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.
Greetings from Ffynnon Farm! The high temperatures and smoky haze have affected just about every aspect of life in the area, and your CSA is no exception. Here's a rundown of what changes we're making to adapt to the situation, and some of the benefits of the heat:
It's just a little bit too warm for us to guarantee that spinach or lettuce won't turn into a wilted prom corsage before you pick it up, and what we have in the field looks like it can benefit from watering and will hold out until next week, so we're just going to leave the salad greens where they are this time around.
The heat, and particularly the overnight retention of heat, has brought on the tomatoes like there's no tomorrow. While we can't guarantee that there will be tomatoes in every basket from here on out, things are looking good right now. Every member gets at least two tomatoes this week, and possibly more if the harvest is heavier than we expected.
And so we have more in your baskets. These are still technically thinnings, but they are bigger than normal thinnings and also a bit more mature and drier, which means they'll last a bit longer. The red ones are Red Hawk, and the yellow ones are a mix of Cortland, New York Early, and Zoey.
We apologize to everyone that we did not get a post out last week, particularly since some of you didn't know what those round yellow things were that showed up in your basket last week. Yes, they were golden beets, of the Touchstone Gold variety, one of our favorites out here on the farm. Suffice it to say that our internet connection went down in a manner completely typical of living in the forest: a log truck took out some overhead wires, and the resultant power surge blew out all the fiber optic modems in a wide area around us. It took our provider a week to replace them all, and somehow we ended up last on the list to get our service back. We are grateful to be back in communication, however, which leads us to:
Well, the bright yellow things that look like a flying saucer from the planet Amarillo are patty pan summer squash. For those of you who have not cooked with these before, these are exactly the same genus as zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, and you can use them in exactly the same way: slice them into a vegetable casserole; grate them for use in bread or as fritters or pancakes, or simply cut them up and put them on a veggie tray with your favorite dip. They are also perfect for stuffing: cut off the stem end, scoop out the meat to within about a half inch of the skin, mix the meat with anything you want (bread crumbs or croutons, other grated vegetables, any kind of cheese, even cooked sausage, with an egg as binder), and stuff it back into the shell. Bake at 350 degrees until everything is heated through and the shells are soft and saggy, and you've got an easy side dish or even an entrée.
The long red things are, of course, rhubarb. This is one my favorite vegetables masquerading as fruit. If you haven't cooked with rhubarb before, I think you're in for a treat. Again, this is a very simple process: chop the rhubarb into one-inch chunks and place them in a small saucepan with just a little bit of water. Add sugar or other sweetener and cook the mixture on low until the chunks are soft. Taste and adjust for sweetness. You can use this compote as you would any other fruit sauce: on pancakes or ice cream, on your breakfast cereal, or with pound cake and whipped cream. Or, look up "Rhubarb Fool" on the internet; it's a parfait made with yogurt and whipped cream. One word of advice: if, when you are chopping the rhubarb, the skin seems to be stringy like tough celery, peel that outer layer of skin. You can do it with your fingernail, but a sharp paring knife works as well.
You can also make pickled rhubarb almost as quickly and easily:
1 bunch rhubarb stalks, trimmed to fit 2 8-ounce or 1 pint resealable jar
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Tightly arrange the trimmed rhubarb stalks upright in the jars. In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Boil for one minute. Pour the vinegar-water mixture over the rhubarb, leaving a half-inch headspace at the top of the jars. Seal the jars and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
You can add spices of your choice to the pickling liquid; cinnamon, star anise, mustard seeds and allspice all have their fans. Just remember to take the more potent flavorings (like star anise) out of the liquid before you store the jars, or you'll end up with flavors that mask the rhubarb rather than enhance it. These pickles are great with cheeses and pate; or they make a great garnish for cocktails, especially ones made with floral liqueurs. When you're finished with the pickles, use the pickle juice in your cocktails, topped with club soda.
Rounding out the baskets this week are Bergam's Green leaf lettuce and some lovely white salad onions. As you can tell, these onions are extremely fresh, with no outer skin--they have not been "cured." This means they need to be used quickly and should probably be refrigerated until you are ready to use them. We think they would be great minced into the stuffing of your Patty Pan squash.
Greetings from the farm! It has been a busy week for us here at Ffynnon, but then again, aren't they all? The ground space left by last week's harvest has already been completely cleaned and replanted in fall vegetables and rapid-maturing crops like arugula and radishes. Those fast crops may fail if it stays hot, but we'll take that chance. We are also breaking new ground for some of the late summer and fall crops, and Neal and Michael have been going like gangbusters on that project. We are assembling the last components of our drip irrigation system as well. We had started on this last year, but still had some corners of the farm that needed to be hand-watered. Soon, all our plants will benefit from drip tape irrigation, which is better for the produce, saves about 70% of our water, and saves us hours of time per week.
This week's vegetables are still of the green variety, but we think you'll be all right with that. First is a big bag of spinach, a smooth-leaf variety. It's a little bit rustic, untrimmed and unwashed, but we know if you're juicing you can use the whole plant. Please remember, though, that no matter how clean or rinsed or trimmed any produce looks, always wash it before preparing and serving it. Members also receive both zucchini and cucumber this week, along with the first of the cabbage. Rounding out the baskets is a big handful of sage.
Michael is bagging up the sage as I'm typing this, and I'm getting a little bit hungry and kind of salivating for a recipe (using that handful of sage) that I'd had a couple of times before seeing it in the New York Times magazine section a couple of weeks ago. I highly encourage you to check it out: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018737-jamie-olivers-chicken-in-milk. It's a recipe that sounds like it could be disastrous, but it's actually both simple and easy--and in cooking as in life, those two words do not always mean the same thing. Serve it with a salad made from the other items in your basket, soak up the juices with some crusty bread, and please, invite us. You could also use your sage in biscuits or scones (mince some into the dry ingredients, then press a whole leaf into the top of each one before baking) or in the world's easiest pasta dish: toss spaghetti with melted butter or olive oil, some of the sage leaves sliced thinly, and a few shavings of pecorino-romano cheese. Wonderful and satisfying when you want something warm, even on a hot day.
We've been reminded over the past week, by the way, that you can put just about anything into a cold salad and make it work. We had the last of the arugula hanging around (the same batch you got last week), some thawed cocktail shrimp that we had to use up, and some bacon. Tossed it with some cold macaroni, a little cheese, and a dollop of mayo, and it was a salad you'd have paid $14 for anyplace downtown.
I know that most of you have been looking for some color other than green in your baskets, and believe me, we've been wanting to oblige you. Take heart; things are beginning to get a little more vibrant. The tomatoes are showing their first blush, and all the different varieties we have look healthy and promise to be productive. Last year we were plagued by blossom-end rot and catface, neither of which seem to be problems this year. The first variety that will be ready will be Oregon Spring. We have more than two tomato plants per share member this year, so we hope we can share a big bounty with you. The same goes for our strawberries, which are an everbearing variety. The first flush of berries was small and nearly useless, but we think that may have been due to cold weather, among other things. Things are looking up, and we should be able to get you some berries in a few weeks.
Eat well. Be well.
Greetings once again from Ffynnon Farm! It's eight o'clock on Thursday morning, and Michael and I have been in from the fields for about half an hour, packaging and packing your veggies for today's delivery. I'm going to make today's post short and sweet, because I want to get everything into coolers and on the truck, under shade, before the heat of the day hits us.
We've been working hard at the picking and packing, but every once in a while in between bunching radishes and trimming pea shoots, one of us will stop, survey the room full of produce, and say, "Wow, that's pretty." We love that farming is as much an aesthetic adventure as an agricultural or culinary one.
With that in mind, I think you're going to pleased with this week's items. We have our first beets for you this week, always a favorite of mine. We left the greens off this time around; they were just not pretty enough to send out. In the same bag with the beets, you'll find a big handful of pea shoots. You can do quite a bit with these; think of them in the same way you would any other green. You can toss them into or top a green salad with them; you can also throw them into a stir-fry or a bunch of steamed veggies. Just remember to throw them into the heat at the very end cooking--you want them to be just wilted, not overdone. You can also puree them into any pesto you can think of. The big bunch of arugula in your basket would be great to mix them in with. Just be careful with the flavoring that goes with your arugula pesto: walnut oil, walnuts, and pine nuts are all good companions, but I'm not sure that any hard cheese would go well with the earthy (some would say skunky) flavor of the arugula. You could also work your pea shoots into a dip, pureed with cream cheese or sour cream for spreading on other veggies. Lastly, the green onions in your basket can complement any of these items or cooking styles.
We want to thank you all for your positive feedback as well as for your patience and kindness these first few weeks. We're getting this delivery thing down and our efficiency is improving. We look forward to a full and satisfying season over the next seventeen weeks.
Be Well. Eat Well.
and all of us at Ffynnon Farm
Our Steward membership level is now a tiny onetime $5 fee for lifetime membership. We still need to charge a small amount to make sure you are (close to) human and have a real desire to join us, but otherwise we want you and your friends to join us and help shape a great community.
Yep, if you’ve been a recurring Steward - Thank you! - you now have the option to choose the new onetime $5 Steward Level, but of course you are welcome to continue supporting us as a monthly or yearly recurring Steward.
For those of you who have supported us in the past but could not afford to continue, you are now all active Stewards.
Please encourage your friends to sign up with Ffynnon! What we really need is to get the word out about our beautiful forest sanctuary and CSA, and (practically) free membership is how we are going to do that and bring us all together.
For those of you who are able to join us at the Warden membership level or above, that’s AWESOME! This especially helps us manage our business and plan for the future.
We deeply appreciate all of the love and support you’ve given us so far and look forward to meeting new friends and supporters who share our love of Art, Nature, and Spirit at Ffynnon.
With great love and respect for all,
The Ffynnon Group
Michael, Joel, Neal, and Tasha
It has been a load of work bringing the farm out of the longest, coldest, wettest and snowiest winter I've encountered in more than twenty years in Oregon, and it feels like that winter ended just last week. We have been busy renovating the mounded beds and getting new crops in, but many things have had to wait until soil and air temperatures are warm enough. We have had to push the opening of our CSA season back by two weeks, so that our first delivery will be on Thursday, June 22. Even so, many of the veggies in the first few weeks will necessarily be of the "baby" variety--small leaves of spinach, arugula, and the like. With any luck, though, our rapidly ripening strawberries will make it into the first CSA basket.
Full disclosure: these are not this season's berries; it's a picture of our second-to-last harvest from September of last year.
Speaking of berries and extended seasons, we are planning and planting not merely for this season, but for years to come. We have a passel of new raspberry plants in our nursery beds in the upper garden, which we will place in their permanent home in the lower garden as soon as their bed is prepared. We are doing the same thing with about a hundred asparagus crowns, which need to go into a bed that has been made weed-free with a fine-toothed comb. These new crops will both extend our season and add variety to our produce offerings, but they will not give us any marketable product for at least a year (in the case of the asparagus, possibly two years). It's a balancing act to get the fields ready for these long-term, legacy crops while keeping time, equipment, and labor available for this summer's veggies.
I can also report that we now have a fully deer-and-elk-proof produce field, thanks to the fence-building efforts of Michael and Neal, along with Matty Pilkington, among others. It's a comfort knowing that we are raising our produce for human beings. We have 79 out of our eighty acres that are full of food perfectly acceptable for ruminants, so I don't feel bad about denying them our broccoli. Michael and Neal also did stellar work preparing beds for this year's crops. As a matter of fact, it was while they were doing this prep work that we noticed the bee swarm and were able to coax the bees into their new home, as Michael has written about just recently. It was truly impressive to watch Michael singing the bees down out of the fir tree to their new hive.
Ffynnon's new apiary.
