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
Happy Thanksgiving to all our share members! I hope you have had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend enjoying good food and great company. We had a nice day on Sunday to celebrate with Lorraine's family in Goderich. It was such a beautiful day that we spent some time walking and playing at the beach! And today (Monday as I write this), the four of us are having a special family Thanksgiving dinner together. It's particularly wonderful when nearly everything on the table was grown or raised on our farm!
Sometimes farming can feel like a thank-less job. Dealing with the vagaries of nature and the long hours can be difficult at times. But I am incredibly thankful to have found market farming as a way of life and an occupation. Despite the challenges, there is much for which to be thankful. Here are the things that make me thankful to be a farmer:
1. The daily connection with nature and the ability to be outside on a regular basis.
2. The ability to produce much of my family's food and to live as self-sufficiently as possible.
3. The opportunities self-employment provides: my life and my schedule feels within my control.
4. The constant learning and personal growth that accompanies the task of farming.
5. The meaningfulness of providing food for those in our community.
6. The opportunity to meet and connect with our share members and customers.
7. The working towards a common goal with my family.
The political climate, social well-being, and the environmental changes can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. But when I grow food in an organic manner to sell to my local community, I feel as if I can make a difference in the world. And each of you that chooses to support farms like ours are also making a difference in the world. Thank-you for your support!
We will be enjoying Spaghetti Squash in the shares again this week. As mentioned before, spaghetti squash are one of the first squash we eat because they don't require curing time to taste great. The simplest way to prepare a spaghetti squash is to cut it in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds, and roast cut side down on a baking sheet until soft. Then fork out the strands of squash. These can be topped with some pasta sauce or a drizzle of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and some parsley. For more ideas, check out these recipes:
Super Easy Spaghetti Squash Recipes
Our 2017 honey is here! I will be bringing freshly bottled honey in both 500g ($8) and 1kg ($15) jars to the CSA pickup. We also offer honey in 5kg tubs ($60) for those who use plenty of honey. I will only bring the 5kg tubs if you have pre-ordered with me. We have enjoying the fresh honey regularly this week and it is delicious, as always!
On the egg front I wanted to let you know that I will no longer be bringing eggs to the CSA pickups. Our egg production has dropped off to the point that it doesn't make sense. I know there will be some disappointed share members but I encourage you to check out other local farms in the area that are raising pastured eggs!
More and more vegetables have been moved from the fields and we are starting to think about removing all the row covers, landscape fabric, and other supplies from the field. And in not much longer we will be planting our 2018 garlic! I wanted to make a few updates about some crops here:
Onions: As per usual, our onion harvest has been plentiful. To reduce the number of veggies share members have to weigh at each pickup I have decided to make onions a 'free choice' item. This simply means that you can take as little or as much as you can use in a given week. I will monitor how many are taken each week and if we need to return to a prescribed amount, we will. Until then, enjoy!
Potatoes: I have put a little sign up for those that pickup their shares but those that get home delivery will not have heard this info yet. Our yellow potatoes have small amounts of greening on them due to growing so big that they pushed themselves out of the soil. Simply trim off the green spots and use as normal - they are too lovely otherwise to simply compost! I have increased the quantity of potatoes everyone is getting to compensate for this trimming.
Winter Squash: This year we have grown 5 different varieties of squash and to learn more about the different varieties you can read my blog post from last year that profiles each type. We start by giving out Spaghetti and Acorn Squash because these squash taste great straight from the field. The other varieties of squash improve in flavour after curing for a few weeks in the greenhouse. Once this curing is done we will include all varieties as options.
Acorn squash will be the squash everyone is receiving this week in the share. The simplest way to prepare an acorn squash is to slice in half, scoop out the seeds, rub with oil or butter, and roast, cut side down, for 30 - 40 minutes at 400 degrees. I like to make dressing of coconut oil, maple syrup, 1 clove minced garlic, cinnamon, and sea salt to drizzle over the squash when served. For other ways to prepare an acorn squash, check out the recipes below:
Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Mushrooms and Rice
Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash