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When Time Flies By…

When I was younger I thought I had the “tiger by the tail.” I had unlimited amounts of energy and ideas and was constantly moving and doing. But now I have a little more seasoned appreciation for life and where to invest my limited energy and unlimited ideas.

Farming is one place where an unlimited amount of energy has served me well. When Joelle and I started farming over 20 years ago, you couldn’t even “google” us and “earthlink” was our internet dial up provider.  That’s akin to shopping for school clothes at Montgomery Wards or Sears! If you are lost about now, you can “google” it and get a history lesson. ?

We have chosen to stay small, local and control our own deliveries. It is an important distinction that we control so much of our offerings. When your name is on the Box of Good, you want it to be as perfect as possible.

“Mr. Klesick is a passionate person” or “He cares about the big picture.” These sentiments come across my desk quite frequently. It stems from my desire to bring you the freshest and healthiest organic fruits and vegetables because the freshest and healthiest vegetables are what fuel our bodies to serve our families, friends, and communities. Eating is important as is eating the best of the best and that is what the Klesick team tries deliver to you every week.

I also believe that Americans and the world are eating less vegetables and fruit and less diversity of vegetables and fruit. Consequently, these important nutrients are missing in a majority of Americans’ diets. Sadly, they are being replaced with more shelf stable and processed foods. I firmly believe that if Klesick’s is going to be a part of the solution to America’s nutritional crisis and the host of maladies that come from eating a diet low in vegetables and fruit, our boxes of good need to have a diversity of fruits and vegetables to maximize our health.

This is no easy task because all of us have different taste buds and all of us to one extent or another have been “tricked” by our taste buds (or corporate America), to prefer sweet and salt and not the subtle taste profiles of greens or plums.

For me, I use a “crowd out” strategy to eat healthy. On my plate I “crowd out” room for the more processed foods by filling my plate with a lot of vegetables and fruit. It takes a while to get use to eating this way, but by leading with the healthier fruits and vegetables my body says, “thank you.” And this body is the tool that I get to use to serve my Lord, my family, my community and you! I want to be as healthy as I can, so I can serve others as long as I can.

Tristan

Your farmer and Community Health Advocate

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Protection or Free Trade

Last week we delved into the benefits of farmland and having farmers to work the land. Having local farmland is a national security issue, a national health issue and national environmental issue. Let’s face it, if we do not control our food supply we will be at the mercy of those countries that do. And food will become more like oil. And our presence in other countries becomes more important as other countries control or supply important commodities that America needs or thinks it needs. But whether it is a real or perceived need, if Americans (corporations) think it is important, there will be a demand to protect and ensure its supply/availability.

We are seeing this play out in a real time. Steel and aluminum are front and center. President Trump and this administration is deciding that protecting these industries are important to American security. Manufacturing jobs are good jobs and ironically, good union jobs, too. How did a Republican President of the free trade party take this stance??? We will have to leave this topic for another newsletter or newsletters.

Free trade, which is the issue under attack, is like most things; the pendulum swings one way and eventually swings back. We have been allowing Corporations to move jobs from America to other countries for decades, good jobs, but because it would be cheaper to produce somewhere else. Cheaper is an interesting word. Cheaper for the companies and the consumers who buy their products, but there were losers in the mix, too. Whole regions were shuttered and shoved aside and became “welfare” recipients.  One could argue that the consumers and corporations won, but consumers also had to pick up the tab for the loss of jobs, retraining, mental and emotional stress, shifting environmental damage to other parts of the world, etc. So much to talk about. 

This week, president Trump is trying to reestablish and protect American workers and the industries that remain. And other countries who have benefitted from Free Trade and developed industries to compete and supply steel or aluminum are fighting back because they need to protect their good paying jobs and their national security, economies, etc. 

It is also interesting that Agriculture is going to be the big loser. Farmers are always the first to get tariffs slapped on them, because America mostly exports food and imports everything else. So as this “reset” takes place, it is going to be a rocky road for a while as the world leaders try to figure out how to protect their own interests/corporations/consumers. 

So, to me, it looks like everyone at the table is looking out for their own interests and no one has the high moral ground. 

What I do know is that local food comes from local farms and having locally grown fruits and vegetables are vital to the health of every single person, regardless of where they live – America, China, Kenya, France, etc. And I hope that citizens everywhere invest in their health and strengthen their own local food economies. For most of us, voting with our dollars, does have local, national and international outcomes.

Thank you for your conscious choice to invest in your health and partner with Klesick Farms to keep local food and local farms viable and a part of our local communities.

 

Tristan Klesick

Your Farmer and Community Health Activist

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Weekend Warrior

Maybe Aging Warrior is a better title for this newsletter. After 20 years of farming and two solid weeks of Spring pruning, my shoulders and elbows are feeling like the 51-year-old grandpa I am. I love pruning. I find it an art, a forgiving art mind you, because the trees always seem to accept my attempts to reshape them and give me fruit in return.

The average age of farmers is going up. I think we are hovering around 57 years old. America needs to find a way for a younger crop of farmers to join our ranks and make a living at the same time. No small task, considering the cost of school debt, car payments, insurance, let alone retirement that many of our young potential farmers are incurring as they start their careers. These are some of the factors that make it hard for a new crop of farmers to join our ranks.

Another factor is that farming is a relentless task master. Yes, it comes with huge rewards: fresh air, invigorating highs when you first plow, followed by harvest. But, it is also equally de-invigorating when a crop fails or languishes.

The weather “windows” can be tight as an eye of a needle or as wide as the Grand Canyon. (I prefer the latter.) But the weather is what it is and a farmer needs to be ready and accept what is given. Farmers have not chosen an easy path.

But every year, small and large farmers and all farmers at heart, begin to awake from their winter slumbers when the day length increases filling our veins with new hope and energy. Seed catalogs arrive and crop plantings get figured out. Fertilizers, compost and foliar spray programs get “penciled” to the paper version of the farm schedule.

Currently, this is where I find myself in the great theatre of farming. We are getting close. If Spring is early, I will be ready. If it is late, I will be anxious. Anxious, not because of the weather, but because the windows to get the work done will be compressed. Then often, something will have to give, kind of like Yahtzee. In farming you only get one chance a year to plant and harvest.

Thankfully, I can get most of my winter dreaming and planning done during the spring, summer and fall seasons. This variability is what makes farming so satisfying–working with nature to produce an incredible harvest of tasty, healthy, life giving fruits and vegetables. When the farm gives us that bounty, all the aches and pains, all the headaches and recalculations, are all but forgot. The farm and the farmer have done their work and a local community has been fed well.

Tristan Klesick

Farmer/Health Advocate

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Farewell

Last week Joelle and I travelled east of the mountains to Pasco for a funeral. A family friend’s father had passed away and we went to help with prepping of food and what not for the funeral and reception following. Planning a funeral is a lot like planning a wedding except you only get a few weeks at most to pull it together.

Jim had been a member of the same community for 75 years, married 57 years, had four daughters, 11 grandkids and 2 greats. Besides raising children and blessing his grandchildren, Jim was an Alfalfa hay farmer.

Alfalfa was his crop of choice. Jim, his brother and their father cleared the sage brush, leveled out the sand dunes bringing that rough piece of ground into productive crop land. As I sat there at the funeral with over 300 people listening to memories after memories, I was thinking you never know who you are impacting.

Many of those 300+ people who attended the funeral had intersected at a particular point in time with Jim, some from his youth, others from work relationships, and of course, family–siblings for the whole ride, wife and children and grandchildren having the closest interactions.

Jim and my path crossed not because of farming, but because we were friends with his kids and our kids were friends with his grandkids. My first memory of Jim was at a soccer game. I was the coach and my son Stephen and Ian, Jim’s grandson, were playing a game. Grandpa and Grandma had come over for the weekend to take in the festivities. Throughout the funeral, it was apparent that Grandpa and Grandma had made participating in their children and grandchildren’s lives a priority. Now many of you may not know many older farmers, but they are not that much different than other hardworking folks from that generation. Jim was still strong as an ox. You could tell from his handshake that he was well acquainted with work as his hand engulfed yours followed by a steady strong look into your eyes that communicated trust and respect–and maybe a little measure of how many 3 string bales of Alfalfa you could stack! Our relationship was a new one and far too short. Every day each of us get an opportunity to bless someone, sometimes for a moment or a little longer or a lifetime. We will never know most of the impacts that we will have on many of those relationships, but last weekend was a reminder to me to make the most of every one of them.

In every relationship, every interaction, let’s be generous and kind in all that we do because when we pass from this life to the next, our impact on our local communities will be through those relationships and the generations still here. Jim’s life left an impact on at least 300 + people, including mine.

Tristan Klesick, Farmer/Health Advocate

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It’s a good thing there are only 24 hours in a day

Hustle, hustle, hustle! When the weather turns and the sun comes out, it is all hands on deck. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only April and that I will be planting crops until August. I used to think that vegetable farming was a marathon race, but now I am more inclined to think of it as a track meet.

Yes, the season is long, but it really feels like a series of sprinting events, and the starter gun has definitely gone off. We are getting the peas, spinach, beets, chard and lettuce planted. We are also getting the ground worked up for potatoes, corn and winter squash. So in the spring we are mostly preparing the ground for planting and then planting it.

