We have made it to the last week of the season! Having 2 weeks off during the summer has made this season go quickly for me. The end of each season is always bittersweet as I miss the regular interaction with share members and the fresh vegetables but I look forward to focusing my time on our kids, the neglected house tasks, and other personal interests.
For those that like to reserve their 2019 vegetable shares now while it is fresh in your mind, please complete this form. I sent an email to all share members a few days ago outlining all the options for next season. For those that didn't see the email, you can view it here. Similar to last year we are going to take some weeks off over the course of the season. We will also be starting the season a little earlier and doing a bi-weekly delivery during the fall season.
Thank-you to everyone that completed the share member survey. I am grateful to receive such positive comments - appreciation always makes the job more fun! The two consistent pieces of feedback we received was that members would love to start the season a little earlier and receive more spinach. Luckily, those two requests go hand-in-hand so we are going to start a week earlier to allow for more weeks of spinach. I also enjoy reading everyone's favourite and least favourite vegetables. Comically, the lists tend to be pretty similar as one person's favourite vegetable is another's least favourite. There are a few that stand out, though. Spinach, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes make in on the favourite list but never on the least favourite. And kohlrabi, eggplant, and celery often make it on the least favourite list. Vegetables like arugula, spaghetti squash, and kale are pretty evenly distributed between people loving or hating them.
These differences in preferences are the primary reasons I have both a trade-in bin and choice items. It would be impossible to create a share that meets everyone's preferences perfectly so these options allow for some customization. Based on people's responses there are a few changes I intend to make:
- ground cherries, fennel, and celery as trade-in items only
- offer a choice between collards, kale, and chard most weeks so that everyone's greens preferences can be met
- reduce frequency of eggplant (but still offer regularly in trade-in bin for those that love it)
- offer spaghetti squash as a choice between other squash or vegetables but not on it's own
Of course, what is offered is also based on the vagaries of nature, my skills (or lack thereof), and other such variables.
You will be receiving more kale again this week as I strip the remaining leaves off the plants. Kale is a staple in our house as I throw it in just about all soups, stews, and smoothies. We also love kale lightly sauteed with some onions, garlic, soy sauce, and maybe a dash of honey. This makes a nice green side dish when it feels too cold for salad. Kale can also make a nice salad as long as you chop it finely and massage thoroughly with your hands. This helps to break down the cell walls and make it less tough. For those that don't love the texture of kale, you can also blend it into spaghetti squash or broccoli soup and you will hardly know it's there. Here are some other ways to use kale:
Creamy Potato Kale Soup
Kale Caesar Salad
30 Best Ways to Cook Kale
Thank you to everyone who completed the Share Member survey! For those that would still like to respond, you can access the short survey here. We use the information gathered when planning for future seasons and the responses influence everything from crop selection to pickup location to season timing.
The main tasks on my to-do list this week are to harvest the remaining potatoes and plant the garlic for 2019. Ideally, I like to plant the garlic in mid-October so that it has time to establish a root system. We're a bit past the middle of October but not as late as one year where I was finishing the planting on Remembrance Day. That was a little late (and cold)! This year, in addition to growing potatoes for our share members, I also planted enough to save as seed potatoes. In previous years, we have purchased certified organic, certified seed potatoes. The cost of the seed potatoes alone is often 25% of our total seed budget, which is pretty significant. I don't begrudge the cost of the seed potatoes: organic seed potatoes can be a tricky, labour intensive crop for the farmer. However, I decided I wanted to try saving my own seed potatoes. Fingers crossed they store properly for us! If not, we will be buying some last minute seed potatoes in the spring so that we can still have a potato crop.
It is the season of soups and stews so I thought I would share some recipes that use many of the ingredients we have to work with at this time of year. I love the simplicity, nutrient density, and comfort these one pot meals provide. We eat at least 2 or 3 different soups or stews over the course of a week and I have entire recipes books dedicated to soup making. I also love that soups freeze and reheat so well: make a double batch and save some for a night when no one wants to cook!
French Onion Soup
Hearty Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup
Beef Stew with Root Vegetables
We are nearing the end of the CSA season (the week of October 29 is the last delivery) and I thought it was time to do a share member survey. It has been a few years since I have sent one and I look forward to reading your responses and thoughts! The survey can be found here. This is an opportunity for you to tell me exactly which vegetables you love and which you hate!
I am busy making plans for the 2019 season and will be emailing the full details to share members in two weeks or so. I am planning to reduce the length of the season to accommodate other areas of our life but otherwise there will be many similar features. Stay tuned!
