Thursday, November 29, 2012

Short Days of Fall

Today's share is the same as Monday's so check out the last post if you want to see a photo. The photo above is part of the winter plantings (in my back yard). Behind that fence is the other part of the winter plantings, in the neighbor's yard (who are wonderful folks to let me rip up their lawn, and CSA members as well). Not only is there not much daylight these days, but my time out at the farm has drastically compressed into just a few hours in the middle of the day. I work in the office in the morning, ostensibly planning for next season but also catching up on emails and other little tasks that have been piling up. It's too cold to harvest, and usually much wetter first thing in the morning. It's a bit ironic because in the summer I try to harvest as early as possible before it gets too hot and dry. Deliveries are definitely getting me home in the dark these days, It's great to see that there are still lots of cyclists commuting even in this dark, wet season. I'm appreciating a good lighting system on the bike, and a full complement of excellent rain gear. Amazingly for how much it rains, It's often dry(ish) on my rides and during harvest.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back in the Saddle

After a lovely Thanksgiving holiday of heavy rains and high winds, it was nice to ride back out to the farm this morning in weather that couldn't be described as anything less than actually sunny! There wasn't much vegetable damage, just a little frost nipping of a few leaves that were uncovered when the winds blew protective row cover off some time last week. Today's share is a nice one with a leek, celeriac, very nice escarole and a sprig of sage. I sent out a survey to the CSA members last week and got a few good responses back. One said less herbs so I was a little self conscious about putting the sage in, but it's there, it'll make good tea, or go well in a bit of pasta or soup. The escarole is a variety called Cornet de Bordeaux. It didn't look that great to me early on, but it's absolutely beautiful right now, blanching nicely with thick ribs (which is the best part of escarole). I left the greens on the celeriac because it's really excellent in soups or even just chopped up and sauteed with other greens. It has strong celery flavor, too strong for some people. The roots have been very sweet and flavorful. 

I did a quick assessment of the remaining crops in the field for the next three weeks of harvest. Barring any extreme weather or critter attacks it's looking like there's a good amount of chicories, leeks, celeriac and beets. Unfortunately a few of the fall crops failed back in the summer so no carrots or root parsley this fall. The scorzonera is underground so I can't really tell what's happening there. Brussels have been devastated by aphids, but now that it's a little colder they're starting to recover. It may be too late for the fall but I'm hoping they'll make it for the winter. A couple other items are out there as well, but I'm not sure about quantities so they'll have to be a surprise. Looks like a decent fall all around though.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Commemorative T-shirts

I've been wanting to do a T-shirt for a while now. I found these organic cotton shirts with a great story and ordered a couple of samples recently. The cotton is grown by a farm in Texas that then has the cotton milled, knit and made into T-shirts, all here in the US. The color is natural and varies with the crop of cotton. I hand printed the shirts with the same cut that I used for the boxes, and made a second cut with Splendid Cycles logo to thank them for getting the farm set up with a cargo bike. The shirts seem very well made. The printing is by hand so it will vary slightly from shirt to shirt.

I'll post soon with a list of T-shirt styles and sizes available for special order along with prices (under $20 for the shirts pictured). They come unwashed and oversized so I washed and dried them to pre-shrink, at which point the sizes seemed pretty true. Pictured above are a women's fitted and a unisex crew neck.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanks for all the support!

I take Thanksgiving week off from harvests because it seems like it's a hectic week for everyone, lots of folks travel, and it's nice to have a break every once in a while. Since there are no deliveries on Thanksgiving week it was a good time to take the Bullitt into the shop for a little upgrade, a new rear rim. The stock Bionx wheels are pretty nice, but I've broken 3 spokes in under 3000 miles so Joel wanted me to try out a nice wide, super strong downhill rim to see if it makes a difference. The wider rim should work better with the relatively fat rear tire as well, not that it's been a problem, but wide tires on narrow rims do have a little less lateral stability (we're talking super geeky bike talk here). In order to get home from the shop after dropping off the bike I loaded up my Bike Friday on the front and headed down to the shop. I even stopped off at Near East Yoga for a little morning yoga practice, something I don't get to do on Mondays very often. 

Speaking of Near East Yoga, Casey just announced another round of (re)Intro classes at the yoga studio. I've been going to the studio something like a decade now and it's a wonderful little space. The studio is unique in Portland, without many led classes, but lots of one on one instruction to help folks develop their own practices at their own pace.

With Thanksgiving coming up the usual focus is on food and family. The farm is all about food and family, and I'm thinking about how thankful I am for all of the CSA members that support the farm and really make up the community part, the farm's family. I'm also really thankful for the businesses, run by friends of mine, who are supporting the farm as well and expanding the idea of community in community supported agriculture.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving week off and other announcements

Today's share is a carbon copy of Mondays so if you're looking for info on the share, check out the last post. 

I'm not sure how I did it but I mixed up which week is Thanksgiving in my planning. So, next week there are no deliveries of shares, not on Monday or Thursday. But, I'll be back with shares the following Monday and there'll be four more deliveries this fall before winter break.

Also, in case you missed it somehow, on Tuesday I made the official announcement about the new site for the farm in a letter to the mailing list (if you're not on the mailing list you should sign up using that little widget over there to the right, assuming you're actually on the website and not just using a reader - I don't use the list very often, just for big news like this, party announcements and other such happy things). If you did miss it you can still see it here - There's also an announcement in there about hiring apprentices for next year, and if you actually read this on the website you might notice that there's now a "Work Opportunities" page with the full description.

The photo up top is on potential field at the new site (straddling the road and between blueberry plantings). The photo below is another possibility (beyond the pond and the red strip of blueberries). The entire property is 58 acres so there's a lot going on there. It's going to be an interesting winter splitting my time between set up for spring in Sherwood and harvest in St. Johns for winter shares.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Birds and Rainbows

Today's share has a leek, a nice sprig of rosemary, a small bunch of kale and a head of frisee. This is the first frisee of the season and it's still a bit young. Like the escarole from two weeks back, it's best soaked in cold water before using, but the leaf shape does nicely just torn up roughly. All of that frizziness holds dressings very nicely, and if you have other greens to mix with it it adds good loft. The ribs are the best part, in my opinion, and by the next harvest we may have more of a blanched heart, especially if it gets a little colder. Frisee, like the other chicories, is also strong enough to hold up to cooking and is nice wilted in a hot sautee pan, or even chopped up and added to vegetable soup. If you're especially sensitive to bitter flavors, the cooking can take a bit of the edge off. For some of us, that slight bitter, along with the crunchy sweetness is what we crave in fall salads.

Riding to the farm this morning (late morning these days, as it's best to avoid the coldest wettest part of the day for harvest this time of year) there were an incredible number of birds on the island. Just as I got to the island the clouds broke and one of the biggest double rainbows I've ever seen popped up in front of me. I thought about jumping off the bike to take a photo, but instead I just enjoyed the view. Only nine more harvests this year and then the farm moves off the island. More on that soon...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Getting Colder

Today's share is pretty much the same as Monday's so I refer you back to Monday's post for more on the share. It was a bit colder than it's been this morning and the weather forecast makes me think we'll be getting our first real frost of the year as early as this evening. This will probably change things in the field a bit, some for the better. Depending on how hard a frost we get it could mean the end of a few crops such as chard and celery. Usually we've had a good frost by now so they wouldn't be around anyway. If it's a really hard frost there might be some damage to the celeriac that's still in the field and the beets as well. It doesn't seem like it'll get quite that cold yet. The big benefit of very cold weather is that it concentrates the sugars in the plants. This means more sweetness in everything from the chicory to the kale. I sure wouldn't mind if we didn't get a really hard freeze for a while yet, but a little frost might be nice to slow down the slugs and sweeten up the crops.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Exciting new items

A couple of new items for the year in the share today. Beets come back once again as I continue to work through the fall plantings of Kestrels. There are a few beet greens in the shares as well, although the leaves are starting to die back quite a bit so not a lot in the share. There is a big bunch of collard greens. My favorite way to eat these is to remove the rib and then slice them cross wise and boil them in water with a good amount of tamari added. They also work as a substitute for kale, but they leave are a little heartier. Also a new addition for the fall is celeriac, also called root celery. I've left the tops on and the tops can also be cooked as a green, or used like celery to flavor soups or other dishes. The root is great in salads, sliced into sticks and then par boiled, or mashed with potatoes. It has a very similar texture to potato, but it tastes like celery.

A big thanks to everyone who brought back bags last week. I even had a few extra today when I was washing the bags for pack-out (I should have a hundred extra or so, but I'll take just a few extra for now.) If you have more sitting around I'd love to see them back in the rotation. 

Clean up continues in the field and I've finally been getting around to planting garlic for next season. Today I got all of the tomato stakes and some remaining irrigation pieces out of the field. The cover crop is coming up really nicely with all of this unusually warm weather.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bike Deliveries in the Rain

Today's share is about the same as Monday's so no new photo or notes. The photo above was taken on Monday which turned out to be a really nice day. I was kind of hoping that today would end up being dry like Monday since the weather forecast was more or less the same - 90% chance of rain. It wasn't completely soaking, but it was a bit drizzly and definitely no a lot of cloud breaks. I've had a few folks comment on how hard core I seem riding in the rain. I have to say that it's all about the rain gear and dressing right. For a farmer who works in rain gear out in the rain all of the time it's not a big leap to hop on a bike in the rain. The main difference is that I have to shed a few layers when I'm on the bike to keep from overheating. Also I have to wear gloves, which I don't do when I'm harvesting. I'm still loving riding the boxes into town and really hardly ever getting in a car.

I'm posting a couple of photos of the new box for the delivery bike. I'm not sure how many other folks will be excited about this, but it's pretty revolutionary for me. When I don't have boxes on the bike it holds my bag from sliding around, which was always a problem with the flat bed. When I'm riding home after deliveries I don't have that huge box on the bike, and I don't have to take it on and off the bike to get into and out of the house. All around it's much better, except that I can't carry long tools with it. The old box is still serviceable when I need to carry tools. The design below was just proof of concept. I have a number of improvements that I'll add soon.