It is winter
in the NW. For those of us who have been juggling kiddos, school
closures, and late starts, it sure is nice to get back to cold, wet, and
gray! Although the white, while a challenge to navigate, is
beautiful, and our region is dependent upon sufficient snowpack
to keep our watersheds happy and functioning properly.
I am really proud of our
team and their commitment to pack and safely deliver your boxes of good! The
packing team made it every day and our driving team chained up when necessary, and
safely delivered 95% of the orders. A few of you live on the less travelled and
moderately travelled roads and we couldn’t quite get there, sorry.
On the farm,
this weather is just fine. We take it in stride because we mostly focus on the Spring, Summer, and
Fall seasons. The only crops actively growing are our cover crops and garlic.
The garlic is happy as a clam, not sure what that means, but it is a NW saying.
They have poked through the mulch and are about 3-4 inches tall.
This year we
are experimenting with a new mulching material. Normally we use organic wheat
straw, but this year we added leaves from our walnut trees. Our farm produces walnut
leaves in MASS! Normally they end up in the compost and then spread on the
fields in the spring, but this year we raked them up and spread them out on top
of the garlic. The work to gather and spread the leaves is comparable to the
work to purchase, pick up, bring to the farm, and spread the wheat straw. I will be
evaluating how they decompose, weed suppression, moisture retention, and soil
structure under each mulch. So far, I am pleasantly surprised.
crops we plant are to nourish the soil, hold nutrients in the plants, and
protect the soil from compaction. Cover crops are a vital part to farming, but
they do have their limitations. We use them on 90% of our soils and leave that
remaining 10% “open” or “uncovered.” One of the purposes of a cover crop is to
prevent the leaching of nutrients like Nitrogen or Phosphorous
out of the root zone, and also out of the aquifers or watersheds. Think the dead zone in the
Gulf of Mexico.
Why do I not cover crop the
remaining 10%? Through experience, I have learned that cover crops also have a
downside. In a wet spring, they can grow, REALLY GROW, and once the weather
warms and I can get into the field to till them in, it will take a few weeks
for them to break down. The soil bacteria are busy breaking down the cover crop and won’t get
to work on growing vegetables for a little while longer. So, we
intentionally leave that 10% uncovered for our early plantings of peas and
lettuce. It’s just that simple!
When I farmed with Susie, Katie, and Karen, I had to learn
to work with them, and at their pace. They were the most willing workers, and
farm work is hard work. It will leave your body sore for days until you get
farm fit. Those girls were amazing and made farming a unique experience. It has been
half a dozen, or so, years since I worked with them.
When I first got the bug to
farm, I knew it would be organic, and it would involve Draft Horses! A friend
named Lynn Miller shared some great advice about getting my first team. He
said, “When you look out into a big herd of horses, which horse catches your
eye?” Romance and farming go hand in hand. I was always drawn to brown with a
splash of white. I knew if I ever got to farm with horses, it would be
Belgians! Practically every Hallmark movie used to have horses in them. Susie
and Karen were my trained team, and Katie was just learning. 17 hands and 2
tons of horse, they could pull a plow and never get stuck.
When I worked with them,
time stood still, and so would we. The horses need rest when we were working,
and rest was the perfect time to contemplate the next steps, the next project,
the last conversation with my spouse, or maybe just nothing. Sometimes we would
stop under the old snag and watch the bald eagle peer down on us and, as we
moved on, he would move on.
Last week, I delved into
will power and how hard it is to change a habit; how we only have a limited
amount of will power at our disposal, and the harder the change you are
tackling, the harder it will be to accomplish. That is why will power, which
has about a 15-minute reserve, will quickly get used up if you tackle several
lifestyle changes at once.
What I learned from farming
is also important to making lifestyle changes. When I would harness the horses,
I would make sure that all their equipment fit well, especially their collars.
Having a smooth, well fitted collar was key to working long days and not
getting sore shoulders.
Equipment aside, I wanted to
talk about “leaning into” your new goals or lifestyle changes. For the
horses, when we were going to tackle a big project, everything became
important. I knew what the goal was, and how long it would take. After my team
was brushed, harnessed, and hooked to the single trees, we would calmly walk to
the field. They knew it was going to be a good day of work ahead.
The very first moment I set
the plow, it was always the same. We would pause, then I would cluck to the
team, “Susie, Karen ‘step’.” I would release the lines a little, and they would
ease into the harness and begin to move the plow. Slow and steady, leaning into
the harness, we would get the work done. When you tackle those lifestyle
changes, know your goal and how you are going to get there, then “lean”
into your work slow and steady.
Remove any discolored outer stalks of the bok
choy and discard them (or save for stock later). Place the bok choy into a
colander and rinse with cool water, rubbing any grit or dirt from between the
leaves. Trim the ends then slice each bok choy in half lengthwise. Or if they
are large, cut into quarters. Pat dry.
the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to a wide room-temperature skillet. Place
over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil begins to
bubble around the garlic, but before the garlic starts to turn light brown.
in the boy choy and spread into one layer. Sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon of
salt then cook, without stirring, until the bottom is starting to turn brown,
about 2 minutes.
then cook another 2 minutes or until the green leaves have wilted and the white
bottoms are beginning to soften, but still have some crunch.
Transfer to a platter then squeeze 2 lemon
wedges on top. A teaspoon or so of olive oil is nice, too. Serve with more
lemon wedges on the side.
Last year in partnership with our box of good community, almost 1100 boxes of high quality organically grown produce was donated to 12 different local food banks in our delivery areas totaling over $24,000 in giving. In addition to the high quality organic produce that is donated to local food banks every week, Klesick’s also donated last year a considerable amount of #2 imperfect produce to local food banks. We make sure that none of the edible food goes to a landfill.
And what produce doesn’t meet our quality standards for our customers and isn’t food bank quality is composted on our farm, where the soil bacteria convert it to nutrients for our crops completing the circle of life (think Lion King here). If you started singing the CIRCLE of LIFE you were not alone (SMILE)!
It has been our passion to serve alongside the tireless volunteers and staff at our local food banks and recovery kitchens partnering where the most vulnerable and those teetering on the financial edge could extend hope to them. This is one of the primary reasons that we call our organic home delivery program a box of good!
For the last 23 years, we have tried to extend hope in tangible ways through our box of good community. If a customer loses a job or has a financial crisis we offer a discount or deliver produce at no charge. We have a Health discount we apply to customer orders for families battling Cancer. We also found a way to serve the local food bank community creating the Neighbor Helping Neighbor program. And lastly, we believe in prayer. there is a web form on our home page that you can fill out and send your prayer requests to us and that are only seen by our team members.
A box of good truly embodies our family mission and is how we serve you and your family, other local farmers and the local food bank community. Together (Klesick’s and you) for the last 23 years have made a difference in the lives of those around us and 2019 was another banner year of giving that reached many vulnerable families in our local communities.
If you would like to partner with us in 2020, consider adding a Neighbor Helping Neighbor food bank box once a month and extend nutrition and hope to the less fortunate in our communities. We have 12 different food banks to select from. Pick one and we will do the rest.
3–4 sprigs fresh
thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
yellow beets, or 3 more red beets
2–3 small heads
(6–8 ounces total) frisée, or about 8 cups mixed tiny salad greens, or any
greens can be used
1/2 cup chopped
toasted California walnuts
Salt and pepper
to taste, if desired
For the Vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Dijon
extra-virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks,
prepare the roasted beets, preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the water, salt
and thyme in a baking pan that will hold the beets comfortably on one layer.
Remove all but 1-inch of the stems from the beets. (The beet greens can be
cooked separately, if you wish, like spinach.)
the beets well and place them in the prepared baking pan. Cover tightly with
foil and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beets are tender when pierced.
Uncover and cool to room temperature. Peel the beets and remove the remaining
stems. Cut the beets into thin wedges or slices and place in a bowl.
Refrigerate until needed. This step can be done one day ahead of time.
prepare the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, or in a tightly capped jar, combine
the vinegar, salt and pepper, then whisk or shake to dissolve the salt. Add the
mustard, olive oil and egg yolks, if using, then whisk or shake until the
vinaigrette is smooth. Mix again before using.
assemble the salad, first remove the root end from each head of frisée,
separating the head into leaves. In a bowl, toss the frisée with walnuts and
half the vinaigrette, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
another bowl, toss the beets with the remaining vinaigrette and the chives.
Season if desired with salt and pepper.
serve, divide the dressed frisée and the dressed beets among six plates.
This is the time of the year that change seems so
possible. For many of us change is going to be absolutely
necessary, especially coming off a 5-week dessert binge. And
we better get after it, because football parties and Valentine’s day are right
around the corner!
On the brighter side, every day is a new day, and a
chance to commit or recommit to a healthy new regime. Exercise, drinking more
water, eating more vegetables, Eating less sugar.
Goals or changes can be broken down into two basic types. There is the
“get to” and “have to”. “Get to” are more like increasing a habit you really
like. If you like to exercise, adding an extra workout is not a big deal,
because you like to exercise. The “have to” goals are when you add exercise, and
you rarely, or never, use your treadmill, rowing machine, or gym
membership. The “have to” changes are the hardest to start and maintain, but
more than likely they are the most important thing you need to work on!
This comes down to will power. There appears to be a 15-minute reserve
of will power. It is not a muscle that you can build up, and that is why
it is important to tackle any new “have to” goals one or two at a time. If you
add exercise, drinking more water, drinking less sugary drinks, and eating more
vegetables to your regime you will definitely be healthier and in relatively short time to boot.
Sadly, that will probably give your healthy goals the boot all to soon too.
If the aforementioned goals were
in the “get to” category, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we
(wink)? We admire people who can train like no tomorrow or are not tempted by
dessert, but that doesn’t mean they have more will power, that
just means that those areas aren’t triggers. Rest assured, they, too, have
their own “have to” goals that are extremely hard for them, they just don’t
happen to be the “coveted” exercise or diet related ones.
The long and the short of all of this is, we all have areas of our
lives that need improvement, and most of us have a pretty good idea what areas
I would like to encourage you to pick one, two at the most, lifestyle
change. Lifestyle changes fall into the “have to” category and they are going
to require you to say “no” to something and when you say “no” it will drain
your will power reserves. The beautiful thing is that once you start to win at
that “have to” goal it becomes easier with time and requires less and less of
your will power. YEAH! And then you can apply the same technique to another
Embrace change and get after that first goal, you know exactly which
one to tackle first!