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Back To Fall

Let’s face it, letting go of the leisure of summer and getting back into a fall routine can be rough!  For us, fall includes getting the kids up and going earlier, breakfast for all, packing school lunches, thinking about after-school snacks, and planning for evening dinner.  We don’t want to be caught off guard and resort to making unhealthy choices, so planning is key. 

Starting out with healthy ingredients in the fridge and pantry is a great start!  Customers tell us all the time that since they began receiving Klesick’s fruit and vegetable boxes, their family has been eating more nutritiously!  We love hearing that!    

Don’t let the busyness and hungry-belly time crunch push you into a corner!  Stay ahead of it so you’re not tempted to compromise your nutritional values!  When you get your produce box, take a few minutes to prep some of your vegetables so that the items are quick and convenient to use!  You can always chop up cauliflower and broccoli and then store in a sealed container.  You can scrub or peel carrots so they’re ready for dinner or a quick snack.  Also, evaluate the items for longevity.  Some of the pit-fruit, berries, or tender greens are best enjoyed within a few days after delivery!   

Take a few minutes and think about how you can add more fruit and vegetables to your meals.  Make a list of healthy choices and post it on your fridge so you can peak at it when you lack inspiration.  Our breakfasts often include a huge bowl of cut up mixed fruit and berries, topped with plain yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped nuts or homemade granola, so I make sure we always have fruit choices on hand. We also enjoy veggie omelets to go with Tristan’s homemade sourdough bread! Having pre-chopped or even pre-cooked vegetables ready to go make a morning omelet practically a fast food! 

For school lunches, we try to keep our kid’s favorite raw vegetables on hand; cucumbers, carrots, and peppers!  Our kids pretty much have them every day, so ordering these items as an add-on works great because then we’re sure to have enough for the whole week.   

After school snacks usually come straight from our HUGE fruit basket!  The kids can take their pick!  We also keep cut up veggies and a choice of dips, ready and available, in the fridge. 

We keep our dinners nutritious, but simple, and we rarely use recipes.  At our house, we make a lot of veggie stir-fries served with meat or beans, over rice.  We also love to make a huge tray of roasted vegetables and serve as a main dish, or side, or over a salad.  We also make a lot of soups, stews, and salads!  Once you get comfortable with any of these dishes, they are all super easy to quickly throw together, and you can even make enough to use as a base for the next day’s meal! Do as much prep work when you have free time so, when the pressure comes at mealtime, you are ready to take it on!   

Eating healthy is totally achievable in the midst of a busy schedule, but we’ve learned that having good ingredients on hand, and a little pre-planning, sure helps! 

-Joelle Klesick

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Jade and Marketmore

We grow two types of cucumbers here at the farm. We grow an old and trusted standby called Marketmore, and a newer up and comer called Sliver Slicer. We interchangeably mix and or match them as they come out of the field and find their way into your boxes of good.

Cucumbers are sneaky little plants. One day you think you have harvested all the ones that are ready to go, and the next day you come back and there is another 200 lbs. How did that happen?!!?!!!?!!

The farm season is especially challenging for the Klesick team. You may have noticed that the aforementioned cucumbers have been a staple for the last several weeks, as have the green beans. It is really hard for smaller farms like us to get the harvest quantities right. The quality is easy, but trying to figure out how many pounds of cucumbers are going to come off a week in advance is pretty tough!

With lettuce it is easier, just count them. Lettuce harvest does get tricky because they can ripen at different times and can also look ready when they are not.

But I think green beans are the trickiest of all. This year we switched back to another old and trusted standby in the green bean world, called Jade. I think they are a little happier planted in Mid-Summer, but the early May plantings did just fine. When you talk about Jade in the midst of farmers who have grown it for 30 or 40 years, their eyes light up and their voices get noticeably quieter. There is a reverence when it comes to Jade that is hard earned, and deservedly so. They are absolutely beautiful and tasty green beans.

Even within vegetable classes, some varieties are happier planted earlier, and some later. When it comes to Jade, it seems to work well as an all-season winner! I actually try to plan for a “gap” on cucumbers and green beans, but this year the harvest rolled from one planting to another to another and the harvest kept coming. Now I am not complaining, but we try to have variety in the box of good menus and not put an item in every week.

This year, the green beans and cucumbers have been prolific, and I must say… so, so, so fresh and delicious! We are literally picking one day and delivering the next day. For us, it is so rewarding that we can pick it, deliver it, and you can be eating cucumbers or green beans within a day.

That is best kind of fast food!

-Tristan

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Back To School

Many of you are getting your kids ready for back to school and thinking about school clothes, supplies, and LUNCHES!  I’d like to take a few minutes to share some ideas that have made our school lunches healthy, simple, and environmentally friendly!  

First of all, I like to use reusable storage containers.  We go the whole year without throwing out a single “sandwich bag.”  Ziploc makes a divided container that is spill proof and pretty durable.  Ours have lasted the whole year long.  If you’d rather steer clear of plastic, there are similar divided containers made of stainless steel.  We purchase cloth lunch bags that fit our containers perfectly, then add a freezer pack to keep things cold.  When using the divided containers, sometimes the items fit better with the addition of a large size silicone muffin cup.  This adds another “section” to the container.  

One thing I like about the containers is that it helps me think through what to send in their lunches.  One section we put in veggies, one section fruit, one section holds the protein, and the smallest section might have a healthy cracker, chip, or small homemade treat.

Most importantly, make sure you have a good supply of healthy foods that your kids will eat!  When ordering your weekly produce, remember that you can order “add-on” items to guarantee that you will have the special items that your kids like most.  For vegetables, I always have cucumbers, carrots, and peppers on hand, because I know my kids will eat these.  If available, my kids also enjoy raw sugar snap peas, green beans, and some even love shredded cabbage or raw cauliflower. 

Choosing fruit is easy! They all like cut apples and oranges!  Melons, grapes, kiwi, nectarines, pears, and berries all make a great addition to school or work lunches.  

For protein, sometimes we’ll send a half sandwich with organic cheese and veggies on homemade sourdough bread.  But there are so many other choices besides sandwiches.  We might send yogurt with chopped fruit and homemade granola, or a nut/seed/dried fruit mix, or a whole grain, honey-sweetened, zucchini or carrot muffin. One of my kids loves it when I send nut butter in one of the compartments along with chopped carrots, celery, and apples for dipping.  Some of my kids enjoy creating their own salad wraps, and I send the ingredients in the separate compartments.  Don’t forget you can send things like a quinoa salad or even dinner leftovers in a reusable soup thermos.  

We stay away from pre-packaged individual serving products.  With the divided containers there’s just no need, and the environmental impact with these items is just too high! 

We’re happy to bring you quality lunch supplies for your kids!  Take a few minutes to think through how we can best help you meet your nutrition goals for your kids this year, while simplifying the process!  

-Joelle

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Farms and Fish

When I was a kid, the strawberry bus would come by every June down to South Everett. The bus would pick up middle schoolers and high schoolers and haul them off to Marysville or Mount Vernon. As the season went on, the same bus would pick up mostly the same the kids and haul them to Mount Vernon, and they would harvest cucumbers.

Of course, machinery and/or a crew of professional seasonal migrant pickers eventually replaced kids at those jobs. I don’t remember those buses coming much after 1980 or so. Whatever caused the shift, the shift was here to stay. Many of those crops (cucumbers, berries, sweet corn) are not a major part of the acreage being farmed today.

Agriculture is not much different than other businesses. We have to deal with market changes, labor shortages, rising inputs, mechanical and technology issues. We are really not so different when it comes to the business climate. There are three areas where Agriculture diverges from many other businesses, and that is the issue of habitat, critical areas, and natural resources.

Unlike a store front, our business model is dependent upon having land to farm, and the best farmland in Snohomish County was in Marysville. The next best soils, although “heavier,” were in the valley bottoms from Monroe to Snohomish, and Arlington to Stanwood. The only farmland left in Marysville is what is north of town, and it is getting wetter by the year as the hillsides fill with houses, the water sheds down the mass of asphalt, and zero lot line houses stack up like cords of wood.

Why did we lose all that prime farmland in Marysville? We lost it because we don’t care about the long-term future of feeding people. Essentially because, Marysville was flat, didn’t flood, and relatively close to Boeing. 

Today, Snohomish County still has lots of farmland, but it is in the valley bottoms where flooding makes building houses harder (not impossible). There is another pressure facing Agriculture today, besides poorly planned communities that shed their water to next parcel below them and eventually into the valleys. The pressure today comes from the Natural Resources/Restoration community. This is a well-funded group, mostly by taxpayers, who work to restore the valleys to their pre-European functions for wildlife or, more specifically, Chinook salmon.

I am all in favor of clean water and healthy functioning watersheds. I have spent 21 years of my working career farming with nature. I have tallied many a month of 40 hours or more volunteering on salmon and farming boards – working on solutions for farms and fish. It is frustrating that almost every person working on the salmon issue is paid by a Salmon Grant to be at those meetings, and all those meetings are during the day. How many working people have time to participate in government???

So why do I continue to stay at the table and be engaged? Because I believe that we can have both a vibrant farming community, and healthy ecosystems. As a local community, we are going to have to decide that Farming and habitat/Chinook Salmon can coexist. The natural resource community may not be paving over the valleys like the Development community was encouraged to do in Marysville, but the outcome will be the same without a shift in public policy. No farmland, no farmers and, quite possibly, no Chinook either.  

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Hinges

I came across a quote from W. Clement Stone. He is attributed to have said, “Little hinges swing big doors.” Let that sink in for a moment. “Little hinges swing big doors.” What size hinge is necessary to swing the doors in our lives that are blocking progress? One needs the appropriate size hinge, the appropriate number of hinges, and the appropriate placement of hinges to swing any door. Small hinges can swing large doors. 

I am no hinge expert, but this is what I do know. Hinges facilitate the movement of the door. A door, by definition, must be able to open, or it would be a wall. Ironically enough, a door is also a wall, but a wall is not a door.

Alright Tristan where are you going? Thanks for asking. When we moved to our farm and farmhouse there were two front doors kitty corner to each other on the same porch (still somewhat of a head scratcher to me???). One of those doors was a door with a window, much akin to a back-porch door. The other door was this really ornate, cool, solid wood door on the adjoining wall. Both had doorknobs and both looked like doors, duh! They were both doors.

The really cool old door didn’t work, and the half-glass back-porch door did work. What couldn’t be discerned from the outside is that at some point in this farmhouse’s 127-year history, someone took off the hinges of that old door, nailed it to the wall, and then paneled over it on the inside. True story 🙂

Sometimes, when it comes to making life changes, we try the wrong door. It might even be the coolest door, or even what appears to be the correct front door, but if that door has no hinges, it is not going to open. When you locate the door with hinges, you have a chance to pass through it, and it will open rather effortlessly. This can either be a good thing or not, but for the most part, if you can open a door, it is at a minimum meant to be opened. If not, it would be locked, or in the case of our old farmhouse, nailed shut and paneled over on the inside.

When it comes to eating healthy, we complicate it. Eating healthy is not complicated, we are! The door to eating healthy is relatively well-oiled and placed in the open where you would expect a door to be. The door to fresh fruits and vegetables, the one door that moves the needle on health and longevity like none other, isn’t nailed shut, hidden, or hard to find. But sadly, for some reason, most Americans rarely open it up and walk through it.

Of course, your family opens the door to health every time a Box of Good arrives, ensuring fresh organically grown fruits and veggies are available for you and your family to eat healthy. Thank you for that. 

As a side note, we swapped out that back-porch door with the really cool ornate wood door, then filled the open space with a window. 

Enjoy,  

-Tristan

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Summer

I’m hoping for more summer, but last week had that Fall feel to it. When I came downstairs, the heater had turned on. I thought to myself: hmm, that is strange. To the thermostat’s credit, it was chilly. Of course, a few cold mornings in early August don’t predict the future, but before we know it, it will be September. And you know what that means, SOCCER season.  

I coach my son’s team, and I already have those boys practicing. I am a coach that believes in practicing with the ball all the time, and we practice at game speed for most of the practice. But I digress. Fall will be here soon enough, but for now there is still lots of work to be done on the farm. 

If I had to sum up the farm season, it was mostly wins. Things were a little slower growing and quality has been really good. Our early apples have that sweet, tart flavor that is reminiscent of another era. The Pristine is a little later this year, even with the drier weather, but it is fun to have an early apple. The trees we grafted from Honeycrisp to Liberty apples have been growing really well, and in 2021 we will have a healthy crop of Liberties. I absolutely love this apple, but our next apple will be the Gravenstein, followed by the Chehalis.  

Soon there will be Conference and Stark Crimson pears, followed by the Bosc pears. Pears are my favorite crop. I could eat a pear every day. You might be wondering how I chose my varieties. I grow what I like to eat, and I grow what grows well on our farm. Some of this is trial and error. You do your research and plant the crop, and then you try to farm them. Sometimes an experiment will take 3-5 years before you can accurately judge whether or not the crop or tree is a good fit for your microclimate or farming style. We have grafted all of our Comice pear trees to Conference Pears, and that was a good decision. The Conference pear tree is much happier on our farm and tastes really good. Pears are still a month away though.  

Switching back to veggies. Cucumbers are coming on, tomatoes are coming on, green beans have been strong with our third planting a few weeks away. This week we are harvesting beets. Beets are one of my favorites. Our French relatives serve, boiled, peeled, and cubed beets with grated carrots and green beans as the first course. I love that dish; I could eat it a few times a week with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Try it this week, you can put all of it on a bed of lettuce or spinach, too. YUM! 

Thank you for eating your fruit and veggies, it is the easiest way to obtain optimal health. 

Cheers,

-Tristan

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Why Local?

Commerce has always been the heartbeat of every economy. Let’s face it, if a community has no way, or severely limited ways, to create products or get them to a market, that community is going to be smaller, and possibly not even exist. 

The idea of local means something different to different people. For some it might mean buying Chinese products from a local shopkeeper, or a large one like Walmart???? For others it might be buying only locally made items from nonlocal materials. Others might think that local means buying only items from local producers who use local items, but even the producer might use a plastic or hemp or some other material from somewhere else to package the item. Are we counting the energy from dams or natural gas or big oil in the production of our local items? 

The idea of local is a difficult thing to pin down. Where do we draw the line? American only? Washington only? America and Mexico only? What about customer service, quality, and local jobs? Are those as equally important or more than where the item is produced? Is the size of the company important? Is there anything inherently better about Costco because it is a local company or Trader Joes because it is not? 

One of the most local things is food, but even that is complicated. Local food is almost always raised by local farmers using Diesel to power their tractors and get their products to market. What about the seed and fertilizers? They mostly come from other places too.  

Klesick farms is a local company and a local farm, but we also work with other local farmers and producers from Skagit or Washington, other states, and even countries. We pride ourselves on being as local as locally possible, and also having a high standard for quality and customer service. Quality, not only in the actual produce we deliver, but the internal quality of the organically grown produce we deliver. That internal quality is the real prize, the fact that it’s beautiful is a plus. 

What we are after is the quality that feeds your body, that fuels your body, mind, and soul to be as healthy as you can possibly be for as long as possible. What we eat is important, and I like to think that where it comes from has a little to do with it as well. For the last 21 years, Klesick’s has never deviated from that mission, message, or passion. Your health is important, and growing or sourcing foods that are healthy, vibrant, and nourishing is embedded deep in our DNA.  

Your health matters to this local farm and company! 

-Tristan

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Opt Out

As a culture, we have anecdotally, though incorrectly, placed farming and technology at opposite ends of the spectrum. Particularly with organic farming, our first visuals stem from old black and white pictures of grandma and grandpa, with one holding a pitchfork, the other, some corn stalks. Or there was the Back-To-The-Land Movement in the 60s and 70s, where we opted out of most of the modern comforts and efficiencies to do things “how they used to be done”. They were labeled “Hippies” in that era, and they still exist today, but now they’re called Recovering Millennials.  

It wasn’t an accident that this movement began in the 60s. As the war ended and troops returned home, the country shifted its industrial prowess from producing tanks, bombs, and planes, and these talented individuals turned their sights on the next fastest-growing industry: the American family. Many of the companies we know and put up with today have their roots (and patents) incorporated around the forthcoming advancements and inventions. The deep pockets of the military budget (then, and now still) enabled the research and development of many things we hold dearly, but none more so than nearly every invention along the way to our first digital computers, and even the early Internet, known as DARPANET. 

Our modern computer would not be possible without both the war and women. You see, our computer was simply the response to very large, technical, and complex problem, and few had the resources at hand to solve it besides the US    military: how do you accurately target dropping bombs from airplanes, or firing shells from moving ships? Known as ballistic trajectories, you can imagine all the variables that go into these calculations: wind speed, type of shell, angle of the turret, speed and direction of the ship or plane, gunpowder used, air pressure, distance to target, and the ever-present Coriolis Force. These weren’t so much problems of war, but problems of math. With miniscule changes to any one of the variables, each trajectory needed to be re-computed. As the overall range of the shells greatly increased in the early 1900s, you could no longer depend on sight to determine the accuracy. And so we hired computers. No, not machines. Just like we call people who swim, swimmers, and people that build, builders, people that computed were computers. Most notably, women. Teams of women. Entire buildings of women, computing ballistic trajectories. Talk about war heroes! They would later be hired to calculate flight trajectories for early space travel, as shown in the movie Hidden Figures.

As the 50s roared on and machines took over computing, the American Machine drilled its way deep into the home, then it went straight for our food. The Back-To-The-Land Movement, and later the organic label, was simply a reaction to the unnerving trend towards quantity over quality. We’ve long worshipped at the altar of scale, where the products that rise to the top of our food system exist mainly because they are long-lasting, uniform, shelf-stable, processed, transportable, consistent, and cheap. Unfortunately, there are many hidden and deferred costs

to cheap food, and it turns out scale has downsides as well. Prioritizing foods that sell well over foods that digest well might not be very smart in 10 years. 

We now have terms for firms that operate at unprecedented scale: Big Pharma, Big Data, Big Tech, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Banks. We even say they’re too big to fail! On the contrary, my peach tree would argue that when I neglect to trim and thin and it gets too many big peaches, it fails spectacularly! Snap, Crackle, Pop! 🙁

We have gone through a vicious cycle of scaling up our homes (cookie-cutter subdivisions), our food (big-box, fast food), our work (computers, skyscrapers), our sports (TV), our shopping (malls, ecommerce, China), our travel (freeways), and now we seem to be stuck in a season of scaling our entertainment, distraction, and notifications (phones, streaming). When we get bored of one, we move to the next, and there seems to be a lot of unnecessary suffering created in the margins near the altar of scaling anything. The low-hanging fruit of endless ramping-up appears to have served us well, but there are rumblings and groanings that the consequences are coming back to balance out the scales.

The organic movement was simply a conscious choice or discipline to do things how they should be done, rather than how they could be done. Plenty of our technology exists simply because we can, with precious little thought as to whether we should. But just like our need for organic labeling came about, we’re now seeing our technology wrestle in the same arena with things like the Center for Humane Technology and Time Well Spent. Organic farming and now our technology are together, oddly, pushing back on similar encroachments. 

When a system is too big to fail, that’s a good indicator that something is broken, deeply, at the root. And a broken food system can hardly be fixed by calling your senator, attending a conference, choosing a diet based on book sales. Sometimes, all that’s left is to simply opt-out. By getting your Box of Good, you are opting out.

-Tobin

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Inchelium Garlic

This week we are featuring Klesick Farms Inchelium garlic. We have settled into this variety to grow. It is a classic soft-neck garlic as opposed to a hard-neck garlic. The latter produces a seed pod, called a garlic scape, that is edible. Ironically, those seed heads will eventually turn into bulbils, which is essentially a very tiny garlic clove. When you plant those bulbils, you get one clove the next year and then if you plant that one clove from that one bulbil you will get a head of garlic.

Most farmers do not plant bulbils, but instead plant cloves directly and bypass a year of growth. When we planted hard-neck garlic in the past, we would save those bulbils. Then in the fall, just like regular garlic, we would plant them and harvest garlic greens in the spring, similar to green onions. Through trial, error, and frustration, we discovered that harvesting garlic greens in March is really difficult due to the elements, and our clay soils. 

We have learned to wait till the weather moderates and the soil warms before we attempt to harvest or plow on our farm. Because of this, we no longer grow garlic greens, mostly due to a time of year issue. However, garlic grown for bulbs does just fine, and the Inchelium is a beautiful heirloom variety that was discovered in Colville Washington.

Ironically, garlic, like most plants, takes on the personality of the soil and the farmer. This year’s garlic was a bumper crop! The combination of planting in hills, mulching with straw, and spacing it about 6” apart in each row and between the rows with two rows per hill seemed to work. Of course, that is what worked this year with this year’s weather pattern and this 9-month experiment will become the planting protocol going forward.

Garlic is one of those truly slow foods, especially compared to radishes, which take about 25 days to mature. Garlic is a superhero, and while it might take 9 months to grow and a few months to dry/cure, it can also last for months, unlike it’s quick growing compadre the Radish! 

CAUTION. We are sending you “uncured” garlic in your box this week, which means we just harvested it and it will not last for more than a few weeks on your counter. EAT IT THIS WEEK. You can use it just like regular garlic, press it, dice it, stir fry or roast it, but just make sure you use it this week. 

The rest of the garlic will be curing and available later in August and into the winter. If you haven’t noticed I am big fan of garlic and am all in on INCHELIUM! 

Enjoy,

-Tristan

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Wildlife and Farming

Peter Rabbit and his siblings have taken up residence this year! The rabbits are cute and fun to watch scurry around. And they definitely feel at home! You can practically walk right up to them. The other day I found one sunning themselves in the greenhouse under the cucumbers. The nerve!  

I haven’t seen too much vegetable damage from the rabbits. But I have been scratching my head lately, wondering why the drip irrigation is leaking in unusual places. I even replaced a section the other day that was all scratched up. Hmmm!  

I mentioned this story to John, my #1 farmhand and it was like a light bulb went off above our heads. He just replaced two complete sections of drip tape which was all scratched up! But they weren’t all scratched up, they were chewed up, apparently those lazy critters are helping themselves to a drink every now and then FROM THE DRIP TAPE! 

Part of the problem is that our farm dog has gotten along in years and while his desire to chase rabbits still exists, the motivation to chase rabbits has long since left🙂. Of course, having a good rab bit chasing dog has its advantages (like less rabbits wandering willy-nilly here and there). But, since that option isn’t present, we will have to go to Plan B. I am going to put a plywood rabbit door that us humans can step over or move and then I am going to put a water dish outside the greenhouse. 

Obviously, our “farm ecosystem” is a little out of balance, which is why we have a lot of rabbits. Eventually, the coyote/owl/falcon/hawk/eagle populations will respond to the new increased food/rabbit supply and create balance again. It will take time, which means I will need to manage the operation a little differently and possibly get another rabbit-chasing farm dog.

This week’s menu has 13 locally grown fruits and vegetables. It has been a very late start to the local season, but we’re harvesting now! We are even seeing a few tomatoes ripening, both the Early Girls and the Sungold Cherry tomatoes. And we are going to have a bumper crop of cucumbers, green beans and beets. The potatoes have really loved the cool spring and this dry stretch. Of course, everything has really loved this dry stretch of warm weather, even this farmer

  What is fun about market/truck farming is that the landscape is always changing. Every week we are planting something, then we add weeding to the planting, and then eventually you add harvesting to the planting, and weeding–which is where we are right now–and it is busy! Around September planting slows down your focus on harvesting and weeding. In October, you stop weeding altogether and keep harvesting, and then in November you take a long nap and wait till Spring to start the cycle all over again! 

But right now, it is local produce time and us local farmers are getting it out of our fields and delivered to your door

Your farmer in health,

-Tristan