Springing forward

With just a little over a week until the SPRING!! equinox, the farm is coming to life again.  The greenhouse is full of baby plants, seeds have been sown in the ground, and although there is still quite a bit of time in the day for the farmer to work in the shop on some woodworking projects as well as an infrastructure project, the list of things to do in the greenhouse and field continue to grow.

Our kitchen has seen the first taste of the season’s sprouting broccoli–bright purple and oh so delicious, not to mention a big jar of nettle pesto to help brighten up those pots of lentils we enjoy in winter.  Last year, the spring was so long that the harvest of one of our favorite early spring crops, the rapinis (flowering heads of overwintered brassica plants), went on for much longer than usual.  So long, in fact, that we began to grow weary of it (a first I can assure you!).

Still, as the first of the rapini in our fields make there way to our table, we have come around to them again just like we do with all the other seasonal crops.  Rapini and spring go hand in hand and even though the flavors are much like the greens from the plants they grow on–flavors we have been enjoying all through the winter–a new shape and texture, and new ways to cook them (roasted rapini=yum) bring a bit of excitement to the plate.

Livening up, things are!

We have splashes of yellow daffodils all over the house, more sun in the day than we quite know what to do with yet as we adjust to everyone having a bit more energy after dinner than in the dark center of winter.  Routines are starting to shift; thankfully, the process is slow and building.

And speaking of building, that is part of what the farmer is doing in these last few winter days.  Here’s a sneak preview of what he is working on, a little buffer in case this spring is long like the last two have been.

Because as happy as we are when spring arrives, and as much as it might seem like it would be our favorite season–and the faith in the seed and the earth and the plan of the farmer and gardener each and every spring is a thing of wonder, truly–summer is a pretty darn important in the grand scheme of things.  It is the season we must try to capture the most of.

But not to jump ahead too much, spring is definitely where it is at, right now.

Every season at its inception is fabulous.  In spring, there is so much looking forward, so much promise in the air.  There is this wonderful mix of certainty from a season’s worth of planning and the mystery of just how this particular growing year will unfold.  I can’t wait to find out!

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!