February Momentum (Winter CSA Week 8, 9, 10)

Posted on 16 Feb 2017


sunsetkitty

“A seed is small but rich with possibility, like love, which is as humble as it is powerful.” —Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

The first few weeks of February have flown by! Last week it also brought heaps and heaps of rain (over 5” in just a few days) which means our pastures are covered once again in the flood (Lake WHF is back!). Over the weekend we recharged our solar powered farmer batteries with all the sunshine. It brought a much needed respite from the rains and moss growing behind our ears 😉 The warmth of the sun and the promise of Spring has a way of invigorating the spirit!

February really is an exciting month on the farm as it’s a time for pushing many things forward on the farm.  After a few months of downtime and shorter days February always marks the beginning of a shift. Where there is less time spent planning and analyzing and more time chipping away at projects and getting the ball rolling! It’s building momentum.. when your heart and mind just want to dive in and the wet winter weather says otherwise. Winter farming can be a difficult shift for farmers… during the busy season we’re working from sun up to sun down and as we near Thanksgiving our work days are cut in half… and by December we’ve reached the winter solstice (the least amount of daylight of the year).  Less time is spent outside and just the slowing down of the physical activity can throw you for quite a loop (both mentally and physically). That paired with the weather and lack of sunshine can make for a feeling that can be challenging at times. But, boy, there is a direct correlation with the sunshine.. that gentle reminder that a new season is not that far away! February is the transition in the farming world where you are buttoning up the planning and feeling extra inspired by the momentum of CSA sign ups, seed orders, projects, to-dos… When February rolls around it means it’s time to implement the seeding plan, push projects through, tune up the ol’ equipment and really begin the new season!

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The last of the celery for a little white, the garlic taking in the sunshine and some sweet winter lettuce mix!

Soil tests, crop planning, seed starting, tractors, building projects and more, oh my! One of the first things we like to do in February is get our custom made fertilizer for the garden all set to go. The first step to soil success is submitting our yearly soil test to A&L Labs.  Next to seed orders this is seriously up there with some of the most fun things we do as farmers. How did we do?  What can we do better?  The challenges and possibilities that farming brings starts right here in the planning stages.   Our custom made organic fertilizer mix paired with the omri certified garden compost we use every season has really improved the soil over the past 4 years and it’s fun to see those previous seasons soil test results change in a positive way!

“If I grow good soil, I can forget about the vegetables.” – Nigel Walker

It brings a big smile to these farmers faces to see the land become more productive over time and to see things truly thrive (it’s members and farmers included) from season to season.   We look forward to feeding the soil and all of our wonderful members through our 8th growing season! Whoop whoop!

radicchio

radicchio rosso di Verona”the rose of chiogga”, castelfranco & radicchio di lusia & di chiogga, rosa verona tardiva!

Feeding and building the nutrition in the soil and rotating all the 70+ different kinds of veggies we grow around the farm is so important (in order to combat disease and pests etc and make sure there is the right amount of nutrition to meet the needs of the many different crops that we grow).   We also need to plan out our successional crop plantings in order to have food for our members each and every week! It seems like a crazy amount of information to grow so many different crops for over 150 households for 7 months (+ 5 months of winter CSA) of the year, which is why the systems we’ve created are so important for the two of us to run this ship smoothly.

We’re buttoning up the crop plans for the season and are really excited about the crops and varieties of veggies that we’re growing this year.  We’ll be rotating our garden plots this year which means we can cover crop some of the garden blocks at the front of the property and let them lay fallow for at time (fallow: adj.(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production). We’re really excited about the forward progress and the season ahead! With all the hot weather 2015 brought and the wild 2016/17 winter we’ve had this year we feel better prepared (mentally and physically) for whatever 2017 will throw at us. Nature waits for no one and the more experience we take on (high fives!) the better prepared we will be.

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spinach and beets have sprung, the build out begins and the new replacement tractor has finally arrived!

Tractor update! As you may recall last year we had a bit of a to-do with the new tractor from John Deere (Re: https://workinghandsfarm.com/2016/09/07/labor-days-csa-week-16-17/ ) We had bought our 5075e tractor in the spring of 2016 with the creeper gear being a part of it (it enables us to plant vegetables at a slow enough speed where it won’t burn up the tractor) and unfortunately they sold us something that hadn’t yet been manufactured. So, last fall we were told they would not be manufacturing it so it was back to the drawing board. We ordered the replacement tractor at the end of last Fall with a creeper gear and it has arrived this week! We are so excited to have the equipment that we need to grow better and improve the systems on the farm!  Strawberry plants will be here before you know it and it’s nice feeling to know the tractors are rearing to go!

 

Red Barn Build-Out. We’re pretty excited about this.. over the last two weeks we made progress on the red barn build out and built a 18×24’ coolbot cooler and a new CSA pick up area that will keep the produce even fresher in our insulated building!   It will also streamline our packing system to make everything more efficient and organized. The concrete floors will make it easy to wash/pack, use the pallet jack to move produce around and chill in the cooler and then when pick up time comes around we’ll be able to roll all the produce into the next room for CSA pick up. This means picking up 50lb crates of produce less and moving towards a much more efficient setup and system for the two of us. Washing, packing, storage and pick up will all happen in one location which will also save us from running produce around all about the farm on a daily basis. Pretty exciting stuff! #workingsmarternotharder

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The first signs of purple sprouting broccoli, the finished coolbot – we just need to purchase the AC units!, gloucester soaking in the sun…

And in the midst of the season that lies ahead, we are over the halfway point of the WHF Winter CSA! We are seriously loving the winter CSA (no matter what ol’ mother nature brings) and already talking about growing and making plans for next winter. We really do feel that it’s an amazing addition to the farm to provide produce through the shorter days of the year all while providing income to the farm that will help us achieve some balance in the crazy months of summer. We are big fans all around – the best perk of all is eating delicious farm fresh veg in the winter! As winter members, you know that the weather is more variable than other times of the year. Crop losses can happen from a hard freeze, disease pressure, bugs, etc…  and many of these things are out of your farmers control.  As winter members, you’ve also come to appreciate and recognize just how resilient vegetables (and your farmers, toot toot!) are. We always strive to do our best and are more motivated than ever to grow better even in an anomaly winter like the one we’ve had this year.

The Hungry Gap. It’ll be fun to see what the rest of the Spring will bring!  It is February which is also the beginning of the “hungry gap” in the farming world.  The hungry gap is the name for the period in spring when there is little or no fresh produce available. When overwintered brassica vegetables such as kale and collards and January King cabbages “bolt” (i.e. run up to flower.. we also call this rapini!) as the days get warmer and longer and the first crops of the year are just being sown. On the farm we utilize the high tunnels and propagation house to get a head start on seeding our first crops of Spring (that’ll be ready to eat starting in mid-March through May depending on the crop).   It’s essential that we have these covered spaces to grow as it’s usually too wet to prepare soil for planting until mid-March. Most people are blissfully unaware of the hungry gap as the grocery store is always overflowing with produce from southern states and imported from southern countries from Feb-April. You can imagine what it must have been like before we imported produce in the winter… cabbage and potatoes, canned fruits and veggies, foraged greens… it seems like such a luxury now that we can grow and eat from the farm (or visit the grocery store) year round!

From the farmer’s perspective it really is such a wonderful experience growing food for our community through the winter. There were many farmers that came before us, who figured out the same things we’re figuring out now minus all of the equipment and efficiencies that technology has given us over the past 100 years…

We have some amazing “over-wintering” crops (like purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, cauliflowers etc) that are slowy beginning to show signs of productivity after 200+ days of growing (so cool) among other fun things like rapini from the kale, collards, cabbages and other root brassicas! We also have some amazing sweet meat squash from Adaptive Seeds and other fun winter squash varietals from Johnny’s Seeds and High Mowing Seeds to enjoy too!

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-]

Here come the first crops of the season, the sun after a rainstorm, there may be a flood outside but inside we’re irrigating!

Sign up for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are 3/4 of the way there to being full for the 2017 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 you farmers closer.”

Small farms are making a big impact! Keep up the great work everyone – let’s do it even better in 2017! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts

3 Steps to Signing Up:

shares

Winter CSA Shares 8, 9, 10.. the bounty continues!

If you have any further questions about the 2017 CSA be sure to check out our FAQs section or send us an email.  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!

Stay dry out there and cross your fingers for some sunshine in the 10 day! We could all use some sunshine!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Come Snow or High Water (Winter CSA Week 6 & 7)

Posted on 26 Jan 2017

stars

The Cold

How exactly good it is
to know myself
in the solitude of winter,

my body containing its own
warmth, divided from all
by the cold; and to go

separate and sure
among the trees cleanly
divided, thinking of you

perfect too in your solitude,
your life withdrawn into
your own keeping

-to be clear, poised
in perfect self-suspension
toward you, as though frozen.

And having known fully the
goodness of that, it will be
good also to melt.

– Wendell Berry

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Wow, what a few whirlwind weeks it’s been. We’ve all been through the gamut with the freezing rain, snow, frigid temperatures and flooding! We’re really glad everyone made it out safe and sound!

