Wow, we've made it to the end of another great growing season! I would like to extend a big thank-you to all our share members who have supported our farm this year. Meeting and chatting with our share members is always a highlight of our week and we love to see others enjoying the produce we have grown. It makes any challenges worthwhile!
I'd also like to offer thanks and well wishes to Thomas, our intern for 2016. Last week was his last week on the farm and he has headed back home for some rest and relaxation before continuing on to BC for a long stay at a meditation retreat centre. As always, the value interns add to our farm is immense!
Our fourth growing season has been both challenging and fruitful. The drought and heat we experienced through much of the summer stressed many crops and increased insect pressure. Particularly, the broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower did not like the conditions. You may have also noticed that beets were conspicuously absent from our shares this season. Despite 3 separate plantings, we just didn't get any beautiful beets to maturity this season. I joked with share members last week that I will probably over-compensate next year and we will be overrun with beets! But despite these challenges, we also had some crops that loved the conditions. Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and summer & winter squash all provided us with a bounty!
The kale in your shares this week will be loose (not bunched) and you can take as much as you can use. Since we will not be doing any more kale harvests we have stripped the plants thoroughly so have lots to go around. In addition to the garlic in your shares, there will also be a bin of 'bonus' garlic which is damaged in some way. Most is just too small for replanting or was stabbed by the garden fork when harvesting - help yourself to a couple bulbs and use within 2 - 3 weeks as they will not store for very long.
I am in the midst of updating our website to reflect the changes for 2017 and will email share members when it is up and ready for business! We have enjoyed providing you with vegetables these past 20 weeks and look forward to seeing you again in the spring.
Thank-you to everyone who has expressed interest in our 2017 season! I plan to have our website updated and ready for orders by mid- to end of November. Or, you are welcome to give me a post-dated cheque at our last pickup to hold your spot.
As the diversity of produce decreases these last couple of weeks, we try to increase the quantity of that which you do receive. As you may have noticed, potato quantities increased last week and will continue at this amount until the end. This week, all shares will see an increase of winter squash as well. This week is the last of the salad greens (except for lettuce add-on members who will receive some next week as well) and, due to the cold weather, there isn't a huge quantity. But cool weather makes lettuce delicious, so enjoy!
This is the last week that I can bring a chicken order. On our last week, the truck will be too full with extra produce to squeeze in any chickens. If you'd like to order some chicken please let me know asap so that I can have it ready to bring.
Thank-you to everyone that ordered a Fall Box - we have sold out for this year! I will be bringing these boxes on the last share pickup (week of October 31st). I will also be sending an email to all that ordered a box with more information.
Last year, I made a couple trips to Guelph during the winter to allow share members to purchase items like honey, eggs, chicken, and storage produce. I plan to do this again this year approximately every 6 weeks or so. My first trip will be in early December. A few days prior, I will send an email to all previous share members to take orders.
The lowly potato isn't the most glamorous or nutritious of vegetables but it is still a well-loved vegetable among many of our share members. We love growing potatoes and they generally perform well in our soils. Conventional potatoes are one of the worst crops for pesticide residues and, in fact, are treated with various chemicals (many of which have been shown to be carcinogenic to humans and toxic to honey bees) at all stages of production. Prior to shipment, conventional potatoes are sprayed with a sprout inhibitor that absorbs into the potato and cannot be eliminated by simply peeling. This is why, if you are shopping for potatoes in April or May you will see that most of the organic choices have started to sprout whereas the conventional potatoes still look the same as when harvest. Thankfully, none of these treatments are allowed in organic agriculture and our potatoes have had nothing but organic soil and water touching them! If you are looking to add to your potato cooking repertoire, check out these recipes!
As the 2016 season winds down, we are deep in the planning stages for 2017 and I wanted to share some of our plans with our share members. Each season we review our crop choices, productions methods, and marketing strategies and try to decide what worked and what needs improvement. We love feedback from our share members so please don't hesitate to send me an email or chat with me at the pickups and let me know what you think! In our first few seasons I had share members complete a survey to help me recognize which crops they desired and in what quantities. I no longer do this as I am better at seeing the trends and choices people make at the pickup. As I notice these trends I tweak our crop plan to accommodate people's preferences. But beyond the crop choices, we have some great plans in store for next year! And many of these choices are focused on making our share members' lives easier and increasing choice.
Here are some of the changes in the works for next year:
CSA Share Prices & Discount: Our share sizes will remain the same for next year with similar choices of vegetables. We are committed to ensuring there is at least 1 choice item each week in the share (ie. kale or chard) and, of course, will continue to use the trade-in bin and bonus items weekly. The share prices for 2017 will be: $425 for small and $600 for large. This is a modest increase of $1.25 and $2.50 per week respectively. The reason for the increase is twofold. First, with the poor Canadian dollar our cost of inputs have remained consistently higher over the last year and a half. Second, the price reflects our certified organic status. We will continue to offer an early bird discount but have extended the deadline to February 15th. If you pay in full prior to February 15th you will receive a 5% discount on your share. We will continue to offer customized payment plans for those that prefer to pay in installments.
New Add-On Options: We will continue to offer our popular Potato, Carrot, and Lettuce Add-ons for next year. We will also be adding two other options: a Pea Shoot Add-On and a Leafy Green Add-On! We regularly include pea shoots in the first 4 weeks of the shares. For those that purchase a pea shoot add-on you will continue to receive pea shoots for all the remaining weeks of the shares. The leafy green add-on will include 1 extra bunch of greens (kale, chard, or collards) for every week of the shares. This is a great choice for juicers and smoothie makers or large, greens loving families!
Pickup Day: Since our first season we have had a pickup at St. James Anglican Church on Wednesday afternoons. We hate to change it for those that are used to the Wednesday pickup, but in order for us to grow we need to change the day. We are planning to offer pickup at St. James on Thursdays from 4 - 6:30pm. This will allow us to make two weekly deliveries of vegetables to Guelph without having them be on back-to-back days. We will be discontinuing the Tuesday pickup at Priory Park Baptist Church but will have another exciting option on Tuesdays (see below).
Home Delivery: This is one of our most exciting changes for next year! On Tuesdays, we will be offering home deliveries of shares in both Mount Forest and Guelph. This option is for share members who struggle to get to pickup each week due to work and life scheduling conflicts. Or for those that love the convenience of arriving home to a basket of veggies. The cost for home delivery will be $80 for Guelph ($4/week) and $40 for Mount Forest ($2/week). No need to be home when it is delivered! Share members will leave a cooler in a designated location (front porch, back patio, etc.) and I will arrive and fill it with your veggies. And if someone forgets to leave the cooler out, the veggies will be left in a bag in the designated location. While best suited for those living in houses, we can chat with those who think their apartment building or place of work would be a feasible drop-off. If you can convince your neighbours or co-workers to give us a try, even better! We endeavour to offer the same choices in veggies for those choosing home delivery. We have to work out the logistics but home delivery members will be able to specify which choice item they prefer and let me know if they want to trade-in any one item. Most likely this will be done online each week in a 'members-only' section of our website.
Vacation Weeks: We are making two important changes to vacation weeks. Now, share members can use two vacation weeks per season! And, you can choose when you receive the double share owing from your vacation weeks (it no longer needs to be on the week immediately after your vacation week). One week's notice must be given for both the vacation weeks and the double shares.
Credit Cards and PayPal Accepted: Share members will be able to purchase their shares and other add-ons online using all major credit cards or PayPal. And even better, we will accept credit card payments at pickup for items like honey and chicken! There is no added cost to share members and we will continue to accept cheques, cash, and e-transfers for those that prefer.
Text Message Service: As an free option for share members, you can register with our text message service. This service will send a reminder text 1 hour prior to pickup or at the beginning of the day for home delivery so that shares are not forgotten! We will also send the occasional reminder text of important dates (early bird cut off and special events, for example). Multiple family members can sign up to receive the reminder texts, if desired.
More Eggs: We know our eggs are popular! To help fill demand, we will be doing two things for the 2017 season. We plan to increase the number of egg layers on our farm and we are considering partnering with our neighbour, who also raises pastured egg layers. We would provide our neighbour with the same organic feed we use with our chickens to ensure consistent quality and flavour. Same price, same great taste!
New is shares this week are winter radishes. Like their name suggests, winter radishes are types of radishes that are grown in the cool weather of fall and store well into the winter. We grow two varieties: Watermelon Radish and Daikon Radish.
Watermelon radish are golf-ball sized radishes with a greenish white rind and a bright pink interior. When sliced, they look like mini watermelon slices. I love adding these in salads for a beautiful pop of colour. Fresh, rustic bread smeared with butter and layered with thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkle of salt is a delicious treat!
Daikon radishes are long, slender white radishes commonly used in kim chi or other fermented vegetable dishes. We also like them grated or sliced into salads or marinated in soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and brown rice vinegar.
Like spring radishes, winter radishes have a spicy bite although I find them mellower.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! This blog post will arrive a little late in your inbox because we were having a lovely time celebrating and eating delicious food with both of our families!
This weekend also brought our first two frosts. And they were heavy ones! For perspective, we generally expect our first frost in mid-September. The frost killed all the heat loving plants in our caterpillar tunnels and outside. So the basil, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and chard are all finished for the season. We will enjoy the last of some of these in our shares this week. And if we're lucky, we may see some tomatoes in the trade-in bin next week. The volume of tomatoes this week is also down to where we started the season. But can you believe that we have had tomatoes for 8+ weeks?! This is something to celebrate :)
We will be spending this week packing up landscape fabric and prepping our garlic beds. Then, the garlic will be planted next week. With farming, we are always thinking weeks, months, and years ahead as we complete each task.
Carrots are one of our 'backbone' vegetables in the CSA shares. They grow well in our soils, can be harvested through many seasons, and most everyone loves them! This year, our carrots got off to a slow start with the dry weather but they are now looking beautiful and tasting sweet and delicious. Although we include many weeks of carrots I rarely include carrot recipes here because I think most share members have no problem coming up with ideas for using the carrots. But I thought I'd include some today! Carrots are in the same family of vegetables as dill, parsley, celery, and even Queen Anne's Lace. While we all think of the quintessential carrot as being a vibrant orange, the first carrots were purple and light yellow. It wasn't until the 17th century that orange carrots become more common. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A as well as calcium and potassium.
Honey Glazed Carrots with Fresh Mint
1 pound carrots, sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp honey
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 - 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Combine carrots, butter, honey, and 1/2 cup water in large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer abd cook until carrots are tender and most of the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 10 - 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the mint, toss, and serve. Taken from From Asparagus to Zucchini by Fairshare CSA Coalition.
Curried Carrot Dip
1 pound carrots, cut into chunks
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Boil the carrots for 7 - 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and let cool slightly.
Place sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor and process into crumbs. Add all remaining ingredients, including carrots, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavours blend. Taken from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.
The weather has officially announced that it is fall with wind, rain, and cooler temperatures! We still haven't received our first frost (the average first frost here is September 17) so we continue to enjoy some of the warmer season crops until this happens. But cooler temperatures actually help some of our late season crops. Vegetables like brussel sprouts, kale, some cabbage, and rhutabaga actually improve in flavour with a frost.
It's hard to believe that we only have 5 weeks, including this week, until our 2016 season is over! We are in the thick of planning for 2017 and have a few exciting additions and changes to share with you. I'm going to save the details for a later post but I will hint that these changes might involve a home delivery option, and more share customization options, and more eggs, and more payment options!
With only one month left with Thomas' help, we are trying to knock off all the winter prep tasks as well as some last minute building projects. We need to redo the insulation on our walk-in cooler, build new wash tables, pack up all the drip tape, row cover, and landscape fabric in the fields, and possibly build more tables for the greenhouse. And October is also garlic planting month so we will be busy prepping the beds and getting the garlic in the ground before the weather turns too cold. We will be nearly doubling our garlic crop for 2017 as this is a crop we hope to grow not only for our share members but also for bulk sale at garlic festivals and local stores.
This week you are receiving a pie pumpkin in your shares. Pumpkins are in the same family as winter squash and can be prepared in very similar ways. While not quite as sweet as squash, they still lend themselves to both sweet and savory dishes. For those that love pumpkin pie you are all set! For those that would rather not bake a pie, the next best thing is pumpkin soup! Here is one of my favourite pumpkin soup recipes:
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
(this makes a very large batch but can be easily cut in half or more)
2 -3 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 - 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4 - 5 large carrots, chopped
4 - 5 stalks celery, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
10 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
8 cups pie pumpkin puree
2 - 3 cups white beans
2 - 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
3 - 4 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1/2 - 1 tsp ground black pepper
Heat an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the oil, then add onion; saute for about 5 minutes. Then add ginger, carrots, celery and apples; saute for 5 - 10 minutes more. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, covered.
Puree soup in batches or with an immersion blender. Garnish each bowl with a swirl of coconut milk or cilantro, if desired.
Taken from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre