Farm Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on the farm, the entire crew gathers and eats a hot lunch prepared in the farm kitchen. A tradition that has been carried on since the early days of Gathering Together Farm (25 years ago), farm lunch brings together the office staff, the field crew, the seed crew, the folks working in the packing shed, the mechanics, and everyone else laboring away in far-flung corners of the farm.

The meal itself consists of a hearty, hot main course usually with a side of salad or vegetables fresh from the fields. It’s not fancy or beautifully arranged, but it is filling and healthy and real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paula (above left) cooks farm lunch on Mondays, and Mary (above right) cooks farm lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays. Both Paula and Mary have restaurant/catering experience, so cooking for a crowd is something they know well. Paula also works in the greenhouse (seeding and grafting tomatoes), but Mary’s only job on the farm is to cook for the crew, and it is indeed a big job. Each woman averages a seven-hour shift per day dedicated entirely to baking snack, cooking lunch, and cleaning up, plus additional time spent shopping and meal planning.

When the crew members come in from the fields for lunch, they are HUNGRY. In the summer, the field crew generally starts work at 6 AM and stays until 7:30 PM or later. After all that planting, picking, bunching, weeding, walking, lifting, trellising, and organizing, they need to refuel with a whole lot of calories. During the height of the season, as many as 50 people are working on the farm in various different areas, so Paula and Mary need to make an enormous amount of food. Mary calculates the day’s food needs by multiplying the total number of folks out working by 1 1/2 times standard catering portion. Often times, she or Paula will cook up a giant quantity of saucy meats and vegetables (to be served over rice or potatoes) in a cauldron-like vessel that covers no less than four burners on an industrial stove.

In addition to lunch three times per week, the cooks also provide snack every work day in the form of something sweet (like these scones) to go along with hot coffee during a mid-morning break.

On days when the farm stand restaurant is closed, a buffet-style spread is set up in the “Garden Room” (the walled in porch dining area of the farm stand), but usually, the food is laid out in the dark interior of the packing shed.

Salad is almost always a part of farm lunch.

Paula and Mary are given free reign to cook whatever they choose, but both are extremely conscientious about sticking to a budget. Feeding 25 to 50 people three times a week can get expensive quickly, especially when attempting to create a nutritious meal out of high-quality ingredients. The farm lunch cooks take advantage of the wealth of produce available direct from the farm itself, but they also try to utilize less expensive cuts of good meats and extraneous odds and ends found in the freezer that aren’t likely to be used up by the farm stand restaurant chefs. Paula and Mary often embellish a mass-produced pot of soup or stew with crunchy, spicy, sweet, or savory extras like nuts and seeds, raisins, chutney, toasted coconut, salsa, or other condiments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about 1 PM, the cook on duty rings the lunch bell, calling in the crew.

While many workers are out of earshot when the bell rings, it doesn’t take long for the tasks of the moment to be set aside and the crew to filter into the packing shed. The crew members wash mud off their hands, stomp mud off boots, and join the line of folks waiting to serve themselves.

Plates are piled high with food, cups are filled with cold water or hot coffee, and then the crew settles down into tightly packed picnic tables.

The GTF staff eats outside no matter the weather. On rare nice days in winter and spring, the picnic tables are arranged in full sun, but usually, the crew enjoys a brief break under cover out of the rain in winter or in the shade during the summer.

The conversations start off slowly as everyone is first focused intently on eating, but usually around mid-meal, the banter begins. Often times there’s chatter about the work: which vegetables are available that week, where to fertilize, what fields to prep next, but the crew members also open up to each other about families, weekend activities, and the places from where they originate: small towns in southern Mexico, New Hampshire, Philomath, or elsewhere.

In my own experience, I know the feeling of waking up at 5:00 AM in August, sleep-deprived and bone-weary after putting in 70+ hours of labor for weeks on end, and thinking to myself, ‘What am I going to make for lunch?’ Those three days a week when I could count on having a hot, nutritious meal without any extra effort or expense on my part were deeply comforting. Because I was dedicating so much of my mental and physical capacity toward working for the success of the farm, it was sometimes hard to appreciate the time and energy put out on my behalf, but looking back, I can say that farm lunch was a true blessing.

Paula, Mary, and Rose (human resources, customer service, and marketing manager) have sat down with John and Sally (farm owners) in the past to discuss the financial costs of farm lunch and the intangible benefits. They opened a dialogue about whether this tradition was really worth the expense, and John and Sally’s answer was an unequivocal “yes”. While the farm has grown and the ritual isn’t quite as intimate as sitting around John and Sally’s kitchen table like in the “old days”, the communion is still ever present and the sustenance provided allows the crew to keep on truckin’ out there. John and Sally recognize that they are asking for a monumental effort of the crew, and farm lunch is just one of the ways they can show their appreciation for that kind of dedication even as they pinch pennies in other areas of the operation. In their minds, it IS worth it.

High Waters 2012

As the long-awaited rains come, the level of the Mary’s river has surprised us all.  Grange Hall Road is as closed as a submarine door.

On the one hand, the overflowing river has given us a fertile soil. On the other hand…the river is overflowing.

CSA 2011 – Week 5: Oh the Places Veggies Go

Yesterday morning was a lovely day in the lettuce field. We had over 500 heads of lettuce to pick, but it was Monday, my personal favorite day, and we were all ready to go. Claudia picked a wonderful head of off-type ‘cardinal’ crisp leaf lettuce that was huge and beautiful. It looked as if an artist had come to paint the shadows of red illuminating over the green heart of it right into the soil in which its roots sprang. Later on in the morning we got into a discussion about all of the possibilities of where the produce could go. When I really get to thinking about it, the options seem endless. Just take a head of romaine lettuce for example. Each week we send romaine lettuce to the eight different weekly markets.

So, this lettuce has the possibility of being eaten by people from Portland all the way down the Willamette Valley and out to Newport. We’ve also been selling lettuce to various restaurants and stores in the area. These may then go to other families, probably within the same areas as the markets. There are also some weeks where a head of romaine lettuce ends up in the CSA boxes – that’s 340 different households! That romaine will then get eaten by folks from the Portland vicinity to Newport, Yachats and back out to Corvallis.

What happens when these CSA members have visitors in town to share the produce with? Then the lettuce may get eaten by someone visiting from a different state or even country. There is always the chance that the lettuce won’t get eaten by a person. A head or two could end up not selling and may be too wilted to save. In this case we would compost it, feed it to Joelene’s chickens, or the neighbor’s pigs. These amazing animals will then turn the lettuce into fertilization and the whole cycle starts over again with compost, soil, a seed, sunshine, and water. That’s just romaine lettuce. Imagine where all the other veggies could end up: carrots, garlic, potatoes, oh my! It seems no matter where they go, something or someone enjoys them, whether it be a family, an employee, a customer, an earthworm, or a pig. That is what makes picking lettuce so fun.

Oh the places they go, the smiles they make!

Farmer of the Week: Kim Lamont
What is your job here at GTF? Farm Stand Manager
When did you start working at GTF? In 1988, I started cleaning garlic for John and Sally; we met at an organic gardening club meeting.
What do you do in your spare time? Play with my grandbaby, Luca, who grew on GTF food!
What would you be doing if you weren’t here?
Making yaro tincture, or picking red clover.
If you were a vegetable what would you be and why? A beet because they’re earthy, cleansing, and sweet at the same time!

What’s in the Box?

1.5 lb Potatoes (Nicola) – These are best steamed or fried.
Carrots, Bunched – They are great raw, on salad, slaw, or stir-fried.
1 Bunch Baby Onions – Chop the onions and eat raw on salads or soups. The top
green part goes well with eggs, cheese, stir fries or pasta.
1 Bunch Chioggia Beets – You can grate the beets raw on salad or slaw, boil or roast them in water, then peel and eat with greens or on salad. Eat the greens! (see recipe)
1 Pint Sugar Snap Peas – Eat them raw or do a quick sauté with olive oil and salt.
1 Fennel– The bulb is the most desirable part, chop it, and stir fry it or make a raw
salad with it. You can use the whole thing with experimenting – the stalk can be
stringy. (see recipe)
Summer Squash (1lb) – Try them sautéed, grilled, grated raw, soup or stir-fried.
Assorted Lettuce (green or red leaf, green butter, or green oak) – Make a salad, or add to sandwiches.
3 Cucumbers – Eat raw, on salad, or marinate them.
1 Garlic Head – Add it to stir fries, roast whole.
1 Siletz Tomato – Chop raw on salad, eat plain like an apple!
1 pint of Cherries

Recipes:

Marinated Beets

  • Cut the beets off of the greens.
  • Set the greens aside; save and use them by sautéeing or steaming.
  • Boil the beets in salted water for about 30 minutes or until a knife can slide through a beet easily.
  • Strain and let the beets cool until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the skins, they will slide right off.
  • Chop beets into pieces and add extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, honey or maple syrup.
  • Use these as a topping for a salad; they go great with blue or goat cheeses.
  • You can even sauté the beet greens and then add the marinated beets at the very end.

Potato-Fennel Soup (from Moosewood)

1 Tbs. butter or olive oil
1-2 thinly sliced onions
2 tsp. salt
4 medium potatoes (1 lb), chopped
1 cup minced fennel bulb
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
4 cups water or stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
Optional toppings:
Sour cream, or fennel fronds, minced

  • Melt the butter or heat olive oil in large soup pot.
  • Add onions and 1 tsp salt.
  • Cook over medium-low heat, stirring 15-20 minutes or until the onions are very soft and light brown.
  • Add the potatoes, garlic, another pinch of salt, minced fennel bulb, and the caraway seeds.
  • Sauté over medium heat for another 5 minutes, then add the water or stock.
  • Bring to a boil, partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (10-15 minutes).
  • Season to taste

CSA 2011 – Week 2: Food is Your Best Medicine

About a week ago, I had a bumpy morning here at the farm. Things were just not going my way. Then Rodrigo, field crew manager, pulled me from the barn to have me help him pick some basil. While picking basil, he told me that when he’s feeling down or depressed, he just goes into the basil house takes a deep breath of the basil aroma and then everything is better. By the time we were done picking the basil, I felt much better. I don’t know if there is any proof that his theory is valid all of the time, but it definitely worked for me.

Basil is just one of many herbs and plants that can be used medicinally. There are several vegetables in the CSA box this week that can help with everyday ailments. For example, studies have found that spinach is a great vegetable to eat if you tend to have migraines or headaches. (Spinach is high in magnesium and people who tend to have migraines or headaches tend to be magnesium deficient.)

It has also been proven that vegetables with vitamin K are beneficial in warding off bruises and helping them heal fast. Vitamin K can be found in leafy greens such as spinach and chard (featured in this weeks CSA box)! Greens can also help to prevent or slow down cataracts as well. Cataracts is a condition in which the lens of one or both eyes becomes cloudy or opaque. A study done by the American Journal of Nutrition found that broccoli and spinach contain a high amount of carotenoids (an antioxidant), which can help reduce the risk of cataracts. Further studies found that turnip greens contain the highest amount of beneficial carotenoids. That goes to show you, those greens are worth saving!

The information above was obtained from a book about healing with food by James A. Duke. He also emphasizes over and over again the benefits of onions and garlic as well, especially raw he says. Garlic and onions have proven to help treat and or prevent asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, coughs, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, pneumonia and sinusitis! I knew they were good for you but man, I didn’t know they were that great!

It is really amazing how much eating good food can affect your every day health and mood. I know first hand I grew up eating pretty lousy frozen veggies and it seems since I’ve been actively eating fresh produce, I think I’ve gotten happier and healthier each year! Who knows what the actual reason is, but I’d like to credit it mostly to a good diet. Cheers to health and enjoy your veggies!

Lisa Hargest
CSA coordinator

 What’s in the box?

  • 1.5 lb Colorado Rose Potatoes ($5.00) – These are best steamed or fried
  • Chard ($2.50) – You can steam or sauté these, or use them in place of spinach in the recipe below.
  • Spinach ($2.50) – It tastes great with garlic sautéed. (see recipe)
  • Cilantro ($2.00) – Great addition to salads or soups. (see recipes)
  • Kohlrabi ($1.00) – Goes well grated on salad, or in stir fries.
  • 2 Summer squash ($1.50) – Try them sautéed, grated raw, in soup, or stir-fried.
  • White Turnips ($3.00 ) – Eat raw on salad, or see recipe.
  • Romaine or Cardinal Lettuce ($2.00) – Great on salad or in sandwiches.
  • Blueberry Jam ($5.00) – Use as a topping on toast or pancakes. Great in yogurt!
  • 2 cucumber ($3.00) – Eat raw on salad, or marinate. (see recipe)

 If you were shopping at the market, the total cost of this box would be:  $27.50

Recipe Suggestions

Glazed Turnips (from Sally Fallon)

1 bunch of white turnips

1-2 Tablespoons of butter

3/4 cup stock (vegetable or chicken)

Herbs (optional)

  • Cut turnips in half. Plunge turnips into boiled salted water for 3-5minutes. Drain and pat dry.
  • Sauté in butter until lightly browned.
  • Add stock and boil down until turnips are coated and liquid has almost completely evaporated.
  • Add herbs such as parsley or cilantro and serve.

If you would like to cook greens with the turnips, add in the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Kohlrabi Slaw

1 Grated Kohlrabi

2 Chopped cucumbers

Dressing:

1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon course mustard

Pinch of salt

  • Whisk vinegar, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt. Add  olive oil as you whisk.
  • Add dressing to cucumber kohlrabi mixture.

You can add chopped cilantro to this for a cooling effect. Or add chopped fresh garlic too if you still have some left from last week!

 

Spinach Feta Pastries (from Sally Fallon)

Serves 4-5

1 1/2 cups blanched spinach, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup toasted nuts (almonds or pine nuts work well)

Salt and pepper

1 cup feta cheese

Pie dough or yoghurt dough, see below

  • Mix spinach with onion, and nuts. Season to taste.
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls and coat in flour. Roll into rounds.
  • Place a tablespoon of spinach filling on each and top with 2 teaspoons of crumbled cheese.
  • Fold edges to form a three-sided pastry, leaving a gap in the middle for air to escape.
  • Place on a well-greased pan and brush with butter. Bakes at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden.

*Note, you can use chard, turnip greens, or spinach in this recipe.

Yoghurt Dough

1/2 cup plain whole yoghurt

1/2 cup butter

2 cups fresh whole wheat or spelt flour

  • Cream the yoghurt with the butter.
  • Blend in flour and salt.
  • Cover and leave in a warm place for 12-24 hours.

CSA 2010 – Week 7: Small Town, USA

Philomath, Oregon

Year-round population of about 4,500. We have a library, post office, diner, bar, a great annual rodeo, and a museum that spotlights local history. There used to be one main street that split the town, but now there are two, one going in each direction. Other then that, not much appears to have changed in the last couple of years. The schools are still full of kids, and even though the economy is down, most of the small businesses managed to keep their doors open. Sounds ordinary, right? Classic small town America. But when compared with overall rural growth trends, its really not. All over the United States, small towns like this are packing up their bags and dragging their feet into the urban sprawl of the nearest big city, but strangely Philomath is growing – its population is up 17% since 2000. What is the glue that holds small towns like this together? And why are so many place like it falling apart? Maybe its not glue that sticks communities together, but food.

Canned goods, honey and herbal supplements come from local Willamette valley producers

In what we always seem to idealize as the golden years in our nation’s history, the 1950’s, about 12% of the total labor force claimed farming as their principle occupation. The total number of farms back then (as counted by the government) was 5,388,000. In the last 50 years that number has fallen to where it is today; now less than 1% of the labor force claim farming as the way they make their living, and the overall number of farms in the United States is about 2 million. Could this shift away from small scale farming be a big factor in the break-up of so many small communities?

Kali Lamont stocks produce at the farm stand.

While I don’t completely believe that the sole reason for this small town’s growth is Gathering Together Farm, I think it is undeniable that the presence and success of our farm has and will continue to build community support and connections that positively effect the area. Communities are built on issues of common ground or interest, such as local politics, or town development. But farms affect us on a level that goes beyond our petty differences: they produce food, and everyone has to eat. The greatest obvious commonality in a small town is the fact that the food source is shared. John and Sally have farmed here since 1987; they have sent their children to school here; they know their neighbors, fellow business owners; they know their customers; and in return everyone knows them. I think this investment in community goes beyond economic or demographic growth. It fills a need that we don’t always recognize because it is rapidly disappearing: the practice of looking out for the best interest of the people you share space with.

Regular customer Irene picking up GTF sausage, a favorite among her grandchildren.

Take our Farmstand for example. The diversity of local products reflects how community bonds are strengthened. Of course we sell vegetables that are grown on the farm, but there are also fresh eggs and cheese from neighbors, free range meat from several local providers in the greater Corvallis area. Canned goods from Sweet Creek farms, seeds from our sister company, Wild Garden Seeds, wines from local vineyards, and honey from both Blodgett and Corvallis. The list goes on, but the point is that all the people who produce these products have something to bring to the table. These small producers are given a venue to sell their wares, and we in turn have something special and unique to offer to the public that we otherwise would lack. When people help each other out like this, everyone benefits. It’s a lot harder for communities to fall apart and individuals within the community to fail, because people are literally invested in the health of a community, because of this they will go to greater measures to make sure that both issues and people aren’t falling through the cracks.

One of the original activists for a local food movement, Wendell Barry wrote on the idea that farming should be done by the measure of nature, that is, the nature and history of a place. This means that farmers tend farms that they love, farms that are small enough to know and to love, using tools and methods that they know and love, in the company of neighbors they know and love. Historically farming has been at the heart of small communities, and neighbors whose efforts help to feed other neighbors are going to care a lot more about each others’ well-being. With society changing like it is, it seems most communities could use a whole lot more of this food for the heart.

Devon Sanders, CSA Coordinator

What’s in the box?

  • 2 medium Siletz Tomatoes
  • Pint of Blueberries – Thank you Wilt Berry Farm, Corvallis, OR.
  • 1.5 lbs Yellow or All Red Potatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers – See recipe.
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Beets – See recipe.
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Baby Onions – You can use every bit of these onions, from bulb to the tasty green tops, just slice then into little rounds, sauté, or sprinkle on top of potatoes, eggs, or salads.
  • 2 Zucchinis
  • Summer Squash – You should have one of either the cocozella (a long striped green variety), magda (pale green and eggplant shaped), yellow crook neck, yellow patty pan (resembles a space ship), or zapallito (a round green variety).

Recipes:

Veggie Salad Wraps

These wraps are so easy to make, plus  they are light and refreshing on hot days when you don’t feel like turning on the stove. All you need are spring roll rice papers or wraps, which you can find in almost any Asian market, or co-op, or even the Asian foods aisle of many grocery stores. They are made out of rice flour, so no cooking is necessary. Just soak one at a time in a shallow container of luke-warm water (I use a pie pan) for about 15 – 20 seconds, until they are soft, but not too soft. Once the wrap is soft, remove it, and move to a flat plate to add your filling, then roll it up. Below are some suggestions for fillings, but you can put whatever you like in them. To really fancy them up, try shrimp and chopped mint, or cilantro on top of what I’ve suggested below.

The number of  wraps you want to make will affect the amount of veggies needed. The below suggestions will make between 10 and 15 wraps depending on size.

4-5 carrots (grated)
2 cucumbers – sliced into long thin strips
Green tops of one bunch of baby onions, chopped into 1/4 inch rounds
One head of lettuce, shredded thinly
Your choice of dipping sauce – Spicy peanut is my favorite

Place a line of veggies down  the center of one of  your  pre-soaked wraps, just like a burrito, leave about one inch on either side, and enough space on the top and bottom to roll closed. Carefully fold the bottom of the rice paper wrapper over the vegetables. Turn in the sides and keep it rather tight as you continue rolling up from the bottom.  Slice in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Roasted Beet and Beet Green Salad

1 bunch beets with greens
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a sprinkle of feta cheese
a sprinkle of chopped green onion tops

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wash the beets thoroughly, leaving the skins on, and remove the greens. Rinse greens, and set aside.
  • Place the beets in a small baking dish or roasting pan, and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Cover, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife can slide easily through the largest beet.
  • When the roasted beets are almost done, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Add the garlic and onion, and cook for a minute.
  • Tear the beet greens into 2 to 3 inch pieces and add them to the skillet.
  • Cook and stir until greens are wilted and tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut beets into bite sized pieces, mix with greens and vinegar, this is great warm or cold,  garnish with a sprinkle of feta cheese, and onion tops. Yum!

Tomato, Zucchini Caprese Salad

2 vine-ripe tomato 1/4-inch thick slices
2  thinly sliced zucchini
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 bunch (or a little less) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper to taste

  • Layer alternating slices of tomatoes, zucchini, and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter.
  • Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.