Practicing Patience (winter CSA week 11 & 12)

Posted on 2 Mar 2017

16681797_1225667714184816_8531892724395897109_n

“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!!!

spinachshares

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.

meandjean

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.

csaday

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

newpickup

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

radishanimals

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!

garlicgreens

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.

buildouttractor

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

coolbot1

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!

sunscape

-]

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.

snowday2

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

greens1

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!>

sharesjess3

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!

cherries1

 

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.
sundownsnow
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
%d bloggers like this: