Endings & beginnings

May is mowing month — including in the orchards.

Every season seems to bring in its own significant turnings, marked by both endings and new beginnings. This last week brought many endings to our little family, few of them relating directly to the natural world, but in sync with it in the way human endeavors often unconsciously are.

Last Tuesday was the Oregon primary election, ending several months of frenzied activity amidst what must have been one of the oddest campaign seasons ever as candidates and voters alike were kept from interacting in all the normal, casual, face-to-face ways that foster true connection, conversation, and trust. It was weird, to say the least, and unpleasant at many points as voices strove to be the loudest and most outraged in the only channels available: social media and traditional media.

The experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth, one probably fairly consistent with ages and ages of people’s distaste for political wrangling. I know that the creation of strawmen opponents and distorted political rhetoric are by no means new, in spite of the “novelty” of living in the Covid-era. Nonetheless, I was glad to be finished with the first wave of the year’s election process and hope against hopes that this fall might bring something that feels more productive all around. Maybe it’s wishful thinking?

In more positive news, our family is also wrapping up another long project: the kids and I will complete our academic year at the end of this week. Rusty will have completed fourth grade, and Dottie first grade. We’ve already completed most of our work (Math, etc), so this week we’re just finishing up a few books we’re reading together and laying a little of the ground work for next year’s more advanced studies. For example, today the kids and I spent some time looking at different kinds of writing and talking about how writers decide which “genre” and “form” to use depending on their “purpose” and their intended “audience.” It was a fun little discussion as I helped point out to the kids that different texts are different lengths and use different words and forms. For example, a letter to the editor is much shorter than a novel and has a completely different purpose to fulfill. These are things writers think about in order to be effective communicators through the written word. These are ideas we’ll revisit regularly as we continue to read and they begin to learn more about writing (especially Rusty, as he nears the end of his “elementary” education).

But mostly we’re just excited to be finishing up. The kids are learning the great joy that comes from completion. It is such a good feeling to have spent nine whole months working diligently every day and then stepping back and seeing the vast progress that comes from all that regular little bit of daily work. This year we focused our studies on the 19th century, reading about that era’s history and sampling its literature and arts. We all feel like we have a better sense of the 19th century’s “flavor” — its unique conflicts and challenges as well as its advancements. Such a complicated period of history that lays so much groundwork for our contemporary lives — it’s still with us in many ways as we continue the grand experiment in “modernity” that began so long ago. I’m excited for us to jump into the 20th century next year as we continue learning about the great stories of humankind.

But, first: the next beginnings. The primary election and the school year behind us, we will not be left with an empty vacuum, but instead with the returned rhythms of summer. As I wrote in last week’s newsletter, this summer will not be quite like recent summers, as it will miss many of the off-farm activities we’ve come to love (swimming lessons, camps, camping, etc.), but there’s still so much summer goodness to savor here on the farm and nearby as a family.

I’ve written in this newsletter many times over the years about how farming transformed summer from my least favorite season into my favorite one. Yes, it can be hot. Yes, it can be dusty. But, oh it is also so delicious in every sense! We’ve already begun eating more meals outside at the picnic table, relishing in the soft evening breeze as we watch the turkey vultures circle overhead. On Saturday, we made a little campfire in our fire pit and stayed out until dusk when the bats came out.

There is much work to do in this season too (Casey mowed all week, and this week we’ll be transplanting so many plants!), but it is work that comes with wonderful rewards all season long in the form of those delicious foods we only get to really enjoy in the summer. Now that school won’t be the opening act in the kids and my day, we’ll have a new rhythm of going outside first thing and participating in the work of the farm while it is cooler.

Even though the farm has been operating full throttle already for months, the kids’ and my new rhythm and relationship with the work feels like a fresh beginning in this strange year. I’m very grateful for this work and this place, more than ever. And grateful that we can still share the best parts of it with you, even with our continued distance.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

Fun new veggie this week … the sugar snap peas! We have so many peas on their way, but the harvest is always a curve that starts out slow, then roars along, and then finally slows down again. Since we haven’t actually harvested them yet for this week (one of the oddities in this new system that is very different than how we’d “normally” order things), we don’t exactly know yet how much our first harvest will yield. We think it will be good, but we can’t say just yet. So, we’re putting a limit on the orders for this week, and we’ll adjust the bag size based on the harvest yield.

Also, more brococli and cauliflower to come … ! (And more baby carrots too.) In the category of “beginnings and endings,” this week and next definitely mark a turning point in the the ending of the over-wintering vegetables and not quite the full start of the summer vegetables. We’re definitely still relying on some of the spring-planted high tunnel crops while we wait for the season to come on in fully force. Soon!

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
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Envisioning the year …

Drying raspberry leaf for tea (discussed more in newsletter later) — I harvested fresh canes, removed leaves from stem and arranged in this drying rack outside. Then I brought this rack inside to hang from a hook in our living room.

At the beginning of 2020, I thought I had a sense of how the year would go — what growth would happen, how our family would spend our time, what the challenges might be … I “knew” that I was scheduled to attend my first-ever large choir festival in Minneapolis, which would also be my first travel away from the family. I also “knew” that the kids would continue doing their favorite extra-curricular activities away from home with other children. I also “knew” that we’d have a wonderfully full personal calendar of connecting with friends, making music, hosting farm customers on the farm, etc etc etc.

Ah, how plans can quickly unravel. How much can be cancelled so quickly, changing life completely.

We have all now shared (apart) an unexpected constricting of experience and movement for the last two months during the Covid-19 quarantine.

Last Friday, Yamhill County slowly, cautiously began to reopen to business and recreation. The details of that reopening are well beyond the scope of what I want to address here today, but I want to share my own thoughts on how our farm and family are thinking about the rest of 2020 from our new vantage point of pandemic-life.

First of all, Casey and I conferred about how we are operating the CSA — with preorders and packed bags — and decided that we’d like to be conservative and continue using these physical-distance-based operations through the remainder of the 2020 CSA season. Technically, I think our farm could meet the “Phase 1” guidelines for safety with our older methods of a self-serve farm stand, but we feel more comfortable with keeping contact at a minimum for all of our members right now. This system seems to be working well enough for the purpose of delivering fresh produce to our community in a way that doesn’t add much extra work or burden to anyone involved.

The big piece that’s missing, of course, is the social vibrancy and ease of the storefront pick-up — but we will return to that in time. For now, we want to maintain the safest option, knowing that we have many members who will continue to be very conservative in their own choices about socializing and interacting with others this year. We don’t want anyone to feel like they need to make a hard choice between feeling confident about their health and getting vegetables — hopefully continuing with this low-distance option feels very comfortable for everyone.

Also, in the event that the entire community has to pull back again due to an outbreak, we don’t want to have to flip flop back and forth between systems. This is working; it feels safe; it’s easiest to just keep on going with it for now. Thank you so much for your participating in this unexpected evolution of our CSA system and for being respectful of social distancing at pick-up!

On the home front, we’ve been doing similar analysis of our family’s changed lifestyle and how much we want to alter it going forward, knowing that we’re still very much in the midst of a global pandemic (albeit one that, so far, hasn’t hit our community hard). In a similar vein to the pick-up system, at this point we’re emotionally and mentally preparing ourselves for many more months of a very similar lifestyle to what we’ve been doing: mostly staying home, engaging in extra-curriculars and social activities through remote applications like Zoom, focusing our life here more than we have in years.

Depending on how the summer goes, we may stretch ourselves some to include occasional outdoor gatherings that feel very safe — kayaking with friends comes to mind, because being in separate boats seems like an excellent way to keep distance and still be together! But we expect to miss the usual rounds of swim lessons and camps and camping with friends and in-person music lessons and large gatherings with extended family and so much more.

While there are parts of this plan that bring so much sadness and grief, we’re working as a family to focus our attention on the potential gifts in a year spent closer to home. As the children have gotten older (they are 7 and 10 now!), our life has expanded a lot in wonderful ways as the kids have wanted and needed more interactions and opportunities beyond the farm. In recent years, there’s been a fair amount of me playing the quintessential Mommy-chaffeur. In fact, earlier this year we were car shopping, anticipating the need to cart around more than just our kids as they get older and want to do more with friends.

It’s a big shift then to bounce back to a reality much closer to their earliest baby months, when staying close to home was just part of the developmental stage of frequently napping and nursing babies. In fact, I’d say we’re home even more than any period except the first few weeks of the children’s lives.

But, again, there are gifts here. Knowing that this period will pass (pretty please, universe), and knowing — quite frankly — that we don’t have an option, and knowing that — again QUITE frankly — that we’re NOT missing out on anything by staying home (no “FOMO” is a quarantine gift!), we can lean in to the positive aspects of a slower-paced life here.

Casey and I are both excited about the prospect of possibly having more time and energy to attend to all the farm and home projects that inevitably get shifted to the bottom of more urgent lists (or otherwise put off because there are fun trips and things to do in our free time in the summer). The house siding has been needing some work for years, and maybe being home this summer — no weekend camping trips in sight — will be the push we need to get it done. We’re also excited about just knowing that we’ll have time to continue doing our farm work well. It’s a really good feeling to have fewer things competing for our attention. There’s a sense of ease there that has been missing in recent years — even as our lives and days are very full with many obligations, even just removing most of the driving has provided us more time and presence for other things.

I am personally also excited about the ability to reconnect with this place where we live. Part of the appeal of farming and living on farmland was all the romance of homesteading and providing for ourselves. Although we’ve farmed commercially since 2006, our own personal “homesteading” efforts have waxed and waned over the years, depending on how burnt out we have felt by farming and parenting at any given moment in time. There were years when we were making our own yogurt (from our own raw milk!), grinding our own beef, and canning tomatoes. And, then there have been years, when aside from the produce we grow for the CSA, we live and eat more or less “normally” for a contemporary person who cooks from scratch — meaning we buy yogurt, buy ground beef, and just forgo tomatoes completely when they’re not in season. Operating the CSA — and eating the veggies from the farm — is our most consistent connection to the land, and that’s a huge part of why we feel like the CSA is an integral part of our living here at all. It’s how we relate to our land.

But there are other dimensions to living here too that are worth my exploration — things that aren’t connected to the CSA or anything business-related at all. For example, harvesting and drying herbs for our own tea. This is something I dabbled in briefly many years ago (during that same era of making yogurt and grinding meat). Casey and I have a cup of herbal tea every night before bed, and for most of our years of drinking tea we’ve bought prepared teas for this purpose. Occasionally, we’ll harvest and dry nettles or other herbs, but we’ve not kept this habit steadily up enough to forgo purchasing teas.

This year, I’m so happy that I finally developed a better drying system so that hopefully I can make it a regular part of my life — at least during this stay-home year. I have a hanging drying rack that I can pull out from storage and hang in our living room when I’ve harvested. It holds the perfect amount — the two trays hold about one of our blue bins worth of fresh branches or sprigs, which produces about a half gallon of dried crushed herb, depending on the plant. So far this year, it’s been sweet and easy to move from herb to herb as the season has unfolded: nettles to lemon balm to raspberry leaf so far — all harvested here on the farm (I’ve grown many herbs in my garden for their beauty for years) or wildcrafted from areas close-by that we consider an extension of our home.

(Quick important note about the ethics and safety of consuming wild plants: It’s very important when “wildcrafting” to pick from areas familiar to you in order to have a sense of the cleanliness of the plant and also to have a sense of what level of harvest is sustainable for that place and population. For example when wildcrafting nettles, we are careful to take only a small portion of what is growing there. Some plant species are not abundant enough for wildcrafting at all, in which case it is better to buy those herbs from reliable sources such as the Oregon-based company Mountain Rose Herbs. Also, do NOT consume wild plants unless you are confident about making a positive identification. Here in Oregon, we’re lucky to only have a handful of poisonous plants to worry about, but if you plan to wildcraft at all, you should learn to identify those first. I highly recommend referencing multiple field guides and references books to learn plant identification, but the best bet is to consult books and harvest with an experienced guide the first few times. Learning about wild plants is a lifelong journey, one we are happy to be on, but we recommend others start very slowly and carefully.)

Now back to tea making … We have a press pot that I bought at the Velvet Monkey for making the loose tea, making it easy for us to make our evening cup of tea with the loose dried herbs. So far we’ve been focusing on one herb a night, but I like to make blends sometimes too.

Even though much about this spring has felt anxiety-ridden to me, fitting in this very small practice of drying herbs and making tea has been such a sweet gift of the quarantine. Would I have fit this in if our life was on the usual schedule? I don’t know. It’s something I’d been wanting to do for awhile, but life was very full already. I really appreciate the opportunity to engage with our home, and lean on it for nourishment during these hard times. I can also tell you that the tea we drink now has a depth of flavor (and presumably a similarly-matched depth of physical benefit) that blows tea bags out of the water. I mean, there’s really no comparison at all — as you might expect, it’s an equivalent difference between buying frozen broccoli and eating freshly harvested local broccoli.

Another “homesteading” type routine that I’ve brought back into our life is making our own fermented sauerkraut. Again we’ve done this in the past but fallen out of the habit. It’s wonderful to get back in the routine with some new improved tools (I’m using the food processor more now and bought some cool new air-locks for my mason jars), and we are all enjoying the tasty results.

So, there are riches here! There’s also the time to go on walks and fully weed the flower garden and make bouquets for the house and read books together and do puzzles and color. I haven’t personally had as much time for all of these as I’d like this spring because of working on a political campaign, but as I look forward to the rest of 2020 I envision a lot more of these sweet alternatives to camping and driving kids to swim lessons and the like.

I am deeply glad that Yamhill County is slowly reopening business — I am excited to be able to go shopping for new clothes downtown again or maybe even eat out a few times — but for me personally, and for the farm, there’s also no rush to try to regain the old sense of “normal.” I’m okay with taking things slowly, continuing to do my part to reduce the spread of illness, and just really savor what I can this year. Maybe this year I’ll spend more time watching butterflies and hummingbirds visit my flower garden. And, who knows, maybe I’ll even work more on the homeschooling website that I started and never really finished!

Does that mean I won’t miss singing with friends? Of course not. And, I also want to acknowledge that so much of my relative comfort in this scary situation is based in the privilege of having relative stability and lots of resources. But this is my life today. It’s very different than how I expected it to look this year. But this is it. I have this day, and I can find joy in it.

May our [safely-delivered] vegetables be one of those little joys in a year that may look very different than the one you envisioned. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

Casey and I realized last week that the one drawback to our current ordering system is that you all can’t see what looks especially awesome from the fields before you choose. So, I am going to try to highlight particularly awesome vegetables as they come along so that people don’t miss out. (Um, of course, all our vegetables are awesome, but some are awesome-er some weeks.)

This week I want to note that the bok choy has been outstanding these last few weeks! They are large, heavy heads of goodness! If you’re unfamiliar with bok choy, it’s an Asian green in the same wider family as turnips and mustard greens. We usually stir fry it with Pan-Asian flavors like sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. It pairs well with tofu or meat and rice. Very yummy, and these heads have been especially gorgeous.

Now, onto the list. Please place your orders by Tuesday evening!

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Scale matters

Sugar snap peas coming very soon! Lots of them!

Earlier this week I did something that I haven’t had to do in many years. I closed our CSA to new members — not permanently, as we’re continuing to take names for a waiting list and may still let more people in later this year once we get a “feel” for our CSA after we add more members starting in June.

We haven’t had a waiting list for our CSA in quite a long time. For years now, we’ve been in a sweet spot where the demand for our CSA matched up really well with our growing plans every year. Our farm’s production peaked in the years 2012-2014, and since then we’ve been intentionally scaling back our production, meaning that we haven’t had to work hard to retain every single member (let alone work hard to grow our numbers). We’ve still had a steady supply of interested new folks (mostly thanks to word-of-mouth advertising) — just enough to replace the inevitable attrition and fill our program every year without too much effort on our part. We also didn’t have too many people signing up either in these years, as our community has seen tremendous growth in quality local buying options since we started our CSA in 2006. It felt as though we’d hit a groove in our place in the community — our small farm filled a perfect-sized niche for what we were wanting to produce at this point.

But this year, everything feels very different. We are observing a huge renewed interest and demand for locally produced food. Every farm we know is receiving many more queries than typically expected, including us! We’ve been adding new members for a June start because we needed time to actually grow the produce to meet the increased demand.

However, inquiries continued to flow in at a steady rate, and we were realizing that if we keep accepting everyone, our farm would actually have to shift our scale of production. Our tools and rhythms and procedures would no longer be as well suited to what we’re trying to produce.

This isn’t impossible to achieve, of course. We have plenty of land available to grow on. Our farm has operated at a much larger scale in the past, with several employees and machinery running somewhere on the farm during most business hours. But, as we’ve experimented over the years with different ways of running our business, we’ve found that — for us — bigger isn’t better. We operated with just the two of us on the farm for the first three years, which were exhilarating, hard, fruitful years of us building our business from scratch. In our fourth year, we added our first employees (and also a baby!), and things shifted a lot. Over the subsequent years, we added more employees, more land, more equipment, more customers, more different products.

What we found was that every time we scaled up or added something, we were still always just shy of feeling like we could really meet our goals for the farm, whether those be financial or agricultural. I think a lot of businesses feel that pinch and think that maybe in the next scaling up, I’ll get closer to my goals.

Thankfully we had had our earlier experience of operating a farm with just our labor, and we remembered how that felt. Certainly it was (and is) a lot of work, but we also experienced a large amount of flexibility in operating a smaller farm with fewer people. We found that it was easier to save money for important purchases without an ongoing payroll. We also found that we could be incredibly efficient when all our labor (i.e. us) already knows how to do all the work and well. No teaching required!

So, from our peak in 2014, we’ve slowly worked our way back to a two-person farm. We said good-bye to our last (very beloved) employee at the end of 2015.

Our farm today isn’t exactly like it was in those early years. In some ways, it’s much simpler and smaller. We spend fewer hours overall per week farming — partly because we’re not in “building” and partly because we’re more efficient at the work and partly because we have better tools. We have more high tunnels, which has helped tremendously with our shoulder season growing. But our farm is also much more diverse in terms of crops and growing methods now too. We have two mature fruit orchards (we planted them in 2009 and 2010). We also now grow micro-scale OLCC-licensed cannabis as well as operating the CSA. Also, Casey and I both have full-time jobs aside from the farm as well: he’s a county commissioner and I homeschool our two growing kids.

We love the balance of the work on the farm these days. The scale of the farm feels very sustainable to us — it’s big enough to justify its existence and pay its own costs, helps our family earn an income, and feeds a large number of people in our community (we’re providing food for 50 households every week right now, and that will go up in June). But, the farm is also not so big that we can’t run it well and we can still take on these other projects in our life too. We love being able to really pay attention to every part of the farm in a significant way. We missed that intimacy when we were bigger and there was more to manage. We love this work, and we love doing it at this scale.

And so, this year for the first time we had to pull back and reaffirm that we really truly do want to stay a small farm. We do hope people who are interested in the CSA will contact us about the waiting list, since we could very well find ourselves in July with more extra produce (and more extra time) than we predicted.

In regular farm news, we planted in the fields this week, and more will come soon! We also received our potato seed order (finally!) and will be getting those in the field soon along with winter squash transplants. I’m always amazed at how early in the season we plant for the next fall and winter of eating. And, right around the corner are more good spring treats …

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
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Planting season is on!

Freshly planted cauliflower!

This weekend brought a LOT of rain to the farm — big storms rolled in over and over again. On Saturday, we mostly did odd jobs around the farm and house, and it was actually rather lovely to watch the really hard rain. It made me realize how here in the Willamette Valley we have a lot of drizzly days but big downpours are much less common.

That being said, we also had a lot of flats of starts in our greenhouse ready to plant and we really can’t plant outside in that kind of rain — aside from how hard it is to physically do, it also just makes a lot of mud and is super counter-productive. Thankfully we have high tunnels on the farm! And two were just about ready to plant, so on Sunday morning we mostly filled them with all kinds of exciting summer things: cauliflower and zucchini and sunflowers and tomatoes and lettuce and cucumbers and melons and beans and more!

Before too long, we will plant outside too. The ground is ready; we just need the dry weather to make planting possible. It will happen!

And, good thing, because now that we’re in May we’re seeing the beginning of a big shift in vegetables — we’re moving out of the over-wintered crops and more into the spring planted items. This week’s exciting new item are fava beans. These are the fresh stage when the peeled inner beans are delicious to even eat raw!

If you’re new to fava beans, there are two ways to eat them. The traditional Italian way to prepare fava beans is to shuck the beans out of the big fluffy pods, then peel the white layer off of the inner bright green bean. Yes, this is work (the Italians founded the “Slow Food” movement after all), but it results in a real treat. You can throw these green beans into a salad or sauté with butter and green garlic and toss with pasta or blanch and purée into a paste to spread on toast.

Alternately, if you don’t want to go through all the work of shucking and peeling, we discovered years ago that you can eat fava beans whole if you roast or grill them. We usually roast them: tossing with olive oil and then spreading them in a single layer in a pan and roasting at a high temp (425°) until they are browned and soft all the way through. Liberal salt is good. Warning: they’re rather sloppy to eat. We just put them whole on our plates and eat with our fingers.

We’ll have fava beans more than one week this spring, so we encourage you to try both approaches at least once! Our typical trajectory is to start with the slow, laborious route the first few times we eat fava beans in the season. Then we switch to the simpler method as we get more immersed in spring work and just want to eat dinner five minutes ago.

And more good treats lie ahead of us! Casey’s a surfer, and I always love the imagery of the growing season being one long beautiful wave that we get to ride from May to October. Here we go! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Saving or savoring?

These lilacs were telling me: “Stop your running around! Notice how lovely I smell! Make a bouquet!” So I did.

I ran across the best quote in a book I was reading earlier:

“I arise every morning torn between the desire to save the world and the desire to savor the world. It makes it hard to plan the day.”

~ T.H. White (author of The Once and Future King)

Can anybody else relate? I definitely can! — especially in light of the last few weeks of social distancing. I know that for most people this has been a extremely hard season of life, potentially being cut off from soul-feeding work, from loved ones, for normalcy and predictability.

However, I have also heard reports of people finding solace in their newly expansive days: taking long walks, doing jigsaw puzzles, stretching their bodies, reading books with their children, gardening, baking bread. I know that hasn’t been true for all, but the slower pace has been beneficial in its odd unexpected way for many, even as it has mingled with grief and frustration and fear. I hope that this positive taste of slowness is something that lingers, with renewed appreciation for all these simple joys that can be cherished at home alone or with our closest loved ones.

Casey and I have not been able to dip quite as deeply into the wellness of slowness out here on the farm. In some ways, much has been been “pruned” from our lives. We stay on the farm almost all the time, eliminating a lot of driving time that was just a normal, expected part of our daily life. But, even then, with all the hats we wear, our days have been extra full. As you know Casey is both a farmer and a County Commissioner (and the board chair this year), and he has taken on full responsibility for the county’s coronavirus response. He spends hours every day reading the latest research and news and corresponding with people in the county and state about what needs to happen next, whether that’s offering grants to small businesses or contact tracing or connecting local manufacturers of PPEs with buyers.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to homeschool the children (something that was already normal for us but has less built-in breaks now that we can’t do our extra-curriculars), helping the McMinnville Women’s Choir fundraise (since we had to cancel our concert), and helping to running a local election campaign that I am passionate about. It’s been a LOT.

Oh, and also? It’s spring! So there’s plenty for us to do on the farm too. Because each of Casey’s hats (commissioner/farmer) are so different, the balance works for him. I can tell you from first-hand experience of knowing Casey since he was 19 that “resting” is not really a thing for him. He has a lot of natural in-born energy, and he’s like a work dog that will start chewing on the couch if it can’t work. When we were in college, he’d regularly start his day working in the biochemistry research lab at 6 am, then attend his classes, then go on a ten-mile (or longer run), then do some homework, then make dinner (and then fall asleep on the couch in the evening).

I, on the other hand, feel more stretched thin in my many roles. Casey and I both savor the world, but we do it in different ways. I love having quiet time to just sit. Or, yes, take long leisurely walks or even do puzzles while listening to audiobooks! Looking back on recent years, I think I’ve let a lot of this savoring time slide. Surprisingly, when the kids were young, they actually forced me to do more slow-paced things like going on weekly nature outings that were deliciously slow (kid-paced) and forced me to really see and hear and smell and touch (and sometimes even taste!) all that was around me.

Those outings and similar occasions when all I “had” to do was be with the children were really lovely (especially once they were at least old enough to not pinch and bite each other or need me to wipe their butts — I will be real about that!).

But as the kiddos have grown older, we’ve prioritized more structured activities for them and when we are on the farm, they’re so much more independent that I find myself filling those lazy afternoons now with work (such as helping with a campaign). Also, the quarantine itself interrupted two much-needed “mini-vacations” Casey and I had planned this spring, and of course we just filled that time with work!

The obvious answer to T.H. White is that we don’t have to choose either in life. A full, well-lived life will probably be comprised of lots of both saving and savoring. And, in many ways each contains part of the other. Why would I care to save a world I didn’t savor? How could I savor a world I didn’t help take responsibility for? But, there’s probably a really important balance-point to be found in every life. Some of us, like Casey, can probably lean more heavily toward the active work part, finding energy in that act itself. Others of us, perhaps like myself, need to build in more of the savoring in order to remember why in the world we were doing all that work to begin with!

I’ve always loved the concepts of keeping a Sabbath or taking sabbaticals. Our faith traditions have built-in reminders that we do need pauses, time to just cherish the gifts of our life rather than always racing on to the next Very Important Project. I also appreciate the idea that the work we do can have rhythms, whether that be daily (time for each in the day), weekly (taking one day off out of every seven) or more seasonal (vacations, sabbaticals). Scheduling, of course, is the very conundrum I think White was talking about! It’s not that life can’t have both saving and savoring; it’s more an issue of how to schedule both. But, regardless, I think it is essential for all of us to step back to assess, rest, and actively just enjoy these lives we get to live

(Which is also part of why our family takes summer off from learning even though many other homeschooling families go year-round. I love seeing the kids embrace their free-time in the summer, and I love seeing how many huge leaps they make when they jump back into school work with fresh energy and a slightly more developed brain.)

Looking past election day (May 19!) and the end of our family’s school year, I am already planning to shift the balance for the next season of my life — namely, this coming summer. Because I’m a list maker, I’ve even started making lists of how I want to spend our days, shaping them on the assumption that we still probably won’t be leaving the farm as much as we might normally do in summer. Farm work will of course be a priority, but at this point much of that work feels like it falls more heavily in the savoring category for both Casey and me — it forces us outside, working together, in the natural world. Since it isn’t the same 24/7 work it used to be, we find ourselves very renewed by it. But I also plan to go on bike rides with the kids, knit, play music, work in my own garden, and even (yes, I put this on my list) “read and/or take naps in the hammock.” (Apparently I have to put naps on a list in order to give myself permission to take them!)

I’ll be honest that I’m pretty exhausted by this entire spring — by the uncertainty and the unexpected work to do without the usual joys of singing with friends. I’m sure many others feel the same (certainly all the parents out there who are having to work remotely while also take charge of educating their own children!). It’s been a trying season in so very many ways.

I encourage other people to think about what could be removed from their plate in the coming weeks or months. I’m mentally preparing myself for potentially another year with quite a lot of cancellations and possibly massive disappointments. For sure no summer trips to Europe (or for me Minneapolis) or even to go camping at Silver Falls will be happening this summer. There will be relationships stretched thin by distance. There will be continued uncertainty and fear probably for awhile yet to come … but the world is still here for us to savor. I’m working on what that looks like for me — what might it look like for you to savor, even now?

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Another week passes …

Casey got a lot of seeds in the ground during this dry spell — he covers with row cover to increase germination, prevent birds from eating them, and keep them warmer.

Another week of quarantine life behind us. And, another week of spring farm work too. We weeded and sowed and even irrigated for the first time this year!

We’ve also continued to stay home, although we are learning new ways of connecting online — which are sometimes worth it and sometimes just sad feeling.

Honestly, it’s hard to know what to say this week except much the same as prior weeks: We’re working. We’re waiting. Much like many of you.

We did also spot (and hear) the first of this year’s osprey, returned from their southern homes. The season continues to move along!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

We’ve added fresh head lettuce and bok choy to the list this week. Both are limited to one for now! Thanks for placing your order by Tuesday evening!

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Facing what is hard

Welcome back, leaves!

It’s been a gorgeous and productive week here on the farm. Casey has worked up all the ground we’ll be planting for the spring and summer (outside of high tunnels) and we planted a first round of onions and some flowers (to attract beneficial insects). Many more plants to come, but we are still planting some in the high tunnels too, because — in spite of all this glorious sun — it is still quite early in the growing season. We were reminded of this when we woke to frost this morning!

But, the warmer, sunny days have us feeling optimistic about the season. When we’re here, working on the farm, it’s easy to stay chipper and feel like everything is normal. Because, for us, the rolling work of spring feels very familiar. But when we go into town for our weekly errands and CSA pick-up and Casey’s meeting, we are reminded again of how profoundly everything has changed. Downtown McMinnville feels very different: mostly empty parking lots, closed restaurants and stores, few people walking around.

I try to limit my news consumption so that I can stay aware but not overwhelmed, but Casey and I do subscribe to the News-Register as well as the print edition of the Oregonian and the weekend New York Times. (This, by the way, is a true luxury that we savor every weekend — flipping through the pages of the newspaper while drinking our coffee.) So, while right now my view of the fields looks as promising and hopeful as any spring, the news reminds me that we are still very much in the midst of a global crisis of a magnitude unknown in my almost four decades of living.

I read a lot of history with the kids, so I have immersed myself in the big crises of past eras: the plague, wars, the Great Depression. I will admit that as an American child who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, I genuinely believed such hardships were behind us. We in the modern western world had “figured it out” — between technology and stable governments, we would continue to walk a [admittedly curvy and bumpy] road toward peace, health, and prosperity for all.

Yes, I was naive! But even though we’re all still in the thick of this period of uncertain outcomes, I also read enough history to know how much progress has been made. We are better off today, thanks to life-saving medical knowledge and communication technologies and mostly cooperative relationships between nations.

Still, it’s hard to believe that by many measures we’re now a month into this crises (I started social distancing on March 12), and we still don’t have enough protective equipment for workers or enough tests to get more data about how coronavirus is moving through our communities. These resources seem like such basic necessities, and yet here we are without. This is very hard to grasp. Individual crafters like myself are sewing masks — which is awesome — but ours are not equivalent to the ones that are needed. They are better than nothing; they are an amazing example of the love and dedication people have for their communities; but they are not what we desperately need! It all still feels so big, and big problems like this require big leadership and big answers.

I have been reminded a lot of our early days on our first rented land back in 2006. Very early on, we bought and built a style of greenhouse that it turns out was not well suited to our site. It was too tall for us to manage; too rickety to withstand the winds; just too much all around. They were constantly threatening to fall down and weren’t serving our purpose at all, and we’d spent a lot of money on them and didn’t know what to do. It was a big mistake.

I remember feeling constantly on edge and very overwhelmed. Casey and I were barely adults — I had just turned 25! — and this was the first time we’d farmed on our own. We were faced with a crisis that felt bigger than anything we’d faced without the help of a guiding mentor. We’d just left the warm environment of our graduate programs and the farm where we trained, and here we were facing something we didn’t feel equipped to handle. I remember thinking as a default: Who can help us now? Where is the super hero who can swoop in and fix this?

There was no super hero, of course. This was on us to fix, and it required setting aside our fears and our ego to admit that we hadn’t done the right thing, but now we needed to do the right thing. All that mattered was us stepping up and fixing it.

Which we did. With help, of course, because — as is so glaringly obvious amidst a pandemic — none of us are truly individuals in our efforts at good living. But we needed to develop our new team here in Yamhill County, and we needed to grow our own strength to problem solve, re-evaluate, and make a new plan. The bulk of the work was on us, because we had to accept the pain and burden of the responsibility. So, in the case of our greenhouse, we returned what we could and made a new plan with what we couldn’t, and within a few days of admitting our failure, we had a much smaller operational greenhouse full of starts. (If you’re curious to revisit that saga, you can find it in our archives here and here.)

I guess this story keeps coming back to me, because as I read the news, I find myself again asking “where is the super hero who can save all of us?” Again, the answer is: there isn’t one. The leaders of our world, at every level, now need to step up, acknowledge where mistakes have been made, find their team members, re-evaluate, and make a new plan. It is hard work to do, but there is no other way out of this. It is going to be painful and already is. I have seen signs of that kind of humble leadership playing out in pockets, and it is beautiful. It really is. But, here we are: still without tests and protective equipment.

This is not ok. The greenhouse is still too tall for us to handle here on the ground.

We can sew all day, and we will. Many of us will. I’ve sewn masks and sown seeds, doing what I can here on the ground. But I am also offering my prayers for all of those in leadership positions around the world, praying for their humility right now. Praying that they see the old plans didn’t work and that’s it’s time to admit where we need to chart a new course. There are no super heroes to save us. But, we do live in a unprecedented time of peace, technology and prosperity, and our leaders can step up and get creative about how to make best use these blessings of our era: they can be humble and build their teams and make plans and help us here on the ground. I am praying.

And staying home on the farm, where I can help keep our community safe and healthy and educate our children and grow food. These are hard, confusing times, my friends. So many are feeling stretched extremely thin by living through so much uncertainty and change at once. Again, let us remember to find comfort in the rhythms of this season and the food on our plates. We have today.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:
Remember to place your order by the end of Tuesday! If you have any challenges with your order, please call (503-474-7661) or email me (farm at oakhillorganics dot com).

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

The weight of waiting

Peeking at germinating tomato plants under row cover — summer will come!

I keep thinking of different metaphors for this unprecedented moment in the world. As I said last week, a good friend described this as “time outside of time,” which is a beautiful cosmic way to think of what really feels like a lot of drudgery. There is a lot that does feel profound right now — the poignancy of every day life, of saying “I love you,” of cherishing all that is still with us: the beauty of spring’s unfolding.

The mourning of our real and potential losses too is also profound, and I know that I am one of many who has felt real, intense grief as I struggle to process the huge losses in my own life and all around me. Jobs and businesses in limbo. Concerts, sporting events, and plays cancelled (all that hard work!). Much needed family vacations skipped. Milestones and passages marked without gatherings (birthdays, weddings, graduations, funerals). Loss of health or worries about health. The loss of normalcy all around. For some, the loss of loved ones. The fear of more losses to come.

Like all grief, however, the work of mourning normalcy can also be full of drudgery. There can be days of listless energy. Emotions that feel unformed and vague but cover everything with a gray haze. The inability to focus or feel productive. I think so many of us are feeling the effects of this large scale mourning even as we have expectations that we should somehow be productive while at home too!

But, added to the grief is the waiting. Waiting is very different from anticipating. Anticipating can be a beautiful, joyful experience that highlights the pleasure of an upcoming occasion. But, waiting can feel different. I’m thinking here of the waiting we do when stuck in traffic and are uncertain of how long it will be before we get home. Or, the waiting of a child on a long car trip, watching the scenery pass by until it all becomes a blur and there’s only the question left … “Are we there yet?” Or, even worse, the waiting that comes when you schedule an appointment for a repair or utility connection at your house, and you’re given a window of time (“we’ll be there between 10 am and 2 pm”). And, so you find yourself at home, theoretically with lots of time to get things done, but find it very hard to focus with the thought that you might be interrupted at any moment.

Those are the kinds of metaphors I’ve been thinking of most — the hard, icky waiting — as we enter another week of waiting for Covid-19 cases to peak and then slow down and then pause … so that we can then hopefully restart some new version of “life-as-normal” (which even then might not look “normal” for quite a while).

Casey and I have both actually been incredibly busy during the isolation period, getting spring work started on the farm, starting the CSA, homeschooling the kids, and doing all the other work we do around the community (now just mostly remotely, which has been a big learning curve as well!). But, for me, all the busy-ness still has had that vague foggy feeling over it all — I can’t shake those sensations of mourning and waiting all mixed into something undefined and just kind of “blah.”

Compounding our own experience of the isolation, our family actually had influenza twice in February (type B and then type A). So we’ve been doing some form of self-isolation (and lots and lots and lots of cancelling) off-and-on since February 1. Quite frankly, friends, I am tired of missing the people and activities that I deeply love.

Certainly, the silver lining of all of this is heightened gratitude for it all. I never take our life for granted — I honestly would not change a thing — but WOW … the last two months have put even more emphasis on how much happiness is to be found in the simplest parts of our life. The ability to gather and laugh with friends in person. Singing with other people. Sharing a meal around a table. I miss those simple, free joys so very much.

Part of why I’ve found it important to be real and share my sense of loss in this season is that I want to create space for other people to acknowledge theirs as well. I think that if we dismiss our own losses (even small ones, like missing having coffee regularly with a friend) as unimportant in the scheme of the world, we risk losing gratitude for all the wonderful little things in our life as well. Yes, I continue to be grateful for my health, for my family, for my relative stability right now. None of that changes the losses — the cancelled choir concert, the missed 20th wedding anniversary trip I had planned with Casey. I do mourn these and more.

I look forward to more such special things in life in the future, along with the regular wonders too, even as I am as grateful as ever for each new blossom that shows up in my garden. It has been so, so wonderful to watch spring change and beautify the landscape around me, even as I stay put. I have more appreciation than ever for these treasures. Last year I put in a new small flower bed in front of our house, and all spring I’ve delighted in the progression of blooms. I’ve realized that gardens are gifts we give to our future selves. Even when we know what we’ve planted, it’s surprising to see the buds forming and the new growth and the display of color months or years later.

So, life — even amidst the uncertainty, the grief, the waiting — has its wonders and small joys. But friends, I think it’s okay to cut yourself slack if there are days during this isolation when you can’t seem to get everything done on your list … or can’t even make a list at all! These are hard times. If you can only do a few things, please do what you need to do to stay as emotionally and mentally healthy as possible through it all: take walks, cuddle your pets, intentionally appreciate spring’s beauty … and, of course: eat well!

We hope that last week’s share of vegetables brought some lightness and connection into your week. We really appreciated all the grace we were given around the new temporary systems and the technology. Overall, it seemed to go quite well. We had a few issues with orders not coming through to us, which I’m continuing to problem solve, but for the most part everyone’s orders arrived fine and we were able to download them into a spreadsheet for harvest and bag packing.

I will probably check for orders on Tuesday evening again and email anyone I haven’t heard from, just to make sure we don’t miss anything. Remember that you should see a green confirmation message on the screen after you place your order. If you don’t see that screen, it’s likely I didn’t get your order.

If you have any questions about the process or are uncertain whether your order worked, you can call (503-474-7661) or email me ( farm at oakhillorganics dot com). I’ll be at pick-up this week as well to help Casey, which will also make that part smoother, and I can answer questions there (from a distance!).

Until we get some kind of “all-clear” we’ll continue to practice social distancing at pick-up, so we thank you for your cooperation. It sounds like six feet distance is a minimum and more space is even safer. It has been uplifting to see the world cooperate in order to keep people healthy — even though we are apart, we are truly in this together!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: The list is essentially unchanged from last week, except we have Goldrush apples instead of Cortland. This apple is suitable for eating or baking. It’s very sweet and has a firm texture.

Also, no limits on radishes this week. And, you’ll notice a new order to the list — we realized that since we’re packing bags from this list, it makes sense for us to put the heaviest items at the start of the list (so they’re at the bottom of your bage), which is apparently opposite of how I’ve made my lists for years! (I’ve also made putting in your phone number optional since several people had issues with that field.)

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Starting amidst uncertainty

Beauty persists and sustains.

Friends.

Here we are, at the beginning of our 15th season. We’ve made it through one and a half decades already, cultivating this soil, feeding our community. And yet, here we are facing a season with more bewildering unknowns than any we’ve faced before.

Also, as the entire world experiences a shared profound disruption to life and business as we know it, we feel more committed to growing food than ever before. The concept of local food security has taken on new levels of relevancy and urgency for many people, demonstrated by the recent increased interest in our CSA (and we’re hearing the same from other local farmers and producers).

We feel fortunate that as the economy stands still, our work is still needed and still seems safe to do. However, it also feels like a great responsibility to be operating during a time when staying home is the safest choice for all. The kids and I have been staying on the farm since March 12, and Casey has limited his exposure to others, only attending mandatory meetings (with physical distance between participants) and doing the necessary runs for provisions. We have one friend coming to help us weed once/week, and otherwise we are the only ones on the farm handling bins and vegetables — which is minimal anyway. We are doing our best to keep ourselves healthy so that we can provide a long season of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables for you.

This week, my top priority is helping everyone get on board with our temporary, new system, which I detailed in a recent newsletter. As a recap, we want to minimize interactions during pick-up, so we’re asking people to place their order ahead of time. We’ll email you the newsletter Monday night, and we ask that you place your orders THROUGH THE WEBSITE by the end of Tuesday. Then we’ll harvest Wednesday and bring to the storefront on Thursday (open hours are 3 to 6 pm). We will pack bags and BRING THEM OUT TO YOUR CAR. No one besides Casey will be allowed into the storefront during pick-up. We also ask that people maintain a minimum of six feet distance from us and any other CSA members when they come to pick up their veggies. It is imperative that we slow the spread of Covid-19 in our community, and we thank you for your cooperation.

Another advantage of this system is that it will help us be more efficient with our time and vegetable supply during this tumultuous season by only harvesting what has been ordered. Generally, we have extra after CSA pick-up, which often goes to good use (we eat or take to food bank), but right now it feels important to be careful with our supply, especially with increased demand during a time which is always the tightest time of the year (early spring).

All that to say, IF YOU WANT VEGETABLES, YOU NEED TO PLACE AN ORDER ON TIME! We know this requires you to do more homework than normal, and trust me we will be happy to go back to the traditional method eventually too. But for now, we thank you for your cooperation in making this system work. Also, putting in a vegetable order seems like a much more positive use of time than endlessly scrolling bad news on Facebook (which I have been guilty of doing during this quarantine time!).

A friend of mine recently described this period as “time outside of time,” which seems like the best description I’ve heard yet. With the vast majority of life on pause, we are all collectively waiting — reinventing our lives in a new, smaller, more confined reality. This too will pass, but it may last longer than we’d like, and the world will not be the same on the other side. There will be losses; we just don’t know what yet.

In this time outside of time, we hope that your weekly fresh vegetables from our farm help you stay connected to the larger world, to the soil, to the seasons — all of which are still here, still sustaining us. Our focus will on that feeling of sustenance this year, keeping our focus on growing for sustenance. We may not experiment quite as much as in prior years, sticking instead to varieties of vegetables that we know thrive on our farm — and plenty of them. We’re not going to try and ‘wow’ anyone this year, but instead be like the earth — a solid, grounding, reliable foundation for our community as we walk this new, unknown path together.

And, more than ever, thank you for the work you do in our community. Thank you to everyone who is on the front line: health workers, grocery clerks, first responders, mechanics … But everyone plays a role, even if it is a quiet, behind-the-scenes one. It has become clear to me amidst this pandemic that we need each other to be healthy and well. We truly are connected, just as the earth has been telling us since we were born. We see it now clearly: the air I breathe is the air you breathe. Thank you to everyone for doing your part right now: Staying home. Staying connected with loved ones in safe ways. Sewing masks. Checking in with neighbors. Praying.

Now, time to get this season started! Your first order form is below. Please let me know if you have any questions about how any of this works! You can call me (503-474-7661) or email ( farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com ). If you haven’t made your first payment yet, you can bring a check to pick-up or use a card to pay via PayPal (go to paypal.me/oakhillorganics where you can pay with any credit card). Casey will be available to answer questions (briefly and at a distance) at pick-up, 3 to 6 this Thursday.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

CSA update: staying safe in 2020

Casey chisel plowed a cover cropped field on the spring equinox

My oh my … friends, it has been so long since I updated our community in this format! I have mostly stuck to quick Instagram and Facebook posts, as our with break has been very full with beautiful in-person celebrations, gatherings, and work — all of which we especially treasure now.

Now we are in a new season (in so many ways!). Spring began this week, and the CSA begins soon — on April 2!

As we prepare, I want to share an important update on how we’re going to operate the CSA during this season of “social distancing” because of Cv-19. We are strong supporters of healthy distancing right now as a critical way to slow the spread of this disease and make sure that our health care system isn’t overloaded. The kids and I (Katie) aren’t leaving the farm at all, and Casey is limiting his trips to town and shifting as many meetings as possible to phone. We strongly encourage others to do the same.

However, supporting social distancing has been a jarring about-face from our foundational values in life. Prior to this pandemic, we had intentionally prioritized in-person community-building in every aspect of our life, including CSA pick-up, which is a weekly event that brings friends together in our sweet downtown storefront.

But to keep you safe, we needed to rethink HOW we do pick-up — at least temporarily. We wanted to retain as much of the experience as possible, especially the aspect of choice and the routine (day/time/location), but we wanted to limit the interactions until it is safe for us to share spaces again (I am SO looking forward to that day!).

Here is our plan for how each CSA week will work:

  • Monday night or early Tuesday of each week, we will email you the CSA newsletter, which will end with an online availability list/order form
  • By the end of Tuesday, you’ll decide on your order and fill out the form (this is new homework for you — we need you to do this)
  • Wednesday, we’ll harvest for you
  • Thursday, we’ll meet you at the CSA storefront during our usual hours (3-6 pm) where we will pack people’s shares into new, unused paper bags and deliver to cars (or bikes) as they pull up front — drive thru veggies! Woo hoo!

We will take precautions around cleanliness at every step — including hand washing, sanitizing bins, and cleaning surfaces. No one besides us will come and go from the door during the pick-up.

To keep things very clean, we will have a drop off box for payments, and we will only be doing prepaid CSA and “a la carte” sales. (If you haven’t sent us your first payment yet, you can bring it with you to put in the box at the first pick-up. We can accept checks or cash in an envelope labeled with your name. We also have set up PayPal for online payments — you can use any credit card to do this.)

For you to practice this new “ordering ahead of time” procedure, below is a SAMPLE form for you to fill out. I repeat: THIS IS JUST A SAMPLE and does not represent a real CSA share (although it’s representative of the season)! But please try it out so that you can check in with me with questions, and so that I can make sure it works on my end.

It should be fairly self-explanatory — you provide basic contact info, followed by an estimate of when you’ll arrive at pick-up to get your prepacked vegetables. We’ll be doing the packing on site, so we’ll prioritize filling the early arrival orders first.

Next you choose your items for the week! You will need to remember how many items you signed up for (and select that many items), or mark if you have an “a la carte” share and we will deduct the number of items from your account. Check in with me if you need a reminder of how many items you’ve signed up for!

Here’s the SAMPLE form for you to try:

Place your order:

Please select the vegetable items you'd like to receive this week, to total to your share size. If you order 2 (or 3) of something, it counts as 2 (or 3) items. Some items are limited, as marked.

How’d that trial go? I’m crossing my fingers that this works well for everyone! Thank you in advance for making the time to place orders each week.

If you have any questions, please contact me. My phone number is 503-474-7661 or you can email farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com.

I want to reiterate that, in our minds, this is a temporary innovation for our CSA. We look forward to the day when we can truly host you in the cozy storefront again and you can linger in conversation outside on the bench while you eat your strawberries. Friends, we cherish the social, community-building aspect of our farm, and it breaks our hearts to miss it now. But, because of our care for the community, we are putting safety first, and we think this plan will be an effective way to keep us connected (and keep you fed!) during these exceptionally challenging times.

Please let me know if you have any concerns, questions or ideas as we approach the beginning of the CSA. Also, new members at this point will not start until summer but you’re welcome to approach us about signing up now for later. However existing members are welcome to adjust their share size if desired (for example, you may want to receive more items each week if you are not eating out like you used to).

From our perspective, our work as farmers is more important than ever as we face this unprecedented disruption in existing economic and social systems. We have so many emotions every hour of the day right now as we respond to the ever-changing unfolding of this health crisis. So many moments in our days feel extremely normal — the kids and me playing games at the picnic table outside in the sun, Casey chisel plowing the field, sharing dinner as a family … but these daily moments are now supercharged with gratitude and appreciation as we realize more than ever before the unpredictability of life. And, then there are other moments that suck us out of the present and remind us of the great losses all around us: the social distancing that keeps away from friends and family and organizations/activities we love (choir for me!), the economic challenges for individuals and businesses alike, and the palpable fear for what is coming. My emotions have see-sawed from one extreme to the other, with many tears along the way.

More than ever, I’d love to welcome you back to the season with long chats. But, not yet. For the first part of the season at least, we will offer our care through the safety of distance and through excellent fresh seasonal vegetables. May they nourish your body and soul as we all walk through these challenging times together.

Watch your emails (and our Facebook page) for the first newsletter of the year and order form. Until then … stay well.

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment