The first week of our 2016 CSA season is here! This marks our fourth season growing vegetables for our share members and we are especially appreciative of the many share members who have been supporting us since the very beginning. We would also like to welcome many new share members to our farm community. We look forward to meeting each one of you at our first drop-off. Each CSA drop-off is more than just a quick trip to grab some groceries. Watching share member families grow, exchanging news, and passing on favourite recipes are all part of the experience!
After an unusually mild winter with little snow, spring progressed slowly around our farm. But now we are seeing many warm days and the fields are full of vegetables that are growing quickly. Our garlic is just starting to grow scapes (the curly flower stalk) and we should have some ready for the first share. The turnips, radishes, lettuce, and green onions are also looking great. The peas have just started flowering so we can expect some delicious, sweet snap peas in about 2 weeks time. This year, we started our cucumbers and summer squash from transplants rather than seeds and are hoping this means earlier crops of these summer favourites. So far, we haven't had any major losses or pest problems but our first beds of carrots and beets became infested with Canada Thistle. We salvaged one bed and decided to start over with a new planting rather than spend days (and days and days) weeding thistle that requires full body armour to remove.
Our beehives had a spectacular winter and have been strong and active all spring. In fact, some hives are already heavy with honey and we have captured at least 3 swarms from our hives. A hive swarms when there are too many bees and not enough space. We started the spring with 20 hives and aim to have 40 - 50 active hives by fall. Later in the season I intend to write a blog post all about bees and their fascinating behaviours. Stay tuned!
This year I have been assisted in the field by our intern, Thomas. As always, the help of our interns is invaluable and allows us to do what we do. You will have the opportunity to meet him at some of our pickups and he will be contributing to this blog later in the season. For now, here's a picture of Thomas planting winter squash...
Now, on to the nitty gritty of the first share pickup. We have three share pickups this year:
Tuesdays 4 - 6pm, Priory Park Baptist Church, 8 Torch Lane, Guelph
Wednesdays 4 - 6:30pm, St James Anglican Church, 86 Glasgow St. N., Guelph
Thursdays 6 - 7pm, in front of Lawn Bowling Centre, King St., Mount Forest
At all three pickups, share members must bring their own bags, boxes, or other vegetable carrying device :). At the two Guelph locations, produce will be displayed "farmer's market style", with signage indicating quantity to take. In some cases, share members will have to weigh certain items (for example, 100g of spinach). We provide digital scales and are always happy to help share members learn the ropes. At the Mount Forest location, shares will be pre-packed but need to be transferred to each share member's own bags or boxes.
New this year (at the Guelph locations), we will have a separate table with additional items for purchase. These items may include eggs, additional produce, frozen chicken and duck, beeswax candles, products from other farms, and, when the time is right, honey. These items will be available to both share members and the general public. For our Mount Forest members, please email me to pre-order any of these items and I will bring them with your shares. To start the season, we will have LOTS of eggs, frozen chicken (whole and pieced), extra produce, candles. Eggs are $6/dozen and chicken is $5/lb. All our chickens are fed 100% organic feed and given access to pasture.
Here are a few tips and guidelines for making your 2016 share season enjoyable:
This week, you will be receiving spring turnips as part of your share. We have two varieties of turnips: Hakurei Turnips and Hinona Kabu Turnips. The Hakurei turnips are white, round and mildly sweet and crisp. The Hinona Kabu turnips are elongated with purple tops and a spicy bite. Both are delicious raw or lightly braised. A little cooking goes a long way with turnips. And these are definitely not the turnips to boil! Turnip roots are high in Vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. And the turnip greens are the most nutritious green you can eat! For optimum freshness, store the greens separately from the roots.
Try these delicious recipes using turnips (and other spring vegetables):
Braised Spring Vegetables
Braised Chicken Legs with Turnips and Radishes
Roasted Hakurei Turnips with Israeli Couscous Salad