The Valley Flora Beetbox

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

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 7 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • New Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Sugar Snap Peas - a motherlode of 'em!
  • Fava Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Strawberries
  • Head Lettuce
  • Cucumbers

On Rotation:

  • Artichokes

Oh holy heat wave! Glad that's over, SHEESH! I don't know how those inland farmers do it - dealing with heat like that, and temperatures ten to fifteen degrees more extreme, on an increasingly regular basis. Climate change is no fun as a farmer, I can promise you that. Heat waves force you to spend a lot of energy throwing extra water at crops; trying to outpace the sun as it vaults into the morning sky during harvest; trying to keep your own body cool and hydrated and conscious; doing your absolute best to keep produce from wilting while you pick it and pack it. We hit the high nineties/low hundreds over the weekend, temps that we've seen before on the farm, but it's always been one random day here or there - never a string of consecutive, unrelenting, oven-broilers. Certain summer crops soaked up the heat happily: the peppers, sweet corn, onions, winter squash, green beans and eggplant all bushed out and doubled in size in the span of a few days. But some of our "spring" crops that don't like extreme temps, like peas, tried to outrun us. We put in an extra harvest day to avoid losing them all, but even so our Monday haul broke every yield record in the history of growing Sugar Snaps at Valley Flora because the pods were so fat and filled out (still sweet, thank goodness). That explains why you're getting a huge pile of them in your share this week...:). We also lost a bunch of lettuce to bolting, the aphids moved in on the broccolini, and the strawberries are in a mild state of heat shock.

It's a huge relief to see our forecast returning to the lovely 70's for now, a temperature that both flora and fauna thrive in. That said, there's a part of us that is constantly braced nowadays, trying to stay mentally, emotionally and physically prepared for the next heat wave or climate catastrophe, because it's coming at us no matter how much we hope it won't. Climate change means that farmers and farmworkers have to dig that much deeper, work that much harder in uncomfortable - if not downright dangerous - conditions, and reckon with the financial reality of climate-related crop losses. Wish us - and the global food supply - best of luck, and consider the connection before you hop willy nilly on an airplane, eat lots of meat, or cast your ballot. Your choice to source your produce from us - a local, organic, solar-powered farm - and eat a plant-forward diet is a very important step in the right direction (30% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to the food system, nearly 20% of that 30% is food mile emissions, and 36% of that 20% is from fruit and vegetable food miles). So it's significant when you get your fruit and veg nearby, and especially significant when your produce doesn't travel by air. While you might have been motivated to join our CSA for the flavor, freshness, or health benefits of peak-of-season produce, you're also engaging in a form of climate activism when you pick up your CSA tote, farmstand order, or buy Valley Flora produce at the Port Orford Co-Op, Coos Head Food Co-op, the Langlois Market, McKay's, Crooked Creek Farmstand, or any of the other wonderful outlets that support the farm. Thank you so much for being part of the solution! We hope it feels good and tastes great.

P.S. If you don't know what to do with fresh fava beans, this guy'll help get you started :) and here are a few recipes to consider.

Newsletter: 

In A Landscape Returns to Valley Flora September 7th!

IN A LANDSCAPE: Classical Music in the Wild™ is an outdoor concert series where America’s most stunning landscapes replace the traditional concert hall. Guests explore the surrounding environment while listening to the music through wireless headphones, creating an immersive experience that fosters a connection with the music, nature, and with one another. Explore the full 2024 series at this link.

Join us for a sublime evening of virtuoso piano with Hunter Noack amidst the farm fields at Valley Flora! The piano will be situated in the middle of the farm, north of the horse corral. Concert check-in opens at 4:00 pm, and the performance begins at 5:00 pm. Please carpool since parking is limited, and arrive early enough to park and walk to the site.

Thanks to the sponsorship of Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation, and Travel Southern Oregon Coast, a portion of ticket sales will benefit the Wild Rivers Land Trust, a non-profit organization working to protect watersheds, open space, and working ranches, farms, and forests for future generations.

This event takes place on the ancestral and occupied homeland of The Confederated Tribes of Siletz including the Tututni peoples.

Accessibility and other FAQs

Parking at our location is extremely limited and we encourage carpooling. Guests may have to park up to 1/2 mile from the site, depending on roadside parking availability, so please plan ahead. There will be a drop-off area near the site for guests, chairs, and picnics. There will be a small # of reserved parking places for those with ADA placards. The site itself is on grassy uneven terrain. There will be no shuttle service provided. Please see the Eventbrite page for additional details on accessibility, dogs, food, and other answers about our specific location.

Good Neighbor Program

IN A LANDSCAPE’s Good Neighbor Program provides access to those who might not otherwise be able to afford a ticket to this outdoor classical music experience.

Eligibility at this site:

  • Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cardholders use promo code: “inalandscape” (EBT card required at check-in)
  • To request a Good Neighbor ticket for another reason, please email gnp@inalandscape.org

Buy Your Tickets Here!

Newsletter: 

Week 6 of 28 from Valley Flora!

  • Head lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Green Cone Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Purplette Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Kale

On Rotation:

  • Artichokes

If ever there was a "signature" Week 6 share, this is it: dainty Purplette onions, fat Sugar Snap peas, tender-sweet Caraflex cabbage, heavy heads of broccoli, bright red strawberries, luxurious basil. With one major exception: artichokes! Starting this week artichokes will be on rotation, which has never happened in the July CSA shares before. We typically move our artichoke patch every five years or so, usually in the late Fall. We missed the window to do it last fall, so they got divided and moved in February instead. That delayed their development by a couple of months, so instead of budding in April/May, which is their usual peak season, we're getting July chokes instead. These new plants are HUGE - wading through them for harvest feels like a journey into some prehistoric thistle patch, with spiky chokes bobbing above the foliage everywhere you turn.

The Valley Flora artichoke is somewhat of a local legend. They've been in our family for over fifty years, since the early 1970's when my mom's friend gave her a division from her garden on Short Street in Bandon. My mom tended and divided that plant and turned it into multiple clumps of artichokes in her own garden. Throughout my entire childhood we savored those chokes in the late spring (dipped in melted butter of course). When I moved to Portland after college in 2003, my mom gave me a few divisions for my own backyard. They threw chokes reliably, even in Portland's more extreme inland climate. When I finally moved back to Langlois, I brought my artichokes with me: forty bare root divisions that I planted out into the field next to 300 Green Globe starts that I'd germinated from a seed packet.

Once those Green Globes started producing that first season, it became apparent immediately how superior the "Mother Choke" was: those forty original plants out-yielded the three hundred Green Globes; the chokes were more beautiful and uniform; they had far better flavor; and, most striking of all, they were practicly chokeless (the "choke" is the hairy part of the flower bud, just above the heart as you eat down through the leaves). When you eat a smaller Valley Flora artichoke, you'll find that you can eat it from the bottom up, no hairy choke to choke on. The Mother Choke also puts out a smaller, secondary flush of chokes in the Fall (bonus)!

As the plants came through their first winter of frost, snow and heavy rain, it became obvious that there was no point in keeping those Green Globes around. The Mother Chokes took every beating that winter threw at them - including a 17 degree cold snap - and bounced right back, while the Green Globes faltered and many died. I wasted no time in tilling the Globes under, dividing the row of Mother Chokes yet again, and replanting the patch with our own stock. Sixteen years later they're going stronger than ever on the farm - in July! 

If Valley Flora had a mascot, most of the public would probably chose the strawberry. But deep down, I think it's the artichoke. It represents the five+ decades that this land has cupped us in its palm along Floras Creek, generously feeding us unusual and beautiful things every season over the span of three generations. People usually speak of humans as the ones who "tend" and "nurture" a piece of land - and while it's certainly true that we spend our every waking moment loving on this place - at the end of the day I feel like it's the land that's tending, nurturing and filling us with life.

There is a Kalapuya saying that I keep on a post-it note at my desk:

A homeland, an Ilihi, cannot be possessed, it possesses its people, it holds them.

For this beautiful homeland, and for the artichoke that grows so well within it, nothing but gratitude.

Newsletter: 

Week 5 from Valley Flora!

  • Romaine - go big with a Summer Solstice Caesar Salad. Make this Caesar Dressing, my all-time favorite!
  • Sugar Snap Peas - whoopea!!!
  • Red Beets
  • Dill
  • Strawberries
  • Fennel

On Rotation:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Collards
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini

Oh yeah, here it comes! The Week 5 CSA share is often the gateway into summer food, and the moment when I let out a big sigh of relief as a farmer. Believe it or not, June is the leanest month on the farm, in spite of all the daylight and sunshine. That's because all of our overwintering and storage crops from last season are exhausted (potatoes, onions, squash, shallots, beets), and everything we have to harvest is newly-planted and at the mercy of capricious springtime (for instance, our first four carrot seedings were demolished by slugs, delaying our first outdoor carrot harvest by a month+ this year). That means that most of June is usually about leafy greens, lettuce, fast-growing root crops like turnips and radishes, and if we're lucky, strawberries. We're also suddenly trying to fill twice as many CSA boxes every week (instead of half as many every other week, like we do for our Winter CSA from January to May), stock our farmstand, and keep all of our wholesale accounts happy (the co-ops, grocery stores and restaurants that loyally purchase VF produce). The CSA shares are typically smallest in June, and as someone who is perhaps overly-obsessed with stuffing those CSA totes to the gills, I love it when we drop into the abundance of summertime, replete with heavy, sturdy things like beets, fennel, broccoli, and carrots (coming soonish!).

The cherry on top is sugar snap peas, which are one of my all-time favorite early summer delights. They are the very first thing we seed outdoors (March 10th this year, in a tiny little window of sunshine in between incessant rainstorms), and then we spend 3+ months tending and training them up a towering trellis until this moment, when finally those little snackers are hanging heavy on the vine. It's a labor-of-love kinda harvest - many, many crew hours will be spent combing through those long rows in the next few weeks - but the reward is more than worth it. Enjoy them while they're here because it's a short 3 week window of harvest.

Also new this week: fennel, red beets, dill, and collards and chard (on rotation). I laughed when I realized both fennel and beets would be in the share this week - our two most controversial vegetables. In fifteen years of running our CSA, I have learned that people tend to fall into two hardline camps: fennel haters v. fennel lovers and beet haters v. beet lovers. Sorry to throw two polarizing vegetables at you at once, but honestly, they make for a stellar pairing in something like this: Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Citrus Dressing (I'd toss some crumbled goat cheese on top if I were you...). 

I've given this sermon to CSA members in the past, but studies show that it can take up to 20 tries for the human palate to learn to like a food. So if you think you're in one of those hater camps, give fennel/beets a try this week - 20 little bites is all it might take to join the lovers (here's a little more info on fennel - eating it raw, eating it roasted, learning to love it...). Good luck, and let me know if you're among the converted - it's a beautiful world on this side.

Newsletter: 

Week 4 from Valley Flora!

  • Baby Arugula 
  • Rhubarb - You can go sweet (crisp, compote, cake, muffins) or savory with this one
  • Basil - the first harvest!
  • Strawberries
  • Hakurei Turnips - last week of these little morsels until Fall!
  • White Kohlrabi - the big, tender cousin to the purple kohlrabi from last week. Peel and slice it into your salad for yummy crunch.
  • Head Lettuce - butterhead, leaf or romaine

On Rotation:

  • Zucchini
  • Broccolini

Coming Soon!

  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Red Beets
  • Fennel
  • Cabbage

 

Newsletter: 

Week 3 from Valley Flora!

  • Purple Kohlrabi
  • Strawberries
  • Mizuna
  • Kale
  • Head Lettuce

On Rotation:

  • Zucchini
  • Broccolini
  • Cilantro
  • Hakurei Turnips

For some of you this might be your first encounter with kohlrabi. Those pretty purple bulbs are edible from top to bottom: you can use the leaves as a cooking green, just as you would kale or collards. The bulb requires peeling (¡que lástima! you have to peel away that plum-colored exterior). But the interior is a crisp, white, crudités delight, not unlike jicama or the tender peeled stem of broccoli. There are various recipes that call for cooking kohlrabi, but personally I think it's at its best when eaten raw. If you want to keep it simple: peel it, cut it into sticks or slices, and dip it in your favorite dressing. Or try a kohlrabi slaw recipe - there are lots of variations on this theme, so take a gander on ye olde internet and search for "kohlrabi slaw" to find the flavor profile that sings to you.

 Mizuna might also be a new one for some of you (the bagged baby green with light green, serrated leaves). Mizuna is a mild Japanese mustard green and can be enjoyed raw as a salad base or sauteed. This Mizuna Salad with Ponzu Dressing is the kinda thing that makes my mouth water. It's also a recipe that will most likely require you to improvise a little, since it might be hard to track down shiso leaf and Japanese ginger. But no worries, even if you just make the ponzu dressing and toss it with naked mizuna (and/or try some of the recommended substitutions) you'll have a lovely little flavor bomb.

Kale is finally showing up in your tote this week, a little behind the normal curve for us. Our spring planting came under attack by root maggots and symphylans, but we've been singing encouragement to the plants for the past month and all of our kale, chard and collards are finally taking off. If you want to get yourself addicted to kale, make some kale chips. You can also throw raw kale into a smoothie, steam it, sautee it, or make any number of riffs - from deluxe to monastic - on raw kale salad.

Easing into Summer: Our Current Farmstand and U-Pick Schedule

We are slowly easing into our summer schedule with the farmstand and strawberry u-pick. The farmstand is currently open on Wednesdays only from 11:30 to 2:30 pm and strawberry u-pick is open on Saturdays only starting at 11:30 am (the berries are still limited while the patch comes into full production). We plan to add our Saturday farmstand to the schedule in the next couple weeks, and Wednesdays to the u-pick schedule once there are enough berries.

If you want to shop the farmstand, we strongly encourage folks to pre-order their produce in advance via our online store. We do stock the farmstand with limited produce for drop-in shoppers, but you have the widest selection and best guarantee if you pre-order.

Finally, a quick heads up that next week's newsletter will be either 1) very short, or 2) non-existent because I won't have muy usual office time on Wednesday to spin farm yarns for you :).

Have a great week!

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 2 from Valley Flora!

  • Radish Micro Mix
  • Baby Arugula (bagged)
  • Yellow Spring Onions
  • Head Lettuce
  • Purple Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • Pea Tendrils

On Rotation:

  • Broccolini
  • Zucchini

We couldn't be more grateful for the almost 2" of rain on Sunday night - enough to help keep the hills green and the creek full. There's also a bit of magic in real rain, as opposed to irrigation water, that makes plants go crazy. Rainwater is slightly acidic (thanks to colliding with CO2 as it plummets through the atmosphere) and when it hits the soil it catalyzes the release of important micronutrients like zinc, copper, iron and manganese, all of which are essential to plant growth. Rainwater also contains nitrates - the form of nitrogen that plants can readily absorb through their roots - which gives crops a noticeable boost. And, it rinses off the dust that collects on the leaves of plants, allowing more sunlight to reach their cells and boost photosynthesis. It's no wonder that in the week following a good summer rain we sometimes see our field crops double in size.

Growing up here as a kid, June was always a misty, drippy, green month - a little maddening when you're ten years old and school's out for summer and all you want is to head for the swimming hole, if only it weren't 60 degrees and drizzling. In the last decade that's changed noticeably, such that June as become much more of a dry, sunny, summer month here. I suppose that's great for swimming season, but not for drought. A June without rain means less feed and a thin hay crop for the ranchers, water scarcity in the creeks and rivers, and higher risk of wildfires - our new, unnerving, normal courtesy of climate change. Even though rain makes a mess of the strawberry patch when it's loaded with ripe fruit, I'll take it any day in the summer! That's what strawberry jam was invented for: a great use for rain-battered berries.

This week you're seeing a few new things in the CSA share:

  • Baby Arugula, thanks to Abby - wonderful as a stand-alone salad green, blended into pesto, tossed into risotto, sauteed, or used as a pizza topper.
  • Radish Micro Mix - a superfood packed with vitamins and minerals, great as a topper on tacos, salads, pretty much any dish - or add it to your smoothie for a nutrient boost.
  • Pea Tendrils - whimsical, wonderful, delicious pea tendrils! The entire thing is edible, flowers and stems included (although the lower stems may be tougher/woodier and worth avoiding). You can do just about anything with pea tendrils; here are a few recipes to help you decide which direction to go. These are a great prelude to our sugar snap peas, which are growing like gangbusters and should start yielding in a few short weeks. 

Salad Shares Begin this Week!

As of this week we'll begin delivering marked red coolers to all CSA pickup sites containing Abby's Greens Salad Shares. If you did not sign up for a salad share this season, DO NOT TAKE SALAD from the coolers! If you did sign up for a salad share, be sure you take the correct size bag each week. There are half pound and full pound shares, so please double check that you have the right size bag.

Enjoy the early summer harvest!

Newsletter: 

Week 1 of the 2024 CSA Season!

In your first share this week:

  • Red Spring Onions - a labor of Allium love, planted last fall and finally ready for harvest this week!
  • Purple Radishes - juicy with a little kick; if you like it less spicy, peel them!
  • Bunched Arugula - a mildly spicy green, wonderful in salads or alongside a slab of fish
  • Bunched Tatsoi - a dark green, spoon-shaped leafy green with white ribs, great sauteed or stir-fried
  • Head Lettuce - red butter, red oakleaf or redleaf plus a mini romaine
  • A SunOrange Cherry Tomato Plant - see below for planting tips!

On Rotation:*

  • Hakurei Turnips - our favorite salad turnip, buttery-sweet and good enough to eat like an apple
  • Zucchini - the first tender harvest out of our field tunnels
  • Strawberries - starting to come on strong in the field! We'll try to get you as many pints of these over the summer as we can! :)
  • Cilantro 

*These are crops that we don't have enough of all at once to put in every CSA tote in the same week, usually because they are just coming into production and aren't yielding fully yet. Some pickup sites will receive them this week, others in a future week - we keep track so it's even-steven all year :)

Hello CSA Members and Welcome to our 2024 Season!

We're tickled that you all have decided to embark on this 28-week seasonal eating adventure with us! The CSA is the biggest ever this year, thanks to a tsunami of unprecedented interest, so THANK YOU for being a core part of it! We are especially delighted that we have more SNAP members participating than ever before, thanks to the Double Up Food Bucks Program, which covers half the cost of the CSA for folks with SNAP/Oregon Trail benefits. Our CSA membership is the backbone of our farm economy and community (some of our members have been with us for 15 years!) and we make you our absolute first priority, ahead of our other sales channels (wholesale and farmstand). Some CSA's are managed the other way around: sell everything you can to other outlets first and then dump the leftovers on your CSA. Not at Valley Flora. Our commitment to our CSA is what drives the crop diversity at Valley Flora - we want to keep those totes interesting and abundant for you every week! - which has a beautiful ecological ripple effect on the farm: hundreds of different crops and varieties growing in coloful, organic polyculture, and supporting all kinds of vibrant life (other than the vegetables themselves), like this baby Pacific tree frog that greeted me in the lettuce yesterday:

For  those of you who are new to the Valley Flora CSA, an extra special welcome. It takes a certain adventurous spirit to commit to 7 months of the unknown, but we promise to do our very best to keep you stoked and stocked with peak-of-season, fresh-harvested produce every single week from now through December. As returning members can attest, it can be a lot of food! We hope it motivates you to eat more plants, and I, Zoë, will also do my best to offer tips, recipes, and backstory for all that produce in this here weekly "Beet Box" newsletter. These days the internet is rife with great recipes - easily searchable by ingredient - so I trust that many of you can find inspiration online or in your own collection of cookbooks. That said, I'll try to do some extra coaching when we throw something more unusual your way. There is also a collection of recipes on our website organized by vegetable: check out our Recipe Wizard, and feel free to contribute your own favorite recipes there! If you make something that knocks your socks off, share it with me and I'll pass it along to the rest of the CSA membership in the next newsletter.

A little housekeeping: if you haven't already familiarized yourself with our Pickup Instructions and Protocol, PLEASE DO THAT BEFORE YOU PICK UP YOUR FIRST CSA SHARE this week! Our CSA sites are all essentially unstaffed, which means they are run by YOU! Help us avoid SNAFUs and mix-ups by brushing up on how things run, and make sure that anyone else in your circle who might pick up your CSA is briefed as well. We thank you, and so do your fellow CSA members!

Also remember that Abby's Greens Salad Shares start NEXT WEEK. There is no salad this week.

Finally, be sure you grab a SunOrange cherry tomato plant this week at your pickup site. There is one per Harvest Basket and they will be in bright yellow bins. We don't grow cherry tomatoes for the CSA, but we provide you with our all-time favorite variety, SunOrange, to grow in your own garden or pot. It's an improved Sungold the produces tons of tangerine-orange fruits from August through the fall (Abby was still picking tomatoes off of a plant in her greenhouse in February!). The flavor is exquisite - tropical/tangy/sweet. For best results, plant your tomato as deep as possible in a warm, protected location (it's good to bury the stem and some of the bottom leaves; the plant will sprout new roots underground and add to it's root mass). If you're planting it in a pot, use at least a 5 gallon container and put it in a warm, sunny, wind-protected location. Give it a balanced organic fertilizer and water deeply. You'll need to provide some kind of trellis or support because this variety is an indeterminate, which means it'll climb, and climb, and climb. Prune excess leaves as it grows, leaving all fruiting/flowering stems and suckers. With a litte TLC it should be yielding fruit for you by August. These little cherry bombs are fantastic snackers, are awesome sliced up in salads, and also make the best dried tomatoes I've ever eaten - like little candies.

Thanks again for being a part of this beautiful thing called community supported agriculture. 

P.S. In addition to cute little tree frogs, the farm also supports other wildlife, such as invasive garden slugs. Because we don't use any chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, etc), you might say we're an equal opportunity habitat haven. Despite our best efforts, you might find one of these in your head lettuce this week, and I'll let you decide what you want to do with it when it plops into your sink. Me, I know I'll be getting reincarnated as a slug in my next life, and in that life an organic farmer will come along on a lovely May morning and cut me in half or stomp me flat, which is what I deserve after 20+ years of slug-slaying (never Banana slugs though, they eat nothing but detritus and are a wonderful native species!). If nothing else, the slugs that might be lurking in your head lettuce are good motivation to wash your produce well (we "field rinse" everything, but you should wash it at home before eating it).

Newsletter: 

The LAST week of "Winter" :)

  • Redleaf Lettuce
  • Spring Lettuce Mix
  • Baby Hakurei Turnips
  • Pink Beauty Radishes
  • Bunched Arugula
  • Red Beets
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Tetsu Squash - don't miss the recipe included below!
  • Cabbage
  • Shallots

On Rotation:

  • Artichokes

This is it for "winter" shares: one last medley of stalwart-storage-crops-meets-delicate-new-Spring-tenderlies. We were delighted to see our Hakurei turnips sized up enough to bunch for you this week, and relieved that our pink radishes made it through the weekend heat wave without bolting or splitting. At this time of year when the weather can swing wildly and the days are stretching long, our every-other-week harvest schedule can be tricky. You never know if you're going to nail it, or miss the window altogether on something. Fortunately, we threaded the needle this week and, and our weekly harvests are right around the corner.

For those of you opening up this final CSA tote this week, I have to make another passionate pitch about the Tetsukabuto squash in there. Maybe you're thinking it's not winter squash season anymore, or maybe you're thinking about the pile of uneaten winter squash that's already sitting on your counter from the past few months. I feel you. But this past weekend my good friend, Laura (fellow farmer and horsepacking buddy), came down to visit and we camped at the Bullards Horse Camp for two nights. She dished up dinner on the second night and as usual blew my tastebuds' brains with a simple, farm-inspired Tetsu Agrodolce. I've pasted in the recipe below for you, and if my own formerly squash-cluttered counter is any proof (not a single tetsu left on it as of this week thanks to this recipe!), the Agrodolce will have you wishing you had an entire tote full of Tetsu to see you through the summer. It's so goo-ood we packed up camp on Sunday, came home, raided the squash room at the farm, and made two more sheet pans of it for Mother's Day! FYI, Laura is also the person who introduced me to oven-roasted cabbage wedges and the famous radicchio salad that I never stop talking about, which means she gets full credit for opening my eyes to three of the best, easy, winter-produce-inspired recipes I know of. All I can say is, EAT THIS! And if you want more Tetsu, we stil have a little stash that will show up at the farmstand for a couple more weeks.

In addition to filling the last winter CSA totes this week, we were also harvesting for our first farmstand (today, Wednesday May 15th, from 11:30 to 2:30!). We were able to coax some bonus goodies out of the field in token quantities, like baby zucchini, broccolini, baby carrots, and yes, strawberries! We're feeling hopeful that this could be a good strawberry year, but let's not talk about it for fear of jinxing things. Feel free to swing by the stand today and pick up some bonus produce, and/or take home a box of organic starts for your garden. We have a good assortment of farm-grown tomato plants, pepper plants, cukes and zukes that are ready to go in the ground, all tried and true varieties that we grow and love at Valley Flora.

Next week will be a transition week for us as we switch gears out of Winter CSA mode and get ready for our main summer season, which will kick off the week of Memorial Day! Lots of things will be happening that week:

  • Our first CSA totes will be delivered to our 2024 main season members:
  • Our farmstand will go to weekly Wednesdays starting May 29th. We'll be adding Saturdays to the schedule by the summer solstice, if not sooner.
  • We will open strawberry u-pick as soon as the patch is ready. Please don't call or email if you are wracked with strawberry fever; we promise to get the word out via email, on our website, in this newsletter, and through our Instagram/Facebook feed once the patch is ready for the eager public. Remember, the strawberries produce ALL SEASON LONG, into October, so there are many good months of u-picking ahead of us. 

Recipe of the Week: Zucca in Agrodolce (Sweet and Sour Butternut Squash, but you can use Tetsu or any kind of squash!)

Credits: Naz Deravian, NYT Cooking

  • 2.5 pounds Tetsu or Butternut or other squash
  • 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 to 4 Tbs granulated sugar or honey, to taste
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 20 mint leaves

Place a rack in the center position of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Cut the Tetsu in half, scoop out the seeds, and then carve the halves into wedges, leaving the skin on. The fatter your wedges, the longer the baking time. Place the wedges on a sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and season well with about 1 teaspoon salt; season with black pepper to taste. Toss and spread out in a single layer.

Roast for 12 minutes (or longer, depending on the thickness of your wedges), then flip the squash slices (using two forks works well) and continue to roast until cooked through (but not falling apart) and slightly golden around the edges.

Meanwhile, add the vinegar, 2 Tbs sugar or honey, garlic slices and a pinch of salt to a small saucepan, then stir and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar fully dissolves and the mixture reduces to a slightly syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. Halfway through, taste the syrup and add more sugar/honey, one tablespoon at a time, if desired. Remove from the heat. You should have about 1/4 cup syrup.

Place the roasted squash in a serving dish, tear half of the mint leaves and scatter over the squash. Drizzle the syrup over the squash. Set aside and let marninate for at least 2 hours. As the squash cools, tip the dish a little to one side, spoon some syrup and drizzle it over the top of the squash. Repeat as often as you like. Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and serve at room temperature. Sidenote: you can make this a day or two ahead and let it develop flavor in the fridge, or eat it hot out of the oven if you're in a hurry - just spoon the agrodolce sauce over the squash wedges when they come out of the oven and garnish with mint.

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 9 of Winter/Spring from Valley Flora!

  • Redleaf Lettuce
  • Baby Pac Choi
  • Bunched Bellezia Arugula
  • Bunched Fava Greens
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Pea Shoots
  • Red Cabbage
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli (final harvest!)
  • Yellow Onions
  • Purple Potatoes
  • Purple Radishes
  • Tetsu Winter Squash

On Rotation:

  • Artichokes

Happy Mayday!

Your "winter" CSA share is listing hard towards "spring" this week, with the arrival of head lettuce from our field tunnels, pac choi, fava greens, young radishes, and a wild-type arugula that is aptly named "Bellezia." As Allen put it as he and Roberto packed the totes yesterday, "we couldn't have fit a single leaf more in there." It's not all fluff, though. Some dense winter goods are still anchoring the bottom of the bin, with purple potatoes, the last of the jumbo yellow onions, a Guiness-book sized Tetsu squash, and purple cabbage. We've been genuinely impressed with this cabbage variety, which got planted last August, was harvested in late March, is storing like a champ, and is still winning cabbage beauty pageants. 

And if you are groaning at the sight of that big kabocha squash, here's some inspiration from a fellow CSA member in Port Orford who was moved to email me last time we put Tetsu in your share:

The oven was on today, so I went ahead and baked the Tetsu whole before I decided for sure what to do with it. Seems that’s a moot point because it is SO DANG GOOD that I keep eating it right out of my refrig container with a spoon! Yumm!! Thanks for the introduction!

Alternatively, you can procrastinate and leave that Tetsu on your counter for another month or two. We've had CSA members eat them a whole year after they were harvested - that's how crazy-long they can store. 

If you want a yummy way to disappear your arugula this week, along with that stash of red beets that I know are piled up in the back of your fridge, I highly recommend some version of this salad from Ottolenghi: Beetroot and Walnut Salad. Danny made it for dinner last night. We didnt' have half the ingredients - cilantro, leeks, tamarind water, pomegranate seeds, walnut oil - but it didn't matter. Skip all the things you don't have and use olive oil instead of the other oils. The main point is that roasting those beets in tin foil, then peeling them, gives them a wonderful, deep flavor. We crumbled some feta on top and doused the arugula (known as "rocket" in the U.K.) with a little more olive oil and reduced balsamic. Wowza.

Also, before I go, you probably need some pointers for those fava greens. Right. Favas are mostly known for their beans (which will be part of the CSA share come early July). But the tender young leaves are a lesser-known delicacy with a wonderfully nutty flavor. I think they shine the most when you lightly sautee them in butter or olive oil with a little salt, but you can also eat them raw as a salad ingredient. Snip the leaves and tender tips from the plant, removing any tough or woody stem. Wash well to remove any field dirt and spin dry. From there, the world is full of fav-ulous possibilities. Here's a creative spin on basil pesto, using fava leaves instead: Fava Greens Pesto. This is a once--a-year-only harvest for us, when we thin our fava bed to make room for the bean-producing plants. So give 'em a try - it'll be your only chance in 2024!

Newsletter: 

Week 8 of Winter/Spring from Valley Flora!

  • Spring Lettuce Mix
  • Arugula
  • Bunched Spinach
  • Cebollitas
  • Micro Mix
  • Potatoes
  • Green Cabbage
  • Shallots
  • Red Bets
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Spring Raab

On Rotation:

  • Caulliflower

If our wifi signal was a little stronger here at the farm today, I'd be attaching a photo that might make you ponder the order of things at Valley Flora: picture the whole crew bent over in the field, five hours into a marathon day of transplanting. The ground is freshly turned, each of us doubled over at the waist, trowels flying like pistons as we chip away at the 7,000 seedlings that are going into the ground on this first day of our outdoor planting season. Meanwhile in the foreground: a black Lab lying fully sprawled on the back of the flatbed amidst scattered half-empty transplant trays and crew water bottles, her head draped over the edge of the truck in our direction. The look she is casting at the camera is one of purest indolence, as if to say, "All this, for kale?"

Yes, Juno, all this for kale. And for chard and collards and lettuce and pac choi and beets and peas and favas and radishes and turnips and even for that one vegetable you genuinely love, carrots. (It is a good thing, by the way, that your farmers here at Valley Flora are not dogs because if we were your CSA membership would consist of paying us to mostly lie around all day, dig holes, swim in the creek, and maybe, occasionally, once in a very blue moon, do something useful by catching a field mouse for you.)

Instead your human farmers have been taking full advantage of this sunny spell to kick the season off with gusto, rapidly transforming the farm into row upon planted row of early crops that will be making their way into summer CSA baskets in six short weeks (spring is the antithesis of indolence when you file a Schedule F for a living)! Meanwhile, our winter CSA members are starting to see some signature seasonal edibles in their share right now - arugula and spring lettuce mix - and will soon be dining on tender fava greens and artichokes. All the while the farm dogs snooze in the shade, perhaps vaguely mystified at the hustle-bustle. But then again, why ask questions when the napping is ample and the kibble is sin fin?

Happy spring, whether you are out there napping or out there bustling.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 7 of Winter/Spring from Valley Flora!

  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Ruby Streaks Mustard Greens
  • Pea Shoots
  • Yellow Onions
  • Painted Purple Potatoes
  • Spring Raab
  • Bulk Spinach
  • Tetsukabuto Winter Squash
  • Cebollitas 

Week 7 Produce Notes:

It was a fun week of harvest abundance at the farm: the purple sprouting broccoli at max production, spinach leaves the size of baby elephant ears, and our first harvest of "cebollitas." Cebollitas (little onions) are the green tops of our onion seedlings, which are currently sizing up in trays in our propagation greenhouse. We start all of our own onions from seed in early February and as they germinate and size up we have to give the seedlings periodic "haircuts" to encourage the plants to girth up ahead of transplanting. We've learned to save the green tops and put them to culinary use since they make a great substitute for chives or green onions. 

This week's motherlode of purple sprouting broccoli (aka "PSB" in farmer parlance) is worthy of center-of-the-plate attention. You can cook PSB the same way you would regular broccoli or broccolini. It will lose its vibrant purple color in the process, but the flavor is unbeatable. It's also mild and sweet enough to munch raw if you don't want to lose that vibrant purple hue (the stem in particular is oh-so-tender and sweet). Check out this diverse collection of purple sprouting broccoli recipes for inspiration.

Cauliflower: I got home late from the farm on Monday with no idea what I was making for dinner. I had a couple big heads of cauliflower that needed to be eaten so I did what I often do when I'm at a loss for a dinner idea but have produce staring me down in the fridge: I got online and searched "cauliflower recipes." I landed on this one: Kung Pao Cauliflower, and it was a hit. Quick, easy, tons of flavor, one single sheet pan to wash at the end of the night, perfect alongside a pot of rice. I didn't have any green onions on hand so I subbed thin-sliced leeks and roasted them with the cauliflower to crispy them up. Made for great leftovers the next day, too. I highly recommend, especially if you've got a cauliflower backlog.

Tetsukabuto Winter Squash: One of our favorite and longest-keeping squash, "Tetsu" is a cross between a butternut and a kabocha. They can be intimidating for some folks because of their tough-as-nails bumpy skin, but they are worth the effort ("tetsukabuto" translates to "steel helmet" in Japanese). The OSU winter vegetable project has created a great collection of videos on how to cook with lesser-known winter vegetables, including Tetsu: https://www.eatwintervegetables.com/videos

You can also find some delish recipes and videos for purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celeriac, radicchio and more on their site. Eat it up!

Mustard Greens: The variety that most of you are getting this week is a mild, lacy-leafed variety called "Ruby Streaks." If this is the vegetable that predictably ends up yellow and half-rotten in a slimy bag at the back of your fridge, I'd suggest cooking it up tonight alongside that Kung Pao cauliflower. In fact, the sauce for the cauliflower would work perfectly splashed over a pile of sauteed mustards (and I promise you, it will be a very small pile once it cooks down). You could also try this teriyaki-inspired recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/218501/asian-inspired-mustard-greens/

Let the Planting Begin!

In spite of the near-relentless rain the past many months, the skies have afforded us enough of a window that we'll be starting our outdoor planting season on time this week. This first week of transplanting is a bit like boot-camp for farmers, with thousands and thousands of transplants staged in the greenhouse right now, ready to hit the soil. The way they get there, from greenhouse tray to fertile field, is human hands. We hand-transplant every last seedling on the farm, flat-backed, bent at the hips, leaning into our glutes. Even with our baseline fitness, we'll all be sore by this weekend, guaranteed. We'll be transplanting kale, collards, chard, head lettuce, kohlrabi, cabbage, broccolini, broccoli and pac choi. And by light of headlamp last night, I was able to get carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, arugula and spinach direct-seeded before the rain started. Spring is manic like this: rainy lulls followed by sunny weather sprints.

Good thing there are 12 hours and 50 minutes of daylight now, because there are times when we need every last second of it (and then some, courtesy of Petzl headlamps and an arsenal of rechargable triple A batteries :)...

CSA Shares Almost Sold Out, Sign Up Today!

We have a few spots left for the upcoming CSA season. Sign-ups are now open to the general public so spread the word! Remember, anyone with SNAP food benefits is eligible for Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) when they sign up for our CSA. That means they only pay half the cost of the CSA with SNAP and DUFB covers the other half. It's a great way to get a season of fresh produce from Valley Flora at a 50% discount.

Sign up on our website at https://www.valleyflorafarm.com/content/valley-flora-harvest-basket!

Newsletter: 

Week 6 from Valley Flora - Happy Spring!

  • Bunched Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Leeks - last harvest of the year!
  • Butternut Squash
  • Shallots
  • Spring Raab - a mix of tender buds from our kale, cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts this week
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Red Beets
  • Purple and Yellow Potatoes
  • Parsley - Curly or Italian
  • Resurrection Celery - These flavor-packed stalks are winter regrowth from the celery plants we logged for you last fall. In a mild winter, the plants can send up new shoots after being harvested, giving us a a special harvest of mini "resurrection" celery come spring. Great sauteed up as a flavor base, added to soup, or even munched raw.
  • Micro Mix - radish and mesclun blend
  • Purple Cabbage

Spring!

Spring sprang yesterday amidst a frenzy of activity on the farm as we tried to cross everything we could off our list before the next wall of rain arrives. Jack and Lily had their first day back in harness after a winter's rest and they earned an A+ for good behavior and tireless work ethic. The horses spread mountains of compost on the field, cultivated the new artichoke patch, and helped unearth the rhubarb, which was choked with winter weeds. Meanwhile all the Valley Flora two-leggeds were putting their opposable thumbs to good use pruning fruit trees, weeding perennials, mowing cover crop, transplanting greenhouse starts, and putting row cover on all the beds that got seeded over the weekend: favas, peas, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes and arugula, oh my! Might we actually be a little relieved when it starts raining again, if only to get through the unruly pile on this neglected desk? Perhaps....

Sign Up for the Valley Flora CSA with SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks Pays Half!

Spread the word to anyone you know who has SNAP food benefits! SNAP members who sign up for our CSA pay half the cost and Double Up Food Bucks covers the other half. It's a fantastic program that makes fresh produce more accessible to everyone in our community. Help us get the word out! You can read more about it and sign up on our website here.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 5 of Winter from Valley Flora!

  • Autumn Frost Winter Squash - wonderfully flavorful specialty butternut, great roasted or turned into soup
  • Celeriac - aka "celery root," also a great soup ingredient, or mash it with potatoes, or grate into hashbrowns, or roast with other root veggies
  • Yellow Onions (not pictured)
  • Micro Mix - a blend of pea shoots, radish and mesclun (not pictured)
  • Bunched Mustard Greens  - semi-spicy cooking greens....here's a collection of 8 eclectic recipes to help you use them: https://www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/greens/10-ways-use-mustard-greens
  • Baby Leeks
  • Red Potatoes
  • Purple Mini Daikon Radish - beautiful sliced and added to salads or snacked on raw...peel the outer skin for milder, more tender munching.
  • Winter Salad Mix - a blend of 8 lettuce varieties and asian greens from our greenhouses
  • Bunched Spinach - as loved by slugs as it is by humans, pardon the holey leaves!
  • Savoy Cabbage

On Rotation:

  • Cauliflower
  • Spring Raab
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Happy March, and happy few days of much-needed sunshine! This past week of frigid, relentless rain/hail/sleet wasn't a problem for any of our hardy overwintering field crops, but ironically it put a major damper on the growth of our pea shoots in the greenhouse. The cold and the grey slowed them down significantly, such that our usual Monday harvest was postponed. All day Tuesday I was popping in and out of the propagation house to see if they had put on enough top growth. Finally at 6 pm, with all the CSA shares already packed and in the cooler and the crew gone, I took the electric knife to them and harvested all 30+ trays by headlamp. Because we were short on poundage (due to the diminuitive stature of those preemie peas), I mixed in all our radish and mesclun to create a lovely little fancy-pants blend. It'll make a nice garnish on that winter salad mix this week.

It was fun to finally dive into some of our much-anticipated greenhouse crops this week: spinach, cut lettuce, baby greens. All of it was seeded/planted as early as last Thanksgiving and is only now ready for harvest. It's a myth that plants don't grow during our winter; they do, just very, very slowly. We transplanted a new bed of cut lettuce into a greenhouse yesterday and it will likely be ready for harvest in a month or so (instead of the three months it takes when it grows through winter). We have a steady succession of spinach on the horizon (hopefully the slugs won't ravage it all, apologies for those holey leaves!), and even have a bed of baby carrots up and growing indoors.

With any luck, we might be able to get some outdoor peas, favas, carrots, beets, radishes and turnips seeded this week before the next deluge. And while we wait for it to dry out, we'll be pruning in the orchard like madwomen, transplanting artichokes, and mowing mowing mowing! 

All to say, office tasks are on hold until it starts raining again!

CSA Sign-Ups are Now Open for our Waiting List!

