Hurry Up and Wait

Posted on 20 Apr 2019

Hey Friends & Farm-ily,

 –

We hope everyone is doing well!  The Spring is flying by quickly this year and we can’t believe we’re already recapping this season’s 16 week Winter CSA!  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 10th 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.  26,110 CSA shares and over 695,000lbs of produce.

Winter CSA Success!  Last week was the final pick up week of our fourth Winter CSA season and I know we’ve said this time and time again but we LOVE the Winter CSA!!  Thank you to the 100 households who supported us through the Winter months!   Be sure to check out the Winter Recap below!

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!  

One of my favorite parts of Spring .. when the kale goes to seed, a planting we will go and the last Winter CSA harvest..

Spring Updates!  Things have been moving right along on the farm the past month.  It’s been a crazy ride trying to beat the rain that’s been filling up the ten day the last month.  As my friend Carri from Pitchfork and Crow Farm said about farming in April, “hurry up and wait.”  A lot of our friends who farm in Salem and south of there had some serious flooding the last few weeks after receiving several inches of rain.  Freshly planted fields, high tunnels etc were all flooded out.  Rivers were reckless and unrecognizable.  Reminded us of the crazy wet Spring we had a few years ago when we had a perpetual flood on the lower acreage of our farm for the months of Feb and March and wondered if we’d ever dry out enough to plant!  We seem to have lucked out this time around (mother nature is ultimately boss) and have been able to work the soil to plant and cultivate with a waiting game in between.

We’ve planted so much since the end of March.  The first spring kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, chard, lettuce, beets, cauliflower, bunching onions, snap peas, fava beans, spinach, pac choi, fennel, turnips etc all made their transplanting debut.   The first field carrots came up a few weeks ago and they already have their first true leaves!  We planted a new field of strawberries (4,000 plants!) in addition to last year’s patch that is coming back strong.  We hope to have multiple successions of strawberries – if we get any late spring rain it can do a number on the berries so it’ll be great to have a succession to mitigate that risk!    Potatoes were also planted this past week in the sunshine – over 6,000 ft!  (that’s 6,000 potato plants).  Fingers crossed for our best tater season to date!

The snap peas are stretching towards the sky, transplanting and two fungis..

We’ve also managed to get in a few first passes on our cultivator the Argus Finger Weeder.   The weeds can be extra competitive this time of the year especially if the soils wet and you aren’t able to get in there and weed when you need to!  Luckily, we’ve had a few breaks in the weather to get out there but we need to stay on top of it to get the plants to a place where they can out compete their weedy opponents (namely Redroot Pigweed and German Chamomile).  The Argus does an amazing job and it’s part of our secret to success!  Brian and I can weed an acre in a day!  This time of the year we have row cover to contend with (uncovering plants, moving the cover, repeat) but come summer there is no row cover and we can just breeze on through the crops!  It really is an amazing piece of machinery that allows us to grow as much food as we do.

One thing we won’t be weeding this Spring (for the first time ever) is garlic + over wintering onions!  We planted them last October in plastic mulch and boy did it pay off (helps suppress weeds, keeps the soil warmer to promote more growth and keeps the soil nutrients from leaching in our wet winters)!  It’s our healthiest and happiest looking garlic we’ve ever grown.  Usually it takes us about a week to hand weed it and this year (after some maintenance during the winter months) it looks like it’s good to go until harvest in May/June.  Pretty soon it’ll be throwing up garlic scapes – just in time for the Spring CSA!  We’ll call it a win and will be definitely planting it this way in the years to come.

Cultivating with the Argus and this years garlic crop..

We’re getting really excited for the new season to begin!  Things are really taking shape over here and we have some more planting, mowing, seeding, cultivating and tilling to do over the next few weeks before it begins.  It’s the most important time in the season right now where we’re gearing up and charging ahead planting all the things and getting ready to feed 200 households for 7 months of the year!  Whoop whoop!

The Winter Bounty Recap!  We started our Winter CSA journey on November 27th 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 16 weeks, Farmer Brian and I have grown, harvested and distributed 44,800lbs (1,400 shares) of winter produce with 15-17 items in each weekly share!

Farmer Brian washing and packing up produce and the kale rapini going to flower.

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 535lbs 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, kale, kalettes, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce heads, onions, herbs (thyme, oregano, sage), pac choi, parsley, purple sprouting broccoli, pumpkins, radish, rapini, radicchio, romanesco, rutabaga, scallions, shallots, spaghetti squash, spigarello, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, turnips, winter squash and more!

We transplanted the first tomatoes of the season, the strawberries sprouting their first leaves and the orchard is flowering..

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

Carrots for 18 shares,

Broccoli for 8 shares,

Cauliflower for 6 shares,

Onions for 18 shares,

Shallots and Cippolinis for 16 shares,

Romanesco Broccol, Celery & Fennel for 4 shares each,

Garlic for 16 shares,

Winter & spaghetti squash for 16 shares,

Cabbage for 11 shares,

Beets for 6 shares,

Potatoes and/or Sweet Potato choice for 16 shares,

Mixed Bunch Greens for 16 shares,

Lettuce, spinach & bagged greens for 16 shares,

Leeks for 14 shares,

Brussels for 6 shares,

Kalettes for 9 shares,

etc, etc!

Farm fresh can’t be beet, overwintered swiss chard brightens up the field and Farmer Jess & Rob planting potatoes..

