It’s been a fall of surprisingly beautiful and dramatic skies …
Hello, friends! Since we ended our CSA in October this year, it’s been awhile now since we’ve sent an update out into the world. It’s been a full fall. After the CSA ended, we spent most of our time making a final push on Casey’s campaign for Yamhill County Commissioner, culminating in news that I imagine most of our CSA members and regular readers probably already heard: he won! It was the most exciting outcome, and we were overjoyed to share that evening with a room full of friends and supporters and other people who were also awaiting election results that night. So many people had worked so hard toward this goal, many of whom had never been involved in local politics before, and we were perhaps above all else so grateful that their commitment was affirmed in this way. Not only does Casey now have a new role in local politics, but we think many other people do too, as we know they will continue to stay involved now that they know how much their work really and truly matters. What a huge achievement for our community!
Casey after hearing of his significant winning lead on election night!
Casey’s work began almost immediately, as his schedule began to quickly fill with meetings. But, since that BIG (!!!!) news in early November, our family has also been quietly regrouping and taking the time to reconnect with each other and then assess how this profound shift in Casey’s role will affect everything else we do. It’s been a time of a lot of ups and downs, to be honest. Much like with many positive passages in life (graduation, birth of new babies, marriage, etc.), there can be twinges of grief buried in the abundant joy. Because new things inevitably mean letting go of older things: older dynamics, familiar roles, former freedoms … Not everything goes away, but things inevitably shift, often in unexpected ways. We were now facing a load of such shifts, needing to make some big decisions about how we would intentionally shape the new reality to fit what we’ve loved best about the old one. Also, we were very tired after a full year and took lots of time to rest as well. And celebrate! This season of the year is so full of family get-togethers for us, and we were happy to give thanks with our families and also celebrate Rusty’s ninth birthday last week!
Nine years after his birth, this big kid is still changing the way we think about our farm spaces! Our strawberry greenhouse is now doubling as an archery range while it takes its winter rest!
After all this time spent pondering and talking and weighing our options, we are approaching 2019 with a clear vision of how we want our new life to look. We wanted to keep things as simple as possible going forward, with the emphasis falling on the things we love the most. Casey will move into his role as Commissioner officially on January 7, but what would we continue to prioritize as a couple, as a family, and for me as an individual? And, after our family, the farm and our CSA remains a deep source of joy for us. We have plans in place now for sustaining that core venture as we go forward, with me moving more into a leadership role. Now that the kids are older, this is possible, plus I’m planning to hire a few helpers as needed seasonally. I’m excited to once again have that extended community feel of having a small crew coming and going!
In terms of things that we’re letting go, Casey has decided to pause his law studies for now. Originally the idea was to study law in order to someday run for office, and then the eventual goal was met sooner than expected! We are also not going to renew our OLCC grower’s license in 2019, freeing us from another set of regulations and procedures to think about!
2019’s CSA details!
What will all this mean for you, our valued farm members? We will move into 2019 smoothly, with a strong sense of continuity for you: the “market-style” CSA system we’ve fine tuned over the years will remain the same, in the same convenient and welcoming storefront location. This year we’re going to be sharing the storefront with a local winery (who will be hosting wine tasting on the weekends), so the space will get some updating in its decor while the layout and functions remain the same.
We will begin our CSA on April 11 this year, later than has been typical, in order to provide plenty of time and space for the transition. However, we will once again run through mid-November (for a total of 33 weeks) and will be planting a winter garden with plans of returning to our long 40-week season in 2020. We love having an almost year-round CSA, and continuing that experience into the future is a high priority for us (and our future farm team!).
The only other change is that we’re offering a new CSA option with extra flexibility for folks who need that because of work travel schedules or other commitments. With our new “a la carte CSA” option, you can put credit onto your account that you will then deduct from on the weeks that you come to pick-up based on the number of items you take that week (items cost $3 each). Because we still want this option to function with a CSA level of commitment, we ask for a minimum of $300 for the season and any remaining credit disappears at the end of the season (but you can add more credit if you run out before the end of the season!). We still think buying a set number of items per week will be the most convenient option for most of our members, but we also know that the “a la carte” option will help keep some people connected to the farm even if their lives are feel less constant from week to week.
We’re also going to again become certified organic in 2019. Last year Stellar, our former certifying agency shut down mid-season leaving us with the hard decision about whether to drop our certification or start fresh with a new certifier — we chose to temporarily drop our certification so we could focus on the paperwork part of the farm in the winter. Now that we have time for such work, we will begin that process again in January, most likely working with the Oregon Department of Agriculture as our new certifying body.
Again, most of our CSA will feel very familiar going forward: pick-up will continue to be Thursday afternoons, 3:30-6:30, with Casey and me both present to answer your questions and socialize. We will host two on-farm events this year: a potato planting party and potluck in May and a pumpkin patch in October (this year with live music, an apple tasting, AND cider pressing!). Each week, you’ll receive a thoughtfully written farm newsletter with news from the farm and information about your seasonal offering of vegetables. You’ll get to enjoy a full range of seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables grown here on our farm, by us and crew. You can find out more nitty-gritty details about the 2019 CSA (prices, dates, and all that) and how to sign up here.
After all these years, I still marvel at the beauty of this model of growing and eating produce. It’s so simple and yet so effective at providing freshness and quality for the eaters and stability and enjoyment for the farmers. It’s the model that drew us to farming to begin with, and many years later we’re still hooked.
Mailing our winter cards to friends and family takes several evenings of quiet work!
We hope you are too! We are very excited to spend another year growing food for you! Many of our existing customers have already committed for 2019, and we are in the process of mailing out your 2019 invoices (with more CSA details) along with our annual family holiday card. If you receive a card without an invoice it means we probably still need to hear from you about your CSA participation in 2019! You can email us your desire to participate at farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com, and we’ll get you signed up. If you have any questions, you can email the same address or call me at 503-474-7661. We are taking new members as well, so spread the word!
Once we have our cards and invoices all sent out, we’ll be focusing exclusively on holiday gatherings for a couple of weeks. Christmas celebrations with multiple families, caroling with friends, an upcoming visit from distant friends … and then the New Year will bring with it many new adventures, fresh focus on the farm work, and a new role for Casey.
We feel humbled by the many experiences we have been gifted so far in life. We have had the great fortune to be able to pursue so many of our passions and to build wonderful relationships along the way. We wish you blessings on the next year of your own journey. May we all walk forward into the future with humble hearts, open to the unknown blessings ahead!
Enjoy your holidays, and Happy New Year!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
P.S. Our Winter Holiday Harvest is happening this week as well! Place orders by Monday evening! More info and list of available veggies here.