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First Frosts

It was a light, mild frost reminding us that winter is coming. I love all the seasons, but the last and first frost are like bookmarks on a season.  Peaceful, restful, a changing of the guard as the weather changes so does the farm, its rhythm, its cadence, its pace all foretell a shift is coming.

Rarely, am I ever caught off guard by an early or late frost, the severity of the frost can catch me off guard, but rarely a frost. Now a thunder shower, unlike a frost, can and often does catch me by surprise, especially since our family hasn’t grown hay for several years. Nothing dials in your weather acumen like hay farming! Those farmers could work for KOMO as weather people!

Clear, beautiful skies this time of year are a telltale sign that the first frost is coming. Some years we won’t have a frost until mid-November, mostly because of those gray, drizzly overcast Falls that insulate us from extreme weather changes. Still a mid to late October frost is about normal. 

This year John has been able to harvest all the squash before the frost and the farm is mostly put to bed. We are waiting for the garlic seed to arrive and are hopeful for a few more days to plant before it gets any wetter. I remember a few years ago, it rained all October, we just mudded in the garlic! It grew okay, but it was less than desirable planting conditions. Fingers crossed we won’t have that issue. Either way the Garlic is getting planted! 

We are also adding Daffodil’s to our farm. Just a few thousand feet to try them out. Flowers are fun to grow, but we are not set up to deliver bouquets. But Daffodils are different, they can be shipped to you just before they open. Our youngest daughter Joanna (and Joelle) love flowers, and I am thinking that this can be her crop. The daffodils are planted, unlike the garlic. 

Did you know that Daffodil bulbs are planted 6 inches deep and garlic bulbs are planted 1 inch deep, just barely covering the “hat” or top of the garlic? If I had not studied up, I would have planted them just like garlic. 

So next spring look for some Daffodils to show up you can add them to your order. It is fun to grow different crops and adding flowers will be fun.

-Tristan Klesick

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Butter Nut Forget to Spread Some Cheer!

I don’t know if it’s because I am a Pacific Northwest grown girl or what, but each year when autumn decides to roll around, I feel like I come alive. Maybe roll around isn’t the right word though – autumn usually appears very fast out of nowhere! And she’s so beautiful, because despite the fact that leaves are dying, plants are being pruned, and there is an all-around passing away, the world feels so fresh and vibrant. It reminds me to look at what habits of mine are not serving me well. That way I can shake them off and try something new. Autumn reminds us that even amidst death, there is also hope and color as room is made for new life.  

I have found that because of covid, and life’s struggles in general, many people right now are experiencing that sense of death, or loss – be it a season of life, a career, or a relationship. There are people in our communities and lives who could use a friend. And just maybe, we are the one equipped to bless and reach out to them! I would encourage you, sage that I am (haha, just kidding), to take a look around you. There might be someone in a season of change who you can share some of that hope and life with.

Speaking of changing seasons, let’s all give another hip hooray for it being squash season. Am I right? Squash is exciting to me for two reasons: it’s delicious and smooth, and it’s easy to cook! Literally. Just cut it in half, brush some butter on that baby and sprinkle it with salt. Then roast it at 425 degrees until it’s golden brown, and BAM. Pure golden goodness. This week, our menu is featuring petite butternut squash from the farm, thanks to Tristan and John’s hard work growing them. Alaina was just cooking one the other day (so yummy). She commented that the butternut squash tasted like a cooked nut, and I thought, “Well, it’s probably called butternut for a good reason, then!”. Kinda funny when you think about it – it’s not often a food is named for how it tastes.

As you probably know, butternut squash is super versatile to cook with. Being a more starchy vegetable option, this makes it very filling to eat. It’s also high in some key nutrients like vitamin B and C, potassium, and beta carotene. Plus, they store for quite some time if kept in a cool, ventilated place. In fact, that’s why our winter squash assortment is such a good deal! It’s 35 lbs. of squash that you can just keep in your garage as you use them over time, all delicious varieties. Check it out on our website! And lastly, as always, know that we so appreciate each and every one of you.

We hope you have a joyful and blessed week!

-Joanna Pruiett

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Celery

We are putting our celery in some of the boxes of good this week. Celery is one of the most demanding crops I have ever grown. Like any crop, it is incredibly rewarding when it is time to harvest. So many factors come into play from seed to harvest that are outside a farmer’s control, not dissimilar to parenting 😊. 

This celery crop has sweetened up nicely and is much darker in color than its California cousins. This crop of celery took its sweet time and is maturing in stages, which is why is it only in certain boxes of good this week. You can always add celery to your regular order as an add on. Our celery will be available for the next few weeks.

Add on sales are a great way to customize your box of good. Roughly 600 families a week are adding on to their orders and we love that. Our system is designed to allow you to shop the way that best fits your family and to have access to the highest quality fruit, vegetables and groceries. Many of you like to set your order and go and other like to log in and buy every week and a whole bunch of you order the box of good that best fits your family and then add on eggs or coffee or meats. We designed our system to give you a lot choices and ways to get healthy food delivered for your family.

For us, we are here to serve you and help you source the best ingredients. I know, personally, having a full refrigerator makes eating healthy a lot easier. I rarely open a cookbook or follow a recipe. I am more prone to search for inspiration online and then start cooking. I, also, hate the current blog format that makes me have to hunt for the recipe, pictures are great, but it shouldn’t be that hard to get to the ingredients!

Once I get the ingredients, away I go. This week I wanted to use Cannellini beans in a recipe with a steak from our new locally raised 10# meat packages. I googled Cannellini beans and steak and got some inspiration, and I was off to the kitchen. Now where is my apron?  

You can find the recipe in your weekly reminder email.

Beans are so important to our diet that finding a way to eat them two or three times a week is a goal around here.

Thanks for allowing us to be your partner in good health. 

-Tristan Klesick

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Red Russian Kale and Pears

New Prices

Before I delve into the world of fall on the farm. Starting the week of October 19, we will be raising prices $1.50 to each of our standard boxes. It has been a few years since our last price increase. We appreciate your continued support as we all navigate living with the Covid cloud that hangs over our nation. 

Back to the farm

We are busy wrapping up a few loose ends on the farm getting ready for winter and for spring. This is the one season where diligence really pays dividends. Every season is time sensitive, but in the spring, you have more good days to get your work done, the weather trend is in your favor. In the fall that script is flipped, with less days to get your work done. 

Like many of you, Joelle and I are busy taking care of those last few home and flower bed projects. It is the same on the farm, just a larger scale. Most of our crops are finished for the year and the winter crops are located together in one section of the farm. After we harvest the last of the cabbages, winter squash and celery we can spread the compost, assuming we get a few good weeks of weather. 

Last week, all my neighbors were as busy as beavers. The dairy farmers are harvesting the corn for silage and the potato guys are digging like crazy. In the Stillaguamish valley, unlike the Skagit, we can get an early flood or if the weather turns wet, you might not be able to get into the fields. A century of faming this valley has taught the local farmers to not dilly dally and last week, a whole lot of harvesting got done. 

Because Klesick Farms is less mechanized, we can get into our fields much later into the season. That doesn’t mean we like to put on rain gear and brave the elements, it just means we can 😊. The large farms have really big equipment, and they would get stuck in the mud, we don’t have that issue. 

This week we are harvesting a smooth leafed kale called Red Russian. It has a soft red tint to it and is equally as nutritious as it well known curly green cousin. You might see a few cosmetic blemishes on the leaves, because the fall season imparts a weathered look and a few bugs have nibbled here and there, but it is tasty and healthy. 

We have also harvested the Conference and Bosc pears. The pear harvest was smaller this year. The pears are sweet, but the spring was less kind to pollinators, limiting the pollination windows, which resulted in a smaller harvest than previous years. These two types of pears are my favorite, but I am pear person. I like them firm, crunchy and often. 

Enjoy your box of good,

-Tristan Klesick

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The Ag World is Beginning to Reset From the Many Wildfires

In addition to growing food at Klesick Family Farm, we also source organically grown food from eastern and western Washington, Oregon and California and beyond. Our food supply is a network of local, regional, national and international. While there is a local farm system, our community will always choose to supplement from other regions.

This year has it has been made very clear that America needs to have a more geographically diverse food producing system to feed its people. This was never more obvious than this spring when Covid descended upon communities and hoarding ensued. Our farmers were dialed into the rhythms of growing food for a normal spring season, but Covid flipped the script and food scarcity became a reality.

Making matters more challenging was the spring rains in California and Arizona. At that same time Covid was wreaking havoc in our lives, the weather was wreaking havoc on the “salad bowl” of America, making it impossible to harvest and in some cases destroying crops, at a time when we needed that food more than ever.

Thankfully, the American farmers and food producers weathered that season, and we got our bearings to prepare for farming with Covid in our planning. I will confess that I have no idea what is in store for this upcoming winter flu/Covid season, but our farmers and food producers are, weather permitting, better ready to serve the American public. 

Another Wrinkle

The wildfire season seems to be becoming an annual event that the farming community and other food producers need to plan for. Especially, because Eastern WA, OR and CA have increasing exposure to wildfires.

Wildfires not only destroy communities, jobs, homes, and thousands of acres of wild land, they seriously impact farms and our food supply. In many ways the last few weeks for Klesick’s were very similar to early April when food selection and variety were drastically reduced due to a rainy spring and Covid. With so much of CA and OR on fire, sourcing food from those regions was challenging because available trucking was reduced, many farms were on fire or near fires, and extreme smoke made it impossible to plant, cultivate or harvest. 

As farmers, staying inside is not an option when air quality rises to unsafe levels, we work outside.  Our work is outside.  Another interesting, but often overlooked by the media, wrinkle is that a thick layer of smoke and the ash particulates can ruin fruit, berries and vegetables as it falls to the ground causing crop losses. And do you remember how cold it was during the heaviest times of the poor air quality? A subtle, but real impact to our food supply was the weather change and those cool temperatures really slowed down the growth of vegetables and even caused some to “bolt” due to the sudden change, making the crop unusable.

Because here at Klesick’s we have deep and long-standing relationships in the food industry, and because of the hard work of our awesome team, we have been able to navigate these unforeseen events and keep your Box of Good supplied and on schedule!  We are thankful to be able to provide continued quality food, value and peace of mind to our customers during this tumultuous time.

May this upcoming season bring a breath of fresh air, hope and healing to all of us!

-Tristan Klesick

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Rain Never Felt Better

I am so thankful for the rain to help clear up smoke and put a damper on a lot wildfires.  A few decades ago, a decision to manage the forest more minimalistic and allow nature to manage itself, has led to a really tumultuous period in our history. With a less hands on approach to managing our forests combined with global warming causing drier summers, more wildfires were to be expected. In essence we got what we planned for and then some. 

We see the same thing with reintroducing wolves into areas they once roamed. And if you combine them with Grazing permits for cattle or sheep ranching in an open range grazing environment one should expect wolves to eat cattle and sheep and deer and elk.  

Wildfires and wolves are more interconnected than we would think. Less intensive harvest of trees and less grazing permits has allowed the forests to grow an underbrush. Reintroducing wolves creates tension between the farming community and the natural resource community which has led to less grazing permits on public lands to allow the forests to act more naturally and wolves are a part of helping a forest to act more naturally as an apex predator. These two decisions are really an urban versus rural debate. 

In addition to the choices we have made as a society, we have also allowed people to move into these or closer to these wild areas. Now we have added a human life and a political issue to this policy. The clash between let nature be nature and managing nature will be really intense for years to come.  Ironically with Covid19 more urban folks are moving to rural areas and working from home. They will have a new perspective on living in “wild” areas that many of them were in favor of when they lived in the urban core. 

I am not advocating either way that the policies to let nature or reintroduce wolves are bad or good. I am saying that the current outcomes are what we should expect from those decisions. Allowing a forest to act more wildly is a good decision for a lot of natural processes. All that “tinder” and dying material feeds into a lot of biological processes. It could very well be that a wild forest will be healthier as it develops a cycle of fire and rebuilding itself. Mount St. Helens is an excellent example of nature rebuilding itself. 

The question now becomes will we (America) say, “enough is enough” and stop this experiment after a few decades of a policy change.  Will the potential good that comes after this tumultuous period be allowed to play out? Or could it better to go back to a more managed forest solution? 

As always, the answer is somewhere between, there are a few hard and fast rules in life, but this isn’t one of them. While I do not like wildfires and the harm they cause, I have to acknowledge that this is the expected outcome. What we (America) decide going forward will have an expected outcome as well. 

-Tristan Klesick

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There is Always Time for Pie

We are rolling out the Sugar Pie Pumpkins this week. Almost all our squash is ready, but we are starting with our pie pumpkins. I know a few of you are wondering if we sell pies and the answer is nope. It would be fun to add a bakery someday, but we are plenty busy growing and sourcing good food for your Family.  

Before I forget, you can now add Kombucha Town Kombuchas and Seltzers to your orders.  

Back to pies, any squash, except Spaghetti squash, will make really good pies, but pumpkin carried the day. And just to be transparent, a lot of pumpkin pie is actually made with Hubbard squash. Shocking I know, but to be even more transparent, I am pretty sure there is no pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte either.  

This year’s squash patch has Sugar Loaf (a Delicata variety) Acorn, Butternut and Sugar Pie pumpkins. Winter squash is an important crop for farmers like us. It allows us to extend our farm goodness well past the growing season. In a few weeks most of the winter squash will be ready for harvest and we will be selling our Mixed squash box with all the varieties inside it. They will keep for quite a while and just need to be stored in a cool place like a garage floor.  

Joelle was commenting on how she was going to make a chill pie the other evening and, though I am not sure how to make it, I will be more than happy to eat it. Many of you know that I love to cook, but baking is not that exciting to me. When I get home from the office and there is a pile of vegetables on the counter, I grab my apron, wash up and get to creating, but if there are a bunch of apples or berries, I would rather eat them than make a dessert.  

But squash season is win for all cooks! Squash is so versatile and healthy. You can roast it, make savory or creamy soups, and incredible curries. And then when it comes to baking you can make deliciously moist pumpkin bars, cookies, breads and pies. Winter squash Is easily steamed or roasted and then frozen for future uses.  

This week cook the whole pumpkin and plan to save a portion for later in the week or freeze (with the date on the bag) and plan to use it later. Send us a photo or tag us on FB or IG with your culinary creation. 

Be well, 

-Tristan

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Fall

Every season has its own flavor or nuisances. The fall on the farm is about harvest and putting things to bed. We have had a good summer; the winter storage crops are looking great and our fall plantings are solidly on their way. Now it is time to prep the farm for a winters rest, because, dare I say, the winds of change are noticeable! 

Without all the chauffeuring between school, practices and games, the fall also seems strangely quiet. I even went fly-fishing the other day, mostly just clearing my head, but it was with another dad who I would normally be busy coaching his son on the soccer field. We both had a few extra minutes to take a break from our businesses and get out on the water. That would be a real luxury in most years, but now it is at least plausible. 

The river for me is the nexus for a lot of my work, relationships and hobbies. When I am not running a farm and helping with the home delivery company (Alaina is doing a great job doing that) I am thinking about ways to improve farming and habitat on the Stillaguamish River. For me it is even bigger, because I believe that we are called to be stewards. As a steward, my farm goals are to live with nature, work with nature and when it is time to move on, to leave this farm in better condition for the next generation of farmers. 

One of my latest endeavors on the Habitat/Farming spectrum is to work on a better solution. In a nutshell, the natural resource community are developers. They don’t build houses for people, but they do build and engineer habitat. We have the Shoreline Management act, the Growth Management act, Critical Area Ordinances and EPA buffers, but these tools are not easily enforced and still rely on a landowner to engage in the process.  

Another factor limiting restoring some important habitat is that the public has an affinity for farmers, and it makes it politically hard for an agency to implement changes – good, bad or neutral, if it will impact the farming community. I have led and sat in hundreds of hours of meetings with lots of talking and little action. Given the political realities, I have been thinking about a different solution to the Salmon/Habitat/Farming conundrum.  

Zoning! I think zoning is the solution. Instead of regulating mandatory buffers or implementing habitat plans on farms, let’s just create a “riparian short plat” concept on the rivers and streams that mirror the intended buffers. By creating these narrow natural resource lots we could accomplish more and save taxpayers a lot of money. 

Here would be the outcomes. The landowner would have a new lot that they could sell, lease or farm. The new lots would be less expensive to purchase for the natural resource community because they would not have to buy the entire farm to get control of the buffer. It would protect farmland from being purchased because the most valuable part to the natural resource community is now a separate lot and as mentioned earlier could be sold, leased or farmed. This solution in essence could remove the unfavorable climate around regulating farmers and make available valuable habitat pieces and save farmland. Wish me luck as I try and move this idea forward. 

-Tristan

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Rhythm

There is a circadian rhythm to how I have adapted to farming over the years.  For me farming is part science, part feel and part relationship with nature. All three are intermixed into a foray of alchemy that draws me into the wonder of nature and growing food. The whole system is interconnected, yet strangely independent.  

For the past decade or so our farming system has been about rotation and staggering the plantings. For a lot of market gardeners or truck farmers, like us, they are continually cropping the same crops because they are growing for wholesale markets or farmers markets. For me, I am growing for you and while I can grow green beans to be in your Box of Good from June till September, I have chosen not to.  

With that said if you love green beans you can add them to your order every week, they just won’t show up in our standard boxes every week, but you can add them on to your order. It is the beauty of our system; you can order what you like to eat every week or get a preplanned menu or do both. We are happy to help your family eat healthy! 

Some of you love green beans and would eat them every week, but that is some of you. I purposely plan to “gap” on green beans to create a break in our menus. It is just how I have adapted to create variety in your Box of Good. Yes, you do see some popular staples like bananas or potatoes or Ralph’s Greenhouse Carrots, but for the most part, we mix up the variety and seasonality on a weekly basis. And no, I do not grow bananas or mangos, although I do confess it would be nice to live where those grow from November to April every year! 

Speaking of Ralph’s Greenhouse carrots, I don’t even try to grow carrots anymore, because his carrots are so sweet and STRAIGHT!  Mostly he has a steady supply of irrigation and sandy soil, two ingredients that carrots love. I have the water, but not the sandy soil. I also happen to love growing garlic, lettuce, cucumbers, winter squash and those just happen to be crops that Ralph’s doesn’t prefer to grow. 

Each farm and farmer must figure out their customers and their microclimate and marry the two together. Neither of us are growing wine grapes! 😊 

Farming is like each of us, a unique expression of our version of life and how we get to interact, but also impact the world we work and live in.  

Together we impact and make our communities better and when you purchase your box of good it directly impacts the farmers who supply your organic fruits and vegetables, but also your health.  

We appreciate you! 

-Tristan

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I Have Work To Do…

The other day my daughter called and asked, “Can we go to Craft Island?” Craft island is a beautiful NW gem located in Skagit County. The turn off is right next to another gem Snow Goose Produce, Gifts and Ice Cream. It was one of those hot days last week and the water certainly sounded refreshing!

My answer to spontaneous play during the summer is typically, “There is so much work to do!” But this time, I chose a different path. Craft island while beautiful, is a bit of slog to get out there and you need to time the tides to maximize your visit. Worth it, but at 2:30pm, I pivoted and offered Oso and the Stillaguamish river. She accepted! And off we went with a few friends in tow for a couple of hours on the river.

Oso is where my dad is from and my aunts, uncles and cousins still call home. I have been making that drive up Hwy 530 for 5 decades, essentially my whole life. Off to grandma Opal’s and Granpa Dick’s. Summer after summer and year after year our family would return to the farm and river property. Grandma had 12 brothers and sisters, and pretty much all of them made their way up to the river property annually. The gatherings were huge, wall to wall tents. What memories!

Well time has marched on and the gatherings have gotten less frequent and quite a bit smaller. I am grateful to have moved closer and just downstream in Stanwood. But for some reason, proximity doesn’t always mean connection. So, combining play and an Oso visit to see Aunt Linda, Aunt Addie and Uncle Terry, was the perfect combination.  Maleah and her friends enjoyed a lazy afternoon on the water as did my youngest, Joanna and me, but I also got to connect with family.

The farm work, the home maintenance projects, the laundry… all still needed to be done, but there will always be work to do and making time for some spontaneous family fun with family was the right call. 

There won’t always be time. My dad’s generation has now become the old guard and somehow Joelle and I and my cousins, (who I swear just yesterday) were teenagers, became the middle guard and our children and grandchildren will carry the mantel forward. 

We had a good time and 5 hours later we hopped back into the car, tired, but connected to something bigger, something that is now going on 5 generations on a small piece of ground with a river running next to it. 

-Tristan Klesick