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This has been fun!

A February like this is…just grand! Mowing my lawn in February – who would in their wildest dreams (or nightmares) have expected that?! Sure, it is only February, and the other coast is buried in snow, but not us! We might as well enjoy it while it lasts. As a farmer, I always have my eye on what I think the weather is doing and might do.

Okay, I am not quite doing cartwheels (Maleah is though), because it is February and we usually don’t start working the dirt until mid to late March. More often than not I hold off starting early, because the ground isn’t dry enough to really start. Also, more often than not I have to redo work when I’ve gone and jumped the gun. Now I know Diesel is amazingly cheap right now, but starting early in the fields can really harm the land and cause problems later.

That was a roundabout way to say that I am tempted to fire up the tractor and work the ground…but probably won’t.

President Abraham Lincoln said, “[Good] Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

Amen, President Lincoln! The art of knowing when to wait and when to hustle is a fine line. When I was younger, I would have been considered an early adopter, an opportunist always hustling. As I have become more “seasoned” through the years, I have learned when to wait and when to hustle. Right now, waiting to start the tractors is the prudent choice. As a caveat, if the weather is still this nice in early March, then I will need to get after it and start hustling.

 

But right now? I will take my time “warming up” to the weather and enjoy it (maybe even go canoeing!).

 

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When it comes to less plastic, we have it “in the bag”

Last week I wrote about the journey that brought us to using recyclable cardboard boxes in our delivery business. This week I want to share how we came to the place of using plastic bag liners for these boxes. We currently line our boxes with a FDA approved biodegradable plastic bag. Each bag has perforated holes to help with ventilation and transpiration. Ironically enough, we are using plastic to save on plastic.

Before we started doing home delivery as our primary source of distribution, I worked in retail produce and had my own produce store as well. During that time I watched many customers load up on healthy organic produce and leave with a plastic bag of Fuji apples, navel oranges, lemons, onions, potatoes, garlic, lettuce, radishes, and a paper bag for mushrooms. This was just how it was done in the 90s and before. It was just more convenient, since every item had to be weighed separately. So when we switched to home delivery from retail produce, we did what we had always done, we used lots of plastic bags to deliver the produce.

As we matured as a company and moved from paper bags to recyclable cardboard boxes, we were able to cut out 90% of our plastic bag use by using one plastic liner inside the box and packing everything inside it. We still used the small plastic bags to pack the “extras,” like bananas, lettuce or apples, which customers ordered in addition to their “box of good,” but we were still using too many plastic bags in our service.

About five years ago we noticed a trend: customers were not only buying a standard box of good, they were also ordering many additional produce and grocery items as well. Some customers had also started ordering “a la carte” and not even getting a regular box. That was different. We were suddenly using more plastic bags again. Customers were shopping with us like a grocery store, and we found ourselves packing produce orders like a grocery store – using separate plastic bags for each item.

We were happy to fulfill these “a la carte” orders, to make healthy eating as easy as possible for our customers, but we did not want to be using that much plastic. We decided to start packing these “a la carte” orders like our regular boxes, which again drastically cut our plastic use. We now call these orders “custom boxes” and are packing 170 custom boxes a week, easily eliminating over 1,200 bags a week, which makes 60,000 less plastic bags a year! Add in our regular boxes and we are using 10,000 less plastic bags each week, which makes 520,000 less plastic bags a year!

Imagine, just by purchasing your organically grown fruits and vegetables through us, you are helping eliminate the use of over half a million plastic bags a year – plastic bags that are not being manufactured and thus not going to our landfills. WOW!

We are focused on bringing your family the freshest fruits and vegetables in the safest and most sanitary way possible, and doing it with less plastic is a bonus.

 

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The Story Behind a Box of Good

After my last article about the changes on the farm and at the business, I received a few emails encouraging us to keep up the good work. Back in the 90s (yes, we have been at home delivery for that long) we started out using paper grocery bags, lined with a plastic T-shirt bag for the “wet” produce. While that was a good solution for 50 customers, it wasn’t the best way to pack fragile items like tomatoes or peaches.

