Farmers’ dozen

Dottie makes one of the final bouquets of the year from the flowers in the kids’ garden.

Here we are, friends — the 40th and final CSA pick-up of 2018. The completion of what I’ve been calling our “farmers’ dozen” year, hearkening to the “baker’s dozen” (although 40 weeks of local vegetables seems like a bigger addition than one extra bun or cookie!).

2006: At the end of our first season, we bought our land! We were like: “WHOA!”

Casey and I have been farming here in Yamhill County for thirteen seasons. This is hard for me to wrap my brain around tonight. Much like with parenting, the time has flown by and yet those years feel so full that it’s hard to remember life before. Haven’t we always been farmers here in Yamhill County? Certainly, we have been for the bulk of our adult life. We were 25 and 26 when we first moved to McMinnville to start a CSA and put down roots. We knew even then that we wanted to live a very rooted life, where our community and our physical place would be deeply intertwined with our life in tangible, essential ways. Farming was such an obvious solution to that desire, allowing us to meet hundreds of people over the years, getting to know many of them quite well, and providing us an income based on the health and our stewardship of our home.

In these thirteen years, the farm and our land and our community have changed continually. I don’t think that I fully appreciated how dynamic our lives would be from the vantage point of a 20-something leaping into a long-held dream. Back then, it was more two-dimensional — we would start a farm and then enjoy living on it for the rest of our lives. The end.

How boring that would have been! And, of course, how unrealistic. Instead, the farm has been an ever-growing, vibrant co-creator of so many different kinds of experiences and projects. Trees that I thought were tall when we moved here have continued to grow taller! Trees that we planted are now tall as well! We have grown and raised a wider variety of crops and animals than I anticipated from the start.

Baby Rusty meets baby brassicas in 2010

But key moments stand out in my mind as being game-changers for us as farmers and dwellers in this place. The first was the birth of our son Rusty in 2009, which profoundly shifted everything. My own personal relationship to the farm changed as I added a new (and enormous) role to my life as primary parent. Both Casey and my perspective of the farm changed as we saw everything through Rusty’s new eyes. We came to appreciate mud and dirt as sources of creative play rather than just the by-product of our work.

Our years of keeping animals and tending more land (100 acres at the max) were another enormous shift in how we experienced our farm, as a home to many creatures beyond us.

Now, it feels as though we are nearing another potential transformation in our role here, as we work toward the upcoming election (20 days from today!). We still don’t know what the outcome will be, and we can only really guess at how each outcome will turn around and affect the choices we make in the near future about the farm.

Amidst the big unknowns, two things remain true:

  1. Connection to place and people continues to be the defining driver behind all that we do. Even though the work of serving as Yamhill County Commissioner will be very different, it too originates from this same love and continually deepening roots here. We became farmers because we wanted to do real work that would create positive connections in one particular place on the planet. Ditto for Casey’s bid for commissioner.
  2. We love growing things. I can’t even tell you how much we continue to love the miracle of growth. Every single spring feels like a revelation again and again, as we watch leaves and buds return to trees and plant seeds in the soil and get to participate (again!) in the mystery of existence. We love the feel of dirt on our hands and the satisfaction of physical work. Plants are amazing and beautiful (and delicious and nourishing too!).

What form these two truths take in 2019 is still up in the air. But just knowing that we may be on the precipice of some new formulation of these truths has me feeling wistful this evening as I write the final newsletter of the year. The last thirteen seasons have taught me that life is full of evolution and change, so there are no regrets or unhealthy nostalgia — but I feel so much gratitude for the many versions of our farm that we have experienced so far. We have been nourished by living here and many (including us) have been literally nourished by our work here. Our home isn’t fancy; the land isn’t perfect. We have had struggles in how we work or what we do here too, as we’ve learned innumerable skills and lessons about what it means to farm, get along with people, and be stewards of a place. But, in all that imperfection is real goodness. It’s been good for us to be here in ways that are beyond words.

So, as we wait on the precipice of something new, we give thanks for this season and the twelve that came before it. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Want another walk down memory lane? I wrote a “remember when” post at the end of our tenth season that has lots of fun pictures from the first decade. You can read it here.

P.P.S. An extra big thanks to our CSA members who have been with us since 2006. We are grateful for all of our CSA members, but it’s been special to get to know this handful of families who have been CSA “lifers.” Thanks for sticking with us through all the bumps of the last 548 CSA weeks! (Yes, that’s how many it’s been, according to the website! That’s a lot of weeks of fresh seasonal vegetables!)

~ ~ ~

This is it for 2018! Are you interested in 2019? You can “commit” by signing the form at CSA pick-up or dropping me an email with the number of items you estimate you’ll want!

Holiday Harvests coming later this fall! We will still be doing our usual holiday harvests later this fall, one before Thanksgiving and one before Christmas. Watch your email for an announcement a week ahead of time! It will contain a list of what’s available, from which you’ll place your custom order and then meet us at the storefront to pick it up! It’s always a favorite part of our family’s holiday traditions as we get to touch base with people. And, we love knowing that our vegetables will get to be a part of your holiday celebrations too.

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Salad mix – maybe
  • Cauliflower/broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Pie pumpkins
  • Butternut squash
  • Delicata squash
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