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People Matter II

A few weeks ago, our family took a vacation/work trip to San Diego. I attended the Dave Ramsey business conference called The Summit while Joelle and kiddos hit the beach. For me, it was three powerful days of intense business encouragement. Of course, Dave and his team taught several sessions, but I also got to learn from John Maxwell, Dr. Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni and Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Oh my word!

If I could be so bold as to sum up three full days of sessions, I would have to say the theme was “Build Culture.” What a commission! I am pretty sure that every business owner there left with the encouragement to build their team’s culture. Why focus on culture? Because as a small business it is your competitive advantage and it is the right thing to do.  Most businesses focus on measurables like productivity, mistakes, sales per hour, etc. These are necessary, but they absorb a far greater percentage of the company’s focus. And quite frankly, it is easier to focus on something you can measure.

The benefits to building culture make the measureables more easily attainable. Why? Because it is your culture that accomplishes the goals of your company, when your team is treated with respect and valued, it spills over into how your customers are treated.

The other day I was talking with a friend, a local business that we both frequent came up and the conversation turned “south” quickly.  He had received poor and indifferent customer service, not once, but twice and now he won’t shop there and went as far as to say, “I don’t think the owner (he used his name) cares anymore.” I tried to defend the owner, but the lack of care extended not once, but twice, has turned my usually mild mannered, care free friend into a negative advertisement. Heart break .

From my friend’s perspective, the culture of that business has shifted. Building culture and maintaining culture is vital to the success of any business – it spills over into every area.

At Klesick Farms, our team is important and you are important. Our team can always accomplish more working together, so whether we are packing your boxes of good or delivering them, we are focused on making your experience with us friendly, efficient and enjoyable. We know you are busy and our goal is to help you and your family eat well and live well.

One of the best ways that I can serve your family well is to continue to build our team culture; to do that I have to get better as a leader (which is why I made the investment to go to this conference). I have to lead by example, continue learning, and also train and inspire my team to serve you well.

Thankfully for me, my team already wants to serve your family well!



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People Matter


Last week we sent an email to each of you asking for you to partner with us in our Neighbor Helping Neighbor program. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the big traditional pushes to rally around homelessness and hunger, but just because the calendar has changed doesn’t mean the need has changed. The volunteers who serve at the food banks are a part of the equation to solve this issue, but so are you. Your generosity in caring for local neighbors is also a part of equation. When we as people care for the physical needs of other people, what we are saying is that we want our neighbors to be whole.


It is so humbling to get to serve the Klesick Farms community because “you get it”. You get that blessing others, caring for others is the right thing to do, and in the process, you too are blessed. Last week we sent 46 high-quality nutrient-rich boxes of good to eight different food banks. Your tangible generosity provided hope and nutrition to those less fortunate and inspiration to those who are on the front lines extending that hope and nutrition. Thank you.


Two weeks ago we were working double time on the farm to get potatoes, sweet corn, winter squash, and Maleah’s flower garden planted so that we could head off to San Diego for a Dave Ramsey EntreSummit business conference the following week. While in San Diego, I mostly sat in the conference and the kiddos enjoyed the sights and sounds of Southern California.

This conference was incredible: three days of practical business teaching perfused with a customer focus. Being in business is about serving people, about meeting a real need in your life, about partnering together to do something bigger than ourselves, and about building community. You and Klesick’s are doing this together through your support of our box of good.


I used to farm with the Gentle Giants: Belgian draft horses, which are big, beautiful, and powerful animals. One Belgian horse can move 12,000 pounds – more than 5 times its weight – and two Belgians that are just randomly put in harness together are able to move up to 30,000 pounds. However, by working together they can pull and additional 6,000 pounds! That synergy is impressive. What is even more impressive is when you take a matched pair of Belgians that know each other, have worked together, and trust each other; this team, when it “leans” into the harness can move not 24,000, not 30,000, not 36,000, but they can move 48,000 pounds!

Together, you and Klesick Farms are like a matched pair of Belgian draft horses. Our synergy, created by a desire to feed our families good food and extend tangible compassion to others is as equally impressive. By working together, we are making a bigger impact in our local communities, in the lives of our less fortunate neighbors and the lives of the local organic farmers.

Together, we are creating something special!



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A Salad of Nectarines and Asparagus


4 servings


1 small bunch asparagus, sliced on the bias

1 teaspoon oil

Zest of one lemon, reserve 1/2 lemon for juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

3 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 cups mixed greens, such as lettuces, spinach leaves, young kale, arugula

2 nectarines, thinly sliced lengthwise

2-3 ounces Feta or Chèvre, crumbled

1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds Sea salt and pepper to taste

Parsley for garnish, optional


1. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the asparagus in one teaspoon oil, stirring occasionally, for about four minutes, until bright green. Add garlic, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes and cook for one minute more. Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of juice from half the lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Make the dressing by whisking together the Balsamic vinegar with the shallot. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk vigorously until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. In a large salad bowl, toss the greens with the dressing. Top with the asparagus, Feta, chopped almonds and finish with slices of nectarine. Garnish with parsley if desired. Best served immediately. Recipe adapted from:

Know Your Produce: NECTARINES

Nectarines closely related fruit species to peach. Juicy, delicious nectarines are low in calories (100 g just provide 44 calories), and contain no saturated fats. They are packed with numerous health promoting anti-oxidants, plant nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Store: Although best enjoyed without delay, ripe nectarines can be refrigerated for three to five days. Leave firmer ones at room temperature to ripen. Stone fruit ripens from the inside out: check the stem area to see if it yields to gentle pressure. Ripe nectarines are also usually fragrant. Prep: Wash well under cool water before using. Use: Nectarines may be enjoyed, peel and all. They are delicious sliced and eaten out of hand, or with your breakfast cereal/on yogurt. They also work well in almost any recipe calling for peaches.

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The Story of Bandit and the Cows

Week of May 10, 2015

It never fails! No matter how much I plan, farming never seems to happen at a leisurely pace!  You spend all winter preparing, all spring dodging rain storms and waiting for the ground to dry out, and then when it does, inevitably it is either Easter or Mother’s day weekend! The nerve! One would think that “mother nature” could time the farming season to be a little more hospitable.

Actually, nature has a lot more things going on than farming. Spring time is an amazingly long season from crocuses to daffodils to lilac and apple blossoms. Nature has to provide a lot of food and shelter for all the other critters in our local communities and the Klesick Farm is as a welcome and hospitable place as they come. One of our friends just told me he saw a river otter traveling across the road by our farm! I’m thinking that this could explain why Bandit, our collie/lab puppy, has been hanging around the river more lately.

The other day when I was coming out of the house I about tripped over Chungo, the older lab, and Sapphire, the kitten, who were lounging around in the sun on the front porch! Now I always make the mental note of how many animals are out in the yard, so I start counting: 1, 2…where is Bandit? I start my usual whistle and call and wait. No Bandit. Usually, no Bandit means only one thing: MISCHIEF! A little more whistling and a little more calling and walking and as I turn the corner around the house, 3 football fields away I saw him!  He was running in circles around all 30 COWS! The cows had been here for a few weeks and today he finally discovered them.

Stephen and I head out to the cows to get Bandit. Oh boy was he ever happy to see us: tail a-wagging and tongue a-flopping. The next day I turned Bandit out in the morning and headed out myself an hour later. I started counting: Chungo, Sapphire, and…where’s Bandit? This time I skipped the whistling and calling and walked to the back of the house (Bandit is not the only one learning new tricks around here). As sure as my name is Tristan, I saw him 300 yards away. This time all the cows had moved to the upper part of the pasture; Bandit had 29 all balled up and there was one rogue noncompliant cow about 40 yards off the herd. Bandit was equally positioned between them with his head switching back and forth, back and forth looking from the 29 to the one.

All of the sudden, he bolted towards the noncompliant cow, moved him toward the herd, and then moved them all back to where they were the last night! That is some serious natural instincts. This time I get the breakfast bowls and start clanging them together. And Bandit comes bounding home, tail a-wagging and tongue a-flopping.



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Awakening a New Season

If you’ve been following along for some time you may have noticed that at the start of each new season I declare it my favorite. Perhaps it’s because by the end of one season I’m so eager for the next. No matter the reason, I’m declaring Spring my favorite. That is, until Summer makes an entrance.

Spring always comes at a time when I adamantly declare, “No more root vegetables!”. When I crave fresh, bright flavors over long-simmered roasts and braises. I long for those heavy washes of gray clouds to part and let through soft rays of sun so my tender herbs can burst through the dirt. And the moment they do you can be sure I am snipping them with great delight and relishing their grassy, fragrant flavor. From there they tuck into salads, bubbly sodas, under chicken skin and into aromatic curries.

This recipe is a comforting bowl of exotic flavors and Spring’s finest. Heady with garlic, lemongrass and ginger with a heat that tickles the nose and warms the winter out of the bones. With the help of store-bought green curry paste it’s the sort of healthful meal that comes together quickly.

This is also the sort of recipe that makes quick work of cleaning out the fridge. Say, for example, you find yourself with a crisper full of zucchini, then by all means add more to the mix. Don’t have a red pepper? No problem, it’s fine without. It’s the sort of recipe that should suggest a place to start rather than be followed religiously. Make it my way or make it your own, just be sure to make it because the combination of lemongrass, lime and fish sauce is just the sort of thing we need to wake up to this new season.



For the sake of this recipe, you’ll need to seek out a few ingredients that you may not normally have on hand. Fish sauce should be easily found in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store or at an Asian market. Most stores sell lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves alongside other packaged herbs; check the freezer case too. They can be a bit pricey, but you won’t use up everything in this recipe. Store what you don’t use in the freezer alongside the leftover green curry paste for a healthful and flavorful dinner in a hurry.



1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)

1⁄2 cup/120 g green curry paste (available at most grocery stores or online)

1 carrot, diced small

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 (13.5-ounce / 380 g) can full-fat coconut milk

4 kaffir lime leaves (substitute 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 small zucchini, diced

1⁄2 cup / 65 g shelled green peas, fresh or frozen

1 cup / 120 g diced tender asparagus (about 7 to 8 stalks)

1 cup / 30 g assorted herb leaves, plus more for garnish (mint, basil, and cilantro work well

1 teaspoon fish sauce, plus more for serving

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 cup / 200 g jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions, for serving

Lime wedges, for serving


In a large sauté́ pan or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat and stir in the curry paste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrot and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and sauté́ 2 minutes more before adding the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Bring the curry to a simmer and then add the bell pepper and zucchini and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the peas and asparagus and cook until the asparagus is just tender, about 10 minutes more. Finish by stirring in the fresh herbs, fish sauce, and lime juice.

Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Serve over cooked jasmine rice and garnish with more fresh herbs. Serve with lime wedges and keep the fish sauce on hand. The curry can be made up to 3 days in advance.


Ashley Rodriguez is a chef, food blogger, mom, and author of the cookbook  Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship. Check out her blog for more great recipes!