We're busy working at Ffynnon after this year's tough winter. The Stag Trail had many trees downed across it - the largest being an old maple with a 16" diameter trunk! While this will help insure plenty of wood for the homestead and fire circles in the future, for now it's just a lot of wood across the path and has to be removed, bucked up, and stored to cure. Luckily we have My Fair Lady, our sturdy and dependable Husqvarna chainsaw to do the trick. We also have several other saws in various stages of cleaning and repair, so hopefully they will come on line in time to 'lend a tooth' to the labor.
For those folks who have stayed overnight at Ffynnon, you all know about how group sound has impacted our neighbors. Last year we moved our drumming space back into the woods to the newly created Dragon Circle. We found out from a recent event that unfortunately the new circle just isn't far enough away to strike the right balance between our group's desire to celebrate into the night and our neighbor's desire for peace and quiet after 10 pm.
As balance is crucial in all relationships, we had a nice long talk with our neighbor and a walk-through at Ffynnon. It turns out that the Dionysos Circle is the perfect space for all-night drumming and our neighbor agrees! So for all future events at Ffynnon the entire property is going to be listed as quiet space after 10 pm with the exception of the Dionysos Circle, where we encourage folks that wish to drum and celebrate to their heart's content. The Dragon Circle will still be available for magical use so long as folks are quiet by 10 pm.
The Dionysos Circle is a tad further back in the woods and folks with mobility issues may have a bit of a time getting there. To ease that, we are beginning our expansion of the North Meadow camping area as well as adding a direct spur from the North Road into the Dionysos Circle, creating the shortest, easiest walk on the property. We also plan to fill and level the tangled crossroad just outside the Dionysos Circle. The final layout will be for the North Road to lead from the North Meadow to the Dionysos Circle only. The Ravine Loop will still be the way to access the Dionysos Circle via its main entrance, and the two connecting pathways between them will be removed. It all looks good on paper, now we just have to make it a reality!
In other news, the Nexus Shrine has again been cleared and is being readied for re-activation and use as a magical and performance space. It is located on a lovely stretch of hill just off the southern slope of the Stag Trail. Look for it during your next visit to Ffynnon! It is a place where the Great Above meets the Great Below. It is a magical space to access and play with the deep creativity that comes from opposite energies meeting and co-mingling, free of ego attachment. Pure creativity - that's the energy of the Nexus and we welcome you there.
New trails into Terra Incognita and other shrines are in the works! We'll keep you posted and let you know how and when you can lend a hand. Ffynnon is growing and changing and now is a perfect time to visit, enjoy the magic that is Ffynnon, and help us co-create our vision. As always - Welcome Home!
Greetings, friends of Ffynnon Farm. We have some exciting news! This year we are adding bee hives to our farm. We have started with three hives in our apiary which is located next to our veggie fields. In this first year we will see how the ladies handle local conditions and what the honey crop tastes like, given the local 'terroir'.
"Swarm in May, a load of hay. Swarm in June, a silver spoon. Swarm in July, not worth a fly." That's the rhyme that tells the relative value of swarms that inevitably arise when the beekeeper uses a less invasive approach to beekeeping. This first year we are not opening the hives and killing new queen cells. Quite the opposite! Swarms are a hives way of reproducing, and a natural part of the hive life cycle. We've had our first swarm already, about a week ago. The queen flew her swarm waaay up into a fir tree, well beyond reach. I saw that she hadn't completely settled in there and, following advice passed along in story and song, I sang to her. I sang of her flight and the golden sun. I sang of searching for a safe new home for her in her wandering. I sang of the sweetness of new life and promised I would offer all these things to her - if she would only come down.
I went away for a while to work in the fields. When I returned not only had she come lower, she had alighted upon the ground! I quickly suited up and took her and her swarm a fresh hive and set it gently on the ground next to them. Within seconds they were pouring into the new hive and making it their own. It sits proudly next to the original three and I hope she is enjoying the new digs!
So here's to ancient wisdom and singing to the bees. Not only are bees the least likely to sting when they swarm, they readily accept a new space if it is presented to them. We welcome our gals home and hope for a sweet bounty come, honey harvest time.
Blessings of the bees for everyone! Very blessed bee!
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56965 Pebble Creek Rd
Vernonia, Oregon 97064