As the season marches on we are still working the ground for summer crops, like tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but we add in weeding – lots of it (ugh!). We also add harvesting of those early planted crops of lettuce, spinach, etc.

About June we move into a weeding, watering and harvesting cycle. Life also begins to mellow and the days become more manageable (ahh! deep breath). Life feels normal. We are not quite there yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We have lots to do between now and November. This week we are planting strawberries and potatoes!

 

Sprinter (Farmer) Tristan

 

 

 

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Order your grass-fed beef before prices increase!

Prices for our local, grass-fed beef will go up $0.10 per pound after April 30th, so place your order today!

June beef is sold out, but we still have shares available for August and October.

 

Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives

Ingredients:

1 medium head cauliflower

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 clove crushed garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Trim the stem from the cauliflower and cut it into small florets.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and simmer just until tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Drain the cauliflower florets and transfer them to a food processor. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse until creamy. Add the garlic and pulse for about 30 seconds.

4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the chives, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with additional chopped chives.

Adapted from Kelly Senyei’s recipe from justataste.com

Know Your Produce: Beets

If you’re not a fan of beets’ famously bright hues, then cover your work surfaces before you start peeling, slicing, and grating. To store beets, cut the greens from the roots, leaving an inch of stem attached, and place the different parts in separate plastic bags and refrigerate. Beet roots will last at least a month, but you should use the greens within three or four days.

Roasted Beet and Fresh Greens Salad

2 1/2 lbs. small beets, trimmed and scrubbed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt

4 cups leafy greens, with any thick stems removed

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets on foil lined with parchment. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; season with coarse salt. Wrap foil into a sealed pouch. Roast beets on a rimmed baking sheet until easily pierced with a skewer, about 45 minutes. Carefully open pouch; when beets are cool enough to handle, rub off skins with paper towels. Halve beets (or quarter if desired).

2. Arrange beets and greens in a serving dish. In a skillet, bring remaining 3 tablespoons oil and cumin seeds to a simmer; toss with beets and greens. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

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Peas and Pears

As I spend more and more time in the field, I love that the farm is coming alive. Spring is like a magnet – it draws me from a deep restful slumber to a “Yes, I am ready for spring” experience. These daily spring walks invigorate my soul. I know what is about to happen. It has been the cycle of my life for the last 18 years, yet it is always fresh, always new, and always CRAZY!

If we are going to maintain or increase our health, what we eat will be important. And, let’s face it, we are going to eat. Why not eat the good stuff? I am a huge proponent of, “If we eat better, we will feel better.”

As spring marches forward, so does the bounty of the local harvest! Every day, as I wander through my fields, taking mental notes, noticing the garlic, fruit buds, dandelion blossoms, honey bees and other insects, the signs are clear. Soon I will be orchestrating a beautiful symphony of local, organic, and nutrient-rich food.

Bon Appétit

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Tristan Klesick

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I Really Like Farming!

I can hardly contain my excitement! Every year I get a little winter’s rest and then the first crocuses show up and I am chomping at the bit to get out there and get going. As a matter of fact, I already planted my two green houses to spinach and radishes. I am planning on another early and warmer spring.

Do you know what my favorite crop is to grow? The one I am harvesting! If my plantings make it to harvest (most do), that is always my favorite crop at the moment. Picking it at the height of nutrition and flavor, packing it, and getting to you—that is exciting! And the nice thing about growing vegetables and fruit is there is almost always something to harvest.

I was just out in my fields, checking in on some overwintering curly parsley and chives, and you know what I found? Beets! Those beets were too small to harvest last fall, so we left them in the ground and now they are ready. The tops aren’t in the best shape, but the beets are solid and tasty. I wish I had planted more! Which is another nice thing about farming—I get to try it again next year! So, I will plant beets a little earlier (mid-August) and I will plant more of them, then I will have more beets to sell in the spring.

Now I might be the only farmer writing this newsletter, but a whole lot of you are chomping at the bit to grow some vegetables, too. Which is why Klesick Farms is now carrying vegetable seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. This is where I buy most of my seeds. I recognize that if we are going to have healthy food for generations to come, we are going to need genetic diversity in our seeds.

There are two ways to support organic seed production:

1. You can buy vegetables from growers who use organically grown seeds (if you are reading this letter you can check

that off!).

2. Or you can plant them yourself and still buy some of your vegetables from me.

If you are a gardener and would like to support organic seed production, you can buy them through our website or you can go to: highmowingorganicseeds.com/klesick and order them directly. Either way, shipping is free.

Also, we have arranged with Michael, at Rents Due Ranch, to have organically grown tomato, peppers, basil, and strawberry plants available this spring, so stay tuned for updates in early March for their availability.

