As these clear October nights dip into the teens, the team at Rainshadow Organics hustles to put food up for winter. They have pickled, sauced, jammed, and fermented since mid-July. Their farm store shelves are full from floor to ceiling. The pastured pork, beef, and chicken fills the freezers. The wheat, corn, and buckwheat is in dry storage and the team mills it fresh each week for the grain case as well as wood fire pizzas every Saturday. The final hustle is for the storage beets and carrots. The leeks. The onions and winter squash. The potatoes.
Rainshadow Organics is a full-diet farm, which means that they strive to grow everything they eat from grains, proteins, dairy, vegetables, honey, mushrooms, eggs, etc.… For the long winter ahead, they will be open every Saturday from 11-3 with a fully stocked store and wood fire pizzas. The farm will provide from the root cellar, the dairy, the freezer, the granary, the field, and the greenhouse. It’s a true culinary adventure to the source.
As they wrap up their first summer season with their new farm store, they are tremendously grateful for all the people who came for lunches and dinners, farm tours and workdays. They bid farewell with the greatest thanks to their summer interns who came from all over the country to learn to farm through the Rogue Farm Corps. Each year, the farm teaches the awareness necessary to make good stewards of land and animals. It is a place where young people can dig their mental and physical wells to draw from in their future.
Interns learn about soil preparations, seeding, propagation, transplanting, weeding, harvest, farmers market, record keeping, fencing, nutrient management, cover cropping, cultivation, tractor maintenance, irrigation, castration, slaughter. They also learn to cook for their team members as well as the public. They can host a dinner party, set a table, and cook a pig in the ground. In return, they give incredible value to this farm and its community.
Last weekend they hosted a very well-attended customer appreciation day. They watched smiling from the periphery, children dig for roots and peel back the husks of colorful fall corn. 2018 marks the fifth annual community gleaning where Rainshadow opens its fields for the taking and in turn they harvest all of the positive energy of families playing in the dirt and feeding the pigs.
This week they will tend to the winter greens. The greenhouses require a lot of attention with these hot days and cold nights. A warm autumn will establish hardy plants that will yield slowly, nutrient-dense greens, from now until May. Arugula, spinach, kale, chard, mache, mustard greens. And in the field with the last of the irrigation water, the will seed rye and clover cover crops to protect and feed their organic soils.
As the evenings creep up into the days, the farm crew spends their dark hours cooking the food. They collect ingredients from all over the farm, and start from scratch. It takes time. But its all whole and trustworthy and it tastes the best. And they agree that unlike most people who eat to live, the farm team lives to eat. Ingredients cultivated for months or years before they arrive on the plate. Its inconvenient and time consuming. And it’s the way it should be.
By Sarahlee Lawrence
Please check out the farm’s winter dinner series and heritage turkeys on their website www.rainshadoworganics.com.