CSA Week 3 - Bring on the fruits of labor

Spring Mix, Little Gem Romaine, Strawberries, Beets, Salad Turnips, Green Onions, Cabbage, and Broccoli

Spring Mix, Little Gem Romaine, Strawberries, Beets, Salad Turnips, Green Onions, Cabbage, and Broccoli

The selection just keeps growing a bit more each week, get it.. growing. With so much new acreage and cultivated field space now opened up here at Ambrosia Farm, expect to see quite an abundant selection of top notch produce this season. Last year the garden was about 1 acre and this season we've opened up an additional 1/2 acre to really expand our production diversity. CSA and Market are our primary focuses, so we really need to grow a wide variety of crops to keep our members happy and also buff out the market booth.

Ambrosia Farmstand coming back to life. Expect a wide selection once summer comes full swing.

Ambrosia Farmstand coming back to life. Expect a wide selection once summer comes full swing.

Much as we love to work hard for a living, many farmers tend to overdo it and start to hit a burnout point before the summer even comes around. Keeping pace is extremely important in this lifestyle and we are so fortunate to live in an area with so many options for playing outside! Last weekend my girlfriend, Diana, and I boogied out to a cliff near Blue River Reservoir to climb a monolithic basalt cliff called Wolf Rock. With options of climbing up to 1200+ vertical feet, this is definitely a spot worth coming back to. Several shorter sport routes were on the menu for our trip and we enjoyed climbing a beautiful two pitch arete plus a couple other single pitch face climbs. 

With the Ambrosia Farmstand now open Wed-Sat, CSA in full swing, Farmers Market every Thurs and Sat, life is starting to feel busy. This trip really helped to keep the pace of farm life at a steady rhythm and I look forward to many more outings with my Love and other friends throughout the season. Planting fall crops is almost complete and next up is cultivation season! We might disappear from social life for all of June, but rest assured we'll be back by July.

Eat well and be well,

-Farmer Brandon

CSA Week 2 - So long sweet May

Little Gem Romaine, Swiss Chard, Mesclun Mix, Strawberries, Carrots, Peas, Salad Turnips, Broccoli, and Spring Onions

Little Gem Romaine, Swiss Chard, Mesclun Mix, Strawberries, Carrots, Peas, Salad Turnips, Broccoli, and Spring Onions

What a beautiful week we are starting off with! This sunshine has been such a welcomed treat after our long and wet start up. Best of all, the crops are LOVING this long daylight. Once these next CSA drops are finished, all full shares and both groups of half share members will have received their boxes for the season. So good to visit with the members and see how many different walks of life we all come from. Especially wonderful that we all rally together as a community around local food!

Broadway Grill was so kind to let us keep our plant rack at their restaurant.

Broadway Grill was so kind to let us keep our plant rack at their restaurant.

Ambrosia Farm became a licensed nursery this year and had the opportunity to grow and sell an abundance of plant starts. Since we grow all of our own produce from starts anyhow, we figured why not double the size of the new propagation greenhouse and offer plants for sale. Lots of support came in from the public and we are really grateful for everyone now growing our plant babies in their own gardens. Life is busy, but finding the time to garden and reconnect with your food is important, grow your own food.

Pea world is blowing up!

Pea world is blowing up!

Blessings on the crops. Given all the spring moisture we've had, transplanting literally everything has been the name of the game this season. Radishes, turnips, peas, green beans, corn, just about everything you can think of has all been transplanted in an attempt to make the best of what would otherwise be a dismal spring. All the plant babes are growing happy and healthy so cross our fingers on warming temps and good growing weather.

Squash plants are really grooving on the warming weather.

Squash plants are really grooving on the warming weather.

Last season we had been selling exclusively at the Ambrosia Farmstand and Veneta Farmers Market. Such an honor this year to have been invited to setup at the Willamette Oaks Senior Living Center in Eugene to offer fresh local produce to their residents. Big thanks to their event coordinator Chandra Bigelow for orchestrating the Willamette Oaks Market that is now open to the public every Thursday from mid-May to mid-November! Setting up each week at their location is a true joy and we look forward to connecting with many of the residents as the season rolls on.

No time like the present though, so this farmer is back to work. What a joy to share the bounty of each season with all of you lovely friends and we hope to see you at the farmstand for our kick off Saturday on June 3rd!

-Farmer Brandon

2017 CSA Week 1 - Feels so good to eat oh so good again

Spinach, Carrots, Little Gem Romaine, Curly Kale, Napa Cabbage, Spring Onions, Kohlrabi, Radishes and Parsley

Spinach, Carrots, Little Gem Romaine, Curly Kale, Napa Cabbage, Spring Onions, Kohlrabi, Radishes and Parsley

After a very long and wet break from Ambrosia produce, we are back in the swing of spring! Starting up the farm this season was by far the most challenging season I've experienced so far as a grower. As Oregon came out of winter and into spring, it was as if the rainy season never really let up. Having late frosts can be expected and as growers, we are prepared to nurture our crops through cold weather. However, endless rain made getting into the fields nearly impossible this year, so much so that we dubbed this past early season FARMAGEDDON.

Farmers Alice and Marissa getting some extremely early season outdoor Kale and Chard transplants in during mid-March.

Farmers Alice and Marissa getting some extremely early season outdoor Kale and Chard transplants in during mid-March.

Big happenings on the farm as we are preparing some rather large field expansions and diversifying our sales outlets. Initially at the end of 2015, Ambrosia Farm clocked in at a meager 1/4 acre of garden space. Brandon got hard at work early 2016 and opened the total growing space to 1 acre. Despite how challenging our spring start up was this year, we have finally expanded to a beautiful grand total of 1.5 acres and have no desire to get any larger. This size tends to be the sweet spot in the small scale world of market farming.

Freshly mowed 1/2 acre field on April 3rd. This area will be for fall and winter brassicas.

Freshly mowed 1/2 acre field on April 3rd. This area will be for fall and winter brassicas.

As for new business ventures, many of you lovely people came out to support our Earth Day Plant Sale and also purchased our plants at the Veneta Farmers Market as well as the plant racks located at Broadway Grill and Artisan Mercantile (Thanks Broadway Crew and Sherry). This was a trial year for the nursery business. Growing starts for the farm is an aspect of the business we have grasped, but growing for the public is a whole separate game and we learned SO much this year. For now we are in the process of emptying out the propagation greenhouse in preparation for garlic harvest. In addition to becoming a licensed nursery this year, we also have decided to include value added products to our offerings. Oregon law allows farm to consumer direct sales for pickles, fermented, jams and high acid foods. So far we have a beautiful batch of kimchi on the menu ready to be canned and plan to add Sauerkraut, Pickled - beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers and more.

Onions and garlic drinking in the overhead irrigation on a beautiful spring day.

Onions and garlic drinking in the overhead irrigation on a beautiful spring day.

For now we are still plugging away full speed with transplanting and cultivation. We'll do our best to keep everyone posted as the season moves onward. For now we plan to open the farmstand on the first Saturday in June and hope to see everyone out here.

Extended Fall CSA Week 5

Spinach, Broccoli, Curly Kale, Apples, Beets, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Celery, Pie Pumpkin, and Cabbage

Spinach, Broccoli, Curly Kale, Apples, Beets, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Celery, Pie Pumpkin, and Cabbage

Happy Thanksgiving week!!! This has always been my favorite holiday. Gathering together with friends and family is so important and what better way to celebrate than share the best meal of the whole year. For the first time in a long time, I will actually be sharing this meal with my mom. I moved out west almost ten years ago and have been celebrating "Friendsgiving" ever since.

In a land where trees are giants.

In a land where trees are giants.

Sneaking off to Arcata was such a welcomed vacation for us. Having mom in town means we get to do a little bit of farm work and then slide out of town to play. This was our first time ever heading to Northern California and we soaked up just how lush that area is. Trees over 20ft across towering over 300ft high really took our breathe away.

Mom loves hanging with me during the growing season.

Mom loves hanging with me during the growing season.

After all that fun it was time to get back to work. Mom harvested and processed the greens while I grabbed everything else. Harvesting and packing CSA boxes was a treat to do together and we had so much fun grooving through the Thanksgiving box. This is my last farm chore for the 2016 season as I am heading back to Cincinnati, OH to visit with family until mid-January. Good to get out of the Willamette Valley for a while and have a change of scenery during the rainy season. One more box to go for Christmas week, stay tuned!

-Brandon

Extended Fall CSA Week 4

So much bounty this time of year. Planning a fall extended season meant that in late-summer we just kept planting large amounts of starts. Without really knowing how the response to this extended season CSA would pan out, turns out we nailed our planting numbers and volumes spot on. Cool weather has set in and now with daylight now dwindling, cold hardy crops are storing very well in the field. Thanks as always to our members for support.

Micro-spicy Mix and Pea Shoots started on heat mats. Greens all year!

Micro-spicy Mix and Pea Shoots started on heat mats. Greens all year!

A strong supply of greens is still going in the field as we move into the heart of fall. Spinach transplants into the greenhouse are now to harvestable size and mesclun mix in the field is still holding well. During a time of year that feels so short in supply of fresh produce, a few hundred feet of crispy greens is a treat. This is my first time growing a year round supply of lettuce and mesclun greens, so everything is an edible experiment.

Fresh greens from the greenhouse all winter long.

Fresh greens from the greenhouse all winter long.

My mom, Teresa, gets into town next week and we are in for a two week adventure together. Last time we vacationed was heading down the coast from Seattle to Eugene and this trip will pick right up where we left off. Arcata has always been on my list of towns to visit and seeing the giant redwoods is on the list as well. Also I contacted the owner of Redwood Roots Farm, Janet Czarnecki, and am excited to see her farm. For the past 18 years she has been operating her farm on a very similar business model that Ambrosia Farm shares. This visit to Redwood Roots Farm  will hopefully fill me with new inspiration and ideas for how to run Ambrosia Farm next season.

As always, eat well and be well friends. Look for another check in soon.

-Brandon

Cabbage plants mowed under after harvest and tarped. This will be the first planting next year.

Cabbage plants mowed under after harvest and tarped. This will be the first planting next year.

Extended Fall CSA Week 3

Cold hardy crops continue to fill boxes this week. There has been plenty of feedback from our members this season and we will definitely be growing more root crops for next season, especially beets. Fall weather finally has set in and the rain has been a welcomed relief. Daylight hours get darker and with daylight savings time change, we're all in the dark by 5:30pm. Now we're into soup season and fireside evenings.

Flail mowed a crop of broccoli and cauliflower with brussel sprouts still producing well.

Flail mowed a crop of broccoli and cauliflower with brussel sprouts still producing well.

All of the beds have been turned over at this point and the farm really is getting tucked to bed for the winter... albeit slowly. Summer takes focus to maintain production and leaves very little room for polishing off our rougher edges. This time of year is off-season for produce farmers and that means time to reflect back on the whole previous year and find ways to grow both the business but in our personal lives as well.

Low tunnel with row fabric over radish and turnips

Low tunnel with row fabric over radish and turnips

Farming in the Willamette Valley shows just how truly fertile this part of the country is. With topsoil up to 18" deep and still no frost, Ambrosia Farm is going strong until the end of the year. Here we are in early November and even the grass is still growing! Hopefully we do get a cooler shift in weather soon so Brandon can strap on his skis and join some of the CSA members for a trip into the Cascades.

Head Lettuce, Spicy Mesclun, and Spinach still growing strong in the greenhouse

Head Lettuce, Spicy Mesclun, and Spinach still growing strong in the greenhouse

Two more CSA boxes to go before we take a break then a final box during the week of Christmas. In the meantime hopefully everyone has a good craft project or book to carry you through the long nights we're in and that savory meals fill you with joy. Be well friends and til next week.

-Brandon

Extended Fall CSA Week 2

Carrots, celery, butternut squash, cauliflower, lacinato kale, radishes, garlic, apples, and pears.

Carrots, celery, butternut squash, cauliflower, lacinato kale, radishes, garlic, apples, and pears.

This past week Brandon and I have been focusing on cleaning up the farm.  Yes, it's that time in the year when farmers erase their steps.  Trellises come down, plants get composted, irrigation lines get pulled from the fields and stored away for winter, etc.  It's also important to get cover crops seeded to help maintain soil health as well as crowd out the weeds.  We've been fighting back the blackberry in Smokey Quartz field since we took over the lease.  A year ago it was nothing but blackberry and thistle.  Brandon has worked so hard, plowing and tilling that portion of our farm to make it plantable.  I thought he was joking when he first told me in early spring that we were planting in that field.  We needed the field space at the time so we just had to make it work.  It was continual cultivating to fight back the weeds.  Made green bean harvest downright painful from all the hidden thorns!  Somehow, that field was the best soil on the farm.  Crops thrived in it, as did the blackberry, and we had amazing harvest from that field.  Last weekend we were able to till those beds and spread winter rye grain as a cover crop.  It is already growing so fast.  Hoping it does it's job to crowd out that dang nasty blackberry.

Winter rye grain cover crop.

Winter rye grain cover crop.

Smokey Quartz field during sunrise.

Smokey Quartz field during sunrise.

With the daylight fading into dark earlier each day, we tend to clock out early.  It's been great to get some house chores done that have been put off for far too long.  Something that has been on my list for quite some time is making a large batch of sauerkraut.  I'm a bit of a fermented food junkie and I will shamefully admit that I've been buying kimchi from the grocery store because I've been too busy with other things or maybe that's just my excuse for being lazy.  Our napa cabbage wasn't ready for harvest but our storage cabbage was and with a bit of prodding from Brandon I finally got around to starting a batch of sauerkraut.  

Pounding the cabbage with my wooden rolling pin.

Pounding the cabbage with my wooden rolling pin.

Now all I have to do is have patience.  I like my fermented foods extra zippy which means time is my friend.  Until then, it's yogurt and kombucha to ease this lady's taste for probiotic goodness.

Your farmer,

Andréa

Extended Fall CSA Week 1

Carrots, cabbage, onions, sweet peppers, red kuri squash, celeriac, bosc pears, bulk beets.

Carrots, cabbage, onions, sweet peppers, red kuri squash, celeriac, bosc pears, bulk beets.

Farm life is cruising along at a much more mild pace.  Over the weekend, we got all our seed garlic planted during the most glorious sun break that blessed us on Saturday.  We planted several varieties, both hardneck and softneck.  Our plan is to weave the soft neck varieties into garlic braids next year.  Neither Brandon nor I have ever braided garlic before so we have something new and fun to learn in the coming year.  

Music seed garlic ready for planting.

Music seed garlic ready for planting.

Into the ground it goes....

Into the ground it goes....

Our greenhouse is planted in five hundred bed feet of mesclun mix, spinach, and head lettuce.  The only remaining transplanting to do now is our over-wintered onions that we plan on harvesting by June.

For our CSA members this week, we harvested celeriac.  If you have not yet tried this vegetable then you are in for a treat.  Celeriac, also known as celery root, has the flavor of parsley and celery with a super creamy texture when boiled or steamed.  Any fine French cuisine chef will tell you that celeriac is the secret to making any soup amazing.  Whether in soup, mashed with potatoes, or grated raw on a salad, this vegetable is sure to please your tastebuds. 

Celeriac washed and packed.

Celeriac washed and packed.

With cooler temperatures on the horizon, we finally busted out the Agribon row covers for our radishes and salad turnip to help them size up a bit quicker and help deter pests from attacking. 

Agribon covers two beds at a time.

Agribon covers two beds at a time.

Things have been winding down for me at my other farm job as well.  I now have Mondays off and the break has been much needed.  I will shamefully confess that I have not been the best at taking care of my body over the past several months and with all the workload slowing down I've been making time for regular stretching, massage and long baths in epson salts and lavender oil.  Farming is not always easy on the body and it's important to take care of our bodies so we can continue to do this work for many years to come!

Blessings to you all,

Farmer Andréa

CSA Week 22 - Final regular season share

Curly kale, delicata squash, hong vit radish, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli shoots, sweet peppers, and salad mix.

Curly kale, delicata squash, hong vit radish, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli shoots, sweet peppers, and salad mix.

What a journey it has been these last 22 weeks!  This was our first season running our own CSA program and we are absolutely pleased with the responses from our members.  We strive to make our CSA the bread and butter of our farm and it has been such a gift to us to be able to provide for our community in a way that supports a healthier lifestyle.  Packing CSA boxes is truly one of my favorite things to do.  It feels like putting together special surprise packages and when I see the expressions on people's faces when they receive their box, it is what makes all the hard work all worth it.

We had so many unknowns when we first started such as, "how many people can we grow for?"  Also, figuring out our crop planning schedule so we could assure a variety in each box.  Some weeks felt like more of a stretch than others but somehow we managed to pull it off each week.  We will be more equipped next year with all the experience we've gained this year.  Plus, we won't have to build a farm from the ground up!  Having fields already established, irrigation figured out and a processing room built will allow us to hit the ground running next year to focus more on actually planting and managing vegetables.  Having all the marketing networks already in place will likewise help make next year start off more smoothly.

This coming week will be the first of our 6 week Extended Fall Season CSA.  We are feeling well planted and stocked with plenty of storage crops to be able to provide a good mix of produce. 

With markets all finished for the season our only focus now is CSA, planting our garlic and onions to overwinter and cleaning up the farm to put it to rest until spring.  Soon Brandon and I will get to plan a mini vacation to recharge for the new season ahead.  Thanks for all the support!  

Be well and eat well,

Andréa

CSA Week 21 - Bring on the rain!

Carrots, celery, lettuce, salad mix, basil, cabbage, hong vit radish, sweet peppers and cauliflower.

Carrots, celery, lettuce, salad mix, basil, cabbage, hong vit radish, sweet peppers and cauliflower.

Holey moley have we been getting some serious wind and rain.  Last night's little storm blew our garden gate right off it's hinges.  Did anyone else have their weekend plans canceled do to weather?  We had originally planned on attending a small farmer gathering and hoedown at Two River's Farm but that was cancelled along with a fundraising event for our local Fern Ridge Library that we were donating food for the catered dinner and wine tasting.  Best to stay off the roads and cozy up at home....or work in the greenhouse.  A little wind and rain never stopped a farmer from staying busy.  There's still plenty to do to take down tomato trellises and clear out the greenhouse and prep beds for spinach transplants.  

In between some raining days Brandon, myself and my eleven year old son, Asam did sneak off to the woods in search of wild edible mushrooms.  Unfortunately, we came home empty handed but we did have fun and saw a lot of earthstar mushrooms in the Geastrum genus.

After our lovely romp in the woods we took a field trip to Just Earth Farm in Junction City.  If anyone out there is looking for high quality, organic raw milk from grass fed cows, this is the farm you should contact.  Suzanne and her husband Joe run their farm with the highest integrity for their cows.  They are offering a milk CSA and do make deliveries into Eugene.  The quality and flavor of their milk will speak for itself!

Here is Suzanne feeding baby Kaya her afternoon bottle.

Here is Suzanne feeding baby Kaya her afternoon bottle.

Brandon did the CSA drop off on Tuesday and this is the last week for some of our half share CSA members.  Some have signed on with our Extended Fall CSA, while others we may not see for awhile.  There is only one week remaining in our regular season and although at times the season felt like a marathon, now that it's winding down it seems to have gone by so quickly.

We will have a lot of planning to do this winter as we are preparing to expand our CSA and markets next season.  I've been taking evening and weekend classes through NEDCO since June to meet the requirements for a 1:3 matching grant program which means we invest $2,000 and they match us with an additional $6,000. The instructors are great and are very encouraging and supportive and the classes thus far have given me so many resources and tools for managing a small business. We're hoping that the funds we will receive through this non-profit organization will allow us to build at least one moveable greenhouse on tracks.  Only one more class to go!

Your farmer,

Andréa

CSA Week 20 - Fall in love with Fall

Carrots, chard, salad mix, eggplant, red kuri squash, leeks, potatoes, broccoli, sweet peppers.

Carrots, chard, salad mix, eggplant, red kuri squash, leeks, potatoes, broccoli, sweet peppers.

The mornings are dark so late these days...good excuse to have one more cup of coffee before suiting up in boots and rain gear.  Thankfully the temperatures haven't dropped too low during the nighttime yet.  The fog rolls in thick at night, a blanket of sorts trapping the Earth's heat in.  I know it won't be long before the frosty mornings arrive making it all to easy to hit that snooze button one more time, delaying the inevitable departure from the cozy warmth of bed. 

Becoming a farmer has helped me develop a deep appreciation with Fall.  Originally a born and raised, sun-worshiping, island gal, Fall was not my favored time of year for many years.  It use to mean more cold, damp and darkness were coming so just get use to being cold and stuck indoors.  As a farmer, Fall still means cold and damp but it also brings with it a slower rhythm.  A welcomed rhythm.  No longer are 12 hour workdays necessary.  Thoughts of being nestled up indoors eating hot soup and sipping tea with the approaching Winter are so dreamy and inspiring.  Forever and artist at heart, there just isn't time for creative projects during the summer harvest season.  With Fall, comes a flood of new ideas for crafty projects to keep my hands busy as slowly the workload of the farm lessens its grip and eventually pause all together for a month or two come Winter.  

Fall market display at the Downtown Veneta Farmer's Market

Fall market display at the Downtown Veneta Farmer's Market

Did I mention the harvest?!  Fall crops are so delicious!  Roasted roots, squash soups, kimchi and kraut...the possibilities are endless.  I keep eyeing those brussel sprouts and thinking of how wonderful they will taste sautéd and drizzled with garlic butter once they are to size.  Thank you Fall for all your bounty!

Brandon processes leeks in the field.

Brandon processes leeks in the field.

There's only two more weeks of our regular season CSA remaining.  It's been a journey of highs and lows.  Brandon and I have learned so much through both our skilled observations and yes, some foolish mistakes.  We are already excited about how we will change things up next season to help our whole farm operation run more smoothly, although, it wasn't so bad this first year all and all.

Hope you all are staying warm and dry and enjoying plenty of home cooked meals.

Your Farmer,

Andréa

CSA Week 19 - Harvest and Maintain

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Carrots, Sungold Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Delicata Squash, Onion and Garlic

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Carrots, Sungold Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Delicata Squash, Onion and Garlic

Farm life is moving forward at a pace Andréa and I can both appreciate. Starting at 8am feels like a casual start compared to our 6:30am summer mornings. Fall crops are at a crossover point with some summer crops that are still hanging on and this is our favorite time of year for produce selection. This week's box is one of our finest and the color array is full spectrum.

Transplanting turnips... This gives us perfect spacing and the crop matures beautifully.

Transplanting turnips... This gives us perfect spacing and the crop matures beautifully.

Last week found us nearing the end of our transplant season for the extended season CSA. Lots of succession planting and close seeding dates were important in order to make sure we have a steady supply of fresh crops for the CSA members. Now that October has rolled around, we are turning over the greenhouse from tomatoes and replanting with head lettuce and spinach. After that last round of transplanting, all that remains for field work is to harvest and maintain the remaining crops. This was a big push for us to make Ambrosia Farm's first year successful, and the lightened workload is a welcomed treat.

Our seed starting propagation greenhouse becomes the best spot for curing winter squash.

Our seed starting propagation greenhouse becomes the best spot for curing winter squash.

Now that September has passed, so has our farmstand hours of operation. However, we still have lots of crop on hand and would love for you to find us at the Veneta Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday through October from 10am-2pm. This market used to be located right off Territorial Hwy. in Veneta, but has recently moved to a permanent location on West Broadway. With a beautiful old barn style building as a backdrop, and nice level ground to set up booths on, we are pretty happy with this new location. Having a market right across from the Broadway Grille also gives shoppers an easy lunch option.

Beautiful Thai Fire garlic. Brandon has been saving this strain for the past four years.

Beautiful Thai Fire garlic. Brandon has been saving this strain for the past four years.

Since we are grooving through October rather quickly, that means garlic planting is making its way onto our calendar. Garlic seeds are actually just the biggest cloves from the biggest bulbs of garlic. In 2012 Brandon bought his first bulk order of "seed" garlic and has been saving the best bulbs for seed ever since. This year marks the fifth planting of these garlic strains and every year the saved garlic is even more beautiful. Demand for garlic is high and there are not many farms in the Willamette Valley growing this zesty crop. To make sure we have enough garlic to supply all of that demand, we decided to double our production this year. On hand, we have 65lbs of "seed" garlic and then we bought in 25lbs of Softneck, and 25lbs of Hardneck. Garlic bulbs need "popped" in order to separate the planting cloves and with over 100lbs of garlic to go through, and we have a few friends that are willing to help us out.

Hope everyone is enjoying the welcome light rain we've been having. Such a pleasant change in weather after such a long and dry summer. As always eat well, and be well.

-Farmer B

CSA Week 18

Pea shoots, lacinato kale, red leaf lettuce, eggplant, carrots, romanesco, tomatoes, sweet peppers, cabbage, and strawberries.

Pea shoots, lacinato kale, red leaf lettuce, eggplant, carrots, romanesco, tomatoes, sweet peppers, cabbage, and strawberries.

Okay, so this post is getting out a bit late.  As usual, Brandon and I have been busy bees buzzing about with all our farm chores all while getting the farm tidied up as best we can for our Fall Harvest Potluck.  For those of you who made it out to our little gathering on Saturday, we give our sincere appreciation for joining our Ambrosia family and sharing good food and good company.  Did I say "good food?"  I mean "what an AMAZING spread of food."  Everything was so tasty and colorful.  Thank you all for your contributions. 

Unfortunately, two of the three band members were not able to make it out do to sickness so we got to enjoy in more conversations rather than dancing.  It was such a treat to get to know some of our CSA members better and meet new friends.  Some old time friends of mine from other areas in Oregon made it out for the gathering and that was a very special treat. Wish I had some pictures to share but I was so busy visiting with everyone I never even thought about photos.

Our Harvest Gathering marks the end of our farmstand and u-pick being open to the public.  It was a good run and we welcome the break.  You can still buy produce from us at the Downtown Veneta Farmer's Market on Saturday's from 10am -2pm through the end of October.  We've had some folks still inquiring about our Fall Extended Season CSA but we are no longer accepting any more members this year.  We have filled our quota for the season.  We have learned much about yield and planting size this first year farming at Ambrosia and do plan on doubling our CSA size for the 2017 growing season.  If you are interested in signing up next year, contact us early in the spring to ensure your membership, but we'll let you know more about sign up when the time comes.

Happy Fall Everyone!

Farmer Andréa

CSA Week 17 - Feeling the Seasons Change

Sweet peppers, broccoli, beets, carrots, salad mix, chard, microgreens, sungolds, tomatoes, melon.

Sweet peppers, broccoli, beets, carrots, salad mix, chard, microgreens, sungolds, tomatoes, melon.

Another beautiful harvest for our CSA and the goodness keeps on coming.  The shift in the air is bringing a change of season and soon we'll see more and more fall crops in our CSA boxes as the summer, heat-loving, crops slow their production and then ultimately returned back to the earth when their time is finished.

We had a big push to get all the winter squash out of the field and it's now curing in our propagation house.  This being our learning curve year, we know for next year to plant a lot more squash than we did this year.  Going into the season not really knowing what our outlets for winter squash was going to be, and not knowing that we were going to offer an extended CSA season, we underestimated our plantings.  We'll have plenty for our members but not much extra to sell at the farmer's market. 

If you haven't visited the new location of the Veneta Market it's not too late to check it out.  The market managers have moved the market to Broadway and 3rd.  We were a bit skeptical about the move off of the main highway, thinking there would be less traffic but that has not been the case.  The new locale is so peaceful and quaint with an old barn structure for a back drop and right next to the bike trail.  People from the neighborhood came out to show their support and sells have been great!  The market managers have also extended the season through the end of October.

Brandon finally fixed the salad mix harvester, so no more harvesting by hand.

Brandon finally fixed the salad mix harvester, so no more harvesting by hand.

Newly prepped beds seeded with spinach, radish, turnip and salad mix.

Newly prepped beds seeded with spinach, radish, turnip and salad mix.

Brandon has been working really hard for this season's bed turnover.  Not much more, and then we're done for the season.  He has direct seeded spinach, radish and turnip for our CSA members.  We've cleared out some of our greenhouse for fall crop transplants and still have some buckwheat to till in where we plan on overwintering onions and garlic.  We are loving the new schedule with our farmstand.  Having some free time at home to get caught up on canning projects feels really good.

Just a reminder that we're having our harvest season potluck on Saturday the 24th beginning at 4pm.  We originally wanted to have the band set up inside the barn for some barn dancing but that plan got a little bit rearranged after learning that Lane County has strict regulations about hosting public events in agricultural buildings.  So come out and join us for some dancing under the stars instead! 

Hope you all have had a great week and thanks for taking the time to read our blog.

Be well and eat well,

Andréa

Seasons Change... and so do Farmstand Hours

Friends, locals and all of those who have visited our farm this past season, thank you for the support in getting our business established and helping us to thrive in our first year of operation. Given that school is back in session and daylight is dwindling, we are needing to rearrange our schedule and change the hours of operation at Ambrosia Farm. Farmers are busy people and we owe it to our current and extended season CSA members to tend their crop and ensure a good harvest.

Tomatoes will keep coming until October

Tomatoes will keep coming until October

For anyone interested in pre-orders, we have plenty of sauce and slicing tomatoes plus endless amounts of sweet peppers available. Strawberries will continue to produce until the rains set in and are available for 10lb pre-orders as well. As of now and until the end of September, our Farmstand will be open to the public only on Thursdays from 10am-4pm. U-Pick will continue and be updated on our website for availability.

Big thanks to Dzogchen Retreat Center for their support this season.

Big thanks to Dzogchen Retreat Center for their support this season.

Our Season continues to roll on and while our Farmstand will be closed, Ambrosia Farm can be found vending at the Veneta Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday until the end of October. Hope to see you on the farm or at the market. Enjoy these precious final days of summer.

-Brandon

CSA Week 16 - The marathon continues

Carrots, salad mix, kale, basil, tomatoes, sweet peppers, strawberries, sungolds, and green beans.

Carrots, salad mix, kale, basil, tomatoes, sweet peppers, strawberries, sungolds, and green beans.

This year has been full of so many emotional ups and downs.  Starting a new farm feels very similar to having a baby.  It's been all consuming, needing our attention, our care, our love and devotion.  The joys of harvesting the fruits of our labor is so precious and the struggle of working long days and long weeks is so real.  

We know next year will not be this taxing, (at least this is what we keep telling ourselves.)  We basically had to start the season from the ground up, removing towering blackberry brambles, opening up earth that had been left fallow for who knows how many years, installing irrigation and troubleshooting all the "why is it not working right?"  We had to set up a processing station and navigate all the media and advertising aspects of running a business.  It's been a journey.  It's been a HUGE learning curve year.  We've had crop failures and other hiccups along the way that add to the stress level that comes with farming.  We are tired yet we are still strong.  We are running a marathon and we still have power reserves within us.  The winter season of rest and restore is the carrot in front of our nose, encouraging us to keep moving forward.  Farming is a public service and I really couldn't see myself doing anything else.  Farmer is who I am despite how dang hard it is sometimes.  The gratitude expressed by our customers is the liquid that fills our cup.  They keep us going and make it all worth it.

If there's anyone out there who still needs to can tomato sauce or make salsa, we planted way too many tomatoes, (note to self for next year.)  We are selling romas and big beef tomatoes for $1/lb for orders 25 lbs. or more.  Email is the best way to place an order.

As a "thank you" to our CSA members and our community at large, we are hosting a harvest season potluck on the 24th of this month beginning at 4pm.  Originally, we were planning on having a big barn dance party but it has be brought to our attention that it is not permitted in Lane County to host events in a non-permitted barn that are non agricultural related.  Bummer.  We still plan on have music and dancing but outside under the stars instead.  We are looking forward to celebrating a bountiful season with friends new and old.

Your farmer,

Andréa

 

CSA Week 15 - Set the Garden to Cruise Control

This week had us in a good work flow. Harvest for crops like tomatoes, green beans, eggplants and strawberries is full tilt and lots of people are supporting our insatiable vegetable growing passion. Every week we are distributing hundreds of pounds of crop and what little we actually have left at the end of the week, we are processing for our own rations during the winter. So little goes to waste on our farm and feeling this amount of support from the community has been a true blessing. 

After a rather large push to get through summer chores, we are really enjoying some time to reflect and re-prioritize garden work. Still a little more direct seeding and bed turnover remain, but once those tasks are done we get to take a breather and re-group then ease into fall time.

Connor helps with CSA harvest

Connor helps with CSA harvest

Helpers continue to surprise us every week with their willingness to join in on garden work and get dirty with us. Today we had two wonderful volunteers stop by. Connor has been coming to the farm each month this summer. He helped us transplant our fall crops, then cultivated them a month later. This morning we were grateful for his arrival and finding us wiggling our way through an ever more crowded tomato greenhouse. Afterwards he clipped strawberry runners and sped off in the early afternoon on his bicycle. Thanks for your help Connor! After lunch our good friend Emma stopped in to help Andréa with some harvesting and cultivation. Emma worked at Winter Green Farm with Andréa awhile back and knows her way around a vegetable field. Having help from her was an incredible support today and really eased a good amount of workload off of us. Plenty of more work trade opportunities are available and we will be reaching out to our local supporters for help maintaining the strawberry patch in the coming weeks. 

Lovely Miss Emma harvests some basil to take home after an afternoon helping on the farm

Lovely Miss Emma harvests some basil to take home after an afternoon helping on the farm

Starting a new business takes faith, hard work, determination and a whole lot of support. This has been one whirlwind of a season and we are pleasantly surprised on a daily basis how much the community is rallying around our farm. Each week we see more locals dropping in on the farmstand to talk story and stock up on produce in the middle of the week. At the Downtown Veneta Farmers Market, sales have been steady and despite the heat wave a couple weeks ago we still had plenty of regulars coming by and getting their weekly shopping in.

For all those who read our blog and have been following the farm, thank you. Please continue to check in and come out to the farm and support us. Growing in the Willamette Valley offers the unique ability to farm throughout most of the year. Our season is set to end for CSA on thanksgiving and we will have plenty of produce for the locals between now and then. Hope to see you on the farm and have a wonderful week!

-Farmer Brandon

CSA Week 14 - Work hard, play hard

Carrots, corn, romaine, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, sungolds, padron peppers, strawberries and plums.

Carrots, corn, romaine, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, sungolds, padron peppers, strawberries and plums.

Managing work with social time can be a bit tricky for a farmer this time of year.  When the harvest season is in full swing there's less time for other farm chores.  The crops must get harvested all while the irrigating, weeding, bed prepping, seeding, vending and a list of other things still demand the farmer's attention.  It's important to step back a little and instead of seeing how much work there is to do, focus on how great everything looks!  The farm has blessed us with a great harvest season so far and our customers are happy and have expressed much gratitude for the produce we grow.  It's okay to step away a little.  The farm is doing fine.  It's okay to take some time to irrigate and weed our spirits so we can continue to grow and thrive in the best way we know how.  This is exactly what we did this past week.  

During a mid-morning break early last week we took a field trip to Wild Child Flower Company in Crow.  Sara, who runs the flower farm, is a good friend and neighbor and Brandon and I have wanted to visit her farm for some time now.  Her place is such a delight and, although brief the visit was, it was a pleasure to see Sara and all the amazing work she has done.  If you are so inclined, she has a flower CSA that is well worth the price as well as offers flower arrangements for weddings and other formal events.  Here's a link to her webpage  http://www.wildchildflowerco.com/

Brandon amist the flowers at Wild Child Flower Company

Brandon amist the flowers at Wild Child Flower Company

One of several sunflower varieties Sara grows

One of several sunflower varieties Sara grows

Finding time for stocking up is a fundamental part of our lifestyle.  Each year I try to experiment with at least one new recipe.  This year it was sungold jam!  This is definitely going to be a new staple canning chore for years to come.  Served with crackers and goat cheese.....YUM!

Brandon and I both share a passion for backcountry adventures.  It had been over a year since our last wilderness campout and we were itching to get back out into the mountains.  So we packed our packs and closed the gate to the farm for two days and headed out to the South Sister's Wilderness Area.  The plan was to hike to base camp at Moraine Lake, then wake up early the next morning and start for the South Sister summit, hiking by moonlight.

On our way to Moraine Lake

On our way to Moraine Lake

The hike to the lake was so beautiful.  We opted for the longer route so we could hike alongside fall creek for a great portion of the trail.  So many waterfalls and cool shaded forest, a pleasant easy-going four miles.  Arriving at Moraine Lake, we set up camp right away and boiled water for a cup of earl grey tea.  We relaxed, and soaked in the scenery of the lake and mountain and then prepared a delicious and filling dinner, (why is it everything taste sooooo much better when you're camping?) before crashing out early into our snug tent. 

The view from our campsite

The view from our campsite

We left camp early the next morning for the summit with just our day packs and enjoyed the quiet of the moonlit trail.  It wasn't easy for this unconditioned hiker but it was worth every step.  We arrived at the top of the mountain and had the whole summit to ourselves. Clear skies and amazing views! 

At the summit of South Sister

At the summit of South Sister

I won't lie...I felt like an old lady when I stepped out of the car after getting home from our weekend away.  Sift and sore ALL over.  Brandon and I were both a little bit slow moving the next day at work, our harvest and pack out day for our CSA, but it all came together.  One of the most amazing things happened while we were gallivanting in the mountains....we didn't talk about the farm, not once!  This wasn't even intentional.  We just took time to feed our own souls and enjoy each other's company.  It was perfect. 

Your Farmer,

Andréa

Potluck and Barnside Movie Night

Before school starts back up and Labor Day comes around, the time has come for us to host friends and those in our community with a good ol' fashioned farm style potluck. Last minute invite... but summer just tends to be improvisational. Bring a friend or the family and come out to Ambrosia Farm to celebrate the summer season. Any dish of your choice gets you in and gives a chance to meet some amazing people that have become a part of Ambrosia Farm.

After chowing on some food, meeting with good folks and touring the garden, we are going to set up the side of our barn for a movie night. Flashback to the mid-80s, we'll be showing "The Neverending Story". A childhood favorite and super mellow entertainment without the glitz of modern special effects. 

Potluck starts at 5pm and the movie will begin around 7:30, so long as it's dark enough. Since we are a small farm with limited dishes and cutlery, we kindly ask that you bring your own plates, cutlery and cups. We'll have a washing station set up for your dishes. Thanks for supporting us and we are so excited to relax with everyone this weekend.

Hope to see you at the farm!

 

CSA Week 13 - The heat is on!

Week 13: Poblano peppers, head lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, basil, honeydew melon, carrots, eggplant, strawberries, sungold cherry tomatoes.

Week 13: Poblano peppers, head lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, basil, honeydew melon, carrots, eggplant, strawberries, sungold cherry tomatoes.

Wow, has it been hot!  We've been let off easy this year temperature-wise until now.  Lots of water and breaks in the shade are absolutely required these days.  Any greenhouse harvesting is done first thing in the morning to beat the heat.  Luckily at Ambrosia, we are blessed with a breezy location and that wind sure is welcomed as it blows across a brow dripping with sweat.  The solanaceae crops, (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), have no complaints about the heat.  They say, "bring it on!"  Heat makes these crops ripen faster and the first bits of color have started showing up in the pepper patch.  Everyone has their own taste of summer and for me it's definitely sweet peppers...one of the first seeds sown in early spring and one of the last summer crops to ripen.

Sweet cow horn peppers

Sweet cow horn peppers

With the summer farm in total harvest mode, we must remember that this is also the season to put up food for the winter.  A neighbor of ours had a large seven gallon stainless steel pot for sale and we could not resist buying it.  After setting up some outdoor propane burners we were in business.  Let the season of back porch canning with cold beer begin!  

Tomato sauce cooking down

Tomato sauce cooking down

Brandon has been a busy bee dehydrating tomatoes and freezing strawberries for our extended season CSA program.  Expecting lots of goodies to fill the boxes leading up to Christmas.

Bagging frozen strawberries for Fall CSA memberships

Bagging frozen strawberries for Fall CSA memberships

Summer can't be all work and no play.  It's important to get out once in awhile and socialize with friends and that's exactly what we did this Sunday.  After visiting over a cold beer with Natalie and Wes at L'Étoile Farm in Noti, we headed over to the Pitney Palace of Junction City for a potluck gathering and documentary screening hosted by the South Willamette Beginning Farmer's Alliance.  It felt so good to catch up with old friends and meet a bunch of new ones and of course the food was amazing!...especially the BBQ and apple pie, YUM!

Lucky for us the fun isn't over.  Marked on the calendar for this upcoming weekend is a backcountry campout and summit at South Sister.  This is a desperately needed wilderness adventure that we've been looking forward to since winter.  The astrology forecast says to expect the unexpected and just moments ago a CSA member, and dear friend, just popped in and handed me two pairs of brand new mountain gaiters to protect our feet on the climb from the super fine volcanic silt.  She's got our back and we love you Eriel Hoffmeier, you're the sweetest!  Here's hoping for clear skies when we reach the summit.

As always, be well and eat well.

Your farmer,

Andréa