Newsletter No. 6

The Sycamore

By Wendell Berry

In the place that is my own place, whose earth
I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,
a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.
Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,
hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.
There is no year it has flourished in
that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it
that is its death, though its living brims whitely
at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.
Over all its scars has come the seamless white
of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history
healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection
in the warp and bending of its long growth.
It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.
It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.
It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.
In all the country there is no other like it.
I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling
the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.
I see that it stands in its place, and feeds upon it,
and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • Safflower
  • Yarrow
  • Orach pods
  • Geranium
  • Mint
  • Echinacea
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Bupleurem
  • Delphinium
  • Feverfew
  • Calendula
  • Marigold
  • Nigella
  • Snap dragons
  • Amaranth
  • Lupine
  • Flax pods
  • Cosmos
  • Mignonette
  • Agrostemma
  • Statice
  • Salvia
  • Globe thistle
  • Cynoglossum

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Parsley
  • Collards
  • Purple cauliflower
  • Radicchio
  • Cocozelle squash
  • Purple spring onions
  • Purple cabbage
  • Romanesco cauliflower

THIS WEEK'S RECIPES:

 

01. RADICCHIO FLAT BREAD

 

02. ROASTED PURPLE CAULIFLOWER

Newsletter No. 5

Hello from Vibrant Valley Farm !

This week we're still rearranging from the weekend's summer solstice party (thank you to all who came and made it awesome), harvesting the first of our dahlias and summer squash and getting ready to plant in our recently finished and third hoop house.

This hoop house will hold 47 different types of chrysanthemums. Mums originated in China and have been in cultivation for over 2,000 years. They are very important to Chinese culture and can be seen in traditional artwork, made into tea and thought of as the meditation flower. They were brought to Japan in 386 A.D. and labeled kiku. It is Japan's national flower. The chrysanthemum made it to Holland in 1689 and the U.S. in 1798.

Under natural conditions (not reducing daylight through covering) mums bloom in the fall. When mums are seedlings, like ours, they should be pinched (like many other flowers we grow). Pinching has many benefits like more blooms and branching, controlled timing of blooms and larger blooms. Pinching is simply removing the tip
of the main stem to stop upward growth. We hope to pinch and plant this week.

We are excited to be experimenting with many types of mums like spider types (spikey looking) and football types (large heads). Stay tuned for more news on our mums !


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • Cress pods
  • Safflower
  • Yarrow
  • Sweet peas
  • Nigella
  • Snap dragons
  • Delphinium
  • Clarkia
  • Acroclinium
  • Liatris spicata
  • Lupine
  • Dusty Miller
  • Lamb's ear
  • Sunflower
  • Cosmos
  • Mignonette
  • Agrostemma
  • Statice
  • Saliva
  • Globe thistle
  • Cynoglossum

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Summer squash
  • Broccoli
  • Silly salad
  • Garlic
  • Epazote
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radicchio
  • Kale 

Newsletter No. 4

Hello from vibrant valley farm ! The field is almost full with vegetables and flowers as we enter summer. Happy Summer! We're building a new hoop house, harvesting a ton and hosting a Solstice party this Saturday ... We hope you all can come.
 

This weekend Kara and I went to an indigo and shibori class put on by Wildcraft Studio. We've hosted Wildcraft on the farm to lead a natural dyeing workshop where we deadheaded all sorts of flowers like zinnias and safflower to cook up dye pots and dye wool and silk. They'll be out here again this fall and in trade we got to take the indigo class. As some of you know we are growing indigo after a collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Craft and PNCA and Rowland Ricketts (renowned indigo grower and artisan). We've learned a bunch about growing and experimenting with dyeing fresh leaves from the farm and dye packets from the Internet. And we've become obsessed with dyeing, experimenting, and learning as much as possible about indigo and other natural dyes.

In this weekend's class we tried dyeing techniques by manipulating fabric with stitching, wood blocks, folding and tying. It was super fun. Stay tuned for ways you can experiment and dye with us!


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • Cress pods
  • Safflower
  • Yarrow
  • Sweet peas
  • Nigella
  • Snap dragons
  • Delphinium
  • Clarkia
  • Acroclinium
  • Liatris spicata
  • Lupine
  • Dusty Miller
  • Lamb's ear
  • Sunflower
  • Cosmos
  • Mignonette
  • Agrostemma
  • Statice
  • Saliva
  • Globe thistle
  • Cynoglossum

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Bilko cabbage
  • Swiss chard
  • Kale
  • Silky salad
  • Snow peas
  • Thyme 
  • Broccoli 

THIS WEEK'S RECIPES:

 

01. SWISS CHARD FRITTERS

 

02. WARM CRUNCHY SNOW PEA SALAD

Newsletter No. 3

Dear CSA and CSB members,

a Bridal Bouquet from last weekend

a Bridal Bouquet from last weekend

This week our CSB or Community Supported Bouquet program begins! Our CSB is just like our CSA but instead of vegetables you get bouquets. Here at Vibrant Valley Farm we grow hundreds of different flowers including statice, stock, mignonette, dahlias and snapdragons. They come in all sorts of colors, shapes and heights for mixing and matching to build dynamic bouquets.

Our flowers are grown in rows of their own and interspersed with other vegetable crops to add biodiversity and natural pest control. Flowers like sweet alyssum, sunflowers, calendula and marigolds attract and feed beneficial insects that battle pests helping to create a more healthful and diverse ecosystem on the farm.

In our fourth season, our flower program has expanded to include delivering all over the Portland metro area including many New Seasons locations, local florists, local flower shops and CSB locations. We also do tons of weddings and events; offering buckets of flowers and arrangements. Check out our website!

Not only are local flowers important to the health and beauty of our farm they are also important to the health of our local economy. Most flowers in your grocery stores today are from abroad, mainly Ecuador and Columbia. Those of us concerned about our carbon footprints and the miles our food travels often don’t even think about it in terms of flowers. About 75% of flowers found in the U.S. are imported from Latin America.

Free trade agreements and the first world’s thirst for cheap flowers have destroyed food sovereignty and communities in what are now flower producing countries. Due to these trade agreements and the subsequent opportunity for massive profits by concentrating a labor intensive industry where labor can be most effectively exploited, historically subsistence farmers are often forced to grow cheap flowers reliant on pesticides, monoculture practices, and child and slave labor. The pesticides used on most imported flowers have been known to cause an array of life threatening diseases and ailments for the workers who handle them. They are literally dunked in liquid preservatives to allow for their long journeys around the world. Because of this influx of low priced flowers almost 60% of flower farms in the U.S. have gone out of business since 1992. Check out Amy Stewart’s book titled Flower Confidential for more information.

We thank you for supporting the beauty and creativity the flowers provide us and are excited to bring you ecologically and responsibly grown flowers every week! 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • Sweet peas
  • Acroclinium 
  • Cosmos 
  • Flax pods 
  • Liatris spicata 
  • Mignonette 
  • Yarrow 
  • Cerinthe 
  • Sunflowers 
  • Agrostemma 
  • Stock 
  • Safflower 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Hakurei 
  • Scallions
  • Lovage
  • Arugula bunches
  • Salad mix
  • Broccoli
  • Fennel 
  • Caraflex cabbage 

THIS WEEK'S RECIPES:

 

01. VIBRANT VALLEY GOLDEN SAUERKRAUT

 

02. LOVAGE SOUP

Newsletter No. 2

Hello and welcome to the second week of the CSA!

This week has been super hot. Farming in this weather is not only hard on us it's hard on our vegetables and flowers. When the weather is like this things tend to bolt (a growers way of saying go to seed). The plant, stressed out and thinking it may die, starts to flower and then seed to create its offspring. Your cilantro is a great example of this. Some vegetables are negatively affected and get woody (tough) or bitter but cilantro gets even more flavorful... We're excited to see what you think. 

Vibrant Valley Farm also grows a ton of flowers and those, too, are definitely feeling this heat. They are blooming like mad... Up to 3 weeks early! So we're cutting like mad. 

Warrior Rock Lighthouse on Sauvie Island

Warrior Rock Lighthouse on Sauvie Island

We take care of ourselves by taking breaks (we got on a boat and took a tour around the island yesterday) and drinking tons of water. Most of the plants survive this heat with occasional overhead watering, extra irrigation and shade when we can give it. We just put shade cloth over our 2 hoop houses. We also make sure to harvest vegetables and flowers super early, wash them in cold water if necessary and store them in our 38 degrees cooler. Hot weather plants like zinnias, peppers and tomatoes love this weather. We can't wait for a break. Stay cool! 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Watermelon Radishes.
  • Fennel
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Mustard Greens
  • Peas
  • Garlic Scapes

Newsletter No. 1

IMG_5912.JPG

Welcome to Vibrant Valley Farm's 2016 Community Supported Agriculture program! We are thrilled to have you as a member of our community and to showcase all our hard work. 

As CSA members you will receive everything from our famous silky salad mix to a wide variety of peppers including padrons and Nardellos. Every Wednesday morning before you pick up your CSA we will email you recipes of all sorts to expand you culinary world and a small tidbit of what's happening on the farm in our newsletter (this is also available on our website along with all our past newsletters and recipes). 

Vibrant Valley Farm is in its fourth season of operation as a CSA, CSB (community supported bouquets), wholesale cut flower and vegetable farm. Vibrant Valley Farm all started 14 years ago in the dorms of University of Oregon when Kara and I, thinking we were hilarious, bonded over knowing every word to a TLC song. Since then we've been farming, gardening, cooking, teaching and laughing separately and collectively everywhere from

Argentina to Spain to California to Italy. After doing a lot of the same things and brainstorming ways of doing them better we decided to start Vibrant Valley Farm. 