If you are on our CSA waiting list, you should see an email from us this week with an invitation to sign up! If you were a member last year and didn't sign up during our priority window - but want to - grab a spot before it's too late! To sign up, visit our website: https://www.valleyflorafarm.com/catalog/7

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Week 3 of Winter from Valley Flora

  • Bulk Kale
  • Celeriac
  • Autumn Frost Winter Squash
  • Red Potatoes
  • Pea Shoots
  • Cauliflower
  • Curly Parsley
  • Goldrush Apples
  • Onions
  • Leeks

There are two extra-special things that made their way into your tote this week: Goldrush Apples and overwintering cauliflower. The former is our favorite apple variety (which is saying a lot, given the 35+ different varieties of pommes growing in the our orchard). It's a late-harvest apple, never coming off the tree before Thanksgiving and it stores well into May with refrigeration. The flavor is sweet-tart and complex with firm texture that lends itself to fresh eating or baking. A big thanks to Abby, the apple queen, for adding these to the share this week!

The overwintering cauliflower is one of four varieties that come on in a staggered succession throughout the winter and spring. I've waxed poetic about overwintering cauliflower before, because it astounds me every time we harvest it: how did this plant make a perfect white dome of dense curd through the darkest months of the year? Quasi-miraculous in my botanistic opinion. The plants were seeded in early July and transplanted in eary August, so they did most of the work of growing a large frame of leaves in late summer and fall. But the actual heading of the cauliflower doesn't get triggered until this moment, after the Persephone period when the days start to stretch longer. Our mild winter means that this variety is almost a month earlier than it was last year, so enjoy the unexpected!

Also, there's quite a stash of leeks in your share this week. There was a little communication mishap with the crew, which resulted in lotsa leeks for all this week! :)

London Bridge is Down

The reigning queen of Valley Flora, Maude (my Belgian draft horse), died on Sunday at the farm. She was 25 years old and a founding member of our crew since Valley Flora hatched in 2008. Maude was part of my first draft team; I lost her partner, Barney, to colic over a decade ago but Maude soldiered on, working every season in harness to help us coax vegetables out of the field. In 2017 she gained a new herd when I brought Jack and Lily home. By then she had earned her retirement, but she ruled the roost as lead mare until her very last day. Which, as it turns out, was a beautiful last day: Saturday, sunny, out on grass, eating with gusto, rainbows flying overhead. The next morning when I came to feed her, she was gone.

Maude helped make my farm dream come true, a Valley Flora icon through and through. I thank her for everything she gave to make it possible, and for everything she taught me along the way.

All hail the queen, she will be missed dearly.

 

Newsletter: 

Week 2 of Winter!

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Bulk Winter Kale Mix
  • Radish/Mesclun Micro Mix
  • Beets - Red, Gold & Chioggia
  • Purple Mini Daikon Radish
  • Leeks
  • Cipollini Onions
  • Yellow Potatoes
  • Savoy Cabbage
  • Candystick Delicata Squash
  • Pie Pumpkin

A Few of My Favorite Winter Meals...

I generally assume that if you're signed up for our Winter CSA, you're pretty adept at the seasonal-eating thing. I'm routinely impressed by the inspired concoctions our CSA members come up with in the kitchen using VF produce. In our household we eat well and we eat farm-forward (we've been teased many a time about our over-sized salad bowl), but meals typically err on the side of simple and straightforward in order to juggle busy schedules, kids, and all the rest. If you have the time to get gourmet with this week's share, do it! But if you don't, here's how I'd go about eating through that hefty tote of produce without much fuss:

  • Candystick Delicata: Cut in half, scoop out the seeds, bake it face-down on a sheet pan with some water in the pan @ 375-400 until soft. Put a pat of butter in each boat and eat with spoon, for any meal. This is a special variety of Delicata bred by Oregon's own Carol Deppe, selected for longer storage life (we don't normally still have Delicata at the end of January!) and exceptionally sweet date-like flavor. It's nicknamed the "dessert delicata." We've noticed some variability in flavor depending on size, so would love it if you'd do a side by side taste test of your larger and smaller squash and let us know what you find out.
  • Kale & Chard: Most likely we'd steam the greens and eat a big pile of them drizzled with olive oil and ume plum vinegar (tangy and salty) or reduced balsamic vinegar with a sprinkle of salt. But I also love this quick soup: Lemony White Bean Soup with Greens. I usually omit the ground turky and use kale instead of collards.
  • Micro Mix: I'd be putting this all over a radicchio salad, or cabbage slaw, or the beet recipe below - unless it got pilfered for smoothies first.
  • Beets: Roast, roast, roast! That's usually our go-to. There's also a great winter salad courtesy of Joshua McFadden (Six Seasons cookbook): Beet Slaw with Pistachios and Raisins that I love. It takes a little more time, but is 100% worth it.
  • Daikon: I love these diced up on burrito bowls, or sliced thinly in any kind of salad, or cut up for snackable veg. I usually peel them.
  • Leeks: Also great roasted sheet-pan style alongside beets, spuds, squash. They get crispy and caramelized in a 400 degree oven, with a little help from some olive oil. Also obviously a go-to ingredient for potato leek soup, or any soup. We just had them in a frittata last night - excelente!
  • Cipollini Onions: Use them anywhere, but be sure you caramelize them down first to bring out their wow factor. Perhaps the best pizza topping there is.
  • Potatoes: They were in said frittata last night. We made roasted potatoes last week. And we're having mashed spuds tonight.
  • Cabbage: This is a January King type cabbage, mostly savoy in its expression. Certainly great for fresh slaw, but I have to say the most unctuous cabbage is the one that is cut into wedges, tossed with olive and salt, and yes - you guessed it! - ROASTED at 400 (the magic oven temp) until soft and crispy and browned. Really good with leeks in the mix on the same sheet pan.
  • Pie Pumpkin: I egregiously forgot to mention when all of our CSA members got one of these last fall that this variety is called "Pie Pita" and is mulit-purpose: it has hull-less seeds that can be roasted into pepitas, and tasty meat that can become dinner or dessert (dinner: Thai Pumpkin Curry; dessert: Pie!). My sister, Abby, loves to bake and is the pumpkin pie queen of the family. I like being on the receiving end of all her experimentation and efforts.

So that's the farmer quick and dirty on how to grub down this tote. I guess the main takeaways are: stock up on olive oil and make sure your oven runs at 400 :). If so, you're golden.

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