Winter farming is always an exciting adventure and we thank you all for supporting us come Snow or High Water! Two Wednesdays ago it was forecasted that we were going to receive 1-3inches of snow… so around 9pm we realized that the snow was not slowing down and that we would be in for a long night. From 9pm-4am we went from one greenhouse to the next brushing off the heavy wet snow (‘jello arms’ we discovered is most definitely a thing). As soon as all 4 tunnels were brushed off the first would need to be brushed off again. We kept going until we didn’t have anything left. It was crazy and dreamlike. All the hard work paid off though and all the greenhouses were saved (none of them buckled/collapsed under pressure). We ended up getting close to a foot of snow which is the most snow Brian (the native Oregonian) had ever seen at any one time in the valley.

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kale flavored snow cones, Brian plowing us out with the tractor & a brave bunch of hens..

The snow was nice at first (especially once the stress wasn’t as heavy) but as time went on I think we all felt ready for it to melt. The snow did help with the frigid nights that followed that week (we got down to 12-14 degrees in the nights after). The snow can act like a nice layer of insulation for all those crops that were still in the ground. The animals didn’t seem to mind the weather one bit – in fact they all seemed unfazed with their cozy barn, thick fur and unlimited supply of tasty hay… well, except for the chickens… only a few brave hens would actually come out into the snowy drifts.. they’ve never seen snow before!

When the rains came through last week we felt much relief.. the rain came in over night and by morning all the snow was gone. CSA harvests and pick ups could resume! It was now time to walk about the garden and see what was happening with all the crops.  Some of the highlights from our crop walk:   The leeks, garlic and overwintering onions looked great – they even looked like they put on some growth while nestled under the snow. The stoic kale had been through so much this winter – absolute CHAMPS – it’s one of the most winter hardy crops we grow – and although it had leaf damage by the snow and cold it looks like it’ll put on some new leaves with the more moderate temps ahead.   Those January King Cabbages in the share this week speak for themselves… amazing!  The lettuces in the high tunnels (especially the romaine and winter pink lettuces) all weathered the cold like champs. Even the baby spinach, radishes, turnips and arugula in the high tunnels all looked great – not a big of damage!    The Purple Sprouting Broccoli varieties are all about to begin sprouting up which reminds us just how resilient all these crops are.   Surely the ones that make it through a winter like we’ve had this year will be at the top of the planting list for next Winter season!  Seed folks calls it a “selection event” – selecting the hardiest ones for next generation.

wintergreens

These lettuces & chicories were the champs of the high tunnels.  Absolutely beautiful!  

No matter what mother nature throws at us we LOVE the winter CSA. And with a little sweat equity, love and tears it just proves that we will always have food to eat!  The best perk so far is having access to so much delicious fresh food in the winter – with the Winter CSA it means that we (the farmers and the farm’s members) have eaten better than ever before.   The last two winter seasons have been a truly enjoyable addition to the WHF CSA growing season and we’d like to extend a big thank you to all the WHF Winter CSA members for joining us this winter season! We hope you are all enjoying this week’s yummy winter goodies and look forward to hearing all the delicious home cooked meals you’ve prepared with them.  Keep up the great work!

High Water.  With all the snow melt and additional inches of rain we had some creek flooding within 12-24 hours and over the weekend the Tualatin broke it’s banks. It is now sitting at 30 ft which is 5ft less the crazy flood we had in December 2015. It peaked on Sunday and is slowly beginning to recede (the Tualatin has already gone back over the banks) thanks to the sunny/cloudy days in the forecast. It sure has been nice to really thaw out and dry things out too.

seeding

We’ve been busy getting ready for the season ahead.   During the snow storm we finished up our seed order (yay!) and are super excited about the new varieties of vegetables + fruits we’ll be planting this year as well as some of our tried and true veggies that we already can’t get enough of.  We’re planning big and will be increasing productivity by streamlining our systems and investing in some equipment to ensure we have even more of our CSAs most beloved crops (i.e. strawberries, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, melons, greens, cucumbers, tomatoes etc to name a few).

Last weekend we cleaned out the propagation house, heat mats set up and got our seeding area organized. Brian seeded over 150 trays of storage onions, shallots, bunching onions and cipollinis (over 20,000 onions!) in just two days.  We even started some beets, lettuce and spinach to be planted as some of our first crops for the Spring and Summer CSA. Whoop whoop! Gotta have the veggies.  In the next few weeks we’ll begin our first peppers and tomatoes that will be planted out early in the high tunnels…

Have we mentioned how excited we are for the new growing season?!

catalog

This week’s CSA share, checking on the babies in the high tunnels and Gloucester in his annual seed cat-a-log coma…

Sign up for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just a week away from the start of February and we are 3/4 of the way there to being full for the 2017 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 you farmers closer.”

Small farms are making a big impact! Keep up the great work everyone – let’s do it even better in 2017! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts

3 Steps to Signing Up:

cabbageseeds

First seeds of the year have been started, those beautiful January King Cabbages and the post-snow melt flood!

If you have any further questions about the 2017 CSA be sure to check out our FAQs section or send us an email.  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!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Purple sprouting broccoli (top) and cabbage (bottom), now you see them, now you don’t!

cabbage

Winter Hardy (winter CSA week 5)

Posted on 10 Jan 2017



snowgoat

The critters don’t seem to mind the cold snap we’ve had the past week. The farmers on the other hand are feeling ready for the thaw…

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Wow!  What a whirlwind it’s been since our last Winter CSA distribution – between the holidays, the extreme cold snap, the snow, the ice storm and the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA sign ups!  We hope you all had a healthy, happy holiday and New Year!   Winter CSA pick ups begin again this week! (hurray! Gotta have those veggies!)

January 1st, 2017 was the best opening CSA day we’ve had in the last 8 years! We had more return members sign up on the 1st than we could have ever expected! A big thank you to our die-hard CSA members whose 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! You guys are the bees knees!

shares

All the Winter CSA Shares so far!

Sign up for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just 10 days into January and we are more than halfway there to being full for the 2017 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 you farmers closer.”

Small farms are making a big impact! Keep up the great work everyone – let’s do it even better in 2017! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts

3 Steps to Signing Up:

harvesttown

Harvest, cover, harvest repeat!

If you have any further questions about the 2017 CSA be sure to check out our FAQs section or send us an email.  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!

And how about this extra-extra cold snap we’ve been having?  The crazy cold winds and frigid temps certainly have us running around the farm. After Christmas, we continued on our quest of harvesting and washing all the things before the cold snap hit.   Carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi and more root crops for the cooler.   Last week, we prepared for the possibility of single digits temps.   Two nights in a row we got down to 14* and it looks like another 14* night is on it’s way later this week. We covered and double covered everything and when we ran out of row cover we thought to use a 8 year old sheet greenhouse plastic that we kept in the bone yard. We thought if it gets into the single temps and lose some veggies it certainly won’t be for lack of effort. #whfwintercsa #winterfarming

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Our sweet and attentive working pups love this cold weather, some lettuce hiding under multiple layers of agribon in the high tunnels…

So far, so good out in the field from what we can see – we’ll know more once the thaw comes.  Keep your fingers crossed and the farm in your warmest thoughts as we head towards another small cold snap with potential of snow.

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 2016 season…farmers don’t see much ‘office’ time during the growing season).   We also took several soil tests before the ground froze and are expecting our results back this week.  We’ve had a blast figuring out soil interpretation over the past 7 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!

sleeps

Gloucester helping to write emails, the best place to be on a cold day and brussel sprouts hanging tough in the cold snap!

We are VERY excited for the coming season on the farm.  Spring is just around the corner – thank goodness the days are now getting longer.  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 outside.  This past weekend we sowed our first seeds of the season (lettuce, spinach and beets) and this week, we’re buttoning up the rest of our seed order (we’ve made it to Peppers in the ol’ seed catalogues!) and are in the midst of our crop plan in anticipation of our greatest year yet!

We’re so excited to continue on in this farming journey and to share it all with you.

Stay warm out there!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

icy1

Working Hands Farm CSA 2017

Posted on 1 Jan 2017

2016smallerres

Above are the images of each CSA share from last year’s 2016 season! 

Happy New Years Friends & Farm-ily!

2017 CSA Sign Ups begin TODAY for our Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We hope the winter is treating everyone well! Your farmers are feeling extra inspired and excited for Spring and another year of farming ahead!  Thank you for all of your support this last year – we couldn’t be more excited for what is in store for 2017.  By being a CSA member and investing in our farm it continues to thrive and get better and better with every passing year. As we head into our 8th season  the learning curve is becoming less steep, and we are feeling more confident no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

A great many thanks for all your appreciation, support and encouragement through the most productive & the most delicious CSA season we’ve experienced to date!  Over the course of our 28-week Spring, Summer & Fall CSA season Brian & I harvested and distributed 89,880lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members. From Spring to Fall, the shares averaged 28lbs (with lighter shares in the Spring and heavier shares in the late summer and Fall) and included 12-20 items with a great variety of crops and delicious tasting veggies that have inspired many fantastic home cooked meals.  That’s 778lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.49/lb for all their fresh, local, organic produce during the 2016 CSA season. <high fives to that!>

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By investing in the CSA we are able to invest in you!  Every year we perform a cost comparison by adding up the cost of the produce in each weeks CSA share and comparing it to our local organic markets and in a typical year our members save in excess of $400-500+ on their produce.  Not that we think our produce can be compared to that of the super market as ours is harvested by either farmer Jess or farmer Brian and given to you the very same day – you can’t beat the freshness of our produce! Also, a store can’t give you the sense of adventure and community that a local farm can.  With that being said…

 

Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Sign-Up Starts TODAY! 

A few changes this year… In order to better accommodate our CSA members needs we’ve extended our pick up hours from 3:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. You’ll also notice that for the first time in 3 years we’ve raised our prices by 2.9% (in order to account for inflation) which translates into only a $1.22 adjustment per week.  And last but certainly not least… the Return of the goats!  We will also be establishing a permanent fence and setup for the goats this Spring so all our farm-ily members can see them again on a weekly basis!  Hurray for goats!

 

pickup

3 Steps to Signing Up:

Pay by Check: Make checks out to ‘Working Hands Farm’ and send it to 7705 SW River Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97123.  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 to the right of the greenhouse.  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.  

*In order to reserve your share we require a $250 deposit that is non-refundable and is applied to the total cost of the CSA.  The deposit is due within two weeks of submitting our online CSA form.  Once your deposit of $250 is received we will send you a confirmation email welcoming you to our CSA program. We encourage those members who can, to pay more than the deposit upon signing up as this helps your farmers absorb the initial expenses that happen at the beginning of the season.  Remember that our CSA operates on a first come, first serve basis so sign up ASAP!

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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! #dirtyhandscleanhearts #endlesspossibilities

p.s. Check out this link to our favorite photos from our 2016 season: it’s amazing how much can happen in a year and there’s so much to be thankful for!  Enjoy this compilation of our best shots of the year.

Happiest of days to you all!

Your Farmers

Jess, Brian & the rest of the farm-ily…

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

brooc

The Longest Night (winter csa week 4)

Posted on 21 Dec 2016

kittylongestnight

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,

and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,

and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

– Wendell Berry

Important ReminderThis week is the Week 4 pick up of the Winter CSA and the last pick up before our 2-week holiday/new year break.  After this week’s pick up: Weekly Members & Bi-Weekly Members (weeks 1,3,5,7 etc) will resume CSA pick up the week of January 8th.  Bi-weekly Members (weeks 2,4,6,8 etc) will resume CSA pick up the week of January 17th.

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,
Some high fives are in order because we’ve successfully made it through the wind, snow, rain & freezing temperatures!  We worked extra hard to harvest what we could before the freezing temps (a few nights in a row we got down to 17*) and the rest we covered in a sea of agribon fabric… and for extra sensitive crops we even double layered it under an ounce of agribon fabric.  We also got quite the arm workout brushing snow of all 4 of our high tunnels a couple times a day.  All the day light hours in the last week were gobbled up by a couple of farmers who love a challenge and who truly love growing through all the seasons. 
snowyday
Making (rockin’) snow angels in the CSA parking lot & enjoying the freshly fallen snow last Wednesday!
The thaw on Monday was a welcomed sight… when all the ice and slushy snow vanished and all the overwintering vegetables in the field began to perk up – we did too.  Farming in the Winter gives you a surprising amount of  je ne sais quoi.  A strange and simple confidence in knowing that the elements truly are out of your control, you simply just do the best you can and the rest you have to let go… and in a way it’s absolutely freeing because in the times that seem the hardest to grow just about anything – those plants grow and survive in the most unlikely of situations (of course, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears from these two farmers!).  Just gotta keep the faith & enjoy the ride – winter farming if anything makes us much better farmers who embrace the risks that come with farming and find freedom in the unknown.  
During the two-week break from CSA harvests we will continue to harvest/wash/bag more vegetables for later in the season… the carrots that were covered with agribon in the field during the freeze are some of the sweetest we’ve ever grown.  A frost makes the winter veggies sweeter because in order protect their cells from bursting they convert their complex carbohydrates (bonded sugars) into simple sugars!  Which is a bonus for us who enjoy eating veggies!  You’ll be seeing these in the New Year!
mushroooms
Lots of mycelium pippin’ up in the garlic, frosty kale and cozy spinach being harvested for this week’s share..

