Summer Session update from Farmer Erick

Summer Session at the farm is officially here!  In this update:

  1. Summer Session is here!
  2. Last Call for work shares
  3. Assessment of the growing season to date
  4. A CSA member’s proposal and request for others to join in
  5. The Jubilee Herd
  6. Changes in Farm School for this year
  7. Yes, Terrie is back with the Cascading Kitchen
  8. Protocol for delivery Members to Pick Up at the Farm
  9. Are they “Chicklings” or “Duckens”?
  10. Two special members of the crew
  11.   Meet the crew

 

  1. Summer Session is here!

That’s right.  It all starts this Tuesday, June 14th.  If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so now at www.jubileefarm.org/members/.  If you are not sure if you’ve signed up, drop us a note and we’ll let you know.  If you have any questions about signing up, again drop us a note!

Photo Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography.  Depicts box contents of an entire Summer Session.

  1. Last Call for work shares

We’re down to the last call.  If you are interested in the work share program, feel free to send me a quick e-mail.  We have a great group now, but would be happy for a few more to join us before we get started on Tuesday.  For returning work share members, if you “think” you are signed up, but not quite sure (and especially if you didn’t get the email note I sent last week!), please contact me.

  1. Assessment of the growing season to date

It’s been an interesting spring.  As I write these words I’m still feeling the “sting” of five, successive, 80 degree days (peaking here at 97 degrees).  It is hard not to have one’s mind consumed with the heat and the dryness!  And, certainly, these five days have no historical precedent in the memory of those alive today, and possibly none in the experience of any human that has ever lived in this region.

But I don’t want those five days to cloud what was otherwise a very good spring.  By “very good” I mean weather that was warm and dry, but punctuated with timely rains.  Grass came on a little earlier than some other years, which was fortunate for us because this spring we worked on our composting system (more on that in another update) and to do that we needed the cows out of the barn a little earlier than usual.  The early warm, dry weather helped to facilitate that work.

It also turned out that although it was dry a lot, the rains we did have were very timely.  Although we did have to pull out the irrigation “just in case,” and we even used it once early on, the rains seemed to come exactly when we needed them most.  So, all in all, it was a great spring.

Now, for the five record-breaking days in June, along with some of the equally blistering days we experienced before.  These were brutal.  And we had causalities.  The first was the pea crop.  In a word, the peas were a complete crop failure; the first pea-failure we’ve ever had!

Another failure was our first planting of broccoli and cauliflower.  Oh how those brassicas flourish in a cool, damp spring; and oh how they shrivel and die under conditions we experienced this spring.

So, what to do?  Give-up is an option I don’t like!  So, we replanted.  I’ve never done a replant on peas, and I have no idea how it will do.  But we did replant—and in a much larger volume than usual.  I just went out and walked those peas, and low and behold, they are doing quite well.  Will they make it?  We’ll all find out.

As it turns out, there are enough survivors from the first planting that we will have a U-pick at the farm on peas, but for children only, and “pick and eat,” only.  Let’s all focus some positive energy toward that second planting.

Beyond the peas and brassicas, many things are looking very good.  We got the beans and edamame planted earlier than usual and in larger volume than usual, and both being warm-weather crops, they are flourishing.  We planted our outside cherry tomatoes a month earlier than last year, and they are looking very good—ready to be trellised now!  Our alliums, garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots are doing much better than last year.  The garlic—as you may know we are “nursing” a crop of seed garlic along— is its third year.  It a great variety we got from Wendy’s brother, but we only got three pounds from him.  We turned that three pounds into 50 pounds in the second year, and last year we harvested about 100 pounds.  It’s done very well, and we’ll be harvesting it in another month.  We will need to hold back about 150 pounds for seed, but we may have our first of this variety of garlic in the shares this year!

All the other major summer crops—cucumbers, summer (and winter) squash, potatoes, fennel, brassicas (second rotation!), sweet potatoes, and the flowers are doing great.  The raspberries are just outrageous, and already flowering!  Remember two years ago when we didn’t get a raspberry until October?  And the tomatoes are tall enough that I can prune them without getting down on my knees (which, since my last surgery, I don’t do so well).   So you know they too are on their way!

All things considered, I’m very pleased with where we are.  Our opening week or two may be a bit lower in volume than some years, but in all I believe we are in for an excellent season.

  1. A CSA member’s proposal and request for others to join in

Erick’s noteThe entry below was written by a one of our work share members, Chet Rathod.Chet is a Senior Manager for the Alexa team at Amazon.  When Chet recently shared with me a proposal/vision he has for our farm I was so moved I could hardly speak.  I’ve asked him to write his thoughts so I could share them with all of you.  The following (italicized) is Chet’s introduction of himself, and an outline of his proposal.

My first day on Jubilee Farm was on my 42nd birthday. I still distinctly remember planting green onions on that hot day in May.  I’d intended for the six-week spring session to be a try-out for whether I’d want to commit to the 20-week summer workshare.  From day one, I knew I was hooked.

Through the course of the summer session on the farm, I met some amazing people who were smart, hard-working, and passionate. They came from different walks of life for a common cause: growing local, organic produce for the community. I truly believe that you are what you eat, and the opportunity to be a part of producing my own food, knowing exactly how and where it went from seed to plate, has become an invaluable part of my life.

As the summer session got underway, the workshare’s weekly bounty proved more than enough for my family.  I started taking this extra produce to the Pike Market Food Bank on my way to work.  The availability of fresh produce to its patrons, I learned, is always a concern for the food bank.  Just by donating what my family couldn’t eat, I ended up donating about 300 pounds of just-harvested produce over the course of the season.  Going into my second year with the farm, it is clear that I want to help build a stronger community through locally produced organic agriculture.

For the summer season this year, Jubilee Farm and I are developing a program to donate more fresh produce to the Pike Market Food Bank. We are creating a partnership where, at the beginning of the growing season, money can be donated to the food bank specifically for the purchase of Jubilee produce for its patrons.  Think of it like a community-funded CSA membership for the food bank! 

So far, we’ve raised $2,000 of our $10,000 goal for this year.  Because it’s estimated that every dollar spent in local agriculture grows the local economy by $7 – both the patrons of the Food Bank and the community at large stand to benefit.  If the feedback from the community is positive, we’re hoping we can expand this idea to include multiple farms and multiple food banks in the coming years.  

We’re also looking for help in naming this program.  If you are interested in donating or if you have a name you think we should use, or if you just have ideas/want more information, please get in touch with me.   I may be contacted at: chet.rathod@gmail.com.

Erick’s note:  The farm has added one-thousand dollars to the two-thousand already pledged.  I’ve had personal experience with this program, and concur with Chet in his assessment that the Pike Place Market Food Bank is very well-managed, and serves a needy population in Seattle.  I hope that many of you will join Chet, the farm, and other donors in reaching the goal of ten thousand dollars this year.  Please contact Chet if you wish to donate, if you are willing to help publicize this project through groups you are a part of or your workplace, and/or if you have an idea for a name of this project.

I can’t say how pleased I am to see this happening, to be a part of it, and to contribute to its success.

  1. The Jubilee Herd (by Farmer David)

It has been a great season for the cows so far this year.  Yesterday the first calf of the season was born and we are expecting many more this year.  The mix of warm and wet weather has the pastures bright green and the herd is enjoying the prime time of the year.

We are taking orders for premium beef and ground beef (see our website for details) and if you have ever considered purchasing local grass fed beef and have questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line; I love talking about our herd.

I would also like to extend an invitation to “meet” the herd.  Many folks have told me that it is important to them to see the herd and where they live before purchasing, and I am always happy to set up a time to go out and visit the herd.  As I said, I love talking about our cows!

  1. Changes in Farm School for this year (by Farmer David)

I am very excited for farm school this year!  We have a bunch of fun activities this year, including a kids’ pea patch, where kids will manage their own gardens.  If you plan on joining us for farm school this year, make sure you come the first week (in July) to claim your plot of land.  Farm School will be every Tuesday and Friday of July and August.  Friday’s farm school will be at 2pm and Tuesday’s farm school will be at 12:30pm.  Friday and Tuesday farm school will be the same each week, so pick one of the days that works best for your schedule and come on down to enjoy the fun.  Its free, available to everyone, and it begins on the barn porch on Friday the 1stof July

*NEW* Advanced Farm School
We will be piloting an “Advanced Farm School” this year, taught by Ms. Lauren, a new employee here at Jubilee!  This class is for kids 9 and up, and will dig deeper into farm issues.  This class runs at the same time as the normal farm school, and the first lesson will be on the intricacies soil.  There will also be lessons on insects and how the farm plays into the eco-system as a whole.  Hope to see you there!

  1. Yes, Terrie is back with the Cascading Kitchen

We are very pleased that Terrie will be back in the Jubilee Kitchen this year, providing recipes, tips, and, of course, cooking with the produce from each week’s box.

Over the 20 years that we’ve had our CSA we have heard two concerns expressed about our produce.  The first is that it is “too much” for one week, and the second is that people don’t know what to do with it.  We’ve come to believe that these two concerns are really one and the same: because members don’t know what to do with some of the items, it seems like there is just too much.  Anything you don’t know what to do with is “too much”!  We finally got that, and did something about it.

The answer is a person; that person is Terrie.  She understands that many people, especially people newer to eating farm-fresh produce, just don’t know what to do with it–or even how to keep it staying “fresh” and usable throughout the week.  Terrie and her Cascading Kitchen are there to fill the gap.  She will walk you through, for example, what to do with fresh greens so that after a week in the fridge, they are as tasty and crisp as the day they were picked.  And you can use our kitchen to prepare your greens for your fridge—using our cutting boards, knives, spinners, and Terrie’s expertise/watchful eye.  It’s really simple, but until you figure out how to hold and then use these delicious and nutritious greens, it can “seem” like, well, like you have way, way too many of them!  The same holds for other vegetables.

Terrie also has recipes for the contents of each week’s box, and prepares dishes from those contents.  She is in the Market from 2:00 to 6:00 on both Tuesday and

  1. Protocol for delivery Members to Pick Up at the Farm

We love to have our members pick up their product from the farm, do their u-pick, have their kids do farm school, and just enjoy the agricultural ambiance.But we know not everyone can do that—at least not always—so we deliver. You can see online (www.jubileefarm.org) about how to have your produce delivered to a depot near you.  This works for many of our members.

But, having your produce delivered does not exclude any member from, on any given week, deciding they want to come to the farm to pick up their produce. How do you do this?

We need to have just a couple of days “lead time” to prepare for you coming to the farm, and not picking up your box at your usual depot. We ask that you notify us by 6:00 PM on Monday of the week you want to visit the farm.  Send us an email (jubileefarm@hotmail.com) letting us know what day (Tuesday or Friday from noon to six, or Saturday from 10-2) you want to come in.  We will then not prepare a box for you, and you can pick up your share at the farm market on the day you select.  That’s all there is to it.

  1. Are they “Chicklings” or “Duckens”?

Last year we hired Taylor (see her self-introduction in #10 below) to serve as our main “animal person,” and she has served us well. This year she has done most of the daily rotations of the herd, and cared for the pigs, chickens, and ducks.

Well, we had a little tragedy this year with the ducks. Tragedies do happen at the farm.It seems that one night they didn’t get closed into their house, and a skunk got in and killed all but two of them (I knew it was a skunk by the manner in which they were killed, which is “skunk specific”—I’ll spare you the details).What survived was just two ducks, a hen and the drake. The hen continued to lay her one-egg-per-day, but as you know, it takes a long time to get a dozen at that rate.

It turned out that about that time Taylor noticed that one of the chickens was getting what we call “broody”: she had created a nest and was spending a lot of time there.  So, what she (Taylor that is) did was to take about 14 of the accumulated duck eggs, and put them in the broody chicken’s nest.

Amazingly the chicken sat on them.  Of course duck eggs are considerably bigger than chicken eggs, so it looked kind of like a very large person sitting on a very small tricycle; but there she sat, day after day, looking proud as punch.We really think she believed that she had laid them.

What we didn’t know, and greatly doubted, was whether some (or any) of the eggs were actually fertile and/or still capable of hatching something out.  But one day, lo and behold, an egg cracked and something came out.  What was it?  It was half-duck and half chicken!

Ok, you know that isn’t quite true.  (I’d tell that to my grand kids–and you can tell it to you children if you want—but I would tell them I was kidding them—and you should too!)  But what is true is that the babies (chicklings or duckens), took to their new mother without question.  And mother took to her, well, “hatchlings.”  So off they went, parading around the chicken yard, with mother in front and the offspring (that, honestly, looked very much like ducklings) waddling after her.  Sorry, no footage of that.  I know—we missed a great Youtube opportunity.

Well, eventually we felt we had to reunite the babies with their biological mother, which we have now done.  And mom (duck) acts as proud of them as if she had sat on them all that time.  I’m not sure what the surrogate mom thinks, although she may be pretty relieved.

You can see ducks, ducklings, and surrogate chicken-mother this week.

  1. Two special members of our crew

This has been a challenging spring for me.  Many of you know that last September I really hit the brick wall physically.  I was doubtful about what I could do this season beyond the tractor work in the fields and making hay—so much so that we had made other arrangements for managing the farm and the day-to-day activities.But those plans fell through, and the ball was back in my court.

The good news is that after three months and 10 days of working 12 hour days, seven days a week, I’m still on my feet.  But I’m not sure I would have been if it weren’t for two of our crew members who have worked here for a number of years now—Kelsey, and David.  I really don’t know if I could have made it without them.  Their experience and willingness to “step up” has helped me chase any lingering doubts about whether David can handle the farm without me.  Yes, he can, but he will need Kelsey’s help (and he better treat her well!), along with Kristin’s.

Right now Kristin has her hands more-than-full with two small (very dear) children (who just happen to be my grandchildren).  Fortunately, Wendy’s daughter, Alina, has stepped in with great capability to fill a huge, administrative gap; my deepest appreciation goes to Alina as well. I have gained such respect for her organizational skills and work ethic!

So this year, more than even, I’ve seen that the changing of the guard is not only imminent, but also that the transition is near-to-complete.  I think, now, that there is almost nothing that David and Kristin along with Kelsey and Alina, couldn’t do without me.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to disappear, but it does mean that my role will soon become more subsidiary and advisory.And I think it’s about time for that.

  1.   Meet the crew:

Erick’s note:  I asked each of my crew to write a short introduction.  This is what I received from those that responded:

Joanna Armstrong:
Joanna Armstrong found the fields of Jubilee after many years of working in fields that were far less fulfilling and picturesque.  She spent many years searching for a career that nourished her spirit.  On her first day, Joanna ultimately found that fulfillment in the wise words of her colleague Kelsey, which were presumably passed down through multiple generations of an ancient agricultural society: “Go dig a hole and put this plant in it”.

Joanna enjoys the challenges of learning new skills in everyday life, and around the farm she loves the possibility that those challenges will never stop coming.  Working on a biodynamic farm that is always researching new ideas and techniques Joanna is confident that there will always be something new to master.  Currently, she is learning to negotiate the PTO-driven three point hitch.  This is currently either her most difficult challenge, or her permanent nemesis.  Time and effort will tell!

Ali Jackson:
Growing up just outside Seattle I was antsy to escape the city by the time I graduated high school two years ago. I worked as a barista for the last couple of years while trying to find my way onto a farm and was lucky enough to find Jubilee. It’s been an absolute joy helping to get truly good food out into the community where I believe it has the power to bring people together. Each box we pack is a step towards my perfect world where everyone knows their farmers, prepares meals from scratch and dines together with their loved ones each night. That’s what makes all the awkward tan lines and sunburns worth it! My watch tan and head-to-toe dirt cloak are a badge of pride I gladly parade around the store when I have to stop for something on the way home.

David Haakenson:
My name is David Haakenson, and I grew up on Jubilee Farm. This is my 6th year working full time and I live in the white house, across the street from the white barn, with my wife Kristin, and two kids: Micah (4), and Grace (1).

I do a little of everything here on the farm; I like having something different to do every day, and the seasonal variance inherent in farming. Every year we take on new projects and goals, my personal goals for farm work are to make and spread all of our compost, and to significantly reduce the need for hand weeding through mechanical cultivation. I am also excited to be running farm school again this year, and I have lots of fun activities planned.

Fiona Bennett:
Hi there, My name is Fiona, I hail from the Eastside, and I am studying Geology/Printmaking at Whitman College in Walla Walla. This is my fifth summer working at Jubilee–it is the best summer job! Though my back is always tired, farming is an occupation that keeps both my mind and body in shape. I love working at Jubilee because it is a job worth doing, I meet so many wonderful people, we get to spend all day working hard outside, and we drive tractors!

Alina Sherrett:
My name is Alina Sherrett and I have been working for Jubilee Farm for almost 3 years; two summers in the market, and now performing membership services for all of you lovely farm supporters!  My mother and step-father (Wendy and Erick) own the farm, so needless to say, Jubilee has been a part of my life for quite some time.

Eating whole, plant based foods is extremely important to me!  I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 18 years old.  At this time, nutrition was not (and to many people still is not) considered a factor as far as diagnosis or treatment of the disease.  However, I beg to differ.  I have been through many disease related trials and tribulations, but after 15 years of various medications, diets, and treatments, I have realized one major factor plays a huge role – what I eat!  I have found that through eating a whole food plant-based diet, I feel the best I have felt in many, many, years.  I know this is at least in part due to eating organically grown produce straight from the farm!  I feel I owe my health, and in part my happiness that comes from being healthy, to Jubilee!

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