Transplanting Peppers

 

This time of year, the propagation greenhouse is always busy. Head lettuce and various salad mix components are seeded weekly, and there are still plenty of mid and late summer crops sown on a regular basis. The biggest job in the propagation greenhouse this past week involved transplanting many thousands of pepper starts into larger pots (2.5″), so they’d have a bit more room to grow until the soil and climate conditions are ready for them to be planted outside.

Peppers are hand seeded into “200s” (flats with 198 individual cells) and encouraged to sprout in the propagation greenhouse sprouting chamber (see more about our sprouting chamber in this past blog post). When the first cotyledons appear, they’re pulled out of the sprouting chamber and placed on heated tables under grow lights. After about a month, the roots of the pepper plants will more or less fill the cells and start to get cramped for space.

Just filling up almost 300 trays of pots with soil takes a day’s labor for a couple workers. Fortunately or unfortunately, all the dirt work is done by hand. (To learn get our soil mix recipe, see this past blog post.)

Sarah pokes holes for incoming transplants with a gloved finger.

When young pepper starts are ready to transplant, they will readily pull out of cells without damaging the roots.

Sarah plugs the transplant into the hole and gently pushes it into the soil.

She smooths out the soil and adds a little extra where needed. When she finishes a whole tray, she marks it with a labeled popsicle stick and adds it to the table of newly transplanted pepper starts.

Though time consuming, transplanting peppers is not a highly technical job. Like many tasks on the farm, however, it does require a lot of patience and dedication paired with a keen eye for quality control. Mistreatment of the starts or mislabeling of the flats can cause significant losses of both plants and time, so workers must focus on the task at hand from the beginning of the process all the way to the end.

These newly transplanted starts will grow in the propagation greenhouse until the end of May when they can be planted outside in the fields.

These pepper starts are about two months old and were transplanted into bigger pots a month ago. They’re grown under lights to encourage them to bush out to the sides instead of elongating upward. They’ll be in the propagation greenhouse for another couple weeks until greenhouses can be prepped for planting in the ground.

This year, Gathering Together Farm is growing the following varieties of peppers (some in greenhouses, many outdoors):

Sweet Peppers

Jimmy Nardello’s from Seed Savers Exchange

Stocky Red Rooster from Wild Garden Seed

Gatherer’s Gold Sweet Italian from Wild Garden Seed

Golden Treasure from Seed Savers Exchange

Lipstick from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Early Sunsation from Logan Zenner

Admiral from Osborne Seed Company

Gourmet from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Islander from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Red Knight from Osborne Seed Company

King Arthur from Osborne Seed Company

Red Ruffled Pimento from Seeds of Change

Hot Peppers

Serrano del Sol from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Red Rocket from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

El Jefe from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Corcel from Osborn Seed Company

Highlander from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Views Around the Farm Stand + Dinner Menu for April 6

flat iron

Chef JC and the kitchen crew kicked off the official 2012 farm stand dinner series with a bang. It’s obvious that there’s a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm in the kitchen, and everyone is working hard to bring the best food and the best experiences to our dinner guests. We will continue to serve dinners every Thursday and Friday night from 5:30 until 9:00. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially if you’d like to dine before 8:00.

slices of housemade baguette

The Menu (The dinner menu changes every serving day, so this is just one example of what you can expect.)

to start:

salumi platter
trio of little salads
trippa stufata e gratinata
crostini of olive/peppers/goat cheese
soup/carrot/curry/clams
soup/mushroom/parmesan
GTF greens/hazelnut/cranberry/balsamic
GTF greens/pear/goat cheese/red wine dressing
 
crostini of olive/peppers/goat cheese

breaded pig’s ears ready to fry

salumi platter
polenta fries (My personal favorite: crispy on the outside, creamy in the middle)

pizza station with all the essentials: lemon, salt, and good olive oil

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
house pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
bacon/leek/tomato/mozzarella
kale/olives/tomato/mozzarella
pork belly/shallot/heirloom potato
 
housemade pepperoni

 

libations:

a variety of wines from Spindrift Cellers, Lumos, Tyee Wine Cellars, and Pheasant Court Winery
a variety of beers from Deschutes Brewery and Oregon Trail Brewery
iced tea
lemonade
French press coffee 
 
Oregon clams

secondi:

rockfish/beets/risotto/balsamic/pumpkin seeds
lamb/pinto beans/roasted peppers/tomato/arugula
flat iron/smashed potato/greens/rutabaga/aioli
pork loin/polenta/kale/crispy shallot
braised raab/leeks/peppers/polenta/poached egg/balsamic
 
pork loin
braised kale
lamb
base for the lamb dish

to finish:

peanut butter chocolate tarte with banana peanut butter ice cream
rhubarb pie with cardamom-orange ice cream
profiterole trio of caramel, rhubarb, and vanilla
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
JC is the head chef in the farm stand kitchen. He’s been at the helm since 2007.

All the kitchen food scraps go out to the compost pile to be recycled back into the soil.

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for April 3-6

braising mix in the wash tank

Even though the farm is still drying out from last week’s flood, we are open with our spring hours (Tuesday through Saturday), making the farm stand a more convenient and accessible source for not only great meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) but also fresh produce, sweet and savory pastries, humanely raised frozen meats, and a variety of local goods.

The Menu (subject to change based on availability)

to start: 

lava lake lamb pâté with sour cherry mostarda
brie with baguette
grilled leeks with hard-cooked egg, house bacon, and pumpkin seeds
grilled lamb crostini with caper salsa verde
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad with beets, candied walnuts, goat cheese and red wine vinaigrette
creamy beet soup with artisan bread
parsnip soup with artisan bread
 

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
house pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
bacon/leek/tomato/mozzarella
kale/olives/tomato/mozzarella (shown above)
 

secondi:

lamb cappellacci with shallots and rosemary (shown above)
pork ragú with tagliatelle
creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
beet risotto with chicory and blue cheese
rockfish and prawns with raab, carrots, leeks, and arugula pesto
 

Ricky bakes some hearty whole wheat-honey bread to serve in the restaurant and to sell as whole loaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the height of the early fall harvest season, excesses of several different Gathering Together Farm vegetables get canned, jammed, sauced, pickled, and jarred up, so that the preserved goods can be sold over the winter and spring. We offer strawberry-rhubarb jam, marinara sauce, enchilada sauce, pickled beets, and pickled peppers.

We also have several varieties of pickles and relish from our friends at Sweet Creek Foods and local Wild Harvest honey for sale in the farm stand.

The farm stand freezer case is filled with humanely raised meats from Mosaic Farm (pork), Afton Field Farm (chicken) and McK Ranch (beef). We also sell wild Chinook salmon and albacore tuna from Moonshine Park Fish Company.

green mustard

Our guests and customers are always welcome to tour the farm when they visit for pastries, groceries, or a meal with friends. Though our fresh offerings are somewhat limited (mostly greens and leeks) this time of year, the farm is a very busy place. If you plan on walking out to the fields, be prepared by bringing waterproof boots and wearing pants that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. We’d love to see you here.

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.

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for March 29-30

How about that purple sprouting broccoli, huh? We have bunches of it along with many other types of raab and salad mix for sale in the farm stand, and we’ll have more at farmers’ markets this weekend (Portland, Corvallis, Newport, and Hillsdale on Sunday). If you’d like to grow your own purple sprouting broccoli, you can get seed from Territorial Seed CompanyJohnny’s Selected Seed, or Osborne Seed Company.

The farm stand and restaurant will open with our spring hours starting next week: TUESDAY through SATURDAY–open 9 to 5 with lunch 11 to 2 and Saturday breakfast from 9 to 2. Plus THURSDAY and FRIDAY dinners 5:30 to 8:45. While we will gladly serve walk-ins at dinner if we have room, we often fill up, so reservations are highly recommended.

roasted shallot fitters in the fryer

The Lunch Menu (subject to change based on availability)

to start:

lava lake lamb pâté with sour cherry mostarda
brie with baguette
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad with roasted shallot fritter, shaved apple, and blue cheese vinaigrette
creamy beet soup with artisan bread
potato, leek, and ham soup with artisan bread
 

GTF salad

Lava Lake lamb pâté with sour cherry mostarda

creamy beet soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
house pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
prawns/scallions/tomato/mozzarella
beets/shallots/tomato/mozzarella
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

cheese pizza

drinks:

herbal or black iced tea
organic drip coffee
french press organic coffee
organic lemonade
hot tea
Izze soda
Spindrift Cellars 2009 chardonnay
Lumos 2010 pinot gris
Pheasant Court Winery 2008 maréchal foch
Tyee Wine Cellars 2008 pinot noir
Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Green Lakes Organic Ale
 

cappellacci in the works

cappellacci

cappellacci with smoked belly and leeks

rockfish

secondi:

cappellacci with smoked belly and leeks
semolina gnocchi with roasted tomatoes and mozzarella
creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
seafood risotto with rockfish and clams
stuffed Mosiac Farm pork loin with golden raisins and kale
 

stuffed Mosiac Farm pork loin with golden raisins and kale

creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg

ham bits

ham and swiss on croissant dough

unbaked ham and swiss croissants