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Local farmland: How important is it? 11/06/09

As a farmer, I tend to interact with a lot of other farmers.  We see each other at various meetings and driving between fields.  As a rule farmers tend to be pretty stable folk, we recognize that no matter who is President  of America or Snohomish County Executive we are going to have to plow the fields or milk the cows.  The very nature of farming requires us to be more deliberate. We prune in February, plow in the spring, weed all summer and harvest when the crop is ready. 

Way back in the 50’s, 60’s or even as recent as the 70’s, there never was any doubt that a child or neighbor would take over the farm and keep farming.  Times have changed!  The Average age of farmers is now 57 years old.  And a lot farmland is controlled by this group of farmers and for the most part there aren’t children in the picture to carry on the farm.  Even more troubling is the recent survey of farmers, over the last 10 years, where the number of farmers under 25 years old decreased by 35% and the number of farmers over 75 increased by 25%. Why is this an issue for America, for Snohomish County? It is important because most farmers are older than younger (average 57 years old), they are looking towards retirement and “exploring” their options for the land they own. 

The options at retirement are really limited at this time:

1.  Stop farming, sell the equipment and keep the land to rent to other farmers. (best for society)

2.  Stop farming, sell the equipment and keep the land and not rent it to other farmers. (okay for society)

3.  Stop farming, sell the equipment and the land. (okay for society)

4.  Stop farming, sell the equipment and build houses on the land. (best for the farmer)

5.  Farm till you die and let someone else deal with the issue. (not a solution)

This group controls thousands of acres of farmland in Snohomish County and America and the pressure to develop is going to increase, exponentially, as they look towards retirement.  I suspect that if we, society collectively, do not propose a good alternative to development for these farmers they will become developers by necessity. 

I am working on some ideas that will encourage farmer’s to not develop their land and ensure that there will be land locally to farm for many generations to come.  This is a complex issue and is deeply rooted in property rights and land use issues. 

But right now you, as consumers of the Klesick family farm, are making a huge impact on this issue.  Your support, your purchases send a clear and encouraging message to local farmers.  Keep eating locally and it helps your local farmland remain in farming.

 

Thanks

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Contending with the Elements 10/20/09

Did you feel that crispness last week and then that shift to warm wet weather?  It was about this time of year in 2003 when the Stillaguamish River introduced itself to my family with a significant flood.  Which is the one reason, I rarely grow crops in the winter, because the Stillaguamish River can make itself “known” pretty much anytime from this point on and it is so disheartening to have your vegetable crops flooded.  So right now we are busy putting in cover crops and harvesting the remainder of the winter squash.

I woke up Monday last week with a sort of unexplained uneasiness.  I saw that it was colder than expected and a fairly thick blanket of frost covered the ground and, consequently, our winter squash crops.  Normally, winter squash can handle a frost and we have had a few light ones prior to this one, but the intensity of the cold made this one a little too close for comfort.  I checked on the squash, it was “cold”, we let it thaw (what else could I do, anyway) and everything worked out for the best.  I was thankful for the warming trend and have wasted no time harvesting and storing the crop in our barn.  Now, neither, old man Jack Frost or its friend the Mighty Stilly will be able to lay “claim” to this year’s harvest.

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Home Made Macaroni and Cheese


7 ounces macaroni                                1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour          2 cups milk

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese      1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper                    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese        1 cup dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and stir in flour. Cook for about 1 minute, until smooth and bubbly; stirring occasionally. Mix in milk, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. Continue cooking until sauce is thickened. Add cooked macaroni and Cheddar cheese.

Pour into 2 quart casserole dish. In small bowl mix together bread crumbs, butter; spread over macaroni and cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and heated through.

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A New Year

A new year brings with it lots of enthusiasm. This new year we are excited to be able to bring to you a fun new look! Over the last few months we have been working on developing a new logo for the business, and have been using it “unofficially” until NOW! We are excited to roll it out and explain why we chose the tagline, a box of good. Your box of fresh produce directly impacts both you and our community for good. 

 

a box of good

  good organic quality. Organic and local foods are bursting with flavor! We hand select the highest quality produce for our customers. Our customers enjoy delicious foods, while keeping harmful chemicals off their plates. 

good variety and selection. Our menus are designed each week to showcase the bounty of fresh produce available, focusing on quality, in season offerings. 

good value. Our produce is competitively priced with local grocery stores, and it also comes right to your door, saving you time and gas.

good service. Our whole focus is to bless our customers and help them eat healthier. From the moment the order is placed to when it is received, we are fanatic about exceeding expectations.

good nutrition. Nutrition is not an accident. Organic farmers concentrate on building a healthy soil to in turn enhance the nutritional value of their crops. 

good health. It doesn’t happen by chance. Eating healthy is a choice that pays healthy dividends. Our bodies need a daily variety of organic fruits and vegetables in order to fight disease, and to function at it’s best. 

good convenience. Eating healthy is hard enough, but having to shop for quality and value complicates the process. Receiving our home delivery box makes it easier and more convenient to eat healthy.

good information. Our newsletters provide insight to the farm season, educational material, and local musings from the farmer. We also have monthly writings from a local Naturopathic doctor regarding health and diet related topics. 

good recipes. We supply fun and inspiring, simple recipes with each newsletter. 

good helpful produce tips. We provide useful produce tips on various items within the box, making sure to provide information on items that may be new or unusual to the customer. 

good for the local community. Local farms provide access to fresh local food and provide local food security, limiting our need to rely on other regions and nations. At the Klesick Family Farm we cherish our local community and partner with our customers to provide the needy of our area with quality organic produce.

good for the environment. Organic farming practices benefit not only personal health, but also the health of our immediate environment and of our world. Farms provide important homes to untold numbers of critters, above and below the ground. Our farms also provide open space, and in Western Washington much of our farmland is the reservoir for rivers that flood. 

good for future generations. By supporting our farm and home delivery service our customers are also making an investment in future generations. Because we, at the Klesick Family Farm, believe so strongly in the importance of keeping local agriculture alive, we make it a priority to actively support farming at a local county planning level. We also engage in a multitude of speaking events, sharing on topics anywhere from “farming practices” to “why save farmland” to telling preschoolers why it’s cool to be a farmer. 

Every time you receive a box of produce you are not only reaping the benefit of convenience, healthy food, simple recipes, and a great value. You are impacting the world and making a difference… a good difference!

 

 

Tristan, for the Klesick Family Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KNOW YOUR PRODUCE 

 

Celery Root, or Celeriac, is an ugly, but delicious root.  It is not the bulb or base of regular celery.  It tastes like a cross between strong celery and parsley with a nutty twist.  To prepare, cut off the top and bottom.  Peel with a very sharp knife.  Cube celery root and cook it in boiling salted water about 10 minutes. Celery root is good with potato purees, soups and stews.  Celery Root is rich in phosphorous and potassium. In recipes calling for cauliflower, celery root makes a great and unexpected substitute. Carnival winter squash is similar to Acorn and can be prepared the same way. Carnival squash should be stored in a cool dark place.  Do not refrigerate.  As with all produce items, first wash and scrub outside of squash so that when cutting squash dirt does not get on the flesh.  Be careful when cutting raw squash.  Use a large, heavy knife, work slowly, gently rocking the knife or the squash while cutting.  With a spoon , scrape all seeds and strings from the center cavity.  Asian Pears are technically a member of the pear family, but resembles an apple in shape and texture.  Ripe Asian Pears are hard and fragrant.  Ripe pears can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks

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Flooding 01/27/09


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The recent flooding has taken its toll on many families, but this last weekend, the community put a lot of energy into cleaning up and it looks and feels markedly better. At one point I was visiting with a homeowner and a volunteer during lunch and wouldn’t you know it, right there in the middle of a recently flooded flower bed was some fall crocuses peeking out. A beautiful reminder that this flood and cleanup will be a memory soon and spring is coming.