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Update: Operation Stem the Tide of Weeds

Thankfully, school is over and a few weeders, pickers, farm hands and all around great people have some time to dedicate to working! Managing a vegetable operation around a school, sports, assemblies, life, etc. schedule keeps me hopping (much like those rabbits that seem to be everywhere!) With school removed from the equation, we can dedicate some serious attention to weeding and other farm chores.

With weather patterns changing we are able to plant a little earlier, but the crops are ready even earlier than my psyche is accustomed to. This makes it a hair harder to manage when school gets out mid-June and the farm is in full production early May. In fact, I am thinking that we should all start referring to June strawberries as May strawberries! And correspondingly, have school get out in May. 🙂 This is a little tongue-in-cheek, of course, as we can’t change our school system to the benefit of the farmers. After all, there are more people incarcerated in America than there are farmers, and the number of farmers who actually grow fruits and vegetables is considerably smaller yet.

But back in the early 80’s in south Everett, a school bus would show up and bunch of middle and high school kids would climb on and head off to the berry fields in Marysville and Mount Vernon. Once they’d finish with berries, they’d start picking pickling cucumbers. Granted that was 30+ years ago, but agriculture was still a vibrant part of our economy; enough so that hundreds of kids from Everett would load up on buses and head to the fields. Many of these kids probably had parents who had done a similar thing when they were in school. Did any of you catch that bus or work on farms when you were in high school?

Sadly, most of that work has gone the way of the dinosaurs – replaced by chemical applications and mechanization. What also happened was a large migrant force of workers replaced the kiddos and the farmers also chose to not grow those labor-intensive crops any longer. Eventually, the school buses stopped coming and good summer jobs for young people stopped as well.

Farming is hard work and growing vegetables organically is very labor intensive. If we could shift our national food policy from corn and soybeans to fruits and vegetables, that would stimulate the farm economy to hire more young people. Eating organically grown fruits and vegetables is so critically important to the health of our nation (think diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc.) and to the local environment (think salmon, swallows, earthworms, rabbits, trees, etc.).

Farming for you, the environment, and the health of our nation.

Tristan

 

 

Recipe: Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto

Ingredients: 1 bunch garlic scapes 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves only 1/4 cup raw walnuts (optional) 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional) Juice from half a lemon 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Blanch the Swiss chard leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, just to remove chalky taste. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out the water.

2. Put blanched Swiss chard, garlic scapes, walnuts, crushed red pepper and lemon juice into the bowl of your food processor and process until still slightly chunky. Gradually pour olive oil in to feeder tube and continue processing until smooth.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve tossed with your favorite gluten-free pasta, add a little of the cooking liquid from the pasta to loosen up the sauce, if you wish.

Recipe from tasty-yummies.com

 

Know Your Produce: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the beginning of what would be the garlic plant’s flower; if they’re left on the garlic plant, less energy goes towards developing the head of garlic underground. So, by harvesting these scapes, you cooks get an early taste of the garlic to come down the road, and the bulbs can keep developing.

You can use scapes just like you would garlic; their flavor is milder, so you get the nice garlic taste without some of the bite. Use them on top of pizza, in pasta, and as a replacement for garlic in most other recipes.

Store: Store garlic scapes in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Store away from your fruit, because garlic is generous with its fragrance, and you may not appreciate biting into a peach and tasting…garlic. Garlic scapes will keep up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container.

Prep: Wash under cool water when ready to use.

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Summer, we taste you near!

In a true bit of parenting hypocrisy, I’m encouraging, rather, pleading with my children to finish the school year strong while I’m staying up with the sun, ditching work to feel its warmth on my skin, and sneaking away to tuck into the raspberry bushes to taste what to me is summer boiled down into one sweet, tart bite.

“Only one more week of school!” I tell them, hoping that that’ll be the boost they need to finish with a smile on their faces, rather than the moans and groans I hear as I attempt to motivate them out of bed. Meanwhile, I’m still in bed with the lingering scent of smoke from the fire we sat around while staying up far too late on a school night the evening before.

Summer, what we’re saying is, we are so ready for you. We’re ready for your long days, your leisurely activities, and the way you manage to change our priorities so that much of our day can be spent outside. I’m ready for the garden you help me grow, the camping trips you inspire, and the food that sweetens and softens in your heat. I always romanticize you when you first appear. Of course I do know that shortly, with three kids at home, there will be the “I’m boooooored” chorus singing its familiar tune, but I’m choosing to ignore that reality and live in the delight of a new season.

The newness of the nearly summer days have all of us delighted by what’s growing. The kids, without prompting, headed to the garden to pluck the first of the raspberries off the vines, with plans of raspberry ice cream. Their plans never made it to the freezer, as we (mostly me) ate the whole bowl. With the few leftover berries I found this morning, I made my girl what I proclaimed to be the best sandwich of her life – mascarpone slathered between two pieces of seedy bread, and studded with fresh raspberries that practically turned to jam under the weight of its top cover. It was my little way of saying, “Summer is nearly here. Finish strong.” I’m telling myself that too.

Ashley Rodriguez
Award-winning food blogger
Author of Date Night In
 
 
 
Recipe: Fresh Raspberry Scones

This recipe has been made no fewer than a hundred times in our house. These shortcakes are our scones, the cobbler on top of our baked fruit, and sometimes, with the addition of herbs or cheese, savory biscuits to accompany dinner.

The trick here is not to overwork the dough. It’s a very crumbly mass once it comes out of the bowl, but that’s why the finished texture is so light and tender. Don’t knead the dough together, but rather press it until it just holds. This dough can be made by hand, in a food processor, as it is written, or in a stand mixer.

Makes 8 shortcakes

Adapted from Date Night In, by Ashley Rodriguez

Ingredients:

2 cups / 270 g all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)

1⁄2 cup / 115 g unsalted butter, diced into 1⁄2-inch cubes, chilled

1 cup / 240 ml plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided

1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

3 tablespoons Turbinado or granulated sugar

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, if using. Pulse a few times to combine and break up any clumps.

2. Add the butter, scattering it over the flour. Pulse 15 times to break up the butter. The mixture will look sandy, with some larger pieces of butter throughout.

3. Pour 1 cup / 240 ml cream over the dough and pulse an additional 20 times. Add the raspberries and pulse just a couple more times to combine. The dough will look crumbly and dry.

4. Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface and use the palm of your hand to work the dough just until it holds together. You don’t want to overwork the dough, as this can make it tough. Gather the dough together into a 6- to 8-inch round (for making wedge-shaped scones) or a rectangle (for cutting out round biscuits).

5. Use a brush or your fingers to spread the remaining 2 tablespoons cream in an even layer on top. Sprinkle the extra sugar, if using, on top of the cream. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

7. Cut the dough into the desired shapes and then place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden along the edges.

8. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

9. These are best served the day they are baked. Unbaked dough can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.

Note: Often I make these by hand and simply grate the chilled butter into the dry ingredients with a cheese grater. From there I toss the butter and dry ingredients together, breaking up any large clumps with my hands, and then stir in the cream.

For extra flaky layers, give this dough 1 or 2 turns as you do in the Quick Puff Pastry recipe (page 19 of Date Night In).

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A Time To Plant

I was talking to a group of second graders the other day about farming. I found that they ask some amazingly insightful questions; an insight, I think, that comes from their simplicity. A few were already well on their way to a life of healthy eating.

But as we talked back and forth, I wanted to impress upon them that eating good food starts with the soil and ends with a choice. Choosing an apple or carrot (the most popular vegetable) will help them grow up smart, healthier and strong. I explained to them that healthy plants don’t get sick, and the healthier we are, the less sick we get. It was a delightful 30 minutes with young ones eager to learn.

I too have a choice. I choose to farm without chemicals and work with nature to raise food in a watershed, in a local community, on a family run farm.

Thank you for the choice you also are making. You have chosen to support a farm that raises food without chemicals, in your watershed, in your local community, run by a family on a farm. That choice will make all the difference in the world for your health, your family’s health and your community’s health.

That is why planting the first crops of spring are so special for me, because I get to raise food for local folks – who get it!

Last week we took advantage of the nice weather and got a goodly amount of healthy lettuce and peas planted! It feels so good to get some crops in the ground.

Hang on, the local season starts with planting and ends with good food on your plate!

Tristan

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Healthy Choices

Klesick Farms customer, Nancy, sent us a fun project that her 1st. grade daughter, Anna did on healthy food options. We love hearing how our Klesick boxes of good impact and inspire the families we serve for good, and wanted to share this with you!

Nancy writes:

“Every March our homeschool co-op on Camano Island has a “SHOWCASE NIGHT” where kids can show off talents on stage, projects they’ve completed or share knowledge they’ve acquired.

This year my 1st grader, Anna, did a project on “Healthy Choices”. We talked about foods as we shopped, we watched documentaries, she helped make some healthy meals, we learned some cooking basics, learned about what sugar does to your body and how it makes you feel, etc. We recorded all of this by taking photos and putting them on a display board. We also wanted to talk about the cost of healthy choices versus ‘junk food and fast food choices’ because some people argue it’s too expensive to eat healthy.

We gathered a number of unhealthy choices as well as ‘a box of good’ from Klesick Family Farm to show people two options. The junk food actually ended up costing more and we had to drive somewhere to get all of it. Anna had fun having people guess which was more expensive, the box of good, or the box of junk food. For those who guessed correctly, she gave them a fruit kabob which she enjoyed making – a yummy healthy choice, rather than a candy prize.

Each week, Klesick’s ‘box of good’ just shows up on our door step! It’s a healthy choice, because you can choose it when you aren’t rushed. When our life is harried and crazy running to sports, ballet, and various classes, we often make bad food choices. But, this beautiful ‘box of good choices’ arrives and helps you make a healthy choice without really even thinking. We included some of the other healthy choices that we love on her picture board display, like hiking, walking, spending time with people you love, serving others, etc. We’re glad that Klesick Farms is part of the healthy choices in our lives! My 8 year old son actually prefers vegetables to some sweets and I think the weekly routine of being delivered a ‘present’ of produce on our doorstep has really influenced this! It’s always so EXCITING to see what’s inside :)”

Hansen project2  Hansen project

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A Merry Christmas Story

Merry Christmas

 

A four-year-old boy was asked to return thanks before Christmas dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank God for the food.


He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the Cool Whip. Then he paused, and everyone waited … and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, “If I thank God for the broccoli, won’t he know that I’m lying?”

 

Well, I guess that little boy hasn’t tried organic broccoli!  (Smile)  In all seriousness, we are tickled to hear all of the comments that we get from our customers with little ones that beg for seconds of broccoli!  Starting the children off at a young age with a love of vegetables and healthy eating habits will benefit them for a lifetime. Give them the gift that will not go out of style, get tattered or torn or break the first day.  Someday they’ll thank you for it!

 

Have an enjoyable Christmas and don’t forget to slow down enough to remember all of the things that you have to be thankful for and thank the Giver of all good gifts!

 

Your friends at the Klesick Family Farm

 

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Preparing for Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving! ~ Ordering a Holiday Box with all of the Fresh Ingredients You’ll Need for Your Special Meal 

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about preparing for the holiday! For a day that’s devoted to cooking, eating, family and thinking about what makes you thankful, a little planning ahead goes a long ways in making that special meal go off without a hitch.

We at Klesick would like to be a part of your Thanksgiving celebration by making your holiday planning easy. Every year in November, we offer an additional special: the Holiday Box ($36). The Holiday box, as its name implies, is full of traditional organic Thanksgiving meal items for your celebration. Keep in mind that you can schedule a Holiday Box to be delivered the week of Thanksgiving, but NEW THIS YEAR: you can order a holiday box for any week in November, as well as the week after Thanksgiving (available Nov. 4 – Dec. 5). You can have this box delivered along with your regular order or in place of your regular order (when you place your order please specify).

Along with the Holiday Box, you can order many of the ingredients you’ll need for your  big meal: hearth-baked dinner rolls, bread cubes for stuffing, cranberries, jams, apple butters, pickles and relishes, as well as all of your favorite fresh vegetable ingredients, like sweet potatoes, green beans, and greens for your favorite sides and salads.

Let us source, pack, and deliver your Thanksgiving good right to your doorstep!

An Opportunity to Give! ~ Donating a Holiday Box to Neighbors in Need

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Klesick is providing an opportunity for you to donate a Holiday Box to the food bank. The season of giving has started, with schools, churches and businesses kicking off food drives that have become annual holiday traditions. While commonly donated foods are high in salt, sugar or calories, these are poor choices for people with high blood pressure, diabetes and other diet-related health problems. We’d like to ask you or your organization to consider giving a box of organic produce this Thanksgiving.

If your celebration includes helping the less fortunate who live in our community, you may order an additional Holiday Box at a discounted price of $26.00. Like our Neighbor Helping Neighbor program, we will deliver donated boxes to the food bank prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. These will become available to add as a donation throughout the month of November. 

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Holiday Box Menu

Granny Smith Apples, 2 lbs.

Cranberries, 7.5 oz.

Satsumas, 2 lbs.

Breadcubes for Stuffing, 1 lb.

Celery, 1 bunch

Acorn Squash, 1 ea.

Green Beans, 1 lb.

Garnet Yams, 2 lbs.

Carrots, 2 lbs.

Yellow Potatoes, 3 lbs.

Yellow Onions, 1 lb.

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Farmland, Food, and Livable Communities

By the time you get your box of good this week, I will have left Seattle, arrived in Lexington, Kentucky and spoken at the American Farmland Trust’s national conference, and gotten back to the farm, just in time to move into our new packing facility this weekend. My session at the conference was titled, From the Field: A Farmer’s Perspective on Soil, Nutrition and the Importance of America’s Farmland.

I must have been “sleep deprived” at the moment I accepted their invitation to come and share. Truth be told, I agonized over this decision for quite a while, because I knew that it would be happening during harvest and our move to the new building. This would make my trip to Kentucky more of sprint than a leisurely stroll. Nevertheless, since I am very passionate about the need to “preserve” America’s farmland for future generations, the opportunity of having access to policy makers, conservation organizations and natural resource planners to share about farming, meant I had to say, “Yes!”

I love the title for the conference: Farmland, Food and Livable Communities. It says it all: no farmland, no food, no communities. Cities and farms have always been associated together. Neither is able to survive without the other, because we have to eat to live and city folk, they have to eat as well.

Ah…but therein lies the rub. With refrigeration, diesel and airplanes, the farms can be moved further from the cities, which means the cities will eventually lose their connection to the farms and where their food comes from. As the farms move further and further away, so does the quality of the food. We accepted farms 100 miles away, then 200 miles away, then in the next state, country and before you know it, Chinese apples are on the shelf. I am not excited about that progression, and I am certainly not excited about losing any more farmland to development.

That is why I went to Kentucky—to invest in the folks who make their living trying to preserve farmland and other natural resource lands. I wanted to encourage them to press on, plow ahead, and not grow weary in well doing. Their work is important, it is important now and for generations to come.

Thank you for sending me to Kentucky. Because of your support of our farm and our box of good, I had a platform from which to speak!

 

tristan-sign

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Pumpkins for Pateros

I love my Klesick Family Farm community. What a resource it is! I am not a writer by trade and feel far more comfortable one-on-one or one-on-250, than I do at the computer. Once a week, I get a “nudge” from Jim reminding me that he needs me to write a newsletter for the following week. One would think that after 17 years of writing newsletters I wouldn’t need those reminders. Thankfully, I usually have something I am “ruminating” on! This week, I surprised Jim with a newsletter before he even asked!

Last week, I wrote about our community initiatives and I was struggling with a paragraph that wasn’t working for the newsletter. So I posted it on FB and was blessed to have a few professionals tighten it up. It still didn’t quite fit the topic for last week, but it does this week! The new improved paragraph in question is below. Drum roll please!!!!!

“We grow and deliver only healthy food – grown and nourished with compost, cover crops and minerals to help produce the healthiest food possible. We all have to eat, so why not eat something that does more than tantalize your taste buds and expand your waist line? Why not eat something that actually feeds and nourishes your body?”

That says it all. That is what Klesick Family Farm is all about. From farm to table, you can trust us to only deliver what will nourish your families and do it in a way that is sustainable. So, a hearty “Thank you” to my FB editors!

As a result of all that compost, cover crops and minerals, I have a lot of oversized sugar pie and Cinderella pumpkins and turbin squashes this year. I really do try and grow them to be a little smaller, but those two crops loved all the “groceries” we fed them this summer! And they just won’t fit in our boxes of good.

But I have an idea to make good use of these over-achieving pumpkins and turbins – I am calling it “Pumpkins for Pateros!” Here is how it works: For every Pateros fire relief donation of $10 or more that we receive between now and the end of November, Klesick Family Farm will send you a beautiful, super nutritious sugar pie pumpkin, Cinderella pumpkin or turbin squash as a thank you!

What do you think? I get to move some over-achieving squash and together we can help our neighbors in Eastern Washington rebuild? Sounds like a win-win! To make a donation, please visit our website and select the Giving category on our Products page or give our office a call!

 

tristan-sign

 

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The Kick

This time of year is the best! I love fall. Fall is when farmers, well at least fresh market farmers, are in that part of the race where you start your “kick” to finish the race well. By now most of us have been harvesting all summer and are tired. The summer harvesting is what pays the bills (e.g., weeding, fertilizer, seed, and labor), but now we are heading toward fall.

Every farmer I know has a bead on what the fall will look like in July. We can tell if the crops need water, weeding or some feeding, and based on these observations, reasonable expectations can be drawn. Nevertheless, getting the crops out of the field and into your boxes has a lot of variables in play. For the most part, however, farmers know how the fall is shaping up in July!

After getting through my son’s August wedding, I am turning my attention to the winter squash and potato crops. All summer I have been eyeing those delicatas, carnival, acorn, turbin, two kinds of sugar pie pumpkins and few cindarellas. I love growing squash. We plant it by the handful and harvest it by the truckload. All squash have an amazing yield and a diversity of flavors and cooking methods: baked, pureed, roasted, steamed, soups and pies. Hmm! Hmm! A few more weeks and we will be picking the first squash of the season.

Potatoes are a close second. This year we have four varieties: one yellow, two reds and a purple. Every year I am always surprised by the amount of potatoes under the “hills.” I know I planted them, but it just seems like a miracle every year. The kiddos and I head out and pull up a couple plants and there they are—big beautiful potatoes! The ritual just brings a smile to my face every time we do it. And now that I have a grandson, the tradition gets to continue!

Lastly, we are “harvesting” a new packing and processing facility in the City of Stanwood. It has been in the works for over a year, but it looks like we will be moving to the new facility in October.

Between the wedding and the building, plus all the farming, the final leg of this year’s race (aka, farm season) will surely require a little R&R. I just might need the whole winter to recover. Oops…got caught day dreaming! Back to work—there is still a lot to do before then!

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Will Wonders Never Cease?

On a drizzly midnight, the house was all quiet, not even a mouse was stirring. Joelle and I were winding down from the day’s onslaught of activity or maybe it was ramping up for the next day’s adventures. Okay, we were cleaning up from dishes and laundry, so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning. Anyway, as we were playing some Chris Tomlin in the background we went about our chores. Our home is a constant buzz of activity, like many of yours, but on this night we were treated to a special announcement.

Many months ago, we got two new farm kittens—a male and female, of course. And the children all clamored for future kittens. Outwardly, I was reluctant to concede to those dear faces. I think they had been taking lessons from our labs, with those pleading eyes. But inwardly, I was on their side. So I let nature take its course and our dear sweet Bessie, who has the markings of a Holstein cow, was soon an expectant mother. The children were so excited.

Then one day she had the kittens, but could we find them? No. We told the children that sometimes first time momma cats don’t know how to take care of their litters, but we did hunt around like private detectives trying to find those kittens, but, alas, it was not to be. Yet for some reason, she was still overly protective and had the signs of a nursing momma. She had to be hiding them, but where?
 
So as Joelle and I were finishing up and getting ready to retire, with the June rains gently dancing upon our roof top, the clock struck midnight, and to my astonishment what did I see? My-liss and Bessie curled up on front porch chair with not one, not two, not three, but four little kittens fast asleep. A pleasant little surprise indeed for us all. Now the children want to keep all of them, of course.
 

Other Farm News

What is growing on the farm is really doing well and what isn’t growing is not so happy. It all depends upon when they were planted and whether it rained or got hot or cold. Which is why we just keep planting. Some plantings are better than others and some make it and others don’t.
 
We will have peas soon and lettuce and spinach. The potatoes are making me nervous because the plants are already huge. But the onions, cilantro, carrots and dill are in desperate need of some heat units, like every other living organism in Western Washington.
 
Here’s to local food!