We started in 2013 with a season in Carlton on a jorry clay wine filled slope, then moved to a farm in Mcminnville surrounded by big Ag and filberts until we found our current home on Sauvie Island (just 10 miles from downtown Portland). We are currently farming over 4 acres with a lot of help

From 2-4 volunteers, 3 employees and 1 cat named Parsnip. 

Starting a farm from nothing, with no money and then moving it three times is no easy feat. The only way this has been possible from the beginning is through CSA memberships. Many of you are still with us. And we love you. We are so happy to have new members join this season and can't say it enough but truly this has been made possible by all of you. So thank you very much; this farm is as much your as it is ours. 

Cheers to a wonderful season ! 

Love, 

Vibrant Valley Farm 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Kale
  • Mustards 
  • Dill
  • Radishes
  • Silky salad mix 
  • Baby Beets with tops 
  • Green Garlic 

 

Newsletter No. 22

Typically we write a day in the life as the last CSA newsletter but because we wanted to give you a greater scope of what we do here at Vvf we decided to do a week in the life.

Days usually start at 5 am with coffee, tea and/or mate in hands as we assess the chalkboard where flowers or vegetables to be harvested are written. This summer was so hot it would sometimes already be 80 degrees outside when we arrived so we had to hustle to beat the heat and the sun. On Mondays we, Kara, Mary Ellen, Christina and I, with Diesel the dog looking on and guarding us, cut flowers for our CSB and our New Seasons accounts. One of us delivers New Season's flowers to their distribution center in clackamas as the others weed, plant, harvest, sow seeds or work on other projects. Monday's were also typically Padron harvest days ... We had over 500 plants this year ! And a meeting if we could squeeze it in.

Tuesday's are CSA and restaurant harvest days which takes us well into the afternoon where like everyday we stop for lunch sometimes heating homemade meals up but mostly eating random farm veggies, hummus and rice cakes. Tuesday afternoons consist of writing the newsletter and sending pics to our one and only marketing/advertising/recipe writer/communications/ website main man Justin. Then Mary Ellen and Christina pack CSAs in assembly line style lightning fast while Kara and I make bouquets bumping music that Mary Ellen and Christina don't seem to like.

Wednesday's, our CSA/B day, are restaurant harvest days until we depart to deliver to you and sometimes other restaurants and florists along the way.

Thursday's are days full of finishing the restaurant harvest ... We now supply to 20 a week! Kara leaves as soon as possible in the morning and drives all day delivering as far as Yamhill County. The farm stays busy with projects and more of the same old stuff. Thursday's have also been an essential wedding planning/correspondence day as we've done flowers for 15 weddings this year!

Friday's start with flower harvests for weddings and New Seasons. Relk, our super hero builder/harvester/planner/project manager/mechanical tillage wizard is here and usually rolls in with a mug full of coffee and news updates. Friday's have also been, after the arrangements, boutonnières, etc. are picked up by the bridal party of that week and projects and harvest slows down, a time to break for dessert. The sugar tooth queens, Mary Ellen and Christina, instated this new tradition of taking turns making and enjoying desserts once a week.

Sometimes our weeks are punctuated with a farm dinner or tour or visit, help from volunteers like our CSA/B members Misty, Judy or Josh or a dinner out to a restaurant we deliver to like Luce or PREAM.

This year we've taken off more weekends than not due to Relk's help in setting up automated water and constant help from Mary Ellen and Christina. Vibrant Valley Farm has harvested and sold, sown and grown more than we've ever in the past. You, our CSA, made and makes it all possible. We truly can't thank you enough. Cheers to another wonderful season !


HAVE YOU TAKEN THE 2015 SEASON SURVEY?

Do you have a moment to tell us how you felt about participating in our 2015 Community Supported Agriculture or Community Supported Bouquet subscription programs? Never fear, your responses are anonymous and are much appreciated as they will help us better serve our members in the future. Thanks for taking the time! 

 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • globe amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos
  • aster
  • rudbeckia
  • stachy's
  • dahlia
  • dusty miler
  • scented geranium
  • salvia
  • nigella
  • chocolate cosmos
  • veronica spicata
  • echinacea
  • bupleurum 
  • eucalyptus
  • flowering cabbage

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • butternut squash
  • red kuri squash
  • baby hakurei turnips
  • kale
  • celeriac
  • fingerling potatoes
  • broccoli
  • fennel
  • parsley
  • carrots
 

Newsletter No. 21

This week you'll find parsnips in your box. Parsnips are a root vegetable in the carrot family. They are native to Eurasia and were grown by the Romans. Before the introduction of cane and beet sugar in Europe parsnips were used as a sweetener. Emperor Tiberius, the second emperor of the Roman Empire, accepted parsnips as part of the payment owed to Rome by Germany. The Romans believed parsnips were an aphrodisiac.

Parsnips were introduced to North America in the 19th century by the French Canadian colonists and the British colonists simultaneously. It was soon replaced as the main starch by the potato.

Its botanical name, pastinaca sativa, most likely comes from the Latin word pastino meaning to prepare the ground for planting of the vine or pastus meaning food. Sativa translates to sown. Its common name parsnip comes from the Middle English word pasnepe which is an alteration of nep (turnip) and the Latin word for a kind of fork pastinum.

Lisa, Elaine & Kara

Lisa, Elaine & Kara

Eaten both cooked and raw this vegetable is high in potassium, fiber and antioxidants. It can also be made into wine and in Italy is fed to pigs especially to those bred to make Parma ham. Parsnips can overwinter or stay in the ground through the winter and actually become sweeter with the cold which helps to convert starch into sugar.

Store parsnips in a plastic bag in vegetable crisper drawer of the fridge.


RESERVE YOUR 2016 CSA SHARE,
GET A FREE THANKSGIVING BOX

Sign up now for our 2016 CSA Share and receive a FREE Thanksgiving Box, valued at $75! Inside you'll find all your Thanksgiving dinner essentials: potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, herbs, a sugar pie pumpkin and more! It's just our way of saying thank you for your continued support of Vibrant Valley Farm.

Thanksgiving Boxes will be delivered Wednesday, November 18th to your usual pick-up location.

Click the button below to sign up and email us with any questions you may have at info@vibrantvalleyfarm.com.

But wait, there's more: Choose to pay for your 2016 CSA Share in full and save $50! Otherwise a 25% Deposit is required to reserve your CSA Half or Full Share. 


The 2015 Season in Review

Do you have a moment to tell us how you felt about participating in our 2015 Community Supported Agriculture or Community Supported Bouquet subscription programs? Never fear, your responses are anonymous and are much appreciated as they will help us better serve our members in the future. Thanks for taking the time! 

 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • globe amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos
  • aster
  • rudbeckia
  • stachy's
  • dahlia
  • dusty miler
  • scented geranium
  • salvia
  • nigella
  • chocolate cosmos
  • veronica spicata
  • echinacea
  • bupleurum 
  • eucalyptus
  • flowering cabbage

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • thyme
  • delicata squash
  • fingering potatoes 
  • chard
  • joi choi
  • red onion 
  • cherry belle radishes
  • celery
  • parsnips 
  • pumpkin

Newsletter No. 20

IMG_0978.jpg

This week CSA members will find the long awaited, ugly but delicious celeriac.

Celeriac takes 112 days to reach maturity as opposed to other vegetables like the radish which take only about 30 days. Celeriac, also known as turnip-rooted celery, knob celery, celery root or in Homer's Odyssey selinon, is a member of the carrot or apiaceae family.

Celeriac has been grown for centuries all around the world and is native to and still grows wild in the Mediterranean Basin and Northern Europe. In Peru, celeriac is harvested when young because of its intense flavor. The French make celerie remoulade, a salad made of peeled and grated celeriac, soaked in lemon juice, and dressed in a mustard mayonnaise sauce.

IMG_0976.jpg

Eaten raw or cooked celeriac tastes a lot like celery. It can be roasted, fried, mashed, sautéed and blanched. The leaves and stems are often used as garnish or for stock.

Store in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to two weeks. For more information about Celeriac, as well as recipes and tips on how to use it, click here to the see Epicurious WHAT TO COOK NOW post.

Enjoy!


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • globe amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos
  • aster
  • rudbeckia
  • stachy's
  • dahlia
  • dusty miler
  • scented geranium
  • salvia
  • nigella
  • chocolate cosmos
  • veronica spicata
  • echinacea
  • bupleurum 
  • eucalyptus
  • flowering cabbage

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • celeriac
  • mustard greens
  • sage
  • white onions
  • acorn squash
  • fennel
  • fennel
  • carrots
  • beets
  • watermelon radishes

Write here...

 

 

 

Newsletter No. 19

This week you'll find the first of the season's winter squash. We plant many varieties of squash into seed trays in the spring, including the zucchini you saw through the summer. The winter squash varieties are harvested in the fall but can be stored and eaten through the winter months, hence the name winter squash. It is a member of the curcurbita family, like melons and cucumbers, and like all members of this family it is botanically a fruit. They make up the largest fruits on the planet; one farmer grew a 1,140 pound squash! 

The word squash comes from the New England Native American word for vegetables eaten while green (zucchini) askutasquash. Squash together with corn and beans formed the core of Mesoamerican diet and crop complexes known as three sisters or milpas.

