Good morning members,
This email is a little later than usual because this weekend Bailey, Cal and I were at the Oregon State University Small Farm Conference! It's an annual conference attended by over 700 small farmers and others in agriculture (seed producers, non-profits, market managers, aspiring farmers, food system educators, home gardeners, government agencies, etc.). The conference is a full day and there are three sessions each of which has numerous classes to choose from. I left the conference yesterday afternoon feeling inspired, which is a good thing during this time of year - February is a hard month for farmers! Not only do we have the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics but we also get to be surrounded by hundreds of folks who all care deeply about small-scale agriculture. One of the sessions that inspired me the most was about how several agriculture based non-profits are interacting with the Oregon legislature and what they are fighting for. It was just a reminder of how much our voice matters, to continue to engage in local politics, and how complex some issues are. I urge you, dear members, to look into and support organizations like Friends of Family Farmers, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Farmers Market Fund, and Oregon Organic Coalition. They are fighting for things like protecting our state's farmland from ever expanding urban growth boundaries, to increase access to fresh produce for those on SNAP, and stepping up regulations on conventional agriculture and confined animal feeding operations (CAFO's) which are huge polluters. I must say that I have been a bit detached lately from what is going on in our state in regards to agriculture but after this class, my passion for these sorts of topics has been reignited. True progress is systemic changes to our local government and these organizations are doing the real work.
This past Tuesday, which was incredibly Spring-like (I was down to a t-shirt), we were able to pull plastic onto one of our high tunnels. It was quite the feat with only three of us, but we got it done! The very next day, the winds picked up again while we were securing the plastic with what are called batten straps (they go over the plastic and are secured to either side of the tunnel). By Saturday morning, half of those batten straps were broken! The tunnel as of last night still has its plastic but gosh, it's a little nerve wracking! We increased the number of batten straps from 3 to 10, cut off wind at the doors and under the sides, and really thought we have learned several lessons from the past storm so we wouldn't lose plastic again. Fingers crossed that it makes it through this wind which starts to die down on Tuesday. Our hope is to plant some early spring greens into this tunnel so that we can return to the farmers market earlier than last year.
WHAT Will be in THIS WEEK'S CSA SHARE:
WHAT FARMER MARY WOULD DO WITH THIS CSA SHARE:
The frozen squash puree is the brainchild of Stephen. When we discovered all of our Winter squash frozen, he suggested cooking up a bunch, pureeing it, and throwing it in the freezer in an effort to preserve as much as we could. Well, the two of us scooped a lot of squash and ran our ovens for over 8hrs each in order to salvage what we could. I had some leftover squash puree after packing up enough for a CSA in which I made this incredible stew from Nigel Slaters cookbook "Tender" (you NEED this cookbook FYI). I didn't have lemongrass around so I used kaffir lime leaves instead and it turned out delicious. I subbed the puree for the whole pumpkin in the recipe, added a little chicken stock, and blended it before adding in the chickpeas for a soup that was a bit more creamy. The seasoning salt was made by Bailey and is a blend of herbs grown and dried on a farm with kosher salt. It's a simple trick to make roasted root vegetables taste amazing.
Wild Roots Farm
This sun and warmth after all that cold/wind/ice/snow has brought some wind into the sails of team Wild Roots. It's like you don't really realize just how much sun affects your spirits until it makes these fleeting appearances in the Winter. The sun hits your face and suddenly, things just feel lighter and hope returns. We have made full use of this lovely weather on the farm - cleaning up a bit after the storm, digging all the parsnips, and just organizing last season's messes. The storm made quite the mess and we ended up losing the plastic on our second high tunnel, which is really a huge bummer. It was full of greens and roots just on the verge of being ready for harvest. We are brainstorming a LOT about how to remedy this situation in the future because losing our plastic impacts not only our Winter crops planted inside them but also our ability to plant in the Spring. Plastic can only be pulled when temperatures are above 50 and there is no wind (which in the Winter is incredibly rare). How we lost the plastic exactly (ice, wind, some other failure, a combo) is a bit of a mystery but we think having a thicker plastic could help along with more straps that help to hold the plastic tight. Just another farming lesson that we plan on REALLY learning from this time - THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!