Back in 1776 when Adam Smith wrote THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, agriculture dominated the economy. In comparing work on farms to work in factories, Smith noted that farmers tend to amble from task to task.  We have to admit that over the last three months there has been plenty of ambling here at Hunters’ Greens.  But as Chief Production Officer, Jim has announced, “the time for ambling is over.”

A March Goal

A March Goal

Jim gets this feeling every spring about this time. Since he took up his obsession with day length, he has realized that March 21 is a magical date.  Between September 21 and March 21, we fall into a light deficit relative to our more southerly neighbors, including California and most of the rest of the United States.  But between March 21 and September 21, we have a light advantage.  Plants that are established will continue to live and produce a modest surplus for humans to harvest during the winter months, but if you want something to GROW, the light side of the calendar is more critical to us than most of the country.

Getting excited about growing plants in January is pretty pointless. In February you might amble through some preparations.  But on March 1 you better start getting ready and hit the soil with your feet running.

Which brings us to the second thought that hits Jim at this time of year, it’s the, “I have to do this, before I can do that,” thought. This year it involves electricity.  A while back we bought a vintage Airstream trailer.  Diane has always admired them and one day Jim realized he’d like an office where he could escape the pets and “All Classical 89.9” and get some writing done.  So he assented to another of Diane’s dreams.

Airstream Project

Airstream Project

As the fall rains arrived we realized we needed at least a light bulb in it to fend off the mildew.   Jim had shut down the green house for the winter, so the monster hundred foot extension cord he used to light it became available.

Last month as Jim began to amble towards starting some onion plants, the consequences of that choice hit home. So before he could start onions, he would have to electrify the Airstream.  After ambling through researching how to do it for a couple weeks, the “oh it’s March feeling,” took hold.

Yesterday, he forsook his ambling morning nap and rushed through his dog walking chores and headed out to see his friend Patrick at Grover’s Electric. Patrick coached him through the most economical choices and Jim came home with 120 feet of wire and conduit.  In the midst of further dog sitting interruptions he began threading the wire through the conduit, and had the run laid out in a couple of hours.

After Jim had served a delicious dinner of Brussels sprouts and carrots in a dry fried noodle stir fry, Diane asked Jim how he was going to spend the evening hours while she attended her cats. The coals of the “March is here,” feeling were still glowing dimly at that hour, but the sun had fallen low in the sky.  “Well, I might write an essay for the web site,” Jim wheedled, but we both knew better.  After all, March is not June, when Diane will call Jim in at eight and he will whine that he needs to get one more row of onions planted, and she will come help him finish in jig time.

It may come as a shock to our once and future CSA members and other friends that CSA Day is CSA-Day-v1being celebrated on February 24 this year. It may also come as a shock that National CSA Day is celebrated every year in the last week of February because studies show that it is the week in which the largest number of people sign up for CSA shares.

So, I guess we’re a little slow here in Clark County. But hey, there’s a bandwagon to get on, so why not get started.  Maybe here at Hunters’ Greens we could aim for signing up our first CSA member by February 24. You can see what all the fuss is about at http://csaday.info/  .   The CSA Day web site is a good place to learn some more background about the CSA movement.

We at Hunters’ Greens are going to use CSA Day to launch our late winter/ spring campaign to recruit members for our summer share. Between now and then we will finish sprucing up our web site at http://huntersgreens.com , populating it with some recipes and essays to fill out the categories we hope to offer in the future.  Check it out.  Then, share it with your friends.

So… why do people sign up for CSA shares in February? Here are a few reasons that come to mind.

  1. In places only slightly weirder than Clark County, people are climbing over each other to join CSAs and they are afraid they might miss out.
  2. Farmers who are better organized than we have been in the past use the down time of the winter months to get their recruiting done, so that it doesn’t interfere with their soil preparation and planting time when the earth warms and dries a little.
  3. Farmers who are less well capitalized than we are, need cash flow early in the season to pay for supplies without incurring debt.
  4. Early commitments from returning CSA members help farmers know how much effort they will have to put into recruiting enough to meet their income requirements.

With regards to number 3, Jim may think we’re different, but Diane who has her finger on the pulse of our financial health is getting mighty nervous by this time of year (and every year seems to make her more nervous). So we don’t need everyone’s checks by February 24th, but a few might be nice.

Whether or not you send a check, a note signifying your commitment would be gratefully received, and remember we can take installments to fit your budget.

A big shout out to Lynn Clarke and Ann Foster for giving us a heads up about National CSA Day.

 

 

03. February 2017 · Comments Off on Spring Opportunities · Categories: season update
Sasha inspects garlic

Sasha inspects garlic

Jim felt the energy of spring begin to flow through his veins this week as the rain and snow ceased and the temperature crept above freezing. So, he put the website work aside for a few days and went out to recover the volunteer garlic from the weeds.

CSA shareholders may have noticed an absence of garlic in their shares last year. Two things happened.  We planted it too late and it got lost in the weeds, so we decided not to spend the time searching for the tiny bulbs.  What we did harvest we either ate or saved for this year’s seed.

Last fall we resolved to learn our lesson and made sure we got a couple of beds of garlic in before the rains set in (garlic is typically planted in the fall and overwinters with a couple leaf shoots emerging). Then as the winter proceeded we noticed the garlic we had left in the field was emerging out of the dead and dormant weeds.  We must have missed a lot of it because it formed neat rows.

Jim had noticed that most of the late planted bulbs had not begun to divide into cloves. If they had, each clove would have produced a plant, meaning the “volunteer” plants would be woefully over crowded.     But these single clove bulbs were perfectly spaced.

So this week Jim saw an opportunity. Although the soil was still a little too moist, he felt he could gently weed the garlic and perhaps salvage a bumper crop out of last year’s mistake.

Now, over the years, Diane has taken on the role of alerting Jim to nasty weeds that we need to control. The first time was when she noticed that Jim was tilling ground with Johnson grass in it and producing more weeds every time he tilled.  It turns out he was chopping the roots into pieces and each piece was sprouting a new weed.  Now we use harrows and rakes to pull long strands of Johnson grass roots out of the soil.

Last year, Diane began warning Jim about what she called “dinner plate” grass. This grass grows in a sunburst radial pattern laying flat along the ground and putting down small root around the edge of the circle (like strawberry vines).  Diane was finding sunbursts as large as dinner plates.

When Jim abandoned the garlic, there were dinner plates in the bed, by the time the rains came they were turkey platters. This week Jim dug out turkey platters.  The grass blades and stems had died back, but the roots seemed quite healthy.  All this is to say that Jim is ready to take Diane seriously about dinner plate grass.

So excavating the garlic from the dinner plate grass turned into a four day job, but despite dire predictions of ice storms the weather held out until Jim was able to finish weeding and raking in some organic soil amendments. Northwest garden guru Steve Solomon says fertilize the garlic when the spring crocuses emerge (our daffodils emerged this week).

Over the years, we have learned that seizing the day on those brief occasions when the rain stops and the sun emerges can yield substantial benefits as the season progresses. If all goes well, garlic will be back on the menu here at Hunters’ Greens, BIG TIME

27. January 2017 · Comments Off on Winter Triage · Categories: season update

For the last twenty years or so, the farmers at Hunters’ Greens have been laboring under the misconception that farmers get to rest in the winter time. Each year we imagine that we will set aside so many weeks in December and January to relax, visit antique stores, watch videos, etc.  Somehow it never seems to work out.

Digital Camera

Reducing Snow Load

The truth is… winter is really in charge. Every week or so, winter throws us a new challenge that sends us into crisis mode.  This year it started with rain and falling leaves.  Diane is usually the harbinger of impending doom, “Jim, the water is running down the barge boards on the barn!”  “Jim, the rental gutters are overflowing!”  Ever since Diane knocked herself out trying to saw a limb that didn’t clear the ladder and ended up having an MRI in the emergency room, Jim has stopped asking why she doesn’t take care of it herself.

