Busy bustling farm week

Our first "top bar" style bee hive is almost complete! Emily commented that it looks like a bassinet. It's basically a specially shaped wooden box with a series of "bars" across the top (which will be protected by a lid). The bees build comb on the bars, which eventually we will remove to harvest! We're definitely bee keeping newbies, so this will be

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Salad mix
  • Broccoli or romanesco — “Broccoli in winter?” you might be asking. Yes! We’ve been experimenting with over-wintering broccoli, and this year the weather conditions were just right (i.e. mild and not too wet) to make it work! We love having some real broccoli this time of year (and so does Rusty!). “Romanesco” is a vegetable related to cauliflower and can be cooked very similar. We love roasting it, which brings out its delicious nutty flavor.
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sunchokes — A.k.a. “Jerusalem artichokes” — we prefer the name Sunchokes, because these tubers are not from Jerusalem, nor are they related to artichokes. Instead, they’re a North American native with a series of awesome properties. They have a very unique starch/sugar make-up that makes them ideal for diabetics to eat (no blood sugar spike). They grow at the base of a sunflower (awesome!). And, they’re delicious. We’ve found that many CSA members love eating these raw (possibly because of that cool different starch/sugar thingy), either just straight or chopped small and tossed with some other veggies in a salad. They also have a nutty flavor. They’re also of course suitable for cooking — roasting, making into soup (generally mixed with another root like potatoes), or sautéing. They roast differently, so keep tasting as you go. You can stop when they are still crunchy and they’re delicious, or keep going until they are slightly caramelized and soft inside.
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic

This last week felt especially productive here on the farm. Casey and I both keep written notebooks with to-do lists, ideas, and notes. Casey makes a habit of going back to each week’s list and adding things that got done in addition to the list — this week, he had to add a ton of things, which felt good.

In addition to the usual CSA and restaurant harvests, there was more planting that happened — on Thursday, Casey planted 500 blueberry plants (and even managed to get done with work a little early, at which point he brought the handful of extra plants back to the home farm and planted them in our little “home garden” by our house).

Emily and Casey also sowed a ton more flats for spring planting: onions, lettuce, greens, beets, and so much more. Our hot house is filling up with starts, which is such a hopeful sight on these gray February days. It won’t be too long before they get moved out to the fields.

Friday felt especially busy on the farm. There were three people out here working: Casey and Emily as usual (each working on different tasks) and then a CSA member who has been helping us with various construction projects. While Casey planted peas in the fieldhouse (yay!) and Emily planted chicories, Justin built our farm’s first top bar beehive! (We hope just the first of many!)

That day, Casey and I both noted how awesome it felt to have so many different projects being worked on at once — each being led independently by an engaged and hardworking person. It felt as though the farm was being pushed forward almost of its own will that day — while Casey and I were certainly part of putting it all in motion, it felt as though the farm had momentum thanks to the different people who are investing in its future.

When we made the decision to expand our farm from our home acreage, we knew we were also deciding to forever have other people involved. Up until that point, the farm was of a scale that we could “handle” it on our own if we chose to (and having one employee just felt like a bonus).

The farm is now at a scale and complexity level that this is no longer true, and while we sometimes miss the simplicity of “handling” it all ourselves, we find ourselves loving this feeling of busy productivity. Letting go allows really neat things to happen at this farm that is no longer just “ours.”

We’ve heard other farmer friends remark on this same phenomenon before (which I think business-ese would call “synergy”) … I remember watching a little video that John Eveland of Gathering Together Farm made simply because he was so excited about everything that was in motion on he and his wife’s farm (which is pretty large and complex).

He stood on his tractor and panned a little digital video camera 360°, capturing images of dozens of people working at different tasks in one area of the farm: harvesting vegetables, harvesting seed, turning compost, working on various projects with tractors, etc.

I remember that when he presented this at a farmer retreat a few years back, he was practically glowing with enthusiasm and pride for what they had all done that day — how many balls were being held in the air by the cooperative efforts of everyone invested in the farm.

On days such as last Friday, I find myself thinking of that video presentation. We have a long way to go before we’re anywhere near the bigness or awesomeness of Gathering Together Farm, but I’m beginning to understand the joy and fun of a more complex farm enterprise. I mean, Casey and I hoped we’d be having fun during this expansion process, but it is so wonderful to find it to be true.

And, speaking of inspiration gleaned from other farmers, roles are going to be switched up this week in order to allow for Casey, Rusty and me to attend that same annual retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs. While we are soaking up new ideas (and soaking in some healing spring waters), Emily will be diligently and competently handling the Tuesday restaurant orders and Mac CSA business. Then, Casey will take over for Emily at Newberg on Thursday — so you all will be visiting with different friendly faces than usual.

Next week I’ll give an update on what fun new things we learned, but for now I’ll close this newsletter and leave room for a few fun winter recipes. Thinking of all of you cooking good food from our vegetables is another fun way to imagine all the people who are invested (and supporting) this farm’s work!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Casey & Katie Kulla
… and the whole farm crew!

~ ~ ~

Next week’s vegetables (probably!):

Red savoy cabbage • Mustard greens • Rapini • Butternut winter squash • Potatoes • Celery root • Carrots • Onions

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2 Responses to Busy bustling farm week

  1. Nadya says:

    Enjoy Breitenbush again!!
    Your post about so many tasks getting done by a handful of people reminds me of my time living there! So wonderful to have a great little community growing. Harvesting our food!

  2. Jess says:

    I enjoy your blogs and recipes. You have a great farm too. Thank you for sharing your veggies and your experiences.

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