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Word from the Woods

  • 12 Jul 2017 8:34 PM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    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.



  • 06 Jul 2017 8:07 AM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    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.  

    Farmer Joel

    and all of us at Ffynnon Farm

  • 05 Jul 2017 2:53 PM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    Greetings Ffynnon Community!

    We are changing our membership model to open our doors even wider...

    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.

    Manage your Membership

    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

  • 28 Jun 2017 9:38 PM | Ffynnon (Administrator)

    CSA Week Two

    The first week of CSA delivery is under our belts, and other than some obvious hiccups and some procedural questions (more on those later), we're pretty happy with the way things are going. This week's baskets will include leaf lettuce and Sugar Ann snow peas along with spearmint and oregano.  There may be a fifth item, depending on our estimate of whether we have enough of that item for all our subscribers--we'll make that decision on Thursday morning, right before we load the truck for delivery.
    Something we did not really expect was the number of people who sent us pictures and recipes showing us what they made with their basket items. Kelly made a parsley pesto with her flat-leaf parsley, and salad rolls with the Romaine lettuce.  Wendy sent us a photo of her roasted scallions and radishes with browned butter, beet greens and cilantro.  We intend to post your recipes and photos in a separate blog post, so please, if you send us anything, let us know if we can share it.

    Our recipe this week is very simple but very versatile and uses just one of the items in your basket.  You can use Spearmint Simple Syrup as an ingredient in cocktails, as a sweetener for lemonade or iced tea, or for fresh fruit desserts:

    1 cup fresh mint leaves
    1 cup sugar or other sweetener
    1 cup water

    Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and to prevent browning or sticking.  Let the mixture steep for about 30 minutes, then pour through a strainer into a glass jar. This will keep, refrigerated, for about a month.  You can make a double batch of this, then pour it into a shallow pan and place it in the freezer. Every thirty minutes or so, stir the mixture with a spoon. In about two hours, it should be mostly frozen but still a bit slushy:  Fresh Mint Granita.  I will leave the possibilities for frozen mojitos and mint juleps to your imagination.

    While the oregano in your baskets probably won't benefit from the sugar syrup treatment, it's still a good herb to have around:  sprinkle it on pizza, work it into a pasta with a little butter or oil, some garlic, and a little Parmesan, or do a wet rub on chicken with garlic cloves or shallots.  if you still have some left over, save it and the woody stems to throw on the grill just before you put the meat on.  
    Timely deliveries and communication
    We apologize sincerely for the lateness of last week's delivery.  A cascading storm of delays piled on the earlier delays (like a late start through the Vista Ridge tunnel) to make my last stop a good three hours later than it should have been.  We have taken several steps to prevent this from ever happening in the future, but we'd also like to ask for your help.  I am putting your cell phone numbers into my phone's contact list, and grouping each number by your delivery location.  That way, I can easily let each person know if we run into a delay getting to their pickup.  We got cell numbers for most of you when you signed up for the CSA, but some of you gave us a landline number or an email address. If you think this applies to you, please send us your cell phone number so we can complete our group listings. I promise to use it only to let you know that your basket has arrived, or that it will be late.

    If you are missing an item, need to cancel your delivery, or otherwise need to contact Farmer Joel on Thursday delivery days, the best way to do that is by texting to my cell, 503-313-7839.  Texting is best, as I will be driving, but can read and respond at the next stop.
    Procedural stuff
    We wanted to remind you that eggs are delivered every other week, for a total of ten dozen eggs over a twenty week season. Members who pick up their shares in Beaverton or Southeast Portland received their first dozen last week, while members in Concordia and outer Northeast will get theirs this week.  This ensures that every member gets the freshest eggs possible (while reducing the strain on our girls). 

    Also, we would appreciate it if you could return your CSA containers each week. This week, we are debuting the peck and half bushel woven baskets that we will be using throughout the rest of the season. We would like to get these back promptly so that we don't have to spend your veggie money on more packaging--and the black tubs from the first week are what we use to make potting soil and fertilizer and to harvest your greens.

    Let us know if you have questions, continue to share you recipes with us and we hope you enjoy this week's box!

    Farmer Joel 
    and all of us at Ffynnon Farms
  • 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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