Over the weekend we also made progress on our 2017 financial projections.   We sat down and did some 2017 financial projections with our secret weapon… Papito (aka Brian’s dad). It doesn’t sound like fun but we absolutely love it! Our favorite quote from Brian’s papa, “if you torture the numbers they will confess” For the past 4 years Brian’s dad has been teaching us the mystical ways of excel and how to build sophisticated financial models for each of the farm’s profit centers. We love having him on our team and figuring out how to make the farm sustainable in the long run. Every year we get closer and we appreciate all the time he puts into helping us grow better. ‪#‎growingbetter‪#‎familyfarming

During the next few weeks we will spend time looking through our 2016 CSA season photos and updating ol’ WHF website. There is so much excitement and anticipation surrounding a new growing year. So many opportunities to grow better and new veggies to try (let the seed catalog ordering begin)!  Brian and I are getting really excited to begin sign ups for our 2017 CSA season on January 1st!   So mark your calendars and stay tuned for another year of endless possibilities.
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The WHF lake frozen over last week, three cheers for some snow days and the sun making it’s way past the horizon..
Last call for our online Holiday Sale!  20% off WHF Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef!  Thank you all very much for your interest!  To celebrate the holidays ahead  we are offering 20% off all orders over $25 for our Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef using the discount code HOLIDAYSALE during checkout.


To purchase: click the link to our Online Store to purchase some of our amazing pastured pork & grass fed beef.  *You will receive 20% off your online order when you type in or copy/paste the discount code: HOLIDAYSALE during check out.  Discount code will be valid while supplies last!*

Not only is it incredibly delicious but your investment helps Brian & I to sustain our small farm!  Thank you in advance for your support! Help us spread the good word and share this email and link with family and friends!  #buylocal #knowyourfarmer#knowyourfood

menagerie2

The menagerie is in full force this time of year with thick coats of fur and cozy sleeping arrangements & a view from the loft of the barn..

Today marks the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year or the longest night depending on your point of view!  Today’s daylight will be close to 8 hours & 42min (compared to the Summer Solstice with 15 hours & 41 min of daylight).  The days will only grow longer for here which means the start of the 2017 growing season is drawing nigh.

We hope you all have an amazing holiday with friends and family and good food. We’ll see you all in the New Year!
With kind regards,
Jess & Brian
dirty hands, clean hearts

Work Like the Snow (winter csa week 2 & 3)

Posted on 16 Dec 2016


img_5889

“Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly.
leaving nothing out.” – Like Snow by Wendell Berry

Important ReminderNext week is the Week 4 pick up of the Winter CSA and the last pick up before our 2-week holiday/new year break.  After next week’s pick up: Weekly Members & Bi-Weekly Members (weeks 1,3,5,7 etc) will resume CSA pick up the week of January 8th.  Bi-weekly Members (weeks 2,4,6,8 etc) will resume CSA pick up the week of January 17th.

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

It’s been quite a few weeks on the farm!  From our first frost and freeze last week to snow and freezing rain and warmer temps.. now we’re back to colder temps and snow again!  It’s looking like it’ll be in the 40s again next week which means we’ll have a thaw and lots of mud.  It’s been such a different winter growing year for us than last year.  Both seasons were pretty mild leading into winter, last year had a lot more rain and the frost came a little earlier, we had snow but it wasn’t until the month of January.  The extended fall like weather that we had this year meant extra time to enjoy more frost sensitive crops like cauliflower, romanesco and broccoli.  Usually by the time December comes around those crops have all but succumbed to colder temps.    So we are thankful for an extended season for some of those delicious veggies and glad we took some chances with a later successional planting of those crops!

snowysunset

 

Brussel Sprouts and Purple Sprouting Broccoli in the snow and one of the high tunnels at sunset…

At the moment the farm is neatly tucked into a few dozen big sheets of agribon (each sheet is 35ft x 100ft and is a floating row cover that provides frost protection up to 2-4 degrees) that is then covered with a few inches of snow.  Hopefully the snow is keeping all those crops well insulated in their own “snow cave” until the thaw comes on Sunday.

When the snow and bitter cold comes there’s not much that we can do but hunker down and hope for the best!  Continue on with chores and projects and peek in on the crops, hunker down and focus on next year’s goals and financial projections as well as launching our 2017 CSA season on January 1st!  Every season is different and comes with it’s own unique weather waves and patterns and this winter is no exception!  We’ll have a better idea of how all the vegetables did come Sunday/Monday with the warmer weather.  (send the farm your warm thoughts!)

snow2

The sunset over our annual lake WHF and our crop of garlic for 2017..

The Winter season perhaps, more than any other, speaks to the nature of CSAs shared risk.  You invest in the farm and the farmers and we do our very best to provide you with organic seasonal produce through the winter months, whatever the season may bring.  Because of you and your investment in our farm our CSA continues to thrive and get better and better with every passing year. The learning curve is becoming less steep, and we are feeling more confident no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

Winter farming isn’t for the faint of heart but we truly believe it to be a special time of the year to be vegetable farmers… to be connected to the seasons, to the winter varietals of plants, to better understand nature and truly experience the highs and lows and resiliency of life!

turnipthebeet

Harvesting beet bunches for this past week’s CSA, harvest/wash/pack repeat & spring onions!

