Casey works up one of our older high tunnel greenhouses to begin the planting process.
First of all: Our CSA begins this Thursday! And, YES, we still have room for new and returning members to join! You can find information about our CSA here and sign-up now here. Or, if that doesn’t work for you, just email me with any questions you have or to sign up that way: farm (at) oakhillroganics (dot) com. I know there are many folks out there who want to sign up but haven’t gotten around to it yet — now it the time! Now on to the news …
I apologize for this much belated New Year’s post. I had full intentions to write a New Year’s update soon after the actual event, but WOW have we been busy! We enjoyed a luxuriously wonderful series of days off for the holidays, which were filled with so much family, presents, delicious food and rest. And, then, we were off running!
Preparing for this year’s CSA (which begins on Thursday!) brings extra work because our farm is in the mist of a big transition. Rather than offering two separate CSA programs anymore (our veggie-only CSA and our “Full Diet” option), we are combining the two into one offering. The foundation of this CSA remains the same: members choose their weekly share size, which determines how many vegetables items they pick up each they week (chosen by the members from that week’s harvest — a highly customizable CSA that we are returning to because of customer demand!). Pick-up will occur at our new snazzy downtown McMinnville storefront. We have been busy prepping this space to host our members, slowly transforming it into a little funky farmstand.
We’ve been transforming our new storefront into an awesome CSA pick-up / farmstand space.
At pick-up, members will have the opportunity to purchase other items as well — farm meats, eggs, flours, fermented vegetables, extra fruit, and nuts (all grown/produced by us here on our farm!). Initially when we were planning for 2015, we were thinking we would just sell our meat animals as halves and wholes, but we heard from a lot of folks that they don’t have freezer space to store meat like that, so we’ve found some really awesome USDA-inspected processors to work with (allowing us to sell meat retail by the cut) and will have both options available this year — meat at pick-up and whole and half animals.
At this week’s first pick-up, we will have:
- Seasonal vegetables of course! A wide range of good stuff here!
- Ground beef in 1 lb packages
- Lamb roasts
- Corn flour
- Oat flour
- Kohlrabi and carrot “kimchi”
For items like flour and kimchi, we encourage members to bring their own containers for purchasing those items and bringing them home. We will also have glass mason jars available for purchase on site.
We are so excited to have once again one CSA to put all of our farm’s energy into. The last few years have been such a big transition for our farm as we expanded our acreage and offerings. Now that we’re several years into balancing vegetables with animal production on 100 acres, we feel a great renewed interest and energy for the joy of vegetable growing (which is of course where we began!). Casey and I have been doing “crop planning” the last few days — choosing our seeds and making our long order list for the season. Even though much is familiar in the process (we have many favorite tried and true varieties we grow), each year brings new adventures as seed companies offer new things for us to try out. This year we are aiming to buy only organically produced seeds (so far so good on our list) as part of our goal to get certified organic again this year (after taking a few years off from the process). It’s not absolutely necessary to only grow organic seeds for that process (a farm just has to demonstrate that they have tried to buy as much organic seed as possible for their specific purposes). But we appreciate that organic seed producers are striving to meet the needs of commercial market growers, and we’d like to support them as much as possible. That commitment will have us trying some new varieties this year, as many of our standards have yet to become available as organically grown. A new adventure!
We’re also excited to start 2015 with a third high tunnel greenhouse on the farm (see photo above!). We’ve had two around for many years and have so appreciated their amazing productivity — especially in that challenging period when spring-planted crops are not yet ready to pick but over-wintered crops are done. As a year-round CSA, having more greenhouse space will help us get through those early months with plenty of high quality, abundant vegetables! Casey has already worked up all three greenhouses and transplanted lots of sweet onions and cooking greens into two of them. We plan to sow salad makings in the third greenhouse as soon as we get our seed orders completed! Who loves salads? Oh, we do! Salad greens are an area we’d like to pay more attention to again in 2015. Because, really, salads. are. awesome.
Rusty carefully copies variety names from a catalog onto his own crop planning list.
As we start our tenth season (oh my!), we’re learning ever new lessons about what it means to live here, farm this land, and operate a small business. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the early years of this farm and on how different they were then than now. Most of our challenges were related to infrastructure development and getting established. Casey and I were able to throw ourselves into every day with all of our energy and work as many hours as we wanted. The strengths and the challenges of our farm have evolved, of course. Now we have two amazing, wonderful kids in tow for everything we do. I have chosen to mostly be a stay-at-home mom with them, so I am not trying to pull them around in the field for daily farm work. But they are present for much of the business work — the brainstorming conversations that happen over breakfast and the preparing of the storefront in town. I can tell you what — things don’t happen quite as quickly as they once did! But, we make progress nonetheless, and I cherish the thought that our kids get to be so intimately involved with the source of our family’s livelihood. I am sure that at the ages of 2 and 5, these lessons are absorbed on an unconscious level, but it won’t be long before Rusty can contribute to many parts of the farm in a significant way. As Casey and I have been making our seed lists for the farm, Rusty has pored over the catalogs as well and has been making his own list for his garden this year. These kids amaze us.
And, winter is just as much of a time for play on the farm as summer. We had a minor high water event here around Christmas — nothing terribly dramatic in the end, although the initial forecasts were for big water and had us scrambling to get everything prepared. But then the predictions toned down, and we just saw our “normal” high water that comes every winter to fill the lowest ground. We know how to prepare for this water and expect it year. And, now with kids so very wonderfully living here on the farm too, high water events take on a whole new meaning. The children have inspired us to play with the river when it visits us, bringing unexpected joys into our winter farm days. On that note, I will close with some photos from that recent fun:
When the river came up and the sun came out, the kids played along (and in) the edge of the waters.
At the crest of the high water, we were cut off from our cooking green plantings by water. Solution? Borrow a canoe and take a wetter route than normal to go pick some collards! Canoeing down the middle of our fields provided the ultimate in new perspective. Also: SO FUN.
A cold spell froze the flood waters several inches thick and then the water receded before a thaw arrived, leaving sheets of ice all over our fields. The children were mesmerized by the sensory experience of walking and crunching on ice.
We look forward to seeing many of you this Thursday! I will write a newsletter this Wednesday with more logistical reminders for the first time in the new space and routine!
In the meantime, may you be finding joy too in this gray days! Think of delicious vibrant vegetables headed your ways soon!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla