Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Update 🎉🌽🍓🍉

Posted on 22 Mar 2020

Dear CSA Members,

We are writing you to let you know that the upcoming Spring, Summer, Fall CSA is going forward as planned!  🎉🌽🍓🍉   Important: We’ve had an overwhelming amount of interest in the CSA over the past week and are getting close to capacity/being sold out. All of our shares are available at a first come first served basis.  We recommend getting deposits in as soon as possible.  We will not add folks to our CSA list until they have both paid the deposit and signed up for the CSA.

Spring, Summer, Fall CSA is just a few months away!  With an estimated start date of mid-May and we are busily planting, seeding and prepping ground to make it happen!  In this difficult time take comfort in knowing we will have safe, nutritious food that is accessed in a zero contact environment for our members!

We believe that in this time the local food system is deeply important.  Trusting your food source is more valuable than ever.

Take comfort in knowing that we are the only ones who ever harvest and pack your fruits and veggies and we only provide our members with produce that comes from our farm.  This is a closed loop system.

Important: Come Mid-May if there is still a state of emergency due to Coronavirus we can switch from a Market Style CSA to a Pre-packed “to go” style CSA for as long as needed (as we’ve done with our current Winter CSA).  Making sure that each share is as bountiful as ever.  If you’re interested in learning more about what we’re doing to provide a zero contact solution to the CSA click here.

Thank you for your support!  We are here to ensure that the community has access to nutritious, local food during the good times and the bad and are grateful to you for supporting us!  We are so excited to grow great food this season and we have everything we need to do so because of your support and early investment in the CSA.  This is what it’s all about!

Sincerely,

Your Farmers

Brian & Jess

A Note From Your Farmers

Posted on 19 Mar 2020

Hey CSA Members,

Jess and I are writing to address the concerns with Coronavirus (COVID-19).  The state of Oregon has issued a state of emergency therefore we will be changing the protocol for the remaining Winter CSA pick ups by pre-packing everyone’s share (see more below).

We believe that times like now that the local food system is deeply important.  Trusting your food source is more valuable than ever.  Take comfort in that Jess, Rob and I are the only ones who ever harvest and pack your veggies and we only provide our members with produce that comes from our farm.  This is a closed loop system.

Here is a short summary of the new things we are implementing to do our part to slow the spread of this virus as well as our standard pack shed food safety protocols:

IMPORTANT: We will be taking extra precautions with the Winter CSA including:

  •    Pre-packing shares in sanitized bins that are to be transferred into the CSA member’s own bags. (DO NOT TAKE OUR BINS HOME WITH YOU) This will help to ensure we keep contact with the produce to a minimum.
  •    On average we have 1 – 2 members in the CSA room at anytime easily maintaining the 6 ft distance and spending 30 seconds or less inside.
  •    Leaving the CSA doors wide open in order to reduce contact with surfaces by members
  •    Leaving the CSA windows open to increase air flow
  •    Moving the CSA check-in outside
  •    Disinfecting the CSA room with increased frequency

Things we are already doing as part of our Food Safety Protocol:

  •    Washing and sanitizing all surfaces that come in contact with produce
  •    Washing our hands before and after handling produce
  •    Wearing nitrile gloves for harvest and packing of produce
  •    Streamlined wash pack system using a stainless steel Rinse Washer Machine
  •    Storing all produce in bins that have been machine cleaned and sanitized
  •    Keeping a strict linear flow through our produce handling area (unwashed produce in >>>> clean produce out)
  •    Washing all produce bins in a machine using an OMRI certified organic sanitizer

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We are here to support our community and we will work tirelessly to continue providing you with the safest and freshest organic produce throughout this season and into the future.  Thank you for believing in us and placing your trust in us.

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

The Summer CSA Bounty is Right Around the Corner! 🎉🌽🍓🍉

Posted on 26 Jan 2020

Hi CSA-ers!

It’s time to sign up for your 2020 Spring, Summer and Fall CSA share!    And if you’ve signed up already help us share the good word about WHF.  Brian and I are dreaming of the summer bounty!  Boy, do you remember how good those tomatoes were last year?  So good!

By signing up now you not only secure your spot in the CSA, you help us to cover the anticipated costs of the growing season.  This includes organic seed, fertilizer, compost, irrigation supplies, etc…. We look forward to working our butts off to bring you the freshest produce money can buy and we can’t wait share the bounty with you.  So don’t delay, sign up today!    
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Top 5 Reasons to Sign Up for a WHF CSA share! 
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1.     Eat Healthier & Eat food you can trust! From the farmers you can trust. Get ready for massive portions of veggies with each meal and sleep tight knowing everything included in the CSA is harvested & grown on our farm with care and love.
2.     Eat Fresh!   Fresh food tastes better!   Brian and I harvest and wash your share just hours before you bring it home.  You can’t buy produce this fresh anywhere!
3.     Get to know your farmers (Jess and Brian) and see the farm where your food comes from!
4.     Help to protect our environment through ethical ecological stewardship of the land.  All our farming practices help promote a natural and diverse biology that provides a refuge to native species, wildlife and insects like honey bees!
5.     Invest in a local business.  It not only saves you money but helps strengthen your community!
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Click here to Sign up for your WHF CSA share!
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Thank you for being an essential part of this community and for supporting Brian & I and our small farm.   We are excited for another year to begin and look forward to sharing the bounty with you!

Our best to you and yours,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian


p.s. Spread the word & Forward this email!  Word of mouth is the best way to help us grow and sustain our small farm. If you know folks that might be interested please encourage friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors, etc… to check us out and sign up for their WHF CSA share!  Many thanks for your help from all of us at Working Hands.

That’s a Wrap (Spring, Summer & Fall CSA 2019)!

Posted on 3 Dec 2019

 

Mark your Calendars!  Our 2020 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st.  

Pictured above are all 28 shares from the 2019 growing season!

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy Thanksgiving!  We hope you all had a wonderful holiday and we give thanks to all of your for your support this year! Did you guys peep your farmers on Instagram’s instagram on Thanksgiving? Kinda crazy!  Check it out here!  We can hardly believe that it’s been 28 weeks since the start of 2019 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 into December.  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 (albeit a little bit chilly at night)? 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.

Your farmers grinning after a big successful season.. (check out the Friendsgiving post about the farm on Instagram’s Instagram)

This time of the year, our hearts and minds are gearing up for the 2020 season (there’s just so much to look forward to!) and now that December is here we are feeling ready to nest and write and look over notes and better prepare for the next growing season.  Before the holiday break we sat down as a crew and completed the first few steps of “Hippo Camp” from @habitfarming (which is run by Farmer Taylor at Footprint Farm/VT)“Hippocampus. It’s the part of your brain that is associated with space and memory. It’s also how I think about business planning. My goal with our annual business plan (we call it Hippo Camp) is to do all the thinking upfront, then rely on that plan to help alleviate decision making fatigue in the heat of the farming season.” – Farmer Taylor

It was a great way to close out the end of one season before we jump into Winter CSA and everything is relatively fresh on our minds! Listing all of our Achievements/Disappointments (step 1) we were surprised by just how many Achievements there were. We also discovered that all of our disappointments fell into the research and systems bucket just as she said would be true to non-beginning farmers (for beginners most issues will fall more into the infrastructure and equipment). We are now taking all that information and running it through the Stop Doing/Keep doing/Start Doing (step 2). In the past we have tackled the season’s disappointments one issue at a time and quite often they aren’t all written out together in a list. So we’re really looking forward to having a clear list and set expectations ready to go out the gate in the New Year. Better habits all around. 

A few of the disappointments this year included some crop loss due to disease brought on by the cooler more humid/wet summer (i.e. our onions which succumbed to downy mildew which we’ve never had before!)  Which was a bummer because we always put so much effort into our onions… starting in the late winter all the way through August.  Despite that we still had overwintering onions and early walla walla’s in 13 shares so we’ll refine the system and hope for better onion weather next season!  

We’re also excited to add some more crew members for the 2020 season!  This year we refined our systems even more and we’re like a well oiled machine – which explains why we were able to harvest, plant, weed, irrigate etc for almost 200 shares/families this year with just 3 people (Brian and I full time and Farmer Rob part time).  We’re setting a few vision boards going into the 2020 season… both personal and business and are excited to enter this next chapter as farmers.  

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!

“Out standing in the field. We, each of us, spend a lot of time alone on the farm… Working, thinking, sometimes dreaming, sometimes worrying but mostly hoping. Hoping that the work we do is important. That it serves a purpose that is greater than we who tend the land. We are grateful to have our work. To work hard and nourish many. That is a calling. It must be because we have given up so much to do it. But, as is the nature of these things, the more we give the greater the return. Could it be that our favorite part of farming is watching the children of our customers grow. To someday see their children’s children grow and eat salads made of chicory. That’s the dream. Happy Thanksgiving from your farmers Jess and Brian (see post) ❤️”

2019 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 10th season as Working Hands Farm which is crazy to think about.

In 10 years we’ve harvested 30,410 CSA shares and over 820,000lbs of produce. 

This Spring/Summer/Fall alone we’ve harvested 4,500 individual shares from May through November!


One of the reasons winter vegetables continue to amaze us.. behold chicory in all its glory. ♥️✨🌹

We’ve been really thrilled with the CSA shares this season (some of our best yet) especially with the strange cool, humid weather we had… and then the early rains in September, the mild October, the cold but sunny November… it’s been a wild ride!  Even with all the seasonal changes from years past most of the crops came on at the same time in years previous.  We had way more peppers, tomatoes etc from the same amount of plantings.  We think they actually performed BETTER this year because when it gets super hot they can drop their flowers (i.e. future fruit) which means less to harvest later on.  We definitely didn’t have that this year and the fruits kept on coming.  And overall the quality was the highest it’s ever been because of the mild weather… which puts less stress on some of the leafy greens, lettuce etc.  We had so much lettuce mix this year!  And potatoes.. and carrots.. and strawberries…sweet corn… basil…melons…!  We also had more fall goodies than before too… leeks, celeriac, celery, cauliflower, spaghetti squash etc.

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!

Remnants of summer in a late fall sunset ✨🌻❄️ Almost ready to dream about next summer season 😉 but first 😴..

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

125,000 lbs of produce!

Over the course of our 28-week 2019 CSA season your farmers have harvested and distributed 125,000lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members.

That’s 843lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.49/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 (+ one part time employee), and the best possible produce you can find…

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.

Just when it feels like the day is really getting started the sun begins to sink beneath the horizon ✨🌅🐈

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 23 shares,

 Broccoli for 16 shares, 

Tomatoes for 12 shares, 

Sweet Corn for 8 shares, 

Bulb Onions for 13 shares,

Zucchini/Squash/Cukes for 13 shares, 

Garlic for 28 shares, 

Strawberries + Plums for 12 shares,

Melons for 8 shares (with 4 double melon weeks!),

Mixed Peppers for 15 shares,

Cauliflower for 6 shares,

Winter squash for 10 shares, 

Celery for 10 shares,

Beets for 11 shares, 

Shishitos for 7 weeks,

Mixed Bunch Greens for 19 shares (5 weeks double bunch), 

Lettuceheads for 17 shares, 

Bagged Greens (lettuce, spinach etc) for 18 shares 

Cabbage for 8 shares,

Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes for 15 shares (5 weeks both)

Eggplant for 9 shares, 

Radish, Turnips for 8 shares,

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

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

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

The big time frosties swept through these parts last week. So we tucked in the overwintering veggies and harvested the more tender crops! ❄️✨🌱

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 6 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 200 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!

