January 1, 2018. A lovely clear day, warm enough to walk in with just a light jacket yet cold enough for the frost fairies to still hang out at Alder Junction.
I got a GPS tracking app, Map My Hike, as recommended by my friend Katrina and carefully walked every inch of trail and connecting spur at Ffynnon. I now have what I've wanted for quite a while - a truly accurate map of Ffynnon's interior space, where we have been working, and what areas are untouched.
OK, I think it's really cool. Some things that I thought faaaar away from it all are actually relatively close, just curled about in such a way as to seem distant. Other areas that seemed quite close are actually a longer hike than I realized. I suppose that's an effect of the elevation change we have of over 200 feet from the bridge near the Ancestor Shrine on the S. Ravine Loop Trail to the God Shrine up on the ridge where the Doug Fir give way to Red Cedar, Alder, and Big Leaf Maple.
Winter hiking is a treat. You get to see the forest in a way that is obscured by summer's lush foliage. I can clearly see the movement of water across the land. I can easily spot the few dead trees we have and plan for either their removal or allowing them to remain as habitat for the creatures that make dead trees their home and/or food source.
It's like the forest is inhaling in summer, filling its leaves with the green fire and becoming brushy and fat, and exhaling in winter, letting all the deciduous leaves return to the cycle and showing the secret spaces between that are otherwise hidden.
There's so much life going on. Salamanders are slooowly swimming through the winter waters that full every low spot in sight. The frogs are actually peeping, even though frost stays all day in the deep shade on the south side of the hills.
Ffynnon is so alive, and I feel grateful to be a steward of this magical place. I feel grateful for being part of a group of people who share a common vision and who continually open to both the new, and the now. The CSA field is resting from last year's labors. The chickens and all of our new chicks are doing well. Next year our flock will top 50! We have ambitious plans Ffynnon and I'm looking forward to getting to work.
Today I'm cutting firewood with a new friend Chris Morasky. We've just about used up the last of the stores created by the cutting of the Dionysos Circle several years back. Now that was an adventure!
I'll end with this: May each of us take a moment and be thankful for the stewardship in our lives. May we realize that our bounty comes from the earth and rests on the broad shoulders of those who have gone before. We arrive, share the labor and the fire at the center of the circle for a short while, and step back into the dark, making room for the new and unexpected. May our lives be filled with gratitude and shaped like a prayer of love.
Thank you Ffynnon, for this day...now I'm gonna go play in the woods.....!
To our honored CSA members:
As you know, this is the last of our twenty weeks of the 2017 CSA season. Once again, my thanks go out to all of you for your kindness, your photos, and your recipes. Tasha will be sending out a survey in the near future; we would appreciate it if you would take the time to help us improve our offerings and our service for next year. On a housekeeping note, we will be making this last delivery in paper bags so that we don't make you bring back your baskets next week. Please check around your house to see if you have any of the baskets lying around. We'd like to get them back today so that we can use them again for next year's season.
Today's basket (okay, today's paper bag) contains a mix of root vegetables, including turnips and rutabagas, and a handful of apples (Jonagold) and pears (Bartlett). The rutabagas are in there because of a conversation I had with one of our members. I happened to mention to him that rutabagas are always at the bottom of the list when CSA customers are asked about their favorite vegetables. He quickly responded that they were always among his favorite vegetables, and that he and his mother were looking forward to getting some. I went out and planted some the next day. I would highly recommend using the turnips and rutabagas in a scalloped vegetable casserole. Simply replace some or all of the potatoes in a scalloped potato recipe with these other root vegetables, peeling and slicing them to the same thickness as the potatoes. The other best use would be in a fall vegetable soup, possibly with the apple or pear added in.
We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to Ffynnon's second annual Cider Squeeze, next Saturday, November 11, from 11am to 2pm. We have a big pile of apples that aren't ready for prime time, but are perfect for making cider. Bring your own container (like a growler, or a 1-gallon glass jug, join in the chopping, crushing and squeezing, and take home some fresh juice. There are more details on our Facebook page.
Once again, all of us here at Ffynnon thank you for your patronage. If we don't see you at the Cider Squeeze, we look forward to serving all of you again next year.
All the best,
Joel, Michael, Tasha, and Neal.
Greetings once again from Ffynnon Farm. It's been a very busy week here on the farm (that always sounds like the start to a Garrison Keillor monologue, but I'm keeping it anyway). The dry weather has been a true godsend for us as we continue to harvest this year's crops, clean up the debris, and plant and plan for next year as well. We put in about 180 row feet of garlic yesterday, and we have beds ready to receive the elephant garlic, leeks, and overwintering onions that we're getting in the next couple of days. We also have added eight new chicks to our flock of hens, and we will likely be adding even more so that we may open the egg shares to everyone who wants one.
The big surprise has been the frost we got both Wednesday and Thursday mornings, about two weeks early. The first frost was light, but it did nip the pepper plants and our row of Delicata squash. Knowing what was coming next, Michael and I (and our houseguests Lee and Finnian) spent most of Wednesday harvesting everything we could. Delicatas are a winter squash, but as their name implies, they don't really stand up to the same treatment as, say, a Hubbard. We also had to bring in stuff that we didn't have in amounts to get to you--the last of the beans and basil, for instance. Anyhow, the squash are busily curing in our shed, next to the onions, and we'll get both of them to you soon.
Anyhow, back to this week. The kale in your baskets was harvested this morning, and it had a light coating of frost on it as I was cutting it. That's supposed to enhance the flavor, making it sweeter. Your peppers were harvested yesterday in the frost-induced frenzy. Everyone gets green bell peppers. The long, very skinny ones are Italian roasters. The others, long and contorted, are more of the NuMex Joe Parkers. The garlic is Italian Late. You also get more of the Russet potatoes, and the Red Ace beets that we harvested a week or so back. I can think of a lot of ways to combine all of these things in recipes, perhaps the easiest being sheet pan roasting. just chop everything to roughly the same size, toss with olive oil and whatever seasonings you like to coat, spread on a sheet pan (or a big lasagna pan) and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. Or, you could make a one-pan brunch or supper dish. Start with a clove or two of garlic, chopped fine and sautéed in olive oil in a large pan (with a close fitting lid). Add chopped peppers, any of them, and let them sizzle a minute. Then add all of the kale, washed, dried and chopped, and cover with the lid. When the kale has lost its volume, make small indentations in the vegetables and crack an egg into each of the "nests"--you can fit six into a ten-inch pan. Cover with the lid and let the eggs steam until done, about two minutes. You can take this dish in any direction you wish. For Asian flavor, add sesame oil with the kale and toasted sesame seeds with the eggs. Italian? Oregano and Parmesan cheese. Mexican? Chili powder, cumin, Cotija cheese. Allow me to make a plug here for sesame oil as kale's best friend. The two "earthy" flavors just seem to be made for each other and seem to bring out the underlying sweetness. You could make a beet-and-potato hash to go with this. Just remember that it will be pink.
Here's what happened. Last Sunday, the rains began. The tomatoes soaked up the new moisture, and, as their skins didn't expand with the rain, they split--some from stem to blossom end, some in a circle around their waists, some both ways. This reduced the number of tomatoes available by almost half. There are still a lot of tomatoes on the vine, but this may be the last week for regular deliveries of tomatoes. Here's what I propose: I will pick as many tomatoes as I can for next week's delivery, but I will make them available at each pickup site in bulk bins. People can take as much out of these bins as they want, so, first come, first served. It would help, if you're interested in large quantities, to let us know either by return email or by text. This way, we can distribute the tomatoes to each site in proportion to the anticipated desire. Remember, again, that these will be tomatoes for cooking and processing, and that there will be splits, bruises, some not fully-ripe fruits, and (particularly in the case of the Brandywines) mis-shaped fruits that you will need to cut down, so there will be waste. But there will also be a lot of good tomato flavor.
...is the green beans in your basket this week. I had been in the field on Sunday, moving the onion harvest from the beds where they were drying into the greenhouse to get them out of the rain, when I took a walk around the rest of the field, seeing how things were coming along. My last planting of beans was showing some that were almost harvest-sized, but a lot of small ones and a lot of blossoms as well. I figured I had until at least next week to get these picked and out to you. And then the rains came. By the time I got back into the field yesterday, I had two rows of very meaty, mature green beans. These are Provider, a larger and more uniform variety than the Caprice that you got earlier this year. And, as they are somewhat mature, these are not for stir-fries or other almost-raw preparations. I would either steam or boil them, even if you are then going to further cook them in a casserole or other mixed dish. In fact, Michael and I made a test batch last night and ate them all with relish. We found that steaming them for about five minutes renders them tender, and they have a hearty, beany flavor, one that a white sauce (with mushrooms?) or a cheese sauce would certainly complement.
Once again, greetings from Ffynnon Farm. It has been a week of maintenance and organization out here on the farm, with a lot of the beds finishing up for the season. We haven't quite gotten to the point of "putting the gardens to bed" for the winter, but we are heading rapidly in that direction. Of course, the gardens are never truly asleep. we'll be planting alliums soon for next year's crops, looking for ways to expand our variety as well as to bring your favorites in earlier in the season. Some brassicas, like kale, will get the same treatment.
The Tomato Apocalypse that I have been warning you about will definitely be taking place next week, and possibly extending into the week after that. Again, we'll be sending a separate email to explain how to sign up for the bounty. Be aware, though, that these tomatoes may not be exactly pretty. There will be some splits, some bruises, and certainly some strange shapes and green shoulders among your tomatoes. These are intended for processing and cooking, and will necessarily have a higher percentage of waste than the ones we put in your regular baskets.
Your baskets this week are definitely trending toward the fall. Our first winter squash of the season are here, "Tuffy" acorn or Danish squash. The potatoes are Red Norland, and the kale is our standard Nash's Green. Another first this week is the bell peppers, which are of three different varieties that ripen red, orange, and yellow. We have enough still on the plants that we should be able to get at least one round of ripe peppers to you. Rounding out your baskets this week, of course, are the tomatoes, which are exclusively Oregon Spring this time around.
If you're looking to combine several of your vegetables into one meal, I'd do it with a potato and kale soup. Dice up your potatoes and your pepper to about 1/2 inch on a side, along with an onion or two and two cloves of garlic. Set a large pot over a medium flame, add some olive oil, and dump the diced veggies into it, seasoning with salt and pepper. When the onions are translucent, add two quarts of any stock or broth and bring the pot to a simmer. Wash, drain, and finely chop the kale, then add it to the pot, covering with a lid to help reduce the kale in volume. Simmer until the potatoes are done and the kale is as tender as you want it. Season with thyme or oregano (or both). You can make this a cream soup with a little heavy cream or half and half right at the end, or "de-veganize" it by adding Italian or other sausage with the potatoes and peppers. This kind of soup is always better the second day, if you can make it last that long.
One more housekeeping item: please make sure you are taking the basket with your name on it. Also, if you are sending someone else to pick up your basket, make sure they know the CSA etiquette, as well.
Until next week and the Tomato Deluge,
Farmer Joel, Michael, Neal and Tasha
Greetings from Ffynnon Farm, everybody! This is going to be a very quick post, with no recipes, and very little small talk. I want to get on the road as quickly as possible to make sure your veggies aren't held up by, you know, evacuation traffic. Please be careful out there, everybody, especially our far East Side members. I have been in the Northwest for twenty-one years and have never seen the fires quite so close, or impacting Portland quite so much.
Your baskets today are kind of brimming with whole plants. First there's basil, which we've been nursing along and pinching back, but now it's trying to flower no matter what we do. If you like herbal teas, you can use the flowers fresh or dried in your blend after you make a batch of pesto with the leaves. Then, of course, there's the onions, which are mostly Walla Wallas. I would use the bulbs raw, and then use the green tops in a long-cooking stew or braise. As a matter of fact, that's what I'm going to do tonight.
The peppers in your baskets are mainly Joe Parker NuMex, a New Mexican (surprise, surprise) Hatch-type chile. Check with shareholder and New Mexico native Kristin Wright for roasting instructions. Full share members will also receive some Hungarian hot wax peppers. Beets and green chard are also on the list, as well as tomatoes. This time around, they are mostly Oregon Spring, with an occasional Brandywine or Cherokee Purple in the mix.
Speaking of tomatoes: the ripening has begun, and we will let you know, by a separate email, how to get in on the Bulk Bounty Harvest Shares of tomatoes. Nothing, including the price, is set in stone yet, but we know that the onslaught will probably begin with next week's delivery, or maybe the week after. We will probably distribute them as full baskets (the same size your half shares come in) of tomatoes, with all our different varieties represented. Again, look for the email from us very soon.
And with that, it is past time to get the show on the road.
Stay safe, everybody.
Joel, Michael, Neal, and Tasha
It's an absolutely beautiful morning out here on the farm. There was even a little bit of misty rain as I was out cutting your kale this morning, which felt heaven-sent. Of course the sky had cleared by the time I was done (and by the time Michael was done with the arugula, which is in a different garden plot) but still, the little reminder that it's not always baking heat and wildfire danger was refreshing and timely.
It's the start of the Labor Day weekend, and we hope your plans include using some of our produce from your baskets in your celebrations. We have, of course, some tomatoes for you, as well as another basket of strawberries. These berries tend to be a bit smaller than your supermarket varieties, but we think the flavor is well worth the small extra effort required to de-stem that many berries. Since we also included some arugula today, you could toss them both into a colorful and flavorful salad. Our first peppers of the season came in today as well, so maybe slice a jalapeno or two into that salad. Another first in your baskets is the Yukon Gold potatoes. These are, of course, freshly harvested and not "cured," so both their water content and their sugar content is relatively high. These should lend themselves well to roasting or pan-frying. If you pan-fry them, you might want to dry them on a dish towel after you chop them to absorb a little bit of that moisture. This helps along the Maillard reaction, which is the magical transformation of some of those sugars to that caramelized char.
We've also include a big bunch of kale in your baskets this week. We mentioned the last time we did this that you could turn them into kale chips, but we didn't tell you how to do it. Here's that recipe:
The relatively cool weather is supposed to stay with us over the weekend; this would be a good time to crank up the chips and not heat up your house. At the low oven temperature, though, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
It feels a little strange that we're already on Week 10 of your shares, with another ten weeks to go. Of course, we started planning this year's garden, and your baskets, about a year ago, and the preparation of the beds and such started in February. Market gardening is certainly a marathon, not a sprint. We have some treats to look forward to on the downhill slope, such as peppers, winter squashes, the bulk of the onions (you've received barely half of what you're going to get), and a variety of fall brassicas and greens.
Greetings once again from Ffynnon Farm. We don't know how many of you are heading down into the Path of Totality, but if you do, why don't you take us along? Pop some tomatoes and strawberries into your cooler and enjoy a fresh treat while the sun goes dark.
Things are settling into the late summer routine out here on the farm. There's still some planting to do for your fall vegetables, and we're already preparing some of the beds for over-wintering produce and cover crops, but a lot of the work has devolved to maintenance and harvesting. The tomato plants are getting a trim; we still have to take out suckers and side shoots to help the existing fruits to ripen. We also are going through all the tomato plants to remove any current blossoms for the same reason: there are already plenty of fruits and we want the plants to put all their energy into ripening those. Of course, there's also weeding, cultivating, fertilizing, and irrigating to be done on a daily basis; these are the things that make up the Zen of a farmer.
Sometimes times gets away from us. We know you know what we mean. We started picking berries and pulling arugula before sunrise yesterday and then all of the sudden, it was time for deliveries! So, belatedly, here goes:
Yep, and we feel pretty darn good about it. One of the farming groups that I do some work with did a survey of CSA members, and they found that strawberries and tomatoes are the two items that they most look forward to in their baskets. (Rutabagas came in dead last, so I didn't plant any this year; then one of our members said how much he and his mother were craving them. Ah, so it goes.) Anyhow, the heat has certainly been supporting the growth and ripening of the tomatoes, and the strawberries kicked into gear after last week's picking. If you didn't get strawberries last week, you got a double serving this week; full share members also got more of the broccoli. We think there will probably be at least two more deliveries of strawberries from our late but very hard working little patch.
Especially for our full-share members. We recommend doing an arugula/strawberry salad, maybe with thinly-shaved red onion, if you still have some from last week. Or, of course, you could get out the food processor and whip up some pesto, but remember, an assertive cheese in the mix might render it a little too...aromatic is a good word, I guess. We did a nice chimichurri sauce, which is the national condiment of Argentina; usually it's made with parsley, but arugula gives it a punch.
Call or Email Us
56965 Pebble Creek Rd
Vernonia, Oregon 97064