Bring on spring!

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Tristan

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An Eagle, Fog, Dew…and a Farmer.

As a farmer, the seasons are ingrained into my psyche. Day length, temperature, dew, clouds, every element, every nuance speaks to my soul.

One morning last week the moon was just hovering above the cottonwoods, a light fog was lifting, and the sun was just about to crest above the Cascades when I entered this predawn scene. As I stepped out of the old white farmhouse into a new day, I came into the beauty of the Stillaguamish River Valley—its stillness, quietness, and peacefulness. I was alone with my Creator in His creation, basking in all of it.

Stepping off the front porch and taking a few more steps towards the west, there was that brilliant globe suspended above the tree line. I stopped, mesmerized by its beauty and my smallness in it.

Not more than 100 feet above was a bald eagle circling. The same sun that illuminated the moon caught the bald eagle’s white head glistening as it glided through the fog. Its majestic wingspan and silhouette were shimmering with every turn, around and around, lower and lower, filled with grace and power, effortlessly sifting through the predawn sky.

Just at the tip of the tree line the bald eagle straightened out and sailed through the trees. At that moment I, too, returned to my home at peace, excited for what this day would bring.

An eagle, fog, dew, and the early morning dance of the moon and sun. As a farmer, moments like this speak to my soul. They remind me that I am the steward of this farm. My purpose is to balance growing food for you and for all the other creatures that call this place home. This is my work, this is my passion.

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Tristan Klesick

 

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Too Big To Fail

That was the battle cry of DC when the economy collapsed in ‘08. Yet, the large greedy financial institutions were then rewarded with a bailout, while many Americans lost their investments or jobs or homes. It feels like Congress is adopting a similar attitude towards Monsanto and other proponents of GMO technology.

The House of Representatives has passed the DARK Act in favor of protecting GMO companies from each individual state working on this issue. Why does a $15,000,000,000.00 (yes that is right, a $15 billion company) need legislative help to compete in a free market system? Congress is wrong to enter this fight on behalf of Monsanto and the other GMO companies.

If Congress really wants to clarify the issue, they should require labeling and give citizens the right to know instead of protecting GMO companies. Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association could then spend their money advertising trying to build their case to the public for why GMO’s are safe.

I am not proposing a label that bludgeons companies that manufacture GMO’s or food manufacturers that use GMO products in their ingredients. I believe that a simple addition of an * to each GMO ingredient on the label with the note “*Genetically Modified” located at the bottom is all that’s needed. That’s it!  Simple, straightforward, honest!

I believe that this is what Congress should be doing, then allow the American people to decide what they want to eat.

The labeling issue has important long term ramifications for our nation’s health and the future of farming. Therefore, our senators should temper the House of Representatives’ appetite to protect GMO companies and not pass their version. Instead, labeling GMO’s should be the law of the land.

Please contact your senators today and let them know that you would like them to not pass the DARK Act. Also, if you agree with my idea for labeling please let them know that as well.

Senator Maria Cantwell

425-303-0114

Senator Patty Murray

425-259-6515

 

Thank you.

 

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We're Digging!

Last week, Joelle and I and a few kiddos went out for our usual walk on the farm.  We started out at the sunflowers, headed over to winter squash, then grazed on a few raspberries, and checked out the pears, plums, apples and potatoes.  The potato plants looked ready for harvest, so we pulled up a few plants and WOW! We dug reds, yellows, and purples. The yellows, which you are getting this week, were the most ready.

We always like to dig a few potatoes right away. When you dig potatoes early, the skins tend to be “loose” or not “set”.  Our normal strategy is to dig a few rows early in the season and let the remaining potatoes “set” their skins. It takes about six weeks from when we mow the tops of the potatoes to start the process. Mowing the tops stops the growth and sends a signal to the plant to get ready for winter.

I am thoroughly amazed at the earliness of the potato crop this season. The plants didn’t grow as large as I usually expect, but the flavor is outstanding and the quality matches it. If you are new to Klesick’s, these potatoes are like nothing you will ever see in the grocery store. The skins will be loose or flakey because, as mentioned earlier, these are ultra-Klesick Farm fresh.

We like our potatoes cut into small pieces, 1 inch x ½ inch, and oven roasted at 425 °F with a little olive oil and salt. Simply delicious!

Potatoes_Farm

The Nature Conservancy

This weekend the Nature Conservancy is hosting an open house at the Port Susan Bay Preserve. If you have time check it out. The Port Susan Bay Preserve is beautiful and serene, truly a treasure and I am glad that it has been preserved for generations to come. If it works into your schedule come on out and enjoy the Stillaguamish River Valley.