Hello Farm Family
Well it finally happened - a real hard freeze. This signals the end for some parts of the farmscape and the beginning for many others. We've officially said goodbye to peppers and field lettuce. The fennel and celery too, though cool loving, are not built to withstand hard frosts. As these crops melt to the ground, other winter stalwarts are just hitting their stride. It's possible you'll see one more round of broccoli in the final share next week, as well as the tender, bitter-sweet winter heading green Raddiccio, a standout in soups and casseroles.
Brussels Sprouts are finally plumping up and making their first and only appearance in the fall CSA shares. Our favorite way to enjoy these is halved and roasted with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper...maybe a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for some flare. The cauliflower is hanging on, but slow to head. It's very possible, but not certain, that we'll be able to offer some of the sweet "cloud broccoli" (says Wendell), at a winter market or two. The greenhouses also are partially planted to turnips, lettuce, chard, boc choi, and spinach. Growth rates slow dramatically this time of year, but as long as we stay ahead of the slugs, some of these tender greens should be on offer come late November and December.
Aside from the vegetables, some of the other beginnings to mark this season are a full woodshed and consistent fires in our house (our only heat), and the draining and winterizing of our irrigation system, which means we're again relying on RAIN, oddly scarce at the moment. Some of the crops could really use a few drops to bulk up. Also, with the first hard freezes, the sheep again come into estrus, which has us looking ahead to March when lambing season begins in earnest. Likewise, we are seeing signs in our breeding sows that piglets will be making an appearance within the next month or two.
This is also the time when we finally fill the calendar with off-farm activities. Most of our weekends seem booked well through January, with both family and recreation. We try to steal away for some 3-4 day trips to the coast or to Breitenbush, or to the mountains, or down to California to visit some old friends and extended family. We are so grateful to have Shawn (or longtime employee) through the winter, both to help with animal chores, equipment maintenance, and building projects, as well as to look after the place so these farmers might take some much needed time away with the kiddos. We love being here, and are working to create a lovely refuge and oasis, but the summers do feel long and demanding. Winter, much a season for quite reflection and nesting, is balanced by our need to explore and be free!
In addition to these final two CSA shares, we'll continue to be at the winter market consistently until the weekend before x-mas. Please come see us if you'd like to stock up on extra onions, garlic, winter squash, carrots, beets, celeriac, or winter greens. Also I do want to mention that we will have lamb in various cuts through the winter, including ground lamb, which will be restocked the first market after Thanksgiving. One other item I wanted to mention is the medicine that was grown on the farm this season. Those of you that joined us for the party and farm tour will know that we included a small block of hemp in the vegetable rotation. We've never before grown cannabis, so it was a very interesting and educational experience. As a plant and as a crop it fits well within our small-scale rotation, serving as a low-input, easily weeded and harvested crop among the patchwork of intensive vegetables, cover-crops, and fallow ground. The variety that we grew is called Blue Genius, and is bred in Eugene. The total CBD level is 12% and it is a non-psychoactive strain (below .3% THC). Most of our flower was sold wholesale to another organic hemp grower, but we reserved a number of plants for direct sale of bud to our customers. We have whole flower available - dried, cured, and vacuum packed in various weights. Please contact us directly if you are interested in buying some CBD flower, or if you'd like any other information about hemp on our farm. We've been hesitant to market cannabis because we know this is not for everyone, and that it's a whole new world out there with regards to legalization. But, we do believe that on a small scale, and if sustainably grown, hemp offers a very viable and complimentary enterprise to small, certified organic food producers. We appreciate the vigor, the form and the function of this species. While it's not a panacea in itself, hemp, like food, is one form of medicine at our disposal from this lovely earth.
Thank you, as always, for your continued support and indulgence. This farm is made brighter and more viable b/c of your trust and commitment. We feel honored to grow your food and to be a part of a community that works to build a local, sustainable food system. Your time is valuable, and your choices are abundant. That you choose to eat with us, and to go the extra mile to get healthy, organic food from a farm that is defined as much by stewardship as it is by production, literally means the world to us. We do not take your patronage lightly, and we want you to know that your participation is a force of good. This farm is a labor of love, AND it is also a labor of purpose and optimism. You all, our members, are part of our purpose, and the world that we hope to live in - one of peace and kindness, of clean air and water and food - is the purpose that we carry in community with you. In this world, how we eat is a quietly powerful act of activism. Maybe you just like our carrots, and that's totally fine. But those carrots are part of a movement that asks "what's the point of a good carrot, if the soil is dying?" "Who cares if the greens are tender, or if the leeks are sweet, if the forests do not thrive, if the water cannot run clear?" Agriculture is the great equalizer, because our sustenance, and our survival, is tied to the health of the ecosystem. We, as farmers, cannot simply extract our food without also asking how our efforts are creating life in the land. Please know that you are creating life in the land with every bite, with every share. That is our commitment and our promise.
Geez! We are so happy and so grateful to be your farmers!
Conner + Sarah