (gotta love that Frank!) and then promptly hit "delete," cuz after all, what's the second word in chick-weed? Us farmers don't grow weeds, we grow hifalutin, specialty veggie-tables. I bet you money though that, as usual, Frank is ahead of his time. Chickweed will be all over those fancy menus in Portland someday - if it isn't already - maybe under the more elite auspices of "stellaria" at first - and it'll only be a matter of time before the culinary chickweed diaspora spreads down to Curry County. When that day comes and we find ourselves weeding the arugula out of the chickweed bed, I will think of Frank in all his infinite wisdom, vision, genius and foresight as a pioneering ecological seed breeder/farmer and thank him. (And honestly, I kinda hope that day comes sooner than later, cuz man do we have a vigorous patch of chickweed in our winter greenhouses!)

P.S. If you get some chickweed in your greens this week, try it! If you like it, let me know! If you'd like to see more chickweed in your salad in the future, please email me immediately! We could spearhead a reverse diaspora where Coos/Curry county teaches Portland how to eat high on the chickweed hog and yours truly could spend less of her life culling out tiny little delicious tendrils of chickweed in the washtub.

 

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 2

What's in your Winter CSA share this week:

  • Costarossa Radicchio - the last of the season. I am crying bitter radicchio tears because I have to wait unti next November to make that Tasty n Sons salad again.
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Italian Parsley
  • Celeriac
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Autumn Frost Winter Squash - a new variety we trialed this year that I'm falling in love with. It's a specialty butternut with extra-long storage superpowers, thanks in part to that natural "frosty" wax layer on the skin (which also makes it look extra pretty while it sits on your counter waiting it's turn to jump in the soup pot). The flavor is stellar. I made the best squash soup of my life out of this variety a couple weeks back. Squash soup is six-year old Uma's favorite dinner, which is good news for mom cuz it's a 10 minute meal in the pressure cooker: chop up a couple leeks and saute them until soft and slightly browned. Peel and cube your winter squash and add it to the leeks. Dump in two cans of coconut milk, a couple cups of water, and a big spoonful of Better than Bouillon chicken stock. Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes. Quick-release the pressure and use an immersion blender to puree it smooth. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can do the same thing stovetop at a slightly mellower pace. And if you don't have an immersion blender, you can use an egg beater or transfer the soup in batches into a regular blender to render it silky-smooth. And then, 10 minutes later, you're wearing the "best mom ever" badge, handmade by your six-year-old. It's a great feeling. 
  • Bulk Kale
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Yellow Onion
  • Micro Mix
  • Baby Winter Greens

The bag of winter salad in your share this week marks the almost-end of the Persephone period here at our latitude. Gardeners and farmers talk about the "Persephone days" to refer to that part of the year when there are fewer than 10 hours of daylight. For us, here at 42 degrees N, the Persephone period begins around November 7th and ends around the first of February - aka, "winter." It takes its name from the Greek myth in which Hades, king of the Underworld, falls in love with beautiful maiden Persephone when he sees her picking flowers in a meadow. He kidnaps her in his chariot and carries her off to the dark underworld to be his bride (some say with the blessings of her father Zeus...yeah, the women's movement still had a long way to go back then). Persephone's mother, Demeter - goddess of vegetation and grain - is beside herself and searches the earth for her daughter, to no avail. At that point she withdraws into her temple and causes a great drought - a nice tactic to strongarm Zeus into releasing her daughter. But Hades tricks Persephone and gives her a pomegranate seed to eat, which seals her fate to remain in the underwold forever. Meanwhile up on earth, plants are shriveling and the ground is parched and Demeter is playing her cards well. In the end, a deal gets brokered where Persephone is released but has to return to Hades for three months of the year - winter, or the Persephone period.  