Morning frost and some behind the scenes pics when Tyler & Arlo were here from Instagram…

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 2020 season!

Covering up crops, posing for a felfie after our last csa pick up and reviewing Hippo Camp!

Mark your calendars: our 2020 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 16-week Winter CSA begins this week (and next for Bi-Weekly) so to our winter veggie eaters this is not the end!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

Summer Prelude

Posted on 5 Jun 2019

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

Hello Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope this newsletter finds you all well!  We can hardly believe how quickly time is flying by… June is already here which means we’re a little less than 3 weeks away from the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year!)

Did you get a chance to read the email newsletter, “Bringing Home the Bounty (Tips for CSA Success!)? This is a great resource put together by your farmers! It’s full of helpful tips for members who are new to CSA and even a great refresher for those who have been CSA-ers for a while now! If anything, reading through this should encourage you and make you feel great about the choice to sign up for CSA and be a part of your local farm! Hurray for veggies!

Some pictures shared by YOU (our members).  We love seeing these little glimpses and moments…

A couple of folks asked for a link to the BioBags we use for bagged greens. Here it is!    I also found a helpful blog post about Storing Real Food and suggestions for reusable containers – Inside My Fridge – Best Reusable Containers For Storing Real Food As we noted in the Bringing Home the Bounty newsletter a big part of CSA success is taking the time to properly store your veggies in the fridge. We all know the 24 hour wilt too well when veggies aren’t stored in a sealed container etc in the fridge. All the veggies are harvested in less than 24 hours which means they are FRESH AS CAN BE! Most veggies at the grocery store are 3 weeks old by the time it hits the shelves. So, with some good storage habits you will reap all the benefits of high quality, extra fresh produce!

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.

Happy peppers being planted out in the field a few weeks ago, the best stand of snap peas we’ve ever had and Mr. G..

Thank you to everyone who has shared bits and pieces of their CSA journey that started almost a month (check out some of the pictures here). We’ve been so inspired by what members have been posting the past week in the Member’s Facebook Page.  Throughout the 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!  (Here’s a little blog post about why one of our members signed up this season)

Some moody Spring skies at golden hour… 

And now for some on the farm updates! The ol’ to do list is getting long (as it does this time of the year). The planting list is ever growing and we have been chiseling away almost everyday to get ground prepared, seeded, planted etc. We’ve made some big pushes though and have already planted two successions of sweet corn, lettuce, fennel, beets, radicchio, broccoli, cauliflower to name a few…. Last week we planted all our sweet potato – all 5,000 slips were planted by hand! Hurrah! That’s a big one to check off the list. Bring on the sweet potato!

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We also got out all our early Turban Garlic varieties over the weekend (close to 2,000 bulbs!)  They’ve been really nice to grow the last few years as they have a head start on growth before the annual garlic rust (fungal disease) hits in May. These are harvested in late May/early June whereas the later varietals are harvested mid-June.  They are currently drying down in the barn and ‘curing’.  The base of each leaf on the plant represents one layer of skin around the bulb. These layers of skin mitigate moisture loss inside the bulb and contribute to the bulb’s shelf life.  Keeping them in a well ventilated dry place with a fan helps to “cure” (dry down) the garlic and increase storability.

Over the weekend we got the first round of melons in the ground (yahoo!).  Planting is a big to do for us this time of the year… we’re already planting out some early fall and even Winter crops!   Over the course of this week, in between harvests, irrigation, weeding and prepping ground for planting etc we’ll transplant the second round of Summer Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Leeks, Brussel Sprouts, Kalettes, Celery, Celeriac, Basil and another succession of Broccoli. As I write it down, I wonder… can it be done?! We’ll just keep chipping away at the list and the plans and take on one project at a time.   There is so much to look forward to.. It won’t be long now until the bounty of summer starts rolling in (especially in the months of late July and August!)

Some stormy skies came through a few weeks ago and nearly blew some crops over.. we love nature but wind and large gusts… they are a hard one to stomach on the farm!

It’s been a bit of a variable Spring (weather wise).. I keep saying it’s the most spring-like spring we’ve had in a while!  Some weeks it’s been real hot and balmy and others we get an inch of rain in just a few days with intermittent storms and deep dark clouds!  About a month ago now a pretty epic storm rolled through the farm one evening and just about blew us over.  We had just planted out all our field tomatoes and saw that cloud (pictured above) rolling towards us with no warning!  We shut down the propagation house and felt the wind shift.  As we wondered, is there anything we need to get or hide away etc we looked out at the landscape fabric where the tomatoes were and saw that it started to pull up with the insane gusts.  We ran out there (in sneakers!) and firmly planted ourselves on the mat so it wouldn’t come up completely and roll over all the newly planted babies.  It was about 20 minutes before the wind died down but it dropped a half inch on us in that short amount of time.  Just the two of us laying and holding the mat down to keep it from barreling across the field.  It made for a pretty muddy and soggy mess but we were able to throw down a bunch of sandbags and stabilize things until we could fix it all the next morning.  Miraculously we only lost a few plants and still had some replacements.  In the moment though you wonder how you got there.. hah!  #theonlywayoutisthrough

Everything is growing fast with the warmer weather (which = warmer soils and the roots and plants grow fast!) Starting this week we’ll be trellising the tomatoes in the field which is always a sure fire sign of summertime. The first round of squash and zucchini are throwing out their first flowers which means fruit are not far behind. The Strawberries are rolling in a few weeks earlier than last year… We’re also already turning over a few empty beds here and there with some of the Spring crops that were included in the first few shares. The longer we do this the faster time seems to fly by and all we can do is hold on for the ride.

Rob and Krystle, our small but mighty farm crew, have been helping us keep the pace during our two harvest days! We’ve been truly lucking out with the weather on for harvest. It’s been cool and cloudy in the mornings which makes the harvest steady and enjoyable! That way we can get all those precious greens out of the field before the sun makes things hot! Everything gets washed and chilled quickly and straight into the cooler where it waits to be enjoyed by you.

Nice looking Spring crops, a scape artist and the strawberries came a few weeks early for us this year!

Brian and I have been hustling and bustling the other 5 days of the week maintaining the farm, weeding, mowing, watering, taking care of the propagation house and the babies, prepping soil, spreading fertilizer, trellising… you name it!   We are so thankful for our systems as we’d truly be lost with out them. And as Brian always says 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. Without eating 3 square meals a day from the farm we wouldn’t be able to do this work as well as we do. It nourishes us in a way that is incomparable to anything else and we love it. Perhaps the greatest seal of approval from your farmers is that they love to eat and cook with the food that they grow. Eating well is a priority for us and growing amazing food for our community is the fuel for that fire.

After a month of harvesting veggies our energy is high and we’re excited for the season ahead.  In the first month we’ve harvested over 15,000lbs of veggies for 150 households (520 individuals!) and we’re just getting started.  We hope you all enjoy this week’s goodies! #eatwell #bewell

To stay updated and in touch with our daily happenings on the farm follow us on Instagram & Facebook!  And to learn a little bit more about us through the years check out The Farmer to Farmer Podcast episodes here:

http://www.farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/powers

http://www.farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/workinghands

As we talked about during the Farmer to Farmer podcast a few years we continue to actively say YES to things unrelated to the farm… which isn’t always easy (especially as we enter the REALLY  busy part of the season) as a farmer but it’s necessary in order to live a full and balanced life!  Farmer Brian even took up a new hobby (climbing) this Spring which has stimulated whole other synapses totally unrelated to farming #forthewin #keepthetractorrunning  So here’s to eating well and being well!  Enjoy this week’s bounty!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

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
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