Most of you have gotten to know us over several seasons and you know we will do our very best to ensure you have food on your table all winter long.  We even got up way before the sun on Wednesday to extend pick up hours to ensure all our CSA members made it out to pick up before the snow.  Come rain or shine our members gotta have those veggies!

Being a farmer is all about keeping the faith and being willing to take risks (and like it, to boot!)  Learning to trust that everything is going to be okay no matter what happens.  On a personal note, the snow was a warm welcome as it has this way of slowing everything down.  The roads get a lot quieter and everything looks peacefully tucked into a giant blanket of white.  The crunch beneath your feet.. all of it allows you to be exactly where you are and appreciate nature and the seasons.  Change is a welcome thing.

The change of pace also allowed for some quality time with my mom who was visiting from Massachusetts.  Everytime my family comes to visit I can’t express just how much their visit meant to Brian and I.  The last time they were able to visit was in the Spring and before that at our wedding which was almost 2 years ago!  They were here at the start of the 2016 growing season when it officially began and my mom was able to come out  to see the end of the season too – it always feels right to have them there with us by our sides.    It’s amazing how much we miss them and hope it’s not too long until we see their faces again.  Love you mom!

jessmombw

 

My mom and I enjoying the snow last week, frozen leeks and the first of the PSB..

20% off WHF Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef!  The sale continues!  Thank you all very much for your interest!  To celebrate the holidays ahead – beginning today – we are offering 20% off all orders over $25 for our Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef using the discount code HOLIDAYSALE during checkout.


To purchase: click the link to our Online Store to purchase some of our amazing pastured pork & grass fed beef.  *You will receive 20% off your online order when you type in or copy/paste the discount code: HOLIDAYSALE during check out.  Discount code will be valid while supplies last!*

 

snowyice

Gloucester checking out last week’s freeze, our first snow of the season and some frosty cabbages!

Not only is it incredibly delicious but your investment helps Brian & I to sustain our small farm!  Thank you in advance for your support! Help us spread the good word and share this email and link with family and friends!  #buylocal #knowyourfarmer#knowyourfood

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

csas

The Persephone Period (winter CSA week 1)

Posted on 2 Dec 2016

winter1

winter kale in the sunlight, a sunrise view from the loft of the barn, an early succession of purple sprouting broccoli

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy December! We hope the Thanksgiving holiday treated you all well.  It was a stormy and wet end to November and we hope you kept warm by making many delicious homemade meals in the warmth of your kitchen.

We spent all thanksgiving morning gathering equipment from the pastures and lower fields in the sideways wind and rain which was good because the ground water and creek flooded out the lower acreage so our annual lake is back.  The Tualatin River didn’t flow over it’s banks this time around but it sure was close!  The lake view property we currently have is a good reminder of that.  There’s actually so much ground water looking for a place to go it’s just been bubbling out of mole holes!

garlicspinach

The view from the garlic block, spinach in the high tunnel & a bulk beet harvest.. or should we say mud…

Welcome to the start of the Winter CSA!  There’s no better place to grow during the winter months than in the Willamette Valley – our more mild oceanic/marine west coast climate is perfect for overwintering vegetables and when you pair that with a couple of farmers who love growing vegetables it’s a winning combination.  For those of you who are joining us for a winter growing season we think you are the bees knees. You understand that the winter weather is more variable than other times of the year and you have chosen to support the farm and these two farmers through the winter months. Crop losses can happen from a hard freeze, disease pressure, bugs, etc…  and many of these things will be out of your farmers control.  You invest in the farm and the farmers and we do our very best to provide you with organic seasonal produce that is sure to inspire.  We have taken measures to give the Winter CSA the best possible chance at success like building two additional 96′ x 30′ high tunnels, building a pole barn for storage, researching specialty winter hardy crops, etc… All that being said, you have gotten to know Brian and I, and our work ethic over the course of this season (and for the majority of you over several seasons) and you know we will do our very best to ensure you have food on your table all winter long!

Thank you for supporting our farm through this time of exciting ‘growth’! We grow better each and every year with the support, encouragement and inspiration that our CSA members bring.  It’s a mutual admiration society around here!

 

radbunching

The chicories come alive this time of season, italian dandelions and overwintering onions..

=

This time of the year that quote, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes” rings true. With our long johns on, wooly layers and Grundens rain gear we’ve been good to go with bulk winter harvest, grounds maintenance, winter CSA harvest etc.   When the real cold weather hits, all of the tender crops (i.e. fully mature romanesco/cauliflower, tops of radishes, mixed greens, chard, beet greens etc) turn into slime- from freezing and thawing- and whithering away.  Some of the crops we grow actually taste better when they go through a freeze (turnips, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi,  etc) because of all the sugar they create in order to protect themselves from freezing.  To find a balance and to protect some of the more tender crops listed above, before any cold and bitter weather hits we are keeping busy and working extra hard – to ensure that our winter CSA members had the best possible CSA experience. We continue to cover up crops with row cover and harvesting crops over the next few weeks for storage before those extra chilly they are predicting next week hit.

