Posted on

Eating Local

We are getting so close to the local season exploding! The next few months are going to roll in like morning fog, and then heat up like hot summer day. The rain last week has hydrated the crops and added moisture to the fields. The moisture is especially helpful this time of year for 2 reasons.

The first is what you might expect, it waters the crops, and after that hot stretch, the peas and lettuce are happy for the cool weather and a drink! Plants are so amazing. When you look at a plant and study it’s leaf structure, you will notice how they have a center rib that funnels water towards the roots and/or the outer circumference of the plant. This is sometimes referred to as the drip zone. The leaves are accumulators of moisture and funnel it to where the plant needs it most.

Another interesting tidbit about leaves is that the leaves “open up” in the morning to capture the dew and then “close off” to conserve the moisture and nutrition. There is also really good evidence that the birds chirping away are one of the mechanisms that causes the plants to open up and take in the nutrition. Joelle and I have intentionally planted trees, all types, on the borders of our property to encourage a diverse ecosystem. 

Starting in the spring, and running throughout the summer, it can get really loud at sunrise with all the avian activity on our farm. I would venture that a rooster didn’t get the farmer up at the crack of dawn, it was all the wildlife singing to the plants!

Another use for moisture is to help breakdown the remaining residue from our winter crops that we plant to protect and nourish our soil. Moisture and heat are critical for the fungi and bacteria world to turn the fibrous plant material into nutrients. Which, in turn, build soil health and feed the plants. Making sure the crop is incorporated into the soil, and there is adequate moisture, speeds up the process and frees the nutrients to feed the plants. 

Feeding the soil bacteria and the other host of unseen workers is job one for an organic farmer. Without healthy soil you can’t have healthy food, and without healthy food you can’t have healthy people. If the national health trend is any indication, our nation’s soil is not producing very healthy crops. And to compound the issue, the agricultural crops are turned into a myriad of overly processed foods that are even more unhealthy.

Organically grown fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes consumed as close to their original state is the silver bullet to America’s health crisis. A simple solution, but one that eludes most.

Growing food for you.

-Tristan

Posted on

Grilled Garlic Herb Corn With Tomatoes And Walnuts

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Source: www.pumpkinnspice.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Heat grill or grill pan over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Brush butter mixture onto each ear of corn and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Grill corn for about 5-8 minutes, rotating so that all sides are cooked.
  5. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly. Remove corn from cob and place into a medium bowl.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.
  7. Pour into a serving dish and top with walnuts.
  • Serve immediately.
Posted on

Small Things Matter

When I think about small things, I am thinking about the little decisions that can elevate a conversation to optimism or an argument. Or on the farm, getting ahead of the weather by a day or two can also have lasting impacts on the crops.

Last week, we saw temperatures climb from the low 60s to the high 70s/low 80s. This is the season where a small decision can really influence a June/July harvest. Ideal weather doesn’t exist. The weather is just what it is. Which means, as a farmer, I do my best and then move on. Farmers have an edge about them, it comes with the territory. Some crops do great, some not so great and others just don’t make it. 

Years of farming inform many decisions. A collective wisdom that has been passed down season by season and crop by crop, which means that the weather plays a big factor. But it is out of my control, and when a crop flourishes it probably has more to do with the weather than I give it credit. But the little things like depth of tillage, timely weeding, and timely watering can go long ways towards working with nature to help that crop flourish, too.

80s in May can have a lasting impact on cool weather crops, and the variability of weather can really mess with a plant’s internal clock. Cilantro is always looking for a reason to bolt or “go to seed,” as is spinach. We have chosen to focus on crops that are less temperamental like lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, winter squashes, and garlic. We have tree fruits and raspberries, too.

We no longer grow blackberries. We had two varieties of thorn less blackberries. One came on early; I mean a month before any wild blackberries were ready to harvest, but every bird within a few miles descended upon them and feasted away. The other challenge was that a warm March and cold April with a late frost, killed about a half of them. Their shoots for next year will be fine, but the combination of bird predation and frost susceptibility have made them less desirable to grow.

The other blackberry came on in late August and the birds had plenty of wild blackberries to feast on, but I didn’t like their flavor. They were prolific, big and juicy. I would always walk by them and look for the plumpest berries and eat one and think “meh”. Every time I always thought “meh” when I tasted them. So last fall, I took them out and took out their trellising. 

The beautiful thing about farming is that there are lots of choices when it comes to what crops to grow and every farmer gets to match the crop to their microclimate, their personality, and their temperament!

And with the weather changing, we have new opportunities to grow different crops. But the warmer weather has also come with new pests. I noticed new birds flying over the farm that are now in the valley. Changing weather patterns come with lots of new variabilities and that definitely keeps a farmer on their toes!

Growing good food for you that loves to grow in the Stillaguamish River Valley.

-Tristan

Posted on

Kale, Avocado & Cucumber Salad

Yield: 2-4 Servings | Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes | Source: www.urbancookery.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Lime Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Cilantro (minced)
  • 1/3 Cup Onion (minced)
  • 3 oz Kale (de-stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 Avocado (cut into 1″ cubes)
  • 1 Cucumber (cut into half-moon shapes)


Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together your mayo, water, salt, lime juice, lime zest, Cilantro and onion. Add a little crushed black pepper.
  2. Place your de-stemmed kale in a large bowl and toss with the dressing made in step one. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to help break down the kale’s toughness.
  3. After the kale has sat for at least an hour, toss in your avocado and cucumber and serve.
Posted on

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas With Cauliflower Rice

Yield: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Source: www.chelseyamernutrition.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb sugar snap peas
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Small pinch of ground ginger (optional)
  • Optional: sesame seeds to garnish


Instructions:

  1. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets.
  2. Place cauliflower florets into food processor and pulse until rice-like consistency forms.
  3. Steam cauliflower (you can easily do this in the microwave — cover a bowl of cauliflower rice with a damp paper towel and microwave in 1-minute increments until desired consistency is formed). Alternatively, you can sauté the cauliflower in a couple of teaspoons of oil over medium heat. Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Once your pan is hot, add garlic and sauté so the garlic does not burn.
  5. Add the snow peas and continue to sauté, constantly moving the vegetables around the pan.
  6. Once the snow peas begin to soften, add soy sauce and spices. Then add honey mustard. Sauté well so marinade is evenly distributed.
  7. Cook until vegetables are soft, but not limp. Serve over cauliflower rice. Enjoy!
Posted on

Lilac Blooms

When your world revolves around the farming calendar, some memories are forever with you. It was 1994 and I had begun my career in the produce business. That was a long time ago! During these early years, before Joelle and I started Klesick Farms, I worked in specialty produce in Portland Oregon. It was here that I met my first organic farmers. Hard working folks that were working outside from sun up to sun down and making their own deliveries, because that was their only option. 

It was inspiring! We didn’t have any land, but we did have a beautiful Purple Lilac in the front yard. It was full of blooms, and I harvested some stems and sold them to my work. Lilac blooms were my first agricultural or floral sale! And every spring since 1994 I get to pause and smell the lilac flowers and reminisce about those early days. 

Last week Joelle harvested some white lilac blooms that beautifully adorned our table. Once again, lilacs will hold a special meaning for me. Our son Andrew and his wife Abby have decided that Pittsburgh is where they want to live. I am excited for them, but sad at the same time. Andrew wasn’t born, though he was in the “oven,” when Joelle and I started Klesick Farms. Now 21 years later he and Abby are finding their way. As our families gather to say good bye, pray for them and send them off, lilacs once again signify that a change has come to the Klesick Family.  

His older brother Micah lives in Michigan, and Abby’s grandmother also lives in Michigan, which is comforting. Technology softens the move with messenger or facetime, but the sadness will persist. So far, all the grandbabies still live near us, but that too will change. Not sure when we will have all nine of our children together again, probably weddings and funerals. I do know that when we see them again, the embraces will be long and teary, much like the night before they left. Tears filled with excitement and mixed with sadness as we will now watch from a far. 

Change is hard and it is good. Now every spring when the lilacs bloom purple I will remember how Klesick Farms began and when the white lilacs bloom, I will be reminded that another Klesick is making their way in this world. 

For many of you, our lives through a box of good have been intertwined for those same two decades. And for you, too, the agricultural calendar has created many memories. Spinach and peas, raspberries and cherries, nectarines and blueberries. We have a rhythm to our menu planning, and it is heavily tied to local food. And for the next several months, Klesick Farms and my local farming neighbors will begin to share our bounty with you. Stay tuned, the box of good is going to get a lot more local!  

-Tristan