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!  

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.

–-

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)!

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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

 

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