“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.” – Wendell Berry 

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,


Welcome back!   After a week on vacation and a few days at the farmer to farmer exchange in Breitenbush, our hearts are feeling full and ready for the season ahead. (more about the vacation and winter CSA updates below…) It’s been great to leave the farm, have a little adventure and gain some perspective! We are truly feeling refreshed and inspired and ready for the season ahead! We are also so happy to be back and eating homemade farm fresh food again!

The Celtic Festival, “Imbolc” was on February 2nd which is the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Which means the days are getting longer and a new growing season is upon us!  It feels more and more real with every passing day. Now we just have to be patient and wait for the sun to return!

Classic chicory move growing through the row cover and lots of beautiful seedlings in the propagation house!

Update! Our Spring, Summer & Fall CSA is 3/4 of the way full and we’d love to have you back for the 2019 CSA season. Join us for the freshest and most delicious veggies you can buy.  Please pick us, Jess and Brian, to be your farmers this upcoming season.  Check out our website workinghandsfarm.com/csa for all the details!

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

Thank you for supporting local! And for all those who have signed up already, 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.

Going on a farm walk with Gloucester, onion seedlings and some winter arugula growing in the high tunnel…

Can you believe we’re halfway through the Winter CSA season?  Just 7 more pick ups to go after this week!  Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-12 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 8 weeks we have had 15-17 items in each weekly share.  We have also been impressed with the variety of veggies we have harvested through the winter months – most weeks we had more fresh picked produce than storage veggies which is amazing (even in the coldest and darkest of winter days)!   So far we’ve harvested 270lbs of produce per weekly share (21,000lbs+ total)!  And are looking forward to the remaining 7 weeks of winter goodies!

So… it took us 8 years to get off the farm and take a vacation (or go anywhere for more than a few hours) but we finally did it!  We spent the first week of February exploring Kaua’i and it was magnificent (you can check out a few pictures here). We hiked, we sailed, we swam and we surfed. And most days the hardest decision to make was which direction to walk down the beach. We are feeling rejuvenated and are ready to get back to farming and back to work! A big thank you to our amazing friend Becca for taking care of the farm while we were gone. It is not an easy feat and she did a spectacular job!

A funny and sweet thing happened while we were away. Back in 2012, one of our CSA families left a big impression on us the first season Brian and I farmed together and they ended up moving the following season. To our surprise our paths crossed again unexpectedly in Kauai and we joked that our CSA members go along way to find delicious produce. We love feeding our CSA members the best possible vegetables and are feeling so pumped for the season ahead!

Don’t be dull, be dazzling!  Afternoon light on the prop house and canoeing around the annual pond..

One of our personal mantras going into 2019 is following through.  For years we’ve been saying we need to leave the farm, to take a day off during the week and start saying ‘yes’ to more things that aren’t solely farm related!  In the last year, we’ve definitely been better about putting limits on our workdays, carving out more time for friends and family, and are still working on the day off..  Deciding to add two floating vacation weeks to the Winter CSA was part of that goal.   The plans might have been last minute (!!) but we followed through on actually taking the vacation weeks.  We truly feel refreshed and rejuvenated and it felt good to exercise those muscles (the R & R ones).  We made the most of our days and took advantage of the fact that we were still on Pacific Time.  We were up before the sun, taking in hikes and exploring so many different beaches and flora and fauna (I think we were averaging 5-8 miles per day).  We both loved it.  We admired the coastline and even thought it reminded us of Oregon.. except that you could swim comfortably 😉  We also remembered how well we travel together.  As Brian likes to reminisce/joke.. when we first met our first date was a work trip to Uganda for 3 months and there was an ease about the two of us working together even so far away from home.  It was wonderful to tap back into that and just be Brian and Jess.  We’ve been doing that with much more frequency this year and it feels great to follow through and head towards a goal of better balance.

It helped that we hardly had to think about the farm at all.  Thanks to Becca, our amazing farm-sitter (and Rob too) the farm stayed afloat! The systems and protocol we have (and are constantly) implementing really pay off when the farmers are away!   While we were away there was one noticeable difference upon our arrival, our original high tunnel poly ripped during one of the big windstorms and took sail. It’s been on there for 5+ years (usually poly only lasts for 3 seasons) so we got great use out of it and were planning on replacing it this season anyway… ol’ mother nature gave us a nudge and even helped to take some of it down. We hope to reskin the tunnel this week and get it planted with late spring crops for the Winter CSA. In our second high tunnel we seeded the first carrots of 2019 last month as well as another round of arugula.   They started coming up while we were away (hurrah!) and if all goes well, the carrots should be ready for the first Spring/Summer CSA pick up in May. We have plans of weeding two of our 3 high tunnels over the next week that currently house some spring greens for Winter CSA – lettuce, spinach, arugula, radish, bok choy, parsley, cilantro etc.

It’s so nice to see so much green this time of the year… chicories and beet seedlings forming their first true leaves..

We spent a few days last week at an PNW Organic Farmers Conference. Last year I was able to attend and this year felt special because Brian was able to attend too!   It was really great hearing the different perspectives from other farmers on a variety of subjects and even got to go on a few hikes in the woods with fellow farmer friends.   The community we are building through the farm via our awesome CSA members, fellow farmers, small business owners, members of the community etc is truly impactful and we look forward to further deepening those connections in the days, months, years ahead. The root of the root, the salt of the earth…

The day we returned from the farmer conference we received our soil test and are working with our soil guy at Marion Ag to perfect this year’s organic fertilizer blend. We don’t have many inputs into the soil but the few things that we do put into the soil (the omri certified compost, our custom organic fertilizer blend, the organic potting soil mix for transplants) are so important for healthy soil biology. We’ve seen some major improvements since our first season and it feels good to continue making strides in a positive direction for the health of our community, the soil, the plants, the animals, the rivers and the streams…

We have two new farm kitties – Buddy & Oliver, harvesting chicory mix and baby lettuces!

Speaking of rivers and streams… also upon our return from the conference (and after several inches of rain in just a few days) we were greeted by our annual flood (after a few weeks of rain and rising ground water) where our “said unnamed creek” meets the Tualatin River.   We were wondering if it’d happen at all this winter as we usually we would have had several floods but this is the first time all winter that this low area has flooded! I love knowing this piece of land the way that we do.   The flood is already receding but Brian and I enjoyed a nice canoe ride around the annual pond and down the tualatin. I like making these notes because each season and year is unique (and it helps me remember things more clearly) especially when I go back and read what the previous season was like at this time.

From the field updates! Brian and I went on a crop walk over the weekend and spotted the first Purple Sprouting Broccoli heads. For those of you who ask, ‘what is purple sprouting broccoli?’ They are a cousin of regular broccoli and look a bit like broccolini. They are a delicious treat only grown in the late winter months here in the maritime NW.   It’s traditionally grown in the UK.  In colder winters they have been hardy down to 10*. We love and appreciate PSB because they start to produce at the time of the season when everything else is tired, starting to go to seed etc. Most varieties don’t start producing until 180-220 days after transplant (that’s 6 months or more!! 7+ months if you included their time in the greenhouse as seedlings!) which is incredible. They are a delicious mainstay of the late winter/early spring food supply and for that we are ever grateful. The first buds are just coming on so they are pretty small this week but we are hoping they will make an appearance in the Winter Shares in the next week or two! The plants themselves look great with a ton of baby sideshoots developing for later picking! We also spotted the first Purple Cape Cauliflower with their tiny little buds in the center and a new variety of kalettes that are coming on! We love having fresh harvested produce in the shares especially as we near that funny transition time of Winter and Spring.

Baby leaf spinach, the view of the high tunnel that lost it’s poly over break and onion seed tops!

That’s all from the farm!  We hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend and are enjoying the Winter bounty.  Fingers crossed it’ll be an early Spring! We’re really looking forward to the season ahead and sharing the bounty with all of you!  Keep spreading the good word about the CSA!

With Kind Regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts