“I used to imagine him
coming from his house, like Merlin
strolling with important gestures
through the garden
where everything grows so thickly,
where birds sing, little snakes lie
on the boughs, thinking of nothing
but their own good lives,
where petals float upward,
their colors exploding,
and trees open their moist
pages of thunder –
it has happened every summer for years.

But now I know more
about the great wheel of growth,
and decay, and rebirth,
and know my vision for a falsehood.
Now I see him coming from the house –
I see him on his knees,
cutting away the diseased, the superfluous,
coaxing the new,
know that the hour of fulfillment
is buried in years of patience –
yet willing to labor like that
on the mortal wheel.

Oh, what good it does the heart
to know it isn’t magic!
Like the human child I am
I rush to imitate –
I watch him as he bends
among the leaves and vines
to hook some weed or other;
I think of him there
raking and trimming, stirring up
those sheets of fire
between the smothering weights of earth,
the wild and shapeless air.” – ‘Stanley Kunitz’ by Mary Oliver

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Welcome March!  Spring is certainly in the air and hopefully the whole March comes out like a lamb rings true.  The last week has been so nice with the intermittent sunshine and tiny rain showers.. it’s given the soil a chance to dry out a little bit and lake WHF has been reduced to a pond.  Looking ahead, the 10-day is looking awfully soggy again and we keep crossing our fingers for a dry stretch at the end of it or that it won’t amount to much.  There are strawberries and onions to plant this month followed by our first main crops (kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, beets etc) for the Spring/Summer CSA season.  The soil has to be dry enough to plant so keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer to the sun gods above!

Our 2017 custom fertilizer blend arrived this week from Marion Ag – all 7 tons (14,000lbs)!   This meant that Brian spent the last few dry days drop spreading lime and compost on the first workable ground. Step by step!   Now, we wait for the sun so the soil can dry out and become workable (and practice patience!)  If we work the soil when it is too wet it will become cloddy and more difficult to transplant, cultivate and weed.  But some years you have no choice otherwise it will push back the start date of the CSA too far! Fingers crossed for 3-4 days of solid sunshine!!!


The greens are poppin’ in the prop house and the last few Winter CSA Shares…

In the meantime, we will be turning up soil in our 100ft high tunnels/covered space and transplanting a few crops and seeding in a few things in there. We are on week 12 of the Winter CSA, which means we have 6 more weeks to go (18 total).   We didn’t know what to expect back in December with this crazy winter weather but are so pleased that all the planning turned out even with the ups and downs and slog and extra hard freezes that the winter weather brought our way. It’s given us a greater perspective on farming and like we’ve said before… we’ve never ate so good through the winter, no matter what the weather!

The propagation greenhouse is really filling up with Spring and Summer starts. We have eggplant and peppers on the heat mats waiting for germination (they like the soil to be hot, hot, hot) and in the next few days we’ll be seeding tomatoes!   The fun never stops.. whoop whoop! It’s crazy to think that in 4+ months we will be enjoying the bounty of summer – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn etc…

Since the weather has been a bit nicer, we’ve been busy making notes of all the varieties and crops that survived this winter.  You’ve got to give it up for the overwintering crops that survived the frigid cold we experienced. The purple Cape cauliflower from @adaptive_seeds that were produced by our amazing friends at  @pitchforkandcrow survived successional 12 degrees, no cover, snow, high winds, ice rain…. seriously awesome (bonus that they look like they are straight out of a comic book).  A big thank you to Adaptive Seeds.  All of your seed varieties that we grew through the winter (cauliflower, kale, turnips, rutabaga, lettuce, cilantro, arugula, winter squash, radicchio etc) shined in the coldest and darkest of winter days! We are so lucky to have a seed company that specializes in varietals that grow well in the PNW.


Jean & I in 2008, the overwintered lettuce in the high tunnel, and the first round of italian sweet peppers are up!

THE BEST!  Last weekend my amazing friend and organic farming mentor Jean arrived on the farm for a few day visit. The picture above is of Jean and I way back in 2008 when I worked on her little organic market garden in Massachusetts where we became quick friends. She is like family to me and a strong, incredible woman that I look up to.  I’ve looked forward to sharing the farm with Jean for some time and to make a proper introduction to Brian. She was celebrating her 95th birthday with her daughter who lives in Victoria, BC and it was really special that we could all be together.

Jean’s smile alone draws you in. She has such exuberance for life. And her energy is contagious. She is heading back to the Cape next week to get all her seeds started and begin a new farming season. Such an inspiration! Farming keeps her going and she has such a genuine love for it (the only thing she can’t do anymore is push the walk behind tiller).. seeing her was the jump start we needed in such a soggy month (with record breaking rainfall!).  It’s amazing how much influence she’s had on my life and pursuing my organic farming dream.  I feel so lucky that our paths crossed 9 years ago.  And how special it is that I could share what Brian and I have built at Working Hands Farm.  Simply amazing.


Bunching onion harvest, CSA Day in February and bunching up the extra tasty spinach from the high tunnel!

Last Friday was National CSA Sign Up Day! According to Small Farm Central, the last Friday in February is the most popular day of the year to sign up for a CSA share!  Thank you to all those who spread the good word and to those who signed up last week!  – we are so close to being full for the 2017 CSA season!

Join us for the 2017 season!  With less than a dozen shares available (only a handful left!) for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season we hope you will join us for the upcoming season!  Read all about the 2017 season here: workinghandsfarm.com/csa


The Purple Cape Cauliflower emerges, the new CSA pick-up area and the kale is beginning to form the seasonal treasure: rapini!

It was so fun to have our first Winter CSA pick up in the new barn this week.  It’s amazing how far we’ve come since we first moved to this property from the land we leased down the road.  Remember the white farmer’s market tents we had for pick up the first few seasons?  And then the semi-permanent pick up area farmer Brian made and now we’ve built a real live room with doors and windows and concrete floors.  We are so happy to have a wonderful space to share with all of our amazing CSA members.

We hope you all enjoyed this week’s veggie share and will see you soon!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts