Events

While in a farmer’s eyes sometimes it doesn’t feel like the height of summer until we are all eating so many tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers we can’t stare another ratatouille in the face – and we aren’t there yet – it’s still feeling pretty darn summery over here.  The tomato plants are now nearly as tall as I am.  The crew did a semi-annual 4th of July toast, each eating our first cherry tomato of the year.  Soon your turn will come, too.

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Harvests have been large, restaurants are reporting record numbers of dinners, and the farmers’ markets feel like they are really kicking into gear.  It is always a pleasure to see the return of our seasonal community members complete with stories of their own long winter, and continual amazement of the beauty here.  We agree.  The families we see every week, all year long, are the foundation to what can sometimes feel like summer mayhem.

kidsscallions

And then we happily add events!  We love sharing what we do with you, and what’s nicer than a simple invitation to sit down, be it on the grass or a formal dining table, and share a meal?

This Wednesday, July 9th : Picnic time!  4pm-7:00pm’ish.  Uproot Pie Co. will be cooking in the wood-fired oven.  The vegetable stand will be set-up.  Tall Trees Snack shop fills in the rest.  No charge. Relaxed.  Bring a blanket and neighbor.  It’s a simple, lovely, time.

On Saturday, July 12th : Salad Days at Watershed Center for the  Ceramic Arts.  This is our neighbor, with whom we are making a stronger connection with every day.  The intersection between art and agriculture is close to my heart (if not my finger tips).  Please join us for the wonderful event.  All of the details can be found HERE.

Sunday, October 12th : Our 3rd Annual on farm dinner with Fore St. restaurant.  This five course meal has become a highlight of our Fall.  Buy your tickets now:  TICKETS.   In past years we’ve donated the proceeds to Mainly Girls and MOFGA.  This year we are turning the tide a little bit.  Watershed Center of the Ceramic Arts and us share a road in desperate need of repair.  It’s not a fancy request, but the funds will go toward repairing this ground.  It is the literal earth that the milk truck drives over every other day to pick-up our portion of the load, harvest vehicles, market trucks, visiting arts, and good employees travel.

We hope to see you all soon.

-Beth and crew

 

 

We are farmers who continually like to learn and stretch what we are doing into new layers.  We also value community, conversation, and eating well.. all of the time.  Despite the early summer onslaught of field work, we’ve been making lots of time for workshops. 

Cheese making : last Sunday was our 2nd in the a series.  We have plans for a third that will focus on hard cheeses.  Date : TBD

Dye Workshop : Wednesdsay, June 18th, 5pm – We will use natural dyes to color wool yarn.  There will be a second workshop in early fall using blossoms from our summer plants.

Chickens : We sell our birds to you whole.  We have plans for a future summer workshop with Chef Frank from Three Lily Farm to learn how to break down a chicken and diversify our chicken cooking palate!

Picnics!  : relaxed events – The 2nd Wednesday of the month June, July, and August.  4pm until dark.  These are always a farm favorite.  Our June picnic was very busy with children running around and adults enjoying food, conversation, and the open farm fields.  Wood-fired pizza and the farm stand make sure no one goes hungry.

Market Night! : Every Wednesday we set up the farm stand and Tall Trees snack shop makes farm inspired treats to take home.  4pm-6pm. 

We hope to see you at an event soon!

 

 

 

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I think spring is the most beautiful time of year.  Hands down.  I do not get my camera.  I do, however, stop and try to soak it in.  And I did happen to use the phone camera to record this carrot, a gift of winter, that I found while hilling our early potatoes.  (It did not taste good).

What have we been doing?

  • watching BEES (!)  dance with the flowers and in and out of their hives
  • transplanting thousands of seedlings
  • noticing how amazing dandelions are once they go to seed — unbelievable tensile strength in those perfect seed head orbs!
  • direct seeding more plants, including a new batch of greens every 7-10 days
  • watching carefully the color, size, and growth of our transplants.  cold spring soil, which is quite wet in places, has challenged some of our seedlings
  • listening to the sound of wind in the trees (a sure sign of a change of seasons)
  • feeding our new piglets – this is the first batch we will officially be able to certify as organic
  • listening to the morning owl calls while we feed these new piglet friends
  • watering in the greenhouse… again, and again, and again
  • learning to tune out the white noise of the greenhouse fans and instead focus on all of the amazing plant potential those seedlings offer
  • finished building our new 30′ x 144′ greenhouse
  • planted that big new greenhouse baby to tomatoes
  • getting excited about not building greenhouses (two more to go this spring…. smaller, for speciality herbs and flowers).
  • loving watching the perennials we planted last year fill up the front herb garden, and introducing customers to less common herbs
  • harvesting big loads of greens.  especially appreciating the return of spinach to our regular summer line up (a few years ago I had relegated it to a winter only crop)
  • feeling uncertain how we will manage the big greens harvest, and roots, and squashes, and, and, and.. as the harvest list continues to grow.  And  also knowing that every year we manage to get the work done.

I’m sitting at the picnic table, strong lilac scent in the air, starlings making a racket over head, sun on my back.  I really do go through my days taking account of the incredible beauty that is around us.  Spring leaf colors and flowers, and plants during their biggest growth phase, are really the best.  My pocket notebook is also filled with to-do’s, as we are still early into settling into this new season.   The detail holding is incredible.  But so is this lifestyle.

 

 

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photo credit: courtney

We like what we do! (photo credit: courtney)

I’ve allotted myself just 20 minutes to sputter out these words.  I’ve put on my calendar that I’d like to share information on this virtual connection to the farm at least twice a month this season.  I plan, I budget my time, I run through my day thinking about what words I might say in advance of the actual project deadline.  This is a lot of what it is like to run a farm.  Planning, more planning, and some sort of actualizing that might imitate the plan… and you’re off to the next thing.

Last night I was at a beautiful little gathering of good women and a fine chef to discuss making a home apothecary.  I left the workshop with some new recipes, and also a reinforced idea that my lifestyle is a novelty that isn’t understood.  Because I put myself so fully into my work, it is not really ok with me to not be understood.  And I’m not very good at speaking up for myself in those type of situations.

There is a double edged sword to explaining the life of a farmer – I should leave it at explaining my own life.  I find incredible satisfaction and depth in the work I do.  My head and body are always busy, I get to work beside interesting and motivated people, and I’m seldom bored.  If I am, it’s my own fault because I’m not awake enough to reach deeper into where I’m at.  On the other hand, describing a farmers’ life can sound like a list of complaints.  This is not that.  Farming can be simple work, it can be tedious, it can emotionally and physically draining.  My work day starts at 5:30am and I often try to plug in an hour or two or more after the crew leaves my house at 7:45pm when we’re done dinner.  There are even longer days once farmers’ market season begins. I typically work about 100 hours a week May-October.  It’s only April and I haven’t picked up my pleasure book in two weeks.  This winter’s to-do list still has items from 2012 on it.  (On the other hand, I set my own schedule and traveled quite a bit last winter).

Someone asked “how I do it?” I think they meant “How do I actualize the lifestyle?” that I do.  I choose it.  I then sometimes feel like my own energy for this work is dismissed once it becomes apparent that I don’t have children.  Not having children doesn’t mean choosing and activating my lifestyle is a cake walk.  It means that I can prioritize differently.  This spring I got up in the middle of the night to feed bottle lambs. I may not have done that if I did have children of my own.  I also value eating dinner with our crew – another decision I may choose differently if I had a more traditional “family.”  Canning tomato sauce is important to me, so I pick a Sunday, or several late evenings, during the bitter end of tomato season and I do it.  Burning propane to heat the greenhouse during this cold winter didn’t feel good to me, and now my seedlings are feeling further behind the spring game than I’d like.  As a farmer my life is no different than any of yours. I choose and prioritize what feels good to me, and go for it.  I make compromises, cheer the successes, and try to shake off the failures.  I don’t think any of our lives are easy.  Some of us may put more sweat equity into our dreams.  All we can do is make decisions and go…

And I find a plan really helps.  The following is the rough outline that I and two crew mates made for the coming season.  We’ll be flexible, but it gives us something to go off of that helps to maintain our sense of balance and leaning into our ideals.

Sunday: The crew is off, except one fine woman who takes care of animal chores and milking.  Lee and I take care of house stuff, paperwork, grocery shop for everyone, and sometimes make it to the beach.

