The great greening.

"To plant a garden is to believe in the future."

-Audrey Hepburn

In March the farm sits right on the cusp. The fields are still mostly empty but the momentum of baby plants growing rapidly in the greenhouse and the seeds begging to be sowed is building like a wave. Before too long that wave will break onto our fields leaving at bright green sheen behind--a promise of the food and flowers to come. 

An aerial view of the farm: soon to be full of green, growing veggies & flowers!

We spend many hours in the winter selecting the varieties of each crop we want to grow and ordering the seeds we need. This season we are growing more than 50 different vegetable crops and another thirty or so kinds of flowers; all together we are probably planting in the ballpark of 150 different individual varieties. Each variety was selected for beauty, flavor, and vigor: each individual seed that we plant contains the promise of a whole season in one tiny package! The first seeds of the season are slowly but surely making their way out into the field: fava beans, sugar snap peas, and the first radishes are already tucked into the soil. Most of the rest are growing quickly in the sheltered environment of the greenhouse. 

Raising our transplants plants in the warm, welcoming environment of the hoophouse allows us to grow the strongest plants and select the ideal time to transplant them into the harsher outside world. Growing healthy transplants is one of the best ways to ensure a successful growing season: using this method we can produce crops earlier in the year, optimize seed usage, and grow a cleaner crop resulting in a higher quality product for you!

The ins and outs of growing transplants are pretty simple in theory: we look at our crop plan to see what we need to start each week, write out labels, fill trays with soil, seed them, water them & wait for them to grow. 

While the basic process is far from rocket science, it does take time and attention to detail to grow healthy transplants. Farmer Beth carefully researches the hidden secrets for success. Some seeds need warm soil temperatures and go on the heat mat, others need light to germinate and are sown right on the surface of the soil, some need total darkness and get wrapped in black plastic and checked daily for signs of life, some need to be chilled or even soaked in water before they are seeded out into trays… the list of tricks goes on and on. Flowers in particular demand some extraordinary measures to coax life out of their often bizarre looking seeds (we’ve found badminton birdies, tiny pyramids, and toothy monsters among them).

Once the seeds germinate, they get checked on multiple times per day. We monitor them to make sure everything is properly watered, and as the plants get bigger watch for signs of stress caused by lack of nutrients or getting cramped in their little cubes of soil. We can add some organic fertilizers, when they look like they need a boost, but sometimes they just end up getting a little cramped as we wait for a good weather window to transplant them into the field.

In the past two weeks over 3 ½ inches of rain left the fields a little soggy. While we are thankful for this much needed water, the wet soil is not ideal for the vigorously growing kale, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, fennel, and spinach plants that are really ready to move outside. It looks like we are moving towards clear skies for a few days and hopefully the soil will dry out just enough to get these vibrant little plants into the soil.

Let the great greening begin! We can’t wait to start seeing crops out in the field—baby onions, growing roots, lettuces and brassicas unfurling their big leaves... Spring brings much excitement to the farm!

 

Your farmers,

Beth & Erik

A hoophouse story.

For the past three or four weeks, there has been only one task to get done on the farm: the hoophouse. Hoophouses, which look like greenhouses but are not artificially heated (just solar power!), are one of the most useful things you can have on a market farm. Our hoophouse will allow us to start all of our own seeds for all of our transplants throughout the season, shelter those transplants in the early season when the great outdoors can be harsh and unforgiving to baby plants, and allows us to do season extension—growing tender plants like greens late into the fall, and even over winter. Win, win, win!

Below is a slide show detailing the recent hoophouse saga:

We want to give a shout out to our friends (Marie, Becca, Brian, and Jess) & family (Bob and Cathy) who have helped us with this project. Your helping hands made such a difference & your company was a huge morale booster for these farmers! 

We also want to send a huge shout out to all of the CSA members (like Becca!) who have joined already! Your support at this early point in the season has made it possible for us to tackle this project--we truly couldn't do it without your support. Thank you!

We are so excited to have tackled and finished this big project. Now the season has officially begun, with seeds sown and tucked away in the cozy hoophouse, slowly growing into future food & flowers. Before we know it, those tables will be covered in green!

Your Farmers,

Beth & Erik

It takes a lot to start a farm.

The further into the process of starting the farm we get, the more we realize how crucial our community is. Not only are we going to be growing food for the folks who live in our area, but we are indebted to many, many individuals who have helped us get our start: from those who’ve already signed up for our CSA, allowing us to have some start up money to buy much needed supplies, to folks who have lent a hand with planning, or simply cheered us on!

Back in July of 2014, when the farm was a solid ‘maybe’ in our minds. A friend at Cellar Ridge Construction let us know their client Georgio Furioso had purchased some abandoned farm property near Carlton. Being truly focused on the sustainability of their projects they put feelers out to the community through the Yamhill Valley Farmer’s Network to see if anyone wanted to invest some labor to salvage materials from the site. It turns out we were able to pull most of a hoop house, a ton of lumber, and t-posts out of the weeds in a few hard days of work. Other farmers in the area were also able to find plenty of useful materials.

All in all, we were able to save thousands of dollars, and hundreds of pounds of useful materials from ending up in a landfill, all for a couple of days’ worth of work. It is hard to overstate how awesome it is for a start up farm to be able to salvage some things you know you will have to buy sometime down the road.

Once we had reclaimed all these goodies, we were faced with another problem: we didn’t have a farm yet! And we certainly couldn’t store all of these goodies in our back yard in downtown McMinnville. Thank goodness for patient & supportive parents who don’t live far away, have a truck and trailer, and who graciously shared some space with us. We also were able to borrow a box truck from another friend, allowing us to transport everything over the hill in one go toward Hillsboro to Beth’s parents’ place, FullCircle Farm

This month, after almost half a year of storage, we finally had a chance to collect much of what we salvaged and transport it back to our spot. With loading help from friends and, again, the borrowed box truck we moved it back from Washington County to Yamhill County and unpacked everything into the barn on our property. It felt amazing to unpack those supplies, knowing that we now have most of what we need to build our seedling benches, wash station, work tables, shelving, drying racks, and so on. 

Sometimes it can seem like farms magically appear out of the ether and the work of a few peoples’ hands… and that just isn’t the case. A farm is not just a farm or just us farmers; a farm is a community. Without the support of dozens and more realistically, of hundreds of different people, the farm wouldn’t exist. From the guy at Lowes who helps us find field flags, to the printer that makes our business cards, to friends and family that help out, customers who visit us at Farmers Market, and our CSA members, the farm is a community in miniature. Without folks supporting the farm, realizing the value of sustainable agriculture, and buying into the project, it couldn’t exist. We feel incredibly grateful to be able to live in this community every single day. And we hope you will join us in enjoying the bounty that is the culmination of the whole thing!

Your farmers,

Beth & Erik

The first crop.

It's hard to believe that nearly a month has passed since we officially signed our lease. In that short time, we have been busy getting our first crop of the 2015 growing season in the ground; walking the field and discussing layout, irrigation systems, and the turning radius of tractors; and building out our website and social media platforms in preparation for opening CSA sign ups on January 1st! To get the announcement when CSA sign ups open, be sure to join our email list!

Garlic is one of our very favorite crops: delicious to eat, endlessly useful in the kitchen, beautiful in the field, and one of the few crops that will happily grow all through the winter. In fact, the cloves that we planted this fall will continue to grow until June, spending more than six months in the soil before we harvest! It is so exciting to be planting our own garlic, pushing those cloves into the mud knowing that they will feed many wonderful people in our community and also become the seed stock for our farm's garlic many years into the future.

Back in October, I got a chance to visit a farmer friend, Sarah from SuperNatural, and help her plant her garlic crop. Sarah grows an awesome variety of beautiful garlic, and was kind enough to gift me with some extra bulbs she had on hand. We are so thrilled to begin our first season farming with seed from friends! Thanks Sarah! (We also purchased some seed from our friends down the valley at Adaptive Seeds. Thanks Sarah & Andrew!)

Now that the garlic is tucked into the ground and mulched to protect it from the pounding rain and cold, we are turning our focus to planning for 2015. There is so much work to be done before we plant the first seeds of the season. We have been chipping away at our lists: buying some of our first equipment, meeting with potential clients, debating and refining CSA structures, and starting to sketch out the ideas that will become our crop plan. Winter may be the "off" season for farmers, but it sure is a busy one.

Your farmers,

Beth & Erik

Hello!

You've found us! Welcome to the Even Pull Farm blog. We will update this space throughout the season with information and stories from the farm, recipes and techniques, photos, musings, and much more. 

Even Pull Farm is the shared dream of Beth Satterwhite & Erik Grimstad. 2015 will be our first season farming on our own. Farmer Beth has worked on another small veggie operation for the past two seasons, as well as being a freelance farm helper for other small farms in the area and a farmer organizer with the Yamhill Valley Farmers Network & FarmON! Oregon. Farmer Erik has supported Beth through this time, earning a respectable income and the like (thanks Erik!), and has enjoyed helping out as her partner in crime and as a freelance farm helper. In 2014 the itch to do something of our own became too much to ignore, and we started taking steps toward starting our own operation.

We will be leasing a beautiful little corner of the Yamhill Valley in western Oregon, which we call home. The ground we will be growing on is owned by Christensen Farms, a large multi-generation operation and a longstanding member of the local farming community. We are thrilled to be working with Christensen Farms and grateful for the opportunity to build our solo-farming chops this season.

Currently we are in the planning process for our 2015 season (think: spreadsheets and lots of paperwork). We hope you will check back in for farm updates, product information, and to stay connected with us as we begin our farming journey!

Your farmers,

Beth & Erik