Bringing Home the CSA Bounty

Posted on 29 May 2018

“Jess taught me that cooking and eating isn’t something you do after all the other needs of the day are met it is something that you do so you can meet the needs of the day. She taught me that eating well is a matter of priorities.” – Farmer B

Hi Friends & Farm-ily

CSA Week 3 is here and over the next few weeks everyone will be getting into the groove of the CSA (including your farmers!)  Making more home cooked meals, feeling more confident in the kitchen, being open to trying new veggies!  We decided to keep the encouragement high with some helpful tips for CSA success.  These aren’t all the ways to be successful as each person’s journey is there own but eating well, preparing food at home, being conscious of our own food journeys, and staying inspired and curious about nourishing ourselves, our families & friends is what it’s all about.  If anything, reading through these tips should encourage you and make you feel great about the choice to sign up for CSA and be a part of your local farm!

Reminder: Second CSA payments are due by June 1st! Check out the email ‘Reminder: Final CSA Payment Due by June 1st’ for more details!

Newsletter & Recipes.  First and foremost, read the bi-weekly newsletter and emailed recipe pdf each week!  There are lots of farm updates that you don’t want to miss out on.. as well as some tried and true recipes and suggestions from your farmers on how to prepare your weekly share.  We love growing the food but it’s just as important to us that you are eating and preparing the food and therefore have a life changing and positive experience!

Berry Boxes, Rubberbands etc.   We reuse all berry boxes (1/2 pints, pints, quarts) and rubberbands so you can return those as well.  We are a thoughtful farm in terms of minimizing waste and reuse what we can.  There will be a place to return these items by the sign-in sheet.  Note:  We no longer raise hens for egg production so we no longer need egg cartons!

Toscano kale, the first strawberries are forming and a view of this year’s strawberry patch.

Meal planning.  This is a great way to utilize each week’s bounty.  For those who have their meals planned each week you know that planning goes as follow: collect your CSA, pick recipes, make a list and then purchase complimentary groceries.  With CSA the idea is to start planning your meals after you pick up your share.  If meal planning seems overwhelming, start with just a few planned meals a week.  This change in the process means cooking with what’s in season, and it’s a good habit to get into to eating better and feeling great.

Pro tip from farmer Brian: Try preparing a meal that will provide sufficient left overs the night before you collect your CSA.  This way when you arrive home with your share you have time thoughtfully break everything down and store it without anyone getting hangry!

Processing your share is also a great way to spend time with your partner.. when dinner is already to go, the kiddos are asleep and get to take an hour to wash and put away produce for the week ahead.  It’s a great routine to get into to slow things down, spend some quality time catching up with each other and be able to easily feed yourselves during the week ahead.

How to stride ahead.   This is a great video showing the simplicity and ease of processing veggies when first bringing them home.   Oh, the practical pleasures of eating.. of just how washing or soaking the greens, pre-roasting/cooking, & storing veggies can make for many more homemade meals in a busy week, increase the longevity of the produce and make cooking enjoyable (as it should be!) And as one of our tenured CSA members said, “Make friends with your knife, cutting board, sink, dish towel, salad spinner, stove, and oven. They aren’t instruments of drudgery, they are keys to liberation. The time you spend prepping and cooking food is time to think and be present in the moment–“mindfulness” is a free benefit of CSA membership, so take advantage and enjoy it!”

Broccoli growing in the field, some pretty turnip flowers and a field of brassicas…

Storing the veggies: We’ve attached a GREAT Storage Resource Guide to the bottom of the email put together by Shared Legacy Farm. Some of the fruits we don’t grow here on the farm but it’s helpful to have around for when you do. For root veggies (beets, carrots etc) and other bulb veggies (radish, turnip, kohlrabi, onions, fennel etc) depending on the time of the season will have leafy greens attached.  Make sure to cut the greens right where they meet the root and store them separately so that they stop drawing moisture out of the veggie through the process of respiration (if your carrots, radishes, beets etc get floppy.. now you know why).

Greens like kale, chard, collards, spinach should be stored inside a bag in your crisper draw.  We have a lot of members who will cut and wash their lettuce when they get home with their csa share and store it in a bag or pyrex container with a moist paper towel or cloth or try washing them wrapping them in a moist towel/paper towel and putting them in a zip lock bag..  That way when they want a salad their greens are all set to go.  Otherwise the refrigerator has its way with them and sucks out all their moisture… leaving much to be desired.

Our bagged greens should keep wonderfully during the week in the “Bio-Bags.” One feature of the BioBag is that it “breathes” without leaking. This unique benefit allows excess moisture to evaporate, which keeps fruits and vegetables fresher, longer.

Everything we have harvested has been hydro-cooled (via water) and then immediately packed into the cooler.  This helps preserve the quality and the veggies store a lot better when they get to your house.  BUGS There may be a few bugs that make their way back to your house from the farm (especially in the early greens… lettuce, spinach, green bunches etc) – the organic and fresh seal of approval.  So, please give your greens a soak/washing when they get home.

Early potatoes flowering in the high tunnel, evening light on the barn and Brian power harrowing some future carrots beds..

Getting your fridge ready for fresh goodies!  Take the time the night before to make space for a new box of goodies, and to take inventory of any veggies that would love to be used up in a ‘end of the week’ stirfry, curry, soup, roasted veg, kale chips, smoothies, or green pesto!  Making vegetable stock is always a happy solution for extra veggies – rough chop them, simmer them in a few quarts of water (a cup or two of veggies to one quart of water) for 30 – 40 minutes, and you have stock. Strain it, freeze it, and so versatile!  Flavorful, rich in vitamins and minerals..

Save those “scraps”!  Save the stems from the kale, collards, chard, spinach, the thick stalks from the broccoli, the ends and peels of carrots, tops of peppers, radish stems etc… Wrap up the scraps as you accumulate them (a pyrex or a bag with a moist towel works) and stash them in the fridge.  At the end of the week you can make a delicious stock.  Some folks make a gallon sized bag of “stock items” and freeze it for later… Check out this helpful blog post with all the details! Or, try out this recipe by Tamar Adler for Garlicky Leaf Stem and Core Pesto!  Or, as one of our awesome members pointed out – make a quick pickle out of the stems (chard, beet, kale, collard stems etc)!  Pickled stuff is delicious with all meals.

Eat More Veggies!    Add or double the amount of vegetables in your meals!  See how many different vegetables you can pack in to what you’re already cooking.  Eat the most tender greens and veggies first!  For breakfast try a simple sautee with greens & garlic, biscuits, with eggs, in a quiche, simple salad or veggie pancakes.  Drink your veggies!  There are so many great veggie smoothies out there – whatever you have give it a go!

Freda’s roses at the old house, curcubits in the field and baby fennel…

Enjoy eating new vegetables!  One of our greatest examples of this is the amount of people who grew up on boiled to death beets.. or worse, canned tasteless beets.  When people try the beets from the farm in a new way (roasted, in a salad, as burgers or even in brownies) they change their minds and there are so many things that contribute to that.  Mostly, it’s the openness of trying something new or trying something in a new way.  Branch out and explore your palette and see what tastes great to you.  You have your farmers to consult and a wealth of resources at your fingertips so don’t hesitate to be inspired!

Join the Working Hands Farm CSA Member Group on Facebook.  We’ve been so inspired by what members have been posting the past week!   The WHF Facebook Group is a safe place (a private group) for current Working Hands Farm CSA members to share recipe ideas, kitchen prep successes, food preservation ideas etc!  Check your email (titled, ‘WHF Member Page’) for the link and instructions on how to join!

Broccoli fields forever…

Get inspired by Seasonal Cookbooks & Recipe Blogs.  Check out our Farmer Approved List here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/2016/05/16/whf-farmer-approved-cook-books-food-blogs/

Freezing and canning.  Our Week 4 newsletter from a few season’s ago is full of helpful information and places to start.  Some suggestions include: The Fermentation Bible:  Wild Fermentation – by Sandor Ellix Katz, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-RoundBall Blue Book of Preserving etc. Don’t forget that although you’re enjoying your veggies now there’s something satisfying about saving your extras for later in the year!  We are on our last dozen jars of homemade tomato sauce and can’t express how lovely it is to pop open a jar of our summer tomatoes!

Freezing.. There are some things that take to freezing really well.. precooked/steamed winter squash, pumpkin, whole peppers (deseeded), sweet corn kernels, shredded or cooked zucchini/summer squash, greens, fresh herbs, etc.

The first shares of the season and lettuce!

Eating in season!  We live in such a fertile part of the US and should relish in all the wonderful things that grow where we live.  Waiting for those first seasonal crops can be hard after a winter of root veggies, brassicas, soups etc but everything tastes that much sweeter (because it’s fresh, in season and grown just down the road in the dirt & in the open air!)  It’s easy to enjoy the conveniences of the grocery store (that’s what it’s there for) but we tell ya that waiting all winter and spring for that first seasonal vine ripened tomato is the best thing for ya!

As your CSA farmers, throughout the 28-week season we provide you with the most nutrient rich, organic, thoughtfully-grown, fresh picked & seasonal produce!   We strive to grow produce according to the seasons and to the best of our abilities.  To introduce you to new varieties of veggies & include delicious ways to prepare them!  To encourage you to enjoy your time in the kitchen, be playful and to have fun.  Each week that you pick up your bounty we pass the torch to you.  We’re a part of each others food journey and we look forward to hearing week to week about what you’re cooking, what was eaten first and what you really enjoyed.  It completes our food journey here on the farm to hear and see how the hard work is being utilized and enjoyed!

A dusky view of some veggies, prepping new ground and snap peas in the evening light…

Thanks again for all your support and we look forward to sharing in the bounty with you this season.  We leave you with some of our tenured member (Hazy Katz) tips for CSA success!

With Kind Regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

Here We Grow 2018!

Posted on 15 May 2018

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Welcome to start of the Working Hands Farm 2018 CSA! We, your farmers, Jess & Brian are so excited to have you aboard for the season ahead. Let the 2018 Spring harvest season begin!  We are so happy and appreciative of all your support and encouragement over the last 5 months (since we first opened up sign ups in January).  Our Spring, Summer and Fall CSA has been months in the making and we look forward to the season beginning and to celebrate with our first harvest this week!

Flow of the CSA.  Over the next few weeks we will all begin to get into the flow of pick ups, harvests, seasons, you name it. Spring is a great time to adapt-to and learn new habits, to eat seasonally and fresh. We remind you to be patient, to be excited and to enjoy the ride.  There are so many decisions that one person must make everyday – a daunting task at times – revel in those food choices your farmers and the changing of the seasons are making for you each week.  Get creative & be inspired.  Ask questions & be open – you’ll be surprised what you might find as the season unfolds.

Enjoy all the benefits of eating fresh (picked THAT morning), eating seasonally, and local (your local farmer, Brian and I, need the support of our community)!

Your farmers will be at the pick up this week from 4-5pm!  Whoop whoop!

Checking in on the first round of carrots (almost there), weeding with the Finger Weeder and laying mulch..

Farm Pick Up Time.  Farm Pick Ups take place on Tuesday & Wednesday from 3:00 – 6:30pm (please double check on your assigned day). Note: Bi-Weekly share members pick up their produce every other week throughout the course of the 28 week CSA season (a total of 14 shares). Bi-Weekly members will pick up their share on weeks 1,3,5,7, etc… or 2,4,6,8, etc… depending on your assigned CSA start date.  

It’s important to pick up between 3:00-6:30pm on your assigned day (and not a minute before) as we harvest most everything fresh that morning so your farmer’s need the time to harvest, wash and set up the pick up area.

Caught our first swarm of the season, a mid afternoon cat nap and the goats living their best goat life.

Parking. There is a nice big parking area for a convenient and stress free pick-up.  Please park facing the red pole barn as this will help to keep a consistent flow of traffic which will help to keep children crossing the parking lot safe. Park thoughtfully as folks tend to come in waves and the parking will fill up fast!  There are also children and families who will be moving from the pick-up area to the parking lot so please drive slowly.  We are located on a busy country road so please be patient coming and going from the farm (oh the pros and cons of living on a main country road!)

Pick-Up Area.  The CSA Member Area is located in the RED POLE BARN through the white French doors. We love having our wash/pack, cooler and pick up area in the same building.  It improves efficiencies ten fold, gets the produce chilled quicker (for quality and storability!) and provides a nice area for our awesome members to pick up in!  Having a building with concrete floors means we can use things like pallet jacks and carts with wheels to move things too and fro which has made the lifting part of harvesting a lot less tiresome!  Over 6 years ago all that remained on this property was a dilapidated old barn that was covered in 15ft tall blackberries and the old farmhouse by the road.  We are breathing new life into a very old farm property (it’s been farmed since 1890) so you will see it become more and more beautiful as the seasons and years go on… Thank you for growing with us and for being a part of this process.

Gloucester is always popping up in funny places, laying fresh mulch for taters and doing a crop walk

The Pick-Up.  Please sign in before grabbing your goodies.  You will enter the member area and move counterclockwise, packing your own share with the allotted amounts of vegetables written next to each varietal.  Please bring 2-3 reusable shopping bags, a crate or some members even use a laundry basket to put your produce in. It’s nice to have a few bags for heavier items and a bag for bunched greens/more fragile items etc. The veggies are arranged by heaviest to lightest. There will also be a table in the center of the room in case you need a place to organize your bags.

Pick-Up is also a great opportunity to meet other members and share over the common bonds of food, health and community!  If you are unable to come pick up your share from 3:00-6:30pm on your assigned day, you can either arrange for a friend, family member, colleague etc to pick it up for you. If you cannot find anyone to pick-up the share on your behalf please give us 48hr notice (emails are best).

Be sure to visit our FAQ’s for any other questions you may have:  https://workinghandsfarm.com/q-a/

Spinach at dusk, Jess perfecting her ‘floating buddha’ on the Argus Finger Weeder and prepping ground for tomatillos, cukes and squash!

Working Hands Farm CSA Member Group on Facebook!  An email has been sent out with instructions to join the Working Hands Farm CSA Member Group on Facebook.  It’s a safe place (a private group) exclusively for Working Hands Farm CSAmembers to share recipe ideas, kitchen prep successes, food preservation ideas, articles, resources etc. Check your email to join the group. Participation is highly encouraged!

CSA Farm Day, Pumpkin Day, Newsletters etc.  Throughout the season we offer opportunities to enjoy a CSA Member Farm Day, pumpkin pick day etc all on the farm.  Also, to keep our farm-ily connected to the farm, the seasons and what it takes to grow food locally we send a bi-weekly farm newsletter so be sure to read the whole thing through! We post frequently on instagramfacebook to share in our day-to-day and to stay connected with people (as you can imagine we spend 99% of our time with vegetables and 4 legged critters ha!) All of these opportunities are a great way to see the farm, chat with your farmers, meet other CSA members in the community and enjoy the seasons on the farm.


Gloucester and the giant garlic, early morning sun and some varigation in the collard patch..

We have a great crew on board this season… two hard working women – Allie and Leah! Like me, they are both transplants from other parts of the country and we’re so excited to welcome them as a part of the farm.  Community and health are both really important to them as well as getting their hands dirty.  They’ll both be working part-time on the farm throughout the season so let’s give a big warm welcome to Allie & Leah!   Whoop whoop!   We’re excited to achieve a bit more balance with two extra sets of hands and we look forward to seeing what this season brings!

Thank you again for all your support! It’s been a busy Spring and there is much anticipation to get this season started.  We have another exciting season ahead with over 70 different types of vegetables and several different varieties of each (it’s never a dull moment on the farm!)  Your farmers have been working harder than ever to get the season started on the projected start date and have more variety in the shares early on!

Enjoy the leafy greens and cool weather brassica crops that you will find in the first few week’s of the CSA (the Spring seasons natural cleanse… after a Winter full of root crops and heavier foods).  The greens will be tender, delicious and untouched by the heat that summer brings.  Enjoy them while they are here!  The bounty will continue to grow and grow and grow as we near the longer, warmer days of Summer!  Thanks again for all your support and we look forward to sharing in the bounty with you this season.

With kind regards,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Planting onions with the Mechanical transplanter and getting taters in on the rain flo with Leah & Brian’s Papa

Winter Finale

Posted on 12 Apr 2018

Above are the images of each share from the 2017/18 Winter Season!

Hey Friends & Farm-ily,

 –

We hope everyone is doing well!  We can hardly believe it has been 18 weeks since the start of 2017/18 Winter harvest season!  We are so happy and proud of this year’s CSA. As farmers, every season that we farm proves to be an incredible journey with so many things to learn and many delicious farm grown goodies to grow.  As we head into our 9th year, we’ve harvested 17,400 individual CSA shares and over 490,000lbs of produce all while feeding 1,000’s of families in our community.  

 –

Winter CSA Success!  This week was the final pick up week of our third Winter CSA season and I know we’ve said this time and time again but we LOVE the Winter CSA!!  Thank you to the 95 households who supported our 3rd season growing through the winter.

We, your farmers, want to give a big THANK YOU to our CSA-ers!  Thank you all for your continued support through all the seasons.  You are all CSA rock stars and we are proud to be your farmers!  

‘All the Year Round’ Cauliflower from Uprising Seeds making it’s way into this week’s share!  


The Winter Bounty.  We started our Winter CSA journey on November 28th and we’ve made it all the way to the middle of April! Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-12 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 18 weeks, Farmer Brian and I have grown, harvested and distributed 40,000lbs (1,400 shares) of winter produce with 13-17 items in each weekly share!  ​

We were also impressed with the variety of veggies we harvested through the winter months – most weeks we had more fresh picked produce than storage veggies which is amazing (even in the coldest and darkest of winterdays)!   To top it all off, it was an average of 510lbs per weekly share which comes in around $1.48/lb of produce.

So many different kind of goodies in the winter shares…Arugula, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cilantro, cipollinis, collards, garlic, greens mix, hon tsai tai,  italian dandelion, kale, kalettes, kohlrabi, komatsuna, leeks, lettuce heads, onions, herbs (thyme, oregano, sage), pac choi, parsley, parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, pumpkins, radish, rapini, radicchio, romanesco, rutabaga, scallions, shallots, spaghetti squash, spigarello, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, storage tomatoes, turnips, winter squash and more!

The PSB has been a real champ this winter season. We’ve been harvesting our PSB for over 10 weeks from 7 different varietals which provided a bountiful successional harvest (over 2,000+lbs). That’s a lot of sprouting broccoli pickin’! 

Some interesting highlights from this year’s Winter harvest (we’ve harvested..):

 Carrots for 18 shares,

 Broccoli for 14 shares, 

Cauliflower for 12 shares, 

Tomatoes for 4 shares, 

Onions for 18 shares,

Shallots and Cippolinis for 15 shares, 

Romanesco Broccoli for 4 shares,

Garlic for 18 shares, 

Winter & spaghetti squash for 18 shares, 

Cabbage for 8 shares, 

Beets for 7 shares, 

Potatoes and/or Sweet Potato choice for 18 shares,

Mixed Bunch Greens for 15 shares, 

Lettuce, spinach & bagged greens for 15 shares, 

Leeks for 10 shares, 

Brussels for 7 shares,

Kalettes for 7 shares,

etc, etc!

This Winter was definitely more mild compared to last year.  We had some cold stretches (with lows around 18), windstorms and rain but we seemed to avoid the snow and extra frigid temps (15* and lower).  We felt prepared for just about anything and as we become more seasoned that feeling of preparedness keeps growing.  At the end of last fall, we were able to put up many tons of carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, winter squash and other root crops and grew plenty of PSB, kale, cauliflower, leeks, spinach, cabbage, brussels, kalettes and other greens to keep all the shares fresh and varied.  It was our most successful winter CSA to date (look at those numbers above) and we’re riding that high as we head into the Spring, Summer and Fall growing season.
We are so excited to learn and grow for the next winter season!  Keep your eyes and ears open for when we launch the 2018/19 Winter CSA Sign Ups later this summer!  We’ll be starting our first Fall and Winter veggie starts in the coming months (we’re always thinking ahead…!)
Last weekends storm a brewin’… enjoying the ‘calm before the storm’ relaxing in the sun and finding four leaf clovers!

WHEN DOES THE SPRING/SUMMER/FALL CSA begin?  We’ll send everyone an official start date email during the first few weeks of May!    Our estimated start date for the season is the week of May 15th – so it could be as early as then but as the seasons vary the CSA may begin up to two weeks after our estimated start date.   We’re working hard to make a mid-May start date happen.. now it’s just up to ol’ mother nature (more sun = warmer temps = faster growing plants!)  Keep doing those sun dances!

We look forward to seeing and meeting all our Spring/Summer/Fall CSA Members next month!  We’ll be in touch with updates about the start date etc.  In the meantime, follow us on Instagram Facebook to keep in touch with our daily happenings on the farm.  Here we grow!  Whoo hoo!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Ramping Up!

Posted on 6 Apr 2018

 

“Maybe most important, farm food itself is totally different from what most people now think of as food: none of those colorful boxed and bagged products, precut, parboiled, ready to eat, and engineered to appeal to our basest desires. We were selling the opposite: naked, unprocessed food, two steps from the dirt.” ― Kristin Kimball, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope you are all happy and well and enjoying the first few weeks of Spring! Things have been chugging right along over here on the farm and as the days grow longer we’ve been keeping pretty busy. Getting back into the garden after winter is one of the most exciting times on the farm and we love it!  

Our first big field planting of the season happened last weekend during that lovely dry stretch (over 12,000 plants and over a 1/3 of an acre!).  And oh how lovely it was (hello sun on my face…)!  The first Spring kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, chard, lettuce, spinach etc all made their transplanting debut.  Fava Beans were direct sown and the first field carrots (that we snuck in a few weeks ago) have come up in the field too which is pretty darn exciting. We even had a chance to weed them before the rains returned yesterday morning.

It’s officially “bunching” season! I picked over 650 bunches of veggies in 24 hours for this week’s winter CSA share (farmer B was hauling on the tractor working the field). 

That little bit of sunshine has us wanting more!  All our fingers and toes are crossed for more sun in the 10-day (although it’s looking pretty wet). We’ve got some ground prepped and some ground cover to lay down for strawberries but are waiting until after the forecasted high wind advisory on Saturday (so it doesn’t all blow away). So come rain or shine next week we’ll be planting lots of strawberries!

Depending on how much rain we get, we really need like 3+ days of sunshine in a row to dry out all the fields.  So far it’s been a much drier Winter/Spring than the record breaking one of 2017 which means we’ve been able to work the soil a lot earlier!   We’ve had a fair share of sun and it was even up in the 60’s on a few days.   The sun and warmer weather sure does put a pep in ones step and it feels good to out working in the fields. The high tunnels that were once full of Winter CSA goodies have been flipped (tilled) to grow Spring and Summer CSA veggies… we were able to plant a round of early potatoes, beets and peas just a few weeks ago.

Prepping the lower ground for the first time and the first big plant out of the season! 

Field prep is the big thing that needs to happen this time of year… Spring marks the time in the season where we can finally get out there to lime, fertilize and compost the farm.    Where we mow old crops, pasture and cover crops and begin the transition for planting new crops.  The past few weeks Brian and I have divided tasks in order to take full advantage of our weather windows. While I was busy harvesting for Winter CSA Brian was turning over new ground, mowing, tilling and prepping beds so that we could have the opportunity to plant.   Farmer B was even able to turn over some new ground (around 4 acres) that we’ve never planted in before (in the lowest most western corner of the farm) which is a pretty big deal.  We’re excited to grow down there for the very first time!

This season your farmers/farm feel like a well oiled machine. Having the ability to seize the moment when you have it is amazing. The new machinery we’ve purchased over the last 3 years is really starting to come together as we gain more experience and become more comfortable and proficient.   The soil itself is also becoming better with time (from the amending etc) which makes it easier to work at the beginning of the season.  So, we’ve been able to take full advantage – within reason of course as we’re only human 🙂 – of the drier weather!

We usually leave the remaining Winter Veggies to flower for the bees and other pollinators!  This picture also makes me think of this beautiful Mary Oliver Poem

So, while we’re waiting for the next sun break, we’ve been busy clearing the rest of the fields..  removing all the tomato trellises, t-posts, the first of the drip tape, landscape fabric, agribon row cover and sandbags.   There’s still a lot to be done but it feels great to get them done in these big pushes. I was also able to push through a pile of business paperwork, tax stuff, emails (all the exciting parts about running a business!) and it was really awesome to divide and conquer the last few weeks.

We have a pretty big list of seedlings to start this weekend (which is great timing with all the forecasted rain) as the next succession of planting has arrived!  Hundreds upon hundreds of trays have been filled and seeded over the last few months… most recently celery, celeriac, our next round of broccoli, beets, chicories, greens, bunching onions, peas, basil, herbs, lettuce etc.  It always feels really good to get some of the major crops (i.e. onions, celery, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant etc) that we only plant once a year.  After they get seeded into trays they go into the germination chamber where it’s a cozy, stable 80* with high humidity which gives the seeds the best chance at germinating.   Once the seedlings have germinated/start to emerge the trays are moved to the propagation house (that is passively heated by the sun) where they’ll continue to grow until they are planted later this Spring.   So that’s where we’ll be this weekend riding out the rain and wind storm.. seeding our little farmer hearts away!

The critters taking an afternoon nap and cleaning up these (stale seed bed/flame weeded) carrots with my custom made Tiny Tine™ courtesy of Farmer B. 

Know your farmers, know your food!  The Spring, Summer and Fall CSA is drawing near and we have less than a half dozen shares available for the 2018 CSA season!  Fun Note: We’ve also had more return members than ever before (more than 75%) which is pretty darn exciting!

Thank you to everyone who has shared the good word with their friends, family, neighbors, coworkers etc!  Help us get those last few shares filled by spreading the good word because it really does make all the difference. As a farm-ily member once said, “keep your friends close and you farmers closer.”

3 Steps to Signing Up:

1  Read all about the 2018 CSA season

2  Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

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

We can’t wait for the 2018 growing season to start! Thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old who have signed up for the 2018 Spring and Summer CSA season!

Winter CSA Reminder: Winter Weekly Share Members + Winter Bi-Weekly Share Members 2,4,6,8: we have just ONE pick up left for the Winter CSA Season (last pick up for Tuesday Members is on April 10th & Wednesday Members on April 11th).  

Be well, do all the sun dances, and root your farmers on!  It’s officially game time!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Spring into Action

Posted on 9 Feb 2018

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

It’s the first week of February and we’re moving from a period of reflection to action here on the farm!  The Celtic Festival, “Imbolc” was on February 2nd which is the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Which means the days are getting longer and a new growing season is upon us!  It feels more and more real with every passing day.

Can you believe we’re halfway through the Winter CSA season?  Just 9 more pick ups to go!  Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-12 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 9 weeks we have had 13-17 items in each weekly share.  We have also been impressed with the variety of veggies we have harvested through the winter months – most weeks we had more fresh picked produce than storage veggies which is amazing (even in the coldest and darkest of winter days)!   So far we’ve harvested 270lbs of produce per weekly share (21,000lbs total)!

Update! Our Spring, Summer & Fall CSA is over 3/4 of the way full and we’d love to have you back for the 2018 CSA season.  Please pick us, Jess and Brian, to be your farmers this upcoming season.  Check out our website workinghandsfarm.com/csa for all the details!  3 Steps to Signing Up:

Thank you for supporting local! And for all those who have signed up already, word of mouth is the best way to help us grow and sustain our small farm. Please encourage interested friends, family, neighbors & community etc… in signing up for their WHF CSA share.

Purple Cape Cauliflower forming, greens in the high tunnel, Farmer Brian with our new seeding set up in the red barn…

We’ve been busy gearing up for the 2018 season!  Last month we cleaned out the propagation house and got our seeding area organized in the red barn.  Brian built a new bench which is now the perfect height and easy to clean debris off between seeding sessions. In just a few days, Brian seeded over 200 trays of storage onions, shallots, bunching onions and cipollinis (over 20,000 onions!).  We were like a well oiled machine as I mixed the potting soil + amendments and filled trays while Brian seeded them all. 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! Over the upcoming weekend, we’ll seed our first peppers and tomatoes that will be planted out early in the high tunnels followed by kale, broccoli, chard etc…

We’re pretty excited about the new germination chamber we have established in our old cooler. Our friend and fellow farmer Jason from Local Roots Farm in Washington suggested this idea to us.  It’s the perfect place for germinating seeds because it’s so well insulated and maintains a constant temperature and humidity.   In order to accomplish that, we put one heater in there as well as a slow cooker filled with water (for moisture/high humidity). It’s been keeping it at a steady 80* with 95% humidity and have been germinating seeds like crazy!

Savoy cabbage up close, overwintered red radishes, the first of the PSB (purple sprouting broccoli)

Our current protocol is.. we fill all our seedling trays with seedling mix, seed the trays (and depending on the seed size/shape we either do that by hand or using our vacuum seeder), cover them up and water them real heavy. Then we load them up on the gator and into the germination chamber they go. We had beets and lettuce germinate in less than 24 hours! Onions only took 72 hours. We’ve been really happy with it and it’s much more efficient than the heat mats we used to use in the propagation house. Once the seedlings have germinated/start to emerge the trays are moved to the propagation house where they’ll continue to grow until they are planted later this Spring.

We seeded the first carrots of 2018 in one of the high tunnels last month as well as another round of arugula.   If all goes well, the carrots should be ready for the first Spring/Summer CSA pick up in May. We have plans of weeding the other high tunnels over the weekend that currently house some spring greens for Winter CSA – lettuce, spinach, arugula, radish, bok choy, parsley, cilantro etc.

We went on a crop walk at the beginning of the week and spotted the first Purple Cape Cauliflower with their tiny little buds in the center. We’re hoping that the current dry stretch in the 10-day pulls through as the plants could use a little sunshine and less sog (it was so soggy at the end of January!). Half of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli varieties are all about to take off and despite how different every winter is it is right on time! The Kale Rapini looks like it’s a few weeks earlier than usual and we started harvest on that this week.   Crazy to think that this time last year all the snow had melted and we were accessing how all the crops looked in the field (the ultimate “selection event” – selecting the hardiest ones for next generation) only to be followed by a classic mild Oregon winter this year. We’re expecting a few chilly nights over the weekend but (knock on wood) it’s been a really nice Winter thus far.

Spigarello, taking a cruise around our annual pond & a freshly tilled high tunnel awaiting all of springs possibilities…

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

Speaking of rivers and streams… A week ago, after harvest, Brian & I went for a canoe ride around the annual pond in the back 40 of the farm. This is our annual flood (after a few weeks of rain and rising ground water) where our “said unnamed creek” meets the Tualatin River. Usually by now we would have had several floods but this is the first time all winter that this low area has flooded! I love knowing this piece of land the way that we do. And after just one week of sun (and no rain) the pond has already disappeared… I like making these notes because each season and year is unique (and it helps me remember things more clearly) especially when I go back and read what the previous season was like at this time.

January King cabbages, Farmer Beth coming to help out last month and Gloucester taking in the morning from above…

Harvest help! In the Winter months it’s just Brian and I here on the farm doing all the things (harvest, maintenance, building, growing, planning etc). But last month Miss Beth from @evenpullfarm was nice enough to come lend me a hand during one of our Winter CSA harvests after Farmer Brian pulled a muscle in his leg pretty good.   It was extremely helpful to have her willing hands and it was really fun to have her company. It’s amazing to have a community of farmers around to help out in a pinch or a pull 😉  Farmer Brian is on the mend now though after some rest and some stretching – he’s as good as new and we’ve been kicking some butt and keeping real busy!

This upcoming week I’m heading to an Organic Farmer Conference for a few days (Brian will be staying back to hold down the fort and set up for CSA). I’m really looking forward to hearing different perspectives from other farmers and to go on a few hikes in the woods with fellow farmer friends. It will be a nice refresher as we gear up to Spring into Action!

That’s all from the farm!  We hope you all have a wonderful weekend and are enjoying the Winter bounty.  Fingers crossed it’ll be an early Spring (unlike last year with the record amounts of rain… do you remember that?)  We’re really looking forward to the season ahead and sharing the bounty with all of you!

With Kind Regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

January on the Farm

Posted on 12 Jan 2018

“Hello, sun in my face.  Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields… ” – Mary Oliver

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope you all had a healthy, happy holiday and New Year!   After a two-week harvest break (the first time since May!), we’re so excited to get back to Winter CSA harvest (and we bet you are too)! What a whirlwind it’s been since our last Winter CSA distribution – between the holidays, the more mild winter weather (especially compared to last year), the 2018 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA sign ups and getting a few opportunities to sneak away from the farm and go for a hike with friends!  It’s been a great finale to 2017 and a wonderful beginning to 2018.

Thank you members! January 1st, 2018 was the best opening CSA day we’ve had in the last 9 years! We had more return members sign up on the 1st (and the days following) than we could have ever expected. Your early investment makes a huge difference in our ability to make decisions on the farm. And those decisions ultimately allow us to provide a better experience and product to you, our members.  Here we grow 2018!

Shares 3 & 4 and a quiet nighttime view of the CSA pick up…

Sign up for the 2018 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just 10 days into January and we are more than halfway there to being full for the 2018 season.  A big thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old!  Keep spreading the good word because it makes all the difference.   As a farm-ily member once said, “keep your friends close and your farmers closer.”

Shortcut to the CSA Sign Up Form!

January on the Farm. It’s a funny inbetween time on the farm this time of year. Where we’re still subject to winter weather and whatever ol’ mother nature brings our way (with rain, temps falling below freezing etc) but we’re also creeping closer to Spring with every passing day. We’re not planting or seeding or weeding much this time of the year but we are crop planning, ordering seeds and getting our work spaces and tools in order for a whole new farming season. We’ve been making some major headway on crop planning and seed orders in the WHF office (first we had to dust off all the cobwebs from our 2017 season…farmers don’t see much ‘office’ time during the growing season).   We plan on taking several soil tests this weekend to see where our soil fertility is at. We’ve had a blast figuring out soil interpretation over the past 8 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!

Views from that beautiful sun shower we had on Tuesday…

Before the holidays we were able to construct our first 2 100ft caterpillar tunnels (from Farmer’s Friend LLC). They were super easy to put up and we’re really excited to plant in them later this week for early spring/the hunger gap crops (lettuce & spinach)! We were also able to clean out our third high tunnel and get it prepped for some baby arugula, carrots and more!

We’ve also passed the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) and are slowly seeing the days increase, minute by minute, day by day. We’ve had a few really hard freezes over the break (coldest night got down around 22) but we’ve been maintaining a similar weather pattern of 45-50 degree days and 30-38 degree nights. And after last year’s crazy winter weather events we’ll take it! Hard to believe we had a foot of snow on the ground this time last year! It’s amazing how different the years can be.

*Can you all believe we had 12” of snow on the ground this time last year?!   We remember patiently waiting for it to melt (it felt like forever) to see how all the crops fared in that crazy weather event.   We thank all our Winter CSA members for your support and dedication to winter eating (even through the dark and frozen days of winter).

Sun showers, Brian in our overwintering cabbage patch and our first taste of Kalettes!

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

On a personal note, Brian and I have been really touched by the sweet little notes, emails and posts on the group page about what signing up for the CSA means to them.  One of our members that is going into their 6th year with WHF wrote this on our Facebook page, “It’s become a New Year’s tradition at my house that the first purchase of the year is our CSA membership, which is a three-season investment in the health of our household, our community, and our bank account. We have improved our diets and our health immeasurably because our farmers provide the most nutritious, freshest, tastiest produce out there at a tiny fraction of what we would have to spend to buy it (way less fresh!) at retail. We realized our first season in that we could not afford *not* to be members of WHF CSA–it’s the best thing we buy every year, hands down! Happy New Year, and thank you both, Farmers Jess and Brian!”

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

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

Brian in the new caterpillar tunnels and the last sunset of 2017!  

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

3 Steps to Signing Up:

Read all about the 2018 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season (the Who, What, Where, Why, When & How Much)

Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

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

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

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

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

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Spent a day on our ‘harvest break’ on a beautiful trail with friends, baby spinach plants and our favorite winter green: chicory!

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

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

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

King of the Sand Bag Pile, a frosty December morning and more chicory (Variegata di Castelfranco!)

Working Hands Farm CSA 2018

Posted on 1 Jan 2018

Above are the images of each share from last year’s 2017 season! 

Happy New Years Friends & Farm-ily!

2018 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 2018.  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 9th season the learning curve is becoming less steep, and we are feeling more confident no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

In 2017,  over the course of our 28-week Spring, Summer & Fall CSA season Brian & I harvested and distributed 98,000lbs 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 816lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.48/lb for all their fresh, local, organic produce during the 2017 CSA season.

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 $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…

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Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Sign-Ups begin TODAY! 

Shortcut to the CSA Sign Up Form!

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.  Checks only!  Please make sure to put the shareholders name & type of share in the memo.

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

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

*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!

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! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts #endlesspossibilities

p.s. Check out this link to our favorite photos from our 2017 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

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