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Week 10 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Collard Greens
  • Basil
  • Head Lettuce
  • New Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Sunflower Shoots
  • Purplette Onions

Basil is Still Cranking!

If you haven't stocked your freezer with pesto for wintertime, there's still time! CSA members are invited to place a special order for delivery to your pickup site. To Order:

Email your name, phone number, CSA site and desired quantity to: betsharrison@gmail.com

Available in 1 pound bags, no limit. $22/lb

Land Use, Affordable Housing and the Farm

One of the things that makes Oregon so special is our land-use planning system, which celebrates its 50th birthday next year. It's arguably the most forward-thinking land use system in the country, with strict laws designed to protect farm and forest lands, to prevent sprawl by establishing urban growth boundaries, and to create a process for smart, controlled growth. It was born into law in 1973 through Senate Bill 100, out of concern that Oregon was quickly heading in the direction of our neighbor to the south, California, which was undergoing rapid transformation as urban and suburban sprawl wiped out farmland and changed the landscape forever. Senate Bill 100 is why to this day Oregon still looks different. 

I took it for granted during my childhood, but when I fledged and began living in other places - Massachusetts, Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Salinas Valley - and traveling to lots of U.S. states (Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, Montana, Alaska, North Carolina, Virginia, Utah, and more!), I began to notice how heartbreakingly different those landscapes were compared to Oregon. Cities and towns spilled outward onto farmland in the form of messy, ugly sprawl. Tracts of beautiful ranchland were chopped up into 5 acre hobby farms (Montana's stunning Flathead Valley being one of the more painful landscapes for me to spend time in). Outside of Chicago, some of the world's richest soil was buried under miles of subdivisions, never to be farmed again. Each time I came home to Oregon it became more and more clear to me how unique our state was, how beautiful it was, and how grateful I was for good land use planning. Sidenote: If you want to learn more about the history and evolution of Oregon's pioneering land use approach, OPB is doing a series leading up to the 50th annivesary of Senate Bill 100. The first two installments are available to listen to, or read: 

https://www.opb.org/article/2022/07/15/oregon-land-use-laws-willamette-valley-farms-urban-development-commercial-farmers-crops/

https://www.ijpr.org/politics-government/2022-07-23/inside-the-fight-between-oregon-leaders-to-create-a-revolutionary-growth-management-system

Protecting working landscapes is not just about aesthetics, though. Keeping farmland intact and contiguous helps keep farming viable. If you break it up, the long term effect is the slow erosion of entire farming communities: as farms disappear, so do the businesses that farmers rely on like mechanics, feed stores, tractor supply stores, and more. Our zoning helps keep our greater farming ecosystem alive and well.

But as Oregon continues to grow, our land use laws face increasing pressure. The more people that move here - and LOTS of people are moving here (retirees, climate refugees, work-from-home Wi-Fiers) - the more housing we need. I've never seen so much new construction here in all of my four+ decades. But even with all those nail guns rat-a-tat-tatting, framing up new walls, putting on new roofs, there's a big shortage of affordable housing in Curry County. Rents and home prices continue to climb, outstripping what working class families can afford. It's become the biggest challenge for the farm: how to recruit new hires when they won't be able to afford to live here. Such a problem, in fact, that we are losing an employee because of it, and were turned down by numerous qualified candidates last winter when we were recruiting. It's a problem that plagues a lot of the other backbone businesses in the area as well - restaurants, grocery stores, service jobs of all kinds. 

In July the Curry County Planning Commission voted unanimously to make some significant changes to county zoning, ostensibly to address the lack of affordable housing in our area. The changes would allow for ADUs and higher density use in certain areas. Although I generally tend to think that thoughtful urban infill is a good development approach (far better than breaking up farmland and working landscapes with 5 acre ranchettes), there hasn't been much community input in this process and there are problems with the changes. One of the biggest issues is that these new zoning laws would allow any new additional housing to be used for short term/vacation rentals. That most definitely does NOT solve our housing crisis in Curry County. For this community to thrive in a meaningful way - supported solidly by the people who change your oil, bag your groceries, make your sandwich, pump your gas, and - I daresay - grow your food, we need affordable housing for the folks who are trying to live and work here, not just more AirBnb's.

The Curry County Commissioners will vote on these new zoning changes at their August 17th meeting. If you want to learn more, you can review the proposed changes by reviewing the docket from the July 21st Planning Commission meeting here: https://www.co.curry.or.us/government/planning_commision/index.php#revize_document_center_rz2436

You can read comments submitted by concerned citizens here: 

https://cms6.revize.com/revize/currycountyor/document_center/planning%20commision/2022%20Meetings/July%2021,%202022/ZOA-2022.1%20Comments%20-%20July%2021-2022%20PC%20Meeting.pdf
 
And you can also check out the 100 Friends of Port Orford blog for more background info: 

https://100friendsofportorford.org/
 

And you can always write a good old-fashioned letter to our county commissioners to voice your concerns!

Zoning is the most fundamental thing that affects the character and livability of this place we love so much. Over the past 50 years, Oregon's land use system has only survived because people have continued to fight for it. After all - no good thing ever came easy.

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter: 

Week 9 CSA from Valley Flora

  • Broccoli
  • Red Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Head Lettuce
  • Purplette Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini

Bulk Basil Available by Special Order!

Pesto Lovers! The Basil is abundant and you are invited to place a special order for delivery to your CSA pickup site! To Order:

Email your name, phone number, CSA site and desired quantity to: betsharrison@gmail.com

Available in 1 pound bags, no limit. $22/lb

Yum!

Carrots and Climate Change

It pains me to announce that starting this week VF carrots will be on pause for the next month. Normally those sweet, crunchy delights are a weekly staple in our CSA, from mid-June until the bitter end in December. But this spring we lost four consecutive carrot seedings to heavy rains and voracious slugs throughout April, May and early June. It was a major blow, since carrots are one of our most important and iconic crops on the farm. We've rationed our only bed for CSA and farmstand this past month and disappointed our wholesale customers mightily. But as of this week, we officially harvested the last of that planting and our next beds probably won't be ready until late August.

Fortunately our carrot beds have been germinating spectacularly since mid-June as conditions have become more hospitable to those tiny, slow-growing seeds (less mud, fewer slugs), but it takes about 60-80 days to get a carrot from seed to harvest. Hence, for the next few weeks carrots will be notably absent in your tote (nothing like having to buy a bag of old supermarket carrots to boost your appreciation of the fresh-dug, homegrown ones!).

In all the years I've been growing food, I've never experienced a carrot crop failure like this one. The weather this past spring was unlike anything I've farmed through over the past 20 years and posed some extreme challenges for us and for farmers around the state. When all was said and done, we had a lot to be grateful for on Floras Creek compared to many farmers in the Willamette Valley. We were able to find little windows of opportunity to get plants and seeds into the ground, but conditions were far from perfect. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine who runs a CSA near Salem was unable to plant ANYTHING until June, putting her 2 months behind and forcing her to cancel a few weeks of her CSA in June. As the weather gets more extreme - scary dry last year starting in April, crazy wet this year starting in April - she's wondering if it's time to throw in the towel and be done with the stressful rollercoaster. Farming has never been easy, but climate change is making it all the more tenuous and unpredictable.

Our carrots are the climate change casualty du jour at Valley Flora. It's disappointing at the kitchen table level, but indicative of something much, much more serious and heartbreaking at the global level. Is it possible that those carrots - or the absence of them - might be one of many sparks to help us tip towards solving our climate crisis?

Newsletter: 

Week 8 CSA from Valley Flora!

  • Beets - red or chioggia, depending on location. Don't forget that beet greens are 100% edible and tasty, too. Like chard!
  • Carrots
  • Head Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Basil

Eating Summer, Planting for Winter

While the summer food begins to ramp up in your Harvest Basket (cukes! zukes! basil! beets!), our field activities - apart from harvest - are actually primarily focused on fall and winter crops right now. For the past month+ we've been doing weekly greenhouse seedings of all kinds of cool-weather varieties: Brassicas like broccoli, romanesco, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi, plus chicories, overwintering onions and more. Two weeks ago we began transplanting out the first wave of starts into our "Fall Brassica" field, and we have another month ahead of us of sizable weekly plantings. Our big planting push is usually done by mid-August, with some smaller plantings peppered into the schedule until October. This sets the stage for all of our fall and winter production, the food that will see us through until next spring in combination with storage crops like potatoes, onions and squash. 

And speaking of storage crops, they're looking good! The potato field is verdant and almost done flowering, with the first new potatoes sizing up underground. You should see the first potatoes in your share sometime in early August. After a slow start through chilly June, our squash field has finally taken off - a tangle of vines and flowers that are underseeded with red clover this year. We're experimenting with early establishhment of a red clover cover crop in the understory so that our fall cover crop is already in place, ready to grow wild once the squash vines die back in September. And while we don't expect it to be a bumper onion year like last year, the beds are looking fine and you should see your first bunch of Purplette onions in your share next week, followed by Italian torpedo onions and Walla Walla Sweets! 

Because of the weather, our outdoor crops are at least a couple weeks behind this season, from dahlias to peas to onions to zucchini. I suppose the upshot of late-blooming is that we get to feel that eager anticipation of so many good things still to come for an extra couple weeks. In my intuitive body - the one that judges season by the temperature of the creek and the color of the hills and the amount of water still trickling through that one culvert on the curves a mile up Floras Creek Road -  it feels more like late June than the third week of July, and our current crop mix confirms that. Maybe I'll just throw my calendar out for good, cuz what really marks time more than that day you eat your first homegrown tomato of the summer? (For me, a single sungold cherry tomato savored on July 14th, a lovely birthday present.)

Have a good week, eat your beets!

 

Newsletter: 

Strawberry U-Pick Opens June 22nd!

What better way to celebrate the official start of summer!

Starting June 22nd, our strawberry u-pick will be open on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting at 11:30 am until 2:30 pm, or until the patch is picked out, whichever happens first. The u-pick will be open only as long as there is ripe fruit to pick each day; once it's picked out we will close. Apologies that we can't promise an exact range of open picking hours. If you're traveling a ways to get to us, we recommend coming at the front end of our open hours.

Strawberry Fever burns hot in June and July and the berry patch can get picked out very quickly some days. Here's some useful information that should help you get enough strawberries in your belly and freezer this season:

We grow a strawberry called "Seascape." It's a day neutral variety, which means it's triggered by temperature to make fruit (in contrast to June-bearing varieties, which are triggered by day length). The plants will set fruit so long as the temps are between 40 and 90 degrees, no matter what month it is, which means they tend to produce reliably for us from June through September. All to say, we have strawberries ALL SUMMER not just in June (and in fact June tends to be the most volatile month given the higher chance for rain, which damages the fruit). Our u-pick, once it opens, will be open every Wednesday and Saturday through September. Given that strawberry fever tends to rage hottest in June and July, we always suggest that folks wait until August to come do their big freezer-filling, jam-making pick. Competition for ripe berries can be intense at the start of the season, and often the patch gets picked out within an hour of opening. The craze eases up in August and the fruit actually gets sweeter as the summer goes on, which means late summer is a great time to get your fill.

That said, there's no denying the thrill of picking the first big, red berries of the season and making a deep dish of strawberry rhubarb crisp. Just know that the Valley Flora strawberry season is long and abundant and there is enough for everyone so long as you spread your u-picking out over the whole summer. Abundance, not scarcity. It's so much better to live in that paradigm!

The details:

  • Strawberries are $3.25/pound.
  • We provide a certified scale for weighing out. Feel free to bring your own containers to pick into. We also have  a limited supply of 1 gallon buckets for u-pick use. It's always a good idea to bring a box or bowl to take your berries home in.
  • We accept cash, checks and Farm Direct Nutrition coupons as payment. We cannot run credit cards due to our rural, offline location.
  • Please park nose-in at the pull-out. Do not block the farm entrance and do not drive into the field.
  • No pets
  • No smoking
  • No potable water available.
  • Leave no trace: please take your trash home with you.

Have fun!

 

Order Farmstand Produce through our Online Store!

If you'd like to get fresh, seasonal produce straight from our farmstand, read on!

The Valley Flora Farmstand is open for summer hours, every Wednesday and Saturday from 11:30 to 2:30. Our farmstand is primarily pre-order, with additional produce available for drop-in shopping as well. We use a web platform called Local Line that allows you to place your order from our webstore. We then custom-harvest and pack your order and have it waiting for you on your farmstand pickup day. 

If you’d like to shop with us and haven’t registered an account with Local Line, it’s quick and easy. Simply follow the instructions below to set up your account. Once you do that you will begin to receive our availability emails with a link to our “store.”

You can also go directly to our Local Line store to check it out: https://valley-flora.localline.ca/farmstand

Farmstand Details and How to Order:

  • Anyone is welcome to shop our farmstand. You do not need to be a CSA member and there is no waiting list to join.
  • Farmstand produce is available by pre-order every Wednesday and Saturday from June through December, and every other Wednesday between January and May.
  • From June through December, pickup is at our original farmstand location, 1.5 miles up Floras Creek Road at the shed just after the bridge, between 11:30 and 2:30 every Wednesday and Saturday. Between January and May pickup is at our barn, a half mile up the road from the bridge. When picking up your order, please wait in line until it's your turn to be served. Masks are required.
  • If this is your first time ordering our produce through Local Line, you will need to register a new account with Local Line before you can place an order. Here's how (it's easy):
    1. Go to https://valley-flora.localline.ca/farmstand to view our store.
    2. Click "Register" on the right side of the page.
    3. Set up your account by providing your email address, password, name, phone number and address.
    4. Accept the terms and conditions,
    5. Click the green button, "Creat Your Account"
    6. Start shopping!
  • The ordering window for our Wednesday farmstand opens on Thursday morning by 9 am until Sunday night at 11:59 pm. Farmstead Bread is available on Wednesdays only. Between June and December, if you are not a bread customer and can come on Saturdays, we recommend ordering for Saturday pickup because there are fewer pre-order customers that day and the produce line will be shorter (and some items that have inventory limits will be more available).
  • The ordering window for our Saturday farmstand opens on Monday morning by 9 am until Wednesday night at 11:59 pm.
  • There is a $20 minimum on orders. The "Place Order" button will not appear until you have met the $20 minimum.
  • We will send an email with a link to our updated store to everyone in our Local Line farmstand customer base every Monday and Thursday morning (every other Thursday only during our winter season). You won't receive that email unless you have registered for a Local Line account as described above.
  • You can always access our Local Line store by clicking the "Order Farmstand Produce" button on the left sidebar of our homepage, following the link below, or going directly to https://valley-flora.localline.ca/farmstand.

Thanks ever for your support of the farm and your passion for eating local, seasonal produce!

Shop the Valley Flora Store for Farmstand Produce Now!

Valley Flora - Growing Good Food for Local Folks

Valley Flora is a mother-and-two-daughter collective nestled on the banks of Floras Creek near Langlois, Oregon. Together, we grow hundreds of varieties of vegetables, berries and fruit to feed our local coastal community year-round. Our farm was founded in 1998 with a deep commitment to ecological and organic farming practices and our passion is growing good food with an eye towards the artful. Our love of this beautiful valley – the fertile loam and the river that runs through it - inspires us to farm with the next generation in mind, and the next. We rely on crop diversity, compost, cover crops, and crop rotation to keep our farm healthy and thriving both above and below ground. With the help of our draft horses, a handful of fantastic employees, and one little tractor, we are grateful to call this our life and our livelihood. We love what we do - so much you can taste it!

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