As a farmer, it's significant because most plants require 10 hours of daylight for active growth, so the Persphone period is a time of dormancy (and the greatest mental relaxation for those of us who tend plants). I used to think it meant that things don't grow at all. But that's really not true here in our climate where it doesn't get that cold. Plant growth simply slows down dramatically. Once I realized this, I started playing around with somewhat bizarre planting dates in our unheated field tunnels. The greens you're getting this week were seeded on December 3rd. In the summer, they'd be ready for harvest within three weeks, but through the Persephone period it took 2 months. The good news is that I've been seeding greens in our tunnels every other week since December 3rd, so we have tender baby greens - mizuna! arugula! kale! mustards! tatsoi! - to look forward to all season.

Enjoy your last week of the Persephone period in all it's icy rain glory. The wild plum just broke into brave bloom outside my window, and our first daffodils are showing their heads. Persephone will be climbing up from the Underworld any day now and delivering us into our long, drawn-out, wonderful, Oregon springtime - and the end of mental relaxation for farmers!

Newsletter: 

Winter CSA: Week 1

What's in the First Winter CSA Basket...

  • Winter Carrots - a true labor of love at this time of year, but worth the effort! 
  • Leeks
  • Red Beets - our storage variety, acclaimed for it's high brix (sugar) content even after months in storage
  • Bulk Kale - a mix of our various lacinato types
  • Curly Parsley
  • Storage Kohlrabi - ugly as all get out until you peel it, but crispy-juicy-perfect on the inside
  • Parsnips
  • Costarossa Radicchio - a new winter variety we trialed this year, with great results. Planted way back in August, this plant has weathered ALL the weather we've had since then and still came out of the field looking beautiful! Not overly bitter. Try the radicchio "Caesar" recipe below if you still need convincing.
  • Hakurei Turnips - also on the ugly side, especially the tops, but a welcome fresh addition to January salads
  • Delicata Squash

Winter CSA shares are often a mix of striking beauty and blatant unattractiveness. Exhibit A: bright, lofty bunches of green parsley nestled next to wine-red radicchio juxtaposed with gnarly, discolored storage kohlrabi. It's a lesson in trusting that there's good inside, even when things are looking really ugly. That might be a helpful message for all of us these days as our country roils.

Kicking off the winter season, I wanted to share a couple of of my favorite winter recipes that might come in handy for two of the more controversial vegetables in your tote this week: radicchio and beets. These are deeply flavorful, satisfying winter meals that err almost completely on the side of pure plant - which can be hard to do in the more produce-scarce winter months. I crave these two salads regularly in the winter and trust that it's my body telling me what it needs to get through winter feeling happy.

Carrot and Beet Slaw with Pistachio Butter and Raisins - This is a recipe from Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I highly recommend owning this cookbook if you like to eat seasonally. It's often my go-to any time of the year, but especially in the winter. McFadden helps you turn things like parsnips, beets and kohlrabi into culinary wonderment.

Radicchio "Caesar" from Tasty n Sons - Apparently people line up on the sidewalk in Portland and wait for two hours to get an order of this salad. If you have some sourdough from Farmstead Bread, it makes the best homemade croutons. We've been making this weekly and can't seem to grow tired of it. 

Have fun with your first installment of January produce, and thanks for being part of our winter season!

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 28, la última!

  • Beets
  • Green Cabbage - very long keeping in the fridge (months!)
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes
  • Pea Shoots
  • Hakurei Turnips - for Wednesday members this week (Saturday members got them last week)
  • Tetsukabuto winter squash - The squash of choice for the apocalypse! This kabocha/butternut cross stores FOREVER. As in, I once ate one that was over a year old and it was still delish. Tetsu has sweet nutty flavor and wide-ranging versatility in the kitchen: roastable, mashable, curry-able, soup-able, stuffable.

A Short Winter's Nap...

