The growing season is here and we are almost ready for the start of the CSA shares! This spring has been cool and very wet, which has delayed a few things but overall we are on schedule to start the shares on the week of June 10th. We may be a short a larger vegetable or two on the first week, but the quick growing greens like spinach, arugula, and pea shoots will be beautiful!
Share members should have received an email with all the details within the last day or two. If not, please contact me directly so we can ensure you receive all the necessary information. Or, select the appropriate link below to view your welcome letter.
Guelph Thursday Pickup Welcome Letter
Mount Forest Tuesday Delivery Welcome Letter
Guelph Thursday Workplace Delivery Welcome Letter
I am excited for the start of another great season and look forward to seeing familiar and new faces on the first week. Stay tuned for the weekly CSA blog posts that will be released each Monday or Tuesday full of details on share contents, farm updates, and recipes!
This is our seventh season farming and I almost can't believe it!
The greenhouse is bursting with lush, green transplants and I am anxious to get them into the ground. But for now, I have to wait patiently for the fields to dry. We have received significant amounts of rain in the last 2 weeks which can halt progress in early spring. Nevertheless, this is typical for late April and early May so I have been keeping busy hauling wheelbarrow loads of compost to the fields, seeding in the greenhouse, finishing all those last minute administrative tasks, and stocking our freezer with quick meals