Welcome!

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The farm family in 2016

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 farm, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! We sell primarily through our unique 40-week long Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which offers customizable share sizes and contents. You can find out more information about what and how we grow by following the links above; or, scroll down to read our latest farm news on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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A big news week

Tidy furrows in the fields …

It was big week around these parts, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Casey got the first of the potatoes planted!

Oh, wait … that wasn’t what you were expecting me to write about? That’s right, there was another big thing that happened this week too:

The primary election! Our family survived our first season of campaigning! Hoorah!

Casey on election night!

The results were positive too: Casey almost tied with the incumbent county commissioner and will be headed to the run-off general election in November!

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we already laid most of the groundwork and we’re excited to see how the next steps go. In addition to the campaign work itself, we’ll also spend the next few months brainstorming different possibilities for next year (we’ll have to have Plan A and a Plan B, depending on possible election outcomes).

But, first, we celebrate! The next few weeks we’re going to take a bit of a break from too much campaign work and focus on enjoying the start of summer activities: kayaking, etc. Life is for the living!

Plus, there’s a lot more to plant too!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Radishes
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Salad turnips
  • Fava beans — We’ve begun picking the fava beans! They are a little on the younger side still, but we like starting to harvest them at this stage because it offers a different potential eating opportunity than the later beans (which are bigger and great for shucking). When the fava beans are long but not yet full, we love to roast them whole and eat the whole bean (pod and all). It’s delicious! Be sure to put them in a single layer so that they actually roast rather than steaming, and use good oil/butter and salt. We love this spring treat!
  • Head lettuce
  • Fennel bulbs
  • Rainbow chard
  • Kale
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Garlic scapes — Garlic scapes are also sometimes called garlic “whistles” — they’re the green shoot that pops up out of the top of the plant as the bulbs begin to grows. Technically, the buds will open into a flower, so in a way you could think of these as garlic rapini! The entire length of the stalk is usually tender enough to cook with, so chop the whole thing up and use it as you would other garlic — toss it in the pan with butter before cooking greens or add it to salad dressing, etc.
  • Green garlic

 

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What can you see?

And, what color is the sky anyway?

I recently listened to the tail end of a fascinating Radiolab episode about how ancient cultures don’t seem to have a word for the color blue. The classic example is in Homer, when the narrator refers to the “wine-dark sea.”

I had heard of this phenomenon before and enjoyed hearing the radio show use its unique investigative techniques to tease apart the significance of no mentions of blue. Spoiler alert: the end conclusion is that human eyes have been able to see blue practically forever, but that words denoting blue don’t seem to show up in languages until the corresponding cultures find the technologies to create blue dyes and pigments. True blue is actually rather rare in nature and one of the hardest colors to create (unlike red, which can be made from simple clays and is the first named color in all languages after black and white).

Researchers have visited an African tribe that still doesn’t have a word for blue and shown them color swatches that are all various shades of green and then one blue and asked them to point out the different one. The participants didn’t seem to even see the difference even while they stood out starkly to the experiment designers.

Everyone on the radio show marveled at this phenomenon — how could someone not see blue just because they don’t have a word for it? Isn’t it so obvious that the sky is blue? (Another spoiler: actually not really when this hasn’t been pointed out as “true” fact — many days the sky is actually gray or white.)

I suppose it does seem funny at first that someone wouldn’t be able to see blue, especially in a culture where teaching children the colors of the rainbow is part of introductory language skills. Look at board books for toddlers, and you’ll inevitably see pages sorted by color because apparently we think this is a very important early skill to have!

But I had to laugh at the naivete of the radio voices. Because, of course, this is how perception works. When we learn to identify something (often by giving it a name and thereby categorizing it), it suddenly stands out to us.

Because our culture is very invested in the idea of blue, not being able to immediately distinguish “blue” from a similar tone of “green” seems ridiculous and almost unbelievable. But, my friends, you should sit down with a painter sometime and learn about all the “obvious” color differences that you have yet to notice because you don’t know their names and haven’t spent hours carefully mixing them.

Furthermore, if I were to play for you various notes for you on the piano, would you be able to pick out an E? I know people who can, but I can’t at this point. If you are singing, can you tell if you go flat? To an experienced musician, that sounds will be painfully obvious, but many people cannot distinguish that “obvious” sound.

Likewise, have you ever been at a dinner with any of our wonderful local wine industry professionals and listened to them remark on tones in the wine that you just don’t notice? I have.

It’s not always sufficient to point to something once and say “this is the color blue” (apparently not, because we stuff our children with color information repeatedly throughout childhood), but through repeated exposure and examples, “blueness” becomes obvious. This is why I (as a novice wine drinker) can’t always distinguish the same flavors in wine that people much more experienced can. It’s not necessarily because my taste buds are less sensitive, but because my mind has fewer examples of those tones to draw upon for comparison.

On the farm, we have observed in ourselves and people working with us that the longer a person works with a particular crop, the easier it is to see the markers for appropriate maturity. A classic example (and appropriate right now!) is learning to see the perfectly ripe snap pea. The first few times a person picks, they will have to consciously consider each pea for size and shape and consider to input of a more experienced picker (too small; too fat; etc.). But after years of picking, perfectly mature peas are so obvious that picking can be done much quicker and almost unconsciously while carrying on a conversation or listening to the radio. Casey and I had this experience with almost every crop we’ve grown, that our years of learning to see it translates into a kind of expertise that allows us to make very quick and accurate decisions when harvesting (or planting or weeding or doing ground prep, etc.).

One of my favorite parts of the second Genesis creation story is when God brings all the animals and creatures of the earth to name them (Gen 2:19-20). Many people read this story as a narrative of domination, but I always read it as a story about learning to know about the world. When we give names (or learn names from others) for things, we see them in an entirely different way.

For me, this is one of the true joys of living and learning. I absolutely love the experience of increasing my knowledge of the world and thereby fundamentally shifting the way I experience everything. Spending our days on the farm and learning about the world around us has brought so much more definition and richness and depth into my perception, and I know that this process will only continue as I continue to make time to observe and learn.

What is a forest if you walk through it unaware of the diversity of creatures living there? How does that experience fundamentally change if you slow down and take the time to learn to identify the differences between the plants and trees (usually by learning the names others have given them)? I have spent years now hiking the same trails near our farm, and I still see new plants each year and learn new bird calls. The more I learn, the more I am able to see what I don’t yet know. This spring, I noticed and identified blooming Western Meadowrue for the first time — a beautiful tall plant with distinctive male and female blossoms. I can guarantee you that I will not miss this plant in future springs, but I can’t say I remember seeing it at all in past years. Of course I did, but I did not see it until I took the time to notice, learn, and, yes, name.

It’s like walking through a large crowd and seeing only a blur of faces and then seeing a person you know and recognize. But with each year, I become friends with more and more of what I see in the forest, by the river, and along the hedges of our farm.

What do you see? A bunch of green leaves? Or, familiar friends with names? (See below for names.)

I could list countless more examples from different parts of life, all of which are experiences that I genuinely treasure in my heart. This is the joy of life. When we take the time to learn in these ways, our appreciation of whatever we love is enhanced, whether it be fine wines, music, the natural world, poetry, athletic endeavors …

It is a great joy to be sharing my lifelong love of learning with our growing children. I do think that a love of learning is such a natural part of who we are as people that it is an easily contagious kind of passion. Here’s to always learning and seeing new things!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. The leaf samples from our hedge are, from left to right: Linden, wild clematis, Oregon ash, redosier dogwood, hazelnut, and cherry!

P.P.S. On a different note: Oregon ballots are due by 8 p.m. next Tuesday, May 15! Remember to vote! You can find a list of Yamhill County drop sites here.

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cilantro
  • Radishes
  • Salad turnips
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Fennel bulbs
  • Head lettuce
  • Chard
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Spring onions
  • Green garlic

 

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Summer is a-coming in

Sandals drying after afternoon creek fun

“Summer is a-coming in” is the first line in a very old round, and it’s been running through my head today. In the song, the singers point out the signs of summer: “Loudly sing cuckoo” and “Ewe bleateth after lamb.” Around here, the signs are a little different but present nonetheless.

Yesterday was May Day, which for me often feels like a significant turning point in the seasons, as we leave behind predictably wet cool days and head into the dry warm season. Not that May and June won’t bring showers (they often do!), but the balance shifts usually right about now. Regardless of the actual weather, the days are now lengthening significantly, with many more light hours in each 24-hour cycle. More sunlight means lots of green growth all around! Trees are putting on leaves in earnest.

More signs of summer a-coming in here on the farm: newly planted crops growing in the fields … sandals drying in the sun after an afternoon of creek wading and splashing … grass growing rapidly all around … red clover blooming in the cover crop … red-wing blackbird songs in the morning … lilacs blooming by the door … and, the first of the sugar snap pea harvest!

PEAS!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cilantro
  • Sugar snap peasLIMITED THIS WEEK! Please only take one item worth. The first of the year! More to come … if you’re unfamiliar with sugar snap peas, these are the kind that have a delicious, sweet, tender pod you can eat along with the peas inside. Our kids are SO excited that these are in season again! For them, it’s the very first of the year’s parade of delicious fruit crops.
  • Salad turnips
  • Head lettuce — LIMITED THIS WEEK! Please only take one item worth.
  • Spinach — LIMITED THIS WEEK! Please only take one item worth.
  • Fennel bulbs
  • Chard
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Green garlic
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A full day

Planting time!

I apologize that the newsletter is going out so much later than normal. Today was an exceptionally full day in our household.

Casey has made good use of the dry sunny weather to work up ground and get planting again (outside the greenhouses!), so between yesterday and today he harvested for the CSA and planted: kale, napa cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli raab, green onions, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, head lettuce, and rainbow chard. He also sowed: bush beans, lettuce, basil, carrots, more kale, and cilantro.

Meanwhile, the kids and I did school as usual and went on a hike with friends where we saw lots of wildflowers blooming in the woods at Airport Park.

We also both prayed a lot for Erick (see last week’s newsletter for details). I also checked social media and email a lot looking for updates and haven’t seen anything definitive yet as to whether his execution went through as scheduled today or whether he received a last minute stay. I will let you know.

We also hosted the last of a series of town halls Casey has been having, this one in Willamina. Talk about a full day!

But, it’s exciting to have plants in the ground and to be working on so many other positive projects too.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Dottie visited Casey while he was planting and took a little field rest in the shade of the fava beans:

“Doesn’t this look so nice, Mama?”

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cilantro
  • Bok choy
  • Radishes
  • Salad turnips
  • Lettuce or salad mix
  • Kale
  • Kale rapini
  • Chard
  • Sunchokes
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Green garlic — What is “green” garlic, you ask? This is the same plant but before the garlic have formed a bulb and dried down. In this green stage, the flavor is milder but still very savory. Prep it how you might a green onion or leek (chop the white part but also any tender greens) and add it to the oil before you cook greens … or use it in any other garlic-y application! It’s a special spring treat!
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A caring request

Pretty spring food

Last night, I woke up with a heavy heart in the early not-yet-morning hours. This happens to me sometimes, as I’m sure it does to others too. It is amazing how out-of-proportion worries can be in those dark hours being the only person awake in the house.

My heart can feel like it literally hurts (which apparently is somewhat true with emotional pain — it can be measured in the brain just like physical pain). Last night I was weighing the wisdom of caring about the situation of others, because sometimes that feels like it just brings extra pain into my life. To put it simply, seeing injustice and pain and frustration in the world and then caring about changing those situations is hard.

The desire to help others is of course a big part of why Casey’s running for office right now, but campaigning brings its own special kind of frustration and pain as I’m sure you can imagine! But I also have another thing weighing on my heart that I want to share with you in the hopes that perhaps you too can put it in your heart and do that thing we call prayer.

I am pen pals with a 31-year old Texas man who is currently on death row. Erick and I met through the Death Row Support Project. He is scheduled for execution next Wednesday, April 25.

I have always found the death penalty to be morally repugnant — how does killing one person fix the earlier loss? That’s assuming that the person being executed is actually guilty of the original crime, which is not always true in a justice system built and operated by flawed humans who can make mistakes.

But, of course, knowing a person who is actually going to be executed gives me a new level of awareness of the death penalty and its consequences. Erick has a nine year-old son and a partner outside of prison.

With a week left before his execution, there is still the possibility that Erick’s execution could be stayed or rescheduled. But seven people have already been executed in the U.S. this calendar year, so this is a real threat to his life.