Winter is a fleeting thing around here - about two weeks in December, flanked on either side by spring and fall, which go on for months and months. By January the daffodils will already be blooming and by February green things will be growing like mad again. It doesn't add up to much dormancy - or make for much of a mental break from farming. But rather than chafe against our quasi-Mediterranean climate and its botanical repurcussions, I've embraced the opportunity to grow food year round. Hence, the Winter CSA and farmstand. For those of you signed up for our winter CSA season, we'll see you in a month! The farmstand will likely be back in action that same week on January 13th. It turns out I really enjoy winter production, but I'll admit I'm also quite keen on the little break ahead - a chance to dive into extracurricular projects, hunker in with family, and relish winter.

A mighty mountain of thanks to all of you for your CSA commitment the past 28 weeks. It's been an anxious year, but once again the CSA and our beloved cadre of loyal local customers - farmstand shoppers! co-ops and stores! restaurants! - kept the farm humming. Back in college while I was studying agroecology as an idealistic 20-year old - penning my honors thesis about the pitfalls of the global economy and making the case for local food systems - one of the arguments was always that local food systems are more resilient in the face of a system shock. Like, for instance, when a global pandemic shuts down institutions like colleges and universities, shutters restaurants, forces people into lockdown, and brings the economy to a grinding halt. Sure enough, industrial-scale ag was sent reeling last spring as it struggled to adapt to the abrupt new COVID-19 landscape. Truckloads of zucchini were getting dumped in farm fields because there was no market; slaughterhouses were shut down due to COVID outbreaks among workers so that you couldn't buy chicken for weeks; small blocks of cheese were sold out everywhere but there was a glut of 10 pound cheddar bricks - because everyone was cooking at home instead of eating at the restaurants that buy in volume.

That "resilient-in-the-face-of-system-shock" theory was exactly that, a theory. But I'd never really seen it tested. Last March we weren't sure what the pandemic would mean for us on Floras Creek, but as it turned out more people sought out Valley Flora than ever before amidst this crisis. Restaurant sales slackened predictably, but sales to stores jumped, our CSA membership was up 25%, and our farmstand fed more folks than ever before. We had to expand our crew to get all the farming done each week. We befriended new customers who had never been to the farm before who no longer wanted to shop for produce at the supermarket. People wrote us notes and sent us emails thanking us for helping to keep them safe and healthy through all this, and for nourishing them in more ways than calories alone. And when all was said and done, you guys ate every last stick of food we could grow! At least this time around, the farm weathered a major system shock with flying colors thanks to all of you. 

I have always loved the diversity we tend on the farm (the season's not even over yet and I'm already thumbing through my seed catalogues and notes, excited for the new varieties I want to trial next year). It's been clear to me for a long time that diversity equals resilience when it comes to crop production. That theory has been proven time and time again on the farm in the past twelve years. But diversity also equals resilience when it comes to market channels. If we had been geared to sell to only restaurants when COVID-19 hit, we might have gone under. But the fact that we had all of you supporting the farm in various ways - as CSA members; as farmstand customers; as cafés and delis and restaraunts; as co-ops and stores and caterers - that allowed us to keep on going and to feed more of our community than ever before. Thank you so much.

So here's to our next trip around the sun. I'm optimistic that we have a lot to look forward to in 2021, if nothing else then more of those hot pink mini daikons we trialed this fall! It's what I love about farming: every year is a new beginning, a new adventure, another chance at doing life well. 

Wishing you all good health and a happy solstice. And as always....Eat your vegetables!

Love,

Zoë

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 27 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Celeriac
  • Yellow Onion
  • Head Lettuce - the final harvest! We've never made it into December with head lettuce before, so I was pretty tickled to pull off one last harvest this week. 
  • Rosalba Radicchio - Third time's a charm? This is the final radicchio variety for the season and it's the bell of the ball! She goes by the name "Rosalba" and is a unique novelty among her chicory cousins because she blushes a bridesmaid pink. I'm taken by her because she likes cold weather - in fact, she requires it to turn pink - and it's always fun to make a salad the color of spring blossoms in December.

The Final Two Weeks!

