What’s in your share?
People often ask me, “how do you know what to do everyday on the farm?”
It’s a valid question for sure. How do we choose from the long list of work; bed prep, seed starting, planting, cultivation, trellising, pruning, preserving. Sometimes I find myself completely overwhelmed by all the different jobs that need to be done. On one hand, we’re completely present, accomplishing exactly what needs to be done in the moment to keep the plants alive and growing. It’s almost as if the farm, being the living organism that it is, takes over and chooses for us. At the same time, we’re always thinking and planning at least three months ahead. For instance, fall brassicas need to be seeded in June, to be planted in July, so that they can be harvested in September; and this is only if everything goes according to plan (which it more than likely won’t). The farm, and therefore, the plan is always changing, and hopefully we, too, are evolving and growing along with them.
Most farmers I know have that internal calendar, an inner knowing and connection to the rhythms of the season. Yet, in the last nine years since I’ve been farming, I have seen the once predictable, natural rhythm, become less and less certain. For example, the first and last frost dates of the year are far less reliable and trustworthy than ever before, making the first plantings outside more of a gamble each year. More and more unforeseen weather and temperature extremes are altering those historical dates when farmers sow their first seeds and when they harvest their last crops.
I’ve literally seen more fire, water, and wind with each consecutive year. Working during the fires in Oregon last summer, there were days when you couldn’t see further than 100 yards. And while farming on Bainbridge Island in WA, mild temperatures that usually never went above 80° F, leapt 10 degrees higher. Being outside every single day, all day, you can’t help but notice how our climate is changing.
And while most of us are still unsure how to approach our changing world, we can still feel empowered by the choices we make each day.
Supporting local agriculture and investing in food and farmers growing only a few miles from your home is a powerful action in itself. In this way, we nourish our community, our environment, and ourselves.
Cucumber and Fennel Salad
Cucumbers (peeled or unpeeled, and sliced very thin into rounds)
Fennel bulb (sliced as thin as cucumbers)
Fennel Fronds (the fronds are the frilly parts, chopped very small)
Onions (sliced very thin into rounds)
1 c white vinegar
2 c water
1 T salt*
Black pepper as desired
Because the texture of this salad is really nice when the veggies are sliced thin, take advantage of a mandoline or a food processor with a slicing attachment if you have access to one! Slice the cucumbers, fennel, and onions, and add to the container you plan to store the salad in. Then add the chopped fennel fronds. In a measuring cup, measure out vinegar and stir in salt. *For those of you who like a little sweet with your sour, you can add equal parts sugar and salt here . Pour mixture over veggies. Then add water to dilute the vinegar. (This is a pretty low acid brine; if you want to add more zing to it, add more vinegar.) Then add black pepper and gently mix together. You can eat it immediately, or chill it in the fridge first. The brine in this salad can be used many times, and can also be used for making your own salad dressing.