Thursday, December 1, 2016

Beans and Squash Sold Out! Some corn still available.

I still have a bit of the dry choclo corn available (see the previous post) but all of this year's corn and squash is spoken for at this point.

I packed up the final 130+ pounds of squash and 20 pounds of corn this morning and sent them off with a friend who will get them to Standing Rock to help feed the camp. It feels good to be able to donate to the cause there, and donating corn and squash feels to me very much like giving back and the best way to say thank you I have.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday Thank You Donation!

Today, Black Friday, I am donating all proceeds from any sale to aid the peaceful protests of the indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a holiday that loosely remembers the generosity of the native people and a shared feast between the Wampanoag and the Plymouth colonists. I am thankful for so much and I really do sit in a place of privilege so I'm inspired to make a small offering today, Black Friday, inspired by the generosity the Wampanoag modeled at the first Thanksgiving, the specific example that Patagonia is setting by donating all of their sales today to environmental causes, and so many more who work to make this world a better place for everyone, I am donating 100% of any sales today to help the peaceful protesters at Standing Rock.

I still have a couple hundred pounds of delicious Marina di Chioggia winter squash in sizes ranging from about 4 - 14 pounds and about 20 bags of Otto File polenta corn (whole kernels) to sell. These are both named Italian varieties but are crops that were originally brought to Italy from the americas, shared by the indigenous people on this continent. The photo above is of the 18 pound Marina di Chioggia that I stuffed for Thanksgiving (in retrospect I wish I had stuffed it with cornbread, but alas, it's just old sourdough crusts and vegetables - still incredibly tasty). I also have whole ears of dry choclo corn which have big, long kernels that are delicious cooked whole and eaten as a side, or in a stew. The squash will keep for at least a couple of months, the corn will keep for at least a year.

Prices and ordering information and more tips on how to use the corn and squash are in the previous post. The choclo ears yield about 1-2 cups of corn and are $4 each. If you would like it cleaned and shelled it is $8 for a 2 cup bag. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Corn, Beans and Squash for Sale!

Three sizes of Marina di Chioggia ranging from 2 to 17 pounds, a small butternut, and a coffee mug for scale
Dec. 1, 2017 update: All of the beans and squash are now spoken for. There is still some choclo corn available. I'm planning out next season right now so let me know if you're sad you missed out this season and I'll try to get you some next year. I'm leaving the rest of this post as a historical record...

Ooops, scratch the beans, they’re already sold out! But I do have Corn and Squash for sale, and a small bit of a few other items.

Here’s the back story, it’s been a while since there’ve been any posts on the blog so I’ll catch you up quickly. For the past three years the original CSA was transitioned to Our Table in Sherwood and they have now expanded that program. Meanwhile, this year I’ve been working with Cully Neighborhood Farm, keeping my fingers in the CSA movement that way. As a side project, I’ve been growing corn, beans and squash together for a number of years now and this year I leased a small plot in the Cully Neighborhood where I grew two types of corn, a few different squashes and seven different beans that I’ve collected over the years. Now that it’s harvested, cured and cleaned (mostly), I’m selling it (‘cause that’s what farms do – they sell what they grow! – except for the bit I’m saving for next year’s seed.) Mostly I just want people to get to eat these incredible foods!

Marina di Chioggia and Butternut Squash (as of 11/10 the butternut is sold out)– sold by the each with a wide range of sizes available. Approximate price is $2 per pound. (300 pounds total inventory – bulk pricing available)
The butternut are small, ¾ to 1 ½ pound squash, 1-2 servings each and very limited in quantity. They were part of a trial where almost all of the seed planted was eaten by the crows, so I don’t actually know what the variety is.
The Marina di Chioggia is my favorite winter squash. It’s a great keeper, with peak flavor between November and January, and often storing well into March. The skin color changes over time in storage from dark green to a gray blue with orange highlights and the exterior ranges from bumpy to smooth as exhibited in the photo. The flesh is deep orange, sweet and meaty with medium moisture and very little stringiness. It can be eaten raw or cooked (see below for more information) I have sizes ranging from about 2 pounds all the way up to about 19 pounds. Typically the smaller ones are slightly less sweet than the big ones, but sweetness isn’t the only flavor here.

Otto File Corn - $4 a bag (2 cups of whole kernels, a bit more than ¾ pound – 25 pounds total inventory – bulk pricing available)
A few years ago I was in Italy and visited a wonderful little biodyanamic market farm in Lucca. The farmer gave me an ear of his golden polenta corn (otto file, meaning eight rows in english – because there are eight rows of kernels on the slender cobs). I ended up planting it in my garden and it made amazing polenta - tons of corn flavor, beautiful golden color, slightly sweet - so I grew more.  Read on below for my suggestions on how to use the corn.