It's not over yet! We're back to our normal schedule this week and you've got two more tote of veggies coming your way this week and next to cap off our 28-week season. On the heels of a hearty Thanksgiving we like to give you some roughage and bitter greens - kale! radicchio! - to reset your system. Then next week we'll hook you up with one final tote replete with lots of things that store well - beets! green cabbage! shallots! potatoes! kabocha squash! - to help you greet the winter solstice with an ample pantry. On the farm, the to-do list has trimmed itself down considerably so that we're mostly focused on harvest, a few final field projects, and getting the horse palace buttoned up (the big ponies are delighted with their new cozy digs!). It means we get a revel in the mellowing workload and savor some long evenings by the woodstove. I love winter!

See you next week for the last hurrah!

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 26 of 28 - Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Purple Brussels Sprouts on the stalk
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Rosemary
  • Shallots
  • Yellow Potatoes, great for mashing
  • Winter Crisp lettuce, which miraculously survived last week's hail storms!
  • Delicata Winter Squash
  • Parsnips - the prettiest ones we've ever grown! I suppose it's a stretch to call a parsnip "pretty," but if you've been a CSA member in the past then you're familiar with our persistent parsnip struggles. It's the only vegetable I've ever threatened to divorce - year after year of disappointment! But like that ridiculous disfunctional relationship that everyone rolls their eyes at, we stay together and keep trying. So much effort for so little reward. So much heartbreak (and so many broken shovels digging the damn things out of the sucking November mud)! I can barely believe it, but the somehow the trying actually paid off this year. We grew nice parsnips for the first time ever. But here's the embarassing thing: the solution was so easy. Row cover. That's it. Just cover the beds with insect netting - the same stuff we use to protect our carrots from rust fly, and our turnips and radishes from cabbage maggot, and our baby greens from flea beetles - and instead of ugly, blemished, tarnished, hideous-but-still-tasty parsnips we got pretty-pearly-white-tasty parsnips. Amazing. So I guess the moral of the story is, if you're stuck in a disfunctional relationship, try.....row cover? Good luck! Oh, and as for eating your parsnips: if you fall into the parsnip-skeptic category, I always suggest this recipe to woo you over to the parsnipophile side of the aisle. It goes great on the Thanksgiving table: Roasted Winter Squash and Parsnips with Maple Syrup Glaze and Marcona Almonds. Your Delicata squash or Butternuts would be a great sub for the Sunshine kabocha squash, in case you don't have one of those lying around.

Our Heartfelt Thanks

In Spanish, "Thanksgiving" translates to "El Dia de Acción de Gracias" (the day of action of thanks, more or less). I love that translation, because it suggests that giving thanks and expressing gratitude are actions. It's easy for Thanksgiving to be about eating too much, falling into a tryptophan-induce food coma, and collapsing onto the couch to watch the football game. But thinking of this holiday as a day of action inspires me to experience it differently, with a little more intention. 

I want to say a huge thank you to the farm crew - Roberto, Jen, Allen, Donna, Sarah, Bets & Abby - for all their hard work. The Thanksgiving harvest always strikes me as a special culmination of our collective effort all season. The CSA tote is full of long-season crops like Brussels sprouts and parsnips and celery - things that we seeded way back in March, April & May and are only just now harvesting. That represents months of labor: transplanting, weeding, irrigating, covering with row cover, weeding again, until finally it's time to harvest, wash and pack the totes here at the end of November. I'm grateful to work with such a competent, dedicated and fun crew. They make my life better in every way. We laugh a lot.

I'm also infinitely grateful to all of you, our CSA members, farmstand customers and wholesale customers who support the farm week after week, year after year. Many of you send us little notes of thanks each week, expressing your appreciation for the produce and the hard work. Well, it's mutual: thank YOU for choosing to buy from this little local, family farm and keeping us in business. But honestly, you're not just keeping us in business; you're supporting our livelihood, which is about a lot more than a business. Valley Flora is what feeds us - yes, financially and nutritionally - but also spiritually and emotionally. We love this valley, this little reach of bottom land along the creek, and we are so grateful to get to spend our days here coaxing life and beauty out of this deep, loamy soil. Thank you for being the bellies that clamor for the fruits of our labor. We are delighted to oblige all your vegetable cravings :).