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 heavy 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, 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 2019 Winter CSA Sign Ups in July!  We’ll be starting our first Fall and Winter veggie starts in the coming months (we’re always thinking ahead…!)

Spring radishes, harvesting pac choi and the babies looking good in the propagation house..

Thank you to everyone who has spread the good word about the upcoming Spring, Summer & Fall CSA!  The majority of our new members this season are from word of mouth so THANK YOU!  We have just a few shares left so if you have a friend, family member, co-worker etc that’s interested now is the time before we close down sign ups!

3 Steps to Signing Up:

1  Read all about the 2019 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

Carrot art straight out of the barrel washer and signs of spring all over!

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

Spring Has Sprung!

Posted on 28 Mar 2019

“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
Reminder: First CSA payments are due by this Monday, April 1st! Check out the email ‘Reminder: First CSA Payment Due by April 1st’ for more details!
Hi Friends & Farm-ily,
We hope you are all happy and well and enjoying the first week 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!
Spring has really sprung on the farm this year! 🌱✨ We’ve been busy the last week getting the first crops of the spring and summer season transplanted in the fields! It has been super fun and productive and sunny to boot and we’re feeling jazzed about the season ahead! #springinourstep#letsdothis #futurefood
My happy place in the propagation house.  Feeling good about these hard plastic trays we invested in this year.  
Our first big field planting of the season happened last weekend during that lovely dry stretch (over 13,000 plants and ½ acre of crops).  And oh how lovely it was (hello sun on my face…)!  The first spring kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, chard, lettuce, beets, cauliflower, bunching onions, snap peas etc all made their transplanting debut.  The first field carrots were seeded a week ago and we’ve got our eyes on them for any signs of germination so we can flame weed before they break the surface.  Fava Beans will be direct sown into prepared beds later this week!
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 a little wet). We’ve got some ground prepped and some ground cover to lay down for strawberries.  So come rain or shine this week and next we’ll be planting lot more 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 this season!   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 greens just a few weeks ago.  In just a couple of weeks we’ll be planting our early tomatoes in the high tunnel!  Whoo hoo!
Soaking in the sun and getting the first transplants of the Spring season in the ground!  Brian and I make a great team.
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.   It was awesome having another hand from Rob who’s been working hard here all winter long.  He jumped on the tractor to till and help prep beds as well as helping with harvest and getting a jump on some propagation house seeding.
Having the ability to seize the moment when you have it is amazing. The machinery we’ve purchased over the last 4 years + the systems we are dialing in as we gain more experience and become more comfortable and proficient, so, we’ve been able to take full advantage – within reason of course as we’re only human  – of the drier weather! .   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.
Winter CSA harvest included 150+ lbs of Purple Sprouting Broccoli!  Just a few pick up weeks left in the season.  Covering up babies in the field.
Prophouse Chronicles. Earlier this month we woke up to so many pepper seedlings in bits and pieces in our propagation house.  We thought it was mice, set traps and nothing.  Checked all day long and would only see more damage in the morning hours (between 730-830 am when the doors weren’t open).  Setup bird net, dissected trays, watered before 2pm, researched and consulted some friends.  Felt insane.  Why…?!  We finally found out: Brian happened upon a little bird in there early in the morning feasting on some tasty cotyledons.  We have no idea how it had been getting in there but you better believe we sealed off any tiny places where the rock met the ground and covered the babies up with row cover over night.  Although the damage hurt we seeded them early enough that we were able to order more seed and the mystery has been solved.  No matter how many times we do this there’s always something new to navigate!  Onwards and upwards!
Success! We’re feeling pretty stoked on the Proptek Trays we invested in last season.  This will be our second season using the proptek trays and we are so happy!  The plants are happy and uniform with more root space (cell is longer than a 128) and they fit a few more plants per tray. They are a durable hard plastic and we hope to have them for years and years to come (one customer has had them over 20 years). They also nest and never get stuck when trying to refill or for storing 🙌
One of my favorite moments of Spring.. the first Narcissus!  Turning on the irrigation in the field for the first time in 2019!  No turning back now! 
So, while we’re waiting for the next sun break, we’ll be busy clearing the rest of the fields..  removing drip tape, row cover and sandbags from the winter crops.   We have a few bulk crops to harvest and get out of the field and will hopefully get that done over the next few days.  Inside there is plenty of seeding, office work and crop planning to do!  There’s still a lot to be done but it feels great to get them done in these big pushes.
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 another place where we’ll be this weekend.. seeding our little farmer hearts away!
You know it’s Spring when you see… The first baby radishes, the first steel in the field and lots of green out there!
Know your farmers, know your food!   The Spring, Summer and Fall CSA is drawing near and we have less than a few dozen shares available for the 2019 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 2019 CSA season
3  Mail or drop off a Check or Make a Payment Online to reserve your share
We can’t wait for the 2019 growing season to start! Thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old who have signed up for the 2019 Spring and Summer CSA season!
Purple Cape Cauliflower.. more like a broccauli!  An amazing sunset and freshly harvested beets..
Winter CSA Reminder: Winter Weekly Share Members + Winter Bi-Weekly Share Members: we have just 2 WEEKLY pick ups left and 1 Bi-Weekly pick up for the Winter CSA Season.
It’s been an amazing few weeks on the farm… between the beautiful Winter CSA shares we’ve been harvesting, Oliver and Buddy our newest farm kitties caught their very first voles this week, getting so many crops in the ground and continuing to push many things forward.  Everything is awesome!
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

Following Through

Posted on 20 Feb 2019

“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.” – Wendell Berry 

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 

Welcome back!   After a week on vacation and a few days at the farmer to farmer exchange in Breitenbush, our hearts are feeling full and ready for the season ahead. (more about the vacation and winter CSA updates below…) It’s been great to leave the farm, have a little adventure and gain some perspective! We are truly feeling refreshed and inspired and ready for the season ahead! We are also so happy to be back and eating homemade farm fresh food again!

The Celtic Festival, “Imbolc” was on February 2nd which is the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Which means the days are getting longer and a new growing season is upon us!  It feels more and more real with every passing day. Now we just have to be patient and wait for the sun to return!

Classic chicory move growing through the row cover and lots of beautiful seedlings in the propagation house!

Update! Our Spring, Summer & Fall CSA is 3/4 of the way full and we’d love to have you back for the 2019 CSA season. Join us for the freshest and most delicious veggies you can buy.  Please pick us, Jess and Brian, to be your farmers this upcoming season.  Check out our website workinghandsfarm.com/csa for all the details!

3 Steps to Signing Up:

Read all about the 2019 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season (the Who, What, Where, Why, When & How Much)

Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

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

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

Going on a farm walk with Gloucester, onion seedlings and some winter arugula growing in the high tunnel…

Can you believe we’re halfway through the Winter CSA season?  Just 7 more pick ups to go after this week!  Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-12 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 8 weeks we have had 15-17 items in each weekly share.  We have also been impressed with the variety of veggies we have harvested through the winter months – most weeks we had more fresh picked produce than storage veggies which is amazing (even in the coldest and darkest of winter days)!   So far we’ve harvested 270lbs of produce per weekly share (21,000lbs+ total)!  And are looking forward to the remaining 7 weeks of winter goodies!

So… it took us 8 years to get off the farm and take a vacation (or go anywhere for more than a few hours) but we finally did it!  We spent the first week of February exploring Kaua’i and it was magnificent (you can check out a few pictures here). We hiked, we sailed, we swam and we surfed. And most days the hardest decision to make was which direction to walk down the beach. We are feeling rejuvenated and are ready to get back to farming and back to work! A big thank you to our amazing friend Becca for taking care of the farm while we were gone. It is not an easy feat and she did a spectacular job!

A funny and sweet thing happened while we were away. Back in 2012, one of our CSA families left a big impression on us the first season Brian and I farmed together and they ended up moving the following season. To our surprise our paths crossed again unexpectedly in Kauai and we joked that our CSA members go along way to find delicious produce. We love feeding our CSA members the best possible vegetables and are feeling so pumped for the season ahead!

Don’t be dull, be dazzling!  Afternoon light on the prop house and canoeing around the annual pond..

One of our personal mantras going into 2019 is following through.  For years we’ve been saying we need to leave the farm, to take a day off during the week and start saying ‘yes’ to more things that aren’t solely farm related!  In the last year, we’ve definitely been better about putting limits on our workdays, carving out more time for friends and family, and are still working on the day off..  Deciding to add two floating vacation weeks to the Winter CSA was part of that goal.   The plans might have been last minute (!!) but we followed through on actually taking the vacation weeks.  We truly feel refreshed and rejuvenated and it felt good to exercise those muscles (the R & R ones).  We made the most of our days and took advantage of the fact that we were still on Pacific Time.  We were up before the sun, taking in hikes and exploring so many different beaches and flora and fauna (I think we were averaging 5-8 miles per day).  We both loved it.  We admired the coastline and even thought it reminded us of Oregon.. except that you could swim comfortably 😉  We also remembered how well we travel together.  As Brian likes to reminisce/joke.. when we first met our first date was a work trip to Uganda for 3 months and there was an ease about the two of us working together even so far away from home.  It was wonderful to tap back into that and just be Brian and Jess.  We’ve been doing that with much more frequency this year and it feels great to follow through and head towards a goal of better balance.

It helped that we hardly had to think about the farm at all.  Thanks to Becca, our amazing farm-sitter (and Rob too) the farm stayed afloat! The systems and protocol we have (and are constantly) implementing really pay off when the farmers are away!   While we were away there was one noticeable difference upon our arrival, our original high tunnel poly ripped during one of the big windstorms and took sail. It’s been on there for 5+ years (usually poly only lasts for 3 seasons) so we got great use out of it and were planning on replacing it this season anyway… ol’ mother nature gave us a nudge and even helped to take some of it down. We hope to reskin the tunnel this week and get it planted with late spring crops for the Winter CSA. In our second high tunnel we seeded the first carrots of 2019 last month as well as another round of arugula.   They started coming up while we were away (hurrah!) and if all goes well, the carrots should be ready for the first Spring/Summer CSA pick up in May. We have plans of weeding two of our 3 high tunnels over the next week that currently house some spring greens for Winter CSA – lettuce, spinach, arugula, radish, bok choy, parsley, cilantro etc.

It’s so nice to see so much green this time of the year… chicories and beet seedlings forming their first true leaves..

We spent a few days last week at an PNW Organic Farmers Conference. Last year I was able to attend and this year felt special because Brian was able to attend too!   It was really great hearing the different perspectives from other farmers on a variety of subjects and even got to go on a few hikes in the woods with fellow farmer friends.   The community we are building through the farm via our awesome CSA members, fellow farmers, small business owners, members of the community etc is truly impactful and we look forward to further deepening those connections in the days, months, years ahead. The root of the root, the salt of the earth…

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

We have two new farm kitties – Buddy & Oliver, harvesting chicory mix and baby lettuces!

Speaking of rivers and streams… also upon our return from the conference (and after several inches of rain in just a few days) we were greeted by our annual flood (after a few weeks of rain and rising ground water) where our “said unnamed creek” meets the Tualatin River.   We were wondering if it’d happen at all this winter as we usually we would have had several floods but this is the first time all winter that this low area has flooded! I love knowing this piece of land the way that we do.   The flood is already receding but Brian and I enjoyed a nice canoe ride around the annual pond and down the tualatin. I like making these notes because each season and year is unique (and it helps me remember things more clearly) especially when I go back and read what the previous season was like at this time.

From the field updates! Brian and I went on a crop walk over the weekend and spotted the first Purple Sprouting Broccoli heads. For those of you who ask, ‘what is purple sprouting broccoli?’ They are a cousin of regular broccoli and look a bit like broccolini. They are a delicious treat only grown in the late winter months here in the maritime NW.   It’s traditionally grown in the UK.  In colder winters they have been hardy down to 10*. We love and appreciate PSB because they start to produce at the time of the season when everything else is tired, starting to go to seed etc. Most varieties don’t start producing until 180-220 days after transplant (that’s 6 months or more!! 7+ months if you included their time in the greenhouse as seedlings!) which is incredible. They are a delicious mainstay of the late winter/early spring food supply and for that we are ever grateful. The first buds are just coming on so they are pretty small this week but we are hoping they will make an appearance in the Winter Shares in the next week or two! The plants themselves look great with a ton of baby sideshoots developing for later picking! We also spotted the first Purple Cape Cauliflower with their tiny little buds in the center and a new variety of kalettes that are coming on! We love having fresh harvested produce in the shares especially as we near that funny transition time of Winter and Spring.


Baby leaf spinach, the view of the high tunnel that lost it’s poly over break and onion seed tops!

That’s all from the farm!  We hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend and are enjoying the Winter bounty.  Fingers crossed it’ll be an early Spring! We’re really looking forward to the season ahead and sharing the bounty with all of you!  Keep spreading the good word about the CSA!

With Kind Regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

A Bluebird Year

Posted on 18 Jan 2019

Growing up Brian’s mom called this the bluebird of happiness… Here’s wishing everyone a bluebird year!  

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope you all had a healthy, happy holiday and New Year!   2019 is off to a great start and we want to thank you, our amazing CSA members! January 1st, 2019 was the best opening CSA day we’ve had in the last 10 years! We had more return members sign up on the 1st (and the days following) than we could have ever expected. Your early investment makes a huge difference in our ability to make decisions on the farm. And those decisions ultimately allow us to provide a better experience and product to you, our members.  Here we grow 2019!

Sign up for the 2019 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just 18 days into January and we are more than halfway there to being full for the 2019 season.  A big thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old!  Keep spreading the good word because it makes all the difference.   As a farm-ily member once said, “keep your friends close and your farmers closer.”

Shortcut to the CSA Sign Up Form!

Winter light on the farm and two porch buds – Gloucester and Ahab…

January on the Farm. It’s a funny in between time on the farm this time of year. Where we’re still subject to winter weather and whatever ol’ mother nature brings our way (with rain, temps falling below freezing etc) but we’re also creeping closer to Spring with every passing day. We’re not planting or seeding or weeding much this time of the year but we are crop planning, preparing, ordering seeds and getting our work spaces and tools in order for a whole new farming season. We’ve been making some major headway on crop planning and seed orders in the WHF office (first we had to dust off all the cobwebs from our 2018 season…farmers don’t see much ‘office’ time during the growing season).   We plan on taking several soil tests in the next few weeks to see where our soil fertility is at. We’ve had a blast figuring out soil interpretation over the past 9 seasons and even help out a few of our farmer friends with their soil interpretations.  We saw a lot of improvements in our soil last year from all our inputs we’ve put in (organic fertilizer and organic compost etc) and are excited (in the best, most nerdy way possible) to check out how we did this past year!

We’ve been crossing off big projects on our list left and right! Last month we started our mission to lean-up the farm by organizing all the things on the farm so that everything that we need and has value has a place and anyone could find it if they needed to (think: LEAN Manufacturing).   We started in our propagation house (where are the little seedling starts live) and moved on to our tool shed.  After identifying the things we need and value, we started identifying things that are no longer needed or don’t add value. I think I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that Rob discovered just how many little things (literally) there are in farming while cleaning out the tool shed… all the tools, and gadgets, equipment and pieces and parts…. we’re like our very own hardware store.  There’s so much to organize and manage!  Over the two week holiday harvest break Brian got his organization on in the red barn and made a tool bench, employee area, a shelf with labeled bins, hung up our white boards (finally!) as well as leaning out the storage loft. Last weekend, farmer B took on the big undertaking of start the big wood barn clean out. Its primary use the last few years was with livestock so there was deep bedding and heavy cattle panels to remove, fencing, old tools and odds and ends mixed with the veggie equipment we use now etc. There were a few items that made it into the no longer needed items and will hang out in a designated spot for a little bit and make the final decision to sell, give away etc.

Sunrise in January, the ‘winter rose’ castelfranco chicory is a workhouse and keeps us eating salads all winter long, glou in his favorite nap spot..

Brian and Rob continued to push this big wood barn project through this past week – Brian said that it was really hard because the harder they looked the more little things they found. The only way out is through!  But everything looks good and is coming along! Having more organized rediscovered covered space is amazing.   We look forward to seeing how it transforms over the next year!

Meanwhile, I’ve been making big progress on the seed order (almost finished!), crop planning and office stuff as well as harvesting and setting up for the winter CSA!  Brian and Rob also took down the tomato trellises from last season – we prefer to wait so that the ground isn’t so dry and the plants have completely died down.  They also dug out several stubborn blackberries along the northern edge of one of our high tunnels in preparation to re-skin it (aka put a new poly piece on top!).  The original one is still on there and it’s held up pretty darn well for 6 years (they normally only last 3 or so seasons).  Feels good to continue to check things off the list.

It’s not all work though!  We’ve been taking advantage of the shorter daylight hours to catch up with friends, family and fellow farmers. The whole work – life balance can be tough on the farm since it’s all intertwined especially in peak season (summer!) but our priorities are shifting and becoming more balanced now that the farm can potentially/is starting to operate beyond just Brian and I. Systems and organization help with all of this.  In early February Brian and I are heading to an Organic Farmer Conference for a few days which is cool because last year Brian stayed back to do Winter CSA! . I’m really looking forward to hearing different perspectives from other farmers and to go on a few hikes in the woods with fellow farmer friends. It will be a nice refresher as we gear up to Spring into Action!

Ringing in the New Year with a good ol’ fashioned broken pallet fire, the first harvest of 2019 and the kale is already sending off rapini…

We’ve also passed the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice) and are slowly seeing the days increase, minute by minute, day by day. We’ve had a few colder nights over the past few weeks (coldest night got down around 27) but we’ve been maintaining a similar weather pattern of 45-50 degree days and 30-38 degree nights. And after 2017’s crazy winter weather events we’ll take it!   Hard to believe we had a foot of snow on the ground that year! It’s amazing how different the years can be.

We thank all our Winter CSA members for your support and dedication to winter eating (even through the dark and frozen days of winter).

The first Winter CSA shares of 2019 and a frosty January sunrise…

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

On a personal note, Brian and I have been really touched by the sweet little notes, emails and posts on the group page about what signing up for the CSA means to them.  One of our members that is going into their 7th year with WHF wrote this on our Facebook page last year, “It’s become a New Year’s tradition at my house that the first purchase of the year is our CSA membership, which is a three-season investment in the health of our household, our community, and our bank account. We have improved our diets and our health immeasurably because our farmers provide the most nutritious, freshest, tastiest produce out there at a tiny fraction of what we would have to spend to buy it (way less fresh!) at retail. We realized our first season in that we could not afford *not* to be members of WHF CSA–it’s the best thing we buy every year, hands down! Happy New Year, and thank you both, Farmers Jess and Brian!”

Winter morning light after a freeze, seed cat-a-log coma in the office and visiting our friends new home on their farm!  

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

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

Last week’s CSA share room is looking well stocked in January!  

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

3 Steps to Signing Up:

Read all about the 2019 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season (the Who, What, Where, Why, When & How Much)

Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

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

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

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

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

Went for a wonderful hike in Welches with new farmer friends last weekend!  

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

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

p.s.  Mary Oliver… Most of you know that Brian and I love poetry and my heart sank with the news yesterday morning that the ever brilliant and shining poet Mary Oliver has left this World.   She will always be one of our favorites.  Her words and images will live on forever. She is and always will be an inspiration. Thank you, Mary, for all your beautiful gifts 💔❤️✨ She did a great interview with Krista Tippett on On Being 4 years ago.  Check it out here: https://onbeing.org/programs/mary-oliver-listening-to-the-world/

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

 

Persephone Period

Posted on 22 Dec 2018

“Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.” 
― Mary Oliver

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy Winter Solstice & Happy Holidays to you all! We hope the beginning of December has treated you all well and that you all enjoyed making many delicious homemade meals in the warmth of your kitchen.

So far, the late fall and early winter weather has been fairly mild and favorable for growing winter veggies!  NOAA has been a predicting an “el nino” winter for us through next March as the sea surface temperatures continue to warm bringing warmer drier conditions for the PNW. The recent rains have improved our drought conditions though we still remain in a “severe drought” . On average our nights have been somewhere in the high 30’s/low 40’s with only a few nights in the mid-low 20’s in early December. We’ve also had a few wind storms roll through and our creek/bottom area flooded out just a little but all of this is to be expected (some years it’s been way crazier… freezing rain, snow, the Tualatin river flooding etc). It’s our 4th season growing through the winter months and it definitely helps to have all that experience under our belts as we gain confidence and are better suited to make decisions when we get an unexpected storm, cold front, flood etc.

Working outdoors in the winter has its perks 🧡💜💚💛 And the sweetest, crunchiest carrots are headed to the first week of Winter CSA! 🥕

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

Thank you for supporting our farm through all the seasons! We’re so thankful for the season’s bounty and for our member’s support year after year. The one thing that rings true when it comes to our produce and our farm is the assurance of knowing how and where it was grown and who grew and harvested it.  There’s accountability and trust and community. Everything we sell is grown here at Working Hands Farm.  From the field to the barn it’s only been a matter of hours before our customers pick it up.  We see a lot of different companies produce boxes popping up in our social media feed and although they do have their merits (people eating and having access to produce is important!) they don’t have what we do..  Truly knowing your farmer and knowing what farm it comes from, how it was produced, how it was harvested fresh and handled and stored and who is harvesting it. And the fact that it’s only gone a few thousand feet or less from farm to consumer! Thank you for supporting your local farm and economy! We look forward to growing for you all in 2019 and in the years ahead!

Our early Turban garlic varieties are looking good out there. Thanks @filareegarlicfarm for the awesome seed! ✨🌱

We grow better each and every year with the support, encouragement and inspiration that our CSA members bring.  It’s a mutual admiration society around here.

This time of the year that quote, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes” rings true. It’s a different kind of farming in the winter – in the summer we depend on the cooler hours of the day and in the winter we harvest and gather in the waning days with many cozy layers that keep us protected and dry.

We’ve managed to bulk harvest a lot of winter veggies and have a few more crops we plan to get in over the next few weeks (i.e. those ridiculously sweet carrots that we’ve been calling ‘candy carrots’, beets, cabbage etc). Since it’s been such a mild late fall and winter we’ve continued to harvest a lot of crops for the Winter CSA that don’t do well in the super cold (under 25*) i.e. fully mature romanesco, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel, celery which all turn into slime- from freezing and thawing- and withering away.  So that’s been pretty fun to have those crops to include in the CSA shares!  Some of the crops we grow actually taste better when they go through a freeze (turnips, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, etc) because of all the sugar they create in order to protect themselves from freezing.  To find a balance and to protect some of the more tender crops listed above, before any cold and bitter weather hits we are keeping busy, covering crops, harvesting in bulk for storage and working extra hard to ensure that our winter CSA members have the best possible CSA experience.

We’re crossing things off the winter project list with the help of our employee Rob!  

We’ve also made some major headway on a few projects so far this month!  Rob, our part time employee is also here through the winter months for a few days a week helping out with projects and bulk harvests! While I chiseled away at the CSA Brian and Rob were able to get a few key projects done in the last few weeks: the first – cleaning out and laying weed barrier mat down in our propagation greenhouse. This is really important to help maintain and keep a sterile environment as we start all our seedlings here! Over the years we’ve had some blackberries, morning glory, thistle etc move its way in so they weeded it all and laid down the mat. It looks great in there and we can’t wait to get our first seeds of the season started in January!

Another week they took down debris leftover in a few of our high tunnels and cleared them out for winter transplants (the first crops of late winter 2019 will be coming out of here). Brian will be spreading compost in there in the coming days and tilling/prepping some seed beds for planting. They also spent HOURS covering some of our more tender crops with row cover topped with sandbags (50ft x 200ft.. you can imagine the size!) to protect the crops from the cold when we had a few nights in the 20’s. And just this past week Rob made some huge headway on organizing our tool shed. Farmer Brian helped him finish it up and get everything tucked away for the start of the new season. A little pre-Spring cleaning cleaning. Feels so good to have things reorganized!

We’ve been listening to a few of Jean Martin Fortier’s (the market gardener) workshops, ideas, plans, etc and have been re-inspired to take a fine tooth comb to our systems and start to organize things on the farm so that everything has a place and anyone could find it if they needed to (think: LEAN Manufacturing). While cleaning out the tool shed I think Rob discovered just how many little things (literally) there are in farming… all the tools, and gadgets, equipment and pieces and parts…. we’re like our very own hardware store.  There’s so much to organize and manage! We’re really looking forward to applying this concept more and more over the next year to really get things in ship shape as we welcome more aspiring young farmers to work on our crew and set it up for a successful long haul! We feel really lucky to be farmers and have a successful small farm and now we are looking forward to being a farm where others can have success and careers too!

We also invested in this little program called TEND which is organic farm management software. We’re just starting to dive in now and we’re pretty excited! Most of our information is in excel spreadsheets but this takes it to a whole new level especially for diversified farms! “Tend is an all-in-one platform that allows farmers to plan their crops, keep records, manage daily operations and track sales available on any device connected to the web.”

Winter CSA has been bountiful and delicious!  We look forward to seeing what’s ahead in the coming months!

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year! On the solstice it will be close to 8 hours & 42min (compared to the Summer Solstice with 15 hours & 41 min of daylight). It is during this darkest time of the year (when you have 10hours of daylight or less) — referred to by Eliot Coleman as the “Persephone period” — that plant growth essentially stops… we’re already getting excited for the longer days ahead!

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

‘Rosalba’ Radicchio stealing the show out in the field and Gloucester soaking up the sun after the storm.

Aside from growing winter veggies, we’re just plugging along on the winter projects… cleaning up around the farm, planting for late winter/early spring, harvesting, organizing, building projects, packing and storing,  planning, making financial projections for next season etc.  We’re still chippin’ away at the ol’ to-do list but we’re also taking time to rest and recuperate (thanks to the growing darkness that winter brings).  As we near the holidays and the new year we’ll be spending the longer evenings inside, brainstorming and dreaming about the future and pulling out all of our inspiring seed catalogs to begin our adventure for the 2019 season!

Mark your calendars for January 1st CSA Sign Ups! January marks the beginning of our season as we open up registration for the main season CSA, order our seeds, fill the propagation greenhouse with soil amendments, and begin this exciting process all over again! We have some exciting plans and ideas to make 2019 our greatest growing season yet – so stay tuned!

Happy Holidays!  We’ll see you all in the New Year!

With regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Giving Thanks (A Season of Bounty)

Posted on 21 Nov 2018

Mark your Calendars!  Our 2019 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st.  

Pictured above are all 28 shares from the 2018 growing season!

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy Thanksgiving!  We give thanks to all of your for your support this year!  We can hardly believe it has been 28 weeks since the start of 2018 harvest season!  It’s amazing how quickly the Fall has passed by ..  “In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil.”–Rose Kingsley

There is so much to look forward to as we move through November.  We’re continuing on our quest of bringing in storage crops for our winter CSA as the days are growing shorter. How wonderful have those sunny and drier days been? So rejuvenating to be outside! Instead of chasing the sun during the peak of summer (to avoid the excess heat) we now make the most of the hours that we have from sun up to sun down. -With the change of the season it automatically carves about 4 hours off of our typical work day which is a much welcomed change of pace.  We feel blessed to be able to enjoy both times of the year.

The setting sun on the garlic patch, fall cauliflower & the last flower out of the patch..

This time of the year, our hearts and minds are gearing up for the 2019 season (there’s just so much to look forward to!) and now that November is here we are feeling ready to nest and write and look over notes and better prepare for the next growing season.   We spend a good part of each day talking about how we can move the business forward in a balanced direction, what kind of tools or infrastructure should we invest in as we pay closer attention to our bodies and work smarter. We always feel successful if we can get to Fall and still have energy to give to ourselves and the farm – which we’ve been able to do the last few seasons – which means things are always getting (growing) better!

This time of year is also a time for rejuvenation and inspiration in the kitchen and I’ve been cooking up a storm!  As you guys know we make it a priority to cook 3 meals a day even during the busy season. Eating well has a lot to do with how productive we’re able to be on the farm and we honestly don’t think we could keep up with everything if we didn’t eat well. Plus, it’s fun to create fresh homemade goodies and it’s delicious to boot. For inspiration, I often find myself online on the WHF Members Page to try out a few recipe suggestions there that were bookmarked in my mind.  A lot of the new recipes we try become house favorites and it’s been a very valuable resource for us farmers as well!

Bulk carrot harvest happening for winter CSA shares!  

2018 was one for the books!  And we think you’ll be amazed at our total CSA numbers this year… (keep reading for the total lbs produced as well as CSA cost breakdown below..)

We are proud to say that this season was our best season to date and that we grow better and work smarter each and every year.  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.  Thanks for believing in your farmers every step of the way and for being a constant reminder of why we do what we do each morning when we rise.  We look forward to serving this community for years to come.  We think y’all are the bees-knees.

We’re finishing up our 9th season as Working Hands Farm which is crazy to think about.

In 9 years we’ve harvested 24,510 CSA shares and over 650,000lbs of produce. 

This Spring/Summer/Fall alone we’ve harvested 4,000 individual shares from May through November!


Frost on the overwintering cabbages, the end of sunflower season and farmer jess checking in on the brassica field..

We’ve been really thrilled with the CSA shares this season especially in our driest and hottest season to date (most of the state of Oregon is still in “extreme drought”)   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 17 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 all had an inspiring journey during our 28-week CSA season.  Whether it be your first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth season at WHF we hope many meals were shared and enjoyed in the warmth of your kitchen, that you enjoyed expanding your veggie horizons with new varieties, flavors and methods of preparation, found inspiration in becoming a more confident cook and feel really good about where you’re at in your own personal food journey.  We hope you will be thinking of the Spring and Summer goodies fondly come the middle of winter… we’ll all be dreaming of tomatoes and freshly picked goodies come the middle of January <sigh>.

Thank you for being part of this farm, and the WHF farm-ily!

Bushels of broccoli, a sleepy pup and a kitty on the hunt..

 

Over the course of our 28-week Spring/Summer/Fall Season your farmers grew and harvested…

117,000 lbs of produce!

Over the course of our 28-week 2017 CSA season your farmers have harvested and distributed 117,000lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members.

That’s 833lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.48/lb for all their fresh, local, organic produce this season.

(Some high fives- all around -are definitely in order!)

All while supporting the ecosystem of this farm, two full time farmers by ensuring a livable wage (+ two part time employees), and the best possible produce you can find…Amazing! FYI: the total lbs of produce per weekly share in 2014 was 675lbs @ $1.74 per lb, in 2015 it was 771lbs @ $1.52 per lb, in 2016 it was 778lbs @ $1.49 and in 2017 it was 816lbs @ $1.48.

From Spring to Fall, the shares averaged 28lbs (with lighter shares in the Spring and heavier shares in the late summer and Fall) and included 12-20 items (on average throughout the season it was 16 items) with a great variety of crops and delicious tasting veggies that have inspired many fantastic home cooked meals.

Freshly cultivated winter lettuce using our Kult Kress Argus during the recent sunny dry stretch..

