avocado, lemon juice, parsley, dill, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to a
blender. Pulse a few times. Slowly add water and pulse to thin the dressing.
Pour over the salad. Store dressing in an air-tight container in the fridge for
up to 5 days.
This is the hardest time of the year for me as a
farmer. We are primarily vegetable farmers but also grow some fruit and hay.
Vegetables are incredibly slow growing in the spring, and then all of the
sudden – BAM! A little heat and little water with increasing day length equals
growth. This time of year, everything is just getting started.
As an organic farmer, I spend a lot of time thinking
about how to get my soil as alive and healthy as possible. It is pretty simple
for me. Take care of your soil, and it will take care of the plants. It is
similar to: “you are what you eat.” If we as people choose to eat good food,
our bodies will do the rest. Of course, just like the soil, our bodies have an
incredible ability to absorb lots of toxicity and still function, but not
As a farmer, I know when a plant is starting to show
signs of stress. It comes from knowing your crops. It is almost as if you are
listening to what the plant is telling you. It is not mysterious. Good parents,
doctors, counselors, farmers, you name it, are all good listeners. Paying
attention to what the crop is telling you is what a farmer has to discern. Does
it look piqued, why is it not growing, does it seem dry? And even if I have
properly prepared the field, fertilized, planted and watered in the right time
of year, some plants just aren’t feeling their best. But when I have done the
right things at the right time, almost always, most of the crops do great.
I consider myself a good listener, maybe I have
always been or maybe raising 9 children (5 married so far) has further tuned my
sense of hearing. Really, farming and parenting have taught me that you do your
best. You try to prepare your fields and children for the next season, and then
a lot of other factors, most out of your control, come into play. And yes,
often the next seasons will keep you on your knees because so much is out of
Ironically, it is that part where we have influence, where we can lay the foundation is, also, critical. It is where diligence pays dividends. Equally important is recognizing that the process is bigger than any one person. Understanding what you control, and what is out of your control, is also freeing.
I do believe that in farming, parenting, or eating,
little decisions in the right direction and over long periods of time, lead to
healthier crops, healthier children, and a healthier us. Our crops, our
children, and our bodies will use the foundations we have laid to finish their
race. And amazingly, as if it is a miracle, crops do get harvested, and people
are healthier when they eat better food, and children can even navigate Seattle
traffic when they are 16!
are getting so close to the local season exploding! The next few months are
going to roll in like morning fog, and then heat up like hot summer day. The
rain last week has hydrated the crops and added moisture to the fields. The
moisture is especially helpful this time of year for 2 reasons.
first is what you might expect, it waters the crops, and after that hot
stretch, the peas and lettuce are happy for the cool weather and a drink!
Plants are so amazing. When you look at a plant and study it’s leaf structure,
you will notice how they have a center rib that funnels water towards the roots
and/or the outer circumference of the plant. This is sometimes referred to as
the drip zone. The leaves are accumulators of moisture and funnel it to where
the plant needs it most.
interesting tidbit about leaves is that the leaves “open up” in the morning to
capture the dew and then “close off” to conserve the moisture and nutrition.
There is also really good evidence that the birds chirping away are one of the
mechanisms that causes the plants to open up and take in the nutrition. Joelle
and I have intentionally planted trees, all types, on the borders of our
property to encourage a diverse ecosystem.
in the spring, and running throughout the summer, it can get really loud at
sunrise with all the avian activity on our farm. I would venture that a rooster
didn’t get the farmer up at the crack of dawn, it was all the wildlife singing
to the plants!
use for moisture is to help breakdown the remaining residue from our winter
crops that we plant to protect and nourish our soil. Moisture and heat are
critical for the fungi and bacteria world to turn the fibrous plant material
into nutrients. Which, in turn, build soil health and feed the plants. Making
sure the crop is incorporated into the soil, and there is adequate moisture,
speeds up the process and frees the nutrients to feed the plants.
the soil bacteria and the other host of unseen workers is job one for an
organic farmer. Without healthy soil you can’t have healthy food, and without
healthy food you can’t have healthy people. If the national health trend is any
indication, our nation’s soil is not producing very healthy crops. And to
compound the issue, the agricultural crops are turned into a myriad of overly
processed foods that are even more unhealthy.
grown fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes consumed as close to
their original state is the silver bullet to America’s health crisis. A simple
solution, but one that eludes most.
When I think about small
things, I am thinking about the little decisions that can elevate a
conversation to optimism or an argument. Or on the farm, getting ahead of the
weather by a day or two can also have lasting impacts on the crops.
week, we saw temperatures climb from the low 60s to the high 70s/low 80s. This
is the season where a small decision can really influence a June/July harvest.
Ideal weather doesn’t exist. The weather is just what it is. Which means, as a
farmer, I do my best and then move on. Farmers have an edge about them, it
comes with the territory. Some crops do great, some not so great and others
just don’t make it.
of farming inform many decisions. A collective wisdom that has been passed down
season by season and crop by crop, which means that the weather plays a big
factor. But it is out of my control, and when a crop flourishes it probably has
more to do with the weather than I give it credit. But the little things like
depth of tillage, timely weeding, and timely watering can go long ways towards
working with nature to help that crop flourish, too.
in May can have a lasting impact on cool weather crops, and the variability of
weather can really mess with a plant’s internal clock. Cilantro is always
looking for a reason to bolt or “go to seed,” as is spinach. We have chosen to
focus on crops that are less temperamental like lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes,
winter squashes, and garlic. We have tree fruits and raspberries, too.
no longer grow blackberries. We had two varieties of thorn less blackberries.
One came on early; I mean a month before any wild blackberries were ready to
harvest, but every bird within a few miles descended upon them and feasted
away. The other challenge was that a warm March and cold April with a late
frost, killed about a half of them. Their shoots for next year will be fine,
but the combination of bird predation and frost susceptibility have made them
less desirable to grow.
other blackberry came on in late August and the birds had plenty of wild
blackberries to feast on, but I didn’t like their flavor. They were prolific,
big and juicy. I would always walk by them and look for the plumpest berries
and eat one and think “meh”. Every time I always thought “meh” when I tasted
them. So last fall, I took them out and took out their trellising.
beautiful thing about farming is that there are lots of choices when it comes
to what crops to grow and every farmer gets to match the crop to their microclimate,
their personality, and their temperament!
with the weather changing, we have
new opportunities to grow different crops. But the warmer weather has also come
with new pests. I noticed new birds flying over the farm that are now in the
valley. Changing weather patterns come with lots of new variabilities and that
definitely keeps a farmer on their toes!
Growing good food for you that loves to grow in the Stillaguamish River Valley.
florets into food processor and pulse until rice-like consistency forms.
Steam cauliflower (you
can easily do this in the microwave — cover a bowl of cauliflower rice with a
damp paper towel and microwave in 1-minute increments until desired consistency
is formed). Alternatively, you can sauté the cauliflower in a couple of
teaspoons of oil over medium heat. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large sauté pan,
heat oil over medium heat. Once your pan is hot, add garlic and sauté so the
garlic does not burn.
Add the snow peas and
continue to sauté, constantly moving the vegetables around the pan.
Once the snow peas
begin to soften, add soy sauce and spices. Then add honey mustard. Sauté well
so marinade is evenly distributed.
Cook until vegetables
are soft, but not limp. Serve over cauliflower rice. Enjoy!
When your world revolves around the farming
memories are forever with you. It was 1994 and I had begun my career in the
produce business. That was a long time ago! During these early years, before
Joelle and I started Klesick Farms, I worked in specialty produce in
Portland Oregon. It was here that I met my first organic farmers. Hard working
folks that were working outside from sun up to sun down and making their own
deliveries, because that was their only option.
It was inspiring! We didn’t
have any land, but we did have a beautiful Purple Lilac in the front
yard. It was full of blooms, and I harvested some stems and sold them to my work.
Lilac blooms were my first agricultural or floral sale! And every spring since
1994 I get to pause and smell the lilac flowers and reminisce about those early
Last week Joelle
harvested some white lilac blooms that beautifully adorned our table. Once
again, lilacs will hold a special meaning for me. Our son Andrew and his wife Abby have
decided that Pittsburgh is where they want to live. I am excited for them, but
sad at the same time. Andrew wasn’t born, though he was in the “oven,” when Joelle and I started Klesick Farms. Now 21 years
later he and Abby are finding their way. As our families gather to say good
bye, pray for them and send them off, lilacs once again signify that a change
has come to the Klesick Family.
His older brother
Micah lives in Michigan, and Abby’s grandmother also lives in Michigan,
which is comforting. Technology softens the move with messenger or facetime,
but the sadness will persist. So far, all the grandbabies still live near us,
but that too will change. Not sure when we will have all nine of our children
together again, probably weddings and funerals. I do know that when we see them
again, the embraces will be long and teary, much like the night before they
left. Tears filled with excitement and mixed with sadness as we will now watch from a far.
Change is hard and
it is good. Now every spring when the lilacs bloom purple I will remember how Klesick Farms began
and when the white lilacs bloom, I will be reminded that another Klesick is
making their way in this world.
For many of you, our lives through a box of good have been intertwined for those same two decades. And for you, too, the agricultural calendar has created many memories. Spinach and peas, raspberries and cherries, nectarines and blueberries. We have a rhythm to our menu planning, and it is heavily tied to local food. And for the next several months, Klesick Farms and my local farming neighbors will begin to share our bounty with you. Stay tuned, the box of good is going to get a lot more local!