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.

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.

How To Graft Tomatoes (GTF Method)

Gathering Together Farm has been growing a significant portion of its tomato crop in greenhouses for over 15 years. Because of the limited space available under cover, the greenhouse rotation schedule has been less than ideal, making it necessary to plant tomatoes in the same houses more frequently than recommended. Over the years, the soil in particular greenhouses began to harbor various diseases that were stunting the growth and production of the tomato plants grown under cover. It became apparent that something needed to change if the farm was going to continue to plant tomatoes in existing greenhouses. The solution was grafting. Now, about 70-80% of the Gathering Together Farm tomato crop comes off grafted plants.

In essence, grafting tomatoes lets farmers reap the yield off of the tomato variety of their choice, but that scion is grown on highly disease resistant rootstocks. The result is more vigorous plants, a larger yield of higher quality fruits, and a longer period of productivity. Tomato grafting has been practiced for decades by growers who have been planting tomatoes in the same ground year after year because of limited space for necessary crop rotation.

At Gathering Together Farm, Paula has been grafting tomatoes for four years, and at this point, she has a fairly high success rate, about 90-95%. Paula and Joelene learned the art of grafting tomatoes from reading the literature online and in print, experimenting, and collaborating with Alice at Log House Plants, who was figuring out grafting methods around the same time.

To start off, ‘Maxifort‘ rootstock from Johnny’s Selected Seeds are seeded into 2.5″ pots, and all the other varieties of tomato scion are seeded into flats with 98 cells (“100s”). Even though the seed is relatively expensive, Gathering Together Farm over-seeds the rootstock by about 40% to account for an 80% germination rate and the fact that some rootstock plants will be unsuitable for grafting. Trays of seeded pots and flats are placed into a dark, humid chamber heated to about 85°.

The sprouting chamber is a farm-made structure with grated shelving underlain with rubber hoses through which warm water flows from an electric water heater. The sides and doors are plastic with velcro closures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting four days after seeding, Joelene pulls every tray of pots seeded with rootstock out of the hot chamber and examines each pot for any signs of above-ground sprouting. If even the slightest bit of white tendril is showing, she pulls the pot and joins it with other sprouted tomatoes on a warmed table in the greenhouse. She sorts the new tomato seedlings daily until it becomes apparent than anything left is never going to sprout (up to two weeks after seeding). Grouping seedlings in like-staged trays will allow Paula to more easily match rootstock and scion at the exact same stem size.

The scion varieties generally sprout at about the same time, so Joelene pulls them out of the sprouting chamber when she sees any above-ground growth.

Tomato starts grow on heated tables for about three weeks.

There’s some debate among the grafting team about whether or not the rootstock plants should be placed under lights after seedlings are pulled from the sprouting chamber. At this time, it is believed that the lights may stunt the elongation of the stems, so the rootstock plants are allowed to grow on warmed tables without lights while scion plants do grow under lights.

It is critical when grafting for the stems of the rootstock plants and the stems of the scion plants to be the same diameter. If it seems like the rootstock or the scion is outpacing the other’s growth, Paula will move trays off the warming tables to slow growth. Sometimes she will even move trays to the ground in the shade if she needs to let the plant parts match catch up.

Here’s what the ‘Maxifort’ rootstock looks like when it’s ready for grafting. Ideally, the rootstock plants will have straight stems, but sometimes they don’t. Some bent-stemmed rootstock plants can be used for grafting, but really crooked ones or plants with the cotyledons too close to the soil surface are discarded.

The day before she plans to graft, Paula selects rootstock plants that will match up with the scion.

She waters the rootstock well because they can’t be watered again directly for a couple weeks.

She puts the rootstock under lights in a last ditch effort to encourage the stems to grow as straight as possible.

Paula moves the scion into a dark area to slow photosynthesis so that the plants are as dormant as possible when grafting.

For grafting, Paula splits these double edge razor blades (from Fred Meyer) and uses one blade for two trays of grafts (64 plants) before discarding it.

These are 1.5mm and 2mm silicon tomato-grafting clips from Hydro Gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, she pinches the top of the rootstock and swiftly cuts the stem at a 45° angle. She must cut the stem at least an inch above the soil level, so that when the tomato start is transplanted into the ground, the scion stem will not touch the earth. She also cuts the stem below the cotyledons, so that the rootstock will not produce any foliage or fruit.

She discards the rootstock top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then she finds a matching scion plant and cuts its stem at a 45° angle.

This is a tray of mostly cut scion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She fits the clip on the rootstock stem and then slides the scion in, matching up the 45° angles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line of symmetry of the clip should be perpendicular to the plane of the graft so that the clip is in contact with the rootstock and the scion equally.

If she’s grafting larger seedlings, Paula will sometimes cut off the cotelydons to decrease the weight of the scion and keep it from slumping over and putting extra pressure on the graft.

Each tray is marked with the date of the graft.

Paula heavily mists the newly grafted plants. The tray of pots is placed inside another solid plastic tray.

She mists the inside of the cover, tightly closes the top vents, and fits it tightly on the bottom tray, eliminating any airflow and preventing the plants from drying out. Gathering Together Farm purchased the covers from McConkey.

The post-graft healing “building” is a structure built inside the Gathering Together Farm propagation greenhouse. It’s divided into two chambers, a dark chamber and a shaded chamber. Each chamber has built-in shelving for trays of grafted tomatoes with lids. The dark chamber, is covered with black plastic under a reflective tarp (silver side out to prevent the absorption of heat). The shaded chamber is covered with white plastic under shade cloth with some insulation on the south side to keep it from getting too hot. The healing building offers a shelter with limited temperature fluctuations, limited sunlight (or no sunlight), and limited airflow that will allow the plants to heal slowly without attempting to photosynthesize until the graft is set.

The trays of newly grafted plants are placed on shelves in the dark chamber and left there for about three days.

After three days in the dark, tomato plants are moved onto shelves in the shaded chamber for a day, and then they stay in the same chamber with overhead lights for another day.

After a day under lights, the top vents on the cover are opened.

The next day, the covers are propped open to allow limited air to flow through the trays. A day or so later, the covers are taken off completely.

Eventually, the uncovered trays are moved out to unheated tables in the propagation greenhouse.

With each step after the trays come out of the dark, the plants are assessed, and if they seem to be wilting or looking sickly, Paula will move them back a step and wait another day to try again.

About a month after grafting, the joint between rootstock and scion will have healed, and the stems will have grown enough so that the clips will start to pop off or they can be removed by hand.

Grafted tomato plants will be transplanted into the ground a few weeks later. When planting, it is critical that the graft line remain well above ground, so that the scion will not root into the soil. The graft will remain visible for the full life of the plant.

This is the Gathering Together Farm tomato-grafting method for the 2012 season It is probably different than any of the tomato-grafting methods practiced around the world. As we continue to learn from our mistakes and experiment with new techniques, this process may change in little or perhaps big ways.

Gathering Together Farm grows and grafts the following varieties of tomatoes:

Red Indeterminate Tomatoes:

Big Beef F1 from Osborne Seed Company

New Girl F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Rebelski from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Big Dena F1 from Hydrogarden

Arbason F1 from Osborne Seed Company

Colored Indeterminate Tomatoes:

Cherokee Green from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Cherokee Purple from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Black Krim from Seed Saver’s Exchange

Pruden’s Purple from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Momotaro F1 from Territorial Seed Company

Rose from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Carolina Gold F1 from Osborne Seed Company

Brandywine Yellow from Osborne Seed Company

Copia from High Mowing Organic Seeds

Indigo Rose from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Roma-type:

San Marzano 168 F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Golden Rave F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

 

Gathering Together Farm also grow the following tomato varieties ungrafted:

Red Determinate Tomatoes:

Siletz F1 from Seeds of Change

BHN 826 F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Roma-Type:

Mariana F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Viva Italia from Osborne Seed Company

Cherry:

Yellow Mini F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Black Cherry from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Sun Gold F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Favorita F1 from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Sunpeach F1 from Osborne Seed Company

Views Around the Farm Stand + Menu March 8-9

cheese pizza with a mini salad of marinated kale and pickled red onions

The winter/spring season at the farmstand is off to a great start. Lots of folks are coming in for veggies, pastries, coffee, and meals. Here are a few photos taken Thursday, March 8.

to start:

country pâte and liverwurst with cornichon and whole grain mustard
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad with beets, blue cheese, almonds, and a sweet chili vinaigrette
potato and leek soup with artisan bread
vegetable barley and ham soup with artisan bread
 
potato/kale/blue cheese pizza

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
pepperoni/pickled peppers/tomato/mozzarella
Italian sausage/zucchini/tomato/mozzarella
potato/kale/blue cheese/tomato/mozzarella 
 

agnolotti

secondi:

agnolotti with shrimp, sorrel, and goat cheese
smoked pork sausage over braised cabbage
creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
fish stew of clams, mussels, and rockfish
 
housemade pickled red onions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Ana Patty (and yes, everyone calls her ‘Ana Patty’), the brains and hands behind all the pastries and sweets that come from the farmstand kitchen. She’s a master of dough and batter.

doughnut batter in the works
the pastry case

Opening Weekend at the Farm Stand

The Gathering Together farm stand/restaurant opened for the season on Thursday, February 23, and the staff was pleasantly surprised by how many of our local customers stopped by for produce, pastries, and a hot meal. Alison, the new farm stand manager, spent the past few weeks cleaning, rearranging, and sprucing up the building and garden room, so the place looked great.

Quite a few folks who have turned out in the past two days asked about the farm and flood damage, and we’re happy to report that we are back on track and have most everything cleaned up. Our customers’ support at our farmers’ markets and here on the farm has certainly helped us recover more quickly from  the financial losses associated with the damage, and for that, we thank you.

Spring is generally quieter in the farm stand than on hot summer days, but judging by the turnout this weekend, that may not hold true this year. If your appetite and schedule will allow it, JC (the chef) recommends dining before or after the busy noon-to-one o’clock lunch hour. This will give both the kitchen crew and our lunch guests the to opportunity to take their time preparing and enjoying the food. Larger parties are always welcome to call in reservations ahead of time (541-929-4270).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the flowers in the table settings came from our neighbors at Greengable Gardens.

This month’s featured artist in the farm stand is Carol Chapel who lives just down the road and stops in at the farms often. Carol’s nature and agriculture-inspired works fit quite nicely into the decor.

The farm stand is newly stocked with organic produce and other local goods. Currently available are GTF’s own cipollini onions, parsnips, beets, rutabagas, onions, carrots, potatoes, and watercress.

Alison supplements the produce selection with fruits and vegetables from Organically Grown Company and a few neighboring farms.

We also offer several books and cookbooks written by local authors.

Local wine and beer is available…

…as are fresh eggs from Provenance Farm.

Other goods sold in the farm stand include locally grown/milled flour, coffee and teas, frozen pork, chicken and fish, T shirts, honey, jams, and pickles.

The coffee is always fresh and always hot.

GTF’s signature potato doughnuts are back.

Plus, Ana (the pastry chef) baked some not-too-sweet maple-coconut-date granola, if doughnuts aren’t really your thing.

The menu from the GTF kitchen changes weekly (sometimes daily) depending upon availability of seasonal ingredients, but here’s a quick guide to this weekend’s fare.

February 23-25 Lunch Menu

to start:

house coppa with capers and whole grain mustard
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTF salad beets, toasted almonds, and goat cheese with balsamic vinaigrette
roasted vegetable and barley soup with artisan bread
curried carrot soup with artisan bread
 

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
broccoli/leek/tomato/mozzarella
 

secondi:

cavatelli with roasted shallot, olive, and spinach
creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
brodetto of clams, mussels, and rockfish
country pork pâté sando with potato and watercress salad
 

JC finishes off a couple orders of brodetto.

Ricky preps pizza dough.

Pizza are made to order with mozzarella and house-made tomato sauce…

…and baked in the wood-fired oven.

Here’s the broccoli/leek/tomato/mozzarella pizza.

The polenta got rave reviews. This one’s in the works pre-poached egg.

JC is particularly proud of the pork pâte sandwich…

…and the house coppa with capers and mustard.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out for opening weekend and encourage other locals to stop in soon. We are currently open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.