Fern Creek CSA–Week 8

newsletter with photoWe’ve had our solar panels for about five months now. In May the panels supplied all the energy we used, and in June we sold some back to PGE. It feels good to lighten our footprint this way, especially since our home is large, even if someone is nearly always staying in the basement apartment. Speaking of that, the Airbnb has been very satisfying–we are meeting interesting people and getting to share Fern Creek in another way with people drawn to this sort of life. City folk from far-away places like New York, Illinois, Virginia, Texas, and not-so-far away folks from LA, Seattle, and Portland, find it enchanting. It represents part of a world they are glad to learn still exists. The guests who are here on pick-up days come into the Market and find that space rather charming and full of life, too.

Fern Creek's fruits and vegetables from an hawk's perspective...

Fern Creek’s fruits and vegetables from an hawk’s perspective…

Still, we have missed not having apprentices, having exchanged the apprenticeship quarters for an Airbnb space. We don’t miss them so much because Mark and I can’t handle the work (as surprising as that sounds!), especially since by this time in the season most of the work is harvesting. Besides, in addition to Kelsey coming out a couple times a month to help out, we are getting a couple good hours every week from 8th grade CSA member Ransom Smith (he is a quick learner, and good worker who mostly works with Mark), and Celeste, a colleague of Mark’s, who mostly works with me. But Mark and I miss the shared meals with apprentices, and reading and discussing the likes of Norman Wirzba, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, and Mary Oliver. We liked having a couple of other people walk our life alongside us, gathering eggs, enjoying the rain or a sunset or a full or crescent moon.

But the choice to have an Airbnb is a good one for now, and has it’s own set of good and satisfying aspects.

Sunbridge Solar was the company we went with for our panels, and we are very impressed with their values and work. If you are thinking of solar panels give us a call if you want to hear more. Sunbridge Solar wanted photos of our place for promotional purposes, so Adam came out with his drone and took some pictures. After seeing how charming our gardens look from the sky we better understand why helicopters do a low fly-by as they take folks hither and yon around the Willamette Valley.

You can see (maybe) that we’ve mowed down the strawberries in the U-pick orchard, and the new strawberry plants are already coming back in a frenzy of happy growth. If you knew what to look for you could see the flourishing winter squash and beans, the growing eggplant and peppers, and the emptying of the kohlrabi, turnips, and radish beds. We enjoyed seeing these aerial views, and thought we’d share the photos with you.


For those of you that voted on your Favorite Berry:

Strawberry and Raspberry tied for 1st, and Blueberries came in 2nd

(Mark wonders if Blackberry might have received more votes if I had written “Marionberry” instead of Blackberry on the board…)


New from the Field

Pristine and Chalis Apples

The early apples are arriving. The ones you got last week are Pristine apples, and Monday folks will get them again. We’ve tasted some that are as sweet as a good Golden Delicious (which is what they are supposed to taste like), and others that taste a bit more like a Granny’s Smith. We’re hoping you had more of the sweet and less of the green! These apples turn brown as soon as you cut (or bite) into them, so wait to cut them up until right before eating.apples

The Chalis apple is a big green apple that is like a Granny Smith. You can eat these or bake with them. Summer apples are not keepers like fall apples, so go ahead and enjoy them when you get them.

(The apples pictured are Enterprise, which will come later in the season).

Cippolini (also called Borretana) Onions

Soon we’ll be harvesting and storing all the Fern Creek onions for the year and pull out different ones to compliment the Walla Walla onions we will give you every week until they are gone. This week we’re adding Cipponlini onions, an Italian heirloom that has been cultivated since the 1400s, and for centuries sold only by local producers. One description I read said, “Borettana onions are the Italian sports car of onions. Sweet, sleek and stylish with a wonderful flavour, they were once a rare treat only to be found at gourmet restaurants, now they are finally getting their due attention.” These are high-priced onions in specialty markets, valued for their unique mellow and sweet flavor. This flat, button-shaped onion stores well. When roasted whole in the oven, or cooked in some butter on the stove top the sugars caramelize and become a soft melt-in-your-mouth treat. Use them as a side dish with meats, or on kebabs, or in dish that features onion a bit more front and center.

Scarlet Runner Beansscarlet

This is another heirloom variety of bean, a pole bean that was grown as early as 1750. It grows vigorously and and is a good producer of a bean that can be eaten green (you’ll see some of these in the Market, always in Pick-2 crate), or dried. The dry bean is a super large meaty bean that we use like a white or navy bean. The beautiful orange flowers are eatable too–great tossed into salads for some color, or even used to decorate a cake. Some people only grow them for their beauty (the vines can be grown on tee-pees and will go 18 feet or so–making me imagine this as Jack’s bean of choice that grew up to the sky).  Hummingbirds and pollinating insects find it equally beautiful and make good use of it.

...because I take any excuse to include a photo of Emma...

…and because I take any excuse to include a photo of Emma…




Anticipated in the Market

Italian Heirloom Borretana Onions

Italian Heirloom Borretana or Cippolini Onions

Pristine & Chalis Apples
Cippolini Onions
Red Ace Beets
Red Potatoes
Butterstick & Crookneck Squash
Tromboncino or Patty Pan
Chard or Collards
Walla Walla Onions
Basil & Oregano

Pick Two
Snow & Snap Peas (the last, so she says…)
Green Cabbage
Scarlet Runner & Yellow beans (the first of the beans…)
…& Other Assorted Greens

Recipe of the Week

Being as I’ve eaten this several times this week for lunch, and since as I’m talking about beans, (and since we still have some dried beans available in the Market), here’s my recipe for what I call Good Southern Greens & Beans.

Good Southern Greens & Beans

(Assemble in individual bowls for eating)


Left-over braised greens (whenever you make these, make enough for left-overs if you can–they are delicious on days 2-4!).
Beans that have been re-hydrated and cooked with a splash of oil and a hefty pinch of salt. (Or a can of your favorite, but really, starting with heirloom dried beans is so much better).

A mix of relish (I use my zucchini relish), hot mustard (I use a mustard relish I make with mustard and jalepenos), and a good ketchup.

Some kind of finishing touch, like an avocado, crumbled bacon, or boiled egg (optional).

Assembly: (all ingredients except relish should be warm, not hot, or at room temperature)

Place the beans in the bottom of your individual bowl, top with the relish, top that with the braised greens, and top that with slices of avocado (or whatever suits your taste).

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