The first frost came very late this year, but when frost arrives, it’s time to drain the outdoor faucets and harvest any tender crops that can be saved. As the frost periods get colder and longer we progressively harvest, clean and store the hardier crops.   Then, the artichokes need to be mulched.  We can combine this with raking up leaves in our more manicured areas and in the orchard, using the leaves for mulch; “feeding two birds with one seed,” as Neva Hassanein used to say.

When a rare cold snap with snow comes along, we start applying triage. Each of us carries a long  list that  needs addressing.  Near the top, is turning the faucets that can’t be drained on to drip, telling the renter to keep the cupboard doors under his sink open, checking the strength of anti-freeze in all the water cooled engines, winterizing out buildings for their pet residents, and so on.  Each day these tasks are prioritized based on the severity and immanency of the disaster that will result if they are ignored.  Jim adds another criterion to evaluate the level of anxiety Diane is expressing.

Snow adds another element. Any tarp or plastic sheeting roofs must be cleared of snow.  Early in our farming careers many farmers lost their hoop house when heavy snow followed by ice collapsed them and mangled the roof supports (that’s why we don’t own one).

And then there is the historic Fifield House in which we live. The main roof is a steep pitch and snow starts sliding off it as it accumulates.  Over the years more gently sloped roofs were added to cover a porch and add a wing.  These roofs meet our bedroom on the second floor at about ear level.  When a pile of snow slides off the upper roof and crashes onto a lower one, Diane’s anxiety level goes through the roof.

Now, Jim isn’t sure this is a top priority crisis, but calming Diane’s nerves is worth the resulting peace. Besides, he’s not really interested in finding out what it would be like to fix a roof collapse.  And so, Jim heads outside, gets a ladder and rake, and clears the snow off the lower roofs.

About this time, Diane stops wringing her arthritic hands, starts praising Jim’s intelligence, skills and bravery, and bakes Jim a carrot cake. Jim heads upstairs and settles in for a long winter’s nap.  Ah… rest at last, until winter throws us its next curve.  “Say what, the state B and O tax return is due in two weeks?!”

Digital Camera

Jim raking snow

 

11. March 2016 · Comments Off on And We’re Still Beginning · Categories: Farm Thoughts, season update

When last we checked in we were trying to get the garlic in. We did get one 80 foot bed in the other day before the rains returned. We figure thats about 500 bulbs. We’ll need more, but its a start. We managed it without the Troy Bilt tiller, which remains “in the shop” due to errors in judgement by the mechanic (Jim).

Eight flats of walla walla onions have sprouted green shoots in the green house germination chamber.

Jim's First Selfie

Jim’s First Selfie

One of you (a very orderly minded mathematical modeler for a computer hardware company) asked why we don’t do our maintenance at the end of the season. The simple answer is that we clearly don’t possess such orderly minds, but the question had us both puzzling it for the last few weeks. We came up with a few answer/excuses: 1) We desperately want to hibernate at the end of the season, 2) In our climate, we often don’t know that the season has ended until the next one is about to begin, and 3) Jim works to deadlines.

Even more deeply it got us to musing about how different minds work differently. Jim has always been interested in understanding systems and believes he has a certain facility for managing them. For years he would perk up when a computer person would say they were a “systems analyst,” and then be crestfallen when he learned the narrow meaning of their job title.

But recently he has come up with a title for what he does. He likes to say he is a “systems artisan” when he is farming, and a “systems poet” when he is writing about. Jim has concluded that his facility is an intuitive approach to systems. He holds all the elements in his head and finds himself inspired to act at particular moments. He maintains equipment when he “feels” it is the proper moment. Is he alway right? Clearly not, but in the highly fluid natural world of farming he would argue that intuition serves him as well as a mathematical equation, but perhaps he just suffers from “math envy.”