How to get Corn and Squash

Simple, place and order by email and come pick it up. Tell me how much of what you want in the email and I'll confirm with the prices and availability. The pick up location is on my porch in St. Johns, relatively near the library (I’ll send details once you place an order). To pay for your order put a check in my mail slot, (or cash in an envelope with your name on the outside), or you can pay by paypal (which means you can use a credit card). 
If you’re a Cully Neighborhood Farm CSA customer and you order at least 24 hours before your last pick up for the year I’ll deliver your order to the CSA pick up at the farm and you can drop your payment there.

Szechuan pepper with seeds and stems. It's related to citrus and has a somewhat citrusy aroma. There's a unique heat that comes with it and when it's directly applied to the tongue it is slightly numbing.

Other items of interest…

I also have a small quantity of Szechuan pepper, French grey shallots, and garlic for sale. The Szechuan pepper is dry, and is not deseeded or de-stemmed, but could be - $10/oz. I have a small quantity of French grey shallots that need to be used soon. These are small in size, but big in flavor - $4/ quarter pound. I have a small quantity of an un-named soft neck garlic with  rose tinged skins and mild flavor, medium sized heads - $1 per head.

Shallots on the left, garlic on the right

In addition to all of that, I have a number of ears of dried Choclo corn. This is not typically the way it is used (as far as I understand it’s typically eaten fresh, but it’s an experimental crop for me). If you’re interested let me know, the price would be similar to the Otto File

A typical ear of Choclo. Yes, it's very fat, heavy and the kernels are very deep. I'll be experimenting with in the kitchen soon and I'll try to post my thoughts soon.

More details on the Corn and Squash

Otto File

I typically use the corn one of two ways, but it works for a number of other preparations as well. Personally, I grind it coarsely using an inexpensive hand crank Corona grist mill (a clean coffee grinder will usually work for small quantities, or a good blender - food processors don't usually work). I sift the grindings into coarse and fine using a simple, large wire mesh strainer, the kind you use in the kitchen. You can skip that step if you want to. The fines are flour and I like to make short bread cookies with them. The grits I use to make polenta by pouring them slowly in boiling water while stirring and then turning the heat down and stirring occasionally until the polenta is the consistency I want. I usually use 2-3 cups of water per cup of grits, and I add salt to taste (and a bit of cheese at the end on request).  I like my polenta somewhat soft, but not totally pourable so I keep stirring until the mix starts to come away from the back of the spoon. Then I pour/spoon it out onto a wooden cutting board, spread it to an even layer and let it set up for a few minutes before slicing out wedges. It’s excellent the next day sautéed in a hot skillet, or baked in a sauce.
The whole kernels can also be cooked whole, with or without pickling lime. Cooking with pickling lime is an essential step in making posole (corn stew), or nixtamal, which is the basis of fresh tortillas and tamales. I’ve used this corn this way and the flavor is very good, but the texture is a little gummier than the traditional corn used in this process.

Marina di Chioggia

Chioggia is a town on the east coast of Italy, just south of Venice. I visited there on the same trip where I was gifted the corn, it’s a beautiful spot, and much less touristy than Venice. I had already been growing the squash for a while, but I was there looking at radicchio, another specialty of the area. 
I’ve used this squash, with good success for just about every possible basic squash recipe.  As with most squash, it’s easiest just to cut it in half, clean the seed cavity and roast it, cut side down until the flesh is fork soft. It can then be cut off in chunks and eaten just like that, or pureed and used to fill ravioli, make squash gnocchi, for pie or pumpkin bread, etc, etc… I sometimes cut very thin, raw slices to add to salad, or just to eat plain. I’ll cut slightly thicker slices and pan fry them if I don’t want to heat up the over and cook the whole thing all at once. Once I’ve sliced into the squash it usually keeps for a few days on the counter without any problems. If I want it to keep longer than that I’ll roast the whole remains and then freeze the puree.

Let me know if you have any questions and I always love positive comments as well. Sorry for the long absence, we'll see if I can start posting a little more regularly again.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Late 2015 Update

This blog isn't dead yet, but in reality it's most useful right now as a look into the first four years of the Slow Hand Farm CSA. Many of the links over there in the sidebar are historical, and no real production has been done under the Slow Hand Farm name since the beginning of 2013. In 2013 I folded Slow Hand Farm into Our Table Cooperative, and set up the first vegetable production there. In 2014 that expanded and I continued to develop and manage the vegetable production systems there. In 2015 I transitioned my role back to one of a consultant on that project and it's basically in their hands now. Our Table is a great project and is doing important work, but it didn't completely fit the kind of production I want to be focusing on and I wasn't ready to move out of my home in St. Johns, Portland, to be closer to Sherwood (or continue the long commute).

I've got a few urban agriculture projects brewing for 2016, but I'm not sure what they'll look like exactly, yet. I'm pretty sure none of them will be tiny CSA shares like Slow Hand Farm, but you never know. I still think that's a great model and maybe I'll find a good location to get back to that at some point (if you know of a property between 0.5 and 5 acres close to St. Johns, Portland, that's suitable for agriculture, definitely let me know, that's part of what it would take).

Meanwhile, I leave the archives of the original CSA project up here for anyone who wants to see what it looked like (including myself).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 Update

This blog has been quiet for over a year now. The final CSA share under the Slow Hand Farm name went out last March at which point I fully transitioned my production over to the Our Table site in Sherwood. For the past year I've been producing the same style shares that I developed on the Slow Hand Farm site out at Our Table.

There are some really exciting opportunities I've been taking advantage of by folding my production into the Our Table project. This is a project with more infrastructure, in terms of buildings and storage spaces, than I've ever worked with. I've also had the opportunity to go back to a bit of training of newer growers. Last season I worked with three fantastic folks (Karen, Louis and Forrest) which allowed me to quadruple the number of CSA shares I was offering.

This year Forrest has stepped back into his life as a bike mechanic and gardener, but continues to support the farm by hosting a pick up spot in Kenton. Louis is working with the construction crew for the summer, learning some new skills to bring back to the farm. Karen has become a super solid grower, helping us make the transition into even more production this season and also branching out into growing cut flowers. With Forrest and Louis out for the season we've hired two new great crew members, Jen and Dawn (also known collectively as Jawn).

The Our Table site has lots more information about the new project. In the meantime I continue to work under the Slow Hand Farm name for the consulting work I do (and a little seed and culinary herb production to support my other projects). Our Table moves us away from the hand scale nature of the original project, but keeps a lot of the same intentions and increases the scale of what we're able to accomplish. I'll keep the hand scale for my seed and culinary herb production for now and maybe Slow Hand Farm will return at some point for larger hand scale projects.

In the meantime, I'll keep this blog around for occasional updates but for current CSA information head over to the blog and store at Our Table.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Final Winter Share for 2013

Wednesday marks the equinox and start of spring and this last winter share is already showing that first flush of spring growth with more raab and fuller greens than we've had for a while. I pulled most everything that was left out of the gardens and even thinned out the garlic in order to spice up the shares. in the share this week is a bit of raab from different plant, some kale, some purple sprouting broccoli, some cabbage. Raab has little florets kind of like broccoli but really the stem and leaves are the best part. Like most things in the share it's best sauteed with a bit of olive oil or just eaten raw. For chicories there's more catalogna and frisee. There's a turnip with greens, and also a bunch of collard greens. To round things out we scrounged a bit of mache which has naturalized in the gardens. Mache, also known as corn salad, makes a great little side salad with just a little oil and salt. It does hold soil closely in the florets of leaves so make sure to clean it well before eating.

This is the last CSA share post I'll be making on this web site, after this it's all moving over to  The farm will go on a two week spring break from harvest and we're hoping to be back to harvesting the second week of April. A peek under the row cover this morning showed germinating radishes and mustards and recently transplanted lettuces doing nicely. Favas have also come up and there are lots of plants germinating on the heat table in the greenhouse. It's going to be an exciting spring. We'd love to see you at the open house on April 7 from 3-5pm. Head over to the events page at for more details.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Winter turning into spring

This is the fifth of six planned harvests for the winter CSA and it's already starting to feel like spring. Today's share is mostly greens, as the roots and alliums are pretty much played out for now. In the share is a big bunch of Lacinato Rainbow kale, a bit of escarole, a second chicory which might be radicchio (pictured) or sugarloaf or castlefranco depending on the bag, there are a few sprigs of rosemary (I was pruning today), and finally the first of the raab. Raab is the flower bud of brassicas, and most of the raab today comes from the cabbage, which never did head properly, but is now sending up flower shoots. I'm hoping that we'll have lots more raab in two weeks for the final share of the winter. It's a very delicious, extremely nutritious vegetable.

I'm excited for the longer days and more fresh greens. Roots roasts are great in the winter but come this time of year I'm ready for some tender greens. With the longer days, and especially with warm sunny days like today, the over wintered greens are taking off, and soon we'll have seeds germinating in the ground.

If you haven't signed up for spring shares yet, please hop over to our new website,, and put yourself on the list. Let your friends know too, we're expanding and so we have lots of shares we'd like to have spoken for by the end of the month.