The Longest Night (winter csa week 4)

Posted on 21 Dec 2016

kittylongestnight

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!
mushroooms
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

menagerie2

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

Work Like the Snow (winter csa week 2 & 3)

Posted on 16 Dec 2016


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“Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly.
leaving nothing out.” – Like Snow by Wendell Berry

Important ReminderNext 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 next 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,

It’s been quite a few weeks on the farm!  From our first frost and freeze last week to snow and freezing rain and warmer temps.. now we’re back to colder temps and snow again!  It’s looking like it’ll be in the 40s again next week which means we’ll have a thaw and lots of mud.  It’s been such a different winter growing year for us than last year.  Both seasons were pretty mild leading into winter, last year had a lot more rain and the frost came a little earlier, we had snow but it wasn’t until the month of January.  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!

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Brussel Sprouts and Purple Sprouting Broccoli in the snow and one of the high tunnels at sunset…

At the moment the farm is neatly tucked into a few dozen big sheets of agribon (each sheet is 35ft x 100ft and is a floating row cover that provides frost protection up to 2-4 degrees) that is then covered with a few inches of snow.  Hopefully the snow is keeping all those crops well insulated in their own “snow cave” until the thaw comes on Sunday.

When the snow and bitter cold comes there’s not much that we can do but hunker down and hope for the best!  Continue on with chores and projects and peek in on the crops, hunker down and focus on next year’s goals and financial projections as well as launching our 2017 CSA season on January 1st!  Every season is different and comes with it’s own unique weather waves and patterns and this winter is no exception!  We’ll have a better idea of how all the vegetables did come Sunday/Monday with the warmer weather.  (send the farm your warm thoughts!)

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The sunset over our annual lake WHF and our crop of garlic for 2017..

The Winter season perhaps, more than any other, speaks to the nature of CSAs shared risk.  You invest in the farm and the farmers and we do our very best to provide you with organic seasonal produce through the winter months, whatever the season may bring.  Because of you and your investment in our farm our CSA continues to thrive and get better and better with every passing year. The learning curve is becoming less steep, and we are feeling more confident no matter what ol’ mother nature throws at us.

Winter farming isn’t for the faint of heart but we truly believe it to be a special time of the year to be vegetable farmers… to be connected to the seasons, to the winter varietals of plants, to better understand nature and truly experience the highs and lows and resiliency of life!

turnipthebeet

Harvesting beet bunches for this past week’s CSA, harvest/wash/pack repeat & spring onions!

Most of you have gotten to know us over several seasons and you know we will do our very best to ensure you have food on your table all winter long.  We even got up way before the sun on Wednesday to extend pick up hours to ensure all our CSA members made it out to pick up before the snow.  Come rain or shine our members gotta have those veggies!

Being a farmer is all about keeping the faith and being willing to take risks (and like it, to boot!)  Learning to trust that everything is going to be okay no matter what happens.  On a personal note, the snow was a warm welcome as it has this way of slowing everything down.  The roads get a lot quieter and everything looks peacefully tucked into a giant blanket of white.  The crunch beneath your feet.. all of it allows you to be exactly where you are and appreciate nature and the seasons.  Change is a welcome thing.

The change of pace also allowed for some quality time with my mom who was visiting from Massachusetts.  Everytime my family comes to visit I can’t express just how much their visit meant to Brian and I.  The last time they were able to visit was in the Spring and before that at our wedding which was almost 2 years ago!  They were here at the start of the 2016 growing season when it officially began and my mom was able to come out  to see the end of the season too – it always feels right to have them there with us by our sides.    It’s amazing how much we miss them and hope it’s not too long until we see their faces again.  Love you mom!

jessmombw

 

My mom and I enjoying the snow last week, frozen leeks and the first of the PSB..

20% off WHF Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef!  The sale continues!  Thank you all very much for your interest!  To celebrate the holidays ahead – beginning today – 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!*

 

snowyice

Gloucester checking out last week’s freeze, our first snow of the season and some frosty cabbages!

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

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

csas

The Persephone Period (winter CSA week 1)

Posted on 2 Dec 2016

winter1

winter kale in the sunlight, a sunrise view from the loft of the barn, an early succession of purple sprouting broccoli

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy December! We hope the Thanksgiving holiday treated you all well.  It was a stormy and wet end to November and we hope you kept warm by making many delicious homemade meals in the warmth of your kitchen.

We spent all thanksgiving morning gathering equipment from the pastures and lower fields in the sideways wind and rain which was good because the ground water and creek flooded out the lower acreage so our annual lake is back.  The Tualatin River didn’t flow over it’s banks this time around but it sure was close!  The lake view property we currently have is a good reminder of that.  There’s actually so much ground water looking for a place to go it’s just been bubbling out of mole holes!

garlicspinach

The view from the garlic block, spinach in the high tunnel & a bulk beet harvest.. or should we say mud…

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 two additional 96′ x 30′ 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!

 

radbunching

The chicories come alive this time of season, italian dandelions and overwintering onions..

=

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 and working extra hard – to ensure that our winter CSA members had the best possible CSA experience. We continue to cover up crops with row cover and harvesting crops over the next few weeks for storage before those extra chilly they are predicting next week hit.

It’s been a surprisingly mild late Fall despite how wet and gloomy it was in October.  November seems to have made up for the quick change back in the early fall.  Usually by now we’ve had our first frost (which we still have yet to had) and is the reason why we still had some peppers, romanesco, cauliflower and broccoli in the first Winter CSA share.  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!

 

pumpkincauli

Late season cauliflower, farm kitty sleeping on a stack of carhartts, and homemade pumpkin pie..

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).

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

 

goatbrussels

The brussels love the colder weather, the goats saying “HI!” and some delicious savoy cabbages…

Aside from growing winter veggies, we’re just plugging along on the winter projects… cleaning up, organizing, little building projects, packing and storing,  planning, scheming 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 3 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 2017 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 2017 our greatest growing season yet – so stay tuned 😉

fieldsofpsb

– 

Late Fall romanesco, a field of overwintering purple sprouting broccoli, the cutest komatsuna leaf..

20% off WHF Pastured Pork & Grass Fed Beef!  To celebrate the holidays ahead – beginning today – 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

flood

The lake returns! Radicchio for the win, and Captain Ahab basking in the sun…

Be happy, be well and stay warm and dry out there.   We’ll leave you with this beautiful poem by Mr. Wendell Berry entitled, “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.”

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

 

A Bountiful Perspective (csa week 27 & 28)

Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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Pictured above are all 28 shares from the 2016 growing season!  

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We can hardly believe it has been 28 weeks since the start of 2016 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 homegrown 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.

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

 Carrots & Broccoli for 17 shares, 

Tomatoes for 13 shares, 

Sweet Corn for 9 shares, 

Onions for 23 shares, 

Zucchini/Squash/Cukes for 24 shares, 

Garlic for 26 shares, 

Mixed fruit (strawberries, apples, plums, cantaloupe & watermelon) for 10 shares, 

Mixed Peppers for 16 shares, 

Cauliflower for 8 shares, 

Winter squash for 8 weeks, 

Beets for 12 shares, 

Mixed Bunch Greens for 22 shares, 

Lettuce for 17 shares, 

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

2016 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..)


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Mark your Calendars!  Our 2017 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st.  Our 2016 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 or sixth 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!

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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 these two farmers provided…

89,880 lbs of produce!

4,000 lbs of pasture-raised pork & beef!

780 dozen eggs!

Over the course of our 28-week 2016 CSA season your (two) farmers have harvested and distributed 89,880lbs of freshly picked, organic, thoughtfully grown produce to our CSA members.

That’s 788lbs of produce per weekly share which means our members paid $1.49/lb for all their fresh, local, organic produce this season.

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

trifecta

All while supporting the ecosystem of this farm, two full time farmers by ensuring a livable wage, 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 and in 2015 it was 771lbs @ $1.52 per lb. Your farmers are getting more efficient and learning quickly which contributes greatly to the lower price point this year!

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.

kitty4th

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, meat and eggs that you can both know and trust.

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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 2017 season!  Our 2017 CSA sign-ups will begin on January 1st. 

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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

Everyday Blessings (csa week 26)

Posted on 11 Nov 2016

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“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

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 2016 season. From opening the 2016 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.

 –bruseels

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 14-16 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 over the weekend with storage crops!   We’re really looking forward to adding up our 2016 numbers for next week’s newsletter… here we grow!  Next 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!

 

carrotsfog

NEXT WEEK is the final pick up week of the Spring, Summer & Fall CSA Season!   Tuesday, November 15th, Wednesday, the 16th or Thursday, the 17th 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 on that 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)!

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Save your Newspapers (for your Farmers!)  For those of you who receive (daily or weekly) newspapers please save up your newspaper this week for your farmers!  FULL PAGE newspaper only – we do not need glossy printed newspaper or coupons!  We use the full size sheets of paper to wrap our storage cabbage in and will have a bin available for drop off during next week’s pick up.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Beef & Pork Shares. A big thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm about Grass Fed Beef & Pastured Pork Shares! We expect to have our freezers stocked with beef and pork through the winter so please check back on the site periodically as we will be keeping our inventory updated!   Please think of us the next time you want to buy some top quality – can’t find this product at the store – experience!  Tis’ the season for soups, stews, braising, roasting and more so keep us in mind for the holiday season!  Thank you in advance for your support! The Grass Fed Beef Shares & Pastured Pork Shares & Sausage Shares we have for purchase are available to both members and non-members so feel free to share the workinghandsfarmstore.com link with family and friends…

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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!

We’ll see you all next week!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

peasoup

November Notes (csa week 24 & 25)

Posted on 4 Nov 2016



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“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” 
― E.B. White

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

The month of November is here.. quieter days and longer nights. How wonderful were those sunny days over the weekend and the past few days? 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 coming Sunday will also bring 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 animal 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.

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!

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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 over the weekend, I went online to the WHF Members Page on Facebook to try out a few recipe suggestions there that were bookmarked in my mind. This soup Spicy Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup was a hit – it was delicious and fed the two of us several tasty meals!  It was extra delicious paired with salad (arugula, radicchio & romaine….) and some crusty bread.

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 3 seasons of posting (so cool)!  Some of my favorite advice that one of our member’s gave (in their 4th 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 newsletter) We 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 140 households that our CSA program grows for.

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For us, the Members Page is a really important component to our CSA. Hearing how everyone is utilizing all the fresh produce, pastured eggs, grass fed beef and pastured pork 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 and pasture raised meat and eggs 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!

tilling

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 2016 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.

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Proud Farmer moment: Over the course of 25 weeks, Brian and I have sown, grown, harvested and distributed over 79,000lbs of produce to our awesome CSA members. That puts us on track for distributing over 85,000 lbs for the 2016 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 700 lbs per weekly share which means by the end of the Spring/Summer CSA we will have distributed close to 800 lbs of food to each weekly share member. Which is a $1.49/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!

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Beef & Pork Shares. A big thank you to everyone for your enthusiasm about Grass Fed Beef & Pastured Pork Shares! We expect to have our freezers stocked with beef and pork through the winter so please check back on the site periodically as we will be keeping our inventory updated!   Please think of us the next time you want to buy some top quality – can’t find this product at the store – experience!  Tis’ the season for soups, stews, braising, roasting and more so keep us in mind for the holiday season!  Thank you in advance for your support! The Grass Fed Beef Shares & Pastured Pork Shares & Sausage Shares we have for purchase are available to both members and non-members so feel free to share the workinghandsfarmstore.com link with family and friends…

This weekend we’ll continue bringing in storage crops for our Winter CSA season.. starting with everybody’s favorite: Carrots! Let the power washing and bagging begin! If you see us out in the field this week be sure to give us a wave!

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Just a reminder…. The final CSA pick up for the Spring/Summer/Fall season is just TWO weeks away!  (November 15th, 16th or 17th 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 on that 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)!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the veggies!

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

greenssquash

The Fourth Quarter (csa week 22 & 23)

Posted on 21 Oct 2016


garlic1

“Now constantly there is the sound,

quieter than rain,

of the leaves falling.

Under their loosening bright

gold, the sycamore limbs

bleach whiter.

Now the only flowers

are beeweed and aster, spray

of their white and lavender

over the brown leaves.

The calling of a crow sounds

loud—a landmark—now

that the life of summer falls

silent, and the nights grow.”

– Wendell Berry, October 10

 

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope no one floated away & stayed safe in last weekend’s big rain and wind storm.   We battened down the hatches at the end of last week in anticipation of the ‘storm of the century’. Thankfully, it wasn’t the worst-case scenario that the meteorologists were predicting.  We’ve had almost 5 inches of rain off and on for the last 7 days.  We did experience 44mph wind gusts on Saturday afternoon and tried our best to ignore the newly constructed high tunnels and the loud flapping sounds of the plastic by cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

We love this time of year and it’s starting to really feel like Fall in Oregon. The colors, the crispy nights, the dewey/foggy mornings, the shorter days… it’s such an incredibly beautiful time to be outside and enjoying the true feeling of fall before ol’ winter comes knocking on our door.

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We actually got pretty close to our first frost last week (a low of 35) but managed to skirt it just barely. We heeded with precaution though and covered some of our tender fall crops with agribon (aka floating row cover that provides frost protection up to 2-4 degrees) only to take them off before the big wind storm. Looks like we have another 10 days or more before we’re in the 30’s again at night. A frost makes the Fall veggies sweeter because in order protect their cells from bursting they convert their complex carbohydrates (bonded sugars) into simple sugars! Kale, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi etc… all those veggies sweeten up with colder temps!

We began planting our garlic last week and managed to get in 1,200 ft before the big rains.   We hope to make another big push on planting today (Friday). We’re planting 3,600 ft of garlic this winter and are pretty excited about all the varieties we’re growing! We’re even trying our hand at some elephant garlic this season (the cloves we planted were huge!) Elephant garlic is actually related to leeks and are resistant to rust (unlike garlic). Rust is a fungus that has been plaguing the Pacific NW (especially the last few years) and can leave plants/bulbs stunted with less storability. We’re also planting a few early Asiatic varieties that some of our fellow farmers have had great success with. They are ready to harvest a month earlier than other varieties and because of that often escape any real damage from rust. Feels good to have some insurance in a business that keeps you on your toes everyday. This will be our 6th 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 the test of that relationship. Here’s to many more years planting garlic together and to the first crop of the 2017 CSA season!

glouc3

We had a chance to harvest our sweet potatoes before the big rains and it was as we expected – not a very fruitful harvest.  We believe there were a few contributing factors… the much cooler summer (they are a hot weather/warm soil loving kind of plant) and the weeds.  Last year, we planted them the exact same way and they were so prolific with the hot summer that they out competed weeds and took over the place.  This year they didn’t thrive in the mild summer temps so we battled the weeds all season long.  We have a plan to use landscape fabric next season to both warm the soil (if we have another mild summer) and the weed suppression.  We may also try planting two lines of sweet potato per bed instead of our usual one line per bed.  We planted two different varieties this year (one for Fall and one for Winter distribution) so we will have a little to distribute to our Winter CSA this year.    Always looking forward and always looking for ways to improve how we grow, harvest, work the land etc.

 

The end of October/early November can be a sprint for the two of us as we near the end of our long lists of to-dos (while the weather is still somewhat decent) and to get ready for our Winter CSA. We have 1,000’s of lbs of storage crops that need to be harvested, washed and stored in the cooler. Onions and garlic will be trimmed and bagged. Some crops will need to be covered and protected from the cold. We will be planting our last crops in the high tunnels in November for harvest through the winter and early Spring months.  We also need to take on the big project of removing the deep bedding from the big wood barn so that we can get it all cozy for the cows to have some dry space this winter!  So send some sunny – dry weather thoughts are way as we take on the end of the year to-dos!

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The longer nights have given us a moment to take pause and write down all the things we’d like to work on next season to grow the business more thoughtfully.  Working Hands Farm will be in it’s 8th season of operation next year and we’re really excited to keep growing better as a business, individuals and a partnership.  Our bodies and minds are looking forward to the change of pace the late Fall and winter will bring.  Until then, we will hope for some sun on the horizon to finish up our season sprint!

A friendly reminder: We have just 4 more CSA pick up weeks left in the Spring/Summer/Fall season. As a reminder to all our wonderful CSA-ers: the last CSA pick ups will be November 15th, 16th, 17th and on that week, our Weekly CSA Members will receive a double share (shares 27 & 28) to better prepare you for the Thanksgiving holiday.   ALL Bi-Weekly Share members will pick up on that week as well (either Share 27 or 28 depending on your assigned weeks)!

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We are very excited to offer our 100% Grass Fed/Grass Finished Beef Shares beginning this week!  We keep a small herd of British White and Black Angus cross cows that produce incredibly flavorful and tender beef.

Our Cows:

-Are raised and finished on grass and clover at 24 months of age

-Are raised on an rotational grazing system that helps to build our soils and improve the biodiversity of our grasses.

-And are raised by Jess and I with respect and love

-Are USDA inspected and certified

-Are never fed grain

-Are never given supplemental antibiotics or hormones

 

WHF Grass Fed Beef Shares (27-28lbs)  A 27-28 lb share of our grass fed beef is $325 and includes a mix of: Ground beef (12-13 lbs) Premium steaks (6-8 lbs/2steaks per package) i.e Rib eye, New York, etc… Roasts (2.5-4lbs) i.e. Cross Rib, Brisket, Chuck, etc… Package of our amazing beef stock bones! (2-3lbs).

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To order please email us and let us know the number of shares you are interested or visit http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/products/grass-fed-beef to place an order!

 

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Fall Pork!  We have our Fall Pork just back from the processor and have some awesome new items to try (chorizo!).  We expect to have our freezers stocked with pork through the winter so please check back on the site periodically as we will be keeping our inventory updated!   Tis’ the season for soups, stews, braising, roasting and more so keep us in mind for the holiday season!  Thank you in advance for your support!

Winter CSA!  We had quite a few members ask about the Winter CSA during WHF farm day – thank you so much for your interest!  The 2016-2017 Winter CSA is sold out/full for the season.  If you are interested in the Winter CSA please fill out the waiting list form here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa-sign-up/ so that we can get a better idea of how many households are interested in joining in the future to better suit the needs of our community!

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

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

=-

kale2

What We Need is Here (csa week 20 & 21)

Posted on 6 Oct 2016



oct2

“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.”

– Excerpt from The Wild Geese, Wendell Berry

 

Reminder: CSA Member Pumpkin Pick/Farm Day is this coming weekend! Be sure to RSVP via the evite that was sent to your email. We will be sending out a “safety on the farm” email later this week!

 –

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 –

It sure feels like September came and went in a blink of an eye. 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. Time to say goodbye to the tastes of summer and welcome the delicious possibilities of Fall. When turning on the oven no longer feels like a chore and the greens and roots and giant broccoli have their moment to really shine.

The rains of October have given us the welcome opportunity to take pause. The shorter days have lent a hand in that as well. September was a bit of a kick butt month for us. Like the peak of a marathon – we were running! With building and constructing two new high tunnels, stacking the hay in the barn, harvesting close to 4,000 lbs of produce every week, planting out the last of the Fall & all of the winter crops, preparing and flaming beds for our garlic planting, weeding acres worth of fall and winter veggies, bringing in thousands of pounds of winter squash etc

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The growing season sometimes feels like a crazy whirlwind that you are swept up in. As soon as September hits you know that time is of the essence! Having the experience and several seasons under your belt you know that the days are growing shorter and that the time is now to do all the things that you need to do because at any moment the weather could change and when there’s ‘wet’ your options for being out in the garden become more limited. Surprisingly, in a time where you should just be dog tired you get a second wind. 8 months into the season and the sprint happens and somehow you have the energy to do it. Maybe because you know the slow down, the end, is on the horizon. What ever it is Brian and I always come together, rise to the occasion and get it done.

The work that we do – it just being the two of us who farm these 40 acres – it’s all we’ve ever known as the owners and farmers of Working Hands Farm. We’ve made it work for these seven years – learning a lot along the way and feeding hundreds and hundreds of families in the process.

oct1

There’s still plenty to do this month! We have the last of the crops slated to go in the ground, in the high tunnels and a few things to be seeded in the propagation house for a December plant date in the high tunnels. We need to haul out the deep bedding in the big barn for the cows to make a nice cozy and dry place for them to be in the winter months. The big clean up will commence too – removing summer crops, trellising/tposts, pulling up landscape fabric, removing and storing drip tape, seeding late cover crops, planting garlic & overwintering onions, pulling up all the irrigation & pump from the lower pastures, prepping a new block for early spring plantings etc.

I’ll also be canning up the last of our goodies to feed and nourish us through the winter months. It’s such an important part of farming for us both.. and what brought us to growing food in the first place. We always say that something just wouldn’t be right if we didn’t make the time to “stock the larder”. Our farming hearts are one part homesteader, one part business owner/farmer. I grew up in a family that grew and harvested so much of the food that we ate through the winter months. My mom was always canning and Dad was always providing the food to preserve. So it’s no surprise to me that canning is like second nature to me. In one day I can put up more than 30 quarts. Which could also be some parts necessity as the farm demands most of our attention.   Eating the food that we grow 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.

oct6

Brian and I both came at farming from different perspectives – he was looking for peace after years of working abroad in a stressful job and I was looking to educate his 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.

oct4

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. One of our 4 year members wrote us a few days ago and it was too good not to share…. I don’t really bother to compare years and I’m always so happy with what you produce, but something about this year feels extra double special.  You guys are the absolute gems of Washington County.  We are so blessed to live near you and be able to enjoy your bounty.  There’s a hymn that says “the whole earth is full of His glory” and I think it might be talking about that early fall kale!!  When your salad is a spiritual experience … hug your farmers indeed!”

oct7

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 7 weeks left of Spring/Summer/Fall CSA!)

 –

WHF Grass Fed Beef Shares!  Our 100% Grass fed, organic USDA certified beef shares will be available SOON.  We will keep all our members posted with the details.

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

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

The Last Sweet Songs of Summer (CSA Week 18 & 19)

Posted on 20 Sep 2016

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“Another year gone, leaving everywhere its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island 
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering

in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries — roots and sealed seeds

and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing to stay — how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever in these momentary pastures.” – Mary Oliver, Fall Song

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

The Autumnal Equinox is just a few days away… nature is singing her last sweet songs of summer as we welcome Fall.    We love this time of year.  Starting the day with a wooly and a flannel and by mid-morning we’re in t-shirts.   It’s been a nice change of pace.

August and September are the craziest whirlwind months here on the farm.  We keep saying “next week it will start to slow down” and we keep waiting for that to actually happen… ha ha crazy farmers…  It will though!  We began our gigantic winter squash harvest so those precious fruits can be out of the weather and cure in the warmth of the greenhouse.  We are estimating around 12,000-15,000lbs total and hope to get the rest of them over the course of this week (after CSA harvest).  After that our next big harvest will be the sweet tater harvest.   This time last year we actually had all of our sweet potatoes harvested but we pulled a few plants over the weekend and it looks as though they could use another 3+ weeks to put on growth.   The sweet potatoes haven’t been as prolific as they were last year (they loved last years extreme heat) but we’re crossing our fingers for a decent yield this year!  Did you know that sweet potatoes need to be “cured” like winter squash?    The natural sweetness improves after curing but the primary purpose of curing is to heal injuries so that the sweet potatoes remain in good condition for storage/eating during the Fall and winter.  We keep them at 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of 85 to 90 percent for 7-10 days.

pinkgreen

All of these steps/big items on the list require other steps – getting infrastructure set up, hauling, loading, stacking, building tables, etc… it’s never as easy as just the idea of it.  So, we remember, the only way out is through.  And we accomplish by doing.  You just gotta start – sometimes that’s the hardest part.  On Friday, we also found ourselves in the barn to put up another 6 tons of winter hay for the cows.  With the forecasted showers over the weekend it needed to be done.  With only 6 more tons of hay to go our bodies are already excited to have that chore finished!

Farmers could be called “professional material handlers” (the term was mentioned in one of Chris Blanchard’s farmer to farmer podcasts last year) especially this time of the year.  Harvesting the heavy loads of onions, garlic, winter squash, sweet potatoes etc, loading, packing, curing until they are moved again to their final resting place for the winter.  Come October and November, repeat all these steps with roots (carrots, turnips, beets etc) and alliums (garlic and onions), etc.  The heavy lifting begins in June with squash and cukes, continues with tomatoes and melons and doesn’t end until November when the last harvests of winter stores that are coming in to the cooler etc.  Infrastructure is so important on the farm and covered space is like gold.  It’s also important to limit the amount of times you are handling everything so you’re not creating double work for yourself.. think: could this go on a pallet and be moved by the forks on the tractor from field to final storage place.. etc (our new Macro Bins have been amazing for moving around the melons, potaotes and winter squash this year!)  The better we get as farmers the more we’re talking TONS rather than 100’s of lbs.  And nobody understands that more than our backs 😉  Gotta work smarter, not harder.

greenhouse

It does feel good to have the new red barn filling up, the propagation house will be at max capacity with all the winter squash and sweet potato curing in there and soon the cooler will be chock full of goodies too.   Stocking the larder!

Greenhouse/high tunnel Update!   Where there was one now stand two more high tunnels (thanks nrcs grant)! Our best buds @evenpullfarm came over two Saturdays ago to get this project started and boy did we get a lot further along than expected. We sweated a lot, worked hard, laughed a bunch, talked shop, ate some nourishing farm meals and chatted around the table after the sun went down. We feel lucky to have friends like these… who have always felt more like family.  Feeling extra motivated with the big push the previous weekend we continued working on this project again over the weekend.   Brian and I finished up the last few steps on one of the high tunnels and even pulled the plastic over and got it secured (it only got a little stressful when a couple of sketchy wind gusts randomly showed up..).  One high tunnel down – one more to go.  We should have it already to go in about a week’s time.  Just in time to get them both planted with winter veggie goodness!

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There are many transitions for us this time of year…  When we normally would do evening chores after closing the CSA pick up we are finding ourselves getting to all the animals chores in the midst of CSA pick up.  It’s getting dark by 7:30/8:00pm so it’s nice to have things wrapped up before hand.  A farmer’s work is never done so it’s nice to establish a routine that works with the sun and our bodies.  We’ve been making supper and having it on the table by 9pm and soon we’ll be eating earlier and maybe catching a few extra zzz’s!  So many things to look forward to this time of year.

CSA Member Farm Day & Pumpkin Pick is coming up in the next few weeks!  Be sure to RSVP via the evite that was sent to your email.

WHF Pastured Pork!  Our Summer Pork Sale ends this Friday!  We have an amazing selection of USDA recipes and cuts that make our pastured heritage pork shine!   Products available by the share and by individual cuts.  Including Uncured & Nitrite-Free** Items & Over 10 different kinds of Fresh & Smoked Sausages!  

Here’s the link to our Online Farmstore: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all

WHF Grass Fed Beef Shares!  Our 100% Grass fed, organic USDA certified beef shares will be available SOON.  We will keep all our members posted with the details.

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

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

squish

Labor Days (CSA week 16 & 17)

Posted on 7 Sep 2016

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

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Reminder: First Winter  CSA payments are due by September 15th (in one week!) 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!  It sure has been some up and down weather with cooler nights and even some cloudy days/showers/rainbows mixed in.  The 10-day looks like we’re back in the 80’s but we know autumnal equinox is just a few short weeks away.  Time to soak in all the goodness that the end of summer has to offer.  To enjoy the bounty and flavors of the season!

Speaking of seasonal bounty… we were so inspired by one of our members who shared this with our member group over the weekend… “If you have Netflix streaming (this is not an ad for them, but sharing my experience of this evening), you might look for a series called Chef’s Table: France. It’s new just now. Episode 1 is about a French chef who, over time, learned to use primarily vegetables for his cuisine and to be inspired by what is absolutely fresh and available today. The way he described his process of waiting for inspiration from the vegetables themselves and cooking instinctively, rather than imposing a recipe, reminds me so much not just of how I cook during farm season but also of much of what I read here. It was fascinating and resonated with me strongly. Let the vegetables TALK to you, tell you what they need, how to prepare them, what they will pair with. Yes, I still use recipes (mostly as guidelines any more, since I’m sort of older than dirt and have practiced long enough to not need them much). But each week when I get my share, I sit down that evening with the list of what is still in the fridge, the list of what I brought home, and a sense of delight that I can turn these things into delicious meals. This is what I wish for you, all my fellow CSA members. May your vegetables talk to you, and may you create deliciousness in your lives.”

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 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.  It’s a win–win for everyone.

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And.. the good news is..we’re still alive!  The ol’ newsletter and social media got lost in the shuffle last week as it’s been a crazy farmer marathon that we’ve been running.  The past week especially has been 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 evenings (after CSA harvests) have been dedicated to planting and we’ve made some huge progress.  Fall and winter crops are getting weeded slowly but surely.  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 prepped 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!

It’s also operation put up TWO 96×30 high tunnels asap!  Brian has been busy squaring off the two structures this weekend and has been digging holes (80 of them!) for the footings to go into.  He even managed to secure them in concrete so they’ll have a few days to dry during the harvest week.  Our amazing friends at Even Pull Farm are gonna come up here on Saturday to help us raise the bows and put the tunnels/greenhouses together.  And boy their help couldn’t come at a better time!  We’ve put up greenhouses together in the past so hopefully all of our expertise will get the job done or at least get us a fair bit of the way there!  Once the high tunnels are up we’ll be prepping to plant and seed.. This will extend the season of our more tender crops as well as the first round of Spring crops come February… always thinking ahead…. Especially with our winter CSA!

In the next few weeks it’ll be time to harvest and cure the winter squash and sweet potatoes 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…

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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 harvest crates x 3 days (and 150+ shares) can add up to a lot of pounds of produce being harvested and carried around the farm… Not to mention the walking. We haven’t put a pedometer on in a while but we’d bet we’ve been easily walking 20+ miles each day. Morning and evening chores will surely seem a bit easier when all the critters are moved up closer to the barn over the winter.  And we only have 4 more loads of hay to go before the barn is stocked with goodies for the critters that will nourish them through the late fall and winter months.

In the midst of the farm marathon frenzy we also got news last week – after waiting 6 months – that john deere won’t be manufacturing a creeper gear for our new tractor until sometime next summer at the earliest.  We had bought this tractor in the early spring 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 it’s back to the drawing board with the tractor.  It took us about 5 months to figure out and find a tractor that suited our needs (its hard being an in-between size in the farming world in terms of scale) and we’re really hoping we can find a replacement for it in a much more timely manner!  Our coolbot cooler AC unit has been on the fritz as well so we’re hoping that’s it for a while in regards to machines on the farm…. <knock on wood!>

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CSA Member Farm Day & Pumpkin Pick!  Our CSA Member Farm Day will be happening during the first part of next month set for October 8th from 11am-2pm!  This is a great opportunity for our CSA members to come out, see the farm, chat with their farmers and fellow CSA members!  Members will also have the opportunity to pick out one pumpkin per share.  Rain or shine!  We’ll be sending out a proper invitation in the next week or so so please RSVP!

Summer Pork Sale!  Our Fall Pork will be coming back from the processor very soon so over the next few weeks in order to make room in our freezers we are having a summer pork sale on our Online Farmstore!  We have an amazing selection of USDA recipes and cuts that make our pastured heritage pork shine!   Products available by the share and by individual cuts.  Including Uncured & Nitrite-Free** Items & Over 10 different kinds of Fresh & Smoked Sausages!  

Here’s the link to our Online Farmstore: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all

Enjoy the week and we will see you all soon!

All the best,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts




brassicas

Labor of Love (csa week 15)

Posted on 26 Aug 2016


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Hello Friends & Farm-ily,

‘Tis the last week of August.. where did the time go?!

With the coming of September means that 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.

The watermelons all ripened this past week which is always super exciting!  You know it’s peak summer when the melons come to town in the Willamette Valley.  Next week we should have cantaloupes and even honeydews!  Fun!  The tomatoes are going bonkers and the heirlooms are beginning to shine!  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 broccoli… broccoli in August!  And corn for the last 5 weeks!  We’re feeling pretty proud of all the bounty and it’s incredibly rewarding to see all the plans and hard work come together.

kaleonionspumpkins

The haze and heat of late has made for an ultimate microwave while catching up on seeding, weeding, planting and the beginnings of our storage crop harvests.  At times it felt as though we were caught in the “thick of it” and we’d head inside because the air was literally thick and oppressive (a sweat while standing kind of heat).  It did feel really nice though to have a break from the sun.  We are truly looking forward to some relief with the upcoming 80* days ahead.

Last weekend we pushed through the 100* days  and were able to harvest all of our storage onions and get them in the new barn for curing. During the evening hours on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday (our CSA harvest days) from 7-10pm Brian and I pushed our potato harvest forward and were able to get 2,600 lbs of taters out of the ground. This morning we put up another 5,500lbs of hay in the barn. This week we harvested 4,000lbs of produce for our CSA members. So many lbs we’re usually pretty pooped on “fridaze” as we call them… or the beginning of our “work-end”  Ohhhh August….

Well, it’s time to get back to!  Time to plant all the things.  To start there’s about 3,200 row feet of winter crops.  Followed by even more winter crops!  (I don’t dare say or I’ll get scared).  Wish us luck and send us all the energy you can.  And as farmer Brian wrote the other night on instagram, “Whatever you do don’t stop pushing. Don’t sit down. Don’t stop. After all, “The only way out is through..

melons

 –

Summer Pork Sale!  Our Fall Pork will be coming back from the processor very soon so over the next few weeks in order to make room in our freezers we are having a summer pork sale on our Online Farmstore!  We have an amazing selection of USDA recipes and cuts that make our pastured heritage pork shine!   Products available by the share and by individual cuts.  Including Uncured & Nitrite-Free** Items & Over 10 different kinds of Fresh & Smoked Sausages!  

Here’s the link to our Online Farmstore: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all

For those interested, we also have a few Whole Hog/Half Hogs available: please see the email titled “WHF Whole and Half Hogs now AVAILABLE!”

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Bulk Tomatoes! Wow, thank you everyone!  We are amazed and overwhelmed by all of the bulk tomato orders – it’s awesome!  If anyone else is interested please check out the email titled “WHF Bulk Tomatoes” for more information.

Until next week….

Take good care,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

melon white

Diggin’ Deep (csa week 14)

Posted on 19 Aug 2016


hayhayhay

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Whoo hoo!  We’re officially SOLD OUT for the 2016 Winter CSA Season!  If you’d like to be added to our waiting list please fill out the sign up form here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa-sign-up/ and we’ll email you should a share become available!  Thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old who have signed up for the 2016 Winter CSA season!  We’re really excited for the upcoming season.

Phew! We hope you all are keeping cool (somehow) with this crazy heatwave.  The whirlwind that is August has scooped us up and we are anticipating the shorter days of Fall that are just a month away! We had a really productive past week and have been gutting it through the heat with harvest, watering, planting, seeding and everything in between. The heat wave will continue through Saturday and its safe to say that we look forward to the “cooler” 80* days on the horizon!

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In order to beat the heat we’ve pulled some extra early/extra late evenings which makes a huge difference (our brains don’t work when it’s this hot).   Not to mention all the heavy lifting summer harvests!  Speaking of harvests… we’ve officially reached Week 14 of our CSA which means we’re halfway through our 28-week Spring/Summer season. Over the course of 14 weeks, Brian and I have sown, grown, harvested and distributed 40,000lbs of produce to our awesome CSA members. That puts us on track for distributing over 80,000 lbs for the 2016 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.

Farmer Brian adds, “This is how we make it (change) happen. You give us money and we will grow you the best damn organic vegetables we can, while paying ourselves a livable wage and making the land we steward better for generations to come.”

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We also put up our first 5 tons of hay last Friday and another 5 tons this morning.  It feels good to see the hay stacking up in the loft as it means a herd of happy cows this winter.  We were also able to plant over 2,000 linear ft of Fall and winter crops this past week which feels good! Making dents in the planting schedule and taking it day by day. We’ve been planting in the early evening after harvest and sometimes before harvest with the more mild weather. The 100* degree days will set us back a little bit but hopefully we’ll be able to take the bull by the horns and get the big pushes done in the next few weeks. We have several large sized plantings set for the next few weeks and it sure will feel good to almost be over the August hump.

