Working Hands Farm CSA 2018

Posted on 1 Jan 2018

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

Happy New Years Friends & Farm-ily!

2018 CSA Sign Ups begin TODAY for our Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We hope the winter is treating everyone well! Your farmers are feeling extra inspired and excited for Spring and another year of farming ahead!  Thank you for all of your support this last year– we couldn’t be more excited for what is in store for 2018.  By being a CSA member and investing in our farm it continues to thrive and get better and better with every passing year. As we head into our 9th season the learning curve is becoming less steep, and we are feeling more confident no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

In 2017,  over the course of our 28-week Spring, Summer & Fall CSA season Brian & I harvested and distributed 98,000lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members. 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 with a great variety of crops and delicious tasting veggies that have inspired many fantastic home cooked meals. That’s 816lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.48/lb for all their fresh, local, organic produce during the 2017 CSA season.

By investing in the CSA we are able to invest in you!  Every year we perform a cost comparison by adding up the cost of the produce in each weeks CSA share and comparing it to our local organic markets and in a typical year our members save in excess of $500+ on their produce.  Not that we think our produce can be compared to that of the super market as ours is harvested by either farmer Jess or farmer Brian and given to you the very same day – you can’t beat the freshness of our produce! Also, a store can’t give you the sense of adventure and community that a local farm can.  With that being said…

 –

Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Sign-Ups begin TODAY! 

Shortcut to the CSA Sign Up Form!

3 Steps to Signing Up:

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.  

*In order to reserve your share we require a $250 deposit that is non-refundable and is applied to the total cost of the CSA.  The deposit is due within two weeks of submitting our online CSA form.  Once your deposit of $250 is received we will send you a confirmation email welcoming you to our CSA program. We encourage those members who can, to pay more than the deposit upon signing up as this helps your farmers absorb the initial expenses that happen at the beginning of the season.  Remember that our CSA operates on a first come, first serve basis so sign up ASAP!

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! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts #endlesspossibilities

p.s. Check out this link to our favorite photos from our 2017 season: it’s amazing how much can happen in a year and there’s so much to be thankful for!  Enjoy this compilation of our best shots of the year.

Happiest of days to you all!

Your Farmers

Jess, Brian & the rest of the farm-ily…

dirty hands, clean hearts

The Gift of Sunshine (winter CSA week 1 & 2)

Posted on 8 Dec 2017


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“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 December! We hope the Thanksgiving holiday treated you all well.  It was mild (surprisingly warm) and wet end to November and we hope you all enjoyed making many delicious homemade meals in the warmth of your kitchen.

After a weeks of rain and slog and mud we’ve been treated with the gift of sun this December (and it looks like it’ll continue through the 10-day!)  We’re so excited.  The transition to shorter, darker days paired with the rainier weather can really “dampen” ones spirits so we’ll take all the sunshine and vitamin D that we can get.

Every year (and season is different).  Last year on Thanksgiving we had that huge rain and wind storm and the bottom land on the farm was flooded and continued to rain throughout the rest of Winter and early Spring.   With all that rain and snow the flooding of our bottomland was essentially there for most of the Winter.   By this time last year we had tons of rain, snow, freezing rain, colder temps and snow again!   It’s been such a different winter growing year for us than last year.  The extended fall like weather that we had this year meant extra time to enjoy more frost sensitive crops like cauliflower, romanesco and broccoli.  Usually by the time December comes around those crops have all but succumbed to colder temps.    So we are thankful for an extended season for some of those delicious veggies and glad we took some chances with a later successional planting of those crops!

Finding the right balance, fingers crossed the cauliflower does well through these cold nights! and butterhead lettuce harvest..

Welcome to the start of the Winter CSA!  There’s no better place to grow 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 this time of exciting ‘growth’! 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

Some late Winter babies in the high tunnel ready to be tucked in, more cauliflower and Brian harvesting the brussel sprouts…

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This time of the year that quote, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes” rings true.

With our long johns on, wooly layers and Grundens rain gear we’ve been good to go with bulk winter harvest, grounds maintenance, winter CSA harvest etc.   When the real cold weather hits, all of the tender crops (i.e. fully mature romanesco/cauliflower, tops of radishes, mixed greens, chard, beet greens etc) turn into slime- from freezing and thawing- and whithering away.  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 had the best possible CSA experience.

The first two shares of the Winter Season (so much bounty!) and the view from the brussel sprout patch..

As I mentioned above, it’s been a surprisingly mild late Fall this year.   Last night we had our first freeze (which typically comes much sooner than that) and is the reason why we still had some peppers, romanesco, cauliflower and broccoli in the first Winter CSA shares.  We planted a late succession of all three and it paid off this year.  As Farmer Brian said the other day while harvesting,  “In a typical season we would have had our first freeze by now, which made these a big gamble with a delicious pay out. Glad we rolled the dice.”  We’re definitely feeling thankful for this bounty of late Fall varietals!

Although working in the cold and wet can be difficult at times (with the right clothes on we could be out there for hours – no problem) but the shorter days are hardest to get used to after the long days of summer and fall. Right now the day length is 9 hours of sunlight and by the Winter Solstice it will be close to 8 hours & 42min (compared to the Summer Solstice with 15 hours & 41 min of daylight).

One of these things is not like the other, some goodies from this week’s pick up, and the view from the kale patch…

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…

‘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

The sun shining between storms, fennel in the field and that beautiful fractal veggie: romanesco!

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).  The days are growing shorter and we are just 2 weeks away from the shortest day of the year – the Winter Solstice.  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 2018 season!

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 2018 our greatest growing season yet – so stay tuned!

Enjoy this week’s veggies and we’ll see you soon!

With regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

Season Finale (csa 27 & 28)

Posted on 22 Nov 2017

 Mark your Calendars!  Our 2018 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st.  Pictured above are all 28 shares from the 2017 growing season!

 

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy Thanksgiving!  We can hardly believe it has been 28 weeks since the start of 2017 harvest season!  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 farmgrown 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 8th season as Working Hands Farm which is crazy to think about.  In 8 years we’ve harvested 16,000 individual CSA shares and over 450,000lbs of produce.  This Spring/Summer/Fall alone we’ve harvested 3,400 individual shares from May through November!

We’ve been really thrilled with the CSA shares this season – definitely our best yet –  especially considering the incredibly wet and wild spring we had (wondering at some point in March if all we’d have for the first CSA was lettuce and radishes!) and the hot and dry summer.  It’s been awesome to take a look back on the CSA share pictures over the past few seasons to see the impact of all the systems, the knowledge and know how and how they have come together.  One of the reasons we take weekly pictures of the CSA shares is so that we have something tangible to look at at the end of the season.  It’s become a huge resource for us as farmers… where we look at it over the winter and say “awesome, we had 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)”  (2017 FARMER MAGIC: WE HAD CARROTS FOR 26 WEEKS THIS YEAR!) 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.

January King Cabbages and romanesco broccoli looking spot on for Winter harvest and Ahab taking in the view…

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

 Carrots for 26 shares,

 Broccoli for 17 shares, 

Tomatoes for 13 shares, 

Sweet Corn for 8 shares, 

Onions for 26 shares (*Also, twice the amount per week+ as last season!), 

Zucchini/Squash/Cukes for 14 shares, 

Garlic for 26 shares, 

Mixed fruit (strawberries, plums, cantaloupe & watermelon) for 11 shares, 

Mixed Peppers for 16 shares, 

Cauliflower for 8 shares, 

Winter squash for 10 shares, 

Beets for 15 shares, 

Mixed Bunch Greens for 22 shares, 

Lettuce for 19 shares, 

Bagged Greens (spinach, arugula etc) for 15 shares 

Cabbage for 6 shares,

Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes for 6 shares, 

Eggplant for 10 shares, 

Tomatillos, Fennel & Kohlrabi  for 5 shares and on and on and on!

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

2017 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..)

stormy weather putting on a show as we wrap up harvest last week

Mark your Calendars!  Our 2018 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st.  Our 2017 members will have the opportunity to sign up for a share before we open it up to the public. Whoo hoo!  Until then, keep in touch with your farmers through our website, facebook and instagram! And for half of you we’ll see you in the coming weeks with the start of our Winter CSA!

We hope you all had an inspiring journey during our 28-week CSA season.  Whether it be your first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh 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!

 

So, without further ado, the final numbers are in for the Spring/Summer/Fall CSA Season..

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

98,000 lbs of produce!

Over the course of our 28-week 2017 CSA season your farmers have harvested and distributed 98,000lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members.

That’s 816lbs 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!)

The upcoming winter season just got a whole lot sweeter with all these varieties of winter squash

All while supporting the ecosystem of this farm, two full time farmers by ensuring a livable wage (+ a part time employee), 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 and in 2016 it was 778lbs @ $1.49.

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.

This November view made me think of this Kurt Vonnegut quote, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” 

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.

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.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist 


From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
  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.

After 8 months (!!) of CSA pick up you have come to know and trust your farmers.  We never missed a harvest day and always worked our hardest to ensure that our members had the best possible CSA experience.  You were there every step of the way and we appreciate all your support, the time you took to share your food journeys, the little notes of encouragement and everything in-between.  We look forward to sign-ups in January and the start of the 2018 season!

Becca and I between storms during last week’s harvest, more cauliflower is heading up and playing some cribbage with B..

Our 2018 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

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Shorter Days, Longer Nights (CSA week 25 & 26)

Posted on 12 Nov 2017

 

“Geese appear high over us, 
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon, 
as in love or sleep, holds 
them to their way, clear 
in the ancient faith: what we need 
is here. And we pray, not 
for new earth or heaven, but to be 
quiet in heart, and in eye, 
clear. What we need is here.” by Wendell Berry

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Here we grow Week 26!   Wow, it’s amazing that we’re just a few weeks away from the Thanksgiving holiday and we are more thankful than ever for the amazing community that comes together and makes our small CSA farm possible season after season.

It’s amazing how quickly the Fall season has passed by.. October was quite a slog but the welcomed mix of sun, clouds and rain has made November a much more pleasant environment for us to work in. We can recall so many detailed memories from the 2017 season. From opening the 2017 CSA registration last January to all the planning and hard work and bountiful harvests, the recipes, and inspiration… we somehow have made it to November.  Thank goodness for the seasons.. otherwise we would never know which way was up!  But one thing is for sure  – as we mentioned in last week’s newsletter – we’re deeply appreciative and impressed by all of our awesome CSA members.

Morning commute, our last field planting on the season and a halloween kitty posing while we cover winter plants with floating row cover (in the wind no less)..

We’re a community and a team and our success (both in the field and in the kitchen) depends on each other.  To grow the food, develop the tools, run with it and live happy and productive lives.  Each week we see, hear and witness the impact of eating seasonally, fresh and beyond organic.. which means more meals at home, stocking up the freezer, cooking meals with friends and family, feeling energized and maybe coming in a few notches on the ol’ belt .  Eating good food is a way of life… something that we believe in.  We wanted to thank you for believing in us and the food that we grow here on our farm.  Thank you for your dedication and commitment – you’ve been coming to pick up you share for the last 26 weeks (or 13 weeks for our bi-weekly members) on your pick up day and every week you are inspired, challenged and ready to bring it all home and make glorious things happen.  Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of your food journeys along the way.  You guys rock and we feel so thankful to have you as part of the farm-ily!

It truly has been an AMAZING harvest year for us (without a doubt our best season yet) throughout all the seasons – spring, summer and fall.  Our fall season shares have been averaging around 28-30 lbs with 14-18 different items in the share which means we’ve had quite the bounty!   Since we’ll be harvesting a double share for next week – the harvest will begin this week with storage crops!   We’re really looking forward to adding up our 2017 numbers for this week’s newsletter… here we grow!  THIS week is the FINAL PICK UP!  Check out the details below!  And a date to remember: Sign ups for the 2017 CSA season will open on January 1st!

Farmer Brian loves his new sign and the fall veggies have been on point!

THIS WEEK is the final pick up week of the Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season!   Tuesday, November 14th OR Wednesday, the 15th depending on your assigned pick up day.

There will be a “Week 27″ share table and a “Week 28″ share table in the Member’s pick up area – be sure to check off your name and grab the appropriate share(s).

Weekly CSA Members will receive a double share (shares 27 & 28) to better prepare you for the Thanksgiving holiday (think storage crops!)  Be sure to bring a big enough vessel or enough bags to carry all your goodies home in.

Bi-Weekly Share Members All Bi-Weekly Share members will pick up next week. Depending on your assigned weeks, you will pick up either Share 27 (weeks 1,3,5,7 etc) OR Share 28 (weeks 2,4,6,8 etc)!  If there is any question, be sure to check your email to confirm which Share you will be picking up.

Casper Kale is beginning to show it’s true colors with the cold weather, Farmer B jumping for joy and Becca in the midst of a foggy harvest..

The month of November is here which means quieter days and longer nights.  How wonderful have those sunny and drier days been? So rejuvenating to be outside! The first week of November have been absolutely beautiful – a slight change of pace and weather has truly rejuvenated our spirits!  This past Sunday also brought daylight savings.  We love starting the day earlier and heading in earlier – by 6pm! – which means an early dinner and farmer bedtime for us (two thumbs up). The change of daylight hours has us slowly adapting into new schedules… getting to evening chores earlier – around 4:30pm and buttoning up last minute farm chores before losing the last moments of light.   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.

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 – the days are growing shorter and we’ve been chasing the sun – oh so much mud!

Our hearts and minds are gearing up for the 2017 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 infrastrtucture 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!

Talk about a “micro-manager”, the garlic is up and the pups taking in a brilliant sunset…

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 4 seasons of posting (so cool)!  Some of my favorite advice that one of our member’s gave a few seasons back (in their 5th 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 150+ 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!

Mon Petit Choufleur, harvesting the first of the brussels and Becca and I harvesting roots in the frosty morning!

And this is the other reason why your farmers have energy this November.. The Members Page, the thoughtful emails and conversations, the CSA member’s day, the mindfulness, all of it inspires us and continues to fuel us through the 2017 season. 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. This year more than any other year we feel 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.

Keep up the great work in the kitchen and keep sharing your experiences, recipes, etc. We hope you take a moment to reminisce about your first CSA share pick up of the season and how far you’ve come and all the beautiful meals you’ve enjoyed since then. A 28-week commitment is no small thing and we thank you all for choosing us as your farmers. Thank you for choosing to be a part of this farm and for investing in our small farm so it can provide the best possible food we can for you and your household.

CSA Shares 22, 23, 24 & 25

Proud Farmer moment: Over the course of 25 weeks, Brian and I have sown, grown, harvested and distributed over 87,000lbs of produce to our awesome CSA members. That puts us on track for distributing over 98,000 lbs for the 2017 summer season (that’s a whole lot of lifting, carrying, washing, displaying etc)! Brian and I love what we do and we couldn’t do it without the exceptional group of CSA members that has rallied around our farm. Thank you for believing in us and in your community.

We’ve distributed 725 lbs per weekly share which means by the end of the Spring/Summer CSA we will have distributed close to 815 lbs of food to each weekly share member. Which is a $1.48/lb for fresh, local, organic produce! All while supporting the vital ecosystem of this farm, two full time farmers by ensuring a livable wage, and the best possible produce you can find…Amazing!

This weekend we’ve been bringing in storage crops for our Winter CSA season.. celeriac, turnips, rutabaga, radishes, cabbage, celery etc!

Have a great week and enjoy the veggies!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

Doing What We Do (csa shares 18-24)

Posted on 24 Oct 2017


 –

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L.M. Montgomery

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

First, we had a such a great time during our CSA member farm day a few weekends ago. We had our biggest turn out to date with over 200 of our members joining us (did you know we feed over 550 people!?)! The weather held out for us too and it was truly a beautiful October day. Folks were able to take in the veggie gardens, pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and say hi to the goats and chickens. It sure was nice to talk about the goals of the farm and its role in the community. The members were happy to share their CSA experience and how their relationship to food was changing their lives for the better. It’s so important to take a step back, to listen and to connect. Cultivating community and feeding folks the best possible food has always been at the heart of why we farm. Our members go above and beyond and inspire us all the time and we are so grateful for all their support.

Thank you to all the members who came out to CSA DAY and for those who were unable to come we look forward to seeing you at next year’s event!

Decorative gourd season is the cutest, pumpkin picking time!  

It sure feels like September (and October too) are going by in a blink of an eye.  I’m trying my best to savor every bit of it because I love fall on the farm.  The quote (up above) pops in my head every October and I feel it in my bones… I just feel so darn inspired. Maybe my appreciation stems from growing up in the northeast but October is hands down my favorite month. I just love this time of the year.

October has welcome us with some fruitful rains and has made quick work of turning our summer tomatoes into goops and globs hanging on the branches of those summer lovin’ plants. It’s shoulder season on the farm where we we begin to say goodbye to the tastes of summer (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash etc) and welcome the delicious possibilities of Fall. When turning on the oven no longer feels like a chore and the greens and roots and broccoli and cauliflower etc have their moment to really shine.

We had our first light frost last week (33) and said goodbye to the summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes etc. We heeded with precaution and covered up some of our tender crops (peppers, celery, lettuces etc) with agribon row cover (aka floating row cover that provides frost protection up to 2-4 degrees). One perk of the frost is that the cold makes the fall veggies sweeter because in order to protect their cells from bursting they convert their complex carbohydrates (bonded sugars) into simple sugars! Kale, greens, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi etc.. all those veggies sweeten up with the colder temps.

The view from the kale patch, some freshly planted baby plants and the big wood barns favorite time of year!   

This time of the year can feel like a whirlwind on the farm! September and October is where the material handlers part of being a farmer really kicks into high gear and usually begins with our epic Winter Squash harvest. This year we harvested over 25,000 lbs (that’s around 12.5 tons) of squash over a 2 day period. We also started our giant Sweet Potato harvest and have so far harvested around 3,200lbs with another 1,200+ lbs to harvest once the fields dry out again later this week! We started harvesting the first ton of winter carrots and we have a few more tons to harvest out of the field before Thanksgiving. We’ve really come a long way as professional material handlers and it’s been a real game changer to have a larger horse power tractor that can move these heavy loads, the macro bins to store the produce in, the insulated barn to put it all in and the barrel washer to wash all our roots!

There’s still plenty of hand work to do (harvesting, stacking, moving, bagging etc) but all the equipment we’ve invested in really takes a load off our backs and helps us to finish projects more efficiently since it’s mostly just the two of us with our part time crew member Becca.

Sweet Potato harvest is under way with the last few beds to harvest later this week!  (Plus, a happy cloud face)

While bulk harvest continues to be a big one for us as we near closer to Winter we are also busy planting and seeding the last crops of the 2017 season. Over the weekend I seeded one of the last rounds of spinach and winter hardy lettuce that will be planted in our high tunnels for late Winter/Spring harvest. We will begin prepping and planting the first Winter Tunnel (we have 3 total) this coming week/weekend as well as a few beds of crops out in the field once things dry out. The ten-day is looking awesome out there -65 and mixed sun and clouds – let’s do this thing!

Another thing we can cross of the list is our annual garlic planting!   This was our 7th season planting garlic together and as Farmer Brian says, “garlic should be the foundation of any good relationship. And weeding it in the Spring should be a test of that relationship.” We began planting two weekends ago when we saw the “atmospheric river” on the horizon the following week. In order to get it all done we went out on Tuesday and Wednesday morning for CSA harvest and by the afternoon we were planting garlic. Over the course of a few days, we planted over 9,000 cloves. It was a pretty big push but it was also absolutely gorgeous outside and the trees were turning colors and the sunsets were out of this world. It felt great to be outside and to be in the moment even though the days were long and the task was a bit monotonous. We listened to the Farmer to Farmer Podcast and planted our little farmer hearts away and were even able to finish before the big rainstorm hit on Wednesday Night. Here’s to many more years of planting garlic together and to the first crop of the 2018 CSA season!

Pop/shuck, flame, plant, repeat!  All 9,000 cloves destined for CSA shares next season!  

The recent “atmospheric river” brought 3.5” of rain (starting Wednesday night) which gave us the welcome opportunity to take pause over the weekend. The shorter days have lent a hand in that as well.  Once the garlic was tucked in and we could see there was abundant sunshine (or rainless days) on the horizon we took the opportunity to give our bodies a little break. A friend was visiting for a few days out of state too which was a nice change of pace as well. We are definitely at a place with farming where we have better systems, can grow some darn tasty and nutritious veggies and feel like the business is in a good place. We have an awesome community of folks who rally around the farm and support what it is we do. All of these things are incredibly positive and it has been without a doubt our best (and most productive) farming season to date.

All of those things also make room for conversations about taking a day off (or two!) during the week, making time for friends and family, and making time for our selves outside the farm. Being farmers is such a big part of who we are and we love it! We also know how important it is to have other interests and perspectives in order to be balanced people and we finally feel like we are in the midst of a natural transition to be able to do (prioritize) some of these things. Making time for other things helps us to be better people and farmers too. The work that we do – it just being the two of us who farm these 40 acres – over the past 8 seasons – it’s all we’ve ever known as the owners and farmers of Working Hands Farm. We’ve made it work for these 8 years – learning a lot along the way and feeding hundreds and hundreds of families in the process.   We’re looking towards the future and all the endless possibilities.

I took these pictures during a purple sunset while pre emergence flaming the garlic beds… 

It’s crazy that after this week we only have 3 more weekly CSA pick ups left in the Spring/Summer/Fall Season. One of our members posted this in the Member’s Group this past week, “Back when we bought veggies from the grocery store I had to check eggplants carefully against being too soft before buying, and still needed to use in the next day or two or the innards would turn soft and brown. Cut into a WHF eggplant a week after bringing it home and it was still pure white and crisp. We have been eating like royalty since joining.  Looking forward to the rest of the spring/summer/fall share, and to what will come in this winter’s share.”

It means everything to hear that. As farmers, eating fresh, delicious, organically grown food is the reason we got into farming and is an important part of the process. It’s not enough to just grow the food but to make time to prepare three homemade meals a day, and process the extras into what will nourish us to do this hard but good work 12 months a year is everything. That amazing food is what keeps us so healthy and productive and energetic. No way this work would be sustainable if we weren’t eating well. Eating well is at the heart of the CSA. Heck, the size of our shares is based on our own diet (eat all the veggggieeess). We are not a CSA farm that will size our shares according to what sells but will always size them according to what we believe promotes good health in our members and according to the bounty the growing conditions allows.

Casper Kale (it gets more white as it gets colder), Leeks! and chiogga radicchio forming heads..

Brian and I both came at farming from different perspectives – he was looking for a connection to nature after years of working abroad in a stressful job and I was looking to educate my community about the food we eat & how to eat well and in season. A few years later, when our paths came together we were both on the same page. As Farmer Brian once wrote, “And that’s when Jess showed up and gave me a lickin’ you can’t believe. She taught me that you must lead by example. She taught me to fall in love not with just growing vegetables but cooking and eating them too. She 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.”

So, not only was it important that our community wanted to support our farm, they also had to eat the produce, to cook more at home and to overhaul their eating habits. After one year of CSA, members who were feeling challenged by the share were now getting through the whole share no problem, they were trying new recipes & experiences, the look of their plates were changing (to ¾ veggies), some even shared good news from their doctor or had to add a smaller notch to their old belt. But perhaps the most important thing is that after one year of trying the CSA their relationship with food had forever changed or improved for the better. They were spending more time with their partner in the kitchen processing the week’s goodies, they were taking the time to plan home cooked meals through the week, they learned how to make stock with leftovers or preserve the rest. Those tasteless canned beets from their childhood were no longer the only memory they had with beets. They were creating new and exciting and pleasurable habits surrounding food and they were sharing those positive experiences with their loved ones.

Winter Squash harvest, peasoup morning overlooking our overwintering brassicas, Gloucester taking in the first frost + sunrise..

As farmer Brian wrote last year, “Our goal is to see to it that the community that supports our farm eats healthier and as a result is more able, at least in a small way, to contribute to our society in a positive way. It’s a pretty high expectation you say? Well, I sure as hell am not doing this for the big bucks. It’s because I believe that the only work worth doing is work that makes the community and the environment better, so that those communities can make their communities better and so on and so forth. It’s pretty simple really.”

So, we do just that. For every seed the we sow, for every share that we harvest, for every meal that we prepare, we are all connected by this place, by the food that we eat and enjoy. All the hard work comes full circle when we see and hear how the shares are being utilized and enjoyed.

Treviso Radicchio heading up, Gloucester checking out the pumpkin patch, and Kalettes (a cross between brussels and kale for Winter CSA) are forming!  

So here’s to you CSA members! We are proud of all of our members because you have all made the decision to make a change in your life. That whatever brought you to our little CSA farm, whether it be health related, for reasons that help protect the environment, to support small farms, to know your farmers or simply because you were hungry for delicious food etc.. whatever the reason (s), you decided to make a change in your life happen and now you are here. This is where change happens. When a community comes together with a united voice we are empowered to make positive change. And because of all of you this land, these two farmers and this farm’s members are becoming healthier, happier and more productive.

Here’s to Fall, eating well & enjoying the seasonal bounty (with just 3 weekly pick ups left of Spring/Summer/Fall CSA!)

 –

Cheers to you all, enjoy the week and we’ll see you soon!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts 

 

CSA Shares 18, 19, 20, 21

The Flavors of Summer (14,15,16,17)

Posted on 8 Sep 2017

“I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.” -Wendell Berry

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Reminder: First Winter CSA payments are due by September 15th (next Friday!) Check out the email ‘First Winter CSA Payment Due by September 15th’ for more details!

We hope the first week of September has treated you well and that you had a nice holiday weekend!  August came in hot and looks like September is beginning the same way… with another heat advisory (100+ temps), a red flag warning and air quality index that says to limit your time outside!  Looking ahead at the 10-day it looks we’re back in the 80’s but there doesn’t seem to be a big reprieve of rain for the many fires burning throughout Oregon (and Washington, Montana, Idaho, California and Canada) for us in particular the Eagle Creek Fire.  Our hearts are with all the first responders who are working day and night to contain the fires and friends/fellow farmers who are located near the blaze..  Between the heat and smoke it’s been a bit of a bear to work in on the farm but it’s nothing compared to the communities who are surrounded/more directly impacted by the fires.  What a whirlwind of weather events it’s been this year from the wettest winter and spring in 75 years, to a very dry and hot summer with some of the biggest wildfires Oregon has ever seen.  It’s crazy.  We hope you are all taking good care in this dry, hot, smoky spell.

Dried beans are ready to harvest for Winter CSA, celeriac sizing up in the field and farmer B harvesting melons at sunrise….

Summer Bounty!  With the coming of September it means it’s time to soak in all the goodness that the end of summer has to offer.  To enjoy the bounty and flavors of the season!  The autumnal equinox is less than a month away which means the days are growing shorter.  It’s crazy how you go from hiding from the sun to chasing it as every minute counts!  The past month has had some long days in store for us so we’re feeling ready for a change of pace, the cooler weather and shorter days.  But, in the meantime, we’re charging through these heavy, productive harvests and enjoying the fruits of our labor.   With hard work comes the bountiful harvest and we enjoy sharing the bounty/labor of love with all of you.

Speaking of seasonal bounty… have you guys perused the member’s facebook group lately?   The pictures, the public service announcements, the recipes, the new ideas, the sweet thoughts!  If that doesn’t capture the spirit and essence of the WHF CSA then I don’t know what does.  We’ve been so inspired by all our members through the meals, the recipes, the encouragement, thoughtful emails, farmer ‘check-ins’ and gestures throughout the season.  You all are the cream of the crop and we are so proud and honored to feed our community the best possible food that we can…no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

Smoky hazy sunshine naps, colored bell peppers and one fiesty jalapeno pepper!  

We’ve had quite the bountiful (and tasty!) CSA season so far.  The last 4 weeks of melons (3 weeks were double melon) in the CSA shares (the best we’ve ever grown) was super exciting!  You know it’s peak summer when the melons come to town in the Willamette Valley.  The tomatoes have been going bonkers with all the heat and the heirlooms are some of the sweetest we’ve grown!  At the same time the pumpkins are ripening and the winter squash are beginning to cure in the field.  Everything is happening all at once.  And how about that sweet corn for the last 7 weeks and those colored sweet peppers… and the tomatillos… and poblanos…. and….onions… and carrots…. and greens!  Man, oh man, we’re feeling pretty proud of all the bounty and it’s incredibly rewarding to see all the plans and hard work come together.

The last few weeks of August proved to be a crazy farmer marathon.  Last week was extra filled to the brim.  It feels like every moment of daylight is precious.  The ‘do all the things’ song sure has made the rounds lately.  Our non-harvest days have been dedicated to planting and we’ve made some huge progress.. more winter crops were planted in the ground (over 5,500 purple sprouting broccoli, overwintering cauliflower, early winter broccoli, romanesco and cauliflower).    Fall and winter crops are getting weeded.  Beds have been composted, fertilized, tilled under and dibbled for transplants and direct sown crops.  Old crops are being mowed in anticipation of cover cropping later this month.  We’ve begun prepping our garlic block in anticipation of planting next years garlic in October.  We hope to pre emergence flame weed the beds multiple times before we get the garlic in.  I’ve been busy seeding the last crops of the season in the propagation house.  Not to mention the weekly 4,000lb harvests!

Finger weeding overwintering crops for winter csa, the bulk onions curing in the barn and some giant fall kale…

Two weeks ago we brought in the first of our storage crop harvests.. storage taters, storage onions, shallots, cippollini onions that are all curing in the barn for a few weeks before their ultimate destination in our cooler.  At times it felt as though we were caught in the “thick of it” while harvesting and we’d head inside because the air was literally thick and oppressive (a sweat while standing kind of heat).  But we got it done and both the barns are full to the brim and we’ve had our best onion crop to date!  We felt pretty proud after that harvest that’s for sure!

In the next few weeks it’ll be time to harvest and cure the winter squash, sweet potatoes, first round of fall carrots and beets and we are looking forward to beginning that process.    It’s been a great season for winter squash and most of our pumpkins have already turned orange (it’s going to be an early Halloween this year!)  And next thing ya know we’ll be planting garlic for next season!  It’s crazy how time flies…

September-October we will be slowly transitioning into our cooler weather crops. The summer crops are still performing but as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler the Fall veggies will start to shine. 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 150+ shares) can add up to a lot of pounds of produce being harvested, washed and displayed.

Some fun new (to us) varieties of winter squash are growing out in the field for Winter CSA, the remnants of sweet corn making fall feel closer each day…

WINTER CSA!  We’ve had an amazing response for our upcoming Winter CSA and we are almost full (we only have a few shares available!)  There are still a couple 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/wintercsa/

  • The WHF Winter CSA will run from November 28th – April 11th – a total of 18 Weekly Shares or 9 Bi-Weekly Shares!
  • We’re offering two Winter CSA options: Weekly for $756 & Bi-Weekly for $490.
  • CSA pick ups will take place on Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s at the farm from 3:00-6:30pm.  *note: There will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/26 & 12/27) or January 1st  (1/2 & 1/3)

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

“Solar Flare” tomato, Farmer B and a slice of “sweet favorite” watermelon and so many ripe maters!  

 

Our Bulk Tomatoes are still available for those that are interested!  (the lack of rain + heat is really excellent for this crop!)  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, Friday or Saturday 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!

Enjoy the week and we will see you all soon!

All the best,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts



Coming in Hot! (10,11,12,13)

Posted on 8 Aug 2017

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

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 –

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Now onto some updates from the farm!  

 –

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

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

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

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

 —

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

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

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

 –

 

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

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

 –

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

A few pictures captured by friends on our wedding day… 

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

“1st anniversary

We will mark this occasion by planting Fall crops,

Into freshly turned soil that has been given time.

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

A quick first pass in the cool spring.

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

Watching their newly hatched chicks discover the world,

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude.

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

Our first wedding gift.

After eating a good breakfast made with all good things,

We will make a list and make priorities,

And prioritize the things that cannot wait.

We will work side by side,

Begging the farm to give us permission.

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

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

As the crickets drowned the noisiness of the world,

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

To adventure and to those endless possibilities.

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

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

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

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

 

 

Future Food (Winter CSA Sign Ups!)

Posted on 25 Jul 2017

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

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

Hi Friends & Farm-ily!

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

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

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

The Winter Bounty in 2016. We started last year’s Winter CSA journey on November 28th and  made it all the way to the middle of April!  Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-10 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 18 weeks we had 11-17 items in each weekly share.  We were also impressed with the variety of veggies we harvested through the winter months – most weeks we had more fresh picked produce than storage veggies which is amazing (even in the coldest and darkest of winter days)!   To top it all off, it was an average of 450lbs per share which comes in around $1.52 per lb of produce.

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

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

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

Scroll down for all the Winter CSA details..

Shortcut to the CSA Sign up form here!

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

When does the Winter CSA begin?  

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

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

Bi-Weekly Share members pick up their produce every other week throughout the course of the 18 week CSA season (a total of 9 shares). Members will pick up their share on weeks 1,3,5,7, etc… or 2,4,6,8, etc… depending on your assigned CSA start date (the farmers assign the start date, you choose your pick up ‘day’).  *Note: there will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/26 & 12/27) or January 1st  (1/2 & 1/3)

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

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

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

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

What is the cost for the Winter CSA?

Weekly Share (18 weeks/shares total) $756

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

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

When is payment due?

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

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

Payment deadlines:

 Weekly Members

deposit of $150 due upon signing up

first payment of $303 is due by September 15th

second payment of $303 is due by October 15th

 Bi-Weekly Members

deposit of $150 is due upon signing up

first payment of $170 is due by September 15th

second payment of $170 is due by October 15th

Extra sweet winter squash, winter sweet chicory and kale…

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

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

How to Sign Up?

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

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

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

Payment Methods:

Pay by Check:  Make checks out to ‘Working Hands Farm’ and send it to 7705 SW River Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97123.  Drop off:  If you would like to drop off your payment in form of a check on the farm, there is clearly marked white CSA lockbox located to the right of the greenhouse.  Please drop it off during regular business hours (10-6pm).  We check it daily.  Checks only!  Please make sure to put the shareholders name & type of share in the memo.

Pay Online Visit our Online Farmstore http://workinghandsfarmstore.com to pay online.  Please note that the online payment option includes the 3% + .30 online processing fee.  If you wish to avoid this online fee you can pay by check. 

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

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

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

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

With kind regards & many thanks,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Thank you for supporting our small farm!   

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

Posted on 11 Jul 2017


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

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

Hey Friends & Farm-ily,

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

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

=

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

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

 

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

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

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

 –

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The shares are transitioning from spring to summer!

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

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

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts


 

The Law of Inertia (week 3, 4 & 5)

Posted on 15 Jun 2017

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the bounty!

 

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Bringing the Bounty Home (csa week 2)

Posted on 25 May 2017




“Jess taught me that cooking and eating isn’t something you do after all the other needs of the day are met it is something that you do so you can meet the needs of the day. She taught me that eating well is a matter of priorities.” – Farmer B

Hi Friends & Farm-ily

CSA Week 2 is here and over the next few weeks everyone will be getting into the groove of the CSA (including your farmers!)  Making more home cooked meals, feeling more confident in the kitchen, being open to trying new veggies!  We decided to keep the encouragement high with some helpful tips for CSA success.  These aren’t all the ways to be successful as each person’s journey is there own but eating well, preparing food at home, being conscious of our own food journeys, and staying inspired and curious about nourishing ourselves, our families & friends is what it’s all about.  If anything, reading through these tips should encourage you and make you feel great about the choice to sign up for CSA and be a part of your local farm!

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

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Newsletter & Recipes.  First and foremost, read the weekly newsletter and emailed recipe pdf each week!  There are lots of farm updates that you don’t want to miss out on.. as well as some tried and true recipes and suggestions from your farmers on how to prepare your weekly share.  We love growing the food but it’s just as important to us that you are eating and preparing the food and therefore have a life changing and positive experience!

Egg cartons, Berry Boxes, Rubberbands etc.  For all those who purchase WHF eggs, please save up your WHF egg cartons for us and return them (WHF egg cartons ONLY please). We also reuse all berry boxes (1/2 pints, pints, quarts) and rubberbands so you can return those as well.  We are a thoughtful farm in terms of minimizing waste and reuse what we can.  There will be a place to return these items by the sign-in sheet.

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

Meal planning.  This is a great way to utilize each week’s bounty.  For those who have their meals planned each week you know that planning goes as follow: collect your CSA, pick recipes, make a list and then purchase complimentary groceries.  With CSA the idea is to start planning your meals after you pick up your share.  If meal planning seems overwhelming, start with just a few planned meals a week.  This change in the process means cooking with what’s in season, and it’s a good habit to get into to eating better and feeling great. Pro tip from farmer Brian: Try preparing a meal that will provide sufficient left overs the night before you collect your CSA.  This way when you arrive home with your share you have time thoughtfully break everything down and store it without anyone getting hangry!

How to stride ahead.   This is a great video showing the simplicity and ease of processing veggies when first bringing them home.   Oh, the practical pleasures of eating.. of just how washing or soaking the greens, pre-roasting/cooking, & storing veggies can make for many more homemade meals in a busy week, increase the longevity of the produce and make cooking enjoyable (as it should be!) And as one of our tenured CSA members said, “Make friends with your knife, cutting board, sink, dish towel, salad spinner, stove, and oven. They aren’t instruments of drudgery, they are keys to liberation. The time you spend prepping and cooking food is time to think and be present in the moment–“mindfulness” is a free benefit of CSA membership, so take advantage and enjoy it!”

Storing the veggies: Root veggies (beets, carrots etc) and other bulb veggies (radish, turnip, kohlrabi, onions, fennel etc) all have leafy greens attached.  Make sure to cut the greens right where they meet the root and store them separately so that they stop drawing moisture out of the veggie through the process of respiration (if your carrots, radishes, beets etc get floppy.. now you know why).

Our bagged greens should keep wonderfully during the week in the “Bio-Bags.” One feature of the BioBag is that it “breathes” without leaking. This unique benefit allows excess moisture to evaporate, which keeps fruits and vegetables fresher, longer. For other items, it’s important to prep bunched greens and lettuce heads by washing, chopping and storing them in a tightly sealed container with a moist paper towel or try washing them wrapping them in a moist towel/paper towel and putting them in a bag.  Otherwise the refrigerator has its way with them and sucks out all their moisture… leaving much to be desired.

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

Getting your fridge ready for fresh goodies!  Take the time the night before to make space for a new box of goodies, and to take inventory of any veggies that would love to be used up in a ‘end of the week’ stirfry, curry, soup, roasted veg, kale chips, smoothies, or green pesto!  Making vegetable stock is always a happy solution for extra veggies – rough chop them, simmer them in a few quarts of water (a cup or two of veggies to one quart of water) for 30 – 40 minutes, and you have stock. Strain it, freeze it, and so versatile!  Flavorful, rich in vitamins and minerals..

Save those “scraps”!  Save the stems from the kale, collards, chard, spinach, the thick stalks from the broccoli, the ends and peels of carrots, tops of peppers, radish stems etc… Wrap up the scraps as you accumulate them (a pyrex or a bag with a moist towel works) and stash them in the fridge.  At the end of the week you can make a delicious stock.  Some folks make a gallon sized bag of “stock items” and freeze it for later… Check out this helpful blog post with all the details! Or, try out this recipe by Tamar Adler for Garlicky Leaf Stem and Core Pesto!  Or, as one of our awesome members pointed out – make a quick pickle out of the stems (chard, beet, kale, collard stems etc)!  Pickled stuff is delicious with all meals.

Eat More Veggies!    Add or double the amount of vegetables in your meals!  See how many different vegetables you can pack in to what you’re already cooking.  Eat the most tender greens and veggies first!  For breakfast try a simple sautee with greens & garlic, biscuits, with eggs, in a quiche, simple salad or veggie pancakes.  Drink your veggies!  There are so many great veggie smoothies out there – whatever you have give it a go!

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

Enjoy eating new vegetables!  One of our greatest examples of this is the amount of people who grew up on boiled to death beets.. or worse, canned tasteless beets.  When people try the beets from the farm in a new way (roasted, in a salad, as burgers or even in brownies) they change their minds and there are so many things that contribute to that.  Mostly, it’s the openness of trying something new or trying something in a new way.  Branch out and explore your palette and see what tastes great to you.  You have your farmers to consult and a wealth of resources at your fingertips so don’t hesitate to be inspired!

Join the Working Hands Farm CSA Member Group on Facebook.  The WHF Facebook Group is a safe place (a private group) for current Working Hands Farm CSA members to share recipe ideas, kitchen prep successes, food preservation ideas etc!  Check your email (titled, ‘WHF Member Page’) for the link and instructions on how to join!

Get inspired by Seasonal Cookbooks & Recipe Blogs.  Check out our Farmer Approved List here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/2016/05/16/whf-farmer-approved-cook-books-food-blogs/

Freezing and canning.  Our Week 4 newsletter from a few season’s ago is full of helpful information and places to start.  Some suggestions include: The Fermentation Bible:  Wild Fermentation – by Sandor Ellix Katz, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, Ball Blue Book of Preserving etc. Don’t forget that although you’re enjoying your veggies now there’s something satisfying about saving your extras for later in the year!  We are on our last dozen jars of homemade tomato sauce and can’t express how lovely it is to pop open a jar of our summer tomatoes!

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

Eating in season!  We live in such a fertile part of the US and should relish in all the wonderful things that grow where we live.  Waiting for those first seasonal crops can be hard after a winter of root veggies, brassicas, soups etc but everything tastes that much sweeter (because it’s fresh, in season and grown just down the road in the dirt & in the open air!)  It’s easy to enjoy the conveniences of the grocery store (that’s what it’s there for) but we tell ya that waiting all winter and spring for that first seasonal vine ripened tomato is the best thing for ya!

As your CSA farmers, throughout the 28-week season we provide you with the most nutrient rich, organic, thoughtfully-grown, fresh picked & seasonal produce!   We strive to grow produce according to the seasons and to the best of our abilities.  To introduce you to new varieties of veggies & include delicious ways to prepare them!  To encourage you to enjoy your time in the kitchen, be playful and to have fun.  Each week that you pick up your bounty we pass the torch to you.  We’re a part of each others food journey and we look forward to hearing week to week about what you’re cooking, what was eaten first and what you really enjoyed.  It completes our food journey here on the farm to hear and see how the hard work is being utilized and enjoyed!

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

Thanks again for all your support and we look forward to sharing in the bounty with you this season.  We leave you with some of our tenured member (Hazy Katz) tips for CSA success!

With Kind Regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

Here we grow 2017! (CSA week 1)

Posted on 16 May 2017

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

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Let the 2017 Spring harvest season begin!  We are so happy and appreciative of all your support and encouragement over the last 5 months (since our 2017 season started).  Our Spring, Summer and Fall CSA has been months in the making and we look forward to the season beginning and to celebrate with our first harvest this week!

Flow of the CSA.  Over the next few weeks we will all begin to get into the flow of pick ups, harvests, seasons, you name it. Spring is a great time to adapt-to and learn new habits, to eat seasonally and fresh. We remind you to be patient, to be excited and to enjoy the ride.  There are so many decisions that one person must make everyday – a daunting task at times – revel in those food choices your farmers and the changing of the seasons are making for you each week.  Get creative & be inspired.  Ask questions & be open – you’ll be surprised what you might find as the season unfolds.

Enjoy all the benefits of eating fresh (picked THAT morning), eating seasonally, and local (your local farmer, Brian and I, need the support of our community)!

Your farmers will be at the pick up this week from 3-5pm!  Whoop whoop!

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

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

Farm Pick Up Time.  Farm Pick Ups take place on Tuesday & Wednesday from 3:00 – 6:30pm (please double check on your assigned day). Note: Bi-Weekly share members pick up their produce every other week throughout the course of the 28 week CSA season (a total of 14 shares). Bi-Weekly members will pick up their share on weeks 1,3,5,7, etc… or 2,4,6,8, etc… depending on your assigned CSA start date.  

It’s important to pick up between 3:00-6:30pm on your assigned day (and not a minute before) as it’s just the two of us and we harvest most everything fresh that morning so your farmer’s need the time to harvest, wash and set up the pick up area.

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

Parking. There is a nice big parking area for a convenient and stress free pick-up.  Please park facing the new pole barn as this will help to keep a consistent flow of traffic which will help to keep children crossing the parking lot safe. Park thoughtfully as folks tend to come in waves and the parking will fill up fast!  There are also children and families who will be moving from the pick-up area to the parking lot so please drive slowly.  We are located on a busy country road so please be patient coming and going from the farm (oh the pros and cons of living on a main country road!)

Pick-Up Area.  The CSA Member Area is now located in the RED POLE BARN through the white French doors. We’re super excited to have our wash/pack, cooler and pick up area in the same building this year.  It improves efficiencies ten fold, gets the produce chilled quicker and provides a nice area for our awesome members to pick up in!  Having a building with concrete floors means we can use things like pallet jacks and carts with wheels to move things too and fro which has made the lifting part of harvesting a lot less tiresome!  Over 5 years ago all that remained on this property was a dilapidated old barn that was covered in 12ft tall blackberries and the old farmhouse by the road.  We are breathing new life into a very old and forgotten farm property so you will see it become more and more beautiful as the seasons and years go on… Thank you for growing with us and for being a part of this process.

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

The Pick-Up.  Please sign in before grabbing your goodies.  You will enter the member area and move counterclockwise, packing your own share with the allotted amounts of vegetables written next to each varietal.  Please bring 2-3 reusable shopping bags, a crate or some members even use a laundry basket to put your produce in. It’s nice to have a few bags for heavier items and a bag for bunched greens/more fragile items etc.

Pick-Up is also a great opportunity to meet other members and share over the common bonds of food, health and community!  If you are unable to come pick up your share from 3:00-6:30pm on your assigned day, you can either arrange for a friend, family member, colleague etc to pick it up for you. If you cannot find anyone to pick-up the share on your behalf please give us 48hr notice (emails are best).

Be sure to visit our FAQ’s for any other questions you may have:  https://workinghandsfarm.com/q-a/

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

Working Hands Farm CSA Member Group on Facebook!  An email has been sent out with instructions to join the Working Hands Farm CSA Member Group on Facebook.  It’s a safe place (a private group) exclusively for Working Hands Farm CSA members to share recipe ideas, kitchen prep successes, food preservation ideas, articles, resources etc. Check your email to join the group. Participation is highly encouraged!

CSA Farm Day, Pumpkin Day, Newsletters etc.  Throughout the season we offer opportunities to enjoy a CSA Member Farm Day, pumpkin pick day etc all on the farm.  Also, to keep our farm-ily connected to the farm, the seasons and what it takes to grow food locally we send a weekly farm newsletter so be sure to read the whole thing through! We post frequently on instagramfacebook to share in our day-to-day and to stay connected with people (as you can imagine we spend 99% of our time with vegetables and 4 legged critters ha!) All of these opportunities are a great way to see the farm, chat with your farmers, meet other CSA members in the community and enjoy the seasons on the farm.

 

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

Thank you again for all your support! It’s been a busy and super rainy Spring (the wettest in 75 years!) and there is much anticipation to get this season started.  We have another exciting season ahead with over 70 different types of vegetables and several different varieties of each (it’s never a dull moment on the farm!)  Your farmers have been working harder than ever to get the season started on the projected start date and have more variety in the shares early on!

Enjoy the leafy greens and cool weather brassica crops that you will find in the first few week’s of the CSA (the Spring seasons natural cleanse… after a Winter full of root crops and heavier foods).  The greens will be tender, delicious and untouched by the heat that summer brings.  Enjoy them while they are here!  The bounty will continue to grow and grow and grow as we near the longer, warmer days of Summer!  Thanks again for all your support and we look forward to sharing in the bounty with you this season.

With kind regards,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Wading it Out (winter csa week 17 & 18)

Posted on 17 Apr 2017


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



Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 

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

Winter CSA Success!  This past week was the final pick up week of our second Winter CSA season and I know we’ve said this time and time again but we LOVE the Winter CSA!!  We, your farmers, THANK YOU CSA-ers!  Thank you all for your continued support through all the seasons.  You are all CSA rock stars and we are proud to be your farmers!  

The Winter Bounty.  We started our Winter CSA journey on November 28th and we’ve made it all the way to the middle of April! Our expectation for the Winter Shares was 8-10 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 18 weeks we had 11-17 items in each weekly share.  We were also impressed with the variety of veggies we harvested through the winter months – most weeks we had more fresh picked produce than storage veggies which is amazing (even in the coldest and darkest of winter days)!   To top it all off, it was an average of 450lbs per share which comes in around $1.52 per lb of produce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHEN DOES THE SPRING/SUMMER/FALL CSA begin?  Our estimated start date for the season is the week of May 16th – so it could be as early as then but as the seasons vary the CSA may begin up to two weeks after our estimated start date.    Due to the extra wet Spring we’ve been having it has left the soils cooler than usual which means the plants are growing much slower than we’re used to.  This could mean that we might be starting the CSA a touch later than planned… but anything can happen so stay tuned!  We’re working hard to make a mid-May start date happen.. now it’s just up to ol’ mother nature (more sun = warmer temps = faster growing plants!)

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


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

We look forward to seeing and meeting all our Spring/Summer/Fall CSA Members next month!  We’ll be in touch with updates about the start date etc.  In the meantime, follow us on Instagram Facebook to keep in touch with our daily happenings on the farm.  Here we grow!  Whoo hoo!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Sun Dance (Winter CSA Week 13, 14, 15, 16)

Posted on 30 Mar 2017

REMINDER:  First CSA payments are due by THIS Saturday, April 1st!! Check out the email titled ‘First CSA Payment Due by April 1st (next Saturday)’ for more details!

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Let the sun dances begin!   We hope you all have been doing a little sun dance each day for your farmer’s.  There is some hope of relief in the 10 day forecast (we really need like 5+ days of sunshine in a row to dry out all the fields).  Planting the very first of our Spring and Summer crops are on our minds as we near our first projected field planting date of the season this weekend.  All our fingers and toes are crossed!  Strawberries, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, beets, chard, chicory, peas etc are all ready to make their transplanting debut!  Carrots, turnips, cilantro, peas, favas and more will be direct sown in the dirt!   Once things dry out a bit it’ll mark the first week all winter and Spring that we are able to get into the garden and plant and seed like mad farmers… and we can hardly wait!  

Before planting can begin there is field prep that needs to happen… Spring marks the time in the season where we can finally get out there to lime, fertilize and compost the farm.   Last year my folks were out here visiting and my Dad helped us make some huge pushes to prepare the land.  Where we mow old crops, pasture and cover crops and begin the transition for planting crops.  This week is shaping up to be a big push for us.. it surely is an exciting time on the farm!   So keep thinking all those sunshine-y thoughts for your farmers… we’re ready to go!

Fun little note: Before we switched to market style CSA pick up we packed and distributed all our CSA shares in our very own cedar crates that we made by hand. Hard to imagine our Summer Shares fitting in there now but back then it was such an accomplishment to have a crate brimming full of goodies. Even our Winter Shares (pictured above) are a touch too big to fit like they once did 8 years ago. A sign that slowly but surely we are growing better each year. It’s good for perspective and important to give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. Life is just too darn short, enjoy it everyday! #simplereminders#bekindtoyourself #workinghandsfarmcsa#dirtyhandscleanhearts

 

Purple Sprouting Broccoli lookin’ awesome out in the field, starts are ready to be planted, the overwintered swiss chard shining in the early Spring sunshine… 

We have some exciting news.. we hired our very first employee!  Becca is a native oregonian who has spent the last two years working on CSA farm in Eugene.  She started with Rogue Corps and has now found her way to Working Hands as our very first crew member.  Community and health are really important to her.  She’ll be working part-time on the farm a couple days a week throughout the season so let’s give a big warm welcome to Becca!   Whoop whoop!   We’re excited to achieve a bit more balance with an extra set of hands and we look forward to seeing what this season brings!

At the end of last week, we couldn’t plant so we did the next best thing and that was clearing the fields so we’re ready to go once the weather changes.  Earlier in the week, Brian & I had removed all the tomato trellises, t-posts, the first of the drip tape and landscape fabric.  On Thursday, Brian & Becca worked double time to clear out  the remaining fields of drip tape, agribon row cover, sandbags (over 7,500  lbs!) and landscape fabric.  In what we thought would take at least a few days they finished it in 1!  I was able to push through a pile of business paperwork, tax stuff, emails (all the exciting parts about running a business!) and it was really awesome to divide and conquer.

Last Saturday, we made a huge seeding push in the red barn.  We mixed soil and filled over 200 trays and got the next round of broccoli, cabbage, beets, chicories, greens, bunching onions etc seeded.  We made a huge push on Celery and Celeriac (over 5,000 seeded!) and it feels good to get some of these major crops that we only plant once a year seeded.  They are all now in the propagation house where it will take anywhere from 2 (for brassica seeds i.e. broccoli, cabbage) to 14 days (for celery, celeriac) for these babies to awaken.  Since our propagation house is passively heated by the sun (we don’t have a heater) it too will benefit and quicken any germination with some sun in the forecast!  Having three sets of hands on deck really made all the difference – it’s the first time this season where we’ve been caught up on all our seeding!

 

Gloucester & the ladies of Chateau Poulet soaking up some rays and seeding all the things over the weekend!

Know your farmers, know your food! The Spring, Summer and Fall CSA is drawing near and we have less than a half dozen shares left for the 2017 CSA season!  Help us get those last few shares filled by spreading the good word because it makes 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 2017 CSA season

2  Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

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

We can’t wait for the 2017 growing season to start! Thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old who have signed up for the 2017 Spring and Summer CSA season!

Brian tending to our first beds of carrots, notes from our members that make us smile, overwintered parsnip season!  

Winter CSA Reminder: Winter Weekly Share Members: we have just two pick ups left for the Winter CSA Season (last pick up for Tuesday Members is on April 11th & Wednesday Members on April 12th).  Winter Bi-Weekly Share members: there is one pick up left!  Bi-Weekly Members 1,3,5, 7  will pick up on April 4th/5th and Bi-Weekly Members 2,4,6,8 will pick up on April 11th/12th.

Spring Eggs!  The ladies of Chateau Poulet have boosted production and we have some extra dozens available for Winter CSA/Spring CSA members beginning next week  (they tend to sell out quickly!)   Our flock of hens are raised on fresh pasture as well as an Certified Organic, non-GMO feed (no soy, no corn) made in the Pacific NW by Scratch and Peck – a local feed supply that we are proud to support.  All dozens are $9.50 each.

If you’re interested in purchasing eggs throughout the early Spring months (before the CSA begins in May) please let us know your pick up day preference as well as how many dozens you’d like (a dozen per week or 2 dozens every other week etc) and we will confirm availability.

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

 

 

Practicing Patience (winter CSA week 11 & 12)

Posted on 2 Mar 2017

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“I used to imagine him
coming from his house, like Merlin
strolling with important gestures
through the garden
where everything grows so thickly,
where birds sing, little snakes lie
on the boughs, thinking of nothing
but their own good lives,
where petals float upward,
their colors exploding,
and trees open their moist
pages of thunder –
it has happened every summer for years.

But now I know more
about the great wheel of growth,
and decay, and rebirth,
and know my vision for a falsehood.
Now I see him coming from the house –
I see him on his knees,
cutting away the diseased, the superfluous,
coaxing the new,
know that the hour of fulfillment
is buried in years of patience –
yet willing to labor like that
on the mortal wheel.

Oh, what good it does the heart
to know it isn’t magic!
Like the human child I am
I rush to imitate –
I watch him as he bends
among the leaves and vines
to hook some weed or other;
I think of him there
raking and trimming, stirring up
those sheets of fire
between the smothering weights of earth,
the wild and shapeless air.” – ‘Stanley Kunitz’ by Mary Oliver

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Welcome March!  Spring is certainly in the air and hopefully the whole March comes out like a lamb rings true.  The last week has been so nice with the intermittent sunshine and tiny rain showers.. it’s given the soil a chance to dry out a little bit and lake WHF has been reduced to a pond.  Looking ahead, the 10-day is looking awfully soggy again and we keep crossing our fingers for a dry stretch at the end of it or that it won’t amount to much.  There are strawberries and onions to plant this month followed by our first main crops (kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, beets etc) for the Spring/Summer CSA season.  The soil has to be dry enough to plant so keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer to the sun gods above!

Our 2017 custom fertilizer blend arrived this week from Marion Ag – all 7 tons (14,000lbs)!   This meant that Brian spent the last few dry days drop spreading lime and compost on the first workable ground. Step by step!   Now, we wait for the sun so the soil can dry out and become workable (and practice patience!)  If we work the soil when it is too wet it will become cloddy and more difficult to transplant, cultivate and weed.  But some years you have no choice otherwise it will push back the start date of the CSA too far! Fingers crossed for 3-4 days of solid sunshine!!!

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The greens are poppin’ in the prop house and the last few Winter CSA Shares…

In the meantime, we will be turning up soil in our 100ft high tunnels/covered space and transplanting a few crops and seeding in a few things in there. We are on week 12 of the Winter CSA, which means we have 6 more weeks to go (18 total).   We didn’t know what to expect back in December with this crazy winter weather but are so pleased that all the planning turned out even with the ups and downs and slog and extra hard freezes that the winter weather brought our way. It’s given us a greater perspective on farming and like we’ve said before… we’ve never ate so good through the winter, no matter what the weather!

The propagation greenhouse is really filling up with Spring and Summer starts. We have eggplant and peppers on the heat mats waiting for germination (they like the soil to be hot, hot, hot) and in the next few days we’ll be seeding tomatoes!   The fun never stops.. whoop whoop! It’s crazy to think that in 4+ months we will be enjoying the bounty of summer – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn etc…

Since the weather has been a bit nicer, we’ve been busy making notes of all the varieties and crops that survived this winter.  You’ve got to give it up for the overwintering crops that survived the frigid cold we experienced. The purple Cape cauliflower from @adaptive_seeds that were produced by our amazing friends at  @pitchforkandcrow survived successional 12 degrees, no cover, snow, high winds, ice rain…. seriously awesome (bonus that they look like they are straight out of a comic book).  A big thank you to Adaptive Seeds.  All of your seed varieties that we grew through the winter (cauliflower, kale, turnips, rutabaga, lettuce, cilantro, arugula, winter squash, radicchio etc) shined in the coldest and darkest of winter days! We are so lucky to have a seed company that specializes in varietals that grow well in the PNW.

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Jean & I in 2008, the overwintered lettuce in the high tunnel, and the first round of italian sweet peppers are up!

THE BEST!  Last weekend my amazing friend and organic farming mentor Jean arrived on the farm for a few day visit. The picture above is of Jean and I way back in 2008 when I worked on her little organic market garden in Massachusetts where we became quick friends. She is like family to me and a strong, incredible woman that I look up to.  I’ve looked forward to sharing the farm with Jean for some time and to make a proper introduction to Brian. She was celebrating her 95th birthday with her daughter who lives in Victoria, BC and it was really special that we could all be together.

Jean’s smile alone draws you in. She has such exuberance for life. And her energy is contagious. She is heading back to the Cape next week to get all her seeds started and begin a new farming season. Such an inspiration! Farming keeps her going and she has such a genuine love for it (the only thing she can’t do anymore is push the walk behind tiller).. seeing her was the jump start we needed in such a soggy month (with record breaking rainfall!).  It’s amazing how much influence she’s had on my life and pursuing my organic farming dream.  I feel so lucky that our paths crossed 9 years ago.  And how special it is that I could share what Brian and I have built at Working Hands Farm.  Simply amazing.

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Bunching onion harvest, CSA Day in February and bunching up the extra tasty spinach from the high tunnel!

Last Friday was National CSA Sign Up Day! According to Small Farm Central, the last Friday in February is the most popular day of the year to sign up for a CSA share!  Thank you to all those who spread the good word and to those who signed up last week!  – we are so close to being full for the 2017 CSA season!

Join us for the 2017 season!  With less than a dozen shares available (only a handful left!) for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season we hope you will join us for the upcoming season!  Read all about the 2017 season here: workinghandsfarm.com/csa

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The Purple Cape Cauliflower emerges, the new CSA pick-up area and the kale is beginning to form the seasonal treasure: rapini!

It was so fun to have our first Winter CSA pick up in the new barn this week.  It’s amazing how far we’ve come since we first moved to this property from the land we leased down the road.  Remember the white farmer’s market tents we had for pick up the first few seasons?  And then the semi-permanent pick up area farmer Brian made and now we’ve built a real live room with doors and windows and concrete floors.  We are so happy to have a wonderful space to share with all of our amazing CSA members.

We hope you all enjoyed this week’s veggie share and will see you soon!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

radishanimals

February Momentum (Winter CSA Week 8, 9, 10)

Posted on 16 Feb 2017


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“A seed is small but rich with possibility, like love, which is as humble as it is powerful.” —Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

The first few weeks of February have flown by! Last week it also brought heaps and heaps of rain (over 5” in just a few days) which means our pastures are covered once again in the flood (Lake WHF is back!). Over the weekend we recharged our solar powered farmer batteries with all the sunshine. It brought a much needed respite from the rains and moss growing behind our ears 😉 The warmth of the sun and the promise of Spring has a way of invigorating the spirit!

February really is an exciting month on the farm as it’s a time for pushing many things forward on the farm.  After a few months of downtime and shorter days February always marks the beginning of a shift. Where there is less time spent planning and analyzing and more time chipping away at projects and getting the ball rolling! It’s building momentum.. when your heart and mind just want to dive in and the wet winter weather says otherwise. Winter farming can be a difficult shift for farmers… during the busy season we’re working from sun up to sun down and as we near Thanksgiving our work days are cut in half… and by December we’ve reached the winter solstice (the least amount of daylight of the year).  Less time is spent outside and just the slowing down of the physical activity can throw you for quite a loop (both mentally and physically). That paired with the weather and lack of sunshine can make for a feeling that can be challenging at times. But, boy, there is a direct correlation with the sunshine.. that gentle reminder that a new season is not that far away! February is the transition in the farming world where you are buttoning up the planning and feeling extra inspired by the momentum of CSA sign ups, seed orders, projects, to-dos… When February rolls around it means it’s time to implement the seeding plan, push projects through, tune up the ol’ equipment and really begin the new season!

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The last of the celery for a little white, the garlic taking in the sunshine and some sweet winter lettuce mix!

Soil tests, crop planning, seed starting, tractors, building projects and more, oh my! One of the first things we like to do in February is get our custom made fertilizer for the garden all set to go. The first step to soil success is submitting our yearly soil test to A&L Labs.  Next to seed orders this is seriously up there with some of the most fun things we do as farmers. How did we do?  What can we do better?  The challenges and possibilities that farming brings starts right here in the planning stages.   Our custom made organic fertilizer mix paired with the omri certified garden compost we use every season has really improved the soil over the past 4 years and it’s fun to see those previous seasons soil test results change in a positive way!

“If I grow good soil, I can forget about the vegetables.” – Nigel Walker

It brings a big smile to these farmers faces to see the land become more productive over time and to see things truly thrive (it’s members and farmers included) from season to season.   We look forward to feeding the soil and all of our wonderful members through our 8th growing season! Whoop whoop!

radicchio

radicchio rosso di Verona”the rose of chiogga”, castelfranco & radicchio di lusia & di chiogga, rosa verona tardiva!

Feeding and building the nutrition in the soil and rotating all the 70+ different kinds of veggies we grow around the farm is so important (in order to combat disease and pests etc and make sure there is the right amount of nutrition to meet the needs of the many different crops that we grow).   We also need to plan out our successional crop plantings in order to have food for our members each and every week! It seems like a crazy amount of information to grow so many different crops for over 150 households for 7 months (+ 5 months of winter CSA) of the year, which is why the systems we’ve created are so important for the two of us to run this ship smoothly.

We’re buttoning up the crop plans for the season and are really excited about the crops and varieties of veggies that we’re growing this year.  We’ll be rotating our garden plots this year which means we can cover crop some of the garden blocks at the front of the property and let them lay fallow for at time (fallow: adj.(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production). We’re really excited about the forward progress and the season ahead! With all the hot weather 2015 brought and the wild 2016/17 winter we’ve had this year we feel better prepared (mentally and physically) for whatever 2017 will throw at us. Nature waits for no one and the more experience we take on (high fives!) the better prepared we will be.

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spinach and beets have sprung, the build out begins and the new replacement tractor has finally arrived!

Tractor update! As you may recall last year we had a bit of a to-do with the new tractor from John Deere (Re: https://workinghandsfarm.com/2016/09/07/labor-days-csa-week-16-17/ ) We had bought our 5075e tractor in the spring of 2016 with the creeper gear being a part of it (it enables us to plant vegetables at a slow enough speed where it won’t burn up the tractor) and unfortunately they sold us something that hadn’t yet been manufactured. So, last fall we were told they would not be manufacturing it so it was back to the drawing board. We ordered the replacement tractor at the end of last Fall with a creeper gear and it has arrived this week! We are so excited to have the equipment that we need to grow better and improve the systems on the farm!  Strawberry plants will be here before you know it and it’s nice feeling to know the tractors are rearing to go!

 

Red Barn Build-Out. We’re pretty excited about this.. over the last two weeks we made progress on the red barn build out and built a 18×24’ coolbot cooler and a new CSA pick up area that will keep the produce even fresher in our insulated building!   It will also streamline our packing system to make everything more efficient and organized. The concrete floors will make it easy to wash/pack, use the pallet jack to move produce around and chill in the cooler and then when pick up time comes around we’ll be able to roll all the produce into the next room for CSA pick up. This means picking up 50lb crates of produce less and moving towards a much more efficient setup and system for the two of us. Washing, packing, storage and pick up will all happen in one location which will also save us from running produce around all about the farm on a daily basis. Pretty exciting stuff! #workingsmarternotharder

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The first signs of purple sprouting broccoli, the finished coolbot – we just need to purchase the AC units!, gloucester soaking in the sun…

And in the midst of the season that lies ahead, we are over the halfway point of the WHF Winter CSA! We are seriously loving the winter CSA (no matter what ol’ mother nature brings) and already talking about growing and making plans for next winter. We really do feel that it’s an amazing addition to the farm to provide produce through the shorter days of the year all while providing income to the farm that will help us achieve some balance in the crazy months of summer. We are big fans all around – the best perk of all is eating delicious farm fresh veg in the winter! As winter members, you know that the 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 are out of your farmers control.  As winter members, you’ve also come to appreciate and recognize just how resilient vegetables (and your farmers, toot toot!) are. We always strive to do our best and are more motivated than ever to grow better even in an anomaly winter like the one we’ve had this year.

The Hungry Gap. It’ll be fun to see what the rest of the Spring will bring!  It is February which is also the beginning of the “hungry gap” in the farming world.  The hungry gap is the name for the period in spring when there is little or no fresh produce available. When overwintered brassica vegetables such as kale and collards and January King cabbages “bolt” (i.e. run up to flower.. we also call this rapini!) as the days get warmer and longer and the first crops of the year are just being sown. On the farm we utilize the high tunnels and propagation house to get a head start on seeding our first crops of Spring (that’ll be ready to eat starting in mid-March through May depending on the crop).   It’s essential that we have these covered spaces to grow as it’s usually too wet to prepare soil for planting until mid-March. Most people are blissfully unaware of the hungry gap as the grocery store is always overflowing with produce from southern states and imported from southern countries from Feb-April. You can imagine what it must have been like before we imported produce in the winter… cabbage and potatoes, canned fruits and veggies, foraged greens… it seems like such a luxury now that we can grow and eat from the farm (or visit the grocery store) year round!

From the farmer’s perspective it really is such a wonderful experience growing food for our community through the winter. There were many farmers that came before us, who figured out the same things we’re figuring out now minus all of the equipment and efficiencies that technology has given us over the past 100 years…

We have some amazing “over-wintering” crops (like purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, cauliflowers etc) that are slowy beginning to show signs of productivity after 200+ days of growing (so cool) among other fun things like rapini from the kale, collards, cabbages and other root brassicas! We also have some amazing sweet meat squash from Adaptive Seeds and other fun winter squash varietals from Johnny’s Seeds and High Mowing Seeds to enjoy too!

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Here come the first crops of the season, the sun after a rainstorm, there may be a flood outside but inside we’re irrigating!

Sign up for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are 3/4 of the way there to being full for the 2017 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 you farmers closer.”

Small farms are making a big impact! Keep up the great work everyone – let’s do it even better in 2017! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts

3 Steps to Signing Up:

shares

Winter CSA Shares 8, 9, 10.. the bounty continues!

If you have any further questions about the 2017 CSA be sure to check out our FAQs section or send us an email.  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!

Stay dry out there and cross your fingers for some sunshine in the 10 day! We could all use some sunshine!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Come Snow or High Water (Winter CSA Week 6 & 7)

Posted on 26 Jan 2017

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The Cold

How exactly good it is
to know myself
in the solitude of winter,

my body containing its own
warmth, divided from all
by the cold; and to go

separate and sure
among the trees cleanly
divided, thinking of you

perfect too in your solitude,
your life withdrawn into
your own keeping

-to be clear, poised
in perfect self-suspension
toward you, as though frozen.

And having known fully the
goodness of that, it will be
good also to melt.

– Wendell Berry

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Wow, what a few whirlwind weeks it’s been. We’ve all been through the gamut with the freezing rain, snow, frigid temperatures and flooding! We’re really glad everyone made it out safe and sound!

Winter farming is always an exciting adventure and we thank you all for supporting us come Snow or High Water! Two Wednesdays ago it was forecasted that we were going to receive 1-3inches of snow… so around 9pm we realized that the snow was not slowing down and that we would be in for a long night. From 9pm-4am we went from one greenhouse to the next brushing off the heavy wet snow (‘jello arms’ we discovered is most definitely a thing). As soon as all 4 tunnels were brushed off the first would need to be brushed off again. We kept going until we didn’t have anything left. It was crazy and dreamlike. All the hard work paid off though and all the greenhouses were saved (none of them buckled/collapsed under pressure). We ended up getting close to a foot of snow which is the most snow Brian (the native Oregonian) had ever seen at any one time in the valley.

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kale flavored snow cones, Brian plowing us out with the tractor & a brave bunch of hens..

The snow was nice at first (especially once the stress wasn’t as heavy) but as time went on I think we all felt ready for it to melt. The snow did help with the frigid nights that followed that week (we got down to 12-14 degrees in the nights after). The snow can act like a nice layer of insulation for all those crops that were still in the ground. The animals didn’t seem to mind the weather one bit – in fact they all seemed unfazed with their cozy barn, thick fur and unlimited supply of tasty hay… well, except for the chickens… only a few brave hens would actually come out into the snowy drifts.. they’ve never seen snow before!

When the rains came through last week we felt much relief.. the rain came in over night and by morning all the snow was gone. CSA harvests and pick ups could resume! It was now time to walk about the garden and see what was happening with all the crops.  Some of the highlights from our crop walk:   The leeks, garlic and overwintering onions looked great – they even looked like they put on some growth while nestled under the snow. The stoic kale had been through so much this winter – absolute CHAMPS – it’s one of the most winter hardy crops we grow – and although it had leaf damage by the snow and cold it looks like it’ll put on some new leaves with the more moderate temps ahead.   Those January King Cabbages in the share this week speak for themselves… amazing!  The lettuces in the high tunnels (especially the romaine and winter pink lettuces) all weathered the cold like champs. Even the baby spinach, radishes, turnips and arugula in the high tunnels all looked great – not a big of damage!    The Purple Sprouting Broccoli varieties are all about to begin sprouting up which reminds us just how resilient all these crops are.   Surely the ones that make it through a winter like we’ve had this year will be at the top of the planting list for next Winter season!  Seed folks calls it a “selection event” – selecting the hardiest ones for next generation.

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These lettuces & chicories were the champs of the high tunnels.  Absolutely beautiful!  

No matter what mother nature throws at us we LOVE the winter CSA. And with a little sweat equity, love and tears it just proves that we will always have food to eat!  The best perk so far is having access to so much delicious fresh food in the winter – with the Winter CSA it means that we (the farmers and the farm’s members) have eaten better than ever before.   The last two winter seasons have been a truly enjoyable addition to the WHF CSA growing season and we’d like to extend a big thank you to all the WHF Winter CSA members for joining us this winter season! We hope you are all enjoying this week’s yummy winter goodies and look forward to hearing all the delicious home cooked meals you’ve prepared with them.  Keep up the great work!

High Water.  With all the snow melt and additional inches of rain we had some creek flooding within 12-24 hours and over the weekend the Tualatin broke it’s banks. It is now sitting at 30 ft which is 5ft less the crazy flood we had in December 2015. It peaked on Sunday and is slowly beginning to recede (the Tualatin has already gone back over the banks) thanks to the sunny/cloudy days in the forecast. It sure has been nice to really thaw out and dry things out too.

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We’ve been busy getting ready for the season ahead.   During the snow storm we finished up our seed order (yay!) and are super excited about the new varieties of vegetables + fruits we’ll be planting this year as well as some of our tried and true veggies that we already can’t get enough of.  We’re planning big and will be increasing productivity by streamlining our systems and investing in some equipment to ensure we have even more of our CSAs most beloved crops (i.e. strawberries, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, melons, greens, cucumbers, tomatoes etc to name a few).

Last weekend we cleaned out the propagation house, heat mats set up and got our seeding area organized. Brian seeded over 150 trays of storage onions, shallots, bunching onions and cipollinis (over 20,000 onions!) in just two days.  We even started some beets, lettuce and spinach to be planted as some of our first crops for the Spring and Summer CSA. Whoop whoop! Gotta have the veggies.  In the next few weeks we’ll begin our first peppers and tomatoes that will be planted out early in the high tunnels…

Have we mentioned how excited we are for the new growing season?!

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This week’s CSA share, checking on the babies in the high tunnels and Gloucester in his annual seed cat-a-log coma…

Sign up for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just a week away from the start of February and we are 3/4 of the way there to being full for the 2017 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 you farmers closer.”

Small farms are making a big impact! Keep up the great work everyone – let’s do it even better in 2017! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts

3 Steps to Signing Up:

cabbageseeds

First seeds of the year have been started, those beautiful January King Cabbages and the post-snow melt flood!

If you have any further questions about the 2017 CSA be sure to check out our FAQs section or send us an email.  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!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Purple sprouting broccoli (top) and cabbage (bottom), now you see them, now you don’t!

cabbage

Winter Hardy (winter CSA week 5)

Posted on 10 Jan 2017



snowgoat

The critters don’t seem to mind the cold snap we’ve had the past week. The farmers on the other hand are feeling ready for the thaw…

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Wow!  What a whirlwind it’s been since our last Winter CSA distribution – between the holidays, the extreme cold snap, the snow, the ice storm and the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall CSA sign ups!  We hope you all had a healthy, happy holiday and New Year!   Winter CSA pick ups begin again this week! (hurray! Gotta have those veggies!)

January 1st, 2017 was the best opening CSA day we’ve had in the last 8 years! We had more return members sign up on the 1st than we could have ever expected! A big thank you to our die-hard CSA members whose 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! You guys are the bees knees!

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All the Winter CSA Shares so far!

Sign up for the 2017 Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We are just 10 days into January and we are more than halfway there to being full for the 2017 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 you farmers closer.”

Small farms are making a big impact! Keep up the great work everyone – let’s do it even better in 2017! #workinghandsfarmcsa #dirtyhandscleanhearts

3 Steps to Signing Up:

harvesttown

Harvest, cover, harvest repeat!

If you have any further questions about the 2017 CSA be sure to check out our FAQs section or send us an email.  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!

And how about this extra-extra cold snap we’ve been having?  The crazy cold winds and frigid temps certainly have us running around the farm. After Christmas, we continued on our quest of harvesting and washing all the things before the cold snap hit.   Carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi and more root crops for the cooler.   Last week, we prepared for the possibility of single digits temps.   Two nights in a row we got down to 14* and it looks like another 14* night is on it’s way later this week. We covered and double covered everything and when we ran out of row cover we thought to use a 8 year old sheet greenhouse plastic that we kept in the bone yard. We thought if it gets into the single temps and lose some veggies it certainly won’t be for lack of effort. #whfwintercsa #winterfarming

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Our sweet and attentive working pups love this cold weather, some lettuce hiding under multiple layers of agribon in the high tunnels…

So far, so good out in the field from what we can see – we’ll know more once the thaw comes.  Keep your fingers crossed and the farm in your warmest thoughts as we head towards another small cold snap with potential of snow.

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 2016 season…farmers don’t see much ‘office’ time during the growing season).   We also took several soil tests before the ground froze and are expecting our results back this week.  We’ve had a blast figuring out soil interpretation over the past 7 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!

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Gloucester helping to write emails, the best place to be on a cold day and brussel sprouts hanging tough in the cold snap!

We are VERY excited for the coming season on the farm.  Spring is just around the corner – thank goodness the days are now getting longer.  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 outside.  This past weekend we sowed our first seeds of the season (lettuce, spinach and beets) and this week, we’re buttoning up the rest of our seed order (we’ve made it to Peppers in the ol’ seed catalogues!) and are in the midst of our crop plan in anticipation of our greatest year yet!

We’re so excited to continue on in this farming journey and to share it all with you.

Stay warm out there!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

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Working Hands Farm CSA 2017

Posted on 1 Jan 2017

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

Happy New Years Friends & Farm-ily!

2017 CSA Sign Ups begin TODAY for our Spring, Summer & Fall Season!  We hope the winter is treating everyone well! Your farmers are feeling extra inspired and excited for Spring and another year of farming ahead!  Thank you for all of your support this last year – we couldn’t be more excited for what is in store for 2017.  By being a CSA member and investing in our farm it continues to thrive and get better and better with every passing year. As we head into our 8th season  the learning curve is becoming less steep, and we are feeling more confident no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

A great many thanks for all your appreciation, support and encouragement through the most productive & the most delicious CSA season we’ve experienced to date!  Over the course of our 28-week Spring, Summer & Fall CSA season Brian & I harvested and distributed 89,880lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members. 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 with a great variety of crops and delicious tasting veggies that have inspired many fantastic home cooked meals.  That’s 778lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.49/lb for all their fresh, local, organic produce during the 2016 CSA season. <high fives to that!>

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By investing in the CSA we are able to invest in you!  Every year we perform a cost comparison by adding up the cost of the produce in each weeks CSA share and comparing it to our local organic markets and in a typical year our members save in excess of $400-500+ on their produce.  Not that we think our produce can be compared to that of the super market as ours is harvested by either farmer Jess or farmer Brian and given to you the very same day – you can’t beat the freshness of our produce! Also, a store can’t give you the sense of adventure and community that a local farm can.  With that being said…

 

Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Sign-Up Starts TODAY! 

A few changes this year… In order to better accommodate our CSA members needs we’ve extended our pick up hours from 3:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. You’ll also notice that for the first time in 3 years we’ve raised our prices by 2.9% (in order to account for inflation) which translates into only a $1.22 adjustment per week.  And last but certainly not least… the Return of the goats!  We will also be establishing a permanent fence and setup for the goats this Spring so all our farm-ily members can see them again on a weekly basis!  Hurray for goats!

 

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3 Steps to Signing Up:

Pay by Check: Make checks out to ‘Working Hands Farm’ and send it to 7705 SW River Rd. Hillsboro, OR 97123.  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.  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.  

*In order to reserve your share we require a $250 deposit that is non-refundable and is applied to the total cost of the CSA.  The deposit is due within two weeks of submitting our online CSA form.  Once your deposit of $250 is received we will send you a confirmation email welcoming you to our CSA program. We encourage those members who can, to pay more than the deposit upon signing up as this helps your farmers absorb the initial expenses that happen at the beginning of the season.  Remember that our CSA operates on a first come, first serve basis so sign up ASAP!

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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! #dirtyhandscleanhearts #endlesspossibilities

p.s. Check out this link to our favorite photos from our 2016 season: it’s amazing how much can happen in a year and there’s so much to be thankful for!  Enjoy this compilation of our best shots of the year.

Happiest of days to you all!

Your Farmers

Jess, Brian & the rest of the farm-ily…

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

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The Longest Night (winter csa week 4)

Posted on 21 Dec 2016

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To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,

and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,

and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

– Wendell Berry

Important ReminderThis week is the Week 4 pick up of the Winter CSA and the last pick up before our 2-week holiday/new year break.  After this week’s pick up: Weekly Members & Bi-Weekly Members (weeks 1,3,5,7 etc) will resume CSA pick up the week of January 8th.  Bi-weekly Members (weeks 2,4,6,8 etc) will resume CSA pick up the week of January 17th.

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,
Some high fives are in order because we’ve successfully made it through the wind, snow, rain & freezing temperatures!  We worked extra hard to harvest what we could before the freezing temps (a few nights in a row we got down to 17*) and the rest we covered in a sea of agribon fabric… and for extra sensitive crops we even double layered it under an ounce of agribon fabric.  We also got quite the arm workout brushing snow of all 4 of our high tunnels a couple times a day.  All the day light hours in the last week were gobbled up by a couple of farmers who love a challenge and who truly love growing through all the seasons. 
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Making (rockin’) snow angels in the CSA parking lot & enjoying the freshly fallen snow last Wednesday!
The thaw on Monday was a welcomed sight… when all the ice and slushy snow vanished and all the overwintering vegetables in the field began to perk up – we did too.  Farming in the Winter gives you a surprising amount of  je ne sais quoi.  A strange and simple confidence in knowing that the elements truly are out of your control, you simply just do the best you can and the rest you have to let go… and in a way it’s absolutely freeing because in the times that seem the hardest to grow just about anything – those plants grow and survive in the most unlikely of situations (of course, with a lot of blood, sweat and tears from these two farmers!).  Just gotta keep the faith & enjoy the ride – winter farming if anything makes us much better farmers who embrace the risks that come with farming and find freedom in the unknown.  
During the two-week break from CSA harvests we will continue to harvest/wash/bag more vegetables for later in the season… the carrots that were covered with agribon in the field during the freeze are some of the sweetest we’ve ever grown.  A frost makes the winter veggies sweeter because in order protect their cells from bursting they convert their complex carbohydrates (bonded sugars) into simple sugars!  Which is a bonus for us who enjoy eating veggies!  You’ll be seeing these in the New Year!
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Lots of mycelium pippin’ up in the garlic, frosty kale and cozy spinach being harvested for this week’s share..

Over the weekend we also made progress on our 2017 financial projections.   We sat down and did some 2017 financial projections with our secret weapon… Papito (aka Brian’s dad). It doesn’t sound like fun but we absolutely love it! Our favorite quote from Brian’s papa, “if you torture the numbers they will confess” For the past 4 years Brian’s dad has been teaching us the mystical ways of excel and how to build sophisticated financial models for each of the farm’s profit centers. We love having him on our team and figuring out how to make the farm sustainable in the long run. Every year we get closer and we appreciate all the time he puts into helping us grow better. ‪#‎growingbetter‪#‎familyfarming

During the next few weeks we will spend time looking through our 2016 CSA season photos and updating ol’ WHF website. There is so much excitement and anticipation surrounding a new growing year. So many opportunities to grow better and new veggies to try (let the seed catalog ordering begin)!  Brian and I are getting really excited to begin sign ups for our 2017 CSA season on January 1st!   So mark your calendars and stay tuned for another year of endless possibilities.
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The WHF lake frozen over last week, three cheers for some snow days and the sun making it’s way past the horizon..
Last call for our online Holiday Sale!  20% off WHF Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef!  Thank you all very much for your interest!  To celebrate the holidays ahead  we are offering 20% off all orders over $25 for our Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef using the discount code HOLIDAYSALE during checkout.


To purchase: click the link to our Online Store to purchase some of our amazing pastured pork & grass fed beef.  *You will receive 20% off your online order when you type in or copy/paste the discount code: HOLIDAYSALE during check out.  Discount code will be valid while supplies last!*

Not only is it incredibly delicious but your investment helps Brian & I to sustain our small farm!  Thank you in advance for your support! Help us spread the good word and share this email and link with family and friends!  #buylocal #knowyourfarmer#knowyourfood

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The menagerie is in full force this time of year with thick coats of fur and cozy sleeping arrangements & a view from the loft of the barn..

Today marks the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year or the longest night depending on your point of view!  Today’s daylight will be close to 8 hours & 42min (compared to the Summer Solstice with 15 hours & 41 min of daylight).  The days will only grow longer for here which means the start of the 2017 growing season is drawing nigh.

We hope you all have an amazing holiday with friends and family and good food. We’ll see you all in the New Year!
With kind regards,
Jess & Brian
dirty hands, clean hearts
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