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Word from the Woods

  • 09 Jun 2017 10:30 AM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    Greetings from the veggie fields at Ffynnon, everyone!  

    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.

  • 08 Jun 2017 11:58 AM | Michael Agee (Administrator)

    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!

  • 08 Jun 2017 11:39 AM | Michael Agee (Administrator)

    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!

  • 01 Mar 2017 10:11 AM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    Greetings from Ffynnon Farm!

    We are busy planning and planting for the 2017 CSA season, and we’re inviting you to join in our bounty by becoming a shareholding member of Ffynnon Farm.  If you were a member last year, we’d like to thank you for helping us to a successful first season. This year, we’re adding more variety, more choices, and quite simply, more food to your CSA share!

    If you don’t know what a CSA is, the concept is simple:  it’s subscription farming.  Community Supported Agriculture members purchase a share in a farm’s production at the beginning of the growing season.  This enables the farmer to purchase seeds, starts, and supplies without going to a bank for credit.  In turn, the shareholder receives the freshest possible vegetables, fruits, and herbs each week without the overhead or markup of a grocery store or farmers’ market.  Members pick up their shares each week at locations in their neighborhoods.

    This year, members can choose from either a full or half share, and an extremely limited number of egg shares (some of which are already taken!).  We are busy putting more of our pasture land into production, so that each week our harvest will be bigger and contain more variety than before.  This new acreage joins our existing produce gardens, strawberry fields, and our heritage orchard.  We’ve added the half-share option in response to popular demand.  A full share is designed to meet the needs of a family of four or five veggie lovers or two to three vegans; a half share will provide for an omnivore couple or individual.

    Farming is an inherently uncertain business.  For that reason, we like to know how many shareholders we’ll be serving as early in the season as possible.  To that end, we’re offering a discount of $50 off a full share and $25 off a half share to members who join and pay at least half down by April 30.  That’s almost two weeks of a full share for free!

    For more information and to sign up for your CSA share, please visit ffynnonoregon.com/csa.  From all of us at Ffynnon Farm, we’d like to thank you in advance for letting us play with your food.

  • 07 Jul 2016 9:30 AM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    It has been a busy week out here at Ffynnon Farm, but then again, aren't they all? We are still building planting beds so that we have a strong system of working and fallow beds in the seasons and years to come, and planting for fall vegetables continues apace. We have begun, however, to settle into a routine on harvest and delivery days, and we hope that it is working out for you, as well.

    This week's boxes will include a variety of greens and things. Everyone will receive a large bunch of Nero Tondo radishes. These are a variety that I had not grown before, and I have to admit I tried them for the novelty of it: a radish with a black skin. As it turns out, the skin is not quite as appetizing as it could be, but it also peels very easily: just give it a start with the same knife you slice off the tops and root tips with. It's up to you, but we think peeling your Nero Tondos gives them a better texture.

    Everyone will also receive a bunch of curly kale and a bunch of Bright Lights Swiss chard. These are, of course, wonderful sautéed or braised with a bit of pork fat and garlic, but you can also make kale chips: simply wash and thoroughly dry the kale, cut the leaves away from the midribs and tear into bite-sized pieces, toss with a little bit of olive oil and coarse salt, and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the curly edges are just slightly brown. These are addictive and very easy.

    Do you all remember my lament about the arugula with holes in it last week? Well, we've gone ahead and harvested it and put it in your boxes, because even holey arugula is better than none. It might not be the most attractive thing in a salad, but it still layers well in a sandwich--I love a combination of arugula, roasted pepper, and sharp white cheese on just about any kind of sandwich. You can also get out the food processor and turn your arugula into pesto or a green mayonnaise.

    Arugula Mayonnaise

    1 egg yolk
    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or other vinegar, or fresh lemon juice
    large pinch of salt
    1 cup olive oil, or a combination of olive and canola oils
    about two cups packed arugula, washed and dried

    In food processor, buzz together the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, and salt. With the blade running, add the oil: slowly at first, and then in a thin, steady stream as the mixture begins to thicken. When mixture is thick and opaque, taste and adjust seasonings; it should be strongly seasoned. Add the arugula to the work bowl with the mayonnaise and puree; taste and adjust seasonings again, if necessary. This is great on sandwiches or as a dressing for hot or cold vegetables.

    The blueberries make one more appearance this week, as well. And for our egg share members, everyone who has one egg share will receive their shares this week. For those of you who got two egg shares, we (the birds, that is) have settled into a routine and you will receive one dozen eggs per week.

    Some of you will be receiving a bag of shelling (or English) peas this week, as well. The harvest this week was too small to provide them to everyone, but everyone will be getting them over the next couple of weeks. The variety we planted this year is Lincoln, an old-fashioned type that is sweet and good both raw and cooked.

    In other news, we harvested our garlic and shallots this week, so you have something to look forward to in the next few boxes. Both vegetables are drying and curing here at the farm, and they are quite plentiful, so vinaigrettes and roasted garlic will be the order of the day very soon, say in two or three weeks. Next week's box will also include our first "little something extra" item that we promised when we started the CSA. Until then, happy eating.

    Thanks again,

    Farmer Joel

  • 30 Jun 2016 12:49 PM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    This week's CSA recipe and blog

    June 30, 2016

    Greetings Ffynnon CSA members!

    First of all, a reminder that your CSA boxes will be ready today (and every Thursday for the next 19 weeks) at your regular pick-up site address, from 3-8pm.  If you need that address again, or instructions on where to go once you get there, please feel free to email source@ffynnonoregon.com or text us at 503-206-1765 (this is Tasha's cell, since I will be on the road delivering!). 

    Also, a small reminder to those that bought egg shares that those deliveries happen every other week. So, don't worry if your box does not include eggs this week, they'll be back again next week. 

    It has been a busy week out here on the farm, and there's actually still things to be picked and put in your boxes, so I will get right to it. This week, your box will include: a box of blueberries, a bunch of baby carrots (these are Adelaide carrots, bred to be a "true baby" variety), a large handful of chives, and a bag of baby kale. I also intended to have a bunch of arugula in this week's box, but unfortunately, I just got back from the field where I found the arugula to be full of tiny holes that weren't there two days ago. Lots of tiny little holes. I am planting another crop of arugula right away; we'll see if we can get you some before the weather turns so hot that it bolts. Apparently, the arugula has served as a "trap crop" for the bugs, because the chard and spinach in the same bed are hole-free, as are all my other brassicas. Go figure.

    The kale is an Italian or "dinosaur" variety known as Toscano. The leaves are tender enough at this point to be eaten raw; as a matter of fact, I think a good use of them would be to make a tossed salad using the kale, some blueberries, and maybe some shaved Parmesan or crumbled Feta. This week's recipe is for a chive vinaigrette, which would be fantastic on this salad:

    Chive Vinaigrette

    1/4 cup good vinegar (such as champagne, sherry, or balsamic)
    1/2 tsp salt, plus more if needed
    1/2 tsp Dijon or other mustard (acts as an emulsifier)
    3/4 cup olive oil up to 1/4 cup minced fresh chives

    Put all the ingredients except the chives into a jar, cover with a lid and shake until well blended. Add the chives and shake again. Taste and adjust salt, and add freshly ground black pepper, if desired. This will keep, refrigerated, for a few days, but bring it back up to room temperature and shake again before tossing into a salad.

    If you come up with amazing recipes with your veggies, please feel free to share them, as we are compiling a list and will post those on our website, so you all can share in the beautiful food you create with your local produce. 

    It is just now noon, and I'm getting the truck loaded and heading to Portland now. All locations should have their boxes dropped by the 3pm deadline.

    Thanks again,

    Farmer Joel.

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  • 31 May 2016 6:17 PM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    It's 9:30 in the morning as I write this, and I've already been out at work for about three hours, watering and weeding the crops in the field as well as tending the plants in the greenhouse and grow room.  Michael has also been at it in our upper garden, cultivating the strawberries, carrots, beets, garlic and shallots.  I'm going to head  back out as soon as I'm done here, in order to get (I hope) three more beds planted today.  It's a fun game we're playing out here, trying to keep all the balls in the air, tending the existing crops, making space for new ones, and planning for the ones that come later in the season.

    As always, the weather is the primary concern for any farmer, particularly here in northwestern Oregon, where temperature swings of almost fifty degrees in one day are not uncommon.  This makes it problematic to plan for "cool-weather" and "warm-weather" crops, since we have both types in the same day!  The weather forecast calls for a high of 91 degrees today; by Saturday, it's supposed to get up to 98.  For this reason, keeping the crops well-watered is essential. I have been monitoring soil moisture constantly, and sometimes we irrigate twice in one day.  It's particularly important for vegetables like carrots, which require a moist bed in order to germinate and break through the soil, but not so much water that they suffocate, drown, or wash away.

    With just over three weeks to go until our first harvest date, we're also busy tightening down our logistics for getting the produce to you in the best, freshest possible way.  The June 23 pick-up date happens to coincide with an event that many of our members, both regular share owners and pick-up site volunteers, will be attending.  Coincidentally, that event, which runs from that Thursday through Sunday, is taking place out here at Ffynnon.  For that reason, we are going to tweak our pick-up schedule a bit.  We will let you know all the details ahead of time, but for now, it appears that, for many of you, your first week's produce (if you are not attending Sunfest) will be delivered to your home address.  If you are attending Sunfest, we will pick your produce and collect your eggs on Sunday morning, then give it to you as you are leaving Ffynnon.  Again, we will be in touch with each of you to make certain you and your veggies get together without a hitch.

    Well, it's about time for me to head back out to the garden--those veggies aren't going to plant themselves!  Here's wishing you a great week. Find yourself a shady spot, try to stay cool, and we'll talk again soon.

    All the best from Ffynnon Farm,

    Ffarmer Joel

  • 20 Apr 2016 11:23 AM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    Spring has certainly made her return with a vengeance here at Ffynnon, and that reminds us that there is less than two weeks remaining for our early-bird discount on your 2016 Ffynnon Farm CSA share!  The garlic and shallots are showing impressive growth, our new strawberry plants are becoming well established, and the peas and other early crops are practically leaping skyward, both in the greenhouse and in the newly planted beds.  We are doing everything we can to take advantage of these warm and (mostly!) dry days so that you get the best in variety and quality right from the first box in your share.

    Our CSA share is designed to provide a week’s worth of produce for a family three to four, or for a pair of serious veggie lovers.  We do not offer half shares this year, but we do encourage folks to split shares.  Beyond freshness and great flavor, a Ffynnon Farm CSA share is also intended to provide a great value—our goal is to stock your box with items worth at least ten percent more than you would get for the same price at a typical natural grocery.  Add in your $50 off for signing up by April 30, and you’re getting almost two full weeks of produce for free!

    We plan to start our share season on Thursday, June 16, but we are keeping the starting date flexible—Mother Nature is the ultimate keeper of all schedules here at Ffynnon and everywhere else.   Extra warm and dry days might move the first delivery date ahead to June 9; conversely, if growth is a little slow, we’ll push things back to June 23.  In any case, you will get a full 21-week season of veggies, fruits, herbs, and flowers. 

    Many of you have been asking about the contents of your share boxes and what you can expect throughout the growing season, so let me take you on a tour through your CSA summer.  First of all, know that we are going to try to include a leafy salad green in every box.  By “leafy salad green,” we generally mean “lettuce,” and we are growing several types and varieties in order to provide you with lettuce throughout the season.  Some varieties thrive in heat, while others “bolt” (flower and go to seed) at the first hint of warmth, so we will always have several varieties in the pipeline.  Other greens will include spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, and kale.  Early in the season, you can expect beets, carrots, spinach, and arugula in your box.  Peas will be another early feature, and we have them in three forms: snow peas, snap peas, and shelling or English peas.  As the season moves along, peas will give way to beans, broccoli, early cabbage, and the like.  Full, warm summer brings tomatoes, of course; we currently have six varieties in the greenhouse, including Brandywine and other heirlooms, and our favorite cherry tomato, SunGold.  Summer squashes, corn, and onions take the stage in August and September, and then it’s back to cabbages, as well as cauliflower, winter squash, potatoes, and other end-of-season favorites.  Sprinkled in amongst these more substantial offerings, you’ll find little delights like radishes and kohlrabi, green onions and baby eggplant.  Fresh flowers and herbs will round out your box as they become available.

  • 23 Feb 2016 9:14 AM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    Greetings, friends of Ffynnon!

    We are happy to announce that shares are now available for the 2016 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at Ffynnon.  A CSA is like a subscription service for vegetables, but more than that, it is a sustained relationship between you, your farmer, and the land we love out here at Ffynnon.

    If you are not familiar with the concept of a CSA, these are the nuts and bolts: you purchase a “share” in the production of our farm for the 2016 season.  Then, each week for 21 weeks beginning in mid-June, we will deliver farm-fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits from the fields here at Ffynnon to designated pick-up sites in the Portland metro area.  Each share is designed to meet the produce needs of a family of three to four, or a household of two serious veggie lovers.  The advantages of this “subscription” concept are many:  by pre-paying for your season’s vegetables, you enable the farmer to purchase seeds, supplies, and soil amendments for the whole year, eliminating the risk of borrowing against an uncertain market.  In turn, you receive the freshest possible vegetables without paying the mark-up at a retail store or farmers’ market.  In most cases, the produce you receive at your pick-up site in the afternoon will have just come out of the ground that morning!  Each week, you will also receive a newsletter with details about what’s in your food box, along with recipes and tips for getting the most out of your share.  We will also have a limited number of egg shares available from Ffynnon’s flock of happy chickens.

    A share in the CSA costs $550, but we are starting the season with a $50 discount for signing up before April 30.  Discounts are also available for those who become members of Ffynnon at the Warden or Elder level.   Shareholders can pick up their bounty at convenient locations in the Portland area:  inner Southeast (near 11th and Harrison), inner Southwest (near Nebraska and Macadam), inner Northeast (in Alameda near 27th), outer Northeast (near 102nd and Fremont), Beaverton, and Hillsboro. 

     For more information and to sign up for your share, visit:


    We hope that our love of the land and our commitment to bringing you the best of Ffynnon’s bounty proves to be infectious.  All of us here at Ffynnon thank you in advance for letting us play with your food.

    Wishing you the best of health and happy eating,

    Your Ffarmers at Ffynnon

  • 28 Jun 2015 11:52 AM | Joel Sweet (Administrator)

    Thank you so much to Aine, the OWOW Board, the ritualists and workshop team, our Vernonia neighbors and the entire community for an amazing year at Sunfest! We think it was the best year yet, despite the heat and the bugs. 

    We had so much fun with you all and thanks for helping us look after the land so well. 

    We want to continue making this event and others held on the land better and better each year.  Plans are to add a communal kitchen, picnic benches, a yoga deck (or 2!), spaces for workshops, more shady camping, etc.  For this to happen, we would love your help - by becoming a member of Ffynnon!

    Even the $5/month membership helps us with our goals to shape this land and add more space for our community. 

    Please read more on our Membership page. We look forward to seeing you soon!

    Michael, Joel, Tasha, and Neal

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