- Spring Onions
- Baby bulk arugula
- Head Lettuce
- Violet Queen Turnips
51% Art: The Valley Flora Maxim
Farms can be messy places. Most of the time when you pull into a farmyard there's evidence of the inherit chaos and everyday hustle that defines a working operation: piles of this, piles of that, old junked equipment, some of it an eyesore. But when people visit Valley Flora, often the first thing they say aloud is, "it's so tidy, so beautiful!" It's true, the farm is pretty tidy most of the time. We are constantly striving to create smart systems and good organization so that the place will shine. We blame that impulse partly on our genetics (a heavy streak of German ancestry runs through my mom's side, and her grandmother had an iron rule that I suppose is still vibrating in all of us at some cellular level: "A place for everything and everything in its place!").
But there's another streak of influence from the more bohemiam side of the family milieu, which is expressed simply in one of my own mother's maxims: "Everything we do has to be at least 51% art." That's where the beauty part comes in on the farm, whether it's the layout of the fields or the arrangement of kale leaves in a bunch or the interplay of colors and shapes in Abby's salad mix. We want everything to pass, and hopefully exceed, the 51% art test, every day, whenever possible.
This week, I don't think the spring onions are passing the test. A quick backstory: these onions were seeded last August, planted last October, and grew through the entirety of our frigid, harsh winter. Miraculously, most of them decided to bulb up instead of bolt this past month. Bolting is disappointingly common in overwintered onions, especially when they're subjected to extreme temps. So common, in fact, that I vowed that if this bed of onions bolted it would be the last bed of overwintered onions we ever planted (this on the heels of five years of trialing different onions, trying to find the best type that will survive for 7-8 harsh months in the ground and then give us a nice, juicy onion come June). Well well well, two of our three varieties shined this year (good news for continued overwintering onion production!). The only problem is that after 2/3 of a year in the ground, having been pelted by 65 inches of rain and some snow and hail, the bed they're rooted in is as hard as concrete in places. That can cause the onions to break while we're pulling them out of the ground, and alas, it means that some imperfect onions are going into totes this week. Perhaps if you eat them with your eyes closed you can find the 51% in the flavor or texture or aroma instead (not all art is visual, or perfect, I suppose...).
But there shall be redemption! On Monday evening, after we'd pulled the last of the onions from that bed, I planted it straight away into 220' of mixed sunflowers, right next door to the strawberry patch. Just for fun. Hopefully it means that come August the edge of the u-pick will be ablaze in yellows and reds and oranges and browns, like a sunny brush stroke across the field. For beauty's sake. For 51%+.
p.s. and for the pollinators and birds, too :)
In a Landscape Concert at Valley Flora, September 6th!
And while we're on the topic of art! Mark you calendar and buy yours tickets quick (sell-out warning!): We are so lucky to have Hunter Noack of In a Landscape coming to the farm on September 6th to transport us with a virtuoso piano concert performed on his 9-foot Steinway atop a flatbed trailer, parked in the middle of the field. Yup, classical music has never been so awesome. Pack a picnic, bring your lowback chair, and prepare to be moved, heart and soul.
A limited number of Good Neighbor (free) tickets will be available for those who would otherwise not be able to attend due to cost. Check out the Good Neighbor Tickets section when you go to purchase your tickets.