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, as diferent as it might be this year. In spite of it all - oh 2020! - there is always something to be grateful for. I hope you find that thing and hold it close tomorrow.

Love,

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 25 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Red Beets
  • Red Cabbage: Big, heavy, and dense. This variety stores for a long time in refrigeration, so don't feel like you need to eat the whole thing in one night. Slice off what you need, put it back into the fridge in a plastic bag, and the next time you need red cabbage just shave off the discolored cut edge to reveal fresh cabbage below. 
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac: It's a balled-up hamster! It's a hairy meteorite! It's celery root! Maybe as foreign as a hunk of hirsute space rock to some of you, but this is a great winter vegetable that doubles as a softball! Imagine you took a stalk of celery, crossed it with parsley for flavor and gave it the heft of a potato: Voila, celeriac! What should you do with it? Soup! Latkes! Puree! Mash! Gratin! Here's a nice little collection of recipes to get you started: https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/15-best-celeriac-recipes-article
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Radicchio: They say that it takes 20 tries for a kid to learn to like a new food. If you're that kid and radicchio is that food, here's your second chance to love it, or even just like it a little bit, or OK, at least not spit it out this time. Remember these secrets to success if you're especially averse to bitter:
    • If using raw in salad:
      • Soak your torn/cut up radicchio in cold water for at least 10 minutes.
      • Pair with things salty and sweet: nuts, aged cheese, fresh or dried fruit, cured meats, zippy dressing.
    • Cook it! It's great in risotto and if you have a pressure cooker or instapot and a bag of arborio rice you can make dinner in about 6 minutes (busy farmer-mom trick #3,427).
  • Hakurei Turnips

Contrary to a decade of CSA tradition, we are giving you a little breather on winter squash this week. I interviewed a few members to ask how big the pile of squash on their counter was right now and it seemed sufficiently large across the interview sample to merit a week off. Next week we'll be back with some jumbo Delicata for your Thanksgiving feast. This week you can play catch up with that spaghetti squash that I know you haven't touched yet. (C'mon, what are you waiting for!? Spaghetti squash pizza crust! Recipes and photos abound here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/top-spaghetti-squash-recipes).

Thanksgiving Delivery Schedule Next Week (PLEASE READ!):

Since the beginning of Valley Flora time, we have observed a beloved, if somewhat masochistic, tradition: the week of Thanksgiving we squish our 6-day work week into three days and we deliver ALL Harvest Baskets to ALL pickup locations the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Why do we inflict this temporary insanity on ourselves? 

  1. So that all of you have your Thanksgiving veggies in time for Thanksgiving, and
  2. So that all of us can take a true break over the Thanksgiving holiday.

That means that if you are a Port Orford or Bandon member, your pickup will be on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25th instead of Saturday, November 28th. There will be no pickup on Saturday, November 28th. Pickup hours will be the same as usual, but on Wednesday instead of Saturday.

For Farm and Coos Bay members, there is no change to the pickup schedule: Wednesday as usual, same time, same place.

Mark your calendars/set a reminder now to avoid any confusion! It should read: "PICK UP VF VEGGIES ON WEDNESDAY, NOV 25th!!!!" And just for safe measure - if you're a Bandon or PO member - maybe another one that says: "NO VF VEGGIE PICKUP ON SATURDAY, NOV 28th!!!!"

That should do the trick. I hope to be offline as much as possible next Thursday through Sunday and not troubleshooting pickup site SNAFUS, so set that reminder right now and commit to picking up your produce on Wednesday! 

Your Thanksgiving share will most likely include purple Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Rosemary, Shallots, Parsnips, Potatoes, Delicata Squash, and with any luck a head of lettuce.

Have a great week!

Zoë

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 24 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Brussels Sprouts - on the stalk, alá Dr. Seuss. For easiest and longest storage in your fridge, snap the sprouts off the stalk and store them in a plastic bag. We were excited to harvest them this week on the heels of a couple sweetening frosts at the farm. Freezing temps stoke sugar production in Brussels sprouts - and all its cruciferous cousins (kale, broccoli, collards, cauliflower, etc). The sugar in the plant cells acts as antifreeze, making them winter hardy and extra delicious.
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Yellow Onions
  • Black Winter Radishes - Hailing from Germany (variety name: Runder schwarzer; translation: round black; sometimes also called black Spanish radish), this is one tough radish! It's hardy for fall and winter harvests and long storage. The rough black exterior contrasts with bright white flesh that has moderate spice. A fun new trial for us this season, if only slightly macabre in appearance...
  • Butternut Squash - oh glorious soup-making squash, smooth, sweet, delicious, easy to peel, meaty and dense, inspirer-of-so-many-great-adjectives-to-throw-into-a-run-on-sentence!
  • Kohlrabi - Meet Kossack, our biggest, baddest, sweetest, yummiest kohlrabi variety. Peel it, slice it, eat it raw. This is Uma's favorite vegetable (that's my five year-old daughter; she gets exceedingly excited when I bring one of these home from the farm. Kossack has inspired from her all kinds of spontaneous improv dances-of-joy in the kitchen...).
  • Cauliflower

We have arrived squarely in the "Germanic" phase of the season: guttural vegetable names, heavy blunt things you could lob off the castle wall to fend of barbaric intruders, vegetables that will store forever and see you through the potato famine (if need be, although I encourage you to eat them this week, plus we had a good year for spuds so we don't anticpate any famines of that sort this year). 

Thanksgiving CSA Schedule - Mark Your Calendars!

Thanksgiving is two weeks away - time to alert you to our Thanksgiving delivery schedule!

The week of Thanksgiving we will deliver ALL Harvest Baskets to ALL pickup locations on Wednesday, November 25th. We do this for two reasons:

  1. To ensure that everyone has their Thanksgiving veggies before Thanksgiving, and
  2. To give everyone on the farm a Thanksgiving holiday break.

That means that if you are a Port Orford or Bandon member, your pickup will be on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25th instead of Saturday, November 28th. There will be no pickup on Saturday, November 28th. Pickup hours will be the same as usual.

For Farm and Coos Bay members, there is no change to the pickup schedule: Wednesday as usual, same time, same place.

Mark your calendars now to avoid any confusion!

For menu-planning purposes, you can expect to see the following in your Thanksgiving share: Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Rosemary, Shallots, Parsnips, Potatoes, and Delicata Squash.

Have a great week!

Zoë

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 23 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Acorn Winter Squash
  • Pink Mini Daikon Radish - a new variety trial this season, and we love them! The thick magenta skin is perfectly edible but also pretty spicy, so if you want to dial down the heat a little then peel them. Beautiful streaked pink flesh inside. 
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Carrots - and now they're itty bitty instead of jumbo-lunker!
  • Head Lettuce - we only have another couple weeks of lettuce left in the field, all of which is at the mercy of a hard freeze, hail or pelting rain at this point. With any luck we'll be able to keep you in salad until Thanksgiving. We're harvesting a limited number of "winter" varieties now, so you'll mostly see our red-leafed winter crisp (pictured above) or little gem from here on out.
  • Yellow Onions
  • Red Potatoes - not the prettiest variety this year, unfortunately, so be prepared to get out your peeler here and there. We were unable to source our standby red variety last spring so had to plant a new variety, which we don't love. I'm ordering my seed 
  • Kale
  • Chicory - As lettuce winds down, the chicories ramp up. Think escarole, radicchio, endive: this family of cold-hardy heading greens are a wonderful winter staple and a great strategy for keeping salad on the table well into the darkest corner of winter. They can be somewhat bitter, but if you are averse to that there are ways to circumvent it. For raw eating, cut your chicory into ribbons and soak it in cold water for 10 minutes to leach out the bitterness. You can also grill, roast and braise chicory, addit to soup, pasta, lasagne and risotto. Cooking all but eliminates any trace of bitterness. The chicory in the your tote this week is a "gateway" variety: a sugarloaf type that is less bitter, more lettucey. Epicurious.com has a good guide to chicories and how to use them, as well as lots of yummy recipes, here: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-cook-with-chicories-endive.... A good rule of thumb when you're making a chicory salad is to pair the greens with things sweet, rich and salty: fruit (fresh or dried), candied nuts, hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, bacon/lardons, and a bracing vinaigrette or a creamy rich dressing (think caesar, blue cheese, etc). The combo of bitter/sweet/salty is delicious.

