Spring has sprung and we are busy planting the early crops in the fields! So far, we have planted onions, peas, turnips, kohlrabi, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. By the end of the week we should be adding collards, chard, beets, and spinach to the mix! And our garlic, which was planted in October 2017, is looking fantastic. Of the 1800 cloves we planted, it looks like less than 15 didn't grow!
Next week, we take a small break from planting and spend it moving caterpillar tunnels and laying tarps in preparation for all the planting of warm season crops in the last two week of May. For now, the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, and more wait in the greenhouse for the weather to settle and warm up. And later this week all the curcubits (melons, cucumbers, winter squash, and summer squash) will be seeded in the greenhouse.
Share members can expect a welcome letter emailed by the end of May with all the details of the season. In the meantime, we are on track to have our first pickup on the week of June 18th. We look forward to sharing the future bounty with our members!
We are at that time of year where the weather can't decide whether it's springtime or still winter! But we are treating it like spring and the greenhouse is ready to be put into use in the next day or two. Soon I will be sowing the early seeds of onions, celery, celeriac, parsley, and artichokes. The warm greenhouse and the sun and soil always feel so great after a few months' respite.
We are thrilled to have sold all our available CSA shares early this year. It really does make a big difference knowing our marketing is looked after so that I can focus on the other pressing tasks at this time of year: taxes, organic certification renewal, and seeding! For anyone still looking for a CSA, many CSA farms in Guelph and Wellington County are expanding their offerings and still accepting members. Check them out!
In December, we were thrilled to welcome five Kune Kune pigs to our farm. Their birth and early days went smoothly and they are a treat to interact with. Pigs are very much like dogs with social personalities and individual attitudes. Unfortunately, we lost one of the five babies due to drowning. We found him in his mom's water dish, which should have been high enough that he couldn't get in. We are guessing that mom may have tipped him in when they were wrestling for the perfect piece of food. Despite this loss, we have been enjoying the antics and personalities of the little pigs.
As is usual at this time of year, we have LOTS of eggs, honey, and frozen chicken available. I will be doing a delivery to Guelph in the coming week or two. Watch for an order form in your inbox shortly. For those that live closer to our farm (Mount Forest, Conn, Arthur, etc.) you can come out to the farm to pickup an order. Or, we are happy to deliver orders of more than $100 to your door! Current Special: order 4 chickens and get a 5th free!
For regular farm updates, be sure to visit our facebook and Instagram pages. 2018 share members can expect an email with all the season's details in late May.
It's the last week of the CSA season! Thank-you to each of our share members for supporting us through our fifth season farming! We are looking forward to some rest and relaxation over the winter but, of course, are always looking ahead to the following year.
As most of you will have seen by now, I set an email this weekend with all the details of the 2018 season. You can also read all the details here: CSA 2018. Please save this email as this information won't be available on our website for a while yet. Since we are reducing the number of available shares, we are doing something different this year and only opening registration to current share members until January 15th. After that, if there are still shares available they will be open to the general public. Share members who reserve a share now will have until January 15th to pay in full or provide their deposit, depending on the chosen payment plan. So no need to pay right away (although that's OK too)! Confirmation emails will be sent to those that have signed up so far starting next week.
Overall, I have been pleased with the 2017 season. As I am reminded every year, there are always some crops that are hits and some that are misses. While I go into each season hoping that everything is a big hit, I'm recognizing that that isn't always possible. I was pleasantly surprised that we had a decent tomato harvest this year, despite the weather being decidedly unfriendly towards tomatoes. And our leafy greens, onions, and potatoes also did very well. Next year, the crops that I really want to ace are broccoli, spinach, beets, and sweet peppers. I know members would love more of all of these things and I really want to make it happen! As always, if you have crop requests or suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I want to grow what you want to eat.
I wish all of you a enjoyable and cozy fall and winter. I look forward to seeing many of you again next year! As in previous years, I will be doing occasional deliveries to Guelph in the winter months for those that wish to order honey, chicken, or eggs. Watch our social media and your inbox for more information on these deliveries.
Onions are a humble vegetable that are often overlooked as the centerpiece of a meal. But I can't imagine many dishes without onions. Raw, roasted, sauteed, and fermented - they are all delicious! For some ideas on ways to use onions beyond the basics, check out these recipes below:
Fermented Pickled Onions
French Onion Soup
24 Onion Recipes
We've had some lovely warm weather (albeit rather windy) on the farm the last few days which has allowed us to knock a few fall tasks off the to-do list. The garlic beds are prepped and waiting for the garlic bulbs, which I hope to get in on Friday. Rob was able to complete some needed repairs on the walk-in cooler and move all the beehives to one central location on our farm, which will make for easier management. But when I look at the two week forecast I see some icons that seem suspiciously like snowflakes so we'd better keep working to ensure that everything is done before the snow flies!
I am excited for the brussels sprouts in the shares this week - they are a favourite vegetable in our house in the fall and winter months! I tried a new variety this year and they seem to have produced better than previous seasons. We also have two varieties of winter radish in the shares as well. Daikon radishes are long and slender white radishes that are typically seen in Asian cuisine, particularly Kim Chi. But they can be used any way you would use a regular spring radish. The second variety, Watermelon radishes are beautiful additions to salads because of their vibrant colour. When sliced, they are reminiscent of watermelons, with their green skin and hot pink-red interior. Since both of these radishes come topped they will store for a long time if kept in a sealed bag or container in your fridge.
After years of spell check errors, I decided to check if Brussels Sprouts were indeed named after the city Brussels. Despite many people spelling Brussels Sprouts without the second 's', they are named after Brussels, Belgium. Apparently, Brussels Sprouts were actively cultivated near Brussels in the thirteenth century, hence the name. Regardless, they are delicious and incredibly nutritious! Now, if your main experience with Brussels Sprouts is heavily boiled, you are probably not a fan. My preferred methods for cooking are roasting or pan-frying. When I roast them, I cut in half lengthwise, toss with olive oil (or any fat of your choice), and generous amounts of sea salt. Then place single layer, cut side down on a baking tray. At 425 degrees they will take approximately 15 minutes to cook. About 10 minutes into cooking I give them a quite stir but otherwise like them to get a bit browned and crispy on the cut side. Delicious! For other recipes ideas, check out the links below:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar & Honey
25 Brussels Sprouts Recipes
Wow! Time is flying by and we are already on the third-last week of the season! I will be sending an email directly to share members within the next week or so where I will highlight what 2018 will look like. Be sure to read as it will have lots of pertinent info that won't yet be on our website!
As for tasks around here on the farm, we have had some wild and widely variable weather lately. First it was warmer than seasonal and then suddenly this weekend we had loads of rain and extremely high winds. While there are still crops in the fields, they are all pretty hardy and not easily affected by variable weather. Over the next few weeks I will be busy planting our 2018 garlic, removing spent crops from the field, and packing away row covers and landscape fabric. Removing the landscape fabric each fall is a requirement of our organic certification and is actually quite time consuming. It takes me about 20 minutes to remove all the staples, shake out, and roll up each bed's worth of landscape fabric. Considering we have about 100 beds with fabric on them, I have my work cut out for me! The reduction in weeding that happens when using the landscape fabric is worth the effort, though.
We have had some share members inquiring about our Fall Boxes that we offer as an add-on each year. We are SOLD OUT of Fall Boxes for this year. They will be available again in 2018 and you can reserve them at the same time as you reserve your regular summer share.
Remember you have just two more weeks (after this week) to buy any honey or frozen chickens from us! If you are interested in one chicken or to stock your freezer for the winter, please let me know 3 - 4 days in advance of the pickup so that I can be sure to bring your order with me. As a reminder, chickens are $5/lb and range between 4.5 - 7lbs. We also have a limited number of pieced chickens. These are sold in packs of 2 and cost $70. These are perfect for smaller households or those that want to cook a particular cut at one time.
Rhutabaga is a favourite vegetable of mine but is tends to be overlooked and under-appreciated by many. My two favourite ways to prepare it are as follows:
1. Peel, dice, and boil until soft. Combine with the flesh of a roasted Red Kuri squash and puree (a food processor works well). I add in some sea salt, cinnamon, and 1 - 2 tbsp of coconut oil. Delicious!
2. Peel and cut into french fry shapes. Toss with oil and sea salt (paprika is also nice). Roast at 425 degrees in a single layer on a baking sheet for 20 - 30 minutes.
For more ways to enjoy rhutabaga, check out these recipes:
Oven Roasted Rhutabaga
Mashed Rhutabaga with Sour Cream and Dill
Silky Rhutabaga Apple Soup