As I write this, the skies are just clearing from a 12-hour gentle rain which is a farmer's favourite type of rain! It's amazing how a rain like this can kick start the growth of the vegetables (and, unfortunately, the weeds). Since it looks like we have some hot weather coming our way soon, I'm glad that we go into it with saturated soil and happy plants.
I'm excited to be including snap peas in the shares this week: they are a week ahead of schedule. The zucchini are also about two weeks early and we should have the first harvest for everyone next week.
On the farm all of the summer crops are planted and I am busy weeding, staking, pruning, and generally keeping all the plants happy and healthy. Other than a few succession plantings of lettuce and herbs, I won't be doing much more planting until late July, when I plant the fall brassicas such as broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, and others.
For share members interested in chickens, we have a limited number of whole, frozen roasting chickens available. We have decided to raise broiler chickens bi-annually since they remain fresh in the freezer for at least this long. And we'd rather raise a larger number all at once than small batches all the time. This means that I expect we will sell out of chicken by mid-summer. If you would like some chicken(s), just send me an email a few days prior to pickup and I will bring your order with me. Most of our chickens are 5 - 7lbs and all are delicious! They are raised on pasture and supplemented with 100% organic feed.
This week, all share members will have a choice between chard or collards. Most people are familiar with kale, but chard and collards are a little less familiar.
Swiss Chard is in the same family as beets so its earthy flavour is similar to beet greens. The colourful stalks of the chard are my favourite and I remove them from the leaves and slice thinly. Typically, I use them in any way I'd normally use celery. The greens can then be used in salads, stirfries, soups, and many other dishes.
Collards are in the same family as cabbage and kale, so their leaves have a mild flavour similar to cabbage. My preferred way to enjoy collards is as a replacement to bread and buns. I put all sorts of wrap or burger ingredients inside a leaf, roll up, and enjoy! Some people prefer to lightly blanch the leaves before doing this, but I find this unnecessary with young, fresh collards. Collards are also a staple in southern US cooking and you can find many traditional recipes online that use collards.
For more inspiration, check out these recipes:
31 Creative Swiss Chard Recipes
Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans
10 Ways to Eat Collard Greens
Southern Collard Greens
The first week of the CSA season has arrived! We are excited to be sharing the first green veggies of the season with you! Fresh salads are always on the menu at this time of year. The spinach is looking wonderful but won't last long with this heat, so we will enjoy it for one week at least (and hopefully two)!
As many of you know, we scaled things back slightly this year to allow us time to take a few adventures as a family and to accomplish some on-farm tasks. Part of the scaling back included not participating in some special events like the Taste Real Rural Romp and Local Food Fest. While we love these events, we are enjoying the extra time we've had to knock off some construction jobs. Just this weekend we finished an interior upgrade to our walk-in cooler and I built a new wash stand.
Another part of scaling back is the addition of 2 weeks off for ourselves during the CSA season. To remind share members, we will be taking the weeks of July 16th and September 24th off. This means you will receive 18 weeks of veggies, spread over 20 weeks. Don't worry, we will provide a reminder of the weeks off as they approach!
Overall, the crops are doing well in the field. We have had some unsettled weather and wind storms but otherwise have had a nice balance of warm weather and rain that the veggies all enjoy. I experimented with starting some crops (such as beets and peas) from transplants rather than direct seeding and I am pleased with the results. The peas are flowering like crazy and we can expect those next week. The beets are also doing well and should be coming soon in your shares.
One negative in an otherwise positive start to the season is the health of our bees. Those that follow us on social media will be aware that we lost all but 1 hive over the winter. This is a loss of 96% of our bees. On inspection, the hives had plenty of honey remaining but no living bees. This points to pesticide poisoning rather than lack of food. We hope to rebuild our hives but it will take a few years to increase the numbers substantially. We currently have honey from 2017 still available (and still delicious). However, we may not have much or any new honey available in 2018.
For everyone who reserved their share with us prior to January 15th, you will receive a complimentary 1kg jar of honey on the first pickup. For the rest of you, there will be honey available to purchase.
Garlic Scapes are a quintessential component of early season veggie shares and we think they are pretty awesome! The scape is the top part of the garlic plant which must be pulled off to allow the bulb to develop fully. Luckily, the scapes are delicious in their own right with a mild garlic-y flavour. We use them thinly sliced anywhere we would typically use garlic. They also make a great pesto that improves with age when stored in the freezer. Here are some interesting scape recipes to try:
Brine Pickled Garlic Scapes
Garlic Scape Pesto
Grilled Garlic Scapes