We’ve been keeping the pace and taking good care of each other. Finding a balance while digging deep. It’s amazing to work side by side with the one I love. Together we rise.  We pride ourselves on our health and strength and it helps to know just how much you’ve been enjoying the weekly harvests (thanks for sharing the goodness of what you’ve been whipping up in the kitchen!) 😉 We’re taking care of ourselves though and eating well (so many calories) and getting a good nights sleep. As the work days grow shorter we look forward to the recouping and respite that the change of season brings. Until then, we ride! And we’ll do it all, one day at a time.

ahabers

Pastured Pork Sale!  Our Fall Pork will be coming back from the processor very soon, so over the next few weeks in order to make room in our freezers we are having a Summer Pork Sale! Here’s the link: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all  We have an amazing selection of USDA recipes and cuts that make our pastured heritage pork shine! Products available by the share and by individual cuts.  Uncured & Nitrite-Free** Items!  Over 10 different kinds of Fresh & Smoked Sausages!   

By purchasing our Pork shares you are playing a crucial part in sustaining our farm.  Thank you  in advance for your support!  know your farmer, know your food!  All orders will be ready to pick up on your CSA pick up day!

Also:  Bulk Tomatoes SOON!  With all the hot weather the tomatoes will be poppin’!

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All the best and take good care in this heat wave!

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

goatsnkale

Keep the Pace (CSA Week 13)

Posted on 12 Aug 2016

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Hi Friends and Farm-ily,

We hope you all enjoyed the first weekend of August!

We are nearing the big hump of planting and seeding out Fall crops…   Greens of many shapes, some roots, more broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco as well as overwintering veggies are all waiting in the wings to be planted in the next few weeks.  One of our favorite things about planting for Fall is the opportunity to start again. To wipe clean the mistakes of Spring, the last remnants of carrots that got away from you, or the tiny crops that for whatever reason you tried to plant too densely, etc… It’s the opportunity to transition and wipe the slate clean, to be renewed at the point in the season when it is most needed. The Big Push!

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We had the pleasure of hosting a dear old friend of Farmer Brian’s and part of his beautiful family for the past couple days! Their paths first crossed 9 years ago when they both worked for the same NGO in East Africa. Their passion for fuel efficient cook stoves brought them from Africa to the Caribbean together. He continues the same work today from an amazing organization based out of Fort Collins Colorado called http://www.treeswaterpeople.org. We’d encourage everyone to take a look at what they do and help support the positive impact they are making across the world. Oh!  And here’s a video that Brian filmed (& our friends Juliet Zulu edited/produced) while they were in Haiti building and designing the Zanmi Pye Bwa (‘friends of the trees’) cookstove. Click here to view the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd4esdXNKaM At around 2:42 you can see Farmer B 🙂

Over the weekend, Farmer Brian had a crazy 19 hour shift off the farm where he and Farmer Erik (from Even Pull Farm) went on a crazy quick & long road trip (they left at 7pm and were back the next day by 3pm) to pick up some Shuttle Bins for storing taters, onions and winter squash in.  The used bins were a smoking hot deal but were all the way out in eastern Washington which didn’t stop these two inspired young lads.  They worked their tetris skills in order to get as many as they could into the van and cattle trailer (it was a work of art).  A big plastic, vented bin shouldn’t make us so excited but it feels so good to work smarter, not harder.   It will make our lives incredibly efficient come winter squash harvest and we’ll be trying them out with our bulk potato harvest this weekend.   We’re so excited to make these tasks way more efficient.  Before we would fill up crates (60-80lbs of product) out in the field and then load them on the trailer, unloaded them in the greenhouse or the barn and spread them out to cure and then a little while later we’d have to put them back into a bin where they will be stored for months and month and months.  Now we will only have to touch the product once which means way less heavy lifting, better stacking capability and overall a much more enjoyable experience for your farmers.  The other benefit  is storability, as they are fully vented they will allow the storage crops to breath just enough to maximize their storage life.  In the past we have used cardboard gay lords and we would lose about 25% of our crops every winter.  Not to mention storing them all in a insulated building which will keep temperatures much more consistent!  Its exciting to make a positive change!  <all the high fives>


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The visit and “road trip” were a welcome change of pace.  When you’re in the thick of it, it can be really hard to gain any outside perspective.  It’s definitely that time of the season when “the farm farms you.”  With other people around, new energy, new places, new faces… it definitely helps to find a better perspective.  We’ve been talking a lot of balance and the opportunity to leave the farm every once in a while which is so important.  We look forward to welcoming a new chapter in this crazy farm life that includes more of this balance.

Bulk Tomatoes! Now that summer is back, we have a feeling that our Bulk Tomatoes will be available in the next few weeks (but as always it all depends on the weather).  This is the 5th season in a row that we have had offered this unbelievable deal to our members!  We hope to have Mixed Varieties of our “Seconds” (25lb min order) and Classic Roma Tomatoes (20lbs min order) available.  We’ll send out an email when we have our bulk tomatoes available! Fingers crossed. We’re growing three varieties of romas this year – our favorite: granadero and 2 are classic heirloom romas known for their flavor. Yippee!

The big push is on the next few weeks/weekends so send us all the good energy you can.  We’ll be trucking along and racing the sun and shorter days.  We can do this!  Take good care and enjoy the bounty!

pizzatomossun

With kind regards,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

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The only way out is through.. (CSA Week 12)

Posted on 4 Aug 2016

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“I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,

and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,

and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,

in spite of the best advice.” – Wendell Berry

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Well, it’s that time in the season… August is here and physically we’re feeling it. The sun and heat and heavy lifting can really take it out of you. August is also the month where you really can lose your cool mentally.. the endless summer lists of things to do can be quite daunting.   It’s that time in the season where “now is the time” echoes with all the things on the farm. Seeding, planting, tilling, eating a meal, feeding the animals, mowing, harvesting, composting, bucking 30 tons of hay, eating another meal, weeding, watering, hoeing, flame weeding, eating again (what are we hobbits or something…?), watering the critters, smoothie time… repeat, repeat, repeat.

Every weekend since mid-July we’ve been planting out close to 2,500 row feet of Fall crops!   And we still have so much more to plant. Come September we’ll have planted out the farm entirely all over again. Planting that much can be pretty monotonous at times but we’ve been putting our heads down and powering through…reciting the mantra once told to us by a fellow farmer the only way out is through.  

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It’s been a much different season compared to last summer. It was SO hot and this time last year we had heirloom tomatoes, melons and even ripening peppers last year. That was definitely not a typical Oregon summer. That being said, it also seems to be slightly cooler than normal summer this year especially at night (last week it even dipped into the high 40’s!). The monthly forecast looks good though and we’ll just have to practice patience with those hot weather loving crops. It’s worth reiterating how glad we are so glad that we planted into the geotextile fabric this year – it really seems to be warming up the soil for our solanaceas (tomatoes, peppers & eggplant) and we’re seeing SO many fruits!  It’s like a tomato & pepper jungle out there.

We’ve been listening to a lot of Wendell Berry interviews while planting in the field and found inspiration in this little snippet:  “The answers will come, not from walking up to your farm and saying ‘this is what I want, [and] this is what I expect from you..You walk up and say, ‘what do you need?’ and you commit yourself and say, ‘alright I’m not going to do any extensive damage here until I know what it is you’re asking of me’. And this can’t be hurried.” – Wendell Berry

 

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During the summer, it’s easy to get frustrated or stressed or overwhelmed when there’s so much to do.. I try my best to vocalize how I feel so it’s easier for me to process and get myself out from under the mountain. To rise up and enjoy the view from the top because what we’re accomplishing as two people is pretty darn amazing. It’s not easy and it’s not perfect but we’re doing it. We’re farming close to 7 acres this year just the two of us. That’s 3.5 acres of veggies each… I have no idea how many plants we take care of but I will say that we harvest well over 100,000lbs of veggies in a season.  We feed over 500 individuals.  As well as maintaining all the things on the farm, 20 acres of pasture, 30 four-legged critters, 100 two legged critters and a whole lot of baby plants and weeds (we have plenty of those).

One step at a time.  Since it is just the two of us it’s important for us to stay positive and encourage each other throughout the day.  As well as 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 not sure what the big picture answer is in relation to the workload that we currently have going but we are confident that in time the balance will come and our goals will realign.  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.

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We LOVE farming which is what keeps us motivated mentally.   It’s the whole “clean hearts” part of our mission. Feeding our community amazing fresh food is just the best. And sharing in our daily farm life with our community is deeply rewarding. Nowhere else in our lives can we be provided with such transparency especially within our food system/how our food is grown. You know who’s hands have seeded, weeded, planted, watered, and harvested all your food just hours before you pick it up. It’s pretty amazing! It’s been 12 bountiful weeks on the farm with so much more ahead! Many more endless possibilities..

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Speaking of clean & full hearts, we also celebrated our second year anniversary as a married couple on Tuesday. Hard to believe we even pulled off getting married in the beginning of August. (what were we thinking!?) 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.  Brian summed it up well, “This road has been a hard road to hoe but there isn’t a day that goes by where you don’t make it look easy.”  I couldn’t agree more – #bettertogether

So many things can happen in the course of a few years. 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 (most often my better half) and my favorite person and I feel so lucky to walk through this life with him.  I wanted to share a poem that Farmer B wrote about our first anniversary… it’s a good’un…



anniveryary

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.

By Farmer B

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With full hearts  we look forward to what the rest of the summer harvest season will bring. Send us your bottled up energy and well wishes! It’s amazing what a little encouragement and cookies (for farmer brian) will do 😉  And a big thank you to the food faeries in the CSA who have been leaving homemade goodies, snacks, cold treats and even dinners.  You have been lifesavers for your farmers!  Thank you for thinking of us!

Be well and take care of yourselves!

With kind regards,

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

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Rolling the Ball Forward (CSA Week 11)

Posted on 27 Jul 2016


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“Organic farming appealed to me because it involved searching for and discovering nature’s pathways, as opposed to the formulaic approach of chemical farming. The appeal of organic farming is boundless; this mountain has no top, this river has no end.” – Eliot Coleman

 

Hello friends and farm-ily,

 –

Quick Reminder: Current CSA members have until this Friday, July 29th to receive our WHF Winter CSA sign-up priority. We already have a handful of folks on the waiting list so be sure to sign up and/or get your deposit in this week to secure your spot!  Check out the link here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa-sign-up/

We hope you are all doing well. The hot heat of summer’s past has greeted us again with some extra toasty summer days!  Over the weekend we powered through the heat and planted another round of fall brassicas: kale & collards (2100 row ft)!   Next up on the ol’ planting list is cabbage, beets, fall/winter chicories,  another round of romanesco, cauliflower & broccoli!  It’s definitely going to be a few solid weeks of jam packed days for us (to avoid planting in the heat of 90 degree weather or should we say “wither”) but we’re making a big push and getting it done one thing at a time.  We’ve been getting up with the sun rising in the east and heading back in the evening when the sun heads out in the west – taking a siesta around 4-6pm to eat an early dinner and enjoy a respite from that hot summer sun.

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“But the real products of any year’s work are the farmer’s mind and the cropland itself.” – Wendell Berry

With the summer sun comes bumper summer crops!  Sweet corn (the sweetest we’ve ever grown), tomatoes, bell peppers, frying peppers etc.. and soon other hot weather crops – eggplant, hot peppers, melons will join in on the harvest.  The heavy summer harvests are definitely here (our backs can attest!) and as we near August they will only get heavier!

Feelin’ Inspired! This time of the year the ol’ to-do list is so plentiful that it never feels like you can get up and over it. But after so many years of farming, you just know it’s coming so we have a much different (more seasoned) attitude about it. Sure, things in the summer can be stressful at times but we know that everything always gets done, even if it’s not as you expected it to be… it gets done… and if it doesn’t you learn to let it go and do better next year.  It helps when we can get ontop of weeding, seeding and transplanting all the Fall crops. All the mistakes of Spring have mostly been turned back in to the soil… Its that time of year when it feels like we’re breathing new life into the season and into your farmers, which feels amazing. The Upswing as we’ve called it seasons before.

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We are finding that systems are so important on the farm and we are constantly asking ourselves, “what is the most efficient ways to do this job”, “what is the best way to move this crop from field to customer” etc As a farmer you need to be efficient as possible for many reasons… especially if it’s just two of you managing the day to day farm tasks. The working smarter, not harder is the key to it all. How many times do you pick something up, how many times do you harvest any one crop during the week (can you harvest it all at once)?, how many times do you hand weed a crop etc etc. The past two years we’ve felt less set in our established ways and more open to change. Sometimes you choose it and other times it becomes necessity otherwise it just won’t work out anymore… This old proverb comes to mind… 

Necessity is the mother of all invention.” – English proverb

Over the past two seasons we’ve incorporated many new methods and systems into our small farm to make the land and work more efficient (and things we are still learning about as we go along).. hydrocooling and storing the produce with our coolbot cooler, harvesting and moving the vegetables with our CSA trailer & new farm cart, pre emergence flame weeding, direct seeding crops with our precision jang seeder, prepping beds with the compost spreader and fertilizer drop spreader, making dibble marks for planting with the transplanting (for ease of planting, equal measurements and uniform planting), stalebedding before planting, cultivating with the chalmers, investing in organic compost (40,000 lbs per acre!) and custom blended amendments for the soil, building a permanent pick up area for the CSA members, building a new pole building for storing winter crops/wash pack area/dry place for tools & implements/curing crops, building two new high tunnels for winter production etc, These efficiencies seem to be working as we’re able to grow food for over 140 families (over 450 individuals) as two farmers on 6 acres of cultivated land. As we hone in on the efficiencies we are also us thinking about productivity…. How to make the land more productive and that has been inspring us to invest more heavily in the soils.

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“To be a successful farmer one must first know the nature of the soil.” Xenophon, Oeconomicus, 400 B.C.

SOIL! We have been talking a lot about our soil since we moved to our new (to us) farm land in the 2013 season.. how we feel the crops are doing after farming here for 4 years, after 2 seasons of applying our custom organic fertilizer mix we blended in the Spring (based on our soil tests), the extra compost, our tilling and watering methods, etc. Every season we are diving just a little bit deeper and understanding more clearly of what our soil needs are specifically to this piece of land. We are excited to really hone in on soil fertility and to see how much the land will change for the better over time. It all starts in the soil and we really just want to become better soil farmers. We both love talking about soil science. So much in fact that we’ve helped a few farmers friends interpret their farm’s soil test with recommendations!

Bit by bit and season by season.. we learn, grow and build.  It’s easy to feel connected to the farm, the food and soil when you can look at a plant and decipher what it’s needs are just by observing. As farmers, we measure success by the quality of the soil. It’s all about feeding it well and all those amazing microbes so it in turn can be taken up by the plant. We will continue to give, give, give and it too will return to us a bountiful harvest year after year.  Same goes for our pasture that we planted in the Fall of 2013.  We’ve seen this little slice of land improve with every season we’ve been here and we look forward to observing, cultivating, stewarding and caring for it for years to come…

 

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Oh!  It’s been a while since you all have signed up, read the member agreement and purused the the website so, as a refresher, be sure to check out our FAQ page for any questions about the CSA, pick up etc that you may have!

We hope you all have a great start to the week and hope to make an appearance sometime soon once the July/August madness subsides… at some point 😉

With kind regards,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

Here Comes the Sun (CSA Week 10)

Posted on 21 Jul 2016

sunnybees

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

 

Firstly, wow! We’ve had an amazing response to our upcoming Winter CSA Season and we only have a dozen shares available for the winter growing season!  There are still shares available and our current members have sign up priority for one more week – until July 29th (or until we’re full.. whichever comes first)!  If there’s room, we’ll open it up to new members on the 30th!  For those of you who aren’t currently in the CSA and are interested in signing up, please fill out the CSA Sign up form and you’ll be put at the top of our waiting list!

We’re offering two Winter CSA options: Weekly & Bi-Weekly.  To read more about the details visit this link:  All About Our Winter CSA: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa/

How to Sign Up?

Step 1. Fill out the CSA Member Agreement here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa-sign-up/

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.  *Keep in mind it’s first come, first serve so be sure to get your deposits in as soon as you can!*

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Bees in the blackberrys, our 3 spring calves are growing leaps and bounds, and a baby pepper is forming!

Now onto some updates from the farm.  The ten-day is looking and feeling a whole lot more like summer.   Don’t get us wrong – we’ve been loving the cloudy, 70 degree weather the past few weeks, it’s been amazing to work and plant in – but we’re also anxious for summer crops: i.e. Tomatoes!  Peppers!  Eggplant!  Melons!  Tomatillos!  Etc!  With the heat on the way it’s sure to bring on the ripening of all our summer favorites.    Planting these summer crops into “geo textile fabric” this season seems to be a game changer for us.

Geotextile fabric has a substantial upfront cost but unlike other cheap plastics used in farming this one is durable and can hold up to 12+ years.  Not to mention the other benefits:  It helps to conserve water by preventing evaporation, soil temperature (for those warm soil loving crops) and of course, mitigates weed pressure.

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Captain Ahab maning his ship getting ready to go for an evening walk about the farm, seeding cover crop, and Una taking in the sunset!

We had an incredibly hot season last year and despite it being a whole lot cooler this year we actually had our first tomatoes at the same time as last year.. and besides your farmers being the amazing farmers that they are (wink wink) we can chalk up some of this success to the fabric.   It’s also taken away the annoying, exhausting and time consuming element of weed pressure and having to cultivate every week, having to manage them through the season and then fighting them when it comes time to harvest.    We’ve only had to weed these crops once and it was just around the hole that it was planted into.   By now they’ve all grown so large that they shade out any possible weeds that might germinate (win!!)  We hope it invest in more fabric next season, namely crops that are in the ground for some time (i.e strawberries, possibly sweet potato, melons etc etc).  We think it would make our lives a whole lot better and our members of course would reap all the benefits of more productive crops (for all the above reasons).  Plus, next year we won’t have to burn all the planting holes again… which can be time consuming.. it’ll all be ready and waiting for us next spring when we go to plant our crops!  (win again!!)

As for the warm weather loving crops that weren’t planted into fabric i.e. sweet potato, melons etc we’re hoping that the upcoming warm weather really gives them a boost as they’ve been missing the sun!

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Share 8 & 9 and a farmer high five on our first succession of sweet corn.  

It’s looking like our first succession of sweet corn will be ready for shares next week (fingers crossed).  It’ll be the earliest in the season we’ve ever had it!  We decided to do 4 successions of corn this year.  In past years we’ve done 3 successions that were all seeded directly into the field in early June.  This means a whole lot more weeding, thinning and more work for the farmers.  This year I seed started them in the prop house in 128 cell trays (2,500 plants per succession) and planted out a few weeks later.  They are all different varieties with a similar harvest date so I was able to space them out 14 days apart so there isn’t any cross pollinating (which would mean sad, starchy corn).   Our first succession went in mid-may which means we’ll all be enjoying it soon!  It’s a risk trying new things but it’s also really exciting and brings up a whole new slew of possibilities.  We’re growing better all the time.

Over the weekend Brian and I planted out our first Fall crops:  romanesco, cauliflower and broccoli – over 2800 row ft/1850 plants!!!!  We still have loads more to plant over the next few weekends… kale, collards, chard, cabbage, storage crops, roots, beets, our last succession of cucumbers and squash, a second fall succession of broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco etc.  So. Many. Plants.   We started our overwintering crops – purple sprouting broccoli and ow cauliflower too!  And got our final round of storage carrots seeded (1,500 row ft) that we will hopefully flame in the next 5 days.  So many things to look forward to – we’re lovin’ it!

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Summer Broccoli!  Woot woot!  The G tractor in the new pole barn and the herd enjoying some lush pasture.  

So many things happen this time of year…. just when we think June is crazy… July, August and September roll around.  We’ve got quite a list of giant to-do’s in the coming weeks… our massive onion harvest will get under way in the next month, potato harvest, bucking 30 tons of hay (60,000lbs) in the barn to feed our cows all winter long, building a couple of 30×96 high tunnels, planting all our fall and winter crops…. All while making three square meals (well, who are we kidding.. there’s second breakfast too and usually a mid day berry smoothie) that fuel these two crazy farmers  Is anyone else getting sleepy just reading about it?  😉

The pole barn project is also coming along nicely.  The next step is finishing up the electrical wiring, then installing the insulation and getting the garage doors on there.  We should be only a few weeks out and are excited to start utilizing the new building… just in time for curing storage onions!

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Summer chicory!, Brian and one of the many farm jobs, and our most recently flamed carrot beds just before the carrots emerged!  

We hope you’ve been enjoying the first tastes of summer and hope that with all the sun and heat the summer bounty will arrive at our doorstep.. or, your CSA farm pick up!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

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3/4 of an acre of winter squash… think we planted enough?  😉

Winter Is Coming (CSA Week 9)

Posted on 15 Jul 2016

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Above are the images of each share from last year’s 2015/16 season!

Our 2016 Winter CSA sign up starts TODAY July 15th with a 2-week sign-up priority for our current 2016 CSA members.

Hi Friends & Farm-ily!

 

We’re excited to announce that our 2016-17 WHF Winter CSA Shares are now available and we are now offering two types of shares for the Winter:  Weekly & Bi-Weekly! We’re excited to grow our second winter garden 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.

We absolutely LOVE the Winter CSA!  It’s such a special and unique CSA experience.   We didn’t know what to fully expect last year in June when we began planning for the winter CSA but we were so pleased that all the planning turned out – even with the wettest winter weather ever – the vegetables proved just how resilient they are and how much we’ve learned over 7 years of growing.  It’s given us a whole new perspective on farming and we’ve never ate so good through the winter!

The Winter Bounty in 2015.  We started our 2015 Winter CSA journey on December 2nd and harvested through the middle of April! Our expectation for the first ever Winter CSA Shares was 5-10 items (dependent on weather) in each weekly share.   Over the course of 18 weeks we had 11+ 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!   To top it all off, it was an average of 400lbs per share which comes in under $1.50 per lb of delicious, organic produce.

 

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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.  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.  But do not fret!  Your favorite farmers have taken measures to give the Winter CSA the best possible chance at success like building a new pole barn for storing, washing and packing, building two new 95′ x 30′ high tunnels (we now have 3 high tunnels for winter production in total), a storage cooler, investing in specialty winter hardy crops, etc…

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

Scroll down for all the Winter CSA details..


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WHF Winter CSA details for the 2016/2017 growing season:

When does the Winter CSA begin?  

  • The WHF Winter CSA will run from December 7th – April 13th  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 3-7pm.
  • There will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/27 & 12/28) or January 1st  (1/3 & 1/4)

Weekly Share Members pick up their first share at the farm on Tuesday, December 6th or Wednesday, December 7th and continue to pick up every week until Tuesday, April 12th or Wednesday, April 13th for a total of 18 shares.  *Note: there will not be a CSA pick up the week of Christmas (12/27 & 12/28) or January 1st  (1/3 & 1/4)

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 (12/27 & 12/28) or January 1st  (1/3 & 1/4)

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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 for Winter CSA shares.

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

Arugula, Purple sprouting Broccoli, Onions, Spaghetti Squash, Pie pumpkins, Heirloom Winter Squash, Garlic, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, Herbs, Celeriac, Celery, Winter Greens, big beautiful lettuces, Mustards, Potatoes, Chicories, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale, Collards, Bok Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Spinach, Storage Tomatoes, Shallots, Radish, Turnip, Rutabaga, Leeks, Rapini, Chard, Spring onions, Fennel, Braising Mix, Kohlrabi, Parsley, Cilantro etc…

What is the cost for the Winter CSA?

Weekly Share (18 weeks/shares total) $684

Bi-Weekly Share (9 weeks/shares total) $444

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 $267 is due by September 15th 

second payment of $267 is due by October 15th

 Bi-Weekly Members

deposit of $150 is due upon signing up

first payment of $147 is due by September 15th 

second payment of $147 is due by October 15th

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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 so we don’t harvest for you.  All unclaimed CSA shares get 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:  2016 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. 

 

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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

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Little by Little (CSA Week 8)

Posted on 6 Jul 2016

 

garlicsolan

 

“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.” – Kristen Kimball, The Dirty Life

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

We hope you all had a happy 4th of July weekend!  Weatherwise it was a beautiful and comfortable weekend to be outside – a wonderful start to the month of July.   Our friends from Even Pull Farm came over for a BBQ Friday afternoon and it was nice to take some time to catch up and eat some tasty farm food.  We were all in need of a respite from the sun and a chance to check in with each other and laugh a bit.   Farmer Beth brought me one heck of a gorgeous belated birthday bouquet which is becoming an annual tradition that I love (thank you Beth!!)

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Gloucester loving Jess’ new farm cart, some sweet peas blooming in the prop house and our rows of taters!

Two farmers, One farm.  In 8 weeks of harvest we’ve distributed over 19,000lbs of produce to our members! All of that produce has been grown thoughtfully and prepped, seeded, transplanted, weeded & harvested by 2 sets of hands (each and every crop was picked fresh a few hours before pick up by farmer Jess or farmer Brian).  With the shares getting a touch more bountiful with summer crops, that puts us on track to grow and distribute over 80,000lbs of produce for the Spring/Summer/Fall season!

The summer crops are a growin’!  We can’t believe how many flowers there are out in the tomato 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 and cabbage.  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 this 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 looooong day spent in the greenhouse.  It makes a huge difference on my back (no hunching over trays), feet (less time standing in one place for hours on end) and my attention span (repetition, repetition, repetition)!

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The flower loaded tomatoes, the first cherries are ripening and our daily/evening date night trellising in the tomato patch..

We spent a fair amount of work hours weeding this past weekend.  We weeded our second succession of cucumbers, squash, celery, celeriac and parsley.  As well as the basil and peppers!   We planted out the brussel sprouts for winter CSA, leeks, another round of lettuce, cutting celery, our last succession of sweet corn and a few other random crops.  We also seeded our fall and winter carrots into some extra weedy beds using our pre emergence flame weeding method (see: newsletter week 6)  We’ll begin flaming them tonight before the carrots emerge in the next few days!  Hopefully when they do it will be a pretty and clean seed bed.

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The babies are growing, first round of chicory, broccoli, kale and some painted corn!  

We’ll be prepping some major new ground this weekend in preparation for planting in the next few weeks.  Liming, fertilizing and composting we will go!  As well as transplanting the next succession plantings of cilantro, dill, pac choi, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers and some painted mountain corn!    And, of course, tackling another handful of weeding projects.  And trellising those tomatoes… one row at a time…. as soon as we add another line of trellis BAM they need another – they are growing like gangbusters.

Progress on the pole barn continues.  The concrete guys did an amazing job this past week laying the concrete floors.  Next up will be insulation and electric!  Just a few weeks to go before we can finalize the project.  Just in time for curing a million storage onions 😉

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Giant nelson carrots (our favs), a blueberry galette pick me up and some beautifully prepared fall beds…

WHF Online Farmstore.  We’ve had some amazing feedback lately from folks regarding our pastured pork.

“We just had the bratwurst and it was INCREDIBLE! Like, probably the best sausage I have ever had. Thank you!”  

“The smoked brats we bought were amazing.  Thanks for the suggestion.  Best brats/sausages we had had in as long as I can remember… flavorful, juicy, tender.“

With the coming of summer it’s officially grilling season!  We have over 10 different kinds of pastured pork sausages available on the WHF Online Farmstore as well as many other beautiful cuts of pork.  We slow cooked some pork shoulder butts over night and had the most amazing pulled pork sandwiches the days to follow.  Be sure to check out our farmstore here: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all!  All orders can be conveniently picked up on your CSA pick up day.  Share the link with friends and family and help support our small farm!

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The very first eggplant, our epic tomato trellises and more cute babies emerge!

Have an amazing week & enjoy the bounty!

with kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

p.s.  The weathervane that was given to us for our wedding is finally up on the new barn.  Farmer Brian probably picked the windiest evening to do so but she waves strong and proud up there!  It looks great!

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Signs of Summer (CSA Week 7)

Posted on 29 Jun 2016

 

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Summer sunsets, finishing up our epic garlic harvest and seeding all the trays for fall!  

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

It’s been quite a nice welcome to summer hasn’t it? The summer crops are sure loving the quick change of warmer days and nights. We’re seeing blossoms all over the place – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash and cucumbers. It’s always crazy that while we’re gearing up for heavy summer harvests we’re busy seeding and planting for the Fall and Winter garden. Talk about being in two places at once!

We finished our epic garlic harvest over the weekend and it is currently in the loft of the barn curing. One of our awesome members asked what it meant to cure onions and garlic in the Member Group and we thought it would be nice to share why we cure them here too. It takes about 100+ days from planting for an onion to fully mature. At this time it’s top will fall over and we stop watering. It’s outer most leaves will begin to dry. We then do a massive onion harvest and put them in a dry, well ventilated space void of stark light so that they continue to dry (aka cure). Onions are considered cured when the neck is tight and the outer skins/papers are dry. This condition is reached when onions have lost 3-4% of their weight (i.e. losing moisture through respiration). It’s an important step in order to increase storageability. If they aren’t cured they won’t last long because there is too much moisture -the biggest culprit being “neck rot”. **Walla wallas are a fresh eating onion and even when cured will only last a few months. **we also cure garlic for the same reasons!

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The first cherry tomatoes are ripening! CSA pick up this week and Week 6 Share..

Farmer Jess welcomed her 32nd year on Monday.  To celebrate Farmer Brian made her an awesome new farm cart.   It truly is the little things that matter especially with the kind of season we’ve had this year (busier than ever). This is what Farmer B had to say about it, “A big thanks to Josh Volk of Slow Hand Farm for making the plans for his design free (or for a donation) on his website farmhandcarts.com. The cart is really well thought out and carries a couple hundred pounds with relative ease. It can clear 24″ tall crops and we built it on 60″ centers so it can be conveniently pushed or pulled down our rows during harvest. I also like that the table top is low so you don’t have to lift crates higher than your arms hang to load it. It cost us about $250 to build with all new materials. And most importantly Jess gives it two thumbs up. “

cart

The Winter squash are really taking off, gloucester approves of the new farm cart & taking it on it’s maiden voyage..

A few fun little updates.. our young layers started laying their first eggs last week. They’ve adjusted in with all our older hens perfectly and are a really friendly and low key bunch. We expect to have more egg shares available in the next month or so and will keep everyone posted. Progress on the red pole barn continues and concrete is going in on Friday! It looks like it will be done just in time to cure 12,000 onions in there in early August. [insert crazy farmer face here :P]

Thank you all for your encouraging notes, emails and sweet treats (and even meals!) that you’ve sent our way this season. We truly appreciate all your good thoughts.  The long days continue on as we’ve been tackling projects of all sizes big and small.  All the hard work pays off – the shares are amazing and bountiful this week and we hope you enjoy all the goodies.   Be sure to check in on the CSA Member Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/696698667079657/  for more recipe ideas! We’re so impressed with all the great work your accomplishing in your kitchens! The WHF Member Group continues to be a big source of inspiration and lightness in our long days. We appreciate you all!

giantromaines

Old & New – Our favorite and trusted harvest knives, a farmers shadow, and last week’s romaines we’re huuuuuuuge!

Pastured Pork!  With the coming of summer it’s officially grilling season!  We have over 10 different kinds of pastured pork sausages available on the WHF Online Farmstore as well as many other beautiful cuts of pork.  We slow cooked some pork shoulder butts over night and had the most amazing pulled pork sandwiches the days to follow.  Be sure to check out our farmstore here: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all!  All orders can be conveniently picked up on your CSA pick up day.

With Kind Regards,

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts

And the Beet Goes On (CSA week 6)

Posted on 21 Jun 2016

broccollage

Hello Friends & Farm-ily,

Happy Summer Solstice everybody! It’s the first official week of summer – hurrah! And it was also a full moon last night – the strawberry full moon – such magical mystical happenings all around.

Jackson update: He’s separated from the herd and doing much better! Last week we had the vet as well as the local hoof trimmer. He’s basically been on bed rest and we’re seeing some signs of improvement – much more solid movement. Keeping our fingers crossed.   It’s looking like a long road ahead but he’s mobile and we couldn’t be more thankful.

This time last year farmer Brian was building our coolbot cooler and with the crazy list that June brings we can hardly believe that was actually happening. Necessity is the mother of all invention though and when you’re experiencing the hottest spring and summer ever you do what you gotta do. Now we can’t imagine farming with out it!  This summer we have a few pretty big projects lined up.  Our first on the list is to build two 30×96 high tunnels.  Earlier this Spring we received a grant through the NRSC’s High Tunnel Initiative that will fund this project and will allow us to grow even more through the winter months under covered space which is coveted on the farm. Having any bit of insurance when you’re working with nature, the elements and everything in between really helps to mitigate risk.  Exciting times!  The materials arrived last week so we hope to start putting posts in the ground in the next few weeks.

porchbuddies

In the meantime, our propagation greenhouse is filling up again! Over the weekend we began seeding kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, romanesco etc for the Fall season.   As well as transplanting another round of broccoli, lettuce, onions, pac choi etc. Farmer Brian has been busy prepping beds for fall and winter carrots and other root crops.

We’ve had a lot of success with carrots this year mostly in part to integrating new systems on the farm (#growingbetter).   One of our biggest variables on the farm is weed pressure.  It’s hard to keep up with the newly germinating weeds (especially with direct seeded crops) which lead us to flame weeding last season.  Stale seed bedding and flame weeding have been integral to our success with direct seeded crops like carrots. Carrots can take 8-21 days to germinate (i.e. emerge from the soil) and in that time 4-5 successions of weeds have already emerged and have a jump on the carrots. This is where the two methods come in to rescue us from a lifetime of hand weeding and sadness and lots of carrots for our CSA members.

 

We start with stale bedding:

  1. amending/spreading fertilizer and compost, tilling the soil and making the beds,
  2. setting up overhead irrigation and watering the beds to germinate weeds
  3. Wait 5-10 days
  4. Seed carrots into the weedy beds – plant a handful of beet seeds at the top of the bed. Since beets always germinate a few days before carrot seeds you use the beets as your sign to flame weed. Once the beets come up it’s time to flame the bed before the carrots emerge!
  5. Flame! It is not necessary to burn the weeds.  The flame only needs to overheat the tissues and rupture the cells of the plants (weeds).
  6. Carrots emerge and they have way less competition to grow up and be delicious carrots!

cornseeds

So far we’ve had success with these two methods! Before we incorporated this system into our direct seeding plan the newly seeded bed would turn into a carpet of weeds (pigweed, amaranth, grass, bind weed, thistle) before the crops even had a chance.  Now that we’re flaming, a little handweeding/wheelhoeing once a week on these beds and we will be able to keep up with the crops.  In new (sometimes scary or overwhelming) situations, when it comes down to it, you just have to trust yourself and try something new and trust that it will all work out for the best!   For those interested, here’s an article on Flame Weeding from Growing for Market

There are many steps to getting any projects done on the farm but we’ve found the more thoroughly and thoughtfully you go about it the less backbreaking work you have to go through in the end. When you have many stones in the fire though it’s easy to miss a step (and instantly regret it). It’s a fine balancing act! These steps definitely give us hope though that things will only continue to get better as we work smarter, not harder.

We’re excited to say that we’ve harvested most of the garlic out of the field. We have 1,200 bulbs to go and we’ll be finished for the 2016 season. All of the garlic is curing in the barn (proper curing is integral for long term storagability!).   As some of you may remember the rust came through last year and stunted our crop of garlic leaving us with pretty puny bulbs and no seed garlic to plant in the Fall. This year we utilized the stale seed bed and flaming methods mentioned above (farmer brian actually flamed the beds multiple times over a 2 month period) ensuring that we would keep the beds free of weeds and healthier garlic! Sure enough this season they were a lot happier. 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!

harvestgarlic

Pastured Pork!  With the coming of summer it’s officially grilling season!  We have over 10 different kinds of pastured pork sausages available on the WHF Online Farmstore as well as many other beautiful cuts of pork.  We slow cooked some pork shoulder butts over night and had the most amazing pulled pork sandwiches the days to follow.  Be sure to check out our farmstore here: http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/collections/all!  All orders can be conveniently picked up on your CSA pick up day.

The sowing, flaming, prepping, weeding and seeding continues this week… not to mention the harvest – ohhhh the harvest… all 3,000lbs for our amazing members! Here we grow week 6!  Keep cool out there and enjoy the first official week of summer!

With kind regards,

Your Farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts



veggies2016

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