Welcome!

14Welcome to our farm’s blog and website! Oakhill Organics is a family-run farm located on Grand Island. We grow everything we sell right here on our farm, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! We sell primarily through our unique 45-week long Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which offers customizable share sizes and contents. You can find out more information about what and how we grow by following the links above; or, scroll down to read our latest farm news on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Halfway through winter

Time for the requisite winter photo of bright fresh starts in our hot house. Oh, how these tender green pea tendrils stir our hearts with dreams of spring! It is coming!

Time for the requisite winter photo of bright fresh starts in our hot house. Oh, how these tender green pea tendrils stir our hearts with dreams of spring! It is coming!

Yesterday we celebrated Imbolc here in our house by picking out and ordering some special seeds for the kids to grow in their own garden plots this year. Also known as Groundhog Day or Candlemas, February 2 seems to be an important moment in many Northern Hemisphere cultures as it approximately marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox — thus the halfway point in winter.

In this mild and temperate part of the world, I remark every year that Imbolc almost feels more like the end of winter. Really, that would be premature — snow (lots of it even) has fallen here after February 2 in at least one year. But it certainly marks a shift to a different kind of winter days. Days continue to lengthen and the world wakes up in slow but dramatic ways.

I love to mark those seasonal turns, and in this quiet time of year, the littlest signs can feel loud and exciting. I have to admit that in mid-summer’s abundance I don’t quite as readily notice the succession of changes until they take a turn toward fall. But now, each tiny marker is noted and celebrated. The daffodil greens that have already put out the first buds. The bright green leaves that are unfolding on the earliest of the Indian Plums. The first of the turnip rapini shooting up from their roots (we’ll pick the first of it for next week’s share!).

Our bird feeders have been busy places lately too. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many species in our yard at once as I have these recent weeks. Recently while I was cooking lunch, I counted more than ten different species on or around our feeders. I am still such an amateur birder than I have yet to positively identify all of them, but I’m working on it. I want to know more about who is a resident, who is coming, who is going, and so much more. The world feels very much alive on the farm right now — the vitality of the earth and its residents pushing us toward spring’s eventual arrival. Hoorah!

Enjoy this week’s newsletter!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Let’s talk about plastic bags & food storage … Our goal as CSA farmers is to deliver produce to you that will serve you well over your week of eating. That means helping you take it home in good condition and store it properly. For some of our vegetable items, plastic bags are incredibly useful in meeting both those goals. But, of course, plastic bags have their own challenges too.

We have received positive feedback over the years about the quality of our bags — many of our conscientious customers reuse them dozens and dozens of times before finally recycling them. Oh, hoorah! That warms our hearts to hear, and we are glad that a simple piece of packaging we provide can serve a longer term purpose in your home.

However, we also know that many of you would prefer to simply not bring plastic home at all. We are happy to help you meet that goal. If you would like us to fill your own bags (reused plastic or cloth or whatnot), just ask Casey at pick up for what item you’d like placed in there. He is happy to do this (although at peak times, you may have to wait some extra time). Another option is for you to simply empty the contents of one of our bags directly into your tote bag or basket and then return the bag to us. We are happy to reuse bags that have not yet left the store in this way!

Remember though that many vegetable items really do need to be stored in some kind of container in your fridge. Fridges have a drying element inside them (that’s what keeps the air circulating for best cooling and prevents frost build-up), and if you, for example, put carrots directly on a shelf without protection, they will shrivel and become rubbery with a few hours or days. It’s quite sad. Most other foods will do the same — tender greens can wilt to almost nothingness. So, we do recommend using something to contain your vegetables within your fridge — plastic bags that you reuse, a tupperware-type container, or a moist muslin bag (make sure it’s wet or else the same thing will happen).

While we’re talking about food storage, also beware of crushing greens in the bag. This is a sure fire way to have them get slimy and wilt sooner than they would if they were stored with space.

If you ever have any questions about how to best store your produce, just ask us! Since everything is harvested fresh for our CSA each week, we expect our produce to last at least the week that will pass before the next share. Most items will actually be good longer, but why wait? Eat those yummy veggies while they’re super fresh — what a joy and delight they are when they still have all the vibrancy of the field in them!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples — Your choice between Liberty or Goldrush apples (or some of each!)
  • “Spaghetti” winter squash — We love these squash so much. They make a simple meal and definitely can be a delicious substitute for spaghetti on the plate. Start by slicing your squash in half lengthwise and scraping out the seeds with a spoon. Then bake each half, cut-side down, on a baking sheet at 350°. Bake until a paring knife enters the skin without any resistance — 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. At this point, the skin will be browning and when you turn the squash over, the flesh will be loose enough to pull out in the “spaghetti” strands with a fork. I usually leave the squash on the pan cut-side down until I am ready to serve up, because it stays warm that way. Then, when I am ready to serve, I carefully hold each half and scrape out the flesh onto our plates. I might toss it with butter and salt or just top it with some kind of delicious stew-y dish — kale cooked with sausage and lots of butter, or a Ragu-style tomato sauce with lots of mushrooms and chard. Those are just ideas!
  • Pie pumpkins — Contrary to what you might expect, a good pie pumpkin is usually less sweet than other kinds of winter squash. The goal of a pie pumpkin is to achieve flavor and smooth flesh that is balanced between moist and dry. These pumpkins fit the bill, and they make delicious flesh for using in all kinds of baked goods (including, yes, pumpkin pie!). We will often bake a pumpkin before we even know what we’re going to make, just so we have the cooked flesh available. It’s easy — just pop it on a pan whole (you may need to knock the stem off to fit it in your oven) and bake at 350° until a paring knife pierces the skin with no resistance at all. After I remove the pumpkin from the oven, I like to cut it in half to let it cool before putting it into the fridge. Once it’s cooled, the seeds and pulp will come out easily and the flesh can be peeled away from the skin. We love making pumpkin muffins around our house, and here is our favorite recipe (it’s grain-free!). But most standard cookbooks like The Joy of Cooking have quick bread recipes calling for pumpkin. Pumpkin bread with chocolate chips is pretty divine.
  • Mustard greens
  • Red Russian kale
  • Green chard
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs! — They’re sizing up! The price is back to our normal $6/dozen. We only feed our hens certified organic feed, and they are raised on pasture. These eggs are the best of the best, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Pork — Roasts and ground pork are $8/lb; pork chops and hams are $12/lb.
  • Lamb — Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb; chops are $12/lb.
  • Beef — More beef coming soon!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

A new field tool

We needed a new field implement, so Casey built one this weekend ...

We needed a new field implement, so Casey built one this weekend …

Casey spent a good chunk of this last weekend (Friday through Sunday), building a new field implement for the farm. He got the idea from some farmers in our area — we don’t know them personally, but he saw one of these in use in their fields and thought it was one of the best ideas he’d ever seen.

Now that we don’t have employees, we’re certainly aware of finding new ways to make the best possible use of our limited time in the field — what can we do to be more efficient harvesters, planters, weeders? How can we do this work with as few interruptions as possible in our progress? How can we take the best possible care of all the bodies involved in that field work? Brilliant innovations are welcome on any farm, but especially a small family-operated farm like our own.

So, Casey began with an existing trailer that we used to use as part of our former milking operation. It has also been used for other various farm-y purposes, but in recent months it has mostly been sitting and waiting for a new role out here. Ten years into our farm, we definitely appreciate the high value of farm equipment that can evolve with our operation — that is flexible enough to serve multiple purposes over many years. Trailers certainly fall into that category — they can serve as the home for a mobile milking set-up, the chassis for rolling chicken houses, and more.

After cleaning off the trailer, he began the building of our new tool. The kids were interested in watching the progress of this step, which mostly involved cutting and hammering wood. From what I can remember, Friday afternoon was stupendously gorgeous outside, and the kids ran back and forth between the house (where I was cleaning the kitchen) and the pole barn (where Casey was hard at work building) and our yard (where they climbed on their climbing dome and played with animal toys in the grass).

IMG_1961

Helping to paint the new field implement in the pole barn.

On Saturday, the kids were able to pitch in, as the new field tool needed a coat of white paint to help deflect the warm summer sun. It can be hard to remember at this time of year, when the sun just feels gooder than good, but in the summer it can become quite oppressive with its powerful heat. We sacrificed a pair of Rusty’s pants to the effort to have two young people help with the painting. He’ll outgrow them in two more minutes anyway.

On Sunday afternoon, Casey finished up a few more details with some metal and more wood. Those last pieces of the project required some major lifting and bending to get it all put together, and Casey unfortunately felt some of that work in his back afterward. But the kids delighted in seeing the tool take its final shape. And, after a few hours of work, Casey hooked up our new implement to the back of the tractor and drove it to my dad’s shop to fill up the tires with air. Tires always deflate on our farm, and we wanted to make sure we’d get maximum performance out of our new tool when we finally pulled it into the fields this week.

Filling the tires with air on the new tool.

Filling the tires with air on the new tool.

What’s the new field implement? I’m sure you’re curious by now (I hope you are anyway!). Maybe you could already figure it out in that photo, but let’s pull back so you can see it in its full glory. Look — the farm tool whose construction so excited the kids:

There it is!

There it is!

It’s a MOBILE PLAYHOUSE! As with all the best playhouses, it’s scaled to kid size. Casey and I can’t quite stand up inside, but we’re amazed at how well it fits their bodies. And perhaps also like the best playhouses, it’s fairly simply constructed, allowing the kids to fill in so many details with their imaginations. Casey built a little folding table and two little benches inside:

Simple furniture inside the simple little house.

Simple furniture inside the simple little house.

I can see the house now, parked out in the field near where we were harvesting kale and chard for the CSA this afternoon. It will move around, depending on which projects we’re working on and where. Now the kids have a little “home base” in the fields — a place where they can eat their snacks, draw, store their extra clothes and toys, and get in out of the rain and sun when needed. Today’s afternoon weather was so incredibly mild and comfortable (no wind or rain and in the mid-50s) that they mostly rambled around the fields, but they returned every now and then for snacking or to hang up their coat inside on a hook.

The play house's temporary home amongst winter greens. Where will it go next?

The play house’s temporary home amongst winter greens. On Monday, it was parked by the orchard while Casey pruned. Where will it go next?

Honestly, days like today are not when we need this little shelter, but there will be a day when Casey and I once again have to harvest for the CSA in the rain. And, then that hot summer sun will return too. It really will!

And, if you’re wondering about the details of our little farm life — the kids and I definitely don’t spend all day in the fields with Casey. This time of year, we have two afternoons per week that the kids regularly spend either working alongside us or just playing while we work (one of those days, I stay inside to do farm paperwork). In the summer, we’ll probably shift our time on the farm to the mornings, and perhaps add more more spontaneous other projects and work times. For a three and six year old, that feels like about the right amount of time to be outside with the option to participate in farm work (or to play about). Besides, we have other things to do too — our school work in the mornings, our homeschooling co-op on Tuesday afternoons, the CSA pick-up on Thursday afternoons … life is full!

Dottie says "hello" and "good bye" from the little porch of the play house!

Dottie says “hello” and “good bye” from the little porch of the play house!

But, as a family farm, having our kids truly on the farm is a priority to us. Already, we are amazed at what they know about this place and its work, just from growing up here. We consider immersion in our farm life to be a vital part of our homeschooling experience (along with more traditional looking book learning). Eventually, the kids will make their own choices, and if they choose a different path, we hope that these early experiences will instill in them (at the very least) a strong work ethic and a deep love of the natural world. A love that comes with understanding of the complexities of natural systems and how they affect everything else. From there, they can go almost anywhere in the world.

I’m not sure if we have any other big changes we want to make in our farm’s system of tools and infrastructure this year. The playhouse was a fun and spontaneous project that felt just right for completing at this time of the winter. But more and more our work will be occupied with the usual prepare-for-spring stuff — we’ve already sowed lots of flats of fava beans, peas, broccoli and more. Today after harvest, we weeded strawberry plants growing in one of our field houses. I’m also working on my winter work — taxes, paperwork, preparing for certification work, etc. We’re finding that we’re both getting lots done in dribs and drabs — a few bills paid here; a few flats sowed here; a few feet of weeding there. Those dribs and drabs can be effective!

We hope that you too are finding some fun spontaneous projects and/or getting much needed work done in your own life!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Liberty apples
  • Marina de Chioggia winter squash — In my routine of making Very Simple Soups with our chicken broth, today I made a quick squash soup with some Marina that had previously been cooked in the oven and was in our fridge. I removed all the cooked flesh from the seeds and the skin and added it to a saucepan with plenty of broth, some butter, some salt, chopped garlic, and a little turmeric and salt. I let it simmer on the back burner while I was cooking the rest of our meal and then pureed it with my hand blender just before serving. It was a delightful addition to our lunch!
  • Butternut squash — You could also make a simple and quick butternut soup using chopped, peeled cubes of raw squash. If you put them in a pot at the beginning of cooking the rest of a meal, they would cook quickly.
  • Brussels sprouts OR cabbage — Casey harvested the very last of this winter’s Brussels sprout harvest (he couldn’t even get to these at one point earlier this winter because they ended up on the other side of us across some flood waters) — what is left is a small amount and we will limit how much each household can have for this share (we only do this in rare instances). We look forward to a more abundant Brussels sprouts harvest this coming fall.
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Sweet potatoes — An important note about sweet potato storage — do not put them in your fridge! Instead, remove them from any kind of plastic bag and put them in a dry, warmish place until you are ready to cook them. Great sweet potato recipes abound, but as always our family favors the simplest preparation: I peel them and roast them at 425° in butter, stirring regularly so that all sides get coated in butter as they cook. I roast them until they are crispy outside and soft inside. Avoid overloading the pan, or they will steam rather than roast!!!!
  • Sunchokes — These funny looking roots grow at the base of a surprising looking plant — a sunflower! Sunchokes are sometimes known as “Jerusalem Artichokes,” which is useful to know if you look up recipes, but they are neither artichokes nor from Jerusalem. They are native to North America, in fact. As a food, they have many interesting properties. They store well through the winter, and yet they are not starchy like a potato. Instead, their structure is crisper and contains a sugar that apparently doesn’t affect blood sugar levels as dramatically as other root vegetables do. Consequently, you can (and should!) eat these raw. Our favorite way to eat them is to clean them well (cutting the nobs apart and scrubbing can help with this process) and then shred or chop them fine and make a winter cole slaw type of salad. Adding cabbage or carrots can stretch it out and make the color and flavor more complex. Sometimes, if we want to turn our salad into a meal, we’ll also stir in canned tuna or cooked chicken meat. Sunchokes also roast up beautifully, and I love their slightly chewy and crispy flavor after roasting. Unfortunately, Casey and I both experience a slight tummy ache after eating cooked sunchokes, which is a somewhat common challenge for people (some lucky people don’t have that experience at all, however! If you are in that category, enjoy your roasted sunchokes in my stead! They are so good!).
  • Rutabaga — Although it looks like a turnip in shape, rutabagas are actually more closely related to kale (whereas turnips are more closely related to mustard greens). The flavor reflects that lineage too — rutabaga flesh is super mild and suitable to lots of uses without affecting soups or stews with a strong flavor. I like to peel and chop rutabaga to add in place of (or in addition to) potatoes. I made a delicious simple creamy rutabaga soup last week using our chicken broth and a little salt. These are also good just eaten raw in “stick” form — perfect for putting on a raw veggie platter with carrots and dipping in hummus or your favorite dip!
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs! — The supply is still growing and so are the size of the eggs. But we do have little pullet eggs for sale in limited quantity. The price is $5/dozen while they are still small.
  • Stewing hens — This may be our last week for this winter’s stewing hen supply. The price remains $3.50/lb.
  • Pork — Roasts and ground pork are $8/lb; pork chops and hams are $12/lb. Casey has been making the kids a very simple “breakfast sausage” from our ground pork. He thaws a package in the fridge and then mixes it with some chopped sage, diced garlic, honey and salt. Little patties cook quickly for a tasty winter breakfast!
  • Lamb — Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb; chops are $12/lb.
  • Beef — We sent a steer to the butcher this week! More beef coming soon!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

The winter farm and its lessons

Quickly seeing and picking the beautiful full-grown chard leaves within a plant of winter-beaten and too-small leaves is an art. Winter harvests can be very fun and satisfying -- especially if wearing the appropriate clothing.

Quickly seeing and picking the beautiful full-grown chard leaves within a plant of winter-beaten and too-small leaves is an art. Winter harvests can be very fun and satisfying — especially if wearing the appropriate clothing.

Once again this year, I am reminded that one unique aspect of winter life on the farm is talking. Connecting and talking with other farmers in ways that we don’t really have time to do during the growing season (and neither do they!). I mentioned in last week’s newsletter sitting down to chat at length with the folks from LETumEAT. This afternoon, we hosted a group of farmers from all across the valley who have been participating in a “Winter Farming” workshop.

Beautiful winter kale!

Beautiful winter kale!

Casey gave the group a tour of our farm, in all its present winter glory (the return of rising flood waters included!). We always wonder at what others see when they look at our winter fields, because — well — it can be hard to make sense of what’s going on out here. Summer fields are relatively easy to “take in” — rows and rows of growing vegetables at various stages of maturity paint the perfect picture of a classic market garden. But in winter, we nurture and care for plants that grow much slower (cold + lack of sunlight). Because of that, we go into winter with quite a lot of our ground planted to hardy vegetables of some age. But some of those veggies will basically just hang out in our fields until late winter or spring. Tiny turnip plants will make quite unimpressive rows of scraggly greens until early February when they begin to lengthen and throw out their tasty buds and new leaves — that’s the gold for us, and we harvest it almost as soon as it arrives, knowing that those late winter and early spring crops come and go more swiftly than you might imagine after so many weeks and months of waiting.

In other rows, such as our chard and kale plants, we bring older more mature plants into winter, knowing full well that the leaves on the plants in November will probably never be harvested. Instead, the will become the shelter for the younger leaves that will weather all the storms and frosts of winter. Then, as those leaves grow, we will pick them (moving aside the now bedraggled leaves that have covered them).

Yes, the landscape of our farm looks profoundly different and quite a bit more mysterious right now. Even sweet roots like parsnips hide beneath the mud, leaving almost no signs of their presence above (their greens having been frost killed weeks ago).

So, we shared that scene with farmers today with a sense that what we see and value might not translate. That’s a perennial challenge with transferring information about the farm to others. So much of what happens out here takes quite a lot of patience and time to see and understand. Certainly one can appreciate the broad picture of the farm with a quick walk through, but one won’t notice the particular winter weeds that are growing at the base of the mustard greens or that some of the Red Russian kale plants have begun to divide and grow smaller leaves (an early sign that rapini is coming soon!).

I think that this phenomenon of patience and time in one place is perhaps the defining element of our experience on the farm — that experience of seeing everything come more and more into focus over time. How is it that we are still noticing new things in this place where we have lived and worked for ten years? And, yet, we do. New patterns become visible that help us understand prior seasons. We identify a songbird for the first time that has probably been visiting our yard for all ten years. The complexity of the place becomes more and more real, keeping us humble even as we grow in our understanding.

And, winter is definitely a time requiring extra patience and time to understand — trees bare of leaves stand stark, asking you to learn them again from their shape and their bark. Weeds become greener than certain vegetables in the fields, asking you to see abundance in new forms.

Casey once said something wise to a then newly hired employee. Casey himself doesn’t remember saying it, but the employee did and related it to us years later. He said: “I’m not a good teacher, but the farm is. Pay attention, and you’ll learn.” Yes, and yes, and yes. The farm has been our teacher for ten years now, and although I miss the days of having human mentors to guide us, the farm has taught us over and over and over again about this place, its life, and how to do our work.

Which is why, although we enjoy talking with other farmers (and think it is a critical piece of this whole farming-in-community-experience), we now take those experiences with a grain of salt. We want to share our experience, yes. We want to hear other people’s experiences, yes! Those connections allow us to grow and understand our experiences in totally new ways that can be transformative in profound ways. In fact, we look forward to having more such conversations as winter continues and we continue with the winter talking work. But those conversations are certainly most fruitful with the foundation of the first-hand work and immersion. For us, a little bit of talk in the winter (plus a few good books and magazine articles) can be enough to propel us into our next season with new ideas and energy for how to work through the perennial challenges of this beautiful work!

And, while I’m speaking of conversations and connecting, I have to mention what a joy it was to reconnect with all of you last week at pick-up. We love the farm; we love our work; we love sharing it with you. We also love all the conversations we get to have with you all about other parts of life. It’s a special treat to simultaneously get to share our harvest and also step out of our normal farm-focused life to check in with our wider community about all the projects you are working on. We love hearing about the lessons you are learning, your challenges and joys. Those hours at the pick-up are a highlight of our week, and we look forward to doing it again tomorrow!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Goldrush apples — These apples won our apple variety trial tasting that we hosted at our fall open house. They are great for eating, with a crisp, strong and tangy sweet flavor. They are also wonderful for baking or cooking. They are our apple of choice if we want to make a pie or tart.
  • Purple-top and scarlet turnips — Turnips that are red outside! These serve two purposes in our winter fields. We can pick them now for turnips to eat, or wait and enjoy the earliest rapini of the year from these plants. We try to do a little of both.
  • Chard
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia and Crown Pumpkin winter squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes — I blew Rusty’s mind this week by roasting some really great potatoes. I know, such a simple food! But I feel like this winter I’ve truly mastered the art of roasting (perhaps it helps that I’m less interrupted in my cooking than in recent years of babies and toddlers crying regularly!). For the potatoes, I peeled them, then cut them into 1/2 inch chunks and roasted them in a pan with plenty of butter at 375°. I stirred frequently so that all sides of the potato got coated with butter and got crispy brown on the outside, just as the insides were getting deliciously soft. I roasted parsnips at the same time, using the same method (but with smaller pieces, since parsnips are denser than potatoes). We enjoyed it all, but Rusty has requested the potatoes for every meal since.
  • Leeks

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — NOT QUITE YET! More and more eggs get laid every day as our hens mature!
  • Stewing hens — We still have stewing hens for sale — get them while they last! $3.50/lb. I’ve been enjoying making very simple soups while the rest of our meal is cooking. I fill a small sauce pot with finely chopped, peeled root veggies and cover with chicken stock and simmer until the rest of the meal is ready. Then I add some butter (because fat is yummy) and salt and puree with my hand blender. This soup can be made with any kind of root veggies and makes a great side to winter meals. Soup is so warming, and starting with the base of a delicious chicken stock makes it super easy to accomplish a quick soup!
  • Pork — Roasts and ground pork are $8/lb; pork chops and hams are $12/lb. We find that pork goes especially well with all kinds of greens. We’ll often cook a roast in our crock pot (we prefer to do this without adding any liquid so that the meat caramelizes and retains all its flavor). Then we chop the cooked meat and throw it into the pan as we finish cooking greens. With a little tasty goat cheese and sauerkraut over the top (and perhaps a cup of soup on the side), this makes a warming winter meal all on its own!
  • Lamb — Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb; chops are $12/lb.
  • Beef — We are still temporarily out of beef, but I wanted to give the update that we are sending an animal to the butcher next week! It will still be a couple of weeks for the beef to hang and be processed, but more ground beef (and perhaps some cuts too!) will be on their way soon!

 

Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Winter’s pleasures

Winter opened with [receding] high waters and a pretty moon that came out to visit as the very short day turned to afternoon/evening.

Winter Solstice brought to the farm receding flood waters and a pretty moon that came out to visit at the end of the very short day.

Hello, friends! Oh, how good it has been this week to re-enter our usual farm rhythms after a restorative period of time off. As much as we appreciated (and needed) our break from the CSA, we have been smiling all day as we harvested this week’s share. And, I certainly feel a welcome return now to this weekly practice of writing about the farm for you all.

Yes, the CSA begins again this week! Tomorrow! Thus, beginning the next season of our life here on the farm — the part of our winter that is less focused on the internal work of dark December and instead begins to unfold toward the eventuality of spring. Of course, the last two days have been quite the return of dark, gloomy, WET weather, making it hard to remember that we’re moving swiftly toward that lighter season again. But, we really truly are. Signs of it are all over the farm already, including in the fact that we begin again feeding you, our community, on a weekly basis.

So, welcome back! Or, welcome for the first time! We are so glad to have you. Just yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting down with folks from a local food project called LETumEAT. They’d like to feature us as “Feeders” on their growing website, so we sat and chat over tea, each sharing the story of their food adventures. I was excited to hear about what they’re working on, but it was also with deep pleasure and gratitude that I shared our story. I couldn’t help but express repeatedly our family’s amazing gratitude for the community that has sustained this farm for ten years now. It was a perfect way to reflect on our farm’s history as we start this new season (our eleventh!). And, again, THANK YOU.

We enjoyed a [very cold!] New Year's Day hike at Willamette Mission State Park.

We enjoyed a [very cold!] New Year’s Day hike at Willamette Mission State Park.

We think that this winter will be delightful in many ways. This winter has already been delightful in many ways. Our family has had great adventures over our break, as we explore our local landscape in its more barren, wet, muddy version of itself. But, this is also a sweet season for local eating. And, by sweet, I mean sweet. I have to admit, sometimes when Casey and I are slogging in the mud to pick kale in January or fretting about how the spring hard weeks will go, I question the whole “seasonal local eating” thing. Why are any of us doing this crazy thing when there is food in the stores regardless of our efforts?

Many reasons. The fun of it. The challenge. The connection to our place. But I want to refer back again to it being sweet. Literally. How do all these hardy vegetables manage to maintain their shapes in the midst of winter’s cold? They do it by getting sweeter. And denser in the process. The result are vegetables that you just cannot recreate by shipping foods from other climates out-of-season. To us, kale in winter is an almost entirely different culinary experience than kale in summer. The flavor and texture are both fundamentally different, and Casey and I come to believe that the state of winter-grown vegetables meet some needs in us too. By getting sweeter, the kale serves its own purposes, but I also feel like that kale is what my body craves during these dark, cold months. It doesn’t crave the greens that might be grown in Mexico right now; it craves these greens in our fields. The greens that are experiencing, and responding to, the very same seasonal elements that I am experiencing and responding to with my body as I harvest.

Likewise, the proliferation of comforting sweet roots and storage vegetables feels like exactly the right thing to bring to our table when dinner is eaten after the early dusk — roasted sweet potatoes or parsnips elicit “hoorahs” from us all as we hunker down for winter evenings of reading books on the couch before going to bed early.

We hope that you too will find yourself embracing the season through foods this winter. Ponder how each food represents this time. We’ll see that even that kale I mentioned will change as days lengthen — buds will appear as it prepares to flower in the spring, and we will enjoy those tender delights too (we call them “rapini”). Winter eating is always an adventure — a fun one!

2016 brings other adventures to our farm as well. This year we have made the decision to operate the farm with no hired labor — this will be the first time since 2008 that we haven’t had any employees working alongside us! I must say that there is something truly wonderful to know that Casey and I will be personally harvesting everything that we share with you this year. I’m sure I’ll return to this thought again and again as we find our way into this new reality of our farm. I’m sure we’ll have much to learn.

For now, we will continue going on cold weather hikes with the kids on the weekends, homeschooling and farming mid-week, and meeting with you in joy every Thursday. We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

First CSA payments due! A reminder to everyone to be sure to give us your first CSA payment of the year tomorrow (if you have not already mailed it to us). We accept cash or checks. You can pay in one lump sum now or just one-fifth. If you pay in five payments over the year, the next payment will be due by March 17. I will send an email statement and reminder.

Pick up reminders: CSA pick-up is open from 2 to 7 pm every Thursday. Please bring your own tote bags or baskets to our McMinnville storefront to pick up your vegetables. You can find us off of the 2nd St parking lot between Davis and Evans St! As a reminder, we’ll have other items available for sale as well (see the list of what’s available below!).

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Liberty apples — Apples and peanut butter have been the favorite snack in our house this winter — it’s a classic combination! The Liberty apples are definitely one of our kids’ favorite.
  • Butternut winter squash — I have heard of people cooking these whole and then using the cooked flesh (which is how we prepare our other large squash, which I will discuss in a moment), but we almost always like to peel, chop and then roast our Butternut squash. We usually cook it in two different rounds, making one squash last for two meals. I’ll start the first day by cutting the top off of the bell end and peeling and roasting just that part of the squash. I put the remainder in a bag in the fridge overnight for use the next day in a similar fashion (normally we don’t recommend storing squash in the fridge, but once it is cut, it is a good idea to keep it fresh that way). I like to use a paring knife to peel, but I’ve seen Casey using a veggie peeler with good success too. We like to chop the Butternut into relatively small bite-size chunks and roast at high heat (425°), turning regularly, until crispy. These are like candy.
  • Marina di Chioggia winter squash & Crown Pumpkins — These are two similar winter squash (they are in the same “family” and offer similar cooking and eating options). Because of their large size and relative challenge to cut/peel (because of the bumpy skin), we almost always bake these whole. I wash the skin again and remove the stem by bumping it on the edge of the counter (I have to do this to get the squash to fit in the oven!). Then I place it on a baking tray and bake at 350° until a paring knife slides in with absolutely no resistance. Once the squash is cooked, I pull it out and let it cool on the counter. If it’s meal time, I’ll cut slices out and remove the seeds and serve them hot. Otherwise, I might just put the cooked squash in the fridge for use later. We eat the cooked squash in many different ways over several days — we might make some squash muffins or bread (or even a little pumpkin pie!), but mostly we take out slices, remove seeds and reheat them by pan frying or roasting at high heat until warm through and slightly crispy. With butter and salt, this is quite the treat.
  • Mustard greens — Mustard greens are spicy when raw (this are not the greens for putting in your juicer, unless you like drinking spicy things!), but their flavor dramatically changes when cooked. They still taste like mustards, but without the heat. We have always loved pairing mustards with pork products — cooking it with bacon or ham. We also love them cooked with butter and a little broth and served with fried eggs for breakfast.
  • Green chard
  • Red Russian kale
  • Turnips — Our favorite way to eat turnips is easy — peel, slice and eat raw. Tonight at dinner, Casey served turnip slices and carrots sticks with homemade mayonnaise for dipping. The fresh, crispy flavors are wonderful!
  • Carrots — We’ve been eating loads of carrot sticks this winter (second favorite snack after apples). I always peel our carrots before slicing. To me, that simple act elevates the results from good to superb.
  • Parsnips — I also prefer to peel our parsnips before cooking. Often there are funny looking bits on the skin that peel right off with a couple of swipes with the peeler. Any bigger parts that seem in need of trimming, I’ll take off with a paring knife so that when I go to chop the parsnip, I’m left with just beautiful white root flesh. I’m sure no one would be surprised to learn that we mostly eat our parsnips roasted. This winter, I feel like I’ve really mastered the art of roasting parsnips. Root vegetables don’t all cook in the same fashion — they benefit from slightly different kinds of treatment. I have found that we really enjoy the parsnips when they are roasted for a little bit longer at a slightly more moderate heat (375°) with lots of butter and lots of stirring during cooking. Eventually they will start to turn golden brown while the inside turns soft. It’s quite a transformation from the woody-looking, ugly root that often comes out of the ground!
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks — What this year’s leeks lack in size they make up for in flavor. As much as possible, I start our meals with some chopped leeks frying in butter. That particular smell just delights the whole house and gets of all us ready to eat dinner.

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — NONE AVAILABLE QUITE YET! We have a new, young flock of layers that are literally just beginning to lay. We’re getting five eggs a day right now, with more to come soon. On the upside, with all these layers being young and fresh, once egg production begins, it should hold steady through to the end of this year.
  • Stewing hens — In related news, we have stewing hens for sale! Our family has been eating these at least once a week all winter. We stew them in the crock pot all day and then pick the meat off the bones for dinner. It’s incredibly flavorful and tender. If you prefer the crispiness of a roasted chicken, we’ve found that we really enjoy taking the stewed chicken, parting it out and then putting it under the broiler until the skin and meat start to get crispy. As far as the remaining stock, that stuff is pure gold in our house. We used to try to make soups, but we realized that we love it so much that we just want to drink it plain. So many of our meals this winter have been paired with a little cup of broth for us to drink as well (this was especially as our family was visited by all kinds of viruses and the like during the holidays). Or, we’ll add it to our greens as they are cooking to speed up the process. What broth we don’t use the first day, we store in a jar in the fridge for use later.
  • Pork — We have all kinds of fresh pork cuts in the freezer, along with some no nitrate-added bacon and hams! Roasts and ground pork are $8/lb; pork chops and bacons/hams are $12/lb.
  • Lamb — We have assorted cuts. Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb; chops are $12/lb.
  • Beef — We are temporarily out of our classic ground beef staple! We have more beef animals that gaining weight on the farm right now, and we will restock the ground beef when they are ready.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Dec Holiday Harvest + Winter update

Summer's stored bounty is ready for us to share with you this holiday season!

Summer’s stored bounty is ready for us to share with you this holiday season!

Happy Holidays, friends! I’ve been blissfully quiet on the internet front the last few weeks. While we are excited to get going on everything related to 2016, we needed some time to simply relax after the 2015 season. We’ve filled that time with so many wonderful gatherings with friends and families, a choir concert, Rusty’s birthday, adventures outside, and farm work here and there too (I’ve posted a few fun photos at the very end of this post!).

And, now, we want to take a pause from our break to say HELLO, WORLD! And offer you the opportunity to buy some really good organic food to eat at your upcoming holiday events (and/or just to stock your pantry while you wait for the 2016 CSA to begin on January 14!).

You’ll find the availability list below — check it out and decide what you want to order. Then place your order by the end of Sunday, Dec 20, using the handy form supplied below the list! We’ll harvest your items for you and bring them to our downtown McMinnville storefront next Tuesday, December 22 for you to pick up between 2 and 4 pm. We accept cash or check payments. (Yes, this opportunity is open to anyone, not just CSA members. Our storefront is located off of the 2nd Street parking lot between Evans and Davis St in McMinnville).

Any other questions? You can email us farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com.

Now, make your list! …

  • Apples ~ Choose Goldrush, Newton Pippin or Liberty ~ $3/lb
  • Salad mix ~ A hardy mix of winter salad greens ~ $7/lb
  • Red Russian kale ~ $3/bunch
  • Dinosaur kale ~ $3/bunch
  • Chard ~ $3/bunch
  • Cabbage ~ $2/lb (order by the each)
  • Celery leaf ~ Perfect for making stock/soup or using in stuffing ~ $2/bunch
  • Delicata winter squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Acorn squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Butternut squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Spaghetti squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Pie pumpkins ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Marina di Chioggia winter squash ~ $1/lb (order by the each)
  • Sweet potatoes ~ $4/lb
  • Beets ~ $1.50/lb
  • Parsnips ~ $1.50/lb
  • Carrots ~ $2/lb
  • Red potatoes ~ $2.50/lb
  • Yellow potatoes ~ $2.50/lb
  • Leeks ~ $4/lb
  • Garlic ~ $8/lb

Also, available for purchase while you are at our storefront during those pick-up hours (You can also add some of these items to your Holiday Harvest list if you want to make sure to get something!):

  • Stewing hens ~ These birds were raised on pasture with organic feed. They make the most delicious stewed meat and broth that will knock your socks off. $3.50/lb
  • Ground beef ~ From our pastured beef. All parts of the cow go into our grind, and it has amazing flavor. ~ $7/lb
  • Pork ~ We’ll have a fresh batch of pork products ready for purchase, including artisan-made, no nitrates-added bacon and ham. Chops, bacon and ham are $12/lb and roasts, shanks and grind are $8/lb.
  • Lamb ~ We still have a few cuts of lamb left in the freezer!

Place your order using this easy form (remember to please order by the end of Sunday, December 20 so that we have time to harvest it before Tuesday, December 22! This time of year, we need a bit more time to get our harvests done to account for the possible extreme weather vagaries. Thank you!):

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your cell phone number (required)

Your Holiday Harvest order

Questions or other comments?

* * * While you’re here, we also want to ask: Have you signed up for our 2016 CSA yet? You can do so now using this easy online form. * * *

And, as promised, here are some fun photos from our recent winter adventures on (and off of) the farm:

We finished building our new greenhouse! The kids and I helped secure the poly (ok, I helped -- the kids played their little dirty child hearts out all around us). It's always magical to get that plastic up and suddenly have a large dry space in which to play (and plant crops too).

We finished building our new greenhouse! The kids and I helped secure the poly (ok, I helped — the kids played their little dirty child hearts out all around us). It’s always magical to get that plastic up and suddenly have a large dry space in which to play (and plant crops too).

While we have certainly enjoyed outdoor adventures in recent weeks, indoor play has made up a bigger chunk of our time than at any other point in the year. We've made a lot of fun things.

While we have certainly enjoyed outdoor adventures in recent weeks, indoor play and creativity have made up a bigger chunk of our time than at any other point in the year. We’ve made a lot of fun things.

For Rusty's SIXTH(!) birthday, we went on a morning hike at Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge. The weather was crazy windy, but we caught a break in the rain and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. We even saw a smoldering tree that had been hit by lightning the day before! (It was was at the edge of a field nearby, not at the refuge itself.)

For Rusty’s SIXTH(!) birthday, we went on a morning hike at Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge. The weather was crazy windy, but we caught a break in the rain and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit. We even saw a smoldering tree that had been hit by lightning the day before! (It was was at the edge of a field nearby, not at the refuge itself.)

I am pretty sure Dottie is possibly the only three year-old to have ever worn a wetsuit on a Christmas tree cutting outing in Oregon. Pretty sure, anyway.

I am pretty sure Dottie is possibly the only three year-old to have ever worn a wetsuit on a Christmas tree cutting outing in Oregon. Pretty sure, anyway. The odds seem good.

And, later, we all donned wetsuits to go play around in the rising flood waters on our lowest field. The kids got pulled around on Casey's surfboard. Fun was had by all.

And, later, we all donned wetsuits to go play around in the rising flood waters on our lowest field. The kids got pulled around on Casey’s surfboard. Fun was had by all. (This is BEFORE going outside, obviously. Splashing in water in a wetsuit didn’t really permit me to carry a camera — no pockets.)

And speaking of flooding, lots of folks have checked in with us amidst all the extremely wet weather we’ve had here in Oregon recently. Folks were concerned about the island and flooding. And, yes, we are now seeing the water rise, but our floods always come after the wet weather. The island soil itself is so well drained that immediate drainage isn’t a concern – we get wet when the Willamette rises because of all the water entering the watershed. Right now we’re coming down from a recent high water event, but it was just barely at “Action Stage.” In a few days, the river is predicted to go back up, this time a bit above “Action Stage,” but not much. So far! Of course, once the river is high, it becomes easier for it to go higher. So, we make plans accordingly!

But, meanwhile, so many of our friends in other areas have been more directly affected by the recent rains! Our thoughts are with everyone who had flooding basements and worse over this wet December!

Now we are actively look forward to the upcoming holiday events. So many more gatherings with loved ones to cherish. We wish you all a very blessed holiday! We look forward to more good food and times in 2016. You’ll hear from us again soon! (And if you’re signed up already for our 2016 CSA, you should receive your confirmation materials in the mail before New Year’s.)

Gratitude and peace to you this December!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment

Remember when?

A oat cover crop grows on the field where we will plant vegetables next year. A sweet comforting sight as we go into our quiet break season of the year.

A lush oat cover crop grows on the field where we will plant vegetables next year. A sweet comforting sight as we go into our quiet break season of the year.

Well, friends — another CSA season comes to a close this week. This is the final week of our tenth season! To commemorate the occasion, I put together a fun CSA newsletter comprised of favorite photos of the last ten years. We think long-time CSA members will smile at the shared memories, and newer members will probably learn some things about the history of our farm!

But, first! I want to make sure I deliver important news up front so folks see it! Here are three important pieces of news for you this week:

  • Have you signed up for our 2016 CSA yet? You can do so at pick-up this week, or you can sign up now using our handy online form. The price remains the same for all share sizes. We hope you’ll join us! If you’ve already signed up, you’ll be receive your confirmation materials from us through snail mail and email after the holidays. Your first payment will be due before our first pick up on January 14 (but no need to pay until after the New Year!).
  • In the meantime, you can keep eating our yummy food through our two upcoming Holiday Harvests. The first is next week, on Wednesday, November 25. You’ll need to place your order ahead of time, and you can find the list of available items and online order form here. Our second Holiday Harvest will be on December 22 — we’ll send out emails ahead of time. Also, you can buy farm meat from the freezer and eggs at the Holiday Harvest as well!
  • And … this one’s not technically just about the farm. I want to invite you to attend the McMinnville Women’s Choir’s winter concert on Saturday, December 5. I have been singing with this group for two years now, and many of the choir members are also friends or customers of the farm. Our winter concert offers a unique take on the season — we will be singing songs from many traditions: Nigerian and Spanish carols and songs for Hanukkah and solstice. Shows are at 3 pm and 7 pm, and you can buy tickets at Oregon Stationers ($5/person for presale or $8 at the door — children 18 and under are free).

And, now, as we close this season, let us reflect on our decade of farming (so far) and all its wild challenges and joys. Enjoy the trip back in time:

2006 — We began! How young were we? So young!

2006 — We began! How young were we? So young!

2006 - We farmed our little one acre of rented ground and kept it like a garden.

2006 – We farmed our little one acre of rented ground and kept it like a garden.

2006 - Our first CSA pick-up ever!

2006 – Our first CSA pick-up ever!

2006 - After a whirlwind year of activity, that fall we were planting garlic on our very own 17.5 acres that we bought here on Grand Island. That's where we've been ever since!

2006 – After a whirlwind year of activity, that fall we were planting garlic on our very own 17.5 acres that we bought here on Grand Island. That’s where we’ve been ever since!

2007 - But before we moved out here, we had to build ourselves a house.

2007 – But before we moved out here, we had to build ourselves a house.

2007 - Lots of CSA members and friends helped, and on Earth Day we moved in to our new house!

2007 – Lots of CSA members, family, and friends helped, and by Earth Day we moved in to our new house!

2007 - That summer our over-wintered sweet onions were bigger than our kittens.

2007 – That summer our over-wintered sweet onions were bigger than our kittens.

2007 - We spent many years hosting our winter CSA pick-ups in the food bank warehouse space at the old YCAP building.

2007 – We spent many years hosting our winter CSA pick-ups in the food bank warehouse space at the old YCAP building.

2008 - So much of our winter time in the early days was spent developing our infrastructure. We built our pole barn and greenhouses for starts.

2008 – So much of our winter time in the early days was spent developing our infrastructure. We built our pole barn and greenhouses for starts.

2008 - We had a fabulous three summers selling at the McMinnville Farmers Market (06-08).

2008 – We had a fabulous three summers selling at the McMinnville Farmers Market (06-08).

2008 - In July of '08, an attempted fix of a faulty irrigation well resulted in it breaking beyond repair ... mid summer! We scrambled to get another well driller out as quickly as possible. The new driller took his time getting us a powerful well. Casey enjoyed the flow test, when we learned just how much volume our new well could produce (a lot!). That was a very scary and expensive time for our farm, and we were overwhelmed with the loving support of our community!

2008 – In July of ’08, an attempted fix of a faulty irrigation well resulted in it breaking beyond repair … mid summer! We scrambled to get another well driller out as quickly as possible. The new driller worked hard to get drill us a powerful replacement well. Casey enjoyed the flow test, when we learned just how much volume our new well could produce (a lot!). That was a very scary and expensive time for our farm, and we were overwhelmed with the loving support of our community!

2008 - December. Snowmageddon hit Oregon, making us grateful for sturdy greenhouses. We also felt kind of bored and lonely being stuck on the farm for all those snow days, which led to some big changes in the following year ...

2008 – In December, Snowmageddon struck Oregon, making us grateful for sturdy greenhouses. We also felt kind of bored and lonely being stuck on the farm for all those snow days, which led to some big changes in the following year …

First, we hired our first interns, Daniel and Erika!

2009 – First, we hired our first employees ever, interns Daniel and Erika!

2009 - Next we set in motion another plan to increase the fun factor on the farm (especially on future snow days). I definitely slowed down my pace toward the end of this pregnancy, but I worked on the farm until the very end (literally until the day of going into labor). I also learned that my rain gear fit a big round belly just fine.

2009 – Next we set in motion another plan to increase the fun factor on the farm (especially on future snow days). I definitely slowed down my pace toward the end of this pregnancy, but I worked on the farm until the very end (literally until the day of going into labor). I also learned that my rain gear fit a big round belly just fine.

2010 - And life was changed forever by these new little feet in the field.

2010 – And life was changed forever by these new little feet in the field.

2011 - We hosted our best attended open house ever this fall, thanks I'm sure to the draw of our first (but not our last) musical act — The Davis Street Band (high school bluegrass sensation). I'd estimate over 100 people came out to hear the tunes, pick their pumpkins, and taste potatoes.

2011 – We hosted our best attended open house ever this fall, thanks I’m sure to the draw of our first (but not our last) musical act — The Davis Street Band (high school bluegrass sensation). I’d estimate over 100 people came out to hear the tunes, pick their pumpkins, and taste potatoes.

2011 - At some point in our experience of winter farming, we started getting serious about heaps and piles of winter storage crops. They always make great photos — so much food in one spot!

2011 – At some point in our experience of winter farming, we started getting serious about heaps and piles of winter storage crops. They always make great photos — so much food in one spot!

2012 - The 12th biggest flood event on record forever changed how we see the Willamette River and Grand Island. The water came up so high on the roads that we were "stuck" on the island for several days.

2012 – The 12th biggest flood event on record forever changed how we see the Willamette River and Grand Island. The water came up so high on the roads that we were “stuck” on the island for several days.

2012 - This was quite the year to say the least. We expanded our acreage from 17 to 100 acres and added a huge number of operations to the farm. We bought our first dairy cows (Willa and Annie), the first of many animals to join us on the farm.

2012 – This was quite the year to say the least. We expanded our acreage from 17 to 100 acres and added a huge number of operations to the farm. We bought our first dairy cows (Willa and Annie), the first of many animals to join us on the farm.

2012 - We also prepared ourselves to welcome another new addition to the farm ...

2012 – We also prepared ourselves to welcome another new addition to the farm …

2012 - By Fall, we had a baby who was almost as big as our kohlrabi.

2012 – By Fall, we had a baby who was almost as big as our kohlrabi.

2012 - We have been told many times over that this was one of the most memorable days for many of our (many) employees at the time — high water was predicted and we had to dig our potatoes before they flooded! The crew dug potatoes as fast as they could in a driving rainstorm. Fun was had, because it was just crazy.

2012 – We have been told many times over that this was one of the most memorable days for many of our (many) employees at the time — high water was predicted and we had to dig our potatoes before they flooded! The crew dug potatoes as fast as they could in a driving rainstorm. Fun was had, because it was just crazy.

2013 - Many babies besides our own have now been born on the farm. The calves were often the most exciting (and cute too!).

2013 – Many babies besides our own have now been born on the farm. The calves were often the most exciting (and cute too!).

2013 - We're pretty good at doing seemingly impossible things, and I think this dinner probably topped the list of almost impossible things we have pulled off beautifully. A sit down dinner for CSA members offered for free — five courses served up on plates, everything produced on the farm. This effort required a ton of help, notably the amazing cooking skills of Jason and Laurie Furch (formerly of Red Fox). It was a night to remember (and we have not yet felt up to attempting it again!).

2013 – We’re pretty good at doing seemingly impossible things, but I think this dinner probably topped the list of almost impossible things we have pulled off beautifully. A sit down dinner for CSA members offered for free — five courses served up on plates, everything produced on the farm. This effort required a ton of help, notably the amazing cooking skills of Jason and Laurie Furch (formerly of Red Fox). It was a night to remember (and we have not yet felt up to attempting it again!).

2013 - What a joy it has been to plant fruit trees, tend them, watch them grow, and then harvest. The fruit trees are the visible sign of our many years in this place — there are no shortcuts here. We love the shapes, colors and flavors of fruit as much as annual vegetables. These are four plum varieties.

2013 – What a joy it has been to plant fruit trees, tend them, watch them grow, and then harvest. The fruit trees are the visible sign of our many years in this place — there are no shortcuts here. We love the shapes, colors and flavors of fruit as much as annual vegetables. These are four plum varieties.

2014 - And then the babies grew to children who could help us plant potatoes (CSA member children — and their parents — were out there helping too!).

2014 – And, then our farm babies grew into children who could help us plant potatoes (CSA member children — and their parents — were out there helping too!).

Oh, how many photos I could have included to tell more and more and more stories about the farm! Ten years is rich, folks. But the children and I enjoyed scrolling through all those years to choose these juiciest ones for you. I hope you enjoyed it too.

The process of putting this together is a sweet way to end the season. This week has been stormy — rainy and windy — and we feel the call of our winter rest. Because we spent then winter of ’12 preparing for our former “Full Diet CSA” and then ran that program year round in ’13 and ’14, we figure we haven’t had a real good solid rest since the winter of 2011-12. It is time! The farm and our lives need a little bit of extra attention!

And, then we will be back, raring to go with the extra energy of renewal, in January! We hope to see you all then (and/or at our Holiday Harvests this fall!)

And, as always, we end in gratitude. Thank you for this season and for all the ones that came before it! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Goldrush apples — Voted the best apple in our recent variety tasting here on the farm!
  • Walnuts!
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Rainbow chard
  • Mustards
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower & broccoli
  • Butternut squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Delicata winter squash
  • Pie pumpkin
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potatoes

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Bratwurst — Artisan-made no-nitrates added pasture-raised pork Bratwursts! $12/lb.
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb packages
  • Stewing hen — $3.50/lb
  • Lamb — Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb. Lamb chops are $12/lb.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest

Tasty vegetables = happy holidays!

Tasty vegetables = happy holidays!

Ready for the winter holiday season? We are! We are always so excited for the opportunities provided in November and December to see so many far-flung (and close by) loved ones. And, of course, this is a great time of year for food — so many delicious, comforting options are part of the traditional menus.

This year, incorporate fresh, seasonal, organic produce into your special meals! Or, use our tenth annual Holiday Harvest opportunity to stock your pantry!

Here’s how our Holiday Harvests work. You look at our list (see below) and decide what you’d like to order. Then place your order using the handy form supplied below the list! How easy is that? On Wednesday, November 25, we’ll harvest for you and bring your order to our downtown McMinnville storefront (off of the 2nd Street parking lot between Evans and Davis St.). You can pick up your produce any time between 2 and 5 pm that day. We accept cash or check payments.

Any other questions? You can email us farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com.

Now, make your list! …

  • Apples ~ Choose Goldrush, Liberty, or Northern Spy ~ $3/lb
  • Salad mix ~ $7 lb
  • Dinosaur Kale ~ $3/bunch
  • Red Russian kale ~ $3/bunch
  • Chard ~ $3/bunch
  • Collard greens ~ $3/bunch
  • Brussels Sprouts ~ $4/lb
  • Red cabbage ~ $2/lb (order by the each)
  • Green cabbage ~ $2/lb (order by the each)
  • Celery leaf ~ Perfect for making stock or using in stuffing ~ $2/bunch
  • Acorn squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Delicata winter squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Butternut squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Spaghetti squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Marina di chioggia squash ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Pie pumpkins ~ $1.50/lb (order by the each)
  • Beets ~ $1.50/lb
  • Carrots ~ $2/lb
  • Sweet potatoes ~ $4/lb
  • Yellow Finn potatoes ~ $2.50/lb
  • Butterball potatoes ~ $2.50/lb
  • Red potatoes ~ Red skin and red flesh ~ $2.50/lb
  • Leeks ~ $4/lb
  • Garlic ~ $8/lb
  • Popcorn ~ $6/lb

Place your order using this easy form (please order by the end of Tuesday, November 24 so that we have time to harvest it on Wednesday, November 25!):

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your phone number (required)

Your Holiday Harvest order

Questions or other comments?

Want to do this again in December? Our December Holiday Harvest will be on Tuesday, December 22! More info to come closer to the date.

Posted in News & Updates | 1 Comment

Ten seasons (almost) done

Preparing for the next one -- our new greenhouse will go up here soon. The plastic on the ground is preparing the ground, smothering any weeds that come up during this time. The puddles on top of the plastic are for jumping and running and splashing and dashing and being a kid.

Preparing for the next one — our new greenhouse will go up here soon (the holes for the anchors are already dug in this photo). The plastic on the ground is preparing the ground, smothering any weeds that come up during this time. The puddles on top of the plastic are for jumping and running and splashing and dashing and being a kid. (Also, ahem, check out that beautiful cover crop to the left! We LOVE it!)

We just arrived back home from a lovely dinner at Blue Goat restaurant in Amity. We met there with several other farm friends to surprise Jasper with a celebratory good-bye dinner. Next week is his final week of working at the farm after three wonderful years (he started here just days after Dottie was born, which makes it feel like an extra long time!).

We have a tradition around these parts of honoring departing employees with a special meal, at which we always ask them about the most memorable parts of working here. Inevitably, the answers begin with animals, because they make such good stories! But there are other memories too. Jasper’s list was long, because three years on a year-round diverse farm is a lot of time to accrue a lot of memorable memories. We will miss him!

Next week also marks the end of our 2015 CSA season — our tenth season! As we approach that end date, I find myself in reflection mode. Casey and I are still relatively young (34 and 36 if you’re wondering), and yet we started this enterprise young too. So, we’ve got ten years now under our belt. Which, by the way, is a long time for a small business. Not everyone makes it this far — the majority do not. Even businesses that do quite well for a few years can end simply because it’s easy to get burnt out as a small business owner. But we’ve made it, and I feel proud of us today — proud that we’re still making this dream work for our family and for our customers. Proud that we’ve supported our family from the farm for ten years. This feels like a huge accomplishment. And we’re planning to make it even longer than ten years. We check in with ourselves about this often, and YES we still love this work! And, YES we still want to farm!

That’s where we are today. In fact, in spite of the usual round of seasonal vagaries, we are ending this tenth season feeling quite satisfied, at ease, and excited about the coming year. Today we took delivery of a new high tunnel for the field — this will be the fourth (and likely the final) one we have built here. We appreciate what these tools can do for us, especially in the harder shoulder seasons. They give us extra flexibility in offering you, our community, local fresh food for the bulk of the year.

"Helping" hands and dirty pants.

“Helping” hands and dirty pants and a boy sitting in a deep hole.

As we started in on pouring concrete around the anchors today, Casey commented that this is the most company and “help” he’d had yet on a greenhouse project. The kids and I were all there to accompany him. I helped place the anchors in the holes (making sure they were the right height and plumb and all that), while the kids made mud in their own special holes. The whole scene was full of energy and distracting, but a guy learns a thing or two about building greenhouses over the years and so we think the anchors were going in better than ever (in spite of the mud flinging children in the background!).

So, as we enter this final week of this year’s CSA season, we are also beginning the work of next year. Always planning ahead.

We hope you are too! Have you signed up for our 2016 CSA season yet? For returning CSA members, it’s easy peasy folks! Just sign your name on the special form at pick-up. Or, if you’re worried you’ll forget (or are a first-time member), you can sign up RIGHT NOW using this handy dandy online form (just CLICK THE LINK!). We hope that you’ll join us for another year of delicious fresh local organic seasonal eating!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Thanksgiving is coming up. We still have turkeys available! The price is $6/lb. They have been fed exclusively organic feed and are on pasture. We will take them to be butchered on Monday, November 23, and you can pick up your turkey that same day on the farm (useful if you want to brine it) or at our Holiday Harvest on Wednesday, November 25. Email us now to reserve yours: farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com. Specify whether you’d prefer a “medium” (< 20 lbs) or “large” (> 20 lbs) bird and we’ll do our very best to get you your size preference.

~ ~ ~

NEXT WEEK IS OUR FINAL 2015 CSA PICK-UP! I put that in bolds, because I wanted to make sure you got that! The CSA ends next week, November 19! Then we’ll begin again on January 14, 2016. But, in the meantime, you can still buy awesome food from us …

In last week’s newsletter, I shared a sneak peek of what we’ll have available for our Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest on Wednesday, November 25. I will post the official list as a separate blog post (and send a separate email) in the coming days. For now, keep that date on your calendar! In addition to picking up your pre-ordered veggies (and/or turkey), you’ll be able to buy eggs and meat as usual too. Walk in sales of those items are welcome!

And, we’ll do it all again in December. That Holiday Harvest will be Tuesday, December 22 (I will send out an email in advance with the availability list!).

For now, your homework is to SIGN UP FOR 2016! Have you done that yet? You can do it now by clicking this link. (New members welcome as well!)

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Arugula
  • Turnip greens — Tender enough for a salad but also delicious for quick cooking.
  • Cauliflower — How was that cauliflower last week? So awesome? We’ve got more this week! We’ve been eating cauliflower at least once a day in our house — at breakfast (roasted), at lunch (in leftovers), and at dinner (cooked in a stew-y mash of greens and veggies).
  • Peppers — Hot and green
  • Rutabaga
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Delicata winter squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Acorn squash
  • Sweet potatoes — Yay! These are scrumptious and finally ready for eating (like squash, sweet potatoes have to “cure” a bit in storage before they get sweet). A note on storage: do not put your sweet potatoes in your fridge. The best place would be in an open container (like a basket) in a pantry. Our favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is … well, can you guess? You probably did. ROASTED! (We’re so predictable around here!) I peel them and chop into even sized pieces and roast at 425° with plenty of butter (stirring a few times) until crispy outside and soft inside.
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Bratwurst!? — Casey will most likely be picking up another batch of pork from the butcher in the morning. In which case, we’ll be restocked with everyone’s favorite artisan-made no-nitrates added pasture-raised pork Bratwursts! $12/lb.
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb packages
  • Lamb — Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb. Lamb chops are $12/lb.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

Darkness arrives

The kids and I helped bring in the first of the storage cabbage harvest last week. So much sweetness for coming cold months! (After taking this picture, we transferred the cabbages from the Gator bed to the pallet bin where Casey is standing ... and then we loaded a bunch more too!)

The kids and I helped bring in the first of the storage cabbage harvest last week. So much sweetness for coming cold months! (After taking this picture, we transferred the cabbages from the Gator bed to the pallet bin where Casey is standing … and then we loaded a bunch more too!)

This weekend marked a profound shift in the season. We observed Halloween, also known as Samhain. Among other things, this marks the approximate halfway point between the Autumnal equinox and the Winter solstice — meaning we’re now in the darkest quarter of the year. And, the very next day (Nov. 1), we all set our clocks back as Daylight Saving Time ended for the year. What a difference that one hour made in our experience of the light in the day! As the sky darkened in late afternoon, I finally realized that — yes — November has truly arrived. It is here. This dark time.

October was so full of warm and sunny days that November’s arrival really did surprise all of us out here. And it’s not just a matter of our perception — those warm days made a difference in the fields too. We picked cucumbers yesterday! I’m not sure that we have ever made it to November without a fire, but here we are on November 4, and we still have not lit one (although today almost seems to warrant one!). It was a warm start to the fall, for sure. But there’s no getting around the shortening days — this is a non-negotiable fact of this time of year.

The kids and I gathered with friends to make lanterns yesterday. This is a very fun and easy craft for those of you looking for something to do with your kids. We ripped up colored tissue paper and adhered it to a mason jar with white glue. I hear you can water down the glue, but for ours we just used the glue straight. We put an extra layer of glue over the paper to finish it off. The glue dries clear, and the tissue paper makes a beautiful and simple stained glass effect that is very magical when a tea light is lit inside. This is the third year we’ve made lanterns in early November, and lighting them before our now-after-dark dinners feels like an important part of finding our way into these quieter days.

Of course, as I’m sure many of you know firsthand, kids don’t always take cues from the season or from the clock. To be fair, neither do Casey and I really. So, now that the clocks are set back an hour, we’re all up earlier. Because our bodies have an internal rhythm of their own. I forget about this each year — how in the winter Casey and I fall asleep earlier, lulled into deep relaxation by the long hours of dark in the evening. And then we wake earlier too — often up before 6 am (kids too), beginning our days again in the dark of morning.

And, tonight the kids and I perhaps spent too much time inside (a danger of the season when curling up inside with books and art projects sounds so very lovely!) — as was made clear by the energy in the house before dinner. So, even though dusk was upon us, we went outside in the chilly evening air and the kids ran sprint “races” all around the yard. “Let’s see who can run to the walnut tree first? Great! Now run around the maple tree five times? Ok, now who can race with this wheelbarrow to the picnic table?” And so we came to the dinner table calmer and with ready appetites.

Casey and I will head to bed soon after I email out this newsletter. It’s necessary when we know we will (in spite of our efforts to train our bodies and kids otherwise) be up again early tomorrow! But we enjoy this different feeling in our house (or, we at least surrender to the inevitability of it!). The darkness is here.

And, of course, lanterns and holidays keep the light alive and present even during these darkest months. We look forward to the string of gatherings that will begin later this month with Thanksgiving. What a joy it is to reconnect with family and friends! We also take joy in being a part of the food that you share with your loved ones during these occasions! So, even though the CSA ends in a couple of weeks (last pick-up is on November 19), remember that we offer two opportunities for you to order extra food to stock up for the holidays! See more in our Holiday Harvest sneak preview note below!

And, for now, enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest sneak preview: As I have mentioned in prior newsletters, we will be offering our usual Holiday Harvest opportunities this fall. The way these work is that we’ll provide you a list in advance of what’s available — you’ll place your order by email by the night before. Then we harvest specially for you and bring your order to the storefront for you to pick up! We’ll also be open during those hours for egg and meat sales as well.

Our Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest will be Wednesday, November 25, 2-5 pm at the storefront. Orders should be placed by Tuesday evening via email: farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com. This opportunity is open to all! (Not just CSA members!)

We’ll finalize the list (and add prices) before next week so you have time to plan your holiday recipes and such, but here’s an exciting sneak peek of what will be available!!!! (We have a lot of options! Some people use this opportunity to stock up a bit for the coming weeks!)

Apples ~ Goldrush, Liberty, Northern Spy
Salad mix
Kale ~ Dino and Red Russian
Chard
Collard greens
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage ~ Red and green
Celery leaf
Winter squash ~ Acorn, Delicata, Butternut, Spaghetti, Marina
Pie pumpkins
Beets
Carrots
Sweet potatoes (These will be in the last 2015 CSA share too!)
Potatoes ~ Yellow Finn, German Butterball, Red
Leeks
Garlic
Popcorn

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Popcorn — Did anybody make a Halloween treat with your popcorn? This cooler weather makes me want to pop some more to eat beside the fire. We still have yet to light a fire in our woodstove this year (even though it is our only source of heat). It is coming soon though — we can feel the chill now (finally!).
  • Arugula
  • Asian greens mix — This is a mix of three kinds of greens: Yukina Savoy, Mustards, and Turnip greens. The leaves are definitely tender enough to eat as a salad (and a tossing with a dressing will cut the heat they have when raw); or, you can gently saute them and eat as a cooked green. Because they are so tender, they will cook up quickly, making them especially easy for eating at breakfast (topped with a fried egg!) or for a quick lunch.
  • Cauliflower & broccoli — Our household loves these fall crops — it is a major treat for us when they are producing. Our absolutely favorite preparation method for either cauliflower or broccoli (or both together!) was passed on to us by a long time former CSA member. When we were very new to town, she treated us to a spontaneous (and delicious) homecooked dinner after we stopped by to drop off an order of tomatoes. The highlight of the meal for us was the roasted broccoli she made. Why had this never occurred to us? To roast broccoli? Now it is standard fare for us. The key is to chop even sized florets of your broccoli or cauliflower and to not overload the pan (if you do so, they will steam rather than roast). I roast them at 425° in a baking pan with a few big pats of butter. I like to stir a few times, to make sure everything is cooking evenly and to coat all the florets in butter. I cook until the florets are browning on one side and cooked through. Salt liberally before serving.
  • Butternut squash
  • Pie pumpkin
  • Delicata winter squash
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Peppers — Hot, green, and sweet!
  • Beets
  • Carrots — We’ve been growing carrots for ten years now. We think we’re pretty good at growing them. Our soil is well suited to beautiful, straight carrots (thanks to its light texture), and we choose varieties that we think are absolutely the tastiest around. You’d think that after all these years, we would be “used to” delicious carrots! Not so! We still find ourselves completely bowled over by a good, crispy, sweet carrot. This week’s carrots are among the best we’ve ever tasted. Just simply divine. (And, if you’re wondering about the nitty gritty aspects of cooking in our farm kitchen, I want to share that I always peel our carrots before cooking or serving. Always. Why? The outer skin of the carrot can be more bitter than the inside, and the texture is certainly less perfect. I just find that our experience of the carrot is magnified if I take that simple extra preparation step.)
  • Potatoes — This week’s potatoes are a favorite of ours: German Butterball — a russetted potato with smooth yellow interior flesh (I guess sort of like a cross between a Russet and a Yukon Gold?) . They used to not be available to grow in this country, and we once heard a story of someone so desperate to grow these that they smuggled a few seed potatoes surreptitiously through customs! Thankfully, now there are potato seed producers who grow them out for farmers like us, so we don’t have to go through that extra work. They are a medium sized potato, extremely well suited to roasting (hoorah for us, since that is our favorite way to prepare almost any vegetable, as you may have noticed!).
  • Leeks

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb packages
  • Lamb — Roasts and ground lamb are $8/lb. Lamb chops are $12/lb.
  • Stewing hens — $3.50/lb ~ A few left for this round! I made a delicious pot of chicken soup this evening with chicken and its stewing broth (of course), chopped chard, leeks, rutabaga, and carrots. Simply outstanding and perfect comfort food for these darker days.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment

Community prevails

Our apple variety tasting all ready for folks to arrive -- if they can brave the rain!

Our apple variety tasting all ready for folks to arrive — if they can brave the rain!

Casey and I awoke early Sunday morning to one roll of thunder — BOOM! — followed a few seconds later by the rushing sound of rain hitting our house’s metal roof. The rain continued falling all night, and it was still pouring in the morning. As we puttered around the house preparing for our open house, we watched the rain fall. And fall. And fall. Not just little drizzly rain like we Northwesterners are used to — this was dark drenching rainfall. Would people still come to our farm event?

The kids and I waited to pick our carving pumpkins until this morning.

The kids and I waited to pick our carving pumpkins until late this morning when it was not quite as wet out there.

But, of course, in our tenth season, we’ve got some past experience to fall back on in this regard. In the many years we’ve hosted this event — always on the Sunday before Halloween — we’ve seen all kinds of weather. We’ve had at least two other such events that were rained on in a major way. And people still come. In fact, for those brave enough to venture out, the rainy open houses can be even more exciting. So, we prepared, and we waited. (We even correctly guessed which long-time CSA customers would be sure to show.)

And people came! Not as many would surely have come on a sunny day but enough people to feel like we were having a party — a party in the rain (well, a party on our porch as the rain rained all around us). Apples were tasted. We cut up samples of nine of our varieties (we grow even more than that, but at some point too many tastes can be overwhelming): Honeycrisp, Goldrush, Chehalis, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Liberty, Cortland, Newton Pippin, and Northern Spy. We asked everyone who sampled to vote for their favorite apple, and the winner was Goldrush! We were so pleased to hear that report, since we have more Goldrush trees in our orchards than any other kind (we like this variety too, plus it is very well suited for growing organically in our region). Braeburn and Northern Spy tied for second runner up.

As planned, Casey took folks on a walk about the farm starting at 3 pm. And, that’s when the day’s miracle occurred — the rain slowed to a drizzle … and then stopped. And, then, the sun even came out, warming everyone enough that kids (who were very well suited up in rain gear) began shedding layers and jumping in fresh mud puddles. Everyone left with smiles as big as their pumpkins.

(And, we also did a raffle drawing for a free tote bag — Scott and Melanie Miller won! Congrats!)

The kids needed help with their "volcano" pumpkins (I guess our pumpkins are sturdy and thick-fleshed!). I'm quite the traditionalist when it comes to pumpkin carving. Same face every year. I like him.

The kids needed help with their “volcano” pumpkins (I guess our pumpkins are sturdy and thick-fleshed, making them challenging for kids to carve!). I’m quite the traditionalist when it comes to pumpkin carving. Same face every year. I like him.

We’re done now with on-farm events for the year. It feels good to have met that moment in the year — we love hosting our community here, and we also welcome the break. With all this dark, wet and misty weather, we can definitely feel the Big Slowdown happening for us farmers. The rest is coming in a real way — almost forced upon us by these shortening days. We’ve learned over the years that the deepest part of this rest comes for us in late November and December — truly the darkest, quietest feeling months of the year. Also the busiest in terms of family and social gatherings. It’s a very different kind of season for us from the rest, and we look forward to it.

In the meantime, we are also excited about finishing the 2015 CSA season with four more awesome weeks of seasonal vegetables (counting this one) — our last pick-up will be on November 19. Expect to see a lot more fall food in these shares as we journey deeper into this season.

And, as we’ve noted before, we are already looking ahead to 2016 as well. We’ve begun taking sign ups for our 2016 CSA season — you can sign up easily at pick up on one of the forms we have there, or you can do it right now online by filling out this quick form. Please let us know if you have any questions about next year. We hope you will join us again for another fabulous year of local eating!

Have a safe and fun Halloween this weekend! And, enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. I have a farmer friend who writes a haiku every market day. She sometimes shares them with us, and I love this practice of hers. I doubt I’m ready to commit to such regular haiku writing, but I wrote one today in the fields, and I thought I’d share it with you all now:

After rain comes a
chorus of blackbirds and crows.
So ends October.

~ ~ ~

Dates for your calendar: Another reminder of important upcoming dates!

  • November 19 — Our final 2015 CSA pick-up
  • Wednesday, November 25 — Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest More details to come. (Folks who have ordered turkeys can pick them up this Wednesday or at the farm on Monday, Nov. 23 after they are slaughtered.)
  • Tuesday, December 22 — Christmas Holiday Harvest We will email you about this event. You’ll be able to buy vegetables, fruits, and meat (we’ll have another batch of stewing hens available as well as our other usual offerings).
  • January 1, 2016 — We will mail out our 2016 CSA confirmation materials and start taking payments for 2016 (hopefully returning members will have committed much earlier in 2015 so that we can be planning!).
  • Thursday, January 14, 2016Our first 2016 CSA pick-up! Same time, same great location!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cortland apples
  • Quince — If you’ve never tried quince before, you’re in for a treat. These yellow fruit are related to apples and pears, but unlike those fruits these need to be cooked to be enjoyed. When we tell our kids this, they ask us “WHY?” and I say to them: “Just try and take a bite.” The answer is that they are very dense and tart when raw. However, when cooked, they soften and sweeten and taste like fall. We generally do a very simple preparation — we peel and slice the quince and then cook it in a saucepan until soft through (you can decide for yourself how cooked you want them by tasting periodically — they will hold their shape much longer than apples). We like to add a bit of honey and cinnamon and then serve our quince warm on top of vanilla ice cream (or plain yogurt if we don’t have ice cream in the house — it’s really quite exquisite!). You can also use them in tarts and baked goods, but do allow more cooking time than you would an apple in the same context. Read more about quince here.
  • Popcorn — Another special fall treat! This is a mix of two different kinds of popcorn we grew this year. You should be able to pop them together in the same pan (or other popcorn popper). We thought you might enjoy locally grown popcorn as part of your Halloween celebrations.
  • Arugula — One of our favorite salad greens! Arugula has a peppery flavor when raw, but it magically mellows when tossed with dressing. This arugula is from our greenhouse and is very, very tender.
  • Hot peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Tomatillos
  • Rutabaga
  • Delicata winter squash
  • Pie pumpkins
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Red/red potatoes — This week’s red potatoes have a fun surprise — they are red inside as well!!!!! The kids will love these!
  • Leeks

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb packages
  • Lamb — So much! We have a wide range of cuts available! Roasts, shanks, and ground lamb are all $8/lb. Lamb chops are $12/lb.
  • Stewing hens — $3.50/lb ~ A few left for this round!

 

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