21. February 2016 · Comments Off on And So It Begins… · Categories: season update · Tags: , , ,

AND SO IT BEGINS…

Every winter a moment arrives when we realize that the dark days of hibernation are over. It is a bittersweet moment. The opportunity for leisurely outings will decline slowly at first, and then become rare. On the other hand, the depression of being cooped up indoors will begin to yield to the joy of moving our muscles outdoors again, then the satisfaction of the tiredness of a good day’s work and on to the exhaustion that will have us yearning for hibernation again.

This year the moment came with the forecast of four dry days with highs in the sixties. Four days is usually just enough to dry the soil enough to begin working it again in preparation to plant. With the wet winter, we are late planting the garlic, and so we made plans and began preparing for the effort. But alas in the words of one of our favorite farmer- poets, “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley!”

This year’s MOMENT reminded us of Nathan Lane’s character in the cult comedy MOUSE HUNT. With hubris, the self confident chef lights the duck l’orange and boasts “Timing is everything! Attention to detail — vital!” Behind him, a cockroach from a box of cigars crawls into Mayor Kinkle’s lobster almondine, sealing Chef Ernie Scmuntz’s doom.

The question is, “When the moment comes, will you be ready?”

Digital Camera

Little Red Stripped for Cleaning and Lube

For weeks Diane had been nagging Jim to install the new drive belt on our aging Troybilt Horse rototiller. Jim kept searching for the new belt we had purchased at an auto parts store, but couldn’t find it in the usual places he would store it. As the first sunny day came to a close, he finally found it stored with the auto supplies rather than the farm supplies.

Now Jim had already come up with a temporary fix, that would have allowed him to till up an area for the garlic, but he has developed a certain pride in keeping up on the maintenance of his farm equipment.

Initially he planned to roll and “drive” the tiller down to his work area in the granary that would provide a dry place to work, with electric light so he could work late if he needed to get it finished before the rains returned. Rolling down the hill he realized a tire was low making the rolling difficult. It was getting dark, and his search for a hand pump that worked proved futile.

The next day, he found a pump and filled the tire and continued the roll to the granary. He hit a bump a few feet away from the granary door. In the pause the bump created, he decided to change the belt first, so he could boast to Diane about completing the tardy task. Then he would finish the maintenance and till the garlic bed when it was dry enough.

He laid a tarp in the wet grass, for comfort and to be sure he didn’t lose any tools or parts in the grass. Then he went to look for the maintenance manual to review the procedure for changing the belt. It was nowhere to be found. He had an old version that called for removing a part to aid the clearance needed to stretch the belt over the pulleys. That wasn’t part of the new instructions, he was pretty sure, but whatever.

He got the belt changed, but in doing so, had loosened and removed a couple of parts that now left the belt in the tight “drive” position, with no ability to loosen it into neutral. Something was amiss. He went looking for the new manual again and found it had fallen behind the five gallon bucket of hydraulic fluid he had laid it on the last time he was using it.

Jim consulted the new manual, but the pickle he’d gotten himself into wasn’t described in the book. Eventually he managed to pry the belt off and follow the instructions to get it back to the way it should be.

Next our work was interrupted by an event at which we thought we could market our CSA shares, since we are looking to increase our numbers this year. This meant dragging out our display boards we hadn’t used for years, printing up brochures and business cards, physically cutting and pasting a color picture on the brochure, so we wouldn’t have to pay for color copies, and preparing a display basket of produce to highlight our wares.

These things always seem to come along during the week the sun is out.

Meanwhile, the four sunny days got re-forecast into two sunny days and two cloudy days with a slight chance of showers on the the third day.

By now the tiller was in pieces. The maintenance manual warns that you can’t accurately adjust the belt tension before you clean and re-lubricate the moving parts of the control lever. Jim knew he could fake it, but the pride in maintenance kicked in. He thought to himself, “A small farmer maintaining his tiller is like the soldier cleaning his gun, attention to detail — vital!” He dug out an old pair of briefs for a rag, a couple old tooth brushes to scrub out the caked dust that covered the machine, mixed with residues of lubricants. A fresh can of WD 40 completed the cleaning kit. He laid down to get the appropriate parts at eye level and began scrubbing them to a polish.

Each morning through this dry spell he would go out and dig a shovelful of dirt from his prospective garlic patch and perform the squeeze test. If you squeeze a ball of soil together, then drop it, it is ready if it falls apart. If it clings together in a sticky mass, you will only make more sticky masses by tilling.

On the third day, one corner of the patch passed the test. A few years ago, he would have started turning the soil over by hand and leaving the turned clods to dry further, but at a creaky 57, the task looked daunting. He went to the barn to check on the Farmall. The spring toothed harrow was attached to the big tractor. The harrow will begin loosening the soil without churning it like the tiller, then the loosened soil can continue drying until it is ready to till.

On the other hand, the Farmall is very heavy, and driving it across the surrounding moist soils is bound to cause compaction. The next question was will it start? Or put another way, “When the MOMENT comes will YOU be ready?”

Often when the Farmall sits for the winter, the battery drains down, and it doesn’t have the oomph for a cold start. Jim cleared away all the other equipment between the big red tractor and the doorway, checked the oil and antifreeze and climbed up to the high seat that put his head near the joists of the loft above. He pulled out the electric switch and tapped the starter pedal. The Farmall roared to life. Old faithful!

Gingerly Jim stuck to the most sod covered routes to the garlic patch. He carefully planned how he could harrow the area in the minimum number of passes, avoiding the fragile beds that had been cultivated in the fall. Within fifteen minutes he had loosened a small triangle of the driest soil. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a start.

The soil would have to dry another day to be ready for the tiller. A few sprinkles fell that day, but nothing serious. Jim returned to tiller maintenance.

There was a lot of caked dirt and grease. He was going to do it right. Besides, by now it was beginning to look light we might not get enough sun to take the next step. The now “mostly cloudy” was being re-forecast as light sprinkles with rain to follow the next day. At the end of the day, Jim threw a tarp over the tiller to keep it dry in case the forecast was off.

By the next morning the forecast was for rain in the afternoon. But rain in the afternoon in Portland can be rain in the morning in Brush Prairie, and it was. The tarp stayed over the tiller for the next two days. This morning Jim went out to finish the job. He got far enough that he could wheel the tiller into the granary. Some cleaning would have to be done before there would be room to work. In pushing things around, he knocked over the antique living room light that doubles as a shop light in the granary. The milk glass shade covering the empty mogul socket shattered into a few large chunks and a thousand tiny shards.

Timing is everything! Attention to detail — vital. Back in the Movie, after the dust settles, Ernie Scmuntz whines, “I can’t control everything.” To this Jim would repy, “Hell, Ernie. I can’t control anything!”

And so IT begins . . .

27. January 2016 · Comments Off on 2016 Shares Available Now · Categories: season update · Tags:

We hope the New Year is treating you well!

2016 SHARE SIGN UP. Diane is getting anxious about finances, so it’s once again time to pop the question regarding the 2016 season. Seasoned veterans will know the drill. We start asking now if you’ll be joining us for this year’s produce season, and we keep asking until you’ve all said yes or no. Alas, some of you will hold out until May.

Before you procrastinate, let us give you a few reasons why we start asking so early, and how you will help us if you give us an answer, whether it’s yes or no:

Digital Camera

Winter Squash For Winter Shares

1) It is the most efficient use of our time to do our marketing during these cold wet winter days, when there is little we can do to start growing your produce. The sooner we can stop marketing, the sooner we can give our full attention to growing your food.
2) The sooner we know how many returning members we have, the sooner we will know how many new members we need to find to fill out our roster.
3) Knowing how many committed members we have allows us to plan how much produce to grow.

So, at this time we will just ask you to drop us a line or give us a call and let us know if you will be joining us. As time goes by, we will become increasingly urgent about seeing checks come in.

Speaking of checks, our summer season will remain at $500 again this year, while our winter storage vegetable share will increase to $150. We last raised our summer share price in 2012, and decided to hold out one more year, to give us an opportunity to discuss with all of you how we should decide what the price of the share should be going forward. Our online brochure/sign up form should be updated in the coming weeks. Installment payments are welcome. If you start early, you can have your share paid for by the start up date.

Speaking of dates, we will shoot for a May 25 start date and an October 5 finish.

KITCHEN TIPS. Rather than our seasonal recipes, this week we’d thought we’d share a couple of tips we’ve discovered over the winter. FLOW CONTROL. Diane has always complained that Jim is using too much oil, and it is ending up on the ceiling, walls, and her antique kitchen items. So here’s our tip: rather than peeling off the seal on the top of the oil bottle, we just poke a few holes in it. Now, rather than dumping out a big glob, Jim can sprinkle it out at a more controlled rate. This technique can be applied elsewhere in the home, we use it on bleach and witch hazel bottles, and Diane controls her flow of powdered cleansers by lifting the adhesive seal and reapplying with only two holes uncovered.

HANDY DINNER ROLL STORAGE. We love bread! We’ve found some great dinner/ sandwich rolls at our local Winco store, including a ciabatta roll, and one called dutch crunch. With only two of us, we need to freeze some so they don’t mold before we eat them, but then it’s a pain if we want to slice them. So…. we slice and butter them (with margarine) before we freeze them. Then we can pull them out, split the halves, and sprinkle cheese and garlic on them and heat them in the oven, or grill them face down in a skillet for toast sandwiches.

22. May 2015 · Comments Off on Yesterday’s Share – 5.20.2015 · Categories: Share Notes

Dear CSA Members,

Apologies for the general chaos and glitches this week.  The first week is always the toughest, but this year seemed to be more chaotic than most.  Hopefully things will be smoother from here on out.

Yesterday’s share should have included:  Approximately 2 and a half pounds of spinach, a bunch of radishes, two Chinese (or napa) cabbages, some green or immature garlic and a small bunch of baby beet greens.

GREEN GARLIC.  “Green garlic” is the name we give to immature garlic.  Often it looks like a green onion, and you just chop it up like you would a green onion.  This year, it’s gotten a little more mature and has begun the bulbing procees.  At this point, the plant starts sending all the good stuff to the bulb.  You may have to experiment to discover which parts are useable. Our first approach would be to peel off a couple layers and start at the bottom and start slicing across the bulb.  If the outer layers are tough and won’t slice easily, peel a couple layers off and try again until it slices easily and cleanly.  keep slicing up the bulb and stem until the outer layer becomes fibrous, peel another layer or two off and continue.  At worst you may have to peel down to the tiny cloves that are forming and use those.  Once chopped, use like you would regular garlic.

CHINESE OR NAPA CABBAGE.  The specimens you have may not match up to what you are used to seeing in a super-market.  Seed catalogs describe this variety as “lettucey”.  You might think of it as a loose leaf napa as opposed to the usual heading type.  Also, because of our long days at our latitude, our napas want to put up flowers earlier than they would in China, Japan or California.  Most of you should have gotten one with a flower stem and one with out.  If the flower stem has not opened yellow flowers yet, you can probably eat the whole stem along with the rest of the cabbage.  If it has, you will want to pinch the top out, back to where the stem becomes tender and discard the tough bit.

Our classic napa recipe comes from the Time-Life Foods of the World series: RECIPES: THE COOKING OF CHINA.  CREAMED CHINESE CABBAGE:  Trim and cut napa into 1 by 2 inch pieces.  Heat 2 tablespoons of chicken fat or cooking oil over high heat for 30 seconds, then turn down the heat to medium.  Stir fry napa for about a minute, until the napa is coated with fat. Ssprinkle with a teaspoon of salt (omit if using salted broth) and a quarter teaspoon sugar, pour in 3/4 cup chicken broth or stock, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer 10 minutes..  Remove napa with slotted spoon to a heated platter.  Turn the heat to high under the remaining liquid.  dissolve one and a half teaspoons of cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold milk and add to pan liquid. Stir until thickened.  Pour  sauce over waiting napa.  Sprinkle with chopped ham.  We serve over rice or toasted bread.

Vegetarians and Vegans may want to substitute a vegetable broth and a rich salty garnish like salted peanuts.

SPINACH IDEAS.  We always recommend that folks eat some of the first harvest of spinach raw in a salad.  Spinach is good by its lonesome, but fresh local strawberries, craisins, orange slices, bacon, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, bleu cheese, boiled eggs, etc. all make good accents.  Recently we topped ours with some boiled chicken warmed in some barbecue sauce made by CSA member Dave Warner.  Mmmmmmm, thanks Dave.

SPINACH PAUPIETTES.  When you’re ready to cook some of your spinach, we just tried Lynn Morash’s Spinach and Fish Paupiettes from THE VICTORY GARDEN COOKBOOK.  Lynn’s recipe calls for enough butter to cancel the healthy effects of the fish and spinach, but I think we’ll tone it down after this.  Basically you sauté some previously blanched and chopped spinach with some onion, season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.  Butter oven proof bowls the right size for a single serving.  Wrap a serving of fish around the inside of the bowl (we used  pacific rock fish).  Fill the bowl with spinach.  Cover the bowl with ovenproof lid or foil and place in a baking pan.  Fill the pan half way up the outsides of the bowls with water.  Place in a 400 degree oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until fish flakes. Pour off some of the juices from the bowls and prepare a white sauce with it.  Overturn the bowls onto a dinner plate and pour sauce over it.  The fish stays very moist and tender.

So, until next week

Bon Appetit.

Jim and Diane
256-3788

16. May 2015 · Comments Off on Our first CSA delivery will be May 20 this year. · Categories: season update · Tags:

Dear CSA Members and other friends,

Our first CSA delivery will be May 20 this year.

You are receiving this e-mail if: 1) you have signed up for our CSA, 2)You have been in our CSA in the past and you have not yet told us you don’t want to be in the CSA, 3) You are an immediate family member or other friend/colleague who we think might like to read the essays that often come after the CSA business information, or 4) we have mistakenly included in one of the other 3 categories.

If you belong to category 3 and wish to continue receiving these e-mails, there is no need to reply.  If you belong to one of the other categories, we would like to receive a reply, 1) to confirm everyone who needs to get this message is getting it, and 2) to hear from those of you who wish to be removed from the mailing list.

Some time in the next few days, if all goes according to plan, everyone on the CSA e-mail list will receive and individualized e-mail to check if these e-mails are being screened out, or otherwise not received by some of you.

06. April 2015 · Comments Off on Shares, Update, Farmland · Categories: season update · Tags: , , ,

Dear Once and Future CSA Members and Friends,

SHARES.  Diane is beating Jim about the ears and screaming about only having 13 shares.  Jim tries not to worry about it and have faith we’ll fill up.  We suppose its time for us to ask you to let us know whether you are in or whether you are out.
UPDATE.  The winter (now spring) continues to be unprecedented in its mildness, giving us more opportunities to get started planting early than we have ever seen in recent memory.  The peas are up and Diane has scattered a thin layer of grass clippings over them to hide them from winged marauders.  The direct seeded spinach is up and we have been able to add a bed of transplants to those.  We experimented with planting out a row of tiny walla walla seedlings to see if they will take off.  We’ve also risked small plantings of radishes, carrots, beets, arugula, broccoli raab and napa cabbage.  These are crops, some of which we often don’t get to until May if the rain keeps us out of the fields.
We are rebuilding the green house that blew up in the second big wind storm this winter.  We bought it for about $200 about ten years ago at an auction and a friend hauled it from Hillsboro for us.  It may cost more to rebuild than we paid for it.
Jim is enjoying walking our renter’s puppy,  Zuki, a husky/German Shepherd mix.  Diane, who Jim often calls “the pet police” is making sure the owner gives him the proper food, gets his shots and brings him in before dark and during rain storms.  As Jim likes to say, “It takes a village to raise a puppy.”
FARMLAND RESCUE.  Jim submitted an edited version of the following piece to the Battle Ground Reflector.  We didn’t see it last week, but it would be more timely this week, anyway.

Letter to Battle Ground Reflector (not yet published and edited for length)

We felt deeply wounded when a county planner characterized the county’s small scale farmers as hobbyists growing food for our own use and the food bank (not that these aren’t worthy goals) [Battle Ground Reflector, 1/7/15]. Thankfully your editors don’t seem to share his view, as they provide coverage of our growing produce, vineyard, horse and alpaca sectors.

We would characterize our small scale farmers as a group of purpose driven entrepreneurs striving to provide wholesome locally produced products, and secure our local economy from the vagaries of global booms and busts.

And don’t think that our small farm community doesn’t care about our larger scaled brothers and sisters. If the Lagler family must leave the county, their milk and their competent farming practice will be sorely missed. While the truck picking up their milk bears the Tillamook brand, the milk is destined for the Portland area fluid milk pool. Chances are that at least one of the gallons we drank in the last month came from Lagler cows. We small farmers aren’t ready to produce milk on that scale.*

While small farm may not yet dominate the local farm economy, our contribution is meaningful and growing. Take our 10 acre farm. It supports Jim and Diane Hunter, provides low cost housing for two aspiring young men, is home to two historic structures, a home for 10 to 20 abandoned cats and two rescued dogs, as well as habitat for a host of wildlife species including deer, coyotes, great horned owls, red tailed hawks, pileated woodpeckers, yellow bellied sapsuckers, and many others including a diversity of pollinating insects.

Of the ten acres, much is in grass and forest. We making our living on approximately 2 acres of vegetables. We feed 30 Clark County families their servings of vegetables for 20 weeks a year. If that seems small, we mean it to be. You see rather than the conventional approach of producing the most that we can, we strive to produce only as much as we need, while consuming the smallest possible stock of resources to do it.

Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Grinnell College, one of the finest colleges in the country (google it if you don’t recognize it), and a masters from WSU’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Diane worked the first half of her career as a bookkeeper. Somewhere an anthropology professor and a bookkeeper hold “family wage” jobs because Jim and Diane found a higher purpose and can live on a lot less. Mr. Madore has described us as “exceptional.”

If the Lagler family must leave, you could fill the land with vegetable patches like ours and support 300 couples like us, leaving 600 “family wage” jobs for 300- 600 other families.

Join us in urging the Laglers to stay, or if they must leave to find a higher agricultural purpose for their land.

We all need to consider the alternative. Some may tout the proposed industrial park, as jobs, jobs, jobs, but what if it just becomes a place to park raw materials destined for Asia, or goods produced in far off factories destined for our big box stores. Where are the jobs in that?

Are we called to serve the greed driven global economy, or a purpose driven local economy. We must choose now, for as a wise philosopher once said, “You cannot serve two masters, for you will love the one and hate the other…” Diane and Jim have made their choice, how about you?

Come to the Rural Industrial Land Bank Open House, April 15, 5:30 to 7:00 at the CASEE Center at 11104 N.E. 149th St. in Brush Prairie, and share your views. Oh, and get your taxes done early so you can make it.

*As it turns out, this information may be out of date. Lagler’s milk may actually now travel to Tillamook, Oregon where it may be used for ice cream, butter, yogurt, cheese and other products. A study conducted in the process of de-designating the dairy as agricultural resource land, implies that since it is sold to a firm outside the county, it is not important to the local economy or food system. We can think of dozens of reasons why that’s not true.