So we moved on to waxed boxes with a liner and put all the extra items purchased into plastic bags. Those waxed boxes lasted for 20 or 30 deliveries, which at that time seemed like an environmentally friendly decision, simply because we were buying less boxes. However, there was always this nagging feeling every time you had to dispose of one because it had to go to the landfill.

We were sensitive to the waxed box, plastic liner and plastic bag issues. We knew that there were companies in California in the home delivery industry who were using plastic bins to deliver their produce. The idea of using bins did eliminate the need for plastic bags, but it also supported the plastic industry quite a bit more than we were comfortable with, and we would have to make a very large investment upfront. For us there were a few apparent issues with this option: where does one store all of those plastic bins (1000s), all the damaged/unusable ones would still go to the landfill, and how much water and sanitizer would you need to use every week?

That last item was the kicker for us. Having to wash and sanitize every bin every week seemed like an incredible waste of water, soap, and bleach-type products. I would still feel like I would need to use a plastic liner because it wouldn’t feel sanitary enough for me to put your produce in a plastic bin. I still shudder when I think of this – yuck!

Mind you, we were a growing company with lots of little ones running around the farm (a.k.a., we were sleep deprived), but in one of our more lucid moments, we decided to go with a cardboard version of our box and stay with a liner and the plastic bags. This decision allowed us to recycle the boxes at the end of their usefulness, often using the older boxes one last time to send produce to the food banks.

One of our core principles is to be good stewards of the land and our natural resources. Because of this we are constantly evaluating our processes to better serve you as well as to benefit the environment. With those principles driving our discussion, we decided that using the recyclable cardboard boxes with a liner saves on landfill waste, plastic, water and chemical usage, and is a sanitary option. Is it perfect? No, but it has a minimal impact on the environment and is a sanitary way to distribute fresh produce.

Next week, I will go into our reasoning on plastic and how our company uses less than buying produce at the grocery store.

Thanks for supporting our good food network!

 

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Change

Change is afoot here at the Klesick Family Farm. The first change happened last weekend. I was blessed to walk our oldest daughter, Emily, down the aisle! Making that walk is an incredibly emotional moment in a father’s life. In the last two summers, Micah got married, Aaron got married, and now Emily is married. It is a little different, giving away a daughter than it is receiving a new daughter into our family. After all, this is my little girl, who I’d always known would find the love of her life and decide to get married, but it happened way faster than I ever imagined! Joelle and I are very excited for Keiran to join our family and to hand over to him one of our greatest treasures, so that they can begin their journey together.

For those of us who are parents, our children are our most precious crop. We pour our lives into them, teaching them, giving to them, and believing in them. A wedding is a culmination of all of these AND you get a new family member. Emily’s wedding was pretty special.

Another much smaller change that we have made at the Klesick family house and on the farm is to cut out plastic wrap. It has taken a little adjusting, but we are making it work. It is just so easy and efficient to use plastic wrap. But here we are, three weeks into the New Year, and voila, the trash is less full and we have discovered there is life after plastic wrap. Who would’ve have known!

We have located all of our bowls that “had” lids and purchased a set of silicone lids and a few sets of the clear plastic bowl covers. We have mostly used the clear plastic bowl covers because most of the larger main meals like soup or roasts already have lids for the pans we cook in. The silicone lids are excellent for covering salad type bowls. One thing I have noticed is that we rarely cover anything on a plate anymore, whereas before we would routinely use plastic wrap for covering a plate of leftovers.

We are also switching to a re-useable pallet wrap for our business. This move alone will save one garbage can of plastic going to the landfill a week. Another environmentally friendly move we are considering is switching to emailed invoices.

Let us know how your family or business re-uses every day items to benefit the environment.  You can email us or share your ideas on FB, twitter or Instagram!

Thanks for supporting our good food network!
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What We Eat Matters

Before I begin, I would like to share an excerpt from “Citizenship in a Republic,” by Theodore RooseveIt, April 23, 1910.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

As I think about the market place that Klesick Family Farm serves, I feel much like this famous portion of Theodore Roosevelt’s speech. As a small farmer and small business owner, it can feel daunting to engage in this battle for good food. Good food that nourishes our bodies and is grown in a way that can heal our land and environment or build upon good stewardship.

Our nation at the turn of the 1900s was having a heated debate about Conservation and Stewardship. Those two concepts are used interchangeably today, but they are distinctly different. Conservationists were advocating for no use, to let nature function alone. An example of this would be our National Park System, and John Muir would be a proponent of this thinking. Stewardship advocates would want to see working landscapes that are actively managed for the benefit of the public. An example of this would be salmon fisheries, federal grazing permits on national lands or timber harvest in the national forests.

But when I survey the horizon today, I see less conservation and stewardship to benefit the public. I see well-oiled and well- connected multinational and national food, chemical, and large farms (food factories) protecting  their private interests. And at every turn these groups are blocking my access, our access, to change. We need to change the food system for the good of all, for the health of all.

So we find ourselves in the arena with you, battling for the health of our nation and for common sense to prevail in Congress. We are turning the tide. Every organic purchase sends a clear and definitive reminder that we are engaging in another food system that is a benefit to the environment, the nation’s health and family health.

Thanks for supporting our good food network.

 

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Begin, Again

I recently came across something that I wrote on the first day on 2014. That day didn’t set off to a great start. My oldest, Baron, ended up in an emergency walk-in clinic with an earache that was causing him to shriek in pain. I wrote of the events of the day and how I started to see them as a bad omen for the year. “If this is how the first day of the year started then what’s the rest going to be?” I asked myself.

Thankfully, I quickly stopped that train of thought and realized that, first of all, aches and pains are a part of life and often a reminder of how grateful I am to have most of our days filled with healthy bodies and, secondly, as much as I love a clean start, I don’t need the calendar to tell me when to start. I can simply begin again and again and again.

The same can be said for making and then subsequently breaking resolutions. I’ve made them in the past then broke them shortly after and allowed the guilt I felt from not living those resolutions to hide the fact that each day is a day to start fresh – each hour even. There then is no pressure to hide from failed resolutions because each slip up is simply an opportunity to begin, again. There’s great freedom in that.

When the need arises to begin again, I’d love to suggest you do so with this simple carrot salad. Shredded carrots are dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a few warming spices that hint towards winter because we need whatever we can to feel the warmth in these months. There’s also a bit of red chile which really warms; the amount is really up to you. It’s a welcomed bit of freshness in the season of long-simmered stews, cream-filled braises, and cupsful of hot chocolate. None of which are bad things, mind you.

While I’m not one for resolutions, I’m okay with seeking more grace in 2015 – for ourselves, for each other, and for the freedom to see each day as a new beginning. May that resolve guide us to more health, joy, and love in the coming year.

by Ashley Rodriguez                                                                           

Chef, food blogger, author and full-time mom. You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com

 

Fresh Carrot Salad                        

This recipe comes from my brand new cookbook, Date Night In, which was the work of resolving to spend more time dating my husband in the comfort of our home. know picnics and winter aren’t synonymous, but I do tend to think of picnicking when I eat this salad. I’m particularly fond of the gentle wisp of cinnamon in the salad that’s warming without making the carrots taste too sweet. Add more jalapeño if you like heat.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

3⁄4 teaspoon ground coriander

1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon sweet paprika (smoked or regular)

1⁄2 fresh red jalapeño pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced

1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces / 230 g carrots, grated (2 to 21⁄2 cups)

1⁄2 cup / 15 g chopped fresh cilantro

 

Directions:

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, red jalapeño, and salt. Toss the dressing with grated carrots and cilantro.

This salad can be made 1 day in advance; I’d advise adding the cilantro just before serving to keep it fresh looking.

Date Night In Book Trailer from Not Without Salt on Vimeo.

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Change is 80% Behavior and 20% Mental

If you believe in something that is realistically attainable and have the right attitude (mindset) coupled with realistic goals, you more often than not will be successful at reaching the prize. The challenge comes when our head knowledge (knowing the right thing to do) hasn’t become heart knowledge.

For instance, EVERYONE knows that eating more fruits and vegetables is the right thing to do. Nobody argues this fact. Yet this fact has a hard time travelling the 12 inches from our brain to our heart. Sadly, it usually takes a few rounds in a boxing match with a health issue like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity to provide enough motivation to travel the 12 inches. Those 12 inches are the hardest to travel in every area of our lives, whether it is food, finances, exercise, reading, or not texting while driving.

Or take the world of finance. EVERYONE knows that it is better to start your retirement planning earlier than later.  For example, if you start investing $167/mo ($2k/yr) in mutual funds (avg. rate of return 12%) at age 19, and do that till you are 26 and then stop (investing a total of 16k), at 65 you will have $2.3 million—Wow, 16k becomes $2.3 million! Ahhh, the miracle of time and compound interest! But if you are a late bloomer and start saving $167/mo at age 27 until the age of 65, at 65 you will have $1.5 million. Even though the second person invested 78k, they never caught up! (Adapted from DaveRamsey.com)

It is the same with eating fruits and vegetables. Starting earlier here, however, pays immediate health dividends (unlike finances), with a large payout in our retirement years (like finances). Time is definitely on the side of our children and the 20- and 30-somethings. If they embrace eating well, they will reap a more vibrant and healthy life for years to come. But for the over 40 crowd, we better get after the goal of eating better NOW!

Most of us reading this newsletter have already travelled that first 12 inches because we are getting a box of good, but each of us probably has room to improve our health! How about a goal to do one more thing this week that will improve your health now and in 20 and 30 and 40 years! It could be something as simple as one more glass of water or one less glass of soda. It could be eating a salad a day or going for a brisk walk (even when it is raining!)

Right now, you have already thought of one or two things. Do them and travel those 12 inches for yourself and your family. It will be worth the effort. The sooner you get started, the healthier you will be.

 

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It’s the Week before Christmas!

How does Christmas always sneak up on ME? Every year it seems we just run out of time and before you know it, it’s here! I know for our family, this season has changed. In a simpler season of life, when everyone lived at home, we used to catch a Christmas Eve service, wake up Christmas morning, have our family time and then load up all kiddos and head to the grandparents, both sets. Oh, things were simple during those days.

Now that many of the Klesicks are grown up, two are married and a third is getting married in January, it is anything but simple. Family time is still ultra-important and gift giving has rightfully regulated itself to more time than material, but just trying to find the time with all the different schedules can, quite literally, be a gift in itself.

One good thing about holidays is that they do serve as family gathering days, and most of our family does gather together then. As our family grows and we add new sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, we have found the need to be flexible, especially when we gather. Gathering as a family is still the goal, but when and who can attend are the new variables. Of course, this isn’t a new phenomen, as it has played itself out through the generations, but it is just new to us.

So as our family grows, so does our need for flexibility with meeting places and times. Some years will be less attended for the usual reasons: work schedules, other family obligations, travel plans, etc. This year we are able to gather with our family the week before and everyone will be there (YEAH!!!).

Some things change, while others remain the same, so being flexible around the holidays going forward, will make this and many more Christmases to come just as special.

This year, it will be only a little quieter as we gather up those who still live at home to go to the Christmas Eve service, wake up Christmas morning, have our family time and then load up all the kiddos and head to the grandparents, both sets.

 

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Farming

I know it is December, but farming is never far from my mind. And right now, I am thankful to not be farming, as it is flat out miserable outside. Of course, the frozen tundra that is usually home to chards, kales, cabbages, beets, carrots, etcetera, has limited any harvest opportunities for the moment. If we get a lengthy reprieve from the freezing weather, most of the greens will make a comeback and start re-growing, but for now we will manage the harvested potatoes and winter squash and work inside the packing shed.

In the near future, Maleah, my 10 year old daughter, will publish her first newsletter and will be sharing about her farming venture. As her daddy, it is sure fun to see the excitement in her eyes as she pours through the seed catalogs. I probably have the same excitement in my eyes.

Ribbon Cutting

Last week, Mayor Leonard Kelley from Stanwood, Ken Klein, our Snohomish County Councilmember, and Linda Neunzig, the Snohomish County Agricultural Coordinator, were on hand with several other members of the local business community for the ribbon cutting ceremony of our new packing facility. This was my first ribbon cutting and it was fun to be a part of such a festive event.

Moving to Stanwood has been a goal of ours for several years. Surprisingly, it took about two years to make this move happen—two years of negotiating, planning, permitting and building is a long time. All of the planning and what not, did help us build a really nice facility, but as a farmer this was definitely a long “crop” to get harvested.

Now that we are here, we can better serve you, our customers, and our other farming neighbors as a more efficient food hub. Food hubs are all the rage now, but we have been operating as food hub for 17 years, we just never called ourselves such. But in its truest sense, we are a food hub. We grow food, we source food and we deliver it, and we only do organic and GMO-free.

Moving to Stanwood will help us going forward to comply with what I believe will be a whole new host of food safety regulations. These new regulations will make it harder to farm, but having our packing facility located within the city of Stanwood, will definitely make complying a lot easier for the future.

If you would like to come and see our new facility, call the office and set up a time to visit or just stop by.

Looking forward to 2015 and really seeing our new “food hub” hum!

 

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What Are You Wearing?

laundry soap_cedar & lemongrass

Handmade La Conner Laundry Soaps

Now that you’re on the road to better health by eliminating toxins that go into your body, what about the toxins you’re putting on your body?

Laundry detergents usually contain chemicals that are dangerous to the health and irritating to the skin. A residue of these chemicals remains on clothing after it is washed that then transfers to your skin. Clear evidence of this can be found in scented products, because chemical fragrances would be useless if they were simply washed out. Chemical fragrances are especially bad and are known for aggravating asthma. Laundry product manufacturers sometimes add formaldehyde to their formulas. Formaldehyde is carcinogenic, a skin irritant, and a respiratory poison.

We’ve recently come across a natural laundry soap crafted locally by Handmade La Conner that we are really excited to share with you. These ultra-concentrated laundry soaps are handmade in small batches, absolutely never using fillers, parabens, phosphates, chlorine, artificial colors or fragrances, making them ideal for those who have sensitive skin. They are safe for both septic systems and high-efficiency washing machines.

We are making this laundry soap available to you in these refreshing options: cedar & lemongrass, lavender, sweet orange, spicy citrus, as well as unscented (fragrance comes from pure organic essential oils). Each 16-ounce jar of this powdered soap will wash up to 64 loads of laundry in a high-efficiency washing machine. Order some today and take your detoxing efforts to the next level.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the natural, skin-loving, earth-friendly soaps and lotions handcrafted by EcoSations available on our website.

 

Septic Cents™

Septic Cents™ is a liquid enzyme product that stimulates broad ranges of desirable microbe populations commonly found in septic tanks to ensure optimum performance from your septic system.

Benefits of Septic Cents™:

  • Reduces and liquefies contents of your septic tank and drainfield.
  • Reduces build-up of solid organic waste and allows it to flow freely through the leach bed.
  • Improves percolation and absorp-tion many times over, even in clay.
  • Helps eliminate messy back-ups.
  • Cleans and maintains drainfields, septic tanks, cesspools, pipes, and grease traps.

Visit the products page of our website for more information.

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