Monday: AM – Big group project; communication with wholesale accounts; PM – Group field walk / learning moment; small harvest; Beth and two 2nd year employees check in about independent projects; we seed micro greens, 1-2 people cultivate or prep planting beds; 3pm-5:30pm Beth does paperwork

Tuesday: AM- Harvest PM- 3-4 folks wash and pack, 4-5 folks transplant

Wednesday: AM – Finish Harvest PM – someone delivers goods to Portland,  direct seed in the field, finish transplant related tasks (covering, irrigation, etc.); On-Farm CSA pick-up and open community event “Farm Happy Hour” 4pm-6pm

Thursday: AM- Rockland farmers’ market; hand cultivating PM – greenhouse seeding, micro seeding, late afternoon harvest, post market clean-up and paperwork

Friday: AM – Harvest PM – wash and pack; prep beds for planting, cultivation, flaming, row cover; transplanting

Saturday: Portland farmers’ market; crew works on overflow projects until noon.

and then there are regular chores – making dinner, cleaning up after ourselves, record keeping, animal care, greenhouse care…   emails, moving irrigation pipe, fixing the broken part on the tractor, ordering more packing supplies, going to the bank, talking with the family who shows up in the middle of the field…

And now I’m fifteen minutes over my allotted time.  Next.  I move on happily.  And feeling enough completion to do so.

 

 

 

This time of year we are starting to eat a lot of spinach.  With the summer onslaught of greens not too far ahead of us, I appreciated this recipe in the recent M.O.F. and G. (March-May 2014) issue. (all text below is a reprint)

Recipe

Collards are rich in cancer-preventing compounds. Like Swiss chard, beet greens, rhubarb, spinach and sorrel, however, they also contain a small amount of oxalic acid, which may be problematic for those prone to kidney stones. Dairy products, as in the custard recipe below, bind with the oxalate so that the body does not absorbed it (http://www.uwhealth.org/files/uwhealth/docs/pdf/nutrition_kidney_stones.pdf).

Note: One pound of collard greens should produce 1-1/2 cups of chopped stems and 2 cups of chopped leaves.

Green Custard (6-8 servings)

In a medium-sized skillet, heat

1 Tbsp. sunflower seed oil or olive oil

Sauté in it until limp

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 heaping c. sliced mushrooms

Spread the mixture in a buttered 9- by 12-inch pan.

Rinse, pat dry and finely chop to measure

4 c. fresh collard leaves

(Save the stems for salad.)

In a large bowl, mix the chopped leaves with

1 c. small-curd cottage cheese or crumbled tofu

1 c. thick yogurt

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. powdered mustard

In a big bowl, beat until fluffy

6 eggs

1 tsp. sea salt

freshly ground black or white pepper

1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Combine the greens and egg mixtures. Spread over the onion/mushroom layer in the pan and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 325 F.

Sprinkle with

1-1/2 c. freshly grated Jack and/or cheddar cheese

Continue baking for a few minutes, until cheese is melted and custard is set in the center. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve with a salad and hot yeast rolls.

 

spinJan

To cut to the food delivery chase: visit our Facebook page for a link to our sign-up for custom order or pre-packed food available for delivery this week.  You can also email us to get on the general mailing list.  We are delivering to Rockland, Portland, and have an on-farm pick-up this week.

Last week a couple of dozen agrarian elders met at Big Sur in California to discuss the future of the organic community.  Each of those in attendance had 30-50 years of organic farming experience.  I read the names of those who attended carefully one by one, wanting to honor the integrity of these good people.  I was surprised myself by realizing that I knew of, or met, at least half of those who were at the meeting.  In thinking about that 30-50 years experience, I both humbled myself in my youth, and felt some strength to know how plugged in to this organic community I feel.

Just last night, Lee and I hosted a dinner party of farmers and farm advocates.  I found myself in the middle of our long table of eight, with my attention going back and forth between the conversations on either side of me.  While to my right was a discussion of health care, to my left was a conversation about a few specific conventional agricultural crop practices and the relationship between those decisions and that of organic growers.  The irony of the conversational overlap was not lost on me.

I’ve been farming full time since the summer of 1998, but only without work for other farmers in addition to my business since 2011.  This growing season will be the first time I’ve farmed on the same piece of soil for four years.  This morning I was feeling that significance, as I start to see myself build systems that until now I’ve only dreamed about, and as I think about that group of agrarian elders, and the depth that was at our dinner table.

This raising food is a continual evolution, as well as revolution.  As always, we look forward to sharing what we’ve got, and are happily engaged in the process of growing more.

 

- Beth

 

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