Happy arrival of summer!

Too bad it has had to make such a grand entry. (Insert sweating eye rolling emoji here.) I can’t believe that the last time I sent this email we were finishing our Winter CSA. Now we have completed the first 4-weeks of our 18-week summer CSA. Talk about a transition time on the farm. May and June can feel like polar opposites. This is especially true this year.

Watering our newly planted Tibetan Black Barley crop

May found us harvesting cold hearty greens and welcoming the first glimmers of new vegetables and herbs like radishes, salad turnips, lettuce, chard, and herbs back into our cooking. These first tastes of something other than winter storage crops and Siberian Kale just breed excitement in our Farm Kitchen and among our CSA members. We spend the month filling our hoop houses, 2-acre garden, and 25-acre field with all the starts that we seeded in January, February, March, and April

Freshly harvested baby Purple Globe Radishes and Hakurei Salad Turnips.

 Photo Credit: Kiely Houston

May is also a month of investment as we plant the foundation of the whole rest of the growing season. With nights still routinely dropping down into the 30Fs, the potential of snow occasionally in the air, and plants in the halfway house busy outgrowing their pots while it is still too cold to transplant them. Sarahlee wakes up at 3:30am to go turn the wheel line on in order to provide some water insulation to our most vulnerable starts in the 25-acre. We open and close the sides of the hoop houses multiple times a day as we try to keep plants warm, but not too warm, with changes in cloud cover and wind speed. Each degree of temperature makes a difference for these little baby plants we all depend upon. May can be a harrowing experience. This is all part of the late spring routine.

Farmers Christine Boyle and Nat Leder transplant lettuces in the 25-acre field.
 Photo credit: Kiely Houston

And then there is June. We had warm days and cold days, but the temps steadily climbed. Plants are exponentially growing and cucumbers, zucchini, and other late spring goodies start to make a tentative and small appearance in our CSAs. The peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and other “hot” summer plants are exploding with blossoms in our hoop and tomato houses. Second and third successions are being planted of lettuces and radishes and salad turnips. 4th successions of kale and green onions are being started in the green house. And our Rogue Farm Corp Interns are learning more and becoming more comfortable in their new farming skills.

We are systematically going through our hoops and fields weeding to prevent a weed infestation later. We are practicing good habits like drinking lots of water and stretching in the mornings to make sure that our bodies stay healthy and strong for the impending abundance of July. And we prepare for July by perfecting our harvesting, washing, and packing techniques. June has been a month of building good habits because come July, oh boy, it will be harvest, harvest, harvest.

The 2-acre garden is verdant in its June growth.

This June has felt a bit crazy. Quite a few of you are in Central Oregon and you know what I am talking about. We went from spring winds, finally some rain, nights in the 40Fs to HOT overnight. 2 weeks ago, we were surprised that it hit the mid-90s for a day or two. Today, we are looking at some crazy high heat at the start of next week. Forecasts are changing daily and only rising, calling for 110F on the farm. This is a heat wave of historic highs and to say we are nervous is an understatement. No one at Rainshadow has experience with this kind of heat. Our hope is that by taking it slow and steady, being gentle with ourselves and the plants, and keeping the animals as cool and calm as possible, we will make it through this heat with as little damage as possible. So tack on salt pills, early mornings paired with long afternoon siestas, and frequent dips in the pond to the self care routine and hello summer!

Meet our Farm Crew!

Each month we will showcase one of our Farm Crew. This will be an opportunity for them to share a bit about themselves as well as illuminate the special project they are working on during this farming season.

Zoë is one of our Rogue Farm Corp interns. She hails from the valley and has spent some time farming and living the Aloha life in the Hawaiian islands. She is deeply curious and passionate about food access and is spending some time during her Internship contemplating food access pinch points at Rainshadow.

Hello, everyone. I’m Zoë, one of Rainshadow’s interns this season. There is plenty of time for reflection in the thicket of weeding season. With my knees resting atop the soil and my hands ruffling through rows of rainbow chard, I wonder if the recipients of our food will find as much joy in the chard as I do when I slice the ends off to create an explosion of confetti. I then start to wonder how I could share this joy, this wealth of health at my fingertips, with more people.

We are always dreamin’, schemin’, and achievin’ ways to grow more food here at Rainshadow. For me, the next step is to identify what barriers exist between our food and our community.

  • Do our Farm Stand hours conflict with your schedule?
  • Does the produce or our CSA prices not fit into your budget?
  • Do you lack transportation to our farm or the Bend Farmers’ market?
  • Are there any other barriers to accessing our food that you want to share with us?

As I weed my way into July’s abundance, I’ll be considering how I, a person with more time and wiggle room than our usual delivery truck, might be able to share our farm goods with more of you.

Rainshadow is contemplating possibilities around solving food access issues in our Central Oregon Community: possibly subsidizing CSA boxes, scheduling additional Farm Stand hours, and/or making personal deliveries. There are many other potential solutions to food access pinch points out there. It all depends on what you need and what we can do to make it happen. Let us know your answers to the above questions.

If you are interested in getting our farm goods into your kitchen but have been unable to for any number of reasons, please reply to this email ([email protected]). I would love to continue this conversation! We can communicate via the web, or set up a time to chat on the phone. Furthermore, if you have friends, family, or neighbors not on our mailing list, please feel free to extend this invitation to them. We’re heading into July’s abundance over here and the more, the merrier!

Farm Kitchen Update

We continue to wait … At this time we have responded to all the Deschutes County questions and inquiries and we continue to wait for their response. We are now 2 months in to a 2-7 month process. We remain optimistic.

While we wait, we are still running a very limited number of events out of our Farm Kitchen. Deschutes County has approved a limited event schedule so we are able to host the weddings, dinners, and brunches that we had on the calendar at the start of this process. For that we are grateful.

Even though we are all scheduled out, sometimes previously scheduled things cancel and we can add a brunch or a dinner to our events calendar. Make sure you have signed up for the Events Email List so you will be the first to find out when those happen. We filled a 47 person brunch on Father’s Day from the Event’s List alone in less then 12 hours! We are looking at possibly being able to offer 2 Longtable Dinners in the garden this summer and the Events List will hear about it first!