May Showers Bring June Vegetables

We’re quickly approaching the start of the 13th P&C Summer CSA season! As we wait out another rainstorm it seemed like a good time for a spring farm update. Read on for a synopsis of what’s happening on the farm.

As many of you past farm members know, we take the month of May off from harvesting to focus on planting. Of course there’s also the pre-planting work that goes into prepping ground for planting, growing up the transplants, and then keeping everything watered (when it’s not raining) and weeded after we plant them. We’re thankful for your support as we take the time to focus on getting things in the ground and growing to ensure another successful CSA season.

Here are some photos and thoughts from spring on the farm:

That’s us, on a rare off-farm excursion to the coast between CSA seasons.

First off, how about we re-introduce ourselves. We are Jeff and Carri, and along with Leo the farm dog, we’re growing your vegetables this season! It really is just the two of us growing transplants, working the soil, planting, cultivating, irrigating, harvesting, and distributing your vegetables at the CSA pick-ups.

Jeff is the tractor driver, be it our diesel McCormick tractor pulling the disc, rototiller, or waterwheel transplanter or hopping on our 1947 Farmall Cub cultivating tractor and tackling the weeds. You can see him in action over on our instagram first pulling the transplanter with the McCormick while I plant potatoes and then using the Farmall Cub to cover them up. He also wrangles the irrigation pipe, maintains the irrigation system, is king of the weed whacker, pounds t-posts, sows the cover crops, mows everything, and fixes all the stuff as needed.

Carri (that’s me!) gets to play in the propagation house starting seeds, growing transplants, and getting plants ready for life in the field. I’m the transplanter, and as Jeff drives slowly in straight lines I sit on the back of our water wheel transplanter plugging plants into the ground, which you can also see over on our instagram or here on our website. And while Jeff is the head of field cultivation I tend to take on the greenhouses, trellising tomatoes and peas and managing the weeds with hand tools. I also handle all things business, seed orders, website, and CSA member communication.

Together we harvest, wash, and pack your vegetables ahead of CSA pick-up days. You’ll find us at both the Salem and on-farm pick-ups ready to answer questions and chat about the past week.

Of course it’s a team effort with Leo the German Shepherd helping out with security, rodent patrols, and heading up the ball games.

Rain outside but happy transplants growing up inside the propagation house (right, top and bottom). Plus potting up the tomato plants we’ll share with CSA members the first couple of weeks of the season (bottom left).

Although we had some early weather breaks this spring, it’s been a cold and wet start to the growing season. We’ve mostly managed to stay on schedule with getting the earliest plants in the ground but the soil conditions have certainly not been ideal. Despite the rain the propagation house has already filled up and emptied and filled up again with vegetables transplants waiting for their turn to find a home in the field.

Transplanting onions (top left), a snapshot of early crops int he field (top right), potatoes ready to be covered up (bottom left), and salad mix transplants (bottom right).

Though the weather feels like it could easily still be April, we’ve managed to keep things on track and we’re only about a week behind on field transplanting. Yesterday we were able to sneak in the second succession of head lettuce and salad mix and the first succession of sweet corn. We’ve got successions of cilantro, dill, basil, spinach, bok choy, and beets all ready to jump into the field as soon as we see another workable break in the rain. Right behind them are peppers, leeks, celeriac, melons, and cucumbers!

Baby broccoli (top left), baby cucumber plants (top right), baby basil (bottom left), and baby lettuce (bottom right).

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll continue planting as the weather allows. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the sun shows up for longer stretches soon. Soon enough we’ll make the first harvest lists of the season, get back into the swing of harvesting, and before we know it we’ll be ready to bring you the first share of the 2022 Summer CSA season!

Until then we hope you’ve been getting our recent member emails. If you’ve signed up to join us for the Summer CSA and haven’t heard from us in your email inbox recently, try checking your spam folder for emails from us. If you don’t see them there let us know by dropping us a line at farmers@pitchforkandcrow.com.

Finally, here are a couple of things I’d like to pass on:

  • First is a suggestion to check out the new Local Resources page here on our website. – If you’re looking for local meat producers (pork, beef, or chicken) or other local services you might find what you need there.
  • Second is a fish recommendation – We’ve developed a love of salmon over the last couple of years and decided two years ago to start supporting salmon fisherman the way you support us. It’s become a highlight of dinnertime for us and once again we’ve joined the Iliamna Fish Company CSF (community supported fishery). We’re looking forward to filling our freezer full of salmon again come September.

On that note, let’s wrap up this update. Summer CSA members, keep an eye out for more emails from us as we continue the countdown to the start of the Summer CSA season!

All our thanks!

Your farmers – Carri & Jeff

Mid-May Update From P&C

As we countdown these last two weeks before the beginning of the 11th P&C Summer CSA we wanted to do a little check-in here. We hope this update finds you all healthy and safe during these strange times. We’re doing well here on the farm and wanted to share some farm happenings and include a few quick recommendations of random things I (Carri) have been enjoying recently.

As many of you farm members know, we take the month of May off from harvesting to focus on planting. Of course there’s also the pre-planting work that goes into prepping ground for planting, growing up the transplants, and then keeping everything watered and weeded after we plant them.

Here are a few photos to show you what we’ve been up to here on the farm:

It was a strange year for sourcing certified potato seed but we managed to get our hands on enough seed to fill out the field. They’ve been in the ground a few weeks now and soon we’ll be hilling the baby spuds to keep them adequately buried. Luckily we put in a couple of early beds of potatoes into a greenhouse, so we’ll have fresh potatoes sooner than later.

The propagation house has been the star of the show recently. This is where all of the transplants start out before being planted out in the field. It’s filled up and emptied out multiple times already this season. Last week we gave it a little boost with a new plastic covering.

I mentioned we’ve been planting and here’s some of the evidence. Many of the season-long summer crops have made their way into the fields including peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, leeks, celeriac, tomatillos, and melons. We’ve planted successions of corn, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, beans, herbs, celery, cabbage, kale, chard, kohlrabi, fennel and more. The planting will continue in the next dry window with winter squash, which was just recently seeded as shown by the seeds I’m holding in the photo above.

Luckily we’re beginning to see some crops coming on too. The strawberries are off to a great start and as long as we can keep the deer and birds at bay and get some warmer weather we should have enough berries soon. Scape season is well underway and we’ve recently harvested leek scapes and garlic scapes. Leek flowers will make an appearance in shares again this spring too. The crimson clover cover crop is happily flowering, but the bees get to most enjoy that one. Luckily we all get to enjoy the snap peas that just beginning to come on and they’ll definitely be showing up in early shares.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll continue the planting spree as the weather allows, including the flour corn in the photos above. We’ll also make the first harvest lists of the season, get back into the swing of harvesting, and before we know it we’ll be ready to bring you the first share of the 2020 CSA season! It won’t be long now!

Until then we hope you’ve been getting our recent member emails. If you’ve signed up to join us for the Summer CSA and haven’t heard from us in your email inbox recently, try checking your spam folder for emails from us. If you don’t see them there let us know by dropping us a line at farmers@pitchforkandcrow.com.

Finally, here are a few things I’ve been enjoying recently as we’ve been staying close to home and getting things done.

  • First is a podcast recommendation – Check out the Dinner Sisters podcast for weekly cooking inspiration and recipe suggestions. In most episodes these sisters choose a handful recipes from the internet, try them out at home, then compare their results on the podcast. I’ve been inspired by some recent pantry meal suggestions and an episode all about broiling.
  • Second are video recommendations – I’ve been enjoying watching snippets of the Bon Appetit magazine’s video collection at lunch. A quick hit of watching professional chefs test recipes or share tips makes lunchtime more of a breaktime. Admittedly there could be more vegetables in these videos, but there’s plenty to learn here anyhow.
  • Third is a fish recommendation – We’ve developed a love of salmon over the last year and decided it was time to start supporting salmon fisherman the way you support us. We joined the Iliamna Fish Company CSF (community supported fishery) and are looking forward to a freezer full of salmon come September. There doesn’t seem like a better time to double down on support for local producers.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve got similar recommendations you’d like to share with us or with the whole CSA group. Have a favorite food-related podcast, Youtube series, or book? Let us know! Or what about your favorite local producers? We often get questions about local sources for various products and we’d love to pass on your favorites to other CSA members.

Okay, that’s a wrap for this farm update. See you soon!

Your farmers – Carri & Jeff

2018 P&C Farm Update

Hello Farm Friends!

Our final summer share back in November feels like a lifetime ago. The past couple of months have flown by in a blur as Jeff and I have found our footing outside the routine of the CSA. When we last left off we were working towards selling the farm and moving on to non-farming lives, but it turns out we weren’t quite finished with this place yet.

So, without a Winter CSA to schedule our time (and pay the bills) what have we been up to of late? Just after Thanksgiving we decided to take the farm off the market, only days before the first legitimate offer was made through our realtor. Despite the amazing offer, we decided to stick with our decision to hang-on to the property until we’d worked out our plans for the future. December was full of fun hiking adventures and spending time together outside of farming, a whole new reality.

I’ve been working part-time for our friends out at Adaptive Seeds helping clean seed last fall and now packing seed for sale. It’s been fun participating in the other side of the seed world, and I get a little thrill each time one of the seed lots we grew comes up on my list for packing. Jeff was hired on at Entek, a local Lebanon manufacturing company with global reach, and he’s been learning all sorts of new machinery assembly skills that have already come in handy when working on truck and tractor repairs. His favorite parts of the new gig are getting off work at 3:30pm and having a regular paycheck. Can’t argue with that!

As farm planning season sets in, I’ve been feeling the pull of farming. Given our decision to keep the farm for the time being, I’ve decided to undertake a small CSA this upcoming season. Jeff will be keeping his job, though he may help with some field work at times, and I’ll be farming mostly solo at first with the goal of hiring on labor as the season progresses and finances even out.  I’ll be focusing on the Salem area initially, but hope to get a farm stand together for local folks to purchase directly from the farm in the near future.

Big things are in store for this upcoming year.  We recently received a conditional use permit from Linn County to build a house on the farm and we’re reviewing our options and next steps.  We’re settling into the new routines of work and life and are ready to tackle the changes ahead.  As I look forward to the farming season, and begin to put plans in place, I’m nervous about taking on the challenge of the CSA without Jeff always by my side, but also excited to return to growing food for this community.  It will be hard work, but I’m hoping I’ve learned some things over the past nine years and that this tenth farming season will be a successful adventure.

Shoot us an email at farmers@pitchforkandcrow.com if you have any questions about the farm and the farm’s future.  Head on over to the Summer CSA page to get all the updated program details, and think about joining me on the summer/fall vegetable adventure ahead!

– Carri & Jeff

field notes: december 6

Hey, it’s cold outside!  December has really decided to bring the wintry weather and though it’s been fairly dry we’ve been fully aware of the icy, frosty goodness that is the out-of-doors these days.  We’re finding more inside work to do, but trying to enjoy the dry weather as much as possible too.

Jeff has been seeing to tasks that quickly move to the bottom of the priority list during the growing season.  The barn is neatly organized, tools have been put in their proper place, and field supplies have been rescued from a long, wet season in the field.  He’s also been in his own “Farmall 101”, learning all about the finer points of our little cultivating tractor.  We purchased this tractor in the spring and put it to use right away weeding, marking beds, and planting and eventually digging potatoes.  Having only done minimal maintenance during the summer and fall, he’s happy to have a little extra time to spend tracking down spark plugs and air filters and to tinker with the internal workings of the machine.

Soon we’ll begin our crop planning for next year.  The seed catalogs have begun to arrive in our mailbox and I can’t help but begin pouring through them, looking for sources of our now-favorite vegetable varieties and finding new varieties to try out.  Long, cold nights provide the perfect excuse to snuggle up with a cup of hot tea and a stack of seed catalogs!  Before too long we’ll be gearing up for spring planting and the push towards next summer, so we’re trying to enjoy the slow time as much as possible.

Finally, we’ll be posting CSA program information for the 2012 season soon, so watch for details!

Carri & Jeff

field notes: november 29

After six months of weekly posting, it’s hard not to check in on a Tuesday.  With the end of both the market and CSA, we find ourselves officially in the “off” season.  Don’t fret for us though.  We have plenty of work to keep us busy at the farm, plus we’re enjoying catching up on our fireside reading during these dark evenings.

If you have a hankering for some P&C veggies during our hiatus, head down to the Crooked House Bistro in West Salem for dinner with Bernard!  Jeff just delivered broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, beets, frisee, delicata winter squash, carrots, and fingerling potatoes this afternoon.  The menu is even posted on their website so you can plan ahead!

For now, I’ll leave you with that beautiful fractal romanesco up top.  We’d given up on this experimental crop heading up, but there it is, fantastic in appearance and tasty too!

Carri & Jeff