Saturday, June 28, 2014

Farm Bulletin: The Season Begins!

Once again I will ponder the utter idiocy of growing soft, early season fruit in the Willamette Valley as I wind my way up Bald Peak on the way to our first Hillsdale Farmers Market of the summer. Fortunately, we have a competent and kind staff, which removes some of the anxiety that the last few days of rain generated. Still, it is a foolish business.

The always-edifying Ramble.

We have rescheduled our annual Farm Ramble for the 12th of October. If you plan on attending, please note the change in your calendars.

Despite some bumps along the way, we are very happy with outlook for the farm this year. We have about 30% more ground in cultivation, which is a huge jump for us and our staff. We hit our stride and it made sense to keep planting. Our manic seeding spree meant we had to buy 4,000 more seven-foot poles for the beans, as well as more of all the other essential inputs. We start parching the frikeh on Monday, and it should be ready two weeks later. By August, things will be tearing along if the weather cooperates.

Katherine Deumling of Cook With What You Have.

Many of you are familiar with our charming customer Ellis—as farmers with two Allis Chalmers machines, we valiantly resist, mostly, calling him Ellis Charmer. His whole life he has brought his parents to the market, and is fully engaged in the process. The secret to his enthusiasm is, no doubt, his mother's talent for preparing the food they have collected at the market. We have enjoyed the food at Katherine Deumling's table and understand why Ellis approaches market day with such gusto.

For several years, Deumling has used her talent to write custom recipes for farms offering CSA boxes, and now she is ready to extend this service to the general farmers' market community. Deumling's recipes are simple, adaptable and free of the dreadful suggestion that food needs to be medicine, i.e. no post-neo-Adelle-Davis preaching. Just a good mix of influences. For $25 a year, less than most cookbooks, you can receive her Seasonal Recipe Collection and eat like Ellis.

Ayers Creek Amish Butter corn.

A relationship that frays after more than a decade and ends up in a separation exacts its financial toll, the alimony. As you will notice on Sunday, we have gone through that recently. After 14 years of using Oregon Tilth as our certifier, our differences led us to an uncontested separation, the surrender of our certificate, and now we are certified as organic by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Because of the new certifier, we have all new labels and signs. A snappy yellow banner will greet you all on Sunday, as well as more legible labels on the popcorn, cayenne and cornmeal. We are happy with the change on all accounts.

This year, Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene's and his staff will host an Outstanding in the Field dinner on the 12th of July. The brave lad has to impress a table of 180 guests. The venue is at Ayers Creek and, if you want to see how they fit a table with 180 into our landscape, there may be some tickets still available. Like most of the chefs we work with, Joshua and his staff know the farm on the ground, not just as a delivery service. He has taken the time to understand the process of growing food, not just preparing it. It makes a difference when you are a farmer.

Note: The fact that some of this note is in the first person has nothing to do with the aforementioned separation. Carol's foot is on the mend, but standing on the hard pavement for seven hours is not a good idea at the moment. So she will remain on the farm for the first three markets. Be nice to this poor old man, who picked up a few more grey hairs with this week's rain, as he brings you our hard-earned fruits.

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