With nearly all types of winter squash everything, the seeds, the fruit, the flower and even the leaves, can be eaten. And traditional cultures even found other uses for them. The Sioux tribe of the Great Plains flattened strips of pumpkin, dried them and made mats. 

Red kuri is the variety of winter squash you got this week. It has many names including:

  • Japanese squash
  • Baby Red Hubbard
  • Onion squash
  • Uchiki Kuri squash

Like all winter squash it is a great source of vitamin A and C. 

Enjoy! 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • joi choi
  • celery
  • leeks
  • parsley
  • cabbage
  • red kuri squash
  • eggplant
  • roma tomatoes
  • red onion
  • sweet peppers

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • globe amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow

 
 

  • flowering kale
  • cosmos
  • aster
  • rudbeckia
  • stachy's
  • dahlia
  • dusty miler
  • scented geranium
  • salvia
  • nigella
  • chocolate cosmos
  • veronica spicata
  • echinacea
  • bupleurum 

This week's recipes:

 

01. JOI CHOI KIMCHI

 

02. BRAISED LEEKS

 

Newsletter No. 18

In this week's box you will find chervil (pronounced SHER-vil), a member of the apiaceae or carrot family. It is also known as cicily, sweet cicily and gourmet's parsley.

Chervil is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia or Caucasus, and was spread through Europe by the Romans. The herb is a member of the traditional fines herbes (along with tarragon, parsley and chives) which is essential to French cuisine. Fines herbes are added to dishes like omelettes or soups at the end of cooking. 

Chervil has been known to be good for digestion and lowering blood pressure. Added to vinegar and consuming or eating the entire plant has been known to cure hiccups. 

At Vibrant Valley Farm chervil was at first difficult to germinate. We read it needs more light than other seeds when germinating so we covered lightly with vermiculite instead of soil to let more light in. 

Enjoy trying out chervil and click below to read more on keeping herbs fresh! 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • globe amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos
  • aster
  • rudbeckia
  • stachy's
  • dahlia
  • dusty miler
  • scented geranium
  • salvia
  • nigella
  • chocolate cosmos
  • veronica spicata
  • echinacea

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • summer squash
  • kohlrabi
  • rainbow chard
  • kale
  • carrots
  • storage onions
  • chevril
  • fingerling potatoes
  • fennel

Newsletter No. 17

About a month ago PICA, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, asked us to help with a special art exhibit and workshop by growing indigo. Indigo is an ancient natural dye plant used to dye fabrics all around the world. 

Two weeks ago we sowed persicaria tinctoria or polygonum tinctoria seed in seed trays. There are a few types of indigo but we sowed the Japanese or Chinese variety commonly known as dyer's knotweed, a member of the buckwheat family.

The Japanese refer to this plant as "ai". It has been used as a dye since at least 700 bc but was replaced by another type of indigo called indigofera or true indigo. True indigo is in the bean family and is used all around the world to dye blue jeans. This type of can also improve your soil by fixing nitrogen. 

Ideally we would have sown the seed after the first frost of the year (usually in April) but because we were contacted only a bit ago we decided to give it our best shot and sow it now. The plant does not tolerate frost so we will be growing it in a hoop house or plastic high tunnel through the winter. 

The leaves will be harvested in time for PICA's spring workshop. When a bruise on the leaf leaves a deep blue mark you know it's time to harvest the leaves for dyeing. This means the indican has formed in the plant. The indican is a clear, water-soluble glucoside derived from tryptophan (yup, the same stuff in your turkey meat) that, once oxidized, turns a deep blue. Each leaf contains indican as less than 1% of its volume. Many leaves will go toward making the dye lot they will eventually use.

We're not sure which method PICA will use to dye the fabrics come spring but there are a couple of methods, both of which have fallen out of favor commercially due to the introduction of synthetic indigo and, more recently, crystalline freeze-dried indigo.

The traditional Japanese method, called sukomo, consists of mixing the dried leaves with water and leaving the liquid to ferment for 100 days. This process can be used indefinitely: more ingredients can be added as needed, and the vat of dye can therefore be replenished and used for long periods of time. There are vats out there dyeing fabric today that were started over a 100 years ago!  

Another traditional method for producing a dye lot in much shorter order is to boil fresh leaves in a pot of water, add an alkaline substance like baking soda, and introduce oxygen to the liquid by pouring the liquid back and forth between pots, allowing it to aerate with each pass. Indigo dye can be ready to use in as little as day with this method.

persicaria tinctoria, blue gold

persicaria tinctoria, blue gold

We're excited to collaborate with PICA on this project as well as to see what growing indigo, and creating our own natural dyes, is all about. We hope interest in traditional natural dyes continue to grow, as the World Bank estimates the commercial dyeing of fabrics to contribute up to 20% of world wide industrial water pollution. Dozens of chemicals are making their way into the water supply, many of which can't be removed.  

Stay tuned for more updates on the indigo project!


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • globe amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos
  • aster
  • rudbeckia
  • stachy's
  • dahlia
  • dusty miler
  • scented geranium
  • salvia
  • nigella

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • summer squash
  • collards
  • carrots
  • eggplant
  • thyme
  • onions
  • arugula
  • slicing tomatoes 

 

Newsletter No. 16

As farmers we watch the magic that is the changing of the seasons and with seasonal change comes the bird's migration. 

in the spring as the trees bloom and the days warm the Sandhill crane with its whippoorwhill call and elegant long legs fly over the farm. Hundreds of geese gather in the swampy lowland and take off all at once without warning in a great show on their way south to warmer lands. As the summer heats everything up hummingbirds and song birds flit about. 

There are also birds who live here all year like Hawks, white egrets, blue herons, and osprey and killdeer. The Killdeer scream through the farm trying to distract from its nest on the ground which is currently in the kohlrabi but usually in the lettuce. Sauvie island is home to one of the largest bird preserves in the country and is a resting point for migrating birds. There are over 250 bird species who can be spotted here. 

In the past few weeks the sign that fall is near came not only with rain and cooler, darker mornings but with geese flying overhead. And today the Sandhill crane came back! 

Check here for more on birding on Sauvie Island.


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • mustard greens
  • chard
  • eggplant
  • cabbage
  • onions
  • hakurei turnips
  • cilantro
  • padron peppers
  • slicing tomatoes 

 

Newsletter No. 15

Fennel, a member of the carrot family, is native to the shores of the Mediterranean and has spread to many parts of the world. It is considered invasive on California's coast. 

It has a licorice anise type flavor and is the main ingredient in absinthe. The vegetable we grow and you'll find In your box this week is a bulbed cultivar of fennel known as Florence fennel or finocchio. 

The name for fennel is derived from the Latin word feniculum which means hay. The Greek name is marathon. Marathon is the site of a famous battle and translates to a plain of fennel. According to Greek mythology Fennel was gifted to Pheidippides the runner as a thank you for delivering the news of the Persian invasion into Sparta. 

You can eat the pollen, seeds, stalks, bulb and leaves of the fennel plant. In India and Pakistan fennel seeds are paired with sugar coated fennel seeds and served as an after meal snack and digestive called mukhwas. Fennel seed is also an essential addition to many Indian and Chinese seasonings including Chinese 5 spice. In Syria and Lebanon young fennel leaves are combined with egg, onion and flour to make an omelette called ijjeh.

The fennel bulb makes a great salad addition and can be braised, grilled, sautéed and blanched. In Spain the stems are used in the pickled eggplant dish called berenjenas de almagro. 

A sprinkling of powdered fennel is used in kennels and stables to deter fleas from pets. 

Store your fennel bulb in the refrigerator crisper for maximum freshness! 



IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • arugula
  • red choi
  • fennel
  • carrots
  • beets
  • radishes
  • cucumbers
  • broccoli
  • slicing tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes 

 

Newsletter No. 14

Lovage

Lovage

CSA members will find and immediately smell an herb called lovage in their boxes. Lovage is in the apiaceae or member of the carrot family. It is a perennial plant meaning it can stay in the ground and produce for years. There is much debate about the herb's origins but most people believe it to be from the Mediterranean. The leaves, stems, roots and seeds are all edible. In the UK, a cordial is made with lovage and brandy for a winter drink. In Romania lovage is hung in doorways to ward off evil spirits as well as the herb put in traditional soups. 

The name lovage comes from "love-ache" (ache is a medieval name for parsley). Its German name is liebstockel (um lat over the o) which means love stick. The Finnish name translates to preacher's collar because of its widespread cultivation in monasteries. 

Enjoy this fragrant, ancient and interesting herb! 


Cerinthe

Cerinthe

Our cut flowers require different post harvest techniques that keep them looking good in your homes all week long. Some want their stems set in warm water like the dahlia. Others need their seems recut underwater because their stems contain a sap that will clog it's water uptake capabilities like euphorbia.

Cerinthe, which some CSB members will find in their bouquets this week, requires a hot water scalding of the bottom 2 inches of their stems. If not the flower will immediately wilt. Because of this post harvest process please remember if you recut your cerinthe only cut below the browned or scalded part of the stem or heat up to a boil about two inches of water in a pot and place the stems in the water for 30 seconds. Then replace in the vase. 

Cerinthe, or the blue shrimp plant, is an annual from the Mediterranean. Bees and other pollinators love it and it was once thought bees harvested their wax from this plant. Its name comes from the Greek word for wax keros and the Greek word for flower anthos. 

IMG_0565.JPG

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX

  • radishes
  • heirloom tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • potatoes
  • lovage 
  • jimmy nardello peppers
  • cayenne peppers
  • cucumbers 
  • variegated eggplant 
  • walla walla onion 

Newsletter No. 13

In this week’s box you will find Jimmy Nardello peppers. They are sweet peppers that turn red. Like the tomatoes, we sowed pepper seeds in February and took care of them through the winter; watering them religiously and creating an ideal environment with fans, heat pads and love. In the spring we pricked them out into larger pots to prepare them for transplanting. We laid drip tape for irrigation and road fabric (a black plastic material) to suppress weeds, maintain ideal soil moisture and trap in heat. We planted the peppers into specially dug holes amended with their favorite nutrients including Epsom salts (for magnesium) and bone meal (for phosphorus). We have cared so much for these plants we’re thrilled to finally bring them to you.

Peppers contain capsicum, which is a compound that makes them spicy. Capsicum is great for joint and inflammation issues and is often applied topically. The capsicum compound is concentrated in the seedpod, which is why the area around the seeds are the spiciest. Birds are unharmed by the burning properties of capsicum and are and have been essential in pepper seed dispersal. Peppers also have one of the richest sources of vitamins A , C and B-6.

Jimmy Nardello is an heirloom sweet Italian pepper, which was brought to Connecticut by Guiseppe Nardello’s mother in 1887 from Ruoti in the Basilicia region of Italy. Although it may not look like it, this pepper is completely sweet. It is a perfect pepper for frying because of its thin skin.

To learn more, click here to read up on Iowa Source.

 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX

  • head of romaine
  • carrots
  • hakurei turnips
  • heirloom slicing tomatoes
  • heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • jimmy nardello peppers
  • melon
  • wally wall sweet onion
  • thyme
  • yukon gold potatoes
  • padron peppers

 

Newsletter No. 12

In this week’s box you will find Padrón Peppers, also known as Pimientos de Padrón in Castellano Spanish or pementos de Padrón in Galician. Padron peppers are originally from Mexico and have been cultivated for centuries by Galicians in Northwestern Spain.

The peppers are mostly grown in the valley of Herbón in Galicia, between June and September. Herbón citizens are still angry about the peppers being called Padrón peppers because they believe they are really from Herbón, a small town in the county of Padrón next to the river Ulla, which separates Coruña province and Pontevedra province. Every August a festival called the Festa do Pemento de Padrón in Herbón takes place in the carballeira of Herbón, a Franciscan convent. The Franciscan monks originally brought the pepper from the Mexican state of Tabascao in the 16th century. 

Gallegos, people from Galicia, are super proud of their culinary traditions and their peppers. There is a famous saying in Galicia that reflects the roulette that is eating the peppers because about one in ten are spicy and you can’t tell which ones will be. "Os pimentos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non," which translates to: Some are hot and some are not. Gallegos say that the ones that are grown later in the season (August and September) are spicier than the ones grown earlier (June and July) and typically the larger peppers are spicier. 

Padrón Peppers are served as a tapa, or small dish in Spain. The stem is kept on (called the rabito orrabo or pedúnculo in Spanish). They are served fried with olive oil until they are blistered and softened but not totally brown. Then they are sprinkled with coarse sea salt and served with bread. 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow
  • flowering kale
  • cosmos

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • heirloom slicing tomatoes
  • heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • red onion
  • easter egg radishes
  • padron peppers
  • cantaloupe
  • green cabbage
  • purple kale
  • cilantro
 

 

Newsletter No. 11

We at Vibrant Valley Farm are proud to present to you, after years of waiting, the eggplant! This is the first year you'll see it in your box but not the first year we sowed the seed. Every year we can't wait to transplant and harvest eggplant but every year, except this one, the peppers and the tomatoes swallow our time and cause the eggplant to get root bound and die before they ever get to see the field. 

Eggplant, a nightshade or solanum family member, is botanically considered a fruit and actually a berry. Like many members of the nightshade family, the eggplant was once considered poisonous. Also like other solanums it is a relative of tobacco and eggplant seeds contain small amounts of nicotine. About 20 pounds of eggplant contain the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette. 

The plant has been cultivated for centuries and was planted in south and east Asia since prehistory. The first written record of the eggplant is from an ancient Chinese document dating back to 544 a.d. 

The eggplant was brought to Europe by the Arabics. European names for this plant (Spanish berejena and French aubergine) are based on the Arabic words for eggplant. Some names were derived from the melongene family which came through the eastern Mediterranean and others were derived from the aubergine family which came through the western Mediterranean. Italians call it melanzana or "mela insana" meaning insane apple because of its previous poisonous status and because it was said to make you go insane if you ate it.

A staple in Indian cooking,eggplant is known as the king of vegetables. In Southern Asia it is called brinjal. 

Why we call the eggplant eggplant is based on the fact that cultivars in the 1700's were more white or yellow and resembled eggs. 