On Rotation

  • Cauliflower

A Love Letter to Chicories

We love things for different reasons, not all the same. Sometimes we love things that are completely perplexing to others. Now and then we learn to love something we never imagined we could have the capacity to love. That's a remarkable feat of growth, testimony to the wonder of the human heart.  

One of the things I love is chicories - something that many of you may not love, may never love - but perhaps if I tell you why I love them it will spark your curiousity, and from there love might be just around the corner. As a farmer whose very being is tied to the magic of seeds, the miracle of gerimation and photosynthesis, the vibrancy of plants and the wax and wane of seasons, this time of year can be accompanied by a tiny trace of grief. It's marked mostly by senescence, things dying, going dormant. All around me the life force of the farm is drawing inward, downward, going quiet. There is no longer the robust energetic noise of seeds sprouting everywhere, new plants popping out of the ground, an endless list of colorful new things to harvest. And sometimes there's a subtle feeling of loss that attends that shift. Also, and without a doubt, I enjoy this time of year immensely because it means we finally get a little break from the madness (picture cozy fire lit in woodstove, soup on stove, reading books with my kids in the evening, hallelujah!).

But also, that tiny trace of grief...

So here are the exceptions to the inevitability of senescence right now: 

  1. cover crops (sprouting and growing like crazy in all the fields, delighting me); 
  2. parsnips and celeriac (not my favorite crops, but yes I'm glad they're out there gearing up to be dug for Thanksgiving); and
  3. chicories

Perhaps the best way to explain my love for chicories is with a photo or two, and save us all a few thousands of words:

The colors! What else is flaming magenta or bridesmaid pink at this time of year, contrasted against the black sky of a pacific storm on the march?

What else withstands hard frost and holds up against the fiercest squall?

What else can you turn into a fantastic, fresh salad in pastel pink and deep purple, at Christmas - or even Valentine's day no less!?

In short: What's not to love?!

There is enormous diversity in the world of chicories, and often quite a bit of phenotypic variability within a given variety. They are beautiful, startling, a gift of winter. You'll see a couple other varieties in your share in the coming weeks and I hope they win you over - if need be, with a little help from bacon.

Here's an icebreaker recipe to get you started down the path to love: Chicory, Bacon and Poached Egg Salad

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 22 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Head Lettuce
  • Sunshine Kabocha Squash OR North Georgia Candy Roaster Squash: This week we're sending Sunshine Kabocha to our Coos Bay and Bandon members; Farm and Port Orford members will get North Georgia Candy Roaster. We had limited yields in both varieties this season and there wasn't enough of either variety to feed everyone. That said, both are great eating with smooth skins that make kitchen prep easier. Sunshine has sweet, orange flesh with flavor tilted towards the tropical. The North Georgia Candy Roaster is an unusual heirloom with fantastic flavor, but most people find more to comment on in the curious looks department. If a giant pink banana and a mutant sweet potato got together, North Georgia Candy Roaster would be their lovechild. Size-wise, we're talking large baby (rest assured we made our best effort to sort out the 15lb+ specimens so as not to scare anyone off from the CSA for good). Both types of squash can be roasted, stuffed, churned into soup or whipped into pie filling. You can also bake or steam them, scrape out the meat and freeze it for later if you're feeling some trepidation about eating 10 lbs of squash in one sitting. Also, both varieties improve in storage, so feel free to add them to your seasonal squash decor until the spirit seizes you to preheat the oven.

On Rotation:

  • Cauliflower

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY THIS WEEK...

Only 6 more days until Election Day, which means if you haven't already voted, do it today! It's too late to be dropping them in the mail, so your best bet is to drop your ballot off at one of the secure ballot dropsite locations in your county.

If you live in Curry County, 24-hour drive-up ballot dropsites are located at:

  • Curry County Courthouse
    E Moore Street
    Parking lot
    Gold Beach, OR 97444
  • Brookings City Hall
    898 Elk Drive
    Brookings, OR 97415
  • Port Orford City Hall
    555 W 20th Street
    Port Orford, OR 97465

If you live in Coos County, ballot dropsites are located in Bandon, Coos Bay, North Bend, Lakeside, Myrtle Point, Coquille, and Powers. Details for each site are listed here: http://www.co.coos.or.us/Portals/0/County%20Clerk/Elections/Elections%20...

If you've already voted and want to check on the status of your ballot, you can do so here: https://sos.oregon.gov/voting/Pages/myvote.aspx?lang=en

It's a quick, easy way to ensure that your ballot has been received.

If you don't have a way to get your ballot to a dropsite before next Tuesday, email us and we'll help make it happen!

In the meantime, thanks for voting with your food dollars and your fork to support VF and the kind of farming that's local, family-scale, solar-and-horse-powered, organic, and full of love. 

Remember to breathe this week.

xoxo

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

CSA Newsletter: Week 21 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Head Lettuce
  • Yellow Onions
  • Violet Queen Turnips
  • Pie Pumpkin - truly meant to be turned into pie, with drier/sweeter flesh bred specifically for pie filling. But also perfectly happy to be seasonal Halloween decor in the meantime until the right baking day comes along.
  • Italian Parsley
  • Beets - Red, Gold and/or Chioggia

On Rotation:

  • Romanesco
  • Broccoli

Notes from the Field

This week is the final major push to get cover crops seeded. The eastern half of the farm is mostly already seeded and germination looks fantastic on the heels of our last rain. This Thursday I'll be seeding the western half of the farm and then hitching the horses to cultipack the seed in. The cultipacker is a heavy set of metal rollers packed closely togther over a 6' span that presses the seed into the ground to create better soil-to-seed contact, which improves germination. It's a piece of equipment I salvaged off an old homestead outside of Powers over a decade ago, and with the help of some friends with welding skills, put it back to use after a half a century of sitting in a blackberry thicket. My fingers are crossed for enough precip on Friday & Saturday to get this next round of cover crops to sprout. Our goal is to have as much of the farm planted to winter cover crops as possible by the end of October, at which point it's too late to coax most things to grow. 

Most of our winter squash are done curing and are tucked into the bulging bays of the barn now. I ate my first Delicata this week and was blown away by how sweet they are this season. 

Our strawberry crowns are scheduled to arrive from the nursery this week, so we'll be plenty busy for the next few weeks getting 9000 new bare-root strawberry plants into the ground. I'm excited to get them planted while we still have some good growing weather left; every day counts right now as the sun dips farther and farther south. The more growth the plants can put on now, the better our yields and fruit quality will be next summer. 

We're harvesting our storage kohlrabi this week. As you can see from the photo below, they err towards the bigger-than-a-baby's-head size. You'll see them in your share in a few weeks. They're the sweetest, juiciest kohlrabi we grow.

Savor these last couple weeks of October. What a month.

Newsletter: 

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