Growing up Brian’s mom called this the bluebird of happiness… Here’s wishing everyone a bluebird year!  

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope you all had a healthy, happy holiday and New Year!   2019 is off to a great start and we want to thank you, our amazing CSA members! January 1st, 2019 was the best opening CSA day we’ve had in the last 10 years! We had more return members sign up on the 1st (and the days following) than we could have ever expected. Your early investment makes a huge difference in our ability to make decisions on the farm. And those decisions ultimately allow us to provide a better experience and product to you, our members.  Here we grow 2019!

Sign up for the 2019 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just 18 days into January and we are more than halfway there to being full for the 2019 season.  A big thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old!  Keep spreading the good word because it makes all the difference.   As a farm-ily member once said, “keep your friends close and your farmers closer.”

Shortcut to the CSA Sign Up Form!

Winter light on the farm and two porch buds – Gloucester and Ahab…

January on the Farm. It’s a funny in between time on the farm this time of year. Where we’re still subject to winter weather and whatever ol’ mother nature brings our way (with rain, temps falling below freezing etc) but we’re also creeping closer to Spring with every passing day. We’re not planting or seeding or weeding much this time of the year but we are crop planning, preparing, ordering seeds and getting our work spaces and tools in order for a whole new farming season. We’ve been making some major headway on crop planning and seed orders in the WHF office (first we had to dust off all the cobwebs from our 2018 season…farmers don’t see much ‘office’ time during the growing season).   We plan on taking several soil tests in the next few weeks to see where our soil fertility is at. We’ve had a blast figuring out soil interpretation over the past 9 seasons and even help out a few of our farmer friends with their soil interpretations.  We saw a lot of improvements in our soil last year from all our inputs we’ve put in (organic fertilizer and organic compost etc) and are excited (in the best, most nerdy way possible) to check out how we did this past year!

We’ve been crossing off big projects on our list left and right! Last month we started our mission to lean-up the farm by organizing all the things on the farm so that everything that we need and has value has a place and anyone could find it if they needed to (think: LEAN Manufacturing).   We started in our propagation house (where are the little seedling starts live) and moved on to our tool shed.  After identifying the things we need and value, we started identifying things that are no longer needed or don’t add value. I think I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that Rob discovered just how many little things (literally) there are in farming while cleaning out the tool shed… all the tools, and gadgets, equipment and pieces and parts…. we’re like our very own hardware store.  There’s so much to organize and manage!  Over the two week holiday harvest break Brian got his organization on in the red barn and made a tool bench, employee area, a shelf with labeled bins, hung up our white boards (finally!) as well as leaning out the storage loft. Last weekend, farmer B took on the big undertaking of start the big wood barn clean out. Its primary use the last few years was with livestock so there was deep bedding and heavy cattle panels to remove, fencing, old tools and odds and ends mixed with the veggie equipment we use now etc. There were a few items that made it into the no longer needed items and will hang out in a designated spot for a little bit and make the final decision to sell, give away etc.

Sunrise in January, the ‘winter rose’ castelfranco chicory is a workhouse and keeps us eating salads all winter long, glou in his favorite nap spot..

Brian and Rob continued to push this big wood barn project through this past week – Brian said that it was really hard because the harder they looked the more little things they found. The only way out is through!  But everything looks good and is coming along! Having more organized rediscovered covered space is amazing.   We look forward to seeing how it transforms over the next year!

Meanwhile, I’ve been making big progress on the seed order (almost finished!), crop planning and office stuff as well as harvesting and setting up for the winter CSA!  Brian and Rob also took down the tomato trellises from last season – we prefer to wait so that the ground isn’t so dry and the plants have completely died down.  They also dug out several stubborn blackberries along the northern edge of one of our high tunnels in preparation to re-skin it (aka put a new poly piece on top!).  The original one is still on there and it’s held up pretty darn well for 6 years (they normally only last 3 or so seasons).  Feels good to continue to check things off the list.

It’s not all work though!  We’ve been taking advantage of the shorter daylight hours to catch up with friends, family and fellow farmers. The whole work – life balance can be tough on the farm since it’s all intertwined especially in peak season (summer!) but our priorities are shifting and becoming more balanced now that the farm can potentially/is starting to operate beyond just Brian and I. Systems and organization help with all of this.  In early February Brian and I are heading to an Organic Farmer Conference for a few days which is cool because last year Brian stayed back to do Winter CSA! . I’m really looking forward to hearing different perspectives from other farmers and to go on a few hikes in the woods with fellow farmer friends. It will be a nice refresher as we gear up to Spring into Action!