I bring this up here for a few reasons. First, it’s something that’s on our mind here on the farm. Both Casey and I have Erick in our thoughts most of the time. Second, the primary goal of the Death Row Support Project is to provide meaningful connections to people on death row, but I think an equally important second goal is to humanize people who have received a death sentence — and thereby raise awareness of the death penalty itself. For many of us, it’s not a daily reality, nor something we fear for our children. But it’s a reality that will not change without a level of awareness and attention. I wanted to spread that awareness via my story of my friendship with Erick and my own possible upcoming loss.

But, lastly, I share this story to hopefully enlist your prayers (or meditations or intentions or thoughts) for Erick. I ask for prayers for a miracle that will change the outcome. And, on April 25, I ask for prayers for Erick as he possibly departs this world in a manner none of us would choose for ourselves or our loved ones. I ask for prayers just of love and prayers that he feels held, carried, embraced. Or, simply pray for whatever feels fitting to you based on your faith or spiritual tradition.

Another American in prison, whom I don’t personally know, is scheduled for execution tomorrow in Alabama. If you feel so moved, you could also offer prayers for Walter. If you’d like to see a list of upcoming scheduled executions so that you could continue praying or meditating for people, here is a link to that information.

Thank you all for your care.

And, of course, still do please enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Fennel bulbs
  • Head lettuce — LIMITED! 1/share
  • Spinach — LIMITED! 1/share
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Marina de Chioggia squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Green garlic
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April showers (& blooms)

The view from our upstairs window: a rainy day and a pear tree in full bloom.

Sometimes when I’m not sure what exactly to write about for the weekly newsletter (by our count, I’ve written over 500 newsletter!), I go for a stroll around the farm with a camera to see what stories arise in pictures.

This week is all about blooms. So many trees are in some stage of bloom, including (most notably here on the island) the cherries. The landscape is filled with white trees, including those wonderful annual surprises of blooming trees tucked into unexpected places along waterways and in hedges.

Cherry blossoms!

Pear blossoms!

The earliest of the apples are blooming!

Even the peas are getting in on the action …

But, it’s also April. That month associated with showers. And, I observed today that those same blooms just can’t shine their brightest when it is dark and gloomy out. April showers dampen April flowers? Maybe.

The rain this last week has certainly had a dampening effect on other parts of our household. Casey’s been a little under the weather, and the kids were pretty antsy by the end of the very wet weekend (just shy of 3″ over the weekend!). Normally they spend a good part of the day outside, at the very least running outside to release energy a few times a day. They’re great at doing this in all kinds of weather, but pouring rain felt like a barrier even to them.

It’s hard for all of us to not feel antsy for the coming turn in weather, when more days are dry and warm than not. It is coming very soon (May seems like the tipping point).

But I’m working hard to appreciate every day’s gift. And in the last week I’ve been especially grateful for our small cozy house and the shelter it gives us in all kinds of storms. I’ve also been grateful for the joy of indoor pursuits. Good books makes my mental gratitude list almost every evening. I’m in the midst of a great fun engrossing epic novel, which helps make up for the rainy weather outside. And, this weekend, amidst another very wet afternoon, Rusty sat down and for the first time really got sucked into a novel for a lengthy period of time and finished the last quarter of Redwall, a book he’d been working through since January.

The forecast is for more and more rain, so I’m sure good books will stay on my gratitude list for a while yet. But when I look out the window to the south, even in the gathering darkness, I can see the band of white in our neighbor’s cherry orchard, reminding me that summer is very much on its way, soon to bring all the sweetness of that season.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples — The apples are beginning to bloom, and last year’s harvest is about done! This is the last week of apples until mid-summer … but the strawberries are blooming now too.
  • Cilantro
  • Radishes
  • Salad turnips
  • Seasonal salad mix — Almost entirely from greenhouses this week, featuring lots of tender greens.
  • Kale rapini
  • Cabbage rapini
  • Chard
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia
  • Sunchokes
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Food, landscapes, people

Snack time!

Somewhat regularly, our kids go out to the fields to “graze” on whatever tender greens are growing out there — fennel tops, rapini, and chickweed are among their top hits. Grazing like that is pretty much their favorite way to eat greens. If we serve a salad at the table, one of them will eat it (most of the time), but the other will pass.

But nibbling greens fresh in the fields has a magic appeal that never seems to grow old for them. They also loving sharing their finds with friends.

Most kids seem to be up for the adventure of greens nibbling, even if they too might not love salad at other times. Over the years, Casey and I have been amazed at how open kids are to tasting new things in the context of a field walk. Some of these greens have very strong flavors (by kids standards), and yet when presented as an experience, kid palettes respond differently apparently.

I have to admit that it is a cool experience to realize that food can be part of our landscape. That we can walk around and nibble edible things, rather than just find them stacked tidily (and for sale) inside stores.

I remember years ago when my younger cousin came to visit us from Southern California during blackberry season. She spent the morning helping Casey and me weeding and then we all roads bicycles down to the river, stopping to pick blackberries on the way. I didn’t think she would be so impressed by our lifestyle given how much fun hers sounded, but she repeatedly exclaimed at the wonder of eating food just growing along the road.

The kids and I read a book about the Kalapuya people as part of school this year: The World of the Kalapuya. “Kalapuya” is actually a family of languages but is in the case of the book used to describe the linguistically connected people who lived in what we now call the Willamette Valley. Much of the book was interesting to the kids and me, but I think we were most intrigued by imagining how different this place where we live must have looked hundreds of years ago. When Europeans first began exploring North America, they concluded that native peoples did not practice agriculture, because the landscape did not resemble their conceptions of a tended, cultivated landscape. In Europe this would mean fences marking fields (in part because of domesticated food animals, something people in the Americas did not have) and tillage.

What we learned in the book about the Kalapuya is that people native to the Willamette very intentionally cultivated food crops but using tools unfamiliar to Europeans. Fire was a very important tool for the Kalapuya peoples, and was used to prepare land for planting, to maintain open grasslands for hunting, to harvest crops such as tarweed, and to rejuvenate other perennial crops (such as camas). Much of the landscape would have been productive for some form of food: wapato growing along the edges of waterways, berries growing in thickets, nettles growing under the shelter of forests, large fields of staple crops growing in other places.

As we learned about their food sources and how they tended, cultivated or promoted their production, the kids and I marveled at what all that must have looked like. I know that I have a instinctive response to the beauty of the Oak savannah grassland, an ecological feature most likely owing its original shaping to human activity. Conservationists today are working to reestablish such ecosystems, because they are historical to the place and because they are systems that can teem with all kinds of ecological diversity, clearly benefiting more than just people.

Later this year, we will enjoy eating the handfuls of salmonberry that grow along one of our favorite local trails. (They have already bloomed!) As the kids know so well, finding food in our landscape is a treat, and for me it is extra special to enjoy those foods that have been native to this place long before our arrival. Foods that would have nourished people who shaped this landscape over centuries and millennia with their own tending and cultivation.

There is, too, deep sadness to eat those berries and remember the very hard history of how those people came to dwindle in numbers (disease) and then be displaced (onto reservations) and then stripped of cultural memories (through forced schooling). I’d like to follow that statement up with some kind of “but …” statement that turns this around, but — no — there really is just sadness and grief mixed right in there with the sweet joy of finding a berry in the forest.

We talk a lot in our house about the future and responsibility and how do we live now, knowing the past that has come before us. It’s something we wrestle with as parents (especially as homeschooling parents), wanting our children to grow up with a rich, complicated understanding of this place where we live and the people who do and have inhabited it. Today we read Martin’s Big Words in order to observe the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination. History is important around here: the history of people and natural history too.

Whatever actions Rusty and Dottie choose to take in their life, to work for justice or to create or to just live kindly, they know the taste of these foods that make up our landscape. They know that there are stories in the fields and in the forests, that flavors can be found living and growing around us. It’s something.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples — We’re almost done with apples for the season! Then we’ll have a fruit gap while we wait for the strawberries to come on in May.
  • Sunchoke & kale ferment — A small amount of this ferment left. Time to think of the next ferment possibility!
  • Bok choy — This is a tender Asian green, suitable for eating raw or quick cooking (such as in a wok). Pairs well with garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil/seeds, and ginger.
  • Radishes
  • Head lettuce — The first head lettuce of the year! Because these are the first, we’re going to limit them to 1/household for this week. Thank you for your understanding! Much more lettuce is on the way! (Trust me, spring is such a lettuce-filled season!)
  • Salad turnips — LIMITED as well for this week! These turnips are a spring treat. They are delicious to eat raw, resembling a smooth, mild radish. Eat the leaves, too!
  • Chard
  • Red russian kale rapini — Beautiful kale rapini! Still some leaves, but mostly just the tender stalk and buds
  • Carrots
  • Sunchokes
  • Marina di Chioggia
  • Butternut
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Places near here

Outer loop trail at Miller Woods

One of the very cool (and unexpected) results of having someone in our family running for office is that we’re paying attention more to this place where we live. I mean, regular readers of these newsletters know that, in general, we like to pay attention. And paying attention, as the wise older nun in Lady Bird (the recent movie) pointed out, that maybe love and paying attention are the same thing.

But, a change in situation naturally puts a fresh focus on everything. I have to admit, spring also puts a fresh focus on our perspective too. As Casey and I have traveled around Yamhill County recently, we’re both struck (again!) by how awesome this place is where we live. And, it just seems to be getting more and more awesome as the years go by.

The kids spent two days early this week at an Outdoor Education Adventure camp at Miller Woods. Need I say that they had a total blast? Friends and newts and hiking and mud and all the good things. Yay! Both days that I dropped them off, I took advantage of the opportunity to hike the newly lengthened 4.5 mile outer loop at a brisk pace. It felt like a rare luxury in our full farming life to hike by myself both mornings (a chilly foggy luxury!). I also marveled at how Miller Woods did not even exist when we moved here in 2006. Certainly, the land and the woods were there, but they had not yet been developed into something open to the public, filled with well maintained trails and educational opportunities for all. I am grateful that, many years ago, people had the vision for what Miller Woods could be come. It’s a place our family enjoys visiting frequently now, and I’m so glad that it continues to be thoughtfully improved and maintained.

Checking out the views from above

This evening, our family had the opportunity to visit a newer addition to Yamhill County as the brand new Atticus Hotel invited the community for an open house. What a blast! The halls were packed with locals, all curious to see the hotel we’d been watching get built from the outside. It was certainly fun seeing the careful attention to detail in all the rooms, but we also just loved seeing so many people we know from our community in one place, everyone having fun as they explored the new hotel.

I could go on and on talking about the cool places we love or find interesting in our community. I’m sure you could too. And, given that both of these particular examples from this week are new since our moving to the area over a decade ago, I can’t help but feel excited about the future and what it holds too.

I like to think that our little farm also brings some of that same “I-love-this-place!” feeling to the people who buy our vegetables. That’s certainly been our goal since day one.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

CSA payment due! Your next CSA payment is due to us by tomorrow, Thursday March 29. I emailed statements early last week. Please let me know if you have any questions!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Sunchoke & kale ferment — This week’s ferment features a new twist: sunchokes and kale!
  • Radishes
  • Seasonal salad mix
  • Kale with rapini — The kale is beginning to form rapini, as well as putting out lots of new tender leaves. The bunches this week feature both: the tender leaves, the thicker tender stalks, and rapini buds.
  • Chard
  • Cabbage
  • Cabbage rapini
  • Marina di Chioggia
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Sunchokes
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Spring happenings

Spring green abounds!

Happy spring! The equinox was yesterday, bringing with it another glorious sunny day, befitting the wonder and enthusiasm of this season!

Spring brings a flurry of activity in our family. In addition to being a time to sow seeds and plants, we celebrate many occasions right around now. My birthday was last week (37! yay!), and then this weekend Casey and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Yes, we were very young when we got married. This year we went out for dinner by ourselves to Thistle and enjoyed eating the wonderful product of local farmers (us + others) and creative skilled chefs. It was a truly amazing meal. (Also, we know that we could have had amazing meals at many fine dining establishments both downtown McMinnville or in other parts of our county … how incredibly blessed are we as a community to be surrounded by so much good food?! Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by the awesomeness of our home.)

The new day of each season is also always a mini celebration in our family. When Rusty was younger, I made the “executive” decision that Casey and I wouldn’t give our kids presents on the typical occasions of birthdays and Christmas, since that’s when they typically receive presents from other family. Too many presents at once can be over-stimulating for children, so I decided to save Casey and my little presents for the first day of each season. Both Rusty and Dottie receive a couple of small tokens of the season — usually a book or something to help us explore the world — and they look forward to finding out what the new season has brought in more ways than one.

This year the kids both received new pairs of small hand pruners, because they love making bouquets all spring and summer long. They also got a big reference book about wildflowers and plants around the world and a flower press. So far, the flower selection in our immediate landscape are pretty limited, but Dottie and I enjoyed walking in the delicious warm March sunshine as we collected a few early specimens for pressing: rapini blossoms, grape hyacinth, speedwell, dead nettle, sheperd’s purse, and rosemary blossoms.

I would be remiss if at some point I didn’t also mention how much time has been consumed by working on Casey’s campaign for Yamhill County Commissioner. He and I have both been putting in extra hours every day, fitting them into spare moments we didn’t even realize we had in our existing farming, homeschooling, business-operating routine. Even though Casey’s been talking about running for office for a few years now, I always somewhat dreaded the experience of campaigning. But it’s been surprisingly fun for both of us, utilizing skills and activities that we both love: Casey, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, genuinely loves connecting with people and hearing their stories, and he’s getting to meet so many wonderful new people in the course of campaigning. I’ve been able to use the skills I’ve honed through running our business: writing for Casey’s website, setting up social media, and making simple graphics (my motto is “done is better than perfect,” which is of course a variation on the oldie but good aphorism: “perfect is the enemy of the good”).

Now that spring is really here and our family celebrations are behind us, it feels like go time around here in so many ways. Time to seed! Time to make sure we finish the school year strong (only 11.5 weeks left for us!). Go, go, go! Thankfully the energy of the season is so inspiring, with the increasing day length and the signs of growth every where. We are grateful to be at this point in the year. Spring always feels like the ultimate gift.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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CSA payment due next week! I emailed our quarterly CSA statement and payment reminders this weekend. If you have any balance due, you should have received one with a note about your next payment amount. You can bring checks/cash to pick-up or mail us a check: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. Please let me know if you have any questions!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Spicy sauerkraut
  • Apples
  • Radishes
  • Cabbage
  • Seasonal salad mix — Mostly rapini and arugula this week!
  • Kale/rapini — The kale is putting out tender rapini, and this week’s bunches are a mix of the tender new growth leaves, plus tender thick stalks and rapini buds. The kale is abundant, so it’s two bunches is an item this week!
  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Sunchokes
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Pie pumpkins
  • Butternut squash
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Buzzing in the trees

Plum blossoms!

Hasn’t the weather this last week been glorious? Here on the farm, we’ve been rejoicing in  all the sunshine, knowing how even just a few hours of warm direct sunlight can boost all the growth of our spring crops.

It also has meant that our earliest plums are getting pollinated! The challenge with early tree fruit is that in some years they bloom amidst heavy rain or frigid weather or wind storms … all of which inhibit the flight and work of pollinator insects. Every single plum you’ll eat this summer will have begun as a small blossom, and each of those small blossoms requires the helpful work of various kinds of bees, wasps and flies who travel from bloom to bloom spreading the pollen and turning blossoms into fruitlets.

March’s weather is variable by definition, so it’s true that some years we get beautiful bursts of warm weather like this week. But that weather might not correspond perfectly with bloom. Those are the years when we pick fewer than average plums.

This weekend, when the trees were in full bloom and the warm sun was shining down on the farm, Dottie and I walked from tree to tree, smelling the sweet blossoms and listening. The sound of pollination is a steady buzzing from above, and we heard it! The thrumming of insects at work! What a joyous early spring sound!

We still have months of spring ahead, with who knows what kind of weather. But this is a good start toward lots and lots of our favorite early, juicy, red plums! Much to look forward to, but of course this early spring sunshine is truly a gift all on its own, warming our bodies and souls.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Mixed veggie ferment — This week’s ferment contains: cabbage, sunchokes, carrots, beets, and winter squash!
  • Radishes — Less baby-sized this week, still tender and perfect!
  • Cabbage rapini
  • Kale & kale rapini — 2 bunches is one item this week! The rapini is especially wonderful!
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Sunchokes
  • Beets
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Pie pumpkins
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