It’s been a surprisingly mild late Fall despite how wet and gloomy it was in October.  November seems to have made up for the quick change back in the early fall.  Usually by now we’ve had our first frost (which we still have yet to had) and is the reason why we still had some peppers, romanesco, cauliflower and broccoli in the first Winter CSA share.  We planted a late succession of all three and it paid off this year.  As Farmer Brian said the other day while harvesting,  “In a typical season we would have had our first freeze by now, which made these a big gamble with a delicious pay out. Glad we rolled the dice.”  We’re definitely feeling thankful for this bounty of late Fall varietals!

 

pumpkincauli

Late season cauliflower, farm kitty sleeping on a stack of carhartts, and homemade pumpkin pie..

Although working in the cold and wet can be difficult at times (with the right clothes on we could be out there for hours – no problem) but the shorter days are hardest to get used to after the long days of summer and fall. Right now the day length is 9 hours of sunlight and by the Winter Solstice it will be close to 8 hours & 42min (compared to the Summer Solstice with 15 hours & 41 min of daylight).

It is during this darkest time of the year (when you have 10hours of daylight or less) — referred to by Eliot Coleman as the “Persephone period” — that plant growth essentially stops…

‘Humans have long had their own way of understanding the changes in day length and its affect on agriculture. Early Greek farmers, whose practical experience added mythical stories to astronomical fact, knew intimately that the power of the sun and the length of the day are the principal influences on agriculture. They created the myth of Persephone to explain the effect of winter conditions. As the story goes, the earth goddess Demeter had a daughter, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades to live with him as his wife in the netherworld. Demeter would have nothing to do with this and threatened to shut down all plant growth. Zeus intervened and brokered a deal whereby Persephone would spend only the winter months with her husband, Hades. Demeter, saddened by her daughter’s absence, made the earth barren during that time. On our farm we refer to the period when the days are less than ten hours long as the Persephone months.’ – Eliot Coleman, The New Organic Grower

 

goatbrussels

The brussels love the colder weather, the goats saying “HI!” and some delicious savoy cabbages…

Aside from growing winter veggies, we’re just plugging along on the winter projects… cleaning up, organizing, little building projects, packing and storing,  planning, scheming etc.  We’re still chippin’ away at the ol’ to-do list but we’re also taking time to rest and recuperate (thanks to the growing darkness that winter brings).  The days are growing shorter and we are just 3 weeks away from the shortest day of the year – the Winter Solstice.  As we near the holidays and the new year we’ll be spending the longer evenings inside, brainstorming and dreaming about the future and pulling out all of our inspiring seed catalogs to begin our adventure for the 2017 season!

January marks the beginning of our season as we open up registration for the main season CSA, order our seeds, fill the propagation greenhouse with soil amendments, and begin this exciting process all over again! We have some exciting plans and ideas to make 2017 our greatest growing season yet – so stay tuned 😉

fieldsofpsb

– 

Late Fall romanesco, a field of overwintering purple sprouting broccoli, the cutest komatsuna leaf..

20% off WHF Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef!  To celebrate the holidays ahead – beginning today – we are offering 20% off all orders over $25 for our Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef using the discount code HOLIDAYSALE during checkout.


To purchase: click the link to our Online Store to purchase some of our amazing pastured pork & grass fed beef.  *You will receive 20% off your online order when you type in or copy/paste the discount code: HOLIDAYSALE during check out.  Discount code will be valid while supplies last!*

Not only is it incredibly delicious but your investment helps Brian & I to sustain our small farm!

Thank you in advance for your support! Help us spread the good word and share this email and link with family and friends!  #buylocal #knowyourfarmer#knowyourfood

flood

The lake returns! Radicchio for the win, and Captain Ahab basking in the sun…

Be happy, be well and stay warm and dry out there.   We’ll leave you with this beautiful poem by Mr. Wendell Berry entitled, “The Cold”…

“How exactly good it is

to know myself

in the solitude of winter,

my body containing its own

warmth, divided from all

by the cold; and to go

separate and sure

among the trees cleanly

divided, thinking of you

perfect too in your solitude,

your life withdrawn into

your own keeping

–to be clear, poised

in perfect self-suspension

toward you, as though frozen.

And having known fully the

goodness of that, it will be

good also to melt.”

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

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