Status Update

 

This is really going to change everything.   We are pretty darn happy.

Details on this new old addition coming soon, but for now, if you happen to live here in the valley with us, feel free to come on over to the farm Sunday night and join us for an open farm night.  Super casual, community gathering, potluck style.  4:00pm.

And if you come, please do bring your own flatware if possible.

E-mail us at growingwild@french.toast.net if you need the farm address!

This Week at Market: The Flavors of Spring

Spring it still is, even though today marks the start of our “summer” farmer’s market, the McMinnville Farmer’s Market.  Farmer’s growing in hoop houses or on black plastic can nudge the season ahead a bit, but with the long lasting springs we have been having last year and this, even our friends who use these growing tools more extensively than we do will most likely still be offering “spring” produce as we start the market season today.  Baby beets, large spring onions, turnips…these are crops a week or two away for us, but have been ready for the last month from other farm’s at our Saturday market.

Otherwise, the main crops that spring offers in abundance are greens, greens, and more greens!

Some, of the lettuce variety.  In fact, there is always so  much lettuce at the market’s at this time of year that we no longer worry about growing too much head lettuce to bring.  Instead we focus on our salad mix, many a local’s favorite and one of our signature offerings.  Right now, we especially love the mix which includes not only baby lettuces in a wide variety, but young greens as well as small brassica florets.  It is so beautiful and delicious!

All of our other greens fall more into the cooking greens category.  This week we are bringing a braising mix full of young greens, dandelion greens, nettles, baby kale mix, full size kale, and rainbow chard.  The color of spring for us is definitely green!

But saute a little green garlic, another spring treat that you really are only going to find at your local farmer’s market, perfectly light for spring cooking with its pleasantly mild garlic flavor, and add this to your cooking greens and you have everything you need–delicious!

But what is really exciting (even though it is equally depressing in some ways) is that we will also have spring rapini at this first market, and maybe for a while longer!  Because it has been so cool this spring, our brassica plants that we overwintered in the fields began to go to seed later than usual.  When these relatives of the ever popular broccoli go to seed, they produce equally edible florets that are yet another spring crop usually only offered by your local market farmer.  Similar to broccoli raab in appearance, but with each kind offering a unique flavor depending on which plant it comes from (turnip, kale, cabbage, etc), these are one of our spring favorites!  We wouldn’t normally have them at this time of year because their push to set seed would be stronger than our ability to harvest them if the weather were just a bit warmer.

But it isn’t really warm nor very summery yet, so relish these spring flavors we will!  They are just as yummy as the produce to come, and for those of you who might otherwise miss out on being able to shop from a farmer’s market when our Thursday market isn’t happening, what a treat for all of you!

At Market this Week: Nettles!

There are a few items we choose to bring to market that we wild harvest from our property because they are delicious(most importantly) , super nutritious (like out of this world nutritious), and also (very kindly) fill seasonal growing gaps for us.  We do “cultivate” these wildings, clearing the areas where they grow or maintaining stands of them specifically for harvest, and we are always thankful to have such an abundance of them when we do.  In the early spring, when our over wintered vegetables are well harvested and new plantings are young, we are blessed with fresh growing nettles, perfect for nettle pesto and just in time to start getting the farmer’s body ready to battle pollen season.  In the summer, we harvest lamb’s quarters, a non-bitter tasting green that thrives in warm weather when our spinach has called it quits until fall and the kale has reached its height of “summer” flavor (not at all as sweet as in the colder months).

We never harvest a ton of these, but they are always a hit.  Some people already know how good they are for you and appreciate the chance to eat these nutritional powerhouses.  Other customers love their taste and will request them again and again.  We enjoy them in their season, and making nettle pesto is something we do every year.  It was the first recipe we tried the first time we ate nettles, back in the wilds of Colorado, with the encouragement of an old friend who not only gave us a taste for wild harvested weeds and king boletes, but also inadvertantly planted the seeds of our future–he had just returned to Colorado from the Pacific Northwest where he was working on a farm and we had many lively conversations with him about farming and this neck of the woods.

I was hesitant then, but the pesto was delicious and didn’t sting a bit.  We love it so much that we rarely make anything else with our nettles, aside from drying them for  tea.  But they really can  be used like any other cooking green, braised and finished with a bit of lemon juice or rice wine vinegar, or added to soups or sauteed and tossed with pasta.  But this is important–they must be cooked!  Between the soaking and washing we give them, and some cooking, even a light steaming, they will be sting free; but handling them out of the bag from our market stand with your hands will give you small stings.  We just dump them from the bag into the pan and steam them until they wilt, then cool them and proceed to make our pesto.  This blanching preserves their nice bright green color too.

We have always been fascinated by the high levels of nutrients in wild plants, so much higher than those cultivated by humans, even plants cultivated with as much love and care and attention to soil health as we give our plants.  This is one of the reasons we really attempt to mimic nature as much as is possible, keeping it as our growing model in as is applicable to our very human endeavor.  Nettles are really high in many minerals, including iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and nettles are often used to help with anemia.  I personally use them as a general blood builder and as a concentrated source of minerals during pregnancy and while nursing (though please speak with your health care provider before using if you are pregnant or nursing!) and for the kids.  They help lesson your bodies immune response to allergens, and the farmer uses them in the early spring to help prevent or lessen his immune response to pollens later in the season.

This nettle season, encouraged by a friend and our own gut feeling, we are going to try to eat nettles even more than we normally do.  They are recommended to help protect the body from radiation, and just in case we are coming into contact with more unfriendly radiation than we want, we will be trying out some different ways to cook nettles this year. Either way, we feel extra thankful to have such an abundance of this healthful and tasty green this spring.  Head out to the woods and wild forage some for yourself if you are feeling adventurous, or if you want to keep it simple, stop by our market booth at The Market this month and grab a bag.  Either way, enjoy the tastes of spring both wild and tame!

Summer (and Farmer’s Market) Arrives!


Memorial Day has come and gone, the weather is nice and warm, and it is the last week of the May month. We are no longer moving forward to that something–the barbecues, the wading pools, the longer than long days, cold drinks by outside fires; we have arrived…summertime is here! At least in our minds, that is, with the beginning of farmer’s market this week. Up until this year, this would mark the start of harvesting for both CSA and market, what we have always thought of as our “main” season, winter and spring the touchy but tasty shoulders to the big bulky body of summer growing. Not that there is much of summer showing in the harvests yet. Having harvested thoroughly almost all that we overwintered (just the fava beans and walla walla onions left), it is funny to still find ourselves in that leary in between place before there is a wide range of new crops to choose from for harvests. Still the turning of the weather and the lengthening sunlit hours all tell these crops to grow, grow, grow.

Soon, the CSA too will be growing for this increase in production and every Thursday for the next 20 weeks we will attend market. By the end of this week, there will be morning milkings, and this year’s pigs will be brought to the farm. Although we will be using the long nights to linger over sunsets and the warmer weather to get together with friends, we won’t really being spending too much time away from the farm for the next five months. Knowing this, we planned ahead to go camping with our homeschool group last week, and a nice little trip it was, even though we couldn’t help but go back and forth days before about whether or not one of us shouldn’t stay. That is why we booked it ahead, knowing how we feel about leaving the farm with so much life to look after. In the end, the timing was perfect. With most of our big planting done for the year, it was great to take a few days away before we knew we wouldn’t want to leave.

And aside from signaling the start of summer for us, the coming of market also means that for the next 20 weeks, locally grown food can can be easily found and purchased directly from the producer. The market has really grown since we moved here five years ago. Now one can easily purchase the bulk of their groceries from the market, with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables coming weekly, and safe and healthy chicken, lamb, beef, and pork meat available, cheeses and butter, honey, wine and beer. And although the main emphasis is on the farmers at market, buying from the artisans at market for yourself or for gifts for the year, along with other 3rd street vendors provides support to those living and creating right where you live, with names and faces you can become friends with. Here is a link to this year’s main vendor list: Mac Farmer’s Market. We highly recommend stocking up on some of your most favorite produce and preserving it through canning, freezing, fermenting, or dehydrating throughout the summer months so that during the farm’s week’s off in the middle of winter, you still have plenty of healthy, local food to eat!