Peak Season

Posted on 30 Aug 2018

Flameweeding the overwintering carrots before they emerge and the view from the corn patch…

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 25th – April 10th – a total of 16 Weekly Shares or 8 Bi-Weekly Shares!
  • We’re offering two Winter CSA options: Weekly for $756 Bi-Weekly for $432.
  • 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)
  • NEW:  There will be two floating vacation weeks (no harvest or distribution) over the course of the Winter CSA season for your farmers.  We will let everyone know in advance when we will be taking these weeks off!

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.

Sakura cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine and the first of the fall broccoli emerging..

Now onto some updates from the farm!  


We saw that this year’s summer weather broke the record of 90+ degree days in a year… (30 days total) beating out 2015 (el nino year) which was 29 days! And rain… the last time it rained a perceivable amount on the farm was back in April with a few passing showers here and there in May which means we’ve had to up our irrigation plan big time! (shout out to farmer B for all the hard work he’s put into it). The intense weather conditions keep us on our toes and have us getting up real early to beat the heat. Our crew has been charging out there with us on harvest da(y)ze and has made everything that much more bearable and enjoyable out in the field! There’s so much bounty to be enjoyed and so much work that goes into it (oh summer and it’s 14 hour+ days). Thank you to our awesome community for supporting us through all the seasons!  👨‍🌾👩‍🌾✨🌱

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In order to avoid the hotter part of the day especially with fresh harvest we’ve been getting up at 5:00/5:30am 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 hot summer. 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 95-100 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!

Eggplant season is upon us, painted mountain dry corn tasseling up, and the last succession of squash coming along..

This hotter weather is giving us major flashbacks to the 2015 growing season (el nino) and the (previously) 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. We use the kifco water reel and drip tape for irrigation… we have been staying on top of giving the plants a nice deep soak. Brian has been managing the irrigation this summer and we’ve been working out the kinks integrating the new water reel system. A lot of the crops (tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, melons, cukes etc) are on drip tape but the majority are overhead watered. Setting up the reel is usually a one person job but moving lay flat hose around the farm is no joke (who needs cross fit when you have farm fit…) We’re making good notes now though to have for next season and how we’d like to do things more efficiently (having a few main arteries of layflat set up around the farm so they don’t move during the season.. that way it’s easy to plug into). Having the irrigation 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 especially with the pattern of extremely dry and hot summers.

Heirlooms ripening on the vine and the winter squash is maturing in the field..

Over the past month we’ve been planting up a storm!  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 third and final fall succession of broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco etc. So. Many. Plants. We started our overwintering crops last month– purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower too! And got our final round of overwintering storage carrots seeded (1,800 row ft) that we flamed last week.  Our big bulk harvest of onions happened a few  weekends ago… over 20,000 storage onions and beautiful cipollini and shallots for winter CSA!  We’ll be moving on to bulk harvest of potatoes this coming up this week and next… it will sure feel good to continue to bring in those major crops. So many things to look forward to checking off the list!

July, August and September are the peak of the season for us.. our biggest planting pushes for Fall and Winter as well as the heavy harvests of summer and fall. 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 13 acres this season and we’re set to harvest well over 100,000lbs of veggies (that doesn’t even include the Winter CSA) in just the Spring/Summer/Fall season alone/feeding over 600 individuals. It feels pretty darn amazing.

Zucchinis in the field, the second succession of melons and views from the bottom of the farm..

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.

Brussel sprouts are maturing, the gourds are getting color and we are waiting patiently for the bell peppers to turn colors!

Full Hearts. We also celebrated our four year anniversary as a married couple at the beginning of the month.   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 4 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.

Late summer starts, the rest of the Fall and winter crops waiting for their planting date and tasty greens!

As September draws near it marks that time for bringing in the bounty… harvesting and curing the winter squash, sweet potatoes, harvesting, washing and bagging the first round of fall carrots, roots, etc and we are looking forward to beginning that process.    It’s been a great season for winter squash and everything is beginning to show their true colors.   And next thing ya know we’ll be planting garlic for next season (around October 1st)!  It’s crazy how time flies…

September also marks the month of some of our favorite veggies and shares!   We will be slowly transitioning into our cooler weather crops. The summer crops are still bumpin’ but as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler the Fall veggies will start to shine providing a delicious balance of the two seasons. The summer harvests have been so plentiful… we’re looking forward to the shorter days, to give these farmer bodies a little bit of re-coop time. This is the time of the season where our backs feel it the most – 50 lb -70lb harvest crates x 3 days (and 200 households) can add up to a lot of pounds of produce being harvested, washed and displayed.

Speaking of summer bounty! Our Bulk Tomatoes are now available (get em while they are here!) and should be around for the month of August/through mid-September (weather dependent, of course). This is the 7th season in a row that we have had offered this unbelievable deal! Please see below for details.

We have two kinds of tomatoes available: Mixed Varieties of our “Seconds” (@$2/lb with a minimum order of 25lbs) and Classic Roma Sauce Tomatoes (@$3/lb with a minimum order of 20lbs)  How to order? Send us your order, pick up day/time via email.  Pick up works best for your famers on Thursday – Monday after 10am.  (We will not have orders available on CSA pick up days).  Depending on availability, we will confirm pick up day, total cost, etc.  (Remember to keep a close eye on our minimum orders.)

Farmer’s tip:  A super simple way to put up tomatoes without the canning/processing is… FREEZING!  These bulk maters are great for freezing whole in gallon bags to enjoy the summer bounty year round!

We hope you all enjoy this week’s bounty and have a great long weekend!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

Fall kale is growing fast, the first of the fall radishes are up and the pie pumpkins are turning colors!  

Winter CSA Sign Ups!

Posted on 6 Aug 2018

Above are the images of each share from last year’s 2017/18 season!

Our 2018 Winter CSA sign ups start TODAY August 6th!

 

Hi Friends & Farm-ily!

It’s that time of the year… we’re excited to announce that our 2018 WHF Winter CSA Shares are now available!  We are offering two types of shares for the Winter:  Weekly & Bi-Weekly! We’re excited to grow for our fourth winter CSA season 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.

We LOVE 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!

The Winter Bounty in 2017.  Last Winter, we started our Winter CSA journey on November 28th and we 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 the 2017 winter season weeks, Farmer Brian and I grew, 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.

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January King cabbages, the first of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and a frosty winter morning in December..

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!

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, winter 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.  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, building two new 95′ x 30′ high tunnels (we now have 3 high tunnels for winter production in total), caterpillar tunnels for greens, a storage cooler, investing in specialty winter hardy crops, etc…

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!

Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB) is a late winter and early Spring treat, brussel sprouts and an array of winter squash..

WHF Winter CSA details for the 2018/2019 growing season:

When does the Winter CSA begin?  

  • The WHF Winter CSA will run from November 25th – April 10th  a total of 16 Weekly Shares or 8 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)
  • NEW: There will be two floating vacation weeks (no harvest or distribution) over the course of the Winter CSA season for your farmers.  We will let everyone know in advance when we will be taking these weeks off!

Weekly Share Members pick up their first share at the farm on Tuesday, November 25th or Wednesday, November 26th and continue to pick up every week until Tuesday, April 9th or Wednesday, April 10th for a total of 16 shares.  *Note: there will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/25 & 12/26) or January 1st  (1/1 & 1/2).  In addition, there will be two floating vacation weeks (no harvest or distribution) over the course of the Winter CSA season.  We will let everyone know in advance when we will be taking these weeks off!

Bi-Weekly Share members pick up their produce every other week throughout the course of the 16 week CSA season (a total of 8 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 (12/25 & 12/26) or January 1st  (1/1 & 1/2).  In addition, there will be two floating vacation weeks (no harvest or distribution) over the course of the Winter CSA season.  We will let everyone know in advance when we will be taking these weeks off!

Another late winter/early Spring treat: variegata di castelfranco, brussel sprouts and tender radishes!

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, Kalettes, Herbs, Onions, Spaghetti Squash, Pie pumpkins, Heirloom Winter Squash, Garlic, Sweet Potatoes, 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, 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 (16 weeks/shares total) $756

Bi-Weekly Share (8 weeks/shares total) $432

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 $141 is due by September 15th

second payment of $141 is due by October 15th

Prepping ground in our caterpillar tunnels, a festive winter CSA pick up and some goodies at pick up..

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:  2018 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. 

Cauliflower, overwintering roots and fall fennel & leeks!

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

It’s the Time of the Season… #julyvalanche

Posted on 28 Jul 2018

 

“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 are happy and well, enjoying the PNW Summer and all the bounty that comes with it!   July 5th marked the “official start to summer” in the Pacific Northwest and we’ve been welcoming it with open arms.

We hope you have been enjoying the delicious CSA harvests for the past 11 weeks! We never tire of the posts in the Members Group on facebook. It’s given us so many new and good ideas and wonderful feelings 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!

WINTER CSA!  It’s almost that time… #winteriscoming We will be opening up registration for the 2018/2019 Winter CSA in the next week!  We’ll send out an email in the next week with all details.

“Cuddling Carrots”, Bringing in the last of the garlic crop and the first handful of cherry tomatoes!

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for us between bountiful harvests, planting, weeding, watering, seeding etc! (Make sure to follow along with us on Instagram or Facebook) We’re feeding close to 200 households this season (last year it was around 150)! In 11 weeks of harvest we’ve distributed over 38,000lbs of produce to our CSA members! All of that produce has been grown thoughtfully and prepped, seeded, transplanted, weeded & harvested by your farmers. With the shares getting a touch more bountiful with summer crops, that puts us on track to grow and distribute over 100,000lbs+ of produce for the Spring/Summer/Fall season this year!  Whoop whoop.

We’ve been really thrilled with the variety this season – especially considering the variable weather we’ve had and how dry it’s been as a whole (only 5 inches of water since Jan!) and how hot it’s been the past few weeks. 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 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.

The view from the onion and potato block, checking in on the garlic and the guardian of the farm… Ahab

The 10-day is looking like another hot one (with temps averaging in the mid 90’s). It usually gets too hot outside for us between the hours of 3 and 6 so we do our best to take a siesta and find projects inside, take a much needed break and work on cooking an early supper. We’ve been getting up around 4:30 to steer clear of the heat and make the most of the “cooler” mornings.

June through October is probably the busiest time in the season for us… especially when the #julyvalanche hits… 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 we would be the kind that juggles bowling pins on fire.. haha! There would be so many pins in the air this time in the season that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish one from the other.. we’re just working hard to not drop any (or too many) pins.

Cherry tomato harvest and checking on the garlic curing in the barn… over 11,000 bulbs!

Harvesting… we have 3 8hour harvest/wash/pack days every week – harvesting around 4,500lbs of produce per week… and the bulk crops (garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots etc) are just starting to come in or will be in the next month! At the beginning of the month we harvested our garlic crop which ended up being close to 11,000 bulbs (our biggest crop to date!) All of the garlic is curing in the wood barn (proper curing is integral for long term storagability!).

Irrigation.. it’s irrigation season so we’re either moving the Kifco Water reels around or turning on the drip between all the other projects!  Gotta keep everything well watered especially in this crazy heat – water is everything this time of year especially when we have such incredibly dry summers (June through September)!  Unfortunately, we’ve had some fancy computer pump issues on and off the past 3 weeks so Brian has been learning quickly how to fix these issues… we’ve also made good friends with our local pump professionals! As a farmer, over time you become a jack of all trades (the farmer, the electrician, the bookkeeper, the carpenter, the plumber, the accountant, the photographer, the veterinarian, the website designer etc etc)  For now all is well watered and thriving!

Captain Irrigation, setting up the water reel and checking the voltage on our panel… it’s always something 😉

Prepping ground for future crops.. We’re tilling and mowing in old crops, liming, fertilizing and composting for future crops.

Planting crops.. In just one day of transplanting we can plant around 7,000-8,000 plants! We transplant at least one day a week (sometimes two if we have to work around the hot sun)… so week after week that’s a lot of baby plants!

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, washing harvest bins/wash station, filling trays for seeding, mowing etc etc 

The to-do lists are pretty long this time of the year but we wouldn’t be able to tackle it all without our Farm crew!  We were actually a bit short staffed (after one of our part time employees had to step away back in May) from the start of the CSA through June. Luckily, in July we were able to find two folks (+ Leah who’s been here since April!) who were up for helping out two days a week on the farm. They’ve been a huge help with bulk harvests, keeping up on the tomato trellising, wheelhoeing, harvest bin washing and other tasks that really help to fill in the gaps and make us more of a well oiled machine!

Covering up our fall carrots with row cover (to keep pesky rust fly at bay), hiding in the shade during a round of transplanting and finding time in the early mornings and evenings to plant…

Besides adding some part time help, this growing season we are continuing to (re) learn 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 last year 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!

Crop updates: the days keep flying by and the summer crops are really growin’!  The tomatoes and peppers are growing so fast and loaded with flowers/soon to be fruit picked fruit.  The first eggplants are underway so is the sweet corn. The winter squash plants are running and the melons are coming along (it won’t be long now).  The fall and winter crops are just a week or two 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 30,000 more plants for Fall and overwintering crops like Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Cauliflower.

Trying our hand at seed saving my dad’s Eastham Turnips!  We threshed these last weekend.  He’s been growing them for over a decade and we love having them for our CSA!  

One of our smartest investments we made a few seasons ago 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 we planted our 5th succession of sweet corn as well as lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli. A few weeks ago we planted another round of squash, cucumbers and a second succession of melons. Last week, we seeded our succession of fall and winter carrots using our pre emergence flame weeding method (see: newsletter week 6)  We’ll begin flaming them in just a few days before the carrots emerge. Hopefully when they do it will be a pretty and clean seed bed. (fingers crossed!)

If the goats had their own band photo, Gloucester is the keeper of the barn and the view from the tomato patch..

This weekend we’ll be prepping new ground for the first fall transplants, transplanting another round of summer squash and cucumbers, as well as catching up on some weeding, bulk harvest and more seeding of crops in the red barn!


Keep your eye out for information on our WINTER CSA!  It’s almost that time… #winteriscoming We will be opening up registration for the 2018/2019 Winter CSA in the next week!  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

CSA Shares 1 through 10!  

 

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

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