Fall has come in with a bang the last few days and it has been cold, rainy, and windy. Pretty typical fall, I guess! In addition to the garlic your will receive in your shares for the next three weeks, we also have some surplus for sale. Bulbs are $2 each or $25 for 1kg. 1kg of garlic is approximately 16 - 18 bulbs. If you are interested, please email me or speak to me at the pickup. Our garlic, if stored in a cool (15 - 18 degree), dry location should last until spring. Warmer and humid locations will sprout sooner but still store for 2 - 3 months.
We are firmly entrenched in the root vegetable season so I thought I would include a variety of recipes that use root vegetables in creative ways. Be sure to think outside the box when it comes to these vegetables! We enjoy thinly sliced and roasted potatoes and squash on sandwiches or wraps. Or as a warming topping for a salad. I also regularly grate whatever starchy vegetables are kicking around, mix with an egg and some chickpea flour, toss in some fresh or dried herbs and garlic and shape into patties. These can be baked or fried and eaten for any meal. I love vegetable pancakes for breakfast alongside some applesauce, avocado, or plain yogurt.
Maple Roasted Root Vegetables
Root Vegetable Stew with Tomatoes and Kale
Fall Vegetables and Herb Galette
Bacon, Gruyere, and Butternut Squash Fritatta
Crispy Potato Cakes
I hope our share members had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. We spent a day in Goderich enjoying the harvest with my family and then again here at home. It's lots of fun to eat a special meal of food raised almost entirely here on the farm! I am thankful for the privilege to grow and share food that nourishes all of us.
These next couple weeks on the farm I will be tackling the typical end-of-season tasks: storage root vegetable harvest, garlic planting for 2019, and field cleanup. As energy flags it is easy to put off some tasks until the spring. But inevitably, I kick myself when I leave things undone at the end of the season. So my goal this season is to leave things as 'done' as they ever get on an active farm. This brief spell of warm weather will help me to accomplish these tasks!
You will notice a brief return of cherry tomatoes (as a choice item) in your shares this week. The tomatoes don't want to give up so we might as well make use of them! Very shortly I will need to pull all the tomato plants out to prepare the tunnels for the winter.
We have the first taste of parsnips in the shares this week. Our parsnips last year were a bust so I am happy to have many to enjoy this season! Some of our favourite ways to eat parsnips are in soup, as fries, or mixed with mashed potatoes. For more parsnip inspiration, check out these recipes:
Parsnip Soup with Miso
Baked Parsnip Fries with Rosemary
Parsnip Pancakes with Honey Mustard Dressing
Parsnip Mash with Lemon & Herbs
We are back from our holiday on Prince Edward Island and it is decidedly fall! The trip was lovely and we had a great time exploring the eastern portion of the island. We walked many beaches, ate lots of local seafood, hiked, went apple picking, and visited several on-farm businesses. Now back to the CSA for 5 more weeks!
There are many parts of fall that I love, but cold, rainy harvest days are not one of them. Rainy harvest days in the summer are not ideal but are manageable. Rain on a cold fall day though makes harvesting tough. The biggest challenge is keeping my hands warm. Many harvesting tasks can't be done with gloves and it doesn't take long before cold, wet hands become completely immobile. While I was harvesting for our Mount Forest members today (Monday), I had to make several trips inside to run my hands under hot water so that they would work again! Some years I have gorgeous, relatively warm weather right until the last harvest and other years I'm harvesting in wet snow.
You will see some big, beautiful winter kohlrabi in your shares this week. Unlike spring kohlrabi, you will want to peel winter kohlrabi as the skin is thicker and tougher. Under the tough skin is a juicy, crisp treat. I really like kohlrabi at this time of year as it is a great foil to the heavier, starchy vegetables that dominate. When we are having a fairly starchy supper, I often make a raw kohlrabi and apple slaw to accompany it. If raw kohlrabi isn't your thing, it also roasts up nicely and is great combined with other root vegetables.
I know many people will be excited to see arugula and spinach making a fall come-back. They are personal favourites of mine and we will see more of them before the season ends. We also have some head lettuce that is sizing up nicely as well as some salad mix, baby kale, and mustard greens. So each of the following weeks will have a nice variety of leafy greens.
Our winter squash harvest has been great this year and we will have lots of variety to choose from over the next few weeks. If you find that you don't eat all your squash each week, don't worry: they are cured for storage and will store well into the new year. Never put squash in the fridge or any other cold and/or humid location. Squash store best at slightly cool room temperature. A kitchen cabinet, closet, pantry, or other similar location will be just fine. To remind yourself of the squash varieties we grow, you can read this previous blog post. For squash recipe ideas, visit these sites:
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Top 20 Winter Squash Recipes
Roasted Black Futsu Squash with Hazelnut Sage Pesto
Soft Pumpkin Cookies