Checking out, temporarily

Peace and quiet at Silver Falls …

Our family has a tradition of going camping with friends sometime in late spring. It often feels ridiculously challenging to make these simple two-night trips happen, given how much activity happens on the farm at the start of the season! But, it’s always worth the crunch we feel on either end to get that one full-day of blissful disconnectedness in the woods — beyond the reach of cell phone service, with a campfire to sit around and trails to explore.

This year we went to Silver Falls, and it was as relaxing as always to step away. And as challenging as ever too. When I finally plugged my phone back in, it binged binged binged with the many text messages and voicemails I’d missed during my time away.

I feel like Casey and I are both relatively low users of screens, since much of our farm and family work focuses on direct physical interactions (with the land, with our kids, etc.). However, social media and online communications are tools that we use in many roles in life. As County Commissioner, Casey has finally joined the world of social media, realizing that Facebook is the default digital “town square” where many people go to voice their thoughts and opinions about community matters. I use Facebook and Instagram for the farm and for various other volunteer work I do in my personal time.

The thing is, as much as these technologies can be useful tools, they can also be so intrusive too. I’ve read a few people suggest lately that Facebook is optional, and I have to wonder what world they live in! It no longer feels optional if a person has anything they need to advertise or promote. We learned this during Casey’s campaign, when social media played a big role in how we got the word out about his platform and campaign events. It was pretty powerful stuff, but boundaries on our time are important. Many of us live “on call” to our work, family, and friends (not to mention, “on call” to the latest news, causes, outrage, memes, etc!). It can be hard to find moments of true quiet and recharge in such a context.

I’m currently reading How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell, which dives deep into how our constant connectedness has stripped away privacy and personal time from our lives. Odell herself is an artist and a Millennial who grew up in the Bay area, the physical heart of our new digital era. Though she is very much what would be called a “digital native,” she is pushing back hard against the negative implications of social media on our humanity.

Although I am older than Odell, I grew up in a house of early adopters, using a computer (and then a modem!) before most of my peers. In my adult life, I’ve worked hard to establish useful boundaries for myself around screen use, because I have enough time away from screens to remain aware of how they change the way my brain feels (let alone how they can suck my productive time away).

I think this is something many of us wrestle with today — how to balance our use of these powerful tools without losing control of our brain, emotions, and time in the process. I look forward to reading more of Odell’s thoughts on this modern conundrum, and I’m also grateful for the opportunities we have to fully step away, even just for brief spells. One thing she notes up front is that there is no full retreat — i.e. no longer really an option to live a life completely removed from the reality of our contemporary connected world!

But, we can certainly take breaks. Summer weather provides great opportunities to seek out those more remote places outside of cell phone range. I hope that all of you will find hours or days to be out of touch somewhere beautiful and peaceful.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Second CSA payment due next week, Thursday, June 27! Watch your email inboxes, as I’ll be sending out CSA statements soon to remind folks of their next payment. For most people, it will be half of their remaining balance, but I’ll provide more details in the emails. You may bring cash or check with you to pick-up or mail us a check to Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. If you have any questions about your balance due, you can ask me at pick-up or email me: farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) org.

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Fava beans
  • Beets
  • Fennel bulbs — “How do you eat fennel bulbs?” This is a FAQ of the farm! This European vegetable is much simpler to prepare than it seems. The bulb is the primary edible part (although many people use the fronds as well for flavoring). A simple way to include fennel in your meals is to trim off the butt and then chop the tender bulb into small pieces. Sauté them with butter or olive oil and onions/garlic (or on their own) until soft, then use this as a base for any kind of cooked vegetable dish. Fennel goes especially well with zucchini, so you could add chopped zucchini and sauté until to your desired texture. Add basil for a full flavor profile. Or, go a different direction and cook chard with your sautéed fennel. Serve with meat (steak! pork chops! fish!) or a pasta dish or just with a big slice of bread and butter!
  • Cut lettuce mix
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Chard
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