Newsletter No. 8

 The VVF Crew.

The VVF Crew.

This year Vibrant Valley Farm is partnering with Summerworks, a local organization pairing young people with jobs, which means we have two new employees with us three days a week! 

The Portland-Vancouver metro area had one of the most significant drops in youth employment in the nation from 2000 to 2011. Only about 26% of young people are employed here and for low income and youth of color it is even worse: Only 12% find employment.

Your first jobs are super important in building the skills necessary for the future, which is why we're proud to have Andrew and Gregory on the farm with us. They both went through job training sessions with Summerworks and will be harvesting, weeding, planting and working alongside us until September. 

 Andrew, starting his second week at the farm.

Andrew, starting his second week at the farm.

Andrew and Gregory, both born and raised in Portland, have never farmed before. Gregory says he likes trying new things so he decided to work with us at Vibrant Valley Farm. He especially likes planting. Andrew's favorite thing here is jalapeños. 

Both Kara and I entered farming through garden education and we love using the farm as a stage for teaching. Connections can be drawn from farming to all sorts of lessons in life and work, and it helps develop a myriad of skills one might find useful down the road. From botany and soil science to accounting and mechanics, from marketing and logistics to cooking and nutrition, there are so many things time spent on the farm can prepare you for. We look forward to growing, working, and learning with Andrew and Gregory and hope they enjoy the their time with us this Summer.

 Gregory, our newest addition.

Gregory, our newest addition.

Come visit us and our new friends and employees on the farm! 


IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • Bells of Ireland
  • Amaranth
  • Scabiosa
  • nigella
  • Celosia
  • Cockscomb
  • Zinnia
  • Globe Amaranth
  • Flax
  • Craspedia
  • Snap Dragons
  • Strawflower
  • Rudbeckia
  • Ageratum
  • Yarrow
  • Statice
  • Salvia 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Basil
  • Bilko Cabbage
  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Fennel
  • Beets
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Scallions
  • Kale 
 

Newsletter No. 7

Last week Chelsea Heffner of Wild Craft Studio School came to teach a natural dyeing class on the farm. Chelsea, Kara and I, along with eleven other women, gathered spent flowers like safflower, marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers. We ripped the flowers into small pieces and threw them in a pot of water. We stirred the pots like a witch's brew while they heated on stoves. 

We then added yarn from the longest-running sheep ranch and wool producer in Oregon, as well as silk swatches. These fabrics had what is called a mordant (which comes from the French word for bite) or fixative. This can be anything from acid, like vinegar or iron, to alkaline, like alum, and each changes what the ultimately dye will look like on the fabric. For example, the alum fabrics were much lighter in color than the iron ones. Most of us experimented with the shibori technique of twisting and wrapping fabric to create different patterns once you dye them. We then saturated our fabrics in water and put them into the dye pots and waited for the magic to happen. 

I used a zinnia dye path with an alum silk tied in random shibori-esque fashion. Then I dipped one half in the marigold dye bath. The zinnia, although bright and very colorful as a cut flower in the field, dyed a muted minty green. The marigold, as you may have guessed, was bright golden yellow. Kara used the sunflower bath with a shibori tied alum silk and got a beautiful purple grey with lines of bright pink where the fabric had been tied. Chelsea, the master, was very excited to use safflower for the first time. Although its petals are bright shades of orange the safflower created an unexpected yellow versus what the books promise a bright pink and orange. We were held captive by the mystery that lies in plants. 

 

Not only did we have our flower field deadheaded and revitalized for the season we also met women from all over the country inspired by the beauty and magic of plants. We were able to share our field in a gathering of craft and exploration of nature.

Thank you to all who came out and let's do it again soon!

 

 

 

 

IN THIS WEEK'S CSA BOX:

carrots thyme jalapeno pepper curly kale green cabbage cucumber salad broccoli squash purple top turnips 

 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

flax seed pods, nigella flowers and/or seed pods (devil in a bush), celosia, ageratum, feverfew, foxgloves, statice, craspedia, didiscus, globe amaranth, snap dragons, bells of ireland, pincushion, scabiosa stellata pod, yarrow, zinnia and rudbeckia 

 

 

Newsletter No. 6

Last November we planted over 30,000 cloves of garlic, or garlic seed, on the farm. We didn’t know much about the soil, land, land owners or how it would all do but last week we harvested over 200 pounds of it! The garlic will hang to dry and cure for a few weeks and then be topped and sold or stored as seed until we plant it again this October or November.

To plant garlic you break up the bulbs and plant the clove, still encased in its papery shell. It is planted in the fall and overwinters (or stays in the ground through the winter) under a thick layer or mulch. This year we bought our hay from the local seed and supply store, Linton Feed and Supply, who will also buy some seed from us when it’s ready.

Garlic, a member of the allium family, is an amazing plant that has been consumed around the world for centuries and originated in central Asia. Garlic was left as an offering in Egyptian tombs, hung above doors in India to ward off evil, used to drive away monsters in the Philippines, eaten by Korean hikers to deter tigers, Greek athletes consumed it before competitions and it is talked about in Central European folk tales as a guard against werewolves and vampires. An Islamic myth says that after the Devil left the Garden of Eden garlic arose under his left foot and an onion on his right. An old Welsh saying that speaks to the medicinal properties of garlic goes: “Eat leeks in March and garlic in May, then the rest of the year, your doctor can play."

 Garlic Flowers 

Garlic Flowers 

Today, China grows 77% of the world’s garlic and California is the capital of American production. Oregon produces a lot of the country’s heirloom garlic seed. We planted three different heirloom varieties this year: Rosewood (a porcelain white variety), Spanish Roja (brought to the Northwest around 1900) and Siskiyou Purple (originally from Oregon). We were able to use saved seed from this last year’s crop, which is awesome because garlic seed is expensive!

We look forward to sharing garlic in all its glorious forms with you this season and beyond!

 

IN THIS WEEK'S CSA BOX:

  • Slicing Cucumber
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Red Curly Kale
  • Caraflex Cabbage
  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Cocozelle Squash

 

 

 

 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:

  • Bells of Ireland 
  • Nigella 
  • Foxglove 
  • Snap Dragons 
  • Bupleureum
  • Statice 
  • Cress
  • Feverfew
  • Didiscus
  • Veronica spicata  
  • Amaranth 
  • MIgnonette 
  • Zinnias 
  • Ageratum 

Newsletter No. 5

As you know we are farming on land that hasn’t been farmed in over thirty years. It definitely has its challenges but one amazing aspect is watching and helping to create an ecosystem teeming with life of all sizes and functions. This means watching the good as well as the bad. We battle pests like the flea and cucumber beetle and the damage they bring but we also have “good” critters like the earthworm.

As we weed, till and dig into the earth at the farm we have seen hundreds of worms. The worms are working along side us, slowly doing the job of the plough, changing the earth and breathing life into it. With less compaction than mechanical tools earthworms burrow into the soil creating pores, which increases the soil’s available nutrients and water holding capacity. Their casts or feces are said to be “the champagne of poop” meaning they are a very balanced amendment.  

Towards the end of his life Charles Darwin became obsessed with earthworms and dedicated his last years to studying them. He wrote, “The plough is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed the land was in fact regularly ploughed, and still continues to be thus ploughed by earthworms.”

Watching earthworms slowly till helps me begin to fathom my smallness in the world and the intricate web and mystery of the earth beneath us. So for every flea or cucumber beetle that nullifies some of our work, it is balanced by a worm’s work, day and night, helping to lighten our load.  

 

 

For more on worms check out The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart or Worms Eat My Garbage: How to setup & maintain a vermicomposting system by Mary Appelhof


IN THIS WEEK'S  BOUQUET:

  • Rudbeckia
  • Snap Dragons
  • Zinnias
  • Larkspur
  • Clarkia
  • Statice
  • Salvia
  • Mignonette
  • Nigella
  • Foxglove
  • Cress
  • Flax
  • Safflower 
  • Zinnias 

IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:

  • Parsley
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Bilko Cabbage
  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Fennel
  • Beets
  • Nero Tondo Radishes
  • Summer Squash 

 


 

Newsletter No. 4

Bees are incredibly important to our farm and food system. So important in fact they say bees pollinate over 1/3 of our crops. At the farm we provide bees with tons of flowers (long with all their pollen) and they pollinate our vegetables so we can have fruit like tomatoes.

Pollinators and flowers have evolved together to create an incredible symbiotic relationship. Pollinators like bees have developed specific characteristics like long tongues or fuzzy legs which help carry pollen or food from flowers to their young. At the same time these pollinators help pollinate the plant. As bees visit flowers tiny hairs on their legs collect pollen from the male structures of the plant known as the stamen. When their pollen filled leg brush against the femal parts of the plant, known as the pistils, the flower has been successfully pollinated. That flower will then begin to produce seed.

If bees did not do this job then we’d have to, like in China, where there are far fewer bees now than ever before. The most dramatic example comes from the apple and pear orchards of south west China, where wild bees have been eradicated by excessive pesticide use and orchard workers have resorted to hand pollinate each flower with a paint brush. Without such effort these foods simply wouldn’t be able to be cultivated in absence of the humble bee.

Vibrant Valley Farm understands the importance of pollinators on the farm. During our first season, Kara and I decided to get bees and embark on as one of our farmer friends says, “the most expensive hobby there is.” We bought all the materials and supplies we needed including a book that told us if we haven’t taken a beekeeping class (which we hadn’t) to sign up for one immediately. We didn’t but we did have our friend Hamutahl teach us a crash course in the garage as we painted the hive. Kara picked up the queen and thousands of bees and drove them in her Subaru to the farm. Dressed in white bee suits, terrified, and armed with a smoker we released them into their new hive. For weeks we fed them sugar water as the pollen supply built. Then we watched them visit all the vegetables and flowers on the farm.

We checked on the hive once or twice noting the very yellow color of the bee’s honeycomb. This was because at our first site the main flower in the area is Scott’s broom, which has bright yellow pollen. The farm got busy and so did we and when we checked on the hive months later the bees were dead, slow moving or gone! Horrified we called our local beekeeping organization. He told us it could have been many things: maybe it was the sudden arrival of autumn and cold harsh rain, maybe the bees were from California and couldn’t hang, maybe it was a mite problem, maybe Colony Collapse Disroder (attributed most usually to a new agricultural pesticide group know as neonicotinoids, the use of which continues in the United States to this day – The European Union has even placed a 2 year ban on the use of them to protect their bees and study the effects of neonicotinoids. There is a bill, Saving America's Pollinators Act, being debated by the House Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research at this very moment. It was originally put forth in 2013 by Oregon's own Earl Blumenauer).

So last year we packed up the bee equipment and found a local beekeeper who wanted more capacity for more bees. He produced a ton of Blonde Girl Honey (which we still have for sale).

And this year our dear friend Ben Deines has come to keep bees on our farm. Ben did his Masters of Architecture thesis project on bees because he was concerned about pollinators. He has been a beekeeper for years and has brought three hives to our farm, which accounts for over 200,000 bees! Ben says, “Bees are a little different from chickens or gardening, in that they’re wild, even potentially dangerous. And what they produce is so damn pure and simple.”

 One of the hives has a living roof and has succulents on top of it. The living roof is one of Ben’s experiments to see if it insulates the bees from the summer heat. We are so happy to have him be a part of the farm! 

Some fun bee trivia taken from LifeLab:

How many flowers must honey bees tap to make one pound of honey?

Two million.

How far does a hive of bees fly to bring you one pound of honey?

Over 55,000 miles.

How much honey does the average worker honey bee make in her lifetime?

1/12 teaspoon

How fast does a honey bee fly?

About 15 miles per hour

How long have bees been producing honey from flowering plants?

10-20 million years

How many flowers does a honey bee visit during one collection trip?

50-100

How do honey bees “communicate” with one another?

“Dancing.” Honey bees do a dance which alerts other bees where nectar and pollen is located. The dance explains direction and distance. Bees also communicate with pheromones. 


In this week's box:

  • Green Curly Kale
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Watermelon Radish
  • Lovage
  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Broccoli
  • Summer Squash
  • Kohlrabi 

 

In this week's  bouquet will mostly include:

  • Agrostemma
  • Salvias
  • Larkspur
  • Cress
  • Blue Flax
  • Cosmos
  • Marigolds
  • Statice
  • Ageratum
  • Clarkia
  • Zinnias 

Newsletter No 3.

Our CSB starts this week so we thought it was a good time to talk about the flowers at Vibrant Valley Farm! We still have a few shares available, both half and full. If you haven't signed yourself up (or maybe a loved one?) it is not too late! What can possibly be better than receiving fresh flowers every week?

 

The Locavore Anthophilous

A case for Farm to Table, the whole table. Even the centerpiece. 

Originally published on Let Um Eat

I came to farming through vegetable gardening. It was the exposure to the art of bouquet making, and the overall power flowers hold in creating a diversified and ecologically sound farm system, that drew me to become a flower grower. Our first year in production, Kara, co-owner and co-operator of Vibrant Valley Farm, got married and we decided to try flower farming ourselves. We grew all of the flowers needed for her big day and had so many more we were able to start a small bouquet subscription program or CSB (Community Supported Bouquets) as well as sell our bouquets locally at Pastaworks and furnish cut flowers to New Seasons, two great grocery stores here in the Portland area.  In its second season, our flower program expanded to include harvesting thousands of stems, packing them very delicately and transporting them all over the Portland metro area, now including most New Seasons locations. We are currently preparing for our third season and plan to grow hundreds of varieties of flowers and sell bouquets and wholesale cuts to individuals, restaurants, tasting rooms, florists, event planners and grocery stores.

The pace of flower production is very similar to vegetables. In the winter we plan what types we’ll grow and order seeds, in the spring, summer and fall we plant and tend to many different flowers from statice and acroclinium to mignonette and snapdragons. The flowers 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. A bright summer day in the flower rows on the farm is like an orchestra with buzzing and humming of all sorts. In the morning as we cut flowers we wake bees sleeping in their petals and later in the day watch them climb into snapdragon flowers to harvest pollen.
    
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.  

To learn more about the flower industry I highly recommend Amy Stewart’s Flower Confidential. She discusses the flower industry from a number of interesting perspectives: from the eccentric breeder in Humboldt County responsible for the star gazer lily as we know it (it didn’t have a straight stem before he bred it) to a laboratory obsessed with producing the first blue rose. She travels to Holland’s flower markets where a huge auction decides what’s the hottest new flower and to Ecuador where the majority of the world’s organic and nonorganic flowers are grown. She ends the book around Valentine’s Day, which is the second largest day for flowers after Mother’s Day, discussing Costco’s recent vow to support ethically grown flowers and a small floral shop in Bonny Doon, California that strictly sells locally and sustainably grown flowers, showing us a possible and brighter future.

Supporting Vibrant Valley Farm and other community growers who bring you locally and sustainably grown flowers guarantees that you are not supporting this often overlooked and corrupt industry.  The beauty flowers provide, the sense of place they can help foster, and all the loving sentiment they can convey can all be had without thousands of miles of transport or a literal bevy of chemical preservers. We are excited to bring you ecologically and responsibly grown flowers.

Learn more about our flowers

 

 

Newsletter No. 2

Dear CSA members,

We hope you had fun cooking and eating all the goods! It was wonderful to see you and meet the new additions to the Vibrant Valley Farm family.

Since we last saw you, we’ve pruned tomatoes, weeded weeds big and small, sowed over one hundred flats of flowers and tried to stay cool in this crazy heat.

The Columbia and the Willamette Rivers, along with the Willamette’s Multnomah Channel, surround Sauvie Island, helping to provide cool mornings; a big plus in this weather. The island’s location, diversity of wildlife, and rich soils has made it a great place to farm. But before any of Sauvie Island’s farms existed it was not only called many different things (everything from Multnomah Island, Sauve Island, Sauvies Island, Souvies Island, Wapato Island, Wappatoo Island to Wyeth Island), it was also home to many people and projects. 

Before explorers and settlers arrived the Multnomah tribe of the Chinook Indians lived in 15 Multnomah villages in cedar log houses about 90 feet long. They fished, hunted and gathered year round. Women harvested wappatoo, an arrowhead-leafed wild potato, in the ponds and lakes by digging into the mud with their feet. They wore animal skins and cedar bark skirts and adorned themselves with white shells. Some sources indicate the island was a meeting place for all the native tribes in the area.

Lieutenant William Broughton of the British Vancouver Expedition came to the island in 1792, naming its northern tip Warrior Point.  The Lewis and Clark expedition later visited the island and called it Wappatoe Island after the Native American word for wild potato which was roasted, dried, stored and traded to other native tribes. Here’s what Meriwether Lewis said about the island in 1806:

“Wappatoe Island is … high and extreemly fertile … with ponds which produce great quantities of the … bulb of which the natives call wappatoe … we passed several fishing camps on Wappetoe island …”

The white settlers brought diseases to Sauvie Island which quickly spread and nearly wiped out the native tribes by 1829. Attempting to rival the Hudson Bay Company in the area, American entrepreneur Nathaniel Wyeth built  a fur trapping post called Fort Williams. He failed and The Hudson Bay Company sent French-Canadian fur trapper Laurent Sauvé (hence Sauvie Island) to the island to start a dairy. By the 1840’s the Hudson Bay Company was running four dairy farms, about the same time that new residents from the East started settling on the island. A couple years later Sauvé wagons were carrying pioneers from Missouri on the Oregon Trail destined for the island. In 1891 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names finally settled the debate naming it Sauvie Island.

IN THIS WEEK’S BOX: 

  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Radishes
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Napa or Bilko Cabbage
  • Red Boar Kale
  • Chicory Greens
  • Green Garlic 
  • Parsley
  • Kolhrabi

Now there are many homes, farms and businesses on the island and visitors come to u-pick, bicycle and swim. The northern part, about 12,000 acres, is managed and owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and home to migrating geese and ducks as well as a permanent feeding and nesting ground for eagles, herons and sandhill cranes.

And, tucked away, right in the middle of it all, is Vibrant Valley Farm.

 

Click here for more on the history of Sauvie Island.


Newsletter No. 1

Welcome to Vibrant Valley Farm’s 2015 Community Supported Agriculture program! It’s so nice to know that many of you have returned, told friends and most importantly have decided to trust us as your farmers. After months of planning, sowing, transplanting, prepping, weeding, thinning and everything in between we are so proud and excited to share the first of the season’s bounty with you.

For those of you who don’t know who we are, we are, among other things, two landless city kids who decided to practice environmental stewardship and education through farming. We have been trained on both urban and rural farms and gardens in Argentina, Europe, California and Oregon. We met in 2002 in the University of Oregon dorms and after years of friendship and dream weaving we created Vibrant Valley Farm. This year is the farm’s third season and the third season that we have plowed and planted into a field that we have never farmed before. It’s crazy! And we couldn’t have done it without you and your support, or without the help this year's most welcome additions to Vibrant Valley Farm: new employees Mary Ellen and Christina.

After two wonderful years in Yamhill County we wanted to be closer to our families, friends, customers and educational partners so we found our new home on Sauvie Island, also known as Sauvie’s Island, Wapato Island, Wappatoo Island and Sauvie’s. (See below to cast your vote) The farm sits at the confluence of two powerful rivers on amazingly rich soil where birds like herons and egrets fly overhead. The land we are farming was one of Sauvie Island’s oldest, if not the oldest, u-pick pumpkin patches run by an Italian family. Our plot, where we are currently leasing four acres, was most recently in pasture and is rapidly filling with vegetables and flowers as we write this. We invite you to come visit us and you have no excuse this year … we’re only 15 miles from downtown Portland.  

Last year we reported the common story that the CSA model is based on an idea from the 1960’s in Japan where families would enter into a teikei or partnership. Teikei means “putting the farmers’ face on food” and embraces the producer-consumer partnership. There are ten principles, which include tenets like mutual assistance, deepening friendships, and learning among each group. We’d like to add something to the history of CSA’s we have since learned and which is often overlooked. Dr. Whatley an African American farmer from Alabama popularized the idea of gathering members from the city who would help the farmer plan production and have a guaranteed market what he called Clientele Membership Clubs also as early as 1960. Whatley believed “the clientele membership is the lifeblood of the farm.”  [Mother Earth News]  

We say this a lot at Vibrant Valley Farm but seriously, undoubtedly and wholeheartedly none of this would be possible without you. As we grow and harvest we will be continuously grateful for your support and hope to deepen friendships and learn from each other.  

 

Thank you,

Elaine and Kara

in this week’s box:

  • Silky Salad Mix
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Collard Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Hakurei Turnips with greens
  • Snap peas
  • Green garlic


 

Thanksgiving Market and Farm Updates

We hope you’re staying warm and know that we miss you already. We want to thank you all again for a wonderful season and all of your support.

Thanksgiving is coming up soon and we wanted to let you know that we are offering a Thanksgiving Basket filled with parsley (1 bunch), parsnips (3), cabbage (1), leeks (4), carrots (6), potatoes (3 pounds), garlic (2), onions (1 red and 2 yellow), mustards (1 bunch), winter squash (1 sugar pie pumpkin, 2 decorative gourds and 1 acorn squash) and celery root (1) for a $70.00 purchase. For folks that are signing up for Vibrant Valley Farm’s 2015 CSA program and paying a $200.00 deposit before Saturday November 22nd, we are offering this Thanksgiving basket for free!

Folks can pick up their holiday basket at our Thanksgiving market the Saturday before the holiday, November 22nd, at Division Wines from 2pm-5pm. If folks aren’t interested in signing up currently or at all, you can come and check out the market and grab items that you are interested in for your dinner. We will have honey from the farm for sale as well!

We also want to let you know we are yet again moving farms. We will be on Sauvie Island next season and are very excited to be closer to you all and to our other customers. Being on Sauvie Island will allow us more space and to begin educational programming with urban youth. We have already been working hard to prepare the new space for next season. We have spread lime and compost, created raised beds and planted garlic and flowers, parked an Avion trailer for our office and a shipping container for our storage and are getting ready to learn a lot and have a great season. We will be inviting you out in the spring to check it out! Here are some pictures from the new spot on Sauvie Island.

We plan to have Division Wines as our pick up site next year as well as expand to North/Northeast Portland and the west side of Portland.

Please forward this email to your friends and family if you are sharing a CSA box to assure they are up to date. And let all your friends and family know about our 2015 CSA program! 

Again, we couldn’t have done this without you and your support.

Thanks for a fabulous year and we look forward to next year.

Your farmers,

Elaine and Kara

Newsletter No. 22

Last year we wrote our the final newsletter answering the question we get all the time: What’s a typical day for you all on the farm? So here it is slightly revised for this year, 2014.

Most mornings start, as early as 4:00 a.m. at the height of the season but typically around 6 or 7, with an Ayurvedic practice of swishing coconut oil in your mouth as tea water heats and Amy Goodman announces the headlines (this year Amy was slightly neglected). We check emails for orders and updates on various projects like people coming out to the farm. We eat breakfast, put on overalls and start piling everything from boxes of water bottles to canvas bags packed with rice cakes and peanut butter into the napper (a white van with no windows perfect for napping and delivering flowers and veggies). We drive west bumping anyone from School Boy Q to Nina Simone on the stereo and sip on coffee and mate (only at stop signs). As we turn off the highway towards the farm, we pass acres of grass for seed and filbert (or if you want them to cost more hazelnut) orchards until we pull into the gravel road that leads to the only hippie farm for miles, Vibrant Valley Farm.

As most of you probably know or at least should know Vibrant Valley Farm moved farms this year from Meadowlake Road in Carlton to Christensen Road in McMinnville. The new farm was previously grass seed and before that nursery stock and before that a dairy ran by the Crowes. It served the Portland metro area during milk shortages around World War II and was run solely by Martha when her husband passed away. We believe she watches over us and haunts, in a good way, the dilapidated house on the farm.

Everyday on the farm is different – sometimes the Van Duzer howls through the hole in the coastal mountains, other times turkey vultures fly above and Glenn Watts, the 86 year old potato farmer and inventor tells us stories, most of the time the Reemay is blown off the crops, the vases filled with flowers on the altar are knocked over, there’s somebody from around here in a truck driving up the road to check in on us and we’re already racing the sun and the tomatoes. On harvest days, Mary Ellen is well on her way washing the wash shed when we roll up. We love Mary Ellen. As the day progresses we check off items on the chalkboard as we harvest them; this year we harvested thousands of cut flowers and pounds of vegetables. On other days we can be found spreading compost, lime or fertilizer, building something (with Relk’s help), weeding with Hori-hori’s and muddy hands, planting transplants and seeds, switching and tinkering with irrigation tape, taking care of seedlings, foliar spraying, harvesting, observing plants, wine tasting and the list goes on and on.

Most days we stay on the farm for lunch eating a medley of leftovers, wraps, rice cake stacks and chip and dip. We do a lot of processing ( we won’t go into this part … there’s not enough room) mostly over mate and coffee. We also discuss whether to till, when and where to plant something, when to harvest another thing, what’s happening with another thing, should we follow up with those marks who didn’t call us back. We talk about how much a new account loves us, what meeting we have and want to cancel on Wednesday, what dance party we’re going to that weekend, where our flower buckets went, what the Kickstarter video might look like, where we’re traveling next, who our next visitors to the farm will be and whether we think they’ll work or not, make trips to Fisher’s Irrigation and other supply spots and promise to preserve or make kraut out of something that night which rarely happens. Some days we stay in the field until dark and other days we deliver our product to restaurants and grocery stores and most awesomely you. We gather to showcase what we’ve put so much into while helping to create community as you pick it up and we drink wine because if you can’t tell by this point in the day and week we’re super tired. And through it all we laugh a lot; it’s truly remarkable we still think we’re hilarious.

And amongst the dream weaving in the Sprinter, on the farm and anywhere else people will listen, we mostly talk about how lucky we are to live this crazy, full life that leaves you righteously tired at the end of the day and season. Through farming we have reaffirmed we can do anything and sometimes we fail (transplanting eggplant) but every time you learn something (that you need to hire more people). And overall, we are so lucky to have your support without which none of this would be possible. So thank you for the amazing season and we look forward to another adventure together!


CSA Member Paul Lychako’s carved pumpkins

Newsletter no. 21

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Newsletter no. 20

Last week you got pumpkins! Pumpkins are native to North America and are in the same family as other winter squash like delicata. The oldest evidence of winter squash was found in Mexico around 5000 B.C. Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. They also roasted them to eat and used the seeds for medicine. Early colonists of the United States sliced off pumpkin tops, removed seeds, filled the inside with milk, spices and honey and roasted it in ashes, making a version of pumpkin pie.

People have been using pumpkins to decorate for Halloween for generations. The tradition is inspired by an Irish myth about a man named Stingy Jack. One day Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him and because he didn’t want to pay for his drink he told the Devil to turn into a coin, which he then decided to put in his pocket along with a silver cross, making it impossible for the Devil to change back. Jack eventually freed the Devil and after years of trickery died. God would not allow Jack into heaven and the Devil, upset by Jack’s tricks, would not allow him into hell. Instead, the Devil sent Jack into the night with only a burning coal to see. Jack put the coal into a carved turnip and has been wandering the Earth ever since. The Irish referred to him as Jack of the Lantern which later turned into Jack O’Lantern.

People in England, Ireland and Scotland began to make versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving beets, turnips and potatoes. They were kept in doorways and windows to scare away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits around Halloween. Immigrants from these countries brought the custom to the U.S. using pumpkins.

Newsletter no. 19

Vibrant Valley Farm fans and family represent all around the world from yoga studios in New York City schools to bluegrass festivals in San Francisco. Send us a picture of you wearing your Vibrant Valley Farm shirt! We’d love to share it!

elaine@vibrantvalleyfarm.com

Newsletter no. 18

This Saturday is our CSA potlatch and farm tour! It starts at 11 and goes until 2 p.m. Please bring a dish to share and your family!

email elaine@vibrantvalleyfarm.com to confirm you’re coming!


Peeling Onions

Only to have a grief

equal to all these tears!

There’s not a sob in my chest.

Dry-hearted as Peer Gynt

I pare away, no hero,

merely a cook.

Crying was labor, once

when I’d good cause.

Walking, I felt my eyes like wounds

raw in my head,

so postal clerks, i thought, must stare.

A dog’s look, a cat’s, burnt to my brain-

yet all that stayed

stuffed in my lungs like smog.

These old tears in the chopping-bowl.

Adrienne Rich


This week you’ll be getting celeriac. Check this out:

All about Celeriac

Newsletter no. 17

The Broken Ground

by Wendell Berry

 

The opening out and out,

body yielding body:

the breaking

through which the new

comes, perching

above its shadow

on the piling up
darkened broken old

husks of itself:

bud opening to flower

opening to fruit opening

to the sweet marrow

of the seed –

taken

from what was, from

what could have been.

What is left

is what is.

Newsletter no. 16

In this week’s box you will find a Jimmy Nardello peppers. 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.

Also...

  • Let em eat came to the farm and interviewed us for their website on seeders, feeders and eaters. Check them out !
  • Bouquets are still available but won’t be soon the season will end! Order yours today!

Newsletter no. 15

This week at Vibrant Valley Farm we were invited to Yamhill Enrichment Society’s Bounty of the County and partnered with one of our favorite restaurants Thistle. The Yamhill Enrichment Society is involved in programs that enliven our county’s food and education systems.

Thistle used an edible flower bouquet, cucumbers, leeks, tomatoes, shiso, basil, kohlrabi and other items from the farm. The event took place at Sokol Blosser winery. We got fancy and had a wonderful time.

Other farm happenings this week: 

  • Amaranth seed (saved from an elder farmer we know) started to happen.
  • A full moon during today’s harvest morn.
  • A frog held my hand.



  • And we met with our land owner and saw this picture of the previous landowner, Martha Crowe. She and her husband ran a dairy that delivered to Portland for years. She also grew flowers, ran stop signs and was a badass. Her house still stands on the farm.

Newsletter no. 14

Ode To Tomatoes 

by Pablo Neruda

 

The street

filled with tomatoes,

midday,

summer,

light is

halved

like

a

tomato,

its juice

runs

through the streets.

In December,

unabated,

the tomato

invades

the kitchen,

it enters at lunchtime,

takes

its ease

on countertops,

among glasses,

butter dishes,

blue saltcellars.

It sheds

its own light,

benign majesty.

Unfortunately, we must

murder it:

the knife

sinks

into living flesh,

red

viscera

a cool

sun,

profound,

inexhaustible,

populates the salads

of Chile,

happily, it is wed

to the clear onion,

and to celebrate the union

we

pour

oil,

essential

child of the olive,

onto its halved hemispheres,

pepper

adds

its fragrance,

salt, its magnetism;

it is the wedding

of the day,

parsley

hoists

its flag,

potatoes

bubble vigorously,

the aroma

of the roast

knocks

at the door,

it’s time!

come on!

and, on

the table, at the midpoint

of summer,

the tomato,

star of earth, recurrent

and fertile

star,

displays

its convolutions,

its canals,

its remarkable amplitude

and abundance,

no pit,

no husk,

no leaves or thorns,

the tomato offers

its gift

of fiery color

and cool completeness.

- Pablo Neruda

Newsletter no. 13

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.

We planted padron seeds that our friend Dean brought back from Galicia where he got them from his grandmother who has been growing them for years.

Buen provecho (Spanish) or Bo proveito (In Galician) !

Newsletter no. 12

Ah! Sunflower

William Blake1757 - 1827

Ah! sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;

Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves and aspire;
Where my sunflower wishes to go.