We love our little corner of the World, our community that surrounds us, our friends, family and farm-ily members that all believe in us and the food we work hard to provide.  We’ve been enjoying the variety (over 70+ different kinds of vegetables and even more varieties) and bounty these 28 weeks.  We feel blessed as farmers in the Pacific NW to be able to grow such a beautiful array of vegetables for our community.  From berries to brassicas to winter squash and tomatoes we can grow just about anything here! Every season we try out a few dozen or so new veggies and varietals.  Making our seed list in January is one of our favorite things to do in the winter… checking our notes and remembering which varieties grew the best, tasted the best etc.  In the coming months we look forward to sitting down and beginning that process all over again.

Some interesting highlights from this year’s Spring/Summer/Fall harvest (we’ve harvested..):

 Carrots for 21 shares,

 Broccoli for 21 shares, 

Tomatoes for 14 shares, 

Sweet Corn for 10 shares, 

Bulb Onions for 25 shares,

Bunching Onions for 6 shares,

Zucchini/Squash/Cukes for 18 shares, 

Garlic for 26 shares, 

Strawberries + Plums for 8 shares,

Melons for 9 shares (with 5 double melon weeks!),

Mixed Peppers for 13 shares,

Cauliflower for 11 shares,

Winter squash for 10 shares, 

Beets for 10 shares, 

Mixed Bunch Greens for 21 shares, 

Lettuceheads for 12 shares, 

Bagged Greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula etc) for 11 shares 

Spinach for 7 shares,

Cabbage for 8 shares,

Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes for 15 shares (twice as many as last season!)

Eggplant for 12 shares, 

Radish, Turnips for 8 shares,

Herbs (parsley, basil, sage, thyme, oregano etc) for 18 shares,

Tomatillos, Fennel & Kohlrabi, Peas, Pac Choi  for 5 shares and on and on and on!

There was an average of 16 items per share over the course of the season!

Garlic planting in mid-late October… 6,000 row ft in total and 8,500 future garlic bulbs!

All throughout the season, the WHF CSA member’s page has been active and buzzing with many delicious recipes, helpful hints and encouragement.   Thank you to all our members for your continued participation and excellent efforts! There is also a catalogue of recipes from 5 seasons of posting (so cool)!  Some of my favorite advice that one of our member’s gave a few seasons back (in their 6th season now) to a 1st year member is “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!” (for the rest of her sage advice check out the week 2 newsletterWe hope all of our members have enjoyed this free benefit of membership not to mention the many delicious meals that have been created and savored in all 185+ households that our CSA program grows for.

For us, the Members Page is a really important component to our CSA. Hearing how everyone is utilizing all the fresh produce is an important part as it completes the circle. It acts as a window – in seeing how the fruits of our labour are being prepared. In the same way that our social media posts and newsletters provide a window into how your food is grown and harvested.   It’s part of the conversation that farmers love to be a part of but often times don’t get to experience. In our own insecurity we wonder, “Is our produce being eaten? Are folks cooking more often? What are they making with the produce we have grown for them?”

On the Facebook Members Page the conversation and experience continues well after the produce leaves the farm and the visual component really hits it home for us. The interaction and shared experience validates all the long hours and hard work we do. It shows that its worthwhile and the goals of the farm are being met because the food is being utilized and thoroughly enjoyed. This part of the experience is important to us… because beyond the delicious produce our CSA aims to improve our CSA members quality of life! We want to play a part in ensuring that they can live long, healthy lives and be productive members of society.  This interaction helps us to see that our goals are making a difference in our community. And it is you our members who are making the upfront investment for the betterment of us all! Pretty amazing stuff!

Farmer B and Glou, harvesting ‘Fenice’ castelfranco heads and freshly cultivated little gems…

We must have one of the few jobs in the world where folks come to us and tell us how grateful they are and how important our role is in this community and for that we are so grateful. That kind of support from our members gives us the fuel your farmers need to get the job done. It’s amazing how energized we feel even at the tail end of the season because we are growing better and have some seriously cream of the crop CSA members. Every year that passes we feel more connected to community and deeply rooted in our vision. It all feels like it is coming together and we couldn’t be more proud or encouraged of what our community and our farm are accomplishing.

A BIG thank you! 

Thank you all for being a part of our story, for supporting your local farm (and farmers), for buying direct, for believing in the small farm and for choosing to feed your household with the best possible farm fresh produce that you can both know and trust.


We are just so proud of our members and are constantly inspired by all that you accomplish from season to season!  Your commitment to eating well and nourishing yourselves and loved ones takes time, thoughtfulness, motivation, energy and inspiration.  We are only as successful as the community that surrounds us, so, thank you for all your inspiration, dedication and commitment in being a part of our CSA.  We look forward to cultivating these relationships into the future by growing the best possible products for you, your family and friends.  Know your farmer, know your food.

We look forward to sign-ups in January and the start of the 2019 season!

Planting crops in the high tunnel, freshly cultivated crops and farmer jess on her crop check..

Mark your calendars: our 2019 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st.  Spread the good word!  Word of mouth is the best way to help us grow and sustain our small farm. Please share our website (workinghandsfarm.com), forward this email and encourage interested friends, family, neighbors & community etc… in signing up for their CSA share next season!  Many thanks for your help from all of us at Working Hands.

Happy Holidays to you all!   Our 18-week Winter CSA begins after the Thanksgiving Holiday so to our winter veggie eaters this is not the end!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts


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!  👨‍🌾👩‍🌾✨🌱

—=

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!  

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