2017 CSA – Week 2: The Gathering Together Story

CSA Newsletter – Week 2


The Gathering Together Story

With this being our 30th anniversary farming, I thought it would be nice to tell you all the tale of how Gathering Together Farm came to be such a well-known farm in the valley.

Owners John Eveland and Sally Brewer both come from farming families—John being from Iowa and Sally from New Hampshire— and though they loved to farm, they wanted to break free from the limited selection of vegetables that were commonly grown. GTF grows many of the same types of foods that we are all used to, but they grow almost 500 different varieties of them, from newly bred black tomatoes to nearly forgotten heirloom varieties of Asian greens.

In the eighties, John, his sister, and a couple friends started Nearly Normal’s Restaurant in Corvallis, and they were dissatisfied with the lack of organic produce available for them to use. John and Sally decided to start their own farm to provide the restaurant with quality, organic produce, and before they knew it, thirty years had gone by and they had one of the most well-known organic vegetable farms in the valley. This is largely what gives Gathering Together its human feel; for a farm as big as GTF, John and Sally have managed to maintain a small family farm feel. After all these years they are both still sweating in the sunshine every day with the rest of us!

Working at GTF is unlike working at most any other place. We are all fed breakfast every day, lunch three days a week, and we get free vegetables to take home to our families. I couldn’t imagine more amazing benefits, and we are all grateful for the generosity that John and Sally put forth into the world.

From all of us at the farm base who have put endless hours working in the sun and soil, rain or shine, flood or freeze, thank you for being a part of our farm and for enjoying the produce that we grow. We are forever grateful for the time that you’ll spend with Gathering Together Farm. Enjoy your weekly bounty. Thanks y’all!

-Laura Bennett

Table of Box Contents

  • Chard—Chard greens and stems are both delicious. The stems are like a beet-flavored rainbow version of celery. The greens are similar to spinach and are amazing raw in a salad.
  • Bunch Carrots—Oh my goodness you guys, they’re so sweet! Such a special spring treat.
  • Scallions—In my opinion scallions are best enjoyed raw, sliced thin on top of everything.
  • 5 lbs New PotatoesThis week you’ll be getting Nicola potatoes, a yellow skinned and yellow fleshed potato.
  • Romaine lettuce—Everyone loves romaine lettuce for its crunch, making it perfect for caesar salads, etc.
  • Cilantro—Excellent on top of almost any dish. If you’re having a hard time using the whole bunch up, try making a cilantro pesto. You can use local walnuts or hazelnuts for a cheaper pine nut alternative.
  • 2 Sweet OnionsThe high sugar content in these onions makes them perfect for caramelizing.
  • 2 Cucumbers—Eat fresh like an apple or slice into salads for a nice, sweet crunch.
  • 2 Zucchini—Make sure when you cook zucchini to salt at the end of the cooking process so it doesn’t turn to mush!

Recipes

Spring Pad Thai

This is my personal pad thai recipe that I’ve adapted over the past few years. It’s definitely alternative (I don’t use tamarind because I never have any on hand), and it’s super easy to make. Alter to your own taste as always! You can use almost any selection of vegetables, green beans are a great addition but they aren’t in yet, but we’re in luck that we have many other perfect  veggies.

Ingredients—Veggie Sauté

  • 1 bunch Cilantro (roots in sauté, leaves raw as garnish)
  • 1 bunch Scallions (1/2 in sauté, ½ raw as garnish)
  • ½ bunch Carrots, sliced long and thin
  • 1 Zucchini, sliced long and thin
  • 1 Sweet Onion, sliced thin
  • Oil (I use coconut)
  • Fish Sauce, Tamari, garlic, or whatever you’d like

Ingredients—Pad Thai Sauce & Noodles
(If you like things light, follow this recipe; if you like things super saucy, double the sauce recipe!)

  • 2/3 cup Stock (pork, chicken, or veggie)
  • 6 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 6-8 Tbsp Brown Sugar (it may sound strange, but you can supplement the sugar for strawberry jam and it’s delicious!)
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce/Tamari (use 4 Tbsp if you don’t use fish sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp Hot Sauce/Chili Oil
  • ~1 cup Nut Butter (I use peanut or sunflower seed)
  • 1 8oz package Pad Thai noodles (or if you have a spiralizer you can make carrot and zucchini noodles!)

Directions

  1. Chop all your veggies up beforehand. With Pad Thai, I have found that taking care to slice things thin and long really affects the final product’s taste and beauty! Set aside.
  2. Put all sauce ingredients together in a pot (omit nut butter) and bring up to a simmer. Once it’s hot, add in your nut butter and stir around to dissolve into the sauce. You can control the thickness of the sauce depending on how much you add.
  3. Meanwhile, heat up some oil in a big pan and get your veggie stir fry going. First add in your sweet onion, and after a minute or two add in some tamari or soy sauce and let sauté another few minutes more.
  4. Then add your cilantro root (everything below the twist tie), carrots, scallion, and zucchini. Let sauté about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a sprinkle of salt, and don’t let the veggies lose their fresh crunch!
  5. Boil some water and cook your noodles, careful not to overcook them. Drain noodles, mix into sauce to coat them.
  6. Plate noodles, put veggies on top, and garnish with raw cilantro and scallions. Enjoy!

Marinated Tofu with Swiss Chard

Source Note: This savory vegan dish calls for marinating the tofu a few hours ahead. It can be served over white or brown rice, or with any type of noodles…like Pad Thai!

Ingredients

  • ½ pound firm tofu
  • Marinade
    • 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • 2 tsp Sesame Seed Oil
    • 2 Tbsp Garlic Chives/Scallion, minced
    • 2 tsp Ginger, minced
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes
    • 1 ½ Tbsp Tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds

Directions

  1. Drain the tofu and cut into cubes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all of the marinade ingredients.
  3. Set the tofu cubes in the marinade, toss gently, and marinate for at least 2 hours at room temperature, turning the cubes over occasionally.
  4. Setting aside the tofu, pour the marinade into a skillet on medium heat; simmer 1-2 minutes, until reduced by about half.
  5. Add the Swiss Chard and cover the pan. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the green wilt.
  6. Add the tofu back in, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, stir to combine, and heat through. Serve immediately.

Recipe from Bounty From the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook by Mi Ae Lipe

Lunch Menu: June 20-23, 2017

Shrimp-n-grits with roasted peppers, black kale and tomatoes

Antipasti

chad fell’s bread & olives  5

new potato & caramelized leek soup & bread   5

chilled cucumber soup & bread   5

mixed greens with balsamic   6.5

GTF salad – cucumbers, strawberries and pumpkin seeds with a strawberry vinaigrette   9.5

pork pate with pickles, mustard and bread   8

 

Pizze Rosse

garlic & basil    10.5

bacon & baby onion    11

 

Pizze Bianche

ham, egg, garlic scapes   11

zukes & roasted peppers    11

 

–add an egg or anchovies   1

 

Secondi

duck ravioli in a thyme brodo with garlic scapes, zucchini and croutons 12

semolina gnocchi with walla wallas, basil, walnuts and ricotta cheese    12

shrimp-n-grits with roasted peppers, black kale and tomatoes   12

garlic sausage with new potatoes and green cabbage with house ketchup and mustard  13

salmon brodetto with carrots, tomatoes, chick peas and aioli   13

Lumos Wine Dinner

We’d like to announce that reservations are open for our June Wine Dinner featuring Lumos Wine Co. The dinner will be held at 6:30 PM on Saturday, June 24th.

Come out and enjoy a five-course dining experience and four wine pours from our guests at Lumos. The evening begins with a relaxing tour of our farm at 5:30 PM, included at no extra charge.

All of this for a price of $72 per person. Seating for the wine dinner is very limited, so please call the Farmstand at 541-929-4270 to reserve your place. It’s bound to be a delightful evening!

 

Lunch Menu: June 6-9, 2017

 

Creamy carrot soup & bread

Antipasti

chad fell’s bread & olives  5

mixed greens with balsamic   6.5

creamy carrot soup & bread   5

GTF salad- apples, cucumbers, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette   9.5

pork pate, mustard, pickles & bread   8

 

Pizze Rosse

garlic & basil   10.5

kalamata & sausage  11

bacon & kale   11

goat cheese & caramel onions   11

 

Pizze Bianche

egg, scallion, arugula   11

prosciutto & olive  11

sausage & onion  11

–add an egg or anchovies   1

 

Seafood brodetto of prawns & trout with potatoes, tomatoes and aioli


Secondi

spaghetti & meatballs with fresh basil, zucchini and marinara sauce  11

duck ravioli in a thyme brodo with pea tops & xxx  11

seafood brodetto of prawns & trout with potatoes, tomatoes and aioli  12

creamy polenta with *poached egg, spinach, peppers and balsamic reduction  11

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