Many recipes encourage "degorging" or salting, rinsing and draining the fruit to reduce bitterness. Western varieties like the variegated one in your box don't need that treatment but the Japanese one you'll find will benefit from it. This versatile and delicious fruit can be used in many dishes. Enjoy your eggplant ! 

How to store:

Eggplant becomes bitter with age. Store in a cool dry place and use within a day or two of purchase. To store longer, place in the refrigerator to for several days.


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • heirloom tomatoes
  • eggplants
  • scallions
  • Armenian cucumbers
  • jalepeno
  • garlic
  • melon
  • asian greens
  • red cabbage
  • beets
  • frisee

 
 

Newsletter No. 10

Purple shiso

Purple shiso

We grow all types of herbs at Vibrant Valley Farm, from thyme to oregano, basil and shiso. Shiso, also known as Perilla and, once upon a time, "beefsteak plant", is mainly used in Japanese cooking, and you will find it in today's CSA box!

Shiso get its name from the Japanese, derived from the Chinese borrowed word zisu, meaning purple. Those acquainted with shiso may more readily think of the green variety which, in recent years has become so popular in Asian markets, but the name derives from purple shiso's traditional use in coloring pickled ginger, as well as the pickled plum dish umeboshi. 

Diesel the dog

Diesel the dog

Germinated sprouts adorn sashimi platters and their flower buds, delicately plucked with chopsticks, add flavor to soy sauce at Japanese dinner tables. In Laos, a rice dish of meats, fish sauce, lime leaves, chilies and shiso called Khao Poon is prepared, with or with our coconut milk. It is also dried and turned into flakes to flavor foods the world over.

Shiso was brought to the U.S. By Asian immigrants in the late 1800's. Centuries ago in Asia ceremonies were held before a shiso harvest to honor the plant as food and medicine. It was said that if you trample the plant you would be trampled as well.

A very rich source of omega-3 fatty acid, the oil found in shiso leaves is used more for its medicinal benefit than its flavor. It is high in iron and has been used to abate the symptoms of asthma and the common cold. 

They're here!

They're here!

Every season the plant attracts butterflies and other pollinators to the farm, and as our season winds down we save the red or purple shiso seed we were once given by a woman named Key. Key lives next door to our old CSA drop-off in Southeast. Key, a 95 year old woman and long time resident of Portland, has many, many stories and an amazing garden. She has grown shiso for decades and was thrilled to share some with us. We are thrilled we can share it with you.

Try out our guest recipe by our dear friend Suzanne Oliver for an amazing summer shiso shrub drink!  It's also a great replacement for the mint in your mojitos...


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • mignonette
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • frisée
  • cherry tomatoes
  • walla walla onions
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • beets
  • lemon cucumbers
  • shiso
  • purple kohlrabi

 

Newsletter No. 9

Potato blossoms

Potato blossoms

In this week’s box you’ll find the potato. Originally deemed toxic by the explorers who brought it from South America to Europe, the potato has become an important staple food all around the world. There are over 5,000 different varieties of potatoes.

This season we planted four different varieties earlier than normal because of the unseasonably warm weather. One of those varieties was the Galician or Gallego potato. Galicia is the most northwestern region of Spain. 

Galicia, Spain

Galicia, Spain

They claim to have the best potatoes and therefore tortilla española (Spanish omelette) in all of Spain. A few years ago I lived, taught English and farmed there. The flora, fauna and climate are very similar to Oregon and many of the crops we grow here do wonderfully over there. Our friend Dean’s grandmother still tends to the garden behind the house she grew up in where her family has passed down seed for generations. Three seasons ago Dean visited his grandmother and smuggled back potato and Padron pepper seed, which we are planting out and saving seed on every year. 

The Galician farm Elaine volunteered at.

The Galician farm Elaine volunteered at.

After planting the potato seed (some of the actual potatoes we harvested and saved through the winter) we hilled the potatoes, meaning piling soil on top of the potato bushes so the potatoes would never become exposed to the sun and they could produce more underground. We watched their potato flowers bloom and their foliage eventually die back signaling to us that they were ready to be harvested. Read more about the history of the potato here.

 

 

More fun facts on potatoes: 

  1. The Incas used slices of potato on broken bones to hasten healing. 
  2. Marie Antoinette was rumored to like potato flowers so much she put them in her hair and Louis put them in his buttonholes. It inspired the French to plant and eat the mysterious vegetable from the New World. 
  3. It was the first vegetable to be grown in space.

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • craspedia
  • ageratum
  • amaranth
  • didiscus
  • mignonette
  • marigold
  • zinnia
  • celosia
  • cockscomb
  • snap dragons
  • strawflower
  • statice
  • scabiosa stellata
  • pincushion
  • flax
  • flowering ammis
  • yarrow

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Silky Salad Mix with Edible Flowers
  • Eggplant
  • Collard Greens
  • Chard
  • Ancho Poblanos
  • New Onions
  • New Potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Cauliflower