Posted on

Why I Weed

The primary reason I weed is to make sure I don’t lose a crop. It would be fair to say that I am a weed tolerant farmer.  A few weeds don’t bother me, but I prefer they don’t go to seed and repopulate! Too many weeds can smother a crop and keep it from maturing.

This year has been a challenge. Six inches of rain in June is a lot and it has delayed us from working in the field more than once. The rain did NOT delay the weeds from growing though! It’s going to take a herculean effort this week to get caught up and hopefully stay ahead of the weeds for the rest of the summer and fall.

Speaking of weeds, right now the corn in the valley is about 3–6 inches tall and weedy. In a few weeks, when the weather is dry enough, the dairy farmers will fire up the sprayers and spray the entire field with glyphosate and kill everything but the corn that has been genetically altered to survive the chemical onslaught. 

My neighbors grow a lot of corn for silage. Silage is akin to Kimchi for cows. Most of the local corn seed planted is GMO seed and is injected with glyphosate to create a Roundup-ready resistant corn crop (aka Genetically Engineered or Genetically Modified). They will spray hundreds of acres in the same time it will take me to hoe and hand weed a ¼ acre of vegetables. They are busy spraying 60 feet at a time, and I am busy hoeing 6 inches at a time. Before the days of GE/GMO crops, farmers spent a lot of time mechanically weeding their fields. When GMO corn hit the market, many farmers felt liberated from the sweat and toil of weeding and their per acre expenses dropped significantly. But some farmers were skeptical, despite the efficiencies. 

The USDA told farmers that it was safe, and the biotechnology should be trusted.  Some farmers bucked the system and became GMO-free or organic and many consumers responded by supporting those farmers and their crops. The GMO-free farmers still use pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, but they don’t use GMO seeds. I want to be clear GMO-free or non-GMO labels are not the same as ORGANIC. Organic farmers do not use GMO seed AND do not use synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. GMO-free is good, but organic is better, better for the environment and for the health of the general public, and the consumer.

Americans have applied 1.8 million TONS of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974.  Scientists have linked glyphosate to cancer.  We’d rather weed by hand, hoe or mechanical tillage.  It’s harder work and more time consuming, but that’s okay.  We feel good about it!

Thank you for joining us on a healthier journey for you and the environment.

Tristan Klesick

Posted on

Sunrises

I have the privilege of saying good morning to Mt. Pilchuck and the Three Fingers every morning. The sunsets are obscured by the tree lines, but the mornings in the valley are stunning. I have been getting up early for so many years that sleeping in looks like 5:15am!  That 4-5 a.m. start happens to be the quietest part of the day; a time to read my Bible, gather my thoughts and mentally prepare for the day ahead. This morning reminded me of how my early to rise habits can be breathtakingly satisfying. For a good part of the year everyone in our household gets to see the sunrise, especially during the fall and winter months. This time of year, as we dutifully march towards the solstice, you need to get up pretty early to catch the yellow orb as it peeks over the peaks.  

The increasing day length is one of the NW advantages in the farm world. A lot of crops really respond to increasing day length and WARMTH. Lately, we have been missing the warmth! It has been a good year for spinach and peas, but the early green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes –meh??? I think they are hunkering down, building some roots and “praying” for a few more degrees on the thermometer. Personally, I would be happy with a few more degrees, too. 

This week we are harvesting our experimental crop of pea vines. Did you know that pea vines are considered a delicacy? Most of the peas we planted are Sugar Snap peas and even the kids know that they better not eat the shoots off those! We’ll be eagerly waiting the Sugar Snaps.  But we put in a variety specifically to harvest as shoots.  I must admit I’m half tempted to string the whole patch and wait for another month and then harvest them as full pods. This variety is called Oregon Sugar Pod 2. It’s a giant snow pea variety.  They are also ideally suited for bunching as pea vines. I will probably end up somewhere in the middle and harvest most of them as pea vines and keep a small test plot to trellis. The pea leaves and tendrils are tender and full of nutritional fiber. They’re an excellent addition in salads, eaten raw or stir fried.  

Trying new things like this is fun and keeps it interesting! Over the years we’ve tried a lot of different things.  We’re first generation farmers so let’s just say, we’ve done a lot of trial and error!  Add the fact that each soil type is unique and subject to different advantages and disadvantages, and you could say we’ve fumbled through figuring out what works best for our farm. With our soil being heavy and clayish it doesn’t grow the prettiest carrots.  Carrots do better in sandier soil where they can easily grow into the loose soil. We have purchased carrots from Ralph’s Greenhouse in Mount Vernon for 20+ years!  They have great soil for carrots and they do an amazing job growing delicious varieties!  

We love the fact that we can bring you great local produce from all around the PNW and we can all do what we do best! 

-Tristan  

Posted on

The Time is Now

The Covid19 situation has me thinking about various forms of preparedness.  But first, I’d like to take a minute to acknowledge those that have recently faced serious illness, lost loved ones, or have experienced serious loss from economic shut down. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you.

Who knows what the future holds and how it will affect us as individuals and as a community?  It’s wise to prepare for crisis in whatever ways we can.  I’m thinking about emergency preparedness in general and plan to double check our essential supplies so that in future crisis I won’t be caught off-guard and have to scramble to find them.  But also, I’m thinking about how to immerse our family in a healthy lifestyle to create a good foundation to withstand and prepare us for whatever comes our way! 

Eating healthy is a paramount strategy to fighting off sickness and lifestyle diseases. We know there are some aspects of health that we can’t control.  But those will likely not hit us as hard if we are proactive in what we can control! Let’s start with our mindset!  We can take charge of our physical, emotional and spiritual health and be mindful of our stress levels and attitudes!  We can control the amounts of sugar, alcohol, and exercise we partake in.  We can neglect or nurture our body with the nutrition it needs to be its best.  We have choices and those choices have impacts negative or positive.

Many contemplate living a healthy lifestyle but due to various reasons just don’t take the steps to make it happen.  It’s easy to put off nutritious eating habits, but radical change becomes motivating when faced with serious health issues. It’s better to be proactive and not wait until faced with a health crisis to embrace healthy habits. 

Which gets me thinking about our food security and community preparedness. With the recent health crisis, we were reminded of how fragile our food system is.  When this country went into lockdown mode, I was on the phone sourcing produce, changing menus daily, looking for values and variety to help feed the families we serve. Many items were difficult to source for several weeks. Thankfully, with our long-standing relationships in the produce industry, we were given favor and I think our customers barely noticed!  There were a few items people had to go without for a short bit, but it worked out to be a minor inconvenience.  

Just like a personal health scare can be a wakeup call, this felt like a wakeup call to prioritize and invest in local food security.  Let’s be proactive, not reactive. If sourced food, from distant places, becomes scarce, for any unfathomable reason, having access to local food is critical!  We need to have local farmland and farmers available to grow extra food for our own community.  Our season in the PNW is limited due to the weather and cooler climate, so even more resources would need to be available to grow enough to store and use throughout the colder seasons!  Local infrastructure must be viable and in place for there to be true food security. 

We are thankful for each of you and your support as we continue our mission to grow, source and deliver quality organically grown fruit and vegetables and be a voice for local farmland preservation. 

The more local families that eat locally grown food, the stronger our local farm community will be. . . and please remember to support ALL local businesses!

-Tristan  

Posted on

Farm Happenings!

This week we’re increasing our plantings and our weeding! The weather windows are favorable to really start getting things checked off our list! If you follow us on FB or Instagram, you can see what we’re up to. This last weekend we started moving towards a big push to get our fall crops in. We planted a couple thousand winter squash starts, which will find their way into your Box of Good in SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER. We are focusing on staples like pie pumpkins and acorn squash, adding Honey Boat (a delicata-type squash) and a butternut variety.  At our house we especially love butternut squash! It’s delicious both roasted and as a creamy soup!  The nice thing about our home delivery model is that we can source and enjoy butternut from other farms throughout the year, and also enjoy it locally when available.  We love having delicious variety year-round and also growing vegetables and supporting local farms!

This week we’re harvesting our chives and paring them with carrots from Something Good farm along with some new crop California yellow potatoes. Sweet carrots, quartered potatoes, a little butter or olive oil and chives. So good!  Give it a try and let us know what you think!  

Our peas are growing like crazy and it’s time to build our trellis for both our sugar snap and snow peas. Without a trellis the plants would become all tangled up among themselves and be impossible to pick.  Some years the peas grow 8 feet tall. Those are good years! 🙂 The peas are looking great and healthy now, but hot weather can stress peas, which prefer cool weather. Bottom line, we won’t count our chickens till they hatch or in this case, we won’t count our peas before the harvest! But I am excited about those peas! 😊

…And flowers! Lots of flower seeds have been planted with the help of our kiddos and grandkids!  We live and work on the farm and let’s face it, farm season is filled with lots of hard work!  All the beautiful colors of summer flowers are inspiring!   

Lastly, I wanted to say, “thank you” for your kindness and generosity to our farm, packing and delivery team. They are always cheerful, hard workers, but they have worked especially hard during this season to get good quality organic produce to our community, while keeping everyone safe!  Your generous tips and kind notes have been much appreciated by our staff!  

Sincerely,

Tristan  

Posted on

Spring has Sprung

Spring Has Sprung  

Over the last few weeks, the weather has been a mix of warm, cold, wet, really wet, and hot! For the most part a typical spring! 

Local products are starting to trickle in and before you know it, we’ll be immersed in the full-blown local season. This week and last week we’ve headed up to Mt. Vernon to pick up local, just harvested spinach, and asparagus. Local carrots, kale, and chard are next!  And, before you know it, peas, cherries, and a full bounty of NW produce will be harvested and delivered in your Box of Good.  Remember that all items featured in our boxes are available as add-on item if you’d like more of something.  Consider ordering extra of your favorite in-season produce while it’s available! 

Are you a home gardener during the local season?  We love hearing your gardening stories and encourage you to give it a try if you think it’s something you’d enjoy!  Lettuce is a common home garden vegetable.  Earlier this week, I answered the phone and customer, Rebecca, asked if she could somehow pass on the lettuce this week, because she’s swimming in lettuce from her own garden. My answer? Of course! We have a few ways to handle this request.  

-First option is to set up and use our “never-send” option. We can set a never-send for any item, and when that item, in this case lettuce, is on the box menu you have chosen, we’ll take it out and replace it with a similar item of the same value.  $1 per never send will be added to your box price to cover the additional processing and handling of swapping items. 

-Second option, switch to a different box, like the fruit box or the fruit and vegetable box. Both of these boxes do not have lettuce, so switching to either of these boxes will help her avoid receiving MORE lettuce. 

-Third option, Rebecca can order the specific items she would like for her family by building her own box and we’ll custom pack it for her. 

-Fourth option is a hybrid and the one she ultimately chose. The solution for her was to order a fruit and vegetable box and add radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers to her order. This solution helped her get fruit and cooking vegetables, no lettuce, and then she added her choice of additional salad items to go with her own lettuce. 

Everyone’s family dynamics, circumstances, and preferences are unique! From years of serving many different families we have learned how to help our customers get just the right portions and selection to make the most of their delivery and make their work best for them! Don’t hesitate to call or email us if you have questions, or you find yourself running out of your favorite items or find a few items piling up. Together, we can strategize and find the perfect weekly mix of fresh, nutritious, organic produce for your family! 

Enjoy the spring (whatever the weather is doing)! 

Tristan 

Posted on Leave a comment

Sweet Smells, Sweet Memories

Spring is filled with so many scents!  It’s the beginning a of sensory overload. Last week, I was walking up to the house, deep in thought as a northerly wind was blowing… I had been contemplating the unfortunate timing of having just planted seeds right before the big lightning and thunderstorm, which brought on lots of rain. Everything is well watered now!  

Our soil is a “heavier” soil, with a little clay, which has incredible advantages, but also disadvantages. It holds water well and requires less irrigation than “sandier” soils. It also warms up later but doesn’t dry up as fast either. With that said, a big disadvantage of “heavier” soils is that in the spring, when the weather finally is about right and the ground is ready to plant, a really good gully washer like last week can undue all of the spring prep work causing you to have to re-till for optimum planting ground.  

When a storm like last week’s rolls through, it’s usually followed by a warm stretch and the newly soaked fields can become baked like clay in a kiln. If the fields haven’t been planted, we can get to work on the fields again, but when you have planted seeds, it gets more complicated. We planted beans, beets and more peas. Those seeds should still germinate, but they are going to have to expend a lot of energy to break through the crust.   

We will cultivate the rows and gently break up the surface around the seed, but for the most part the seed must do the hard work of breaking through!  

While I was deep in thought, and passing through the flower garden, the pleasant smell of a flower brought memories from 1994, when our garden was 32 square feet. It was the same dimension as a sheet of plywood. But that year, I sold my very first crop – lilac blossoms.  On my way up to the house, I was immediately transported back in time 26 years ago.   

Memories are powerful; farming was a mere thought and certainly not feasible on our small city lot. It was during that time that I met my first organic farmers, as they delivered fresh produce and flowers from the Willamette Valley to where I was working in Vancouver. I knew at that moment, meeting those farmers, I would be a farmer one day, too. That spring lilacs bloomed on our small urban lot next to our little garden.  The farming seed germinated, and I asked the market manager if she thought anyone would be interested in purchasing our lilacs.  She brought them into the market and was happy to provide the beautiful flowers for customers to purchase! And that farming seed grew!    

And for the last 26 years there have been lilacs on our farm and every spring when the wind blows from the north and I walk by the lilac tree, I’m reminded about those first meetings with organic farmers and how a few cut blossoms have changed our life. 
 

-Tristan and Joelle 

Posted on

Home Delivery with a Local Farm Connection

With so many new families joining us recently, we would like to introduce ourselves. We are Tristan and Joelle Klesick and we farm, with our family, on 37 acres in the beautiful Stillaguamish Valley in Stanwood, Washington. Here at Klesick Family Farm we grow about 5 acres of fruit and vegetables. The rest of our acreage is used to rotate our crops or is planted to grass, which is harvested as hay for local animals. 

Throughout the summer we’ll grow garlic, chives, cucumbers, chard, summer squash, winter squash, peas, beans, beets, kale, and more. On our farm we have raspberries, strawberries, and grapes growing, along with 100+ apple, pear, and Asian pear trees. We begin working the ground, as spring rolls around and the soil begins to warm.   We farm during the spring and summer months until late fall when the weather begins freezing. The PNW vegetable farm season typically runs from April until October.  

In addition to farming during the local season, we own and operate Klesick’s Organic Produce Home Delivery where we deliver our Box of Good. During the summer, our boxes are filled with fruits and vegetables from PNW farms, including ours! Our produce items are always as local as possible, and then supplemented with fresh, organic produce from warmer climates. We also like to feature items that are not available locally, like bananas, pineapple and oranges.  As an added convenience, organic grocery staples and meat items are also available to our customers. 

We’ve been both delivering and farming for 23+ years! We’re glad we can source great quality organic produce items, and also share the local harvest! We love what we get to do!  We’re a local home delivery company and a local farm

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for health inspiration, foodie information and to see what’s happening on the farm!   
 

Tristan and Joelle

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Use Your Box of Good

Quick farm update: We are seeing the first splash of locally grown produce, Kale Raab and Chives. This is time of year where the vegetable farmers begin to move into higher gears. For us our first crops to be planted will be Sugar Snap peas and then lettuce. This week though we are harvesting our chives. We have been nurturing our chive plants for 17 years and several hundred of you have been eating them that long, too!  

I am also working with Kai at Hedlin Farms in La Conner to bring his Kale Raab to you. This is a once a year harvest. Every spring the plants get a burst of energy from the lengthening daylight and warmer weather and begin to produce seed heads. Kale Raab is harvested right at that moment before it goes into full seed production. Use the tiny flowers, the leaves, the top of the stems but not the woodier base (save those for stock). Kale is one of the most immune boosting foods we can eat, and immune boosting is definitely front and center now.  

Working with What You’ve Got: Have you found yourself having to alter your meal planning during this stay-at-home season?   We have a few tips we’d like to share that could help simplify healthy eating during this crazy time.  As a matter of fact, we think you might even take a few of these ideas with you into the future.  

Some of our favorite recipes aren’t really recipes; they’re techniques. We love things like soups, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, salads and smoothies!  Once you understand the premise of creating each of these, you can alter the ingredients, use what you have on hand, and still come up with a delicious outcome!   

Soups: With soup, start with a good broth or create one as your base. Decide if you’d like to make a clear soup, a cream soup or a puree.  Clear soups will use the broth as the foundation and then vegetables and seasoning to taste.  Cream soups often use milk, cream or even cream cheese blended with a portion of the cooked vegetables.  Purees are smooth, thickened by blending things like potatoes, cauliflower, rice or beans.  Use salt, pepper and your favorite seasonings to finish to your taste. 

Stir-fries: Stir-fries are so versatile!  We use stir-fried vegetables as a base to go with meat, beans or vegetarian meals.   They’re great in wraps, over rice, with pasta or with salads.  Start with dicing your vegetables small!  We find that everyone eats more veggies that way.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet or wok, add minced garlic, ginger, onion, and chilis (if desired). Add protein, vegetables, salt, pepper and seasoning, and sauté until cooked to your preference. Use taco seasoning for Mexican dishes, Italian seasoning for pasta dishes, Asian sauce or spice to be used over rice.   

Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables are a favorite comfort food and so quick and simple!  No recipe required, and virtually every vegetable can be cooked in this way.  Root vegetables are old standbys for roasting, but you can also roast broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers and onions. Start by cutting vegetables into bite size pieces.  Toss them with a mild non-hydrogenated oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning of choice.  We use lots of garlic powder!  Spread them on a baking sheet and give vegetable pieces lots of space.  Roast at 425 degrees until veggies get a bit charred around the edges.  Some vegetables are cooked much sooner than others.  Start with the root vegetables and then add softer vegetables a bit after, or roast like veggies in separate baking sheets, to easily take out when finished. 

I think everyone is familiar with the versatility of salads.  In addition to mixing up your salad fixings, try different homemade dressings as a great way to add variety! 

Smoothies: Smoothies are a super way to get a boost of extra nutrients and have so many possibilities! A kid favorite is always peanut butter-chocolate banana.  We start with a big handful of spinach leaves (shhh!) blended with coconut water, then add frozen bananas, peanut butter, a high-quality chocolate protein powder, and milk.  You can also add collagen, flax oil or whatever supplements that blend well and don’t over-power.  Frozen strawberries, blueberries and bananas are great to have on hand and combine well with leafy green vegetables.  A favorite of mine combines frozen banana, strawberries, avocado, spinach, kale, juice from hand squeezed lemon and oranges, turmeric, and ginger, blended with coconut water.  Give different combinations a try.  

Rest assured; you can use what you’ve got, and it’s going to be good! 

Tristan

Posted on

A Seed of Hope

Wow! How did that happen? I just found out that it’s Easter this Sunday!  This last month has surely been a whirlwind!  Am I the only one that’s lost track of time?  I even look forward to Easter!  I find comfort in its message of hope.   

This international “pause” on life has given many of us an opportunity to reflect.  Hope is a great thing to reflect on during all this uncertainty.  Farmers are experts in hope.  Think about it; we take a little bitty seed and expect it to germinate, sprout, grow, produce fruit, and then harvest and share!  Unbelievable, really!  So many miraculous factors play into the whole process.    

I will admit that even though farmers are generally very hopeful and optimistic people, we do sometimes experience the unexpected, disappointment, and even hardship.  It might come in the form of bad seed that doesn’t germinate, pests that destroy crops, or weather that interferes with harvest.  There are a myriad of problems that can, and do, happen, in which case I give myself permission to grieve my losses and sometimes even get mad at the circumstances.  I reflect and think about whether there was something that I would do differently next time and sometimes there’s a valuable lesson to be learned.  But sometimes the circumstances are out of my control and I just need to know I did the best I could. 

Whatever the reason for hardship, it usually comes with a time to pause, grieve and reflect.  Oddly enough, when reflecting includes finding things to be thankful for, it leads to an optimistic future. That’s where the next seed of hope is found, and the next crop is planted, or a new season begins.   

Have you ever wanted to be a farmer?  Okay, so maybe not.  But you might need a seed of hope right now.  Maybe you’re doing okay, and you need to offer a seed to your neighbor (from 6 feet away, of course).  Plant a seed, water it, look for sunshine, dream of it sprouting, growing and producing fruit!  During this time of uncertainty, it’s okay to pause, grieve and reflect, but allow hope to bring you into the next season.   

We are thankful for each of you and wish you a happy Easter as we celebrate the message of eternal hope! 

-Tristan and Joelle

Posted on

Stable Ground

Everyone is looking for a firm footing. Each of our paths have a little “looser” rock to navigate than normal, requiring us to be aware of our surroundings and to plan each step carefully.   

And wouldn’t a normal walk in nature, down the street, or around town be nice; where we could exchange pleasantries and greet one another with a smile and a hug? But for now, we’ll digitally connect with friends and extended family, spend quality time with those at home, and look for ways to bring normalcy to our path!  

As we’re all keenly aware, our typical shopping habits are non-existent right now! As people look for ways to meet their family’s food needs, while avoiding the grocery stores, home delivery has become a way to navigate. We have been delivering produce to local homes for 20+ years, but never have we been more honored to serve our community in this special time of need. 

At Klesick Farms we have added several hundred new families and 4 new routes to our service in the last few weeks. To our long-time customers, we appreciate your patience as your delivery time may have changed as we accommodate the new families.  We will be arriving between 8am – dark. (smile) Don’t hesitate to call or email if you have any questions about your delivery. And as one customer commented after calling, “It’s so nice to have someone answer the phone instead of an automated menu to choose from.”  Yes! We do our best to get to all our calls as they come in, but if your call goes to voicemail, know that we’ll try to get right back to you!  

You matter, and your story matters.  Each of our paths are unique, but we share this journey.  Food has always been a source of connection.  Some of us are extreme foodies, health fanatics, and wanting to support local!  Some of us are just looking for a way to get fresh produce, while homebound (and we hope you’ll end up loving it and becoming some of our biggest fans!)  All of you take comfort in knowing that you’re feeding your family well and are providing a little stable ground during a time of uncertainty.  Good food is comfort food.  Gather around the meal table and cherish the people in your home.  Share your highs and lows of the day and think of the things you’re thankful for.  It will give you a moment to catch your breath, while nourishing your body and soul!  

Again, we are honored that you’ve joined our Box of Good community and it’s our hope that when your box comes it will feel like a big hug (if you’re a hugger that is)!  We love to be inspired by one another by sharing recipes and yummy, beautiful produce-filled creations!  Use our Facebook or Instagram page and let’s connect!   

And by the way, our team is incredible! The office staff, packers and drivers have all worked extra-long hours and have cheerfully done their part to provide our customers with the best possible experience and the highest quality. Thank you for allowing our family and our team to serve your family.  

Tristan and Joelle