Ringing in the New Year with a good ol’ fashioned broken pallet fire, the first harvest of 2019 and the kale is already sending off rapini…

We’ve also passed the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) and are slowly seeing the days increase, minute by minute, day by day. We’ve had a few colder nights over the past few weeks (coldest night got down around 27) but we’ve been maintaining a similar weather pattern of 45-50 degree days and 30-38 degree nights. And after 2017’s crazy winter weather events we’ll take it!   Hard to believe we had a foot of snow on the ground that year! It’s amazing how different the years can be.

We thank all our Winter CSA members for your support and dedication to winter eating (even through the dark and frozen days of winter).

The first Winter CSA shares of 2019 and a frosty January sunrise…

Pretty soon it will be Spring again and the return of longer days and an incredible bounty. We are VERY excited for the coming season on the farm.   Winter can be a time of rest and recuperation for farmers but it is also a time for planning, revisiting notes from the previous year, solidifying the crop plan, ordering soil amendments, getting the propagation house up and going for the start of seeding, submitting the seed order, going over financial projections, figuring out ways to manage workflow in the busy season better etc, as well as some winter projects & planting outside.  Over the next week we will sow our first seeds of the season (onions, shallots, lettuce, spinach, beets) and this week, we’re buttoning up the rest of our seed order and are in the midst of our crop plan in anticipation of another bountiful season!

On a personal note, Brian and I have been really touched by the sweet little notes, emails and posts on the group page about what signing up for the CSA means to them.  One of our members that is going into their 7th year with WHF wrote this on our Facebook page last year, “It’s become a New Year’s tradition at my house that the first purchase of the year is our CSA membership, which is a three-season investment in the health of our household, our community, and our bank account. We have improved our diets and our health immeasurably because our farmers provide the most nutritious, freshest, tastiest produce out there at a tiny fraction of what we would have to spend to buy it (way less fresh!) at retail. We realized our first season in that we could not afford *not* to be members of WHF CSA–it’s the best thing we buy every year, hands down! Happy New Year, and thank you both, Farmers Jess and Brian!”

Winter morning light after a freeze, seed cat-a-log coma in the office and visiting our friends new home on their farm!  

This kind of thing means the world to us.  This is why we started WHF,  with the goal of bringing a community together over amazing food and to know the farmers and place that brings that food to your table.. to be part of the farm-ily and the working hands farm team.  Eating and enjoying that amazing food and tending-to and growing that food through sustainable and organic practices helps us to achieve those goals together!  Eating should feel good and when it’s fresh and grown down the road and picked by your farmers it seems like the easiest and best way to contribute to that shared goal/vision.  It’s the perfect partnership and we feel so lucky to be where we are in the U.S., in Oregon, in Hillsboro, off an old country road called River within a community of people who are excited to eat well (the freshest possible produce), know their farmers (and their food), support their local economy and be part of the WHF team.

“When the community is connected to its soil the plants are not the only things to grow roots.” – Farmer B

Last week’s CSA share room is looking well stocked in January!  

Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Sign-Ups are now OPEN!

3 Steps to Signing Up:

Read all about the 2019 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season (the Who, What, Where, Why, When & How Much)

Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

Mail or drop off a Check or Make Payment Online to reserve your share

Pay by Check: Make checks out to ‘Working Hands Farm’ and send it to 7705 SW River Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97123.  Checks only!  Please make sure to put the shareholders name & type of share in the memo.

Pay by Check via drop off on the farm: If you would like to drop off your payment in form of a check on the farm, there is clearly marked white CSA lockbox located on a post at the red barn (on your left when you pull in).    Please drop it off during regular business hours (9-6pm).  Click here to see where to drop off your check!  We check it daily.  Checks only!  Please make sure to put the shareholders name & type of share in the memo.

Pay Online: Visit the WHF Farmstore to pay for your share online.  Please note that the online payment option includes the 3% + .30 online processing fee.  If you wish to avoid this online fee you can pay by check.  

Went for a wonderful hike in Welches with new farmer friends last weekend!  

Thank you all for your support!  Word of mouth is the best way to help us grow and sustain our small farm. Please encourage interested friends, family, neighbors & community etc… in signing up for their WHF CSA share.  Many thanks for your help from all of us at Working Hands.

We look forward to seeing you all at the start of the season!  Here’s to good food and the amazing community it brings together!  We’re so excited to continue on in this farming journey and to share it all with you.#workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts #endlesspossibilities

p.s.  Mary Oliver… Most of you know that Brian and I love poetry and my heart sank with the news yesterday morning that the ever brilliant and shining poet Mary Oliver has left this World.   She will always be one of our favorites.  Her words and images will live on forever. She is and always will be an inspiration. Thank you, Mary, for all your beautiful gifts 💔❤️✨ She did a great interview with Krista Tippett on On Being 4 years ago.  Check it out here:

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts