Coming in Hot! (10,11,12,13)

Posted on 8 Aug 2017

“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” – Wendell Berry

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 –

Firstly, wow! We’ve had an amazing response for our upcoming Winter CSA and we are ¾ of the way FULL!  There are still shares available and we’d love for you to join us for the Winter season!   To read more about the Winter CSA details visit this link:  https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa/

 

  • The WHF Winter CSA will run from November 28th – April 11th – a total of 18 Weekly Shares or 9 Bi-Weekly Shares!

 

  • We’re offering two Winter CSA options: Weekly for $756 & Bi-Weekly for $490.

 

  • CSA pick ups will take place on Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s at the farm from 3:00-6:30pm.  *note: There will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/26 & 12/27) or January 1st  (1/2 & 1/3)

White Satin Carrots in the barrel washer, corn with the hazy smoky hot sunset, ahab staying cool because he is cool!

 

How to Sign Up?  Fill out the Winter CSA Member Agreement here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa-sign-up/

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

Now onto some updates from the farm!  

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We hope you all made it through that insane triple digit heat wave last week!  The ten day still has us in the mid-high 90’s for a bit so it appears that August is coming in hot! Seriously though, on Thursday it reached 107 on the farm, which is just too hot. On Wednesday’s harvest day we reached 106! In order to avoid the hotter part of the day especially with fresh harvest we’ve been getting up at 4:00-4:30am and have been getting harvest done by noon which makes a huge difference. The temperature between the hours of 11-noon spike 10 degrees so it’s important for the veggies (and the farmers) that everything be washed and chilled before then. The pole building has been amazing throughout the heat wave so far. We’ve been opening it up in the early morning hours to cool things off and then close it up to keep it passively cool throughout the day. It’s been averaging 80 degrees in there while it’s 100+ degrees outside so we’ve been pretty happy about that. Not to mention the super chilled veggies + insulated building have been keeping the veggies cool during CSA pick ups. That’s a big win-win!

One of the cool new varieties of hot peppers (Buena Mulata) from Baker Creek Seeds, seeding the carrots, big happy shallots!

This hot weather is giving us major flashbacks to the 2015 growing season (el nino) and the hottest summer ever. We are better prepared for it this time around but working in the heat is no joke. Our biggest priority is watering and keeping all the plants roots cool. Most of our crops are on drip irrigation… we have been staying on top of giving the plants a nice deep soak with the ol’ drip tape by turning on individual blocks of plants – we love drip – especially in the summer because it puts water exactly where it needs to be (instead of over head watering the pathways etc), much less likely to evaporate than overhead sprinklers, way less moving around pipes and overhead sprinkler setups (which is quite the laborious task in the dead heat of summer) and helps to practice better water conservation (Fun fact: did you know that according to the EPA drip tape uses 50% of the water that sprinklers use?). Having drip all set up and ready to go under the plant also helps us to maintain some balance with the extremes that this season’s weather brings!  Feeling prepared and ready is worth it’s weight in gold when it comes to extreme weather events etc.

Over the past few weekends we planted out a few rounds of Fall crops:  kale, romanesco, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage– over 7600 row ft/6100 plants!!!!  We still have loads more to plant over the next few weekends… storage crops, roots, our a third fall succession of broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco etc.  So. Many. Plants.   We started our overwintering crops last month– purple sprouting broccoli and ow cauliflower too!  And got our final round of storage carrots seeded (1,800 row ft) that we will hopefully flame in the next few days.  Our big bulk harvest of potatoes and onions is coming up this week and next… it will sure feel good to get the ball rolling with those major crops. So many things to look forward to checking off the list!

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So much bounty this time of the season and the prop house is brimming with healthy happy babies!  

July and August are the peak of the season for us.. our biggest planting pushes for Fall and Winter as well as the heavy harvests of summer. In the midst of all the excitement it’s always important to take a moment and appreciate what we’re accomplishing on the farm… We’re farming over 8 acres this season and we’re set to harvest well over 100,000lbs of veggies in just the Spring/Summer/Fall season alone/feeding over 550 individuals. It feels pretty darn amazing.

In order to sustainably farm through the crazy summer’s it’s important for us to check in with ourselves and one another. To recognize when the day is done and if we need breaks or a moment to ourselves (that doesn’t involve farming etc). We prioritize eating as many delicious homemade meals that we can (it’d be impossible to do what we do without proper nourishment!)   We do our best to dole out high fives, check in with each other and tell each other that their doing an amazing job.  We’re definitely getting closer to what the big picture answer is in relation to the workload that we currently have going and we are confident that in the foreseeable future the balance will come and our goals will realign more than ever before.  We certainly know what we can accomplish when the two of us put our heads together… now more than ever it just feels right to reel it in and realign!  We’re in it for the long haul and we love growing and raising the best possible food for our community that we can.  A BIG THANK YOU to our members and surrounding community all for your encouragement and excitement this season!  We’ve seriously loved every second of it and it truly makes our day when we see what everyone is cooking up in the CSA Member Page.  It connects all the dots.

 –

 

It’s officially tomato time!  Planting and prepping before the sun goes down and waking before the sun rises…

Full Hearts. We also celebrated our three year anniversary as a married couple last Wednesday. Hard to believe we even pulled off getting married in the beginning of August (it’s just too crazy to think about). Thank goodness for all the friends and family who came and lent a hand the days leading up to it… I always think fondly of that time and experience and it’s definitely one of my favorite memories of our wedding. Besides marrying my best friend, of course.

 –

So many things have happened in the course of 3 years of marriage (+the 3 1/2 years before that). Its been a wild ride and I feel so thankful that I have someone like Brian to move through these days with – there sure is something special and sacred that we share between us and I thank my lucky stars for the universe bringing us together. Farming is a mutual passion for both of us and one of the main reasons our paths first crossed. He is my other half (sometimes my better half) and my favorite person and I feel so lucky to walk through this life with him.  As he once said to me just a week or so after being married, “It does feel different being married. It feels complete.”   This man, this place, us. To begin and end my days with him makes all of life’s sweetness even sweeter. We live, we work, we grow and we flourish – together. It’s a beautiful and quick lifetime here on Earth.. and he is my constant reminder to enjoy every second of it.

A few pictures captured by friends on our wedding day… 

I wanted to share a poem that Farmer B (the english major) wrote about our first anniversary… it’s a good’un…

“1st anniversary

We will mark this occasion by planting Fall crops,

Into freshly turned soil that has been given time.

By rotating our cows and pigs onto fresh grass that has regrown after,

A quick first pass in the cool spring.

And by tending to our flock of hens, watching them,

Watching their newly hatched chicks discover the world,

Learning to hide under mother hen as the Red Tails call.

We will celebrate this day by doing what needs to be done

By setting future failures aside and focusing on the tasks at hand.

Making our way past the English Hawthorns down to the river and back.

We will do what gives us gravity, a place, a home and

Gratitude.

“Farm sweet Farm” said the screen print set in a good solid frame.

Our first wedding gift.

After eating a good breakfast made with all good things,

We will make a list and make priorities,

And prioritize the things that cannot wait.

We will work side by side,

Begging the farm to give us permission.

Thinking of all the friends and our family that we carry with us.

And we will first work under the light of the blue moon,

As the crickets drowned the noisiness of the world,

And we will sleep deeply with gratitude for all we have been given.

To adventure and to those endless possibilities.

We will celebrate this day by doing.” #endlesspossibilities #whfwedding

The view from the hot pepper patch, the eye of sauron rising in the east and Ahab trying to keep cool on the triple digit days!  

We hope you’ve been enjoying the bounty of summer and hope that you are all staying cool and eating real good! Until next time….

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

 

 

Future Food (Winter CSA Sign Ups!)

Posted on 25 Jul 2017

Above are the images of each share from last year’s 2016/17 season!

Our 2017 Winter CSA sign ups start TODAY July 25th!

Hi Friends & Farm-ily!

We’re excited to announce that our 2017-18 WHF Winter CSA Shares are now available and we are  offering two types of shares for the Winter:  Weekly & Bi-Weekly! We’re excited to grow for our third winter CSA this year and have been busy seeding, starting and prepping the soil for some fresh eating winter goods.   We will be limiting our CSA so we encourage you to sign up as soon as possible.

WLOVE the Winter CSA!  It’s such a special and unique CSA experience.  It’s given us a whole new perspective on farming and we’ve never ate so good through the winter!

  A late winter and early Spring treat (Feb-April): Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The Winter Bounty in 2016. We started last year’s Winter CSA journey on November 28th and  made it all the way to the middle of April!  Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-10 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 18 weeks we had 11-17 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 winter days)!   To top it all off, it was an average of 450lbs per share which comes in around $1.52 per lb of produce.

For those of you looking to join us for a delicious winter growing season it is important to understand that the winter 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 will be out of your farmers control.  This season perhaps, more than any other, speaks to the nature of CSAs shared risk. We’ve been through just about every bit of weather you can experience the last few winters… hail, sleet, ice rain, torrential down pours, SNOW (more than once and 12 inches!), high winds, frigid temps (12 degrees for successional days)… and through it all we always had food to put on the table (see the shares image at the top of the page).You invest in the farm and the farmers and we do our very best to provide you with organic seasonal produce that is sure to inspire.  Over the past three Winter seasons, your favorite farmers have taken measures to give the Winter CSA the best possible chance at success like building a new pole barn for storing, washing and packing, a barrel washer for washing and storing more roots crops efficiently!, building two 95′ x 30′ high tunnels last year (we have 3 high tunnels for winter production in total), as well as two 15x100ft caterpillar tunnels,  a storage cooler, investing in specialty winter hardy crops, etc…

No matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us… Members gotta have the veggies!

All that said,  you have gotten to know Brian and I, and our work ethic over the course of this season (and for the majority of you over several seasons) and you know we will do our very best to ensure you have food on your table all winter long!

Scroll down for all the Winter CSA details..

Shortcut to the CSA Sign up form here!

WHF Winter CSA details for the 2017/2018 growing season:

When does the Winter CSA begin?  

  • The WHF Winter CSA will run from November 28th – April 11th  a total of 18 Weekly Shares or 9 Bi-Weekly Shares!
  • CSA pick ups will take place on Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s at the farm from 3:00-6:30pm.
  • There will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/26 & 12/27) or January 1st  (1/2 & 1/3)

Weekly Share Members pick up their first share at the farm on Tuesday, November 28th or Wednesday, November 29th and continue to pick up every week until Tuesday, April 10th or Wednesday, April 11th for a total of 18 shares.  *Note: there will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/26 & 12/27) or January 1st  (1/2 & 1/3)

Bi-Weekly Share members pick up their produce every other week throughout the course of the 18 week CSA season (a total of 9 shares). 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 (the farmers assign the start date, you choose your pick up ‘day’).  *Note: there will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/26 & 12/27) or January 1st  (1/2 & 1/3)

Another late winter/early Spring treat: overwintering Cauliflower and tender salad greens!

What kind of winter veggies will be included throughout the season?  The winter share will include 8-12 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.  The shares will be slightly smaller than those of the spring, summer and fall.  Check out the slideshow here or the image at the top for examples of Winter CSA shares.

Shares will include a mix of storage crops and fresh field crops: 

Arugula, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Herbs, Onions, Spaghetti Squash, Pie pumpkins, Heirloom Winter Squash, Garlic, Sweet Potatoes, Dry Corn, Carrots, Beets, Herbs, Celeriac, Celery, Winter Greens, big beautiful lettuces, Mustards, Potatoes, Chicories, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale, Collards, Bok Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Spinach, Storage Tomatoes, Shallots, Radish, Turnip, Romanesco, Scallions, Sweet Potatoes, Rapini, Parsnips, Rutabaga, Leeks, Rapini, Chard, Spring onions, Fennel, Braising Mix, Kohlrabi, Parsley, Cilantro and more…!

What is the cost for the Winter CSA?

Weekly Share (18 weeks/shares total) $756

Bi-Weekly Share (9 weeks/shares total) $490

So many tasty brassica treats in the winter (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, kale etc)

When is payment due?

Your non-refundable deposit (checks or online payment!) of $150 will be due within two weeks of signing up in order to reserve your share in the CSA. Important:  We encourage those members who can, to pay more than the deposit upon signing up,  to help your farmers absorb the initial expenses that happen at the beginning of the season.

Upon receiving your deposit we will confirm with you to let you know space is still available. If we receive your deposit after the CSA is already full we will inform you that we have already reached capacity and we will promptly nullify the deposit/full payment.

Payment deadlines:

 Weekly Members

deposit of $150 due upon signing up

first payment of $303 is due by September 15th

second payment of $303 is due by October 15th

 Bi-Weekly Members

deposit of $150 is due upon signing up

first payment of $170 is due by September 15th

second payment of $170 is due by October 15th

Extra sweet winter squash, winter sweet chicory and kale…

What happens if we can’t come pick up our share or if we will be out of town the week of a pick up?

Try to have a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker etc pick it up for you or for themselves.  If you can’t find anyone who wants the veggies than please give us 48hr notice before your assigned pick up day so we don’t harvest for you.  All unclaimed CSA shares are donated or recycled back into the farms ecosystem in the most sustainable way possible in order to minimize waste.

How to Sign Up?

Step 1.) Fill out the CSA Member Agreement here:  2017 Winter CSA Member Agreement Form

Step 2.) Pay your deposit/make a payment.  In order to reserve your share we require a $150 deposit that is non-refundable and is applied toward the total cost of the CSA.  The deposit is due within two weeks of submitting the CSA member contract.  Once your deposit of $150 is received we will send you a confirmation email welcoming you to our CSA program.

Important!!!  We encourage those members who can, to pay more than the deposit upon signing up,  to help your farmers absorb the initial expenses that happen at the beginning of the season.

Payment Methods:

Pay by Check:  Make checks out to ‘Working Hands Farm’ and send it to 7705 SW River Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97123.  Drop off:  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.  Please drop it off during regular business hours (10-6pm).  We check it daily.  Checks only!  Please make sure to put the shareholders name & type of share in the memo.

Pay Online Visit our Online Farmstore http://workinghandsfarmstore.com to pay 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. 

Winter carrots being bulk harvested and stored in the cooler along with all the pumpkins, squash and gourds!

Upon receiving your deposit we will confirm with you to let you know space is still available.  If we still have space we will add you to our Winter CSA member list and send a confirmation email.

Is it important to sign up early? Yes! It is important to sign up and pay for your share as early as possible for two reasons: to reserve your CSA share, as shares are limited and our memberships fills up every year, and to help your farmers absorb the initial expenses in the beginning of the season.

We are really looking forward to the Winter season ahead and to growing the best possible produce for our community.  As always thank you for supporting, Brian and I and our small farm!   Here we grow!

With kind regards & many thanks,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Thank you for supporting our small farm!   

July-valanche (6,7,8,9)

Posted on 11 Jul 2017


“In his view, we were already a success, because we were doing something hard and it was something that mattered to us. You don’t measure things like that with words like success or failure, he said. Satisfaction comes from trying hard things and then going on to the next hard thing, regardless of the outcome. What mattered was whether or not you were moving in a direction you thought was right.”

― Kristin Kimball, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Hey Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday with friends and family.  July 5th marks the “official start to summer” in the Pacific Northwest and we’ve been welcoming it with open arms.

The end of June through October is probably the busiest time in the season for us… where summer meets winter in a sense as we continue to harvest & plant summer crops/successions while seeding and transplanting all of our Fall and winter veggies. If farmers we’re jugglers there would be so many balls in the air this time in the season that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish one from the other.. just one giant ring of balls floating in the air. Harvesting… we have 3 8hour harvest/wash/pack days every weekand the bulk crops (garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots etc are just starting to come in or will be in the next month!) Irrigation.. it’s irrigation season so we’re either moving the rain birds around or turning on the drip between all the other projects! Prepping ground for future crops.. We’re tilling and mowing in old crops, liming, fertilizing and composting for future crops. Cultivation… We’re weeding and cultivating with the finger weeders and some hand tools to keep those crops healthy and productive! Trellising… all those tomatoes, one row at a time, as soon as we add another line of trellis it’s like magic *they need another line* – all the plants are growing like crazy this time of year. Not to mention the emails, newsletters, social media, doing the books, making sure we eat three square meals a day, animal chores, washing harvest bins/wash station, filling trays for seeding, mowing etc etc 😉

=

Taking a moment after an epic harvest day to celebrate my birthday and send all my good thoughts to my pa..

This growing season we’ve been re-learning how to take moments for ourselves when we can which feels like a healthy and positive step in the right direction as far as balance and our long term goals go.  This doesn’t feel like the easiest thing to maintain once the crazy month of July hits and the to-do lists seem never ending.  It really does help that our systems improve every year which certainly gets us eating dinner earlier in the summer or taking a mid-day break, as well as having energy to do other things every once in a while. As we talked about during the Farmer to Farmer podcast a few weeks ago we’re remembering how to say YES to things unrelated to the farm… which isn’t always easy during the busy season as a farmer but necessary to a full and balanced life!

 

Life happens though and sometimes there is no other choice but to stop whatever it is you’re doing, to slow down and just be for a bit. Last Tuesday evening we did just that… after an epic CSA harvest Brian and I took the canoe out for a ride down the river and to celebrate my birthday and turning 33 years old. It was calm and serene. It had been a whirlwind of a week with the usual to-do’s and CSA harvest and just a day before my Dad (my family lives back east) arrived at the hospital where he got the news that he needed open heart surgery.  As I sat in the canoe I thought about my Dad.  The next morning my pops was headed in for his surgery. Being the avid nature man that he is (he is a commercial lobsterman back in my home state of Massachusetts) I thought it was fitting to see a deer, several beavers, ducklings, weasels and even a magestic bald eagle as we neared our property. It felt like a good omen and the right way to ring in a new year – discovering new places, practicing the art of being in the moment and feeling connected to the ones I love the most. His surgery was an unbelievable success and he’s already back home on an 8-week recovery.  These moments prove that trying to achieve a more balanced and flexible lifestyle while farming is so important.  I hope that sometime soon I am able to fly back home and see my Dad while he is recovering.  I love you dad!

The first bits of color are happening in the tomato patch.. shouldn’t be long now!  4 of a kind and Gloucester being Gloucester..

So, it’s July and the days keep flying by and the summer crops are really growin’!  We can’t believe how many flowers there are out in the tomato and pepper patch.  We’ve never seen so many before!  Even our determinant varieties of tomatoes are giant and loaded with flowers/soon to be fruit.  The winter squash plants are running and so are the melons.  The fall crops are just a few weeks away from being planted… fall broccoli, kale, collards, romanesco, cauliflower, cabbage to name a few.  Over 10,000 plants!  Over the next few days we’ll be seed starting over 18,000 more plants for Fall.   And then another 10,000+ for winter in the next few weeks.  One of our smartest investments we made last season was a vacuum seeder by berry seeder http://www.berryseeder.com.  In 15 minutes I can now seed 15 trays which means in a few hours I can get done what would normally take me a few days or one really long day spent in the greenhouse.  It makes a huge difference on my back (no hunching over trays), feet (less time standing in one place for hours on end) and my attention span (repetition, repetition, repetition)!

 –

This past weekend/upcoming week we’re planting out our 5th succession of sweet corn, dry corn and popcorn as well as lettuce, dill, cilantro, squash, cucumbers and a second succession of melons. We seeded our first succession of fall and winter carrots yesterday using our pre emergence flame weeding method (see: newsletter week 6)  We’ll begin flaming them towards the end of the week before the carrots emerge. Hopefully when they do it will be a pretty and clean seed bed. (fingers crossed!)

Garlic harvest, pull, load, unload, clean, layout, repeat, the sun going down on on the starts… 

We had an incredibly productive week last week and put the pedal to the metal…. Brian, Becca and I harvested our garlic crop which ended up being close to 7,000 bulbs (our biggest crop to date!) All of the garlic is curing in the wood barn (proper curing is integral for long term storagability!).   As some of you may remember the rust came through two years ago and stunted our crop of garlic leaving us with pretty puny bulbs and no seed garlic to plant in the Fall.  This past year we utilized a few methods, occultation, stale seed bedding and flaming methods mentioned above ensuring that we would keep the beds free of weeds and healthier garlic!  Sure enough this season they were a lot happier… especially with the weeding help from the finger weeder and a little bit of hand weeding towards the end of Spring.  The rust still came in on the breeze but it was far later this year well after they sent up scapes which meant they were way more established and well on their way to being harvested! Hurrah!  Growing better for the win! We also planted out the brussel sprouts, put drip down on a bunch of crops, planted a 4th succession of sweet corn, greens, summer purple sprouting broccoli, regular broccoli, weeded a bunch of beds, seeded a couple hundred trays and prepped a bunch of beds for planting into this weekend.

Fun CSA note: In 8 weeks of harvest we’ve distributed over 22,000lbs of produce to our CSA members! All of that produce has been grown thoughtfully and prepped, seeded, transplanted, weeded & harvested by 2 ½ sets of hands. With the shares getting a touch more bountiful with summer crops, that puts us on track to grow and distribute over 90,000lbs of produce for the Spring/Summer/Fall season!  Whoop whoop.

 

Fingerweeding the celery and celeriac, and Brian checking for tomatoes (are you in there…?)

We’ve been really thrilled with the CSA shares this season – especially considering the incredibly wet and wild spring we had (wondering at some point in March if all we’d have for the first CSA was lettuce and radishes!).  It’s been awesome to take a look back on the CSA share pictures over the past few seasons to see the impact of all the systems, the knowledge and know how and how they have come together.  One of the reasons we take weekly pictures of the CSA shares is so that we have something tangible to look at at the end of the season.  It’s become a huge resource for us as farmers… where we look at it over the winter and say “awesome, we had 20 weeks of broccoli last season..let’s do it again!” or “let’s work real hard and figure out how to have more Spring/early summer carrots when they can be so labor intensive (due to cooler +wetter soils = poorer germination and more weeds that outcompete the crop)”.  It’s a pretty invaluable tool for us as we continue to grow better and work smarter and are able to offer a stellar product to our members year round.

We hope you have been enjoying the CSA bounty for the past 8 weeks! We seriously never tire of the posts in the Members Group on facebook. It’s given us so many new and good ideas which is so refreshing. Beyond that it’s amazing to see it all come full circle and get a glimpse into your kitchens to see how the produce is being utilized and enjoyed. Thank you all for being awesome!

The shares are transitioning from spring to summer!

WINTER CSA!  It’s almost that time… #winteriscoming We will be opening up registration for the 2017/2018 Winter CSA in the next few weeks!  We’ll send out a newsletter with all details.

Until next time… keep up with our daily adventures on facebook or instagram. Ta ta for now!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts


 

The Law of Inertia (week 3, 4 & 5)

Posted on 15 Jun 2017

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope this newsletter finds you all doing well!  Thank you to all our amazing CSA-ers for your support,  encouragement and positive feedback in the Facebook group, in-person and through emails.  It’s been awesome to see what everyone has been making with all the bounty the past month!  

It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the farm.  Every day seems to be more productive than the last and we find ourselves working 12-16 hour days 7 days a week (though we’re trying to take a half day to rest if we can).    We’re not the only ones though!  Many of the farmers we follow on instagram and our fellow farmer friends are all in the same boat.  These are some long almost-summer days for us farmers.  When the to-do list is growing ever so long with irrigating, trellising, endless mowing, preparing new ground (fertilizing/amending, tilling, making beds etc), seeding new successions of crops, planting all the things, weeding all the things and of course, harvesting all the things!  As the to-do lists grow we feel better (mentally and physically) than we have compared to any other season.

Although the work days are still long, we do feel like we’re moving in the right direction this year as far as workload goes by dialing in our systems, building infrastructure and investing in tools that help to get the job done and ultimately improve our quality of life!  I thought it would be fun to share some of the improvements we’ve made over the last few years as we’re pretty excited about how they are all coming together for us this season!

New farmer to farmer podcast:  Click on the link to give it a listen: http://www.farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/workinghands

First, we are REALLY excited to share that we had the incredible opportunity to be invited back for round 2 of the Farmer to Farmer Podcast with Chris Blanchard.  This episode(#123) takes place 18-months after our first interview (#40) and we discuss many of the big changes we have made on our farm.  We believe the Farmer to Farmer Podcast is making a huge difference in the lives of farmers and consumers. Click on the link to give it a listen: http://www.farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/workinghands or find it on iTunes as episode #123!

From the Farmer to Farmer website, “In this episode, we revisit Jess and Brian Powers at Working Hands Farm, eighteen months after they were first on the show on Episode 040. Since the fall of 2015, Working Hands Farm has gone through some significant changes and phenomenal growth on their property in Hillsboro, Oregon, just outside of Portland on the north end of the Willamette Valley.

Jess and Brian have gone from raising four acres of vegetables in 2015 to eight acres now, and have expanded their on-farm CSA to cover 48 weeks of the year – all with just the two of them, plus the recent addition of a part-time employee. In the past year, they’ve gotten out of the livestock business to focus on their produce business, standardized their farming operations, and made significant investments in machinery and infrastructure on their farm. We dig into all of these changes and the rationale behind them, as well as how the changes are helping them to face the extreme wet-weather challenges they’ve faced this year.

When I interviewed Jess and Brian the first time, it was clear that although they were working insane hours, they found ways to emphasize and build their personal relationship, so we also come back to how they’ve continued to nurture their love for each other alongside of their professional and business development.”

The rainy and cooler Spring has been awesome for growing lots of spinach and broccoli, other summer loving crops like the summer squash are growing slowly but surely!

We’ve made some transitions, investments and adjustments on the farm the last few years that have helped to make farming more sustainable (over the long haul) for 2 people.  Having the red pole barn has been one of the best investments we’ve made on the farm.  It’s been a dream of ours to have our wash/pack, cooler, pick up and winter storage area in the same building and now that we have it we are asking ourselves how we ever managed without it?!  It improves efficiencies ten fold, gets the produce chilled quicker 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.  Before when we were moving produce from the cooler (in the middle of the farm) to the front pick up area and back and it was easily 8+ times that we were lifting all the produce… now it’s just a fraction of that amount and most of the time it’s being rolled on a cart!   (*Farmers could be called “professional material handlers”)

Weed management.  “Weed the soil, not the crop”  We’re really dialing in systems on the farm that get us ahead of the weeds rather than swimming in them… weed management is one of the number one things on the farm… without it there is crop loss and damage, harvest gets slowed down and so does washing and packing.  This season we’ve been getting a lot of weeding done with our Kult Kress Finger Weeder Cultivating implement (you can see it in action here:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BUzUJjHlYFN/?taken-by=workinghandsfarm)  The idea is you operate the Finger Weeder about 5-7 days after transplanting before you can ever really see the weeds (you might not be able to see them but they are there!).  The beauty of this implement is that the fingers go right around the plant and get all the “in-row” weeds.  Each cultivating sweep has it’s own gauge wheel which is awesome for our more “hilly land” (not perfectly flat) and it moderates it’s own depth as you fly down the row.  We’re still getting used to it and trusting ourselves (and our eyes) but so far the results have been amazing.  The crops have really never looked so clean.. which means harvest goes quicker (you don’t need to pick through the weeds so to say..), the plants are healthier because they are no longer competing with the vigorous roots of weeds and ultimately the farm is a much more productive place!    There’s still plenty of other things to do by hand but we feel really grateful for the small farm community that we have and all their helpful feedback when it comes to making big investments like these!

Finger weeded vs. not yet weeded, prepping new beds for the next succession of crops, arugula on point!

We’re also spending less time  “hand planting”… and by less I mean we’re no longer planting 8 acres by hand with the stand and plant !  (See video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BGqUeMxlhgA/?taken-by=workinghandsfarm)  I honestly have no idea how we even physically accomplished this but we did!  Planting the whole farm by hand last year was not the plan… but when plans change you reroute and figure it out.  Way back in the fall of 2015 we decided to finance a John Deere 5075e (they have a great program for farmers at 0% interest for 5 years).  One of the perks of these tractors is that it comes with a creeper gear that would able us to use a “waterwheel tranplanter” on the back that dibbles the hole and fills it with water which means less stress for the newly transplanted crops and the farmers knees/backs.  It is “slower” than hand transplanting but less taxing on the body which means you can plant for hours without feeling totally pooped so ultimately you can get twice as much done!  (here’s a video of Becca and I planting corn: https://www.instagram.com/p/BT5E0LilRFc/?taken-by=workinghandsfarm)  The new tractor arrived last spring but the creeper gear was not installed.  We patiently waited and after almost a year of waiting for John Deere to produce a creeper gear as was promised, for our 5075E they decided to not produce one. It was a pretty frustrating process but it also provided us with a great opportunity to start over.  Last winter we found a tractor that would better suit our needs through John Deere WITH a creeper and it’s been a total champ this season… especially in such a rainy and dreary spring.

Row spacing!  Besides having the creeper gear we were able to get skinnier Ag. tires on the new tractor which has allowed us to have uniform bed spacing that matches all the other equipment (finger weeder, bed shaper etc)… meaning the spacing between rows, the bed shoulders, the pathways are all the same and you can run the transplanter or cultivator down it with ease (without tinkering or adjusting too many things).  There’s less guessing and less room for error when everything is always set up at the same spacing!  It’s a small but very amazing detail that is makes farming super efficient!

First harvest of carrots, making uniform beds with Brian’s custom bed shaper and the garlic is almost ready to harvest!  

Brian’s bed shaper.  For those of you who don’t know this about Brian – he is a tinkerer at heart.  He has a mind for finding solutions and has a natural ability when it comes to building, constructing, and fabricating.  He is very mechanically inclined.  He is self taught (farming has a way of making you learn a lot about yourself) and it’s been awesome to see him learn and grow over the years.  Every year when it comes to projects to move things forward or make things a little bit easier for us he does it with more and more ease.  Less doubt and more trust!  When our tiller was acting funny last summer he decided to fix it up and turn it into a “bed shaper.”  The bed shaper provides us with a perfectly flat 48” raised bed by listing the sides 4-6” – this helps with drainage and soil moisture.  It also gives us a flat surface that allows us to plant, seed and cultivate more precisely.  It has a roller that increases capillarity in the soil so it holds onto more moisture.

Our first part-time employee!  As we’re getting our systems dialed in, this Spring we took the plunge and hired our first ever employee back in March!  Becca is a native oregonian who has spent the last two years working on CSA farm in Eugene.  She started with Rogue Corps and has now found her way to Working Hands as our very first crew member.  Community and health are really important to her.  She’s been working part-time on the farm a couple days a week and we’re excited to achieve a bit more balance with an extra set of hands.  We’ve accomplished a lot on the days that she’s here… irrigating, transplanting on the waterwheel, harvesting, hand weeding, harvest bin washing and tray filling for seedlings.  It’s amazing how much faster things can get done when there are 3 sets of hardworking hands.  Beyond that, we’ve loved having an employee here as it’s helped us to stay focused and come up with a more detailed weekly/daily plan which has led to us being really productive!  It’s nice to have someone around with new and refreshing energy and who is super excited to be farming.

Overwintered walla walla onions make for a nice treat in spring, scapes!, and our next round of brassica crops!

So, as the to-do lists grow we feel better than we have compared to any other season.  The systems, efficiencies, tools and know-how are truly helping us to work smarter and not harder.  Farming is real physical and mental work and the systems and efficiencies we have the more time there is for a better work-life balance.  Now we just have to figure out how to get away from a day or two (it’s been 4 years since Brian and I have left the farm together for more than 12 hours)  😉  But with all things in this giant farming puzzle I have no doubt that we will figure it out…

And perhaps our largest change and decision we made this season was our decision to get out of the livestock business to focus on our produce business.  There was a multitude of reasons for the decision that we made for our farm…  our limited amount of land was a big one (with the herd growing and thriving.. we would have doubled the herd this spring with all the calves set to arrive) – especially since it floods annually (in a wet winter season like this past winter the pasture was flooded from Thanksgiving until March) which means less food early on for the livestock.  From the perspective of veggie growing, we are in our 5th season on this piece of land and in order to grow organically in a sustainable way and to practice good crop rotation (to keep bug, disease pressure down etc) with our vegetable crops we needed more space to let areas of our farm “rest” or lay “fallow” while breaking new ground elsewhere.  We are also working towards achieving a better work-life balance and it’s really important to us at this point in our life to have more opportunities to spend with family and friends (it’s been farm, farm, farm the last 8 years…) and focusing our efforts on one profit center on the farm made the most sense to us especially with the interest and demand in our main season and winter CSA.  We deeply miss the animals but feel as though the timing was right to make this decision.. we found an amazing farm in Washington that purchased all of our livestock and raises animals in a way that is congruent with our beliefs and values.  So now they have a 1,000 acres or so roam and graze and we have new fields that we are able to rotate our veggies into.  We encourage our customers that have supported these small aspects of our farm to check out Cascade Farm cascadefarm.com (their current model is shipping orders via fedex).

The next round of carrots (3,000 ft) are up after flame weeding, celery in the sun and trying our hand at dry beans for the Winter CSA!

We’ve got some big pushes ahead!  This past weekend Brian & I planted out an acre of winter squash, carving pumpkins and decorative gourds.  This coming weekend we’re planting out our melons, lettuces, kale, a third succession of sweet corn, broccoli, summer squash & cukes.  We’re also beginning to seed, plant and prepare for our Fall and winter crops and are even planting our first winter crops of the season – brussel sprouts, kalettes and leeks!   So, keep your eyes open for details about our 2017/2018 Winter CSA in the coming month!

The goats!  We’ve been keeping those goat-ers busy mowing our lawn and chomping back some invasive himalayan blackberry.  They’ll be making their way up to the front of the property soon enough!

Enjoy the bounty!

 

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Bringing the Bounty Home (csa week 2)

Posted on 25 May 2017




“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 2 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 (in one week!) Check out the email ‘Reminder: Final CSA Payment Due by June 1st’ for more details!  

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Newsletter & Recipes.  First and foremost, read the 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!

Egg cartons, Berry Boxes, Rubberbands etc.  For all those who purchase WHF eggs, please save up your WHF egg cartons for us and return them (WHF egg cartons ONLY please). We also 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.

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The first tomato sighting, the peppers before they were planted last week and this week’s stand of arugula!  

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!

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!”

Storing the veggies: Root veggies (beets, carrots etc) and other bulb veggies (radish, turnip, kohlrabi, onions, fennel etc) all 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).

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. For other items, it’s important to prep bunched greens and lettuce heads by washing, chopping and storing them in a tightly sealed container with a moist paper towel or try washing them wrapping them in a moist towel/paper towel and putting them in a bag.  Otherwise the refrigerator has its way with them and sucks out all their moisture… leaving much to be desired.

Anenomes from Even Pull Farm, rows and rows of carrots, sage hedge makes us happy + the bees too!

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!

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Baby winter squash cotyledons are adorable, Brian prepping beds and beds and beds, tulip power.

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.  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!

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-Round, Ball 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!

Last week we caught a swarm (check out the videos here and here), the brassica block sizing up and evening planting sessions.

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!

Despite the waterlogged spring we are happy with the diversified first two weeks of shares.. carrot power! #growbabiesgrow

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

Here we grow 2017! (CSA week 1)

Posted on 16 May 2017

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Chard sparkling between sun showers, spring/winter clean up on the farm and the first broccoli sizing up!

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Let the 2017 Spring harvest season begin!  We are so happy and appreciative of all your support and encouragement over the last 5 months (since our 2017 season started).  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 3-5pm!  Whoop whoop!

Morning sun, afternoon crop walks and the first irrigation of the season!

The wee-farm goat greeters! The goats should be back upfront in the next few week’s!  The “Lost Boys” are currently mowing our backyard and eating back the Himalayan blackberry hedgerow around the farm’s periphery.  We should be able to get up some permanent fence once the weather gets better in the coming week!

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 it’s just the two of us and we harvest most everything fresh that morning so your farmer’s need the time to harvest, wash and set up the pick up area.

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I spent an afternoon helping out my dear friend and fellow farmer Beth at Even Pull Farm last week (she broke her hand) – harvesting flowers was a blast!  800 tomatoes planted last week and the last variety of overwintering cauliflower ready for this week’s CSA (it was started 10 months ago!  Plants are amazing)  

Parking. There is a nice big parking area for a convenient and stress free pick-up.  Please park facing the new 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 now located in the RED POLE BARN through the white French doors. We’re super excited to have our wash/pack, cooler and pick up area in the same building this year.  It improves efficiencies ten fold, gets the produce chilled quicker 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 5 years ago all that remained on this property was a dilapidated old barn that was covered in 12ft tall blackberries and the old farmhouse by the road.  We are breathing new life into a very old and forgotten farm property 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.

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The Spring greens are always such a tasty treat, 1,000’s and 1,000’s  of transplants going in the ground and some baby arugula germination..

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.

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/

Our first go at overwintering onions – looking good!, our newest addition to the farm: The Finger Weeder!, onions are growing fast!

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 CSA members 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 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.

 

The strawberries are coming along – slowly but surely (and always worth the wait!), more ground gets prepped and some dazzling blue kale!

Thank you again for all your support! It’s been a busy and super rainy Spring (the wettest in 75 years!) 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

Wading it Out (winter csa week 17 & 18)

Posted on 17 Apr 2017


Here comes the rain… doo doo doo doo – it’s been the moodiest Spring ever..



Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 

Whoo hoo!  As of last week, we’re officially SOLD OUT for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season!  If you’d like to be added to our waiting list please fill out the sign up form here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/signupform/and we’ll email you should a share become available!  We can’t wait for the 2017 CSA season to start (see details at the bottom of this newsletter)! Thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old who have signed up for the 2017 Spring and Summer CSA season!

Winter CSA Success!  This past week was the final pick up week of our second Winter CSA season and I know we’ve said this time and time again but we LOVE the Winter CSA!!  We, your farmers, THANK YOU 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!  

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 8-10 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 18 weeks we had 11-17 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 winter days)!   To top it all off, it was an average of 450lbs per share which comes in around $1.52 per lb of produce.

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

Becca & I weeding the garlic, Brian prepping beds before the rains and finishing up our planting of strawberries (almost a mile!)

We’ve been through just about every bit of weather you can experience this winter… hail, sleet, ice rain, torrential down pours, SNOW (more than once and 12 inches!), high winds, frigid temps (12 degrees for successional days)… and through it all we always had food to put on the table.  Brushing 12” of snow off the 4 high tunnels for 12 hours overnight was definitely a low point but we survived it all and have grown through the experience and believe it or not LOVED IT every step of the way.  We’re just crazy about growing vegetables and this kind of winter weather is invaluable for us farmers to learn and grow from.

We are so excited to learn and grow for the next winter season!  Keep your eyes and ears open when we launch the 2017 Winter CSA Sign Ups later this summer!  We’ll be starting Fall and Winter veggie starts in the coming months (we’re always thinking ahead…!)

This extra wet Spring/remnants of Winter just doesn’t want to quit and it’s been the wettest   and coolest Spring we’ve ever experienced as farmers.  It’s one of those Springs despite having plans you’re just doing things as the weather permits.  We’ve been working hard and paying close attention to the soil conditions, soil temperatures, forecasts, etc and really making the most of the milder days.  At times we’re having to plant in less than ideal conditions and flying by the seat of our pants so to say… planting in between storms and being extra flexible based on the morning forecast.

Part of the bed prep process, drop spreading lime and our custom fertilizer blend, getting those transplants in the ground, and prepping more beds/covering with heavy tarps before the rains.. 

For the past few weeks, after CSA harvests, Brian and I (with the help of our amazing new tractor with creeper gear – finally!) had ourselves a few planting date nights and planted out 4,000 row ft just the three of us (tractor totally counts) in the evening sun. Brian had spent two days last week prepping TWO new 200ft x 200ft blocks in the upper pasture (!!). Everything was set to go and we were able to plant 3 beds but then it rained just enough to dampen our plans. So the next day we looked to our upper gardens and sure enough one of them had the most perfect texture. After another harvest, we planted another round of brassicas and decided to make 12 extra beds for future direct seeding. We covered them with 6 mil plastic tarps (from Home Depot) for stale seed bedding/occultation and secured them with tons of sandbags. It made for a really long day but we were energized by the endless possibilities ahead… and we think our futures selves will thank us when there are more veggies to be sown!  #bringonthesun #wereready #sundancespring#thebestlaidplans #flyingbytheseatofourpants  #signsofspring  #gotime

We’ve been prepping a lot of beds all at once when we get our chance and the beds that we aren’t able to plant in that same day we’ve been covering with the plastic tarps to keep rain off of them for better planting conditions.  It’s worked great for us so far and is getting us by!  With our tractor/transplanter set up last week alone Brian and I were also able to plant 1,800 row ft of kale, 600 row ft of collards, 1,800 ft of cabbage, and with Becca’s help we were able to plant 1,200 ft of beets, 1,200 ft of chard, 900 row ft of spinach, 1,200 ft of lettuce  & 1,800 row ft of strawberries.

We’ve be busy soaking up the last few days of sun before the forecasted day of rain…  In the last 72 hours thanks to some more mild weather Becca, Brian & I were able to plant the remaining strawberries (4800 ft.. almost a mile of strawberries) and 2500 ft of greens (spinach and chicory varieties).  Yesterday, Brian and I planted 3,000 ft of brassicas (cabbage, kohlrabi, mustards, cauliflower) and this morning Brian has been preparing almost a 1/2 acre for a few upcoming epic plantings of onions (7,200 row ft) and potatoes (4,800 row ft).  Our windows of opportunity to plant have been slim compared to years prior but we’ve been making the most of the the time we have and it sure feels good to keep things rolling forward.

So keep all those fingers and toes crossed for us and do as many sun dances as you can!

Driving the new tractor with Becca and Brian transplanting on the back, spring radishes and Brian filling up the compost spreader!  

The planting and seeding continues.. last weekend we started our first curcubits (cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini) in the propagation house as well as a bunch of greens and other goodies!  Our first round of sweet corn will be started in just a few days… the first succession of tomatoes & basil will be planted in the high tunnel…. things are about to get real!  It’s hard to believe it’s already the middle of April.. pretty soon harvest will begin again and a whole new adventure awaits!  #keepswimming #endlesspossibilities

WHEN DOES THE SPRING/SUMMER/FALL CSA begin?  Our estimated start date for the season is the week of May 16th – 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.    Due to the extra wet Spring we’ve been having it has left the soils cooler than usual which means the plants are growing much slower than we’re used to.  This could mean that we might be starting the CSA a touch later than planned… but anything can happen so stay tuned!  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!)

We’ll send everyone an official start date email during the first few weeks of May!    


Gloucester and Ahab are the kings of leisure on the farm and this high tunnel is all prepped and ready to go for Spring/Summer!

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

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