Welcome!

Welcome 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 100+ acres, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! 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 newsletter on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla & the whole Oakhill family

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The winter sun

Little tiny lettuces growing in one of our high tunnels!

Little tiny lettuces growing in one of our high tunnels!

Slowly, very slowly it seems, our days are getting longer. Early next week, we mark “Imbolc” (otherwise known as Groundhog Day), the halfway mark on the march to spring. Oh, welcome day!

I am sure I not at all alone in craving quite a bit more of those rare sunny days and the warmth and growth that come with it. Last Saturday, the fog temporarily lifted from the valley floor, offering us a treat of a day. Our family hiked to the river, where it was warm enough for the kiddos to end up swimming in the water itself (I waded briefly in bare feet and was fairly amazed at their ability to turn frigid water into fun!).

But since then, the fog and cloud cover have returned, so that even with lengthening days it feels dark during most of the daylight hours. We have three high tunnels planted now, and we check on those little itty bitty plants regularly to weed and tend to them. They sit there, growing enough to stay alive, but certainly not bouncing with the thriving earth energy they will have in just a few weeks or months!

A funny planning quirk this time of year is that successions seeds sown in winter and early spring (in the greenhouse or fields) will lose their distance as harvests arrive. We could sow kale today and a month from now and end up picking them at the same time, because that later planting of kale will grow so much faster thanks to the power of sun’s return.

Nonetheless, the winter sun is here. Here in those rare fog-lifting days (or for those of you lucky to live at 700 ft or at the beach, I hear!). But also here in so many miracles around us — in the storage crops we are pulling out of our coolers (sugar = sun’s stored energy!). With every bite of beet or carrot you eat, last summer’s sun enters your body and warms you (literally warms you, through the power of digestion!).

And, here in our little farm house, we get to visit the sun of year’s past every day as we build fires to heat our home. I admit that there have definitely been days when I have wished for another source of heat, but for the most part, I love the winter ritual of building and tending a fire. On a dreary winter day, watching the flames dance in our woodstove inspires me.

For someone who was born and raised in the Pacific Northwet, I sometimes think I’m ill-fitted for our winters with how much I long for the sun! But, as always, these real things in our immediate environment help. And, this is the dregs of the winter — the coziness has worn off (especially for the kids, who are beyond ready for days outside again), and we are eager to see green’s return everywhere. And, while we wait, we order seeds, build fires, plant hazelnut trees, and eat some really good sun-food.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent two newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Field greens — Is this a braising mix? Is it a salad mix? You decide! Casey harvested the best of the winter greens growing in the field — kale, chicories, chard, Asian greens, etc. This time of year, the “cooking” greens are sweet and tender enough to be eaten raw … but of course they’re delicious cooked too. If you decide to the salad route (which is probably what we’ll do with our batch), I recommend washing again and then chopping very fine into strips (“chiffonade,” if you will) and then tossing with your salad dressing of choice. For winter salads like this, you will likely enjoy more salad dressing than you might on a spring lettuce salad — the leaves are thicker and can stand up to it. Or chop it all up and saute with butter and garlic and eat with eggs for breakfast. Yum yum either way.
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Leaf celery — We will have it this week! Last week’s final moments of harvest were interrupted by our cows, who decided to wander away from their enclosure! Jasper and Casey spent those final bits of time getting them back in.
  • Parsley — Wondering what to do with parsley? Here’s the cool thing about parsley in winter … it’s green. Like, really really really bright green. At this time of year, our other cooking greens are still all growing very slowly (they will come!), and yet here is this delightfully green, vibrant leafy thing that thrives in the winter! We most often use our winter parsley for making parsley “pesto” — combine parsley with garlic and walnuts and olive oil in a food processor (adjust the ratios to your flavor preference). Delicious! We put a bowl of parsley pesto on the table and let each eater decide how they want to use it. It makes a delicious garnish on most anything.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Sunchokes — AKA “Jerusalem Artichokes.” They are more often known by this second name, although we can’t figure out why, since these tubers are neither from Jerusalem or related to artichokes! (And oddly they look a lot like ginger — although they share nothing except appearance.) Nonetheless, they are delicious! The texture is crisp and the flavor sweet and light — very reminiscent of Jicama (no relation). Sunchokes are absolutely delicious when roasted. The hardest part is cleaning them up, because those little nooks and crannies can store some dirt. I prefer to chop them with a paring knife in a way that exposes all those little edges, making the final cleaning easier. I do NOT try to peel them, because WOAH that would be hard. I do use my paring knife to trim off any bits that look less appetizing. To roast, I’d put bite size pieces in a pan with butter or oil olive and roast at 375-425°, stirring occasionally, until starting to caramelize at the edges. Add salt, and enjoy the simplicity of this preparation!!!! I must add, however, that some of us unlucky folks experience gas when consuming cooked sunchokes (especially in large quantities). Unfortunately, Casey and I are in that camp, so while we enjoy roasted sunchokes when paired with other veggies (make a big roasted root veggie medley!), we often prefer to eat our sunchokes raw. We don’t get the painful gas that way. They’re delicious chopped fine and added to a cole slaw type salad. In fact, this week, you could make an amazing salad with the kohlrabi, cabbage, carrots, and sunchokes! Sometimes we like to turn a cold salad like this into a meal all its own, and we do so by adding more filling ingredients like tuna or cooked chicken (a great portable lunch).
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets — Beets seem to be one of those polarizing vegetables. To some of us (our family included), a perfectly cooked beet embodies all that is sweet and satisfying. Others taste … dirt? I guess? Since I’m not in that camp, I’m not sure what doesn’t “work” for other folks, but I will offer up this: even I (a devoted beet lover) do NOT enjoy under-cooked beets. To me, an under-cooked beet definitely tastes too earthy for my preferences. And, I’ve also learned over time that beets generally require more cooking than other root veggies (I think they are denser). So when I cook them, I often allow quite a lot more time than I do for something like potatoes or carrots. I love mixing up root vegetables and making what we once dubbed “root parade” (because I lined up all the ingredients in a row before chopping) — basically a roasted vegetable medley. When I include beets, I make sure to chop them smaller than the rest so that they will cook all the way through in the same time frame. When roasting beets alone, I often do it at a slightly lower temperature (375°) so that they cook all the way through before they start to crisp on the edges. A well cooked beet is like candy. To me!
  • Potatoes
  • Apples — This week, we have more Goldrush apples, as well as the classic Newton Pippin. This is an older type of apple, especially well suited to cooking or making cider (complex flavors!).
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for kimchi and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “kimchi” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Still popular! We have another fresh batch available for this week. We’ve been loving this winter treat.
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6 ~ Want extra apples for making sauce or cooking? We’ve got #2 apples available for half price — these are apples that just aren’t perfect enough for us to offer them for fresh eating. They have minor blemishes or imperfect skin.
  • Eggs — $6 dozen ~ Volume is up again this week!
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea.
  • Pork, roasts & chops — Prices vary ~ We took our first hog to be slaughtered at a USDA facility this week! Check in at pick-up to find out what we’ve got in the freezer! We grow a very unique type of hog: American Guinea Hog, a heritage breed. They offer darker, more flavorful pork meat than most of what you will have experienced. They are also smaller in size and great foragers, making them well suited to a farm like ours and meaning that their fat is loaded with healthy Omega-3s.
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Beef organs — $6/lb for beef liver and heart
  • Lamb organs — $8/lb ~ These were popular last week! We may have a few kidneys left, but I’m pretty sure all the packages of liver and heart were sold (I will check though).
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

We’re off and running!

Two day old lambs and a ewe enjoy a misty and chilly morning on the farm.

Two day old lambs and a ewe enjoy a misty and chilly morning on the farm.

As you know, last week was our first CSA pick-up of the year — and our very first CSA pick-up at our new storefront! We were excited before the day began, feeling super optimistic about our new space and routines for 2015. But, still, our expectations were blown out of the water by the enthusiasm of everyone who walked in the door during those five hours. People ooh’d and ah’d over the tidy packages of lamb and beef in our freezer (and bought lots of both); eggs sold out within the first hour; kimchi flew out out the door (we sold out, but thankfully everyone who wanted some got some!); and beautiful CSA vegetables were packed into baskets with joy. It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

It felt like the perfect start to our tenth season — a harbinger of good things to come. We honestly can’t believe we get to have another party like that this week. And the week after that. And so on, for another 44 weeks this year.

Here on the farm, good work has been happening too. We are almost totally done with our annual seed order (need to finalize our green onion and flower choices); we’ve been pruning our orchards and raspberries; and I finished up our 2014 employee tax paperwork this weekend. Up next on our lists: more pruning; the start of seed sowing in the hot house; and our organic certification paperwork. All of it feels so seasonal, even if this winter has proved to be relatively mild so far (our PGE bill tells us the average temperature so far has been tracking 5° warmer than last year).

At this time of year, I have to avoid constantly looking for signs of spring, because of course winter has several more weeks to go and these early signs are subtle and ongoing. I could bore you by pointing them out every week in the newsletter, but here on the farm they are very exciting. This week, as we were walking back to our house, Rusty ran ahead of me and then stopped and ran back at a full sprint, yelling: “Mama! Guess what I saw? … The daffodils are coming up!” Sure, enough, he had spotted the very first tips of the daffodils that grow under our pear tree. Having our son so excited about this world he inhabits plus those little glimpses of the season to come (spring! joy!) filled my heart so much.

Plus, the first of this year’s lambs were born yesterday (hence the cute photo above). And today the sun shone and warmed everything! Life! Growth! It happens! There is great and necessary rest to be gained from winter’s rhythms, but oh these signs of spring are too wonderful.

It’s official — this season is marching forward, and we are so glad to have you with us on this next season of local eating! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Welcome to members who are joining us this week for the first time! We’re so glad to have you! I recommend at least skimming last week’s newsletter as well, since it contained lots of useful orienting information. You can find it here.

~ ~ ~

Have you made your first payment yet? In case you haven’t yet, here’s another friendly reminder to deliver to us your first CSA payment of the year (either full value or 1/5). If you haven’t mailed your check yet, please bring it with you to pick-up tomorrow!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, I’m going to try to focus my attention on a few vegetables each week. If you ever have any questions about what to do with something, you can also ask us at pick-up! All three of us are extremely enthusiastic about cooking and are happy to answer your questions and provide ideas!

  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts — We have been eating a lot of Brussels sprouts lately. They are one of our family’s favorite winter staples. They do require a little bit of extra work on the cutting board, but I’ve gotten this process down to be fairly quick and simple. I use a paring knife (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) to trim off the butt and then slice each sprout in half. At that point, any yellowed outer leaves are extremely easy to just slip off, almost as quickly as you can move the cut sprouts aside. I have a habit of putting my halved Brussels sprouts in water at this point, to remove any soil or buggies — but this year’s sprouts have been so clean that this step is really unnecessary. Once I have a big pile of halved sprouts, I have a choice. Do I want to cook them as halves? This is very delicious — we love roasting halved Brussels sprouts for breakfast (yes, for breakfast!). If you put an even layer in a sheet pan (without overlap), they roast up quite quickly and have a crispy outside. Pan frying halves works well too, although it takes a bit longer and can be helped by a little broth in the pan (cover for a period too to help them sprouts cook through before they start to brown). However, if I’m feeling rich with time, I might cut my sprouts further. Sometimes I even chop them up into fine confetti, which — believe it or not — makes a great salad base. Toss with dressing and top with savory and sweet toppings like cranberries, goat cheese and walnuts. Delicious! Or, I’ll take that chopped Brussels sprouts and saute it up like kale. One of our favorite things is to cook chopped cabbage and Brussels sprouts together. Add chopped carrots too, and you end up with a beautiful mult0colored vegetable base for a stew or as a side-dish on its own. Need I say that such dishes usually involve lots of butter at our house? It’s true.
  • Leaf celery — This variety of celery is grown for its leaf. Why, you ask? Certainly not for making “ants-on-a-log,” which requires stalks. Instead, this is grown for that unique, profoundly awesome celery flavor. Flavor doesn’t even seem to adequately describe what celery brings to a dish. In my experience, celery transforms dishes (especially soups) into something entirely different. When we make stocks and broths, we add some of this leaf celery, and the resulting broth is intensely satisfying. Use it to make a soup that will knock people’s socks off. You can also chop the leaf celery and add it to stuffings or any other number of warming winter dishes.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Winter squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples — This week’s apples are some of our absolute favorite: GOLDRUSH is the variety name. Why do we love them? Let us count the ways: 1. The trees are hardy and disease resistant (great for the organic grower!). 2. The fruit store well all winter long in our cooler. 3. They are delicious! I shared some of these with friends earlier today, and while the children were chomping them up with non-verbal displays of enthusiasm, the parents were all remarking on how unexpectedly wonderful the apples were. They had the idea that a yellow apple would be mushy or flavorless — perhaps this idea comes from the experience of eating Yellow Transparents or other very early yellow apples. Goldrush are nothing like that all — instead they offer a very dense, crisp texture and an incredibly complex flavor with full ranges of sweet and tart. They’re great for fresh eating yet hold up well (flavor and texture-wise) for cooking. Seriously, a wonderful all-around apple. We have extras of these for sale as well.
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for kimchi and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already! Also, this week I am going to try to better track individual sales for our records (since it’d be nice to know how much money we are making from, say, lamb versus walnuts) — doing so may add a few extra seconds to each purchase as I do some computer input stuff. Thanks in advance for being patient as I figure it out! Here’s what we’ve got this week for you:

This weekend's special kid activities included making corn pancakes with Papa — our favorite use for our farm made corn flour!

This weekend’s special kid activities included making corn pancakes with Papa — our favorite use for our farm made corn flour!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “kimchi” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ We sold out of our kimchi last week!!!! Hoorah! We were so excited to witness true KIMCHI ENTHUSIASM at work. We’ve got a new batch ready to go. Same recipe!
  • Eggs — $6 dozen ~ We also sold out of eggs very quickly last week. No surprise there since our supply is still coming out of winter mode. The good news is that we have more eggs this week than last week, and that trend should continue!
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea. ~ These packages of ground beef were also very popular! We still have plenty in the freezer!
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Beef organs — I forgot to mention this last week — we have organs for sale as well! Beef liver and heart are $6/lb and beef tongue is $8/lb.
  • Lamb organs — Lamb organs are $8/lb. The fine butchers we worked with packed a lamb liver with a lamb heart in tidy little packages. These would make a perfect first introduction to organ meats for the uninitiated. Lamb organs are quite mild in flavor and yet still pack huge nutrition. I saw once a nutritional comparison of various vitamins and minerals in liver versus broccoli — liver was off the charts on everything. We have heard time and time again from folks who claim to have experienced significant boosts in energy and general vibrancy after consuming liver. Not sure how to prepare them? Slice your lamb liver (or heart) thin and pan fry with plenty of butter and some garlic.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment

2015 begins!

We are all ready to welcome you to our storefront CSA pick-up tomorrow!

We are all ready to welcome you to our new CSA pick-up tomorrow!

Hi! Are you totally new to our CSA? Let me introduce to the weekly CSA newsletter. It’s an important part of what we offer you as your farmers — it connects you to the work we do out here and helps guide you into a fabulous CSA experience. Each week the newsletter goes like this:

  1. Fun essay related to current happenings on the farm (with photos)
  2. Any important news or reminders (upcoming payments due or farm events)
  3. Sometimes a recipe or two
  4. The list of available vegetables and extra goodies for the week — this is where you’ll find a lot of useful information about the most basic cooking preparations for vegetables and other food products. If you’re new to seasonal eating, at least read this portion of the newsletter each week!

And, now onto our first newsletter of 2015! …

Here we go again: tomorrow is our first CSA pick up of the season! Since we operate a 45 week CSA, our first day comes quite early. As we are now entering our tenth season, I can’t help but reflect on that very first year (2006) and how at this point in January we were only just beginning to realize that we’d have a season at all. We were finishing up graduate school programs in Bellingham, Washington and didn’t anticipate how quickly our farm dreams would come to fruition. But a series of very happy events led us to McMinnville to farm that very year (in fact, we moved to McMinnville before I had even defended my thesis!).

This year feels very different indeed. We’re here. We’ve been here for years now. We’ve got fields full of winter vegetables; coolers full of storage roots and apples; a freezer full of butchered meat; and a long list of new and returning CSA members excited to enjoy the year with us. And, yet, this is a beginning too. Way back in that first year, we couldn’t possibly imagine what it would feel like to sustain this farm season after season, through nature’s vagaries, through the results of our mistakes; through the evolution of our community. Certainly, we experienced a continual level of exhaustion in those start up years that we only rarely experience these days (thank goodness!), but the work continues. I have great respect for any long-term small business owner these days, because the sustaining part requires every bit as much of intention as the starting. We are also more grateful than ever for the customers who have supported our farm up until now and who continue to do so (because, heck, I’m sure that long-term CSA membership requires intention too!).

2015 feels like a significant new chapter in our farm’s story as we continue to grow and fine tune our CSA. We’ve spent most of this last week setting up our new storefront pick-up, and it is looking awesome. We’ve dreamed of hosting our CSA in a downtown storefront for years, but it was hard to imagine how to make it a reality — rent is expensive and we didn’t want to create a “hole” downtown on the days we didn’t use it. We were so excited to build a relationship with the folks at Yamhill Valley Dry Goods to rent the back portion of their space (which was not being used at the time)! HUGE thank you to Sylla McClellan (owner of YVDG) for believing in us and trusting us to share the space! A lot of other folks helped turn that little space into a cozy CSA pick-up: my dad Steve Bledsoe built the crates that will hold our veggies (on a tight deadline, no less!); Mitch Horning made the gorgeous wood sign above our awning; Nathan Garrettson built the wood benches that we will have inside and out; and Copy Cabana printed our beautiful door sign. We live in an awesome community where dreams can come true. We can’t wait to host you all there tomorrow afternoon. CSA pick-up is 2-7 pm (every Thursday)!

As you arrive, please check in with one of us (there will be three of us working most of the time), and we will orient you to the new set-up. Old timers will recognize the foundation of the pick-up — our signature long table of CSA veggies. Hopefully you will have brought a bag or basket to fill, but we’ll have extra bags available too, just in case.

But we will also have extra items at pick-up for purchase. In addition to listing each week’s veggies at the end of the newsletter, I’ll also list those extra goodies. They will be things like eggs, meats, fermented veggies, flours, nuts, and extra fruit & veggies (items we know people might eat a lot of, like apples and potatoes) — you can see this week’s list below. If you would like to buy flours or kimchi, we recommend bringing your own jars (the kimchi prices are based on pint or half pint jars — so clean canning jars are perfect!). We’ll have some jars for purchase for the kimchi if you need them (the flours can also go into plastic bags too!).

We can accept cash or personal checks for the extra items. If you’d prefer to avoid the hassle of bringing cash or checks each week, you can write us a larger check to put money on an account, which we’ll keep track of at pick-up. We’re super excited about these “extras” — these are items that we began producing a few years back and are only now offering to all our customers (and actually, even if you’re not a current CSA member, you’re welcome to stop by and purchase some of these good things too!).

I’m going to spend some extra time describing this week’s vegetables and “extra goodies,” so I’ll end this welcome newsletter with a little checklist for you to use to prepare for you first pick-up of the year:

Your CSA pick-up checklist

  • Know the time? (Thursdays, 2 – 7 pm)
  • Know the place? (Storefront on 2nd Street parking lot, between Davis and Evans — backside of Yamhill Valley Dry Goods)
  • Posted yourself a reminder somewhere (calendar, cell phone alarm, etc.)?
  • Packed bags or baskets for your CSA vegetables?
  • Packed extra containers for flours or kimchi? Egg cartons for eggs?
  • Packed cash or checkbook for buying extra goodies?

We can’t wait to see you all tomorrow! We’ll be present to answer questions you have during the process. So, WELCOME! We are so glad you have joined us for another fabulous year of eating! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Have you made your first payment yet? Here’s a friendly reminder to deliver to us your first CSA payment of the year (either full value or 1/5). You can bring a check with you to pick-up tomorrow if you haven’t already sent it in the mail! Thank you!!! These first payments help us do important things like order our seeds!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: Since we have so many new members coming tomorrow, I just want to write a novel about each of these vegetables so that you can quickly learn to love them all. However, my time and your time is limited, and so I will hit some highlights and keep visiting different veggies each week this winter (and keep working on that cookbook!).

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi — Ah, kohlrabi … the vegetable people love to hate. Or so it seems. And, I’ll admit. Sometimes kohlrabi can be rough to enjoy. But honestly, it’s an awesome vegetable. Really, truly, we want you to love it too. Which is part of why we prepared a kohrabi kimchi for this week. Here are a few tips for enjoying it at home. First of all, if you have any kohlrabi reluctance, I recommend NOT cooking it. It is a hard vegetable to prepare well, in my opinion. However, it is delightful eaten raw and has a light crispness that is wholly welcome in the midst of winter. First you’ll have to peel it, which is about half the battle with these big winter kohlrabis. I use a large chef knife to cut off chunks, which I then peel using a paring knife. I hold the kohlrabi cut side down on the cutting board (so it’s very stable) and peel down the sides. One thing to keep in mind is that the root end of the kohlrabi is where it is more likely to develop a fibrous texture. If you’re sensitive to that, favor the top portion of the kohlrabi and feed the bottom portion to the chickens. Once peeled, I like to chop the kohlrabi up very fine and use it as the base for a cole slaw type salad. I call these “chopped salads” and will include other finely chopped veggies too: carrots and cabbage are great, as well as apples. I usually make the dressing myself by using my hand blender to quickly emulsify olive oil and apple cider vinegar together (with a bit of salt and pepper). I like to make a big batch of salad like this so we can eat it at several meals without having to cook again (in fact, I like preparing large batches of food as a general rule!). But sliced kohlrabi also just makes a really great dipping vegetable. Hummus + kohlrabi = yum.
  • Winter squash mix — We’ve got a few different winter squashes available this week. We can talk you through the differences at pick-up if you’re interested. This is the tail end of winter squash season, so enjoy these while they last!
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots — We will have carrots available as part of your share, but we’ll also bring extras for purchase too if you want more ($2.50 lb).
  • Potatoes — We will have potatoes available as part of your share, but we’ll also bring extras for purchase too if you want more ($2.50 lb).
  • Garlic
  • Apples — We will have apples available as part of your share, but we’ll also bring extras for purchase too if you want more ($3 lb). We also have #2 apples (bruised or whatnot) available if you want to buy them for making sauce ($1.50 lb).

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb We grind these flours fresh each week from grains we grow here on our farm. Consequently they are very fresh and offer a vitality to food that we’ve rarely encountered elsewhere. We recommend only purchasing enough to use for one or two weeks. Store in an open container so that the moisture in the fresh flours doesn’t build up and cause premature spoilage. You can also store them in the fridge. You can use both the corn and oat flour in place of all-purpose flour in “quick bread” type recipes: muffins, pancakes, cookies, cakes, etc. Depending on the recipe, you may need to tinker to get the results you like, but we’ve had very good success with both flours in our house. Corn pancakes are a special breakfast treat for our kids. You can read more about the flours (and see a corn pancake recipe) here.
  • Oat flour — $5 lb See notes above about corn flour!
  • Walnuts — $5 lb These walnuts are sold in the shell. They make the best snack. The coolest part of our walnuts is that you can crack them open with just your fingers. Ask us to show you how! Read more about our walnuts here.
  • Kohlrabi “kimchi” — $5 pint; $3 half pint For us, fermented vegetables are such a staple food in the winter. We crave them less in the summer (probably because we’re eating other good things and enjoying lots of sunshine), but in the winter sauerkraut and its relatives are present on our table regularly (Dottie especially loves all these fermented foods and eats them straight out of the jar). Casey made this batch of kohlrabi “kimchi” to offer you delicious winter storage foods in a new presentation. I put “kimchi” in quotes, because this is just a simple made up recipe (and it doesn’t have any hot peppers any it): it’s kohlrabi, carrots, garlic, and salt. The kohlrabi is truly transformed in this preparation. It has the wonderful squeak of a fermented veggie and the savory-ness of the garlic flavor. Wonderful as a garnish on just about anything. We often will just put a jar of this stuff out on the table and let everyone decide for themselves how they want to eat it (again, Dottie eats it by the handful).
  • Eggs — $6 dozen. Eggs will be offered bulk, so please bring a carton (bring extras to share if you have them!)! Did you know that eggs are a seasonal farm product? This last fall, our hens slowed down laying as the sunlight dimmed, and eventually they stopped laying at all. We had several weeks where even us farmers were forgoing eggs at breakfast (which is when we discovered the joy of winter squash for breakfast!). Egg production is very slowly going back up, but we are nowhere near full production yet for our 275 hens. So we will be bringing the eggs that we have, and we know that we will run out before everyone has had some. We are very sorry about this! But before too long, we will have more! Read more about our eggs and egg production here.
  • Ground beef — 1 lb packages; $7 ea. We are so excited to offer you ground beef! We find ground beef to be such a flexible part of our family’s diet. The kids love hamburgers, and we love browned ground beef as the meat in our vegetable stews! We taste tested this ground beef tonight at dinner (Casey just picked up all our meat from the butcher today!), and it was fabulous. Read more about our beef here.
  • Lamb roasts — We’ll have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). If you’re like I was many years ago, the idea of cooking different cuts of meat like lamb may feel very daunting! I know that there was a time in my life when cooking meat meant sausages. Period! Since then, I’ve learned a lot, and thankfully I’ve learned how incredibly easy it can be to prepare amazing meat. Casey and I have learned that, essentially, all meat is either intended for quick cooking over high heat (like steaks on a grill) or long, slow cooking over low high (like a roast in a low-temp oven). With a little experience, quick cooking is quite easy, but slow cooking is almost fool-proof. Our household’s favorite way to cook roasts in our slow cooker (i.e. “crock pot”). We’ll choose a nice roast and put it in the slow cooker dry with just some salt for seasoning. Turn it on low and let it go for several hours. For a large cut we’ll let it run all day (put it in at breakfast to eat at dinner). For a smaller cut, a few hours will suffice. The meat will self-baste in its juices, and you’ll have the most incredibly tender, juicy, savory meat to eat however you please. We often pick the meat off the bones and add it to vegetable stews; or we’ll just eat it with a salad and another vegetable side dish. Also, I need to note: if you think you don’t like lamb, you need to try this meat! We grow “hair” sheep breeds of sheep, the meat from which has an entirely different flavor and texture from standard wool breeds. Read more about our lamb here.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

This is happening!

We are SO excited about Thursday! Lots of last minute CSA sign-ups are popping up in our email, and today Casey hung up this beautiful sign made by Mitch Horning:

It's so pretty that I can't stop looking at it!

It’s so pretty that I can’t stop looking at it!

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment

Happy 2015!

Casey works up one of our older high tunnel greenhouses to begin the planting process.

Casey works up one of our older high tunnel greenhouses to begin the planting process.

First of all: Our CSA begins this Thursday! And, YES, we still have room for new and returning members to join! You can find information about our CSA here and sign-up now here. Or, if that doesn’t work for you, just email me with any questions you have or to sign up that way: farm (at) oakhillroganics (dot) com. I know there are many folks out there who want to sign up but haven’t gotten around to it yet — now it the time! Now on to the news …

I apologize for this much belated New Year’s post. I had full intentions to write a New Year’s update soon after the actual event, but WOW have we been busy! We enjoyed a luxuriously wonderful series of days off for the holidays, which were filled with so much family, presents, delicious food and rest. And, then, we were off running!

Preparing for this year’s CSA (which begins on Thursday!) brings extra work because our farm is in the mist of a big transition. Rather than offering two separate CSA programs anymore (our veggie-only CSA and our “Full Diet” option), we are combining the two into one offering. The foundation of this CSA remains the same: members choose their weekly share size, which determines how many vegetables items they pick up each they week (chosen by the members from that week’s harvest — a highly customizable CSA that we are returning to because of customer demand!). Pick-up will occur at our new snazzy downtown McMinnville storefront. We have been busy prepping this space to host our members, slowly transforming it into a little funky farmstand.

The kids have been "helping" us transform our storefront into an awesome CSA pick-up / farmstand space.

We’ve been transforming our new storefront into an awesome CSA pick-up / farmstand space.

At pick-up, members will have the opportunity to purchase other items as well — farm meats, eggs, flours, fermented vegetables, extra fruit, and nuts (all grown/produced by us here on our farm!). Initially when we were planning for 2015, we were thinking we would just sell our meat animals as halves and wholes, but we heard from a lot of folks that they don’t have freezer space to store meat like that, so we’ve found some really awesome USDA-inspected processors to work with (allowing us to sell meat retail by the cut) and will have both options available this year — meat at pick-up and whole and half animals.

At this week’s first pick-up, we will have:

  • Seasonal vegetables of course! A wide range of good stuff here!
  • Apples
  • Ground beef in 1 lb packages
  • Lamb roasts
  • Corn flour
  • Oat flour
  • Walnuts
  • Kohlrabi and carrot “kimchi”

For items like flour and kimchi, we encourage members to bring their own containers for purchasing those items and bringing them home. We will also have glass mason jars available for purchase on site.

We are so excited to have once again one CSA to put all of our farm’s energy into. The last few years have been such a big transition for our farm as we expanded our acreage and offerings. Now that we’re several years into balancing vegetables with animal production on 100 acres, we feel a great renewed interest and energy for the joy of vegetable growing (which is of course where we began!). Casey and I have been doing “crop planning” the last few days — choosing our seeds and making our long order list for the season. Even though much is familiar in the process (we have many favorite tried and true varieties we grow), each year brings new adventures as seed companies offer new things for us to try out. This year we are aiming to buy only organically produced seeds (so far so good on our list) as part of our goal to get certified organic again this year (after taking a few years off from the process). It’s not absolutely necessary to only grow organic seeds for that process (a farm just has to demonstrate that they have tried to buy as much organic seed as possible for their specific purposes). But we appreciate that organic seed producers are striving to meet the needs of commercial market growers, and we’d like to support them as much as possible. That commitment will have us trying some new varieties this year, as many of our standards have yet to become available as organically grown. A new adventure!

We’re also excited to start 2015 with a third high tunnel greenhouse on the farm (see photo above!). We’ve had two around for many years and have so appreciated their amazing productivity — especially in that challenging period when spring-planted crops are not yet ready to pick but over-wintered crops are done. As a year-round CSA, having more greenhouse space will help us get through those early months with plenty of high quality, abundant vegetables! Casey has already worked up all three greenhouses and transplanted lots of sweet onions and cooking greens into two of them. We plan to sow salad makings in the third greenhouse as soon as we get our seed orders completed! Who loves salads? Oh, we do! Salad greens are an area we’d like to pay more attention to again in 2015. Because, really, salads. are. awesome.

IMG_0622

Rusty carefully copies variety names from a catalog onto his own crop planning list.

As we start our tenth season (oh my!), we’re learning ever new lessons about what it means to live here, farm this land, and operate a small business. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the early years of this farm and on how different they were then than now. Most of our challenges were related to infrastructure development and getting established. Casey and I were able to throw ourselves into every day with all of our energy and work as many hours as we wanted. The strengths and the challenges of our farm have evolved, of course. Now we have two amazing, wonderful kids in tow for everything we do. I have chosen to mostly be a stay-at-home mom with them, so I am not trying to pull them around in the field for daily farm work. But they are present for much of the business work — the brainstorming conversations that happen over breakfast and the preparing of the storefront in town. I can tell you what — things don’t happen quite as quickly as they once did! But, we make progress nonetheless, and I cherish the thought that our kids get to be so intimately involved with the source of our family’s livelihood. I am sure that at the ages of 2 and 5, these lessons are absorbed on an unconscious level, but it won’t be long before Rusty can contribute to many parts of the farm in a significant way. As Casey and I have been making our seed lists for the farm, Rusty has pored over the catalogs as well and has been making his own list for his garden this year. These kids amaze us.

And, winter is just as much of a time for play on the farm as summer. We had a minor high water event here around Christmas — nothing terribly dramatic in the end, although the initial forecasts were for big water and had us scrambling to get everything prepared. But then the predictions toned down, and we just saw our “normal” high water that comes every winter to fill the lowest ground. We know how to prepare for this water and expect it year. And, now with kids so very wonderfully living here on the farm too, high water events take on a whole new meaning. The children have inspired us to play with the river when it visits us, bringing unexpected joys into our winter farm days. On that note, I will close with some photos from that recent fun:

When the river came up and the sun came out, the kids played along (and in) the edge of the waters.

When the river came up and the sun came out, the kids played along (and in) the edge of the waters.

At the crest of the high water, we were cut off from our cooking green plantings by water. Solution? Borrow a canoe and take a wetter route than normal to go pick some collards!

At the crest of the high water, we were cut off from our cooking green plantings by water. Solution? Borrow a canoe and take a wetter route than normal to go pick some collards! Canoeing down the middle of our fields provided the ultimate in new perspective. Also: SO FUN.

A cold spell froze the flood waters several inches thick and then the water receded before a thaw arrived, leaving sheets of ice all over our fields. The children were mesmerized by the sensory experience of walking and crunching on ice.

A cold spell froze the flood waters several inches thick and then the water receded before a thaw arrived, leaving sheets of ice all over our fields. The children were mesmerized by the sensory experience of walking and crunching on ice.

We look forward to seeing many of you this Thursday! I will write a newsletter this Wednesday with more logistical reminders for the first time in the new space and routine!

In the meantime, may you be finding joy too in this gray days! Think of delicious vibrant vegetables headed your ways soon!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Posted in News & Updates, Photos | 1 Comment

Winter update + Holiday Harvest!

Greenhouse building time!

Greenhouse building time!

Hello friends! We are writing to you from the midst of the darkest days here on the farm. Although I must admit, the recent days on the farm have been lovely for mid-December — mild weather and a bit of sun. We still look forward to the Winter Solstice, however. The slow return of the light brings the end of our winter rest and the energy we need to get the next season going (we’ll start sowing seeds in January!).

In the meantime, we’re keeping plenty busy on these short days. In addition to our continued harvests for restaurants and the Full Diet CSA, Casey has been working on a new high tunnel greenhouse for growing crops in the field in these colder seasons (such as this one). In our many years of winter harvest, we’ve learned that winter is defined by its variability. One year may be mild, leaving all our greens alive in the fields; the next might be frigid and cold. It happens! So, adding another high tunnel to our set of winter growing tools seems like a wise investment of our time and money so that we can be more sure of good tasty eating (especially those beloved greens like kale!).

I have been busy preparing all the behind the scenes stuff for 2015 — processing CSA sign ups (have you signed up yet? You can do it RIGHT NOW here on our website!), making budgets, etc etc etc. October through February are my fullest months of paperwork, which works out perfectly with the rest of the farm work load!

We are also of course fully in the midst of birthday and Christmas celebrations for our family (Rusty turned five last week!). The days are chock full of wonderful things like bowling, choir concerts, parties with extended family, tree decorating, and lots of delicious holiday foods.

And, to help you eat exceedingly well this holiday season, it’s time for our second Holiday Harvest for this winter! The harvest day will be this Friday, December 19. The list of available items is below. All are welcome to place an order. Here’s how it will work: You make a list of what you what and send it to us by Thursday evening (for your convenience, you can use the form at the bottom of this post, but you can also email it). Then on Friday, we’ll gather all your items and bring them to our new storefront in downtown Mac — the backside of Yamhill Valley Dry Goods (416 NE 3rd St — but we are accessible from the parking lot on 2nd St). Come by between 2 and 4 pm to pick up your veggies!!! Here is the list:

  • Seasonal salad mix — A mix of hardy salad greens with a beautiful range of colors and textures. Order by the lb. ~ $7/lb
  • Brussels sprouts — Order by the lb. ~ $3.50/lb
  • Kohlrabi — These are large! Order by the each. ~ $1/lb
  • Collard greens — Order by the bunch ~ $3/bunch
  • Carrots — Order by the lb. ~ $2.50/lb
  • Beets — Order by the lb. ~ $1.50/lb
  • Parsnips — Order by the lb. ~ $2/lb
  • Yukon Gold potatoes — Order by the lb. ~ $2.25/lb
  • Leeks — Order by the lb. ~ $4/lb
  • Garlic — Order by the head ~ $6/lb
  • Apples — Order by the each. Please choose Honeycrisp (great for fresh eating) or Newton Pippin (great for cooking. ~ $3/lb
  • Corn flour ~ $5/lb
  • Oat flour ~ $5/lb
  • Walnuts — In the shell ~ $5/lb

Here is the form for sending us your list! Please get it to us by Thursday evening. Let us know if you have any other questions. Thank you!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your phone number (required)

Your Holiday Harvest order

Questions or other comments?

Your farmers, Casey & Katie Kulla

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment

Sign up for 2015! + Holiday Harvest order reminder

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday morning farm news for all you fine folks:

Have you signed up for our 2015 CSA yet? I’ve got a fun new development in this area: You can now sign up on our website! Pop over to this form and take three minutes to fill it out. Boom, you’re done! I’ll get you in the system and send you the usual confirmation packet at the New Year! So easy! You can also order meat online using this new form. (And, while you’re on our website, take some time to read all the new content and look at all the pretty photos I’ve added recently!)

And, our Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest is coming up this Wednesday! Pick-up will be 2-4 pm at our NEW downtown Mac storefront home: the backside of Yamhill Valley Dry Goods (the address is 416 NE 3rd St, but we are accessible from the 2nd St parking lot). This is a great opportunity to come and check it out! Also, this opportunity is open to non-members too! Try out our veggies for yourself!

Place your orders by Tuesday evening (preferably via email). Here is the availability list again:

  • Salad mix — A mix of the hardy salad greens in our field. $7/lb
  • Brussels sprouts — Order by the lb. $3.50/lb
  • Cabbage — Order by the each. We will weigh for price. $2/lb
  • Kale — Order by the bunch. $3/bunch
  • Collards — Order by the bunch. $3/bunch
  • Chard — Order by the bunch. $3/bunch
  • Parsley — Order by the bunch. $2/bunch
  • Leaf celery — Order by the bunch. $2/bunch
  • Kohlrabi — Order by the each. They are large! $1/lb
  • Carrots — Order by the lb. $2/lb
  • Beets — Order by the lb. $1.50/lb
  • Sunchokes — Order by the lb. $2.50/lb
  • Celery root — Order by the lb. $2.50/lb
  • Potatoes (Yukon Golds) — Order by the lb. $2.50/lb
  • Parsnips — Order by the lb. $2/lb
  • Apples — Order by the each. We will weigh for price $3/lb
  • Walnuts — In shell. $5/lb
  • Oat flour — Order by the lb. $5/lb
  • Corn flour — Order by the lb. $5/lb

Our December Holiday Harvest will be on Dec 19 — I will post that list as we get closer to the date.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! You are all on our thanks list this year. May you enjoy your friends and family (and lots of good nourishing food!).

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment

Thanks for a fabulous 2014!

Meet us at our downtown Mac storefront for delicious eating in 2015!

It’s here!!!!! This is the final week of our 2014 Vegetable CSA season. We still have two more opportunities for you to stock up on delicious seasonal veggies for your holiday events and winter eating (see “Holiday Harvest” info below), but there will be no more CSA pick-ups again until 2015.

Everyone here on the farm is very excited about our 2015 plans. It feels good to be mixing things up, improving how we distribute our yummy foods, and adding a new enterprise (the goat milk dairy dream is universally popular around these parts). But, it also feels good to be closing up shop from this season. We opened 2014 with the farm theme of “maintenance” — our primary goal was to catch up with ourselves, tie up loose ends, take care of everything and everyone in the best possible ways (including ourselves). Every season has its vagaries and surprises, but looking back, it’s clear that we met that goal. Smiles abounded most of the season, which is always the best sign of our farm’s success. We grew a lot of amazing food. We continued growing into our role as stewards of 100+ acres of beautiful Grand Island farmland. Truly a satisfying year.

And, now, we will take our pause. Advent is right around the corner, and even as we look toward 2015, we still know we need this moment of rest in the annual rhythm of our life. The darkness and the cold naturally bring introspection into our lives. You’d hardly know in popular culture, but in the liturgical calendar Advent is a penitential season (the counterpart to Lent in the calendar) — a season of waiting and preparing ourselves for what is to come. A time to take stock of who we are, where we are, where we are headed. It’s not always a comfortable time of year, in terms of the hardships outside our door or the inner work that needs to be done. Already, I have found myself chafing against the forced rest of the season. After a long beautiful glorious warm season, spent running around outside with the kids, I have found myself annoyed with fall’s weather and our household’s rounds of colds. Nonetheless, I can also feel myself slowly building up reserves again, feeling those places that were stretched thin by the activity of summer starting to renew themselves amidst those hours spent reading on the couch with sick kids. Truly every season brings something necessary to our lives!

In that spirit, I want to share with you one of my favorite poems as we walk into even darker days. The tone of this is in the spirit of these short days, when we may feel a bit sadder or lonesome than in the brilliance of summer. Plus, the geese are back, filling the air with their calls. Here you go:

Wild Geese ~ Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Peace to you all as take your own breaks this coming winter. May the lights of friendship and family fill your hearts as we wait for the sun to return. We wish you a very merry holiday season, followed by a happy new year! And, then we are excited to welcome you to our new space as we all begin 2015 together! I can promise you that there will be many delicious vegetables (and more!) awaiting you!

(And, I should add here that although the next month and a half will feel restful, we also have a lot of fun projects on our “to do” lists: greenhouse construction, storefront build-out, dairy start-up! Oh my! But there will be plenty of sitting by the fire in the dark too, because this season is full of such things.)

As always, thank you for being a part of our farm. Feeding your family is an honor. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Sign-up now for 2015! Our first CSA pick-up of 2015 will be on January 15!!!! (Yes, we are changing to THURSDAY pick-up.) If you haven’t filled out your paperwork for 2015 yet, we invite you to do so soon! You can bring your form to our final pick-up this week, or you can mail it to us at our P.O. Box.

Not in our CSA yet? You are welcome to sign-up now too! We would be happy to have you!

Need more time to consider your options? That’s fine! There is plenty of room, but we hope to hear from you within the coming weeks so that we can best plan for 2015.

Need the info and form again? I included a lot of info in last week’s newsletter. Or you can download the info and form here: 2015OakhillCSACommitment (click to download the file). We will also have hard copies at pick-up again this week.

Want more info about our farm and the new offerings? Take some time with the info on our website. I’ve spent many hours this last week updating it and adding content, so you’re likely to learn something new! (More updating to come too, so keep checking back.)

Have specific questions? Email us: farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com. If you prefer to talk to a person, you can call me at 503-474-7661, but I warn you that you may hear screaming children in the background! Ha!

Want some veggies to get you through the break period? Order veggies from our Holiday Harvest! See below!

~ ~ ~

Thanksgiving Holiday Harvest info! This is a long-standing tradition of our farm, to offer the opportunity for members to order extra food, which we will carefully custom harvest and bring into town for you to pick-up. You can order food for your holiday meal or just to store for eating during our CSA break time! Our first Holiday Harvest will be next Wednesday, November 26 (the day before Thanksgiving). The actual pick-up location is to-be-determined — somewhere in downtown Mac. I will email you the details after you place your order. Here’s how it will work:

You look over our availability list below and make a list of the items and quantities you’d like to order. Email us your order by 7 pm on Tuesday, November 25. (Email is farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com) Wednesday morning, we will carefully harvest and gather your order and bring it into town 2-4 pm for you to pick up (again, exact location is TBD). You can pay for your veggies with cash or check.

This is also a great opportunity to give some of our grains and nuts a try! Find out more info and see recipe ideas for flour here. Find out more about our walnuts here.

Items available for order (this is the Holiday Harvest list — scroll down for the usual list of CSA veggies):

  • Salad mix — A mix of the hardy salad greens in our field. $7/lb
  • Brussels sprouts — Order by the lb. $3.50/lb
  • Cabbage — Order by the each. We will weigh for price. $2/lb
  • Kale — Order by the bunch. $3/bunch
  • Collards — Order by the bunch. $3/bunch
  • Chard — Order by the bunch. $3/bunch
  • Parsley — Order by the bunch. $2/bunch
  • Leaf celery — Order by the bunch. $2/bunch
  • Kohlrabi — Order by the each. They are large! $1/lb
  • Carrots — Order by the lb. $2/lb
  • Beets — Order by the lb. $1.50/lb
  • Sunchokes — Order by the lb. $2.50/lb
  • Celery root — Order by the lb. $2.50/lb
  • Potatoes (Yukon Golds) — Order by the lb. $2.50/lb
  • Parsnips — Order by the lb. $2/lb
  • Apples — Order by the each. We will weigh for price $3/lb
  • Walnuts — In shell. $5/lb
  • Oat flour — Order by the lb. $5/lb
  • Corn flour — Order by the lb. $5/lb

We’ll have a second Holiday Harvest opportunity on December 19. A few days prior, I will send out an email and post a list on our blog (and do a little Facebook posting too). It will be a fun moment to touch base amidst all of our busy holiday celebrations! Plus, you can stock up on good food again!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peppers — These are for sure the last of the season. When the very cold weather showed up on the forecast, Casey and Jasper went out and harvested the last of the peppers, knowing that the plants would be done. And, they are! (It is November after all!)
  • Pie pumpkin or Delicata squash — Your choice between these two items, either of which makes for delicious seasonal eating! Winter squash has been a staple of our diet lately, making an appearance at least once/day in some form (pumpkin muffins, pureed squash, Delicata rings …). To me, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as squash on these very cold days.
  • Rainbow chard
  • Parsley
  • Kohlrabi — Be prepared; these kohlrabi are large. We grow this variety for winter storage, and surprisingly it is also the most delicious kohlrabi we’ve ever tasted. The hardest part of eating these giants is the peeling and slicing. A large chef knife is useful. I usually hack off a chunk and then peel it with a paring knife. Our favorite ways to eat kohlrabi? Sliced and peeled as a snack (great for dipping in your parsley pesto!). Sauteed in liberal amounts of butter until soft and then pureed (so good!). Chopped and added to brothy soups (we made a turkey soup this weekend that featured kohlrabi, carrots, onions, and chard — so satisfying!). Chopped fine and tossed with a creamy dressing to make a unique winter slaw (this is probably our all time favorite way to eat kohlrabi; add chopped chicken or canned tuna to make it a meal!).
  • Parsnips
  • Garlic
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

2015 season details!

We enjoyed a lovely weekend here on the farm! Dottie checked on the chickens.

Phew! What a weekend! I spent a lot of time on the computer, organizing and working through details for our 2015 season. Casey and I spent many hours in [often interrupted] conversation last week hammering out how exactly we’re going to do things. Because, as I said last week, change is in the air.

After we figured it out, I took the time this weekend to write you all a letter explaining the changes and organizing it all into a sign-up form! I also began the process of updating the other information on our website to help folks learn more about all these other enterprises on our farm that will now be available to everyone (I have the animal information updated and will work on the crops information this week. I also wrote a new page sharing our story with folks who might not know all of it!) You can download our 2015 season letter and form in a Word document here (click link to download):

2015OakhillCSACommitment

Casey will also have printed versions of the letter and sign-up form for folks at pick-up. We are so excited to share all of our news with everyone and hope you will take time to read it. We welcome 2015 CSA Commitment Forms as soon as this week (if you’re ready, go for it!).

In the meantime, here is the same text from the letter for you to read through easily on our website now if you prefer (I think this counts as my newsletter for this week!):

Dear friends,

Prepare yourself: 2015 (our tenth season!) is going to be an awesome year for our farm. We are unveiling a new improved CSA program that will bring together all the best components of everything we’ve done so far! Much of this experience will be familiar to everyone, with a few tweaks that we believe will put smiles on everyone’s faces and put new delicious farm foods on many tables.

One awesome CSA program ~ Back to multiple share sizes & flexibility

First, of all, we will once again have one CSA program, with one pick-up per week. Everyone involved will have access to our full range of food products. Here’s how it will work:

The base of our program will be our successful and popular 45-week long vegetable CSA. In 2015, we’re going back to offering share sizes and flexibility. When you sign up, you choose your share size based on the number of “items” you want to select each week from our harvest offerings. An “item” would be a standard and useful unit for that veggie: for example, a plentiful bunch of kale, 1.5 lbs carrots, a cabbage, 1.5 lbs tomatoes, 2-3 apples, etc. When you come to pick-up each week, you will assemble your own share based on what we have available and the number of items you have purchased. We plan to bring enough variety each week that folks can find what they are looking for.

Improved pick-up location in downtown Mac!

Our pick-up will be at a new improved location — this is still in the works, but it is most likely going to be a storefront space in downtown McMinnville. We will provide exact details in your confirmation materials. This will be spot that we will be able to tailor for our use and make extra comfy and inviting for you, our members. Pick-up will be Thursday afternoons, from 2 – 7 pm (a longer window to accommodate more people coming through and folks with varying schedules).

Access to other farm products too! Eggs, grains, nuts & extra fruit!

In addition to finding your vegetables, each week at pick-up we will also have other foods available for purchase: eggs, oat and corn flours, walnuts, and extra fruit (for folks who like to buy this in bulk quantities). On your sign-up form, we’ve asked you to estimate your interest in these extra items so that we can plan how much to produce and bring each week.

Opportunity to order bulk veggies and fruit too (or do u-pick)!

You will also have the opportunity to order ahead of time larger quantities of vegetables for putting up or storage — we will include an availability list with our weekly newsletter email each week; place an order and we’ll bring it to pick-up! Or, if you prefer, during the summer we’ll offer some u-pick opportunities on the farm itself (at a reduced price per lb) — a unique opportunity to pick your canning foods in an organic environment.

Meat available for purchase in 2015

We will also have pork, lamb and beef available for you to purchase for your freezer. We will sell the pork and lamb in halves and whole portions, and the beef in quarters, halves, and wholes. We will also have batches of roasting chickens available throughout the season and turkeys for Thanksgiving. All of these animals will require advance notice with a deposit — priority for purchase will be given to CSA members. See the sign-up form for more details and our website for more information about our livestock operation and the meat.

Goat milk possibly too!

Finally, we are still working through the details on this one, but aim to have goat milk available for purchase at pick-up starting in late spring. More information will come as this enterprise develops.

A Full Diet experience for all!

So, in 2015, you will have the unique opportunity to buy the bulk of your food from one Yamhill County farm, selecting the items and quantities that work best for your household and its particular appetites and preferences!

More on-farm opportunities

But there are other fun things in the works for 2015: For the first time ever, we’re planning to organize several work parties here on the farm so that you can come out and more fully connect to the place that feeds you. We’ll follow each work party with a potluck, so we can enjoy each other’s company while savoring the delights of the season. We’ll also host our two annual CSA open houses, including another awesome outdoor concert at our pumpkin patch event in October.

Organic certification again in 2015

Also, 2015 is the year our farm is going to pick back up our organic certification. After taking three years off, we are excited to put our ducks in order and give our healthy growing methods the official “organic” label once again (since that is how he we have always farmed!). The crops will be certified in 2015, and we will consider the process of certifying our livestock in 2016.

And a new cookbook!

And, I’m still working on a farm cookbook to share with you in 2015 (I am still taking submissions, by the way!). This will be a gift to all 2015 members, available probably in the spring.

This food is amazing

Those are the basic details, but before signing off on all this 2015 info, I also wanted to say a word about all these other farm products (eggs, meat, grains, etc.) and where they come from. We grow all of them here on our farm on Grand Island. More details about each food item can be found on our website (I didn’t want to overwhelm this season summary), but suffice to say that every single item has been very carefully selected and grown for absolute peak health for everyone — health for the land, the plants, the animals, the human eaters. Additionally, they are all exceptionally tasty foods, the likes of which simply cannot be purchased elsewhere. The longer our own family consumes these farm fresh seasonal foods as the base of our diet, the more we love them and find them to be an integral part of our household’s daily joys. I cannot emphasize enough: these are fundamentally different foods. They are vibrant with health and flavor and consuming them will change your life. Really. We are excited to share them with our entire CSA community beginning in 2015.

Commit now; pay in 2015

Phew! That’s quite a lot of news regarding next season! Please see the sign-up form for more details re: pricing and season calendar, etc. Take some time to consider what you’d like to purchase in 2015 — some of the items are a commitment, and in other cases we are just asking for your best estimate.

To sign-up, please fill out the form and return it to us this year. You can bring it to pick-up or mail it to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128.

No money is necessary now! We will contact you just after the New Year with an official invoice and more details regarding the season (including exact location for pick-up).

Please let us know if you have any questions! We are so excited about this upcoming season. We hope you are too!

That’s the news! Read it over. And, enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

End of season news! The final CSA pick-up of 2014 is next week (Nov 18 in Mac and Nov 19 in Newberg). The following week, we will offer our annual Thanksgiving “Holiday Harvest,” which is when we take orders for vegetables from you to help you fill your tables with good food for the holiday. Or, you can just use the opportunity to fill your pantry with good local foods! I will include the list of items and prices in next week’s newsletter so that you can place orders for pick-up on Wed, Nov 26 (in the afternoon). More details to come next week! (We will also have a Christmas “Holiday Harvest” in December — we will email you with details and a list as we get closer to that date!)

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Brussels sprouts — This will be the last of our “mixed” fall shares, featuring both the hardy and the tender crops of the season. Cold weather is coming. These beautiful Brussels sprouts will survive, but the peppers and summer squash won’t. Hopefully you enjoy savoring the last of these summer crops as you stay warm amidst the freezing rain and whatever else comes our way this week!
  • Apples
  • Peppers — Green and sweet
  • Butternut winter squash — I’m sure that I think every kind of winter squash is my “favorite” — or, more accurately, I probably think whichever one I’m preparing and eating is my favorite, because they are all so good. But today, butternut is my favorite. When cooking butternut, I start by peeling. I use a paring knife to do this, since the skin is rather thick. I usually cut off the long part and use that for one meal and save the round part for another. Cutting them apart also gives me a nice flat surface for peeling the squash. I put the cut edge securely on my cutting board and use my knife to peel long strips down. Then I chop it, at which point it could be added to broth to make soup (so simple and satisfying — cook until soft and then puree!), but I almost always roast it. The key to crispy roasted butternut is even sized pieces, not too much fat on the pan (some, but not too much), high heat (425°), and not too many pieces on the pan. A seasoned pan helps too. I check them through cooking and sometimes shake the pan or stir them. These are like candy.
  • Collards — Collards can be prepared in all the ways you would cook kale, but they generally require slightly longer cooking time and/or more liquid/fat.
  • Parsley — This weekend Casey made a delicious parsley “pesto” that we ate with some delicious wild caught salmon a friend gave us. Casey pureed the pesto in our food processor (stems included! so sweet and tender!) and added salt, garlic, a bit of olive oil and vinegar, and tahini (which added a nice richness to the resulting sauce). You could tinker with this idea, using different ratios or slightly different ingredients (pine nuts, anyone?), but do try it! It’s such a wonderful way to eat loads of parsley (which, by the way, is an herb that winters well here in Oregon and just gets sweeter and sweeter!).
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Summer squash & zucchini
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 6 Comments

Change in the air

Walnut tree leaves changing and falling in the wind ...

Saturday morning, we flipped to the next month on our calendar and then turned to build the season’s first fire (the latest we can remember!). Without a doubt, November puts us in the second half of fall and at the beginning of the darkest, dreariest third of the year (November – February). Change is all about us, being blown in on these cold, wet winds, tearing yellow leaves from trees and littering the ground.

Amidst all this seasonal shifting, other shifts are happening at the edges of our life as well. Perhaps we are just paying better attention than at other times, but it feels like this fall has brought with it quite the wave of endings. So many people we care about are closing significant chapters of their lives. My father has retired, after decades years of practice as an anesthesiologist. While this represents a loss to the community as a whole (he is such a skilled doctor), we are overjoyed to have him here on the farm full-time now.

Yet, as joyful as such big transitions can be (because they almost always point to new adventures and opportunities), they can still be disorienting too. The earth shifts a bit, and we all have to learn new ways of being and understanding changed relationships and lives. Much more disorienting to Casey and me this fall has been the news that many farming friends are calling it quits — either totally or in some significant fashion. Some of these farmers started their enterprises a year or two before or after — they are people who feel like we’ve shared our farming journey with and we are so sad to lose that special form of companionship (although we know the friendship will transcend their first link).

Quite frankly, it’s also eye-opening and sobering to realize that we’ve been farming long enough now that it could be its own good-sized chapter of our lives already. But, while we celebrate our farming friends’ choices to seek new adventures, Casey and I are going to keep on with this one. Farming continues to feel like The Work of Our Lifetime (not to mention that this farm represents both our livelihood and our home!). So, while we bid so many farmers blessings in their next steps, we stay put, feeling our way through this dark season and savoring a bit of the nostalgia it brings to our days. We can, for the moment, peacefully reflect on so much, while we sink into these restful months and find next year’s momentum hidden like a seed under the darkness of winter’s soil.

And momentum we shall have. Because with all this change in the air, we are reminded that even a continued adventure such as our farm must offer growth and change in order to be sustained.

After this week, we only have two more weeks left in our 2014 Vegetable CSA (the last pick-ups are Nov 18/19). So, amidst all these feelings of change and shifts and nostalgia and seeking of deep rest, we are also pondering our own growth pattern in terms of 2015. Our goal is to publish our 2015 CSA materials and sign-ups by next week, giving you time to ask us questions in person before we take our winter break. We also hope that a large number of you will be ready to commit for 2015 by the end of this season.

In order to get those materials to you soon, we’ll be spending many of our early morning dark hours reflecting on the changes that make sense for our farm. Like I said, we feel change in the air. Change that can bring the best components of our farm together into something slightly new, slightly old, and totally awesome. Lots to work out on the front this week. Thank goodness for November’s cozy fires, warm tea, and pumpkin soup. The season has set the mood for us to reflect and dream — something about all this dark and decay makes it easier to let go, to change, to shift. The world is actively letting go of this year in preparation for next year, and it is time for us to do the same. You’ll hear more from us next week!

In the meantime, enjoy the growing dark and all the gifts it does bring to our homes and families — that forced rest that can feel unwelcome but is a necessary complement to summer’s wakefulness. Savor it and dig in deep while holding onto that promise of light. Before too long, we’ll turn again, but for now hold onto your lanterns, and enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

“Paleo Spaghetti” — This week you have in your share the ingredients to make one of our family’s all-time favorite meals. We call it “Paleo” spaghetti. This is a reference to our family’s primary “diet” choice, which might be called “Paleo” by some (i.e. we don’t eat grains or beans or much sugar, blah blah blah …). Anyhow, it’s really just an amazing dish on its own, but the flavors and textures (and satisfaction level) reminded us once-upon-a-time of spaghetti and the name stuck. This dish is best when it has had plenty of time to cook, so allow 1-2 hours (this is low maintenance time, for the most part).

In a deep, wide saute pan, saute an onion in butter. Prepare to use lots of butter if you want your dish to be awesome, ok? Next add chopped garlic and tomatoes. Use plenty of both. When I am cooking with fresh tomatoes, personally I don’t bother to peel them. I find that the peels from chopped tomatoes just curl up and mostly disappear, and I’d rather just cook lots of food and eat it than stand around peeling tomatoes all day. You may prefer to blanch, shock and peel yours. I’m sure that would be delicious too! Anyhow, let your tomatoes, onions, and garlic simmer together in butter over medium heat for a bit. Once it’s starting to smell yummy, start adding finely chopped cabbage. If you let this cook long enough to be amazing, your cabbage will cook down a lot, so I recommend using a whole cabbage (also this dish makes great leftovers). After adding the cabbage, I often put the lid on my pan to help aid the cooking down process. Ultimately, you’re going to want to simmer off most of the liquid from the tomatoes and cabbage so that you eventually the cooked cabbage is frying in butter (again, lots of butter helps this whole dish). Depending on my patience level, I may turn the heat up to high and stand at the stove stirring more carefully, or I may lower the heat so I can just come and stir every few minutes without worrying about burning. A thick bottomed pan helps with this too.

We usually add pre-cooked meat to this dish as the cabbage is cooking down. Any kind is awesome. I like to cook a lot of roasts dry in the slow cooker and then keep the cooked meat in the fridge for use later. Our favorite meat for Paleo Spaghetti is chopped pork shoulder roast (so good!). I have to be careful to not add too much meat at this stage, because the cabbage will keep cooking down and we like there to be substantially more cabbage than meat in the final product. You could probably add other vegetables too, but we like it plain for the ultimate comfort food quality.

As the cabbage cooks down and the moisture simmers off, lower the heat to low or medium-low and keep cooking until it’s sweet perfection (or until it’s dinner time). The cabbage will begin to caramelize eventually. That’s how we like it. Salt to taste (we like lots — remember, this is comfort food!). For a truly divine experience, top your “spaghetti” dish with dabs of good quality chevre (soft white goat cheese, such as made locally by Briar Rose Creamery — that’s our favorite). Enjoy!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Salad mix
  • Cabbage
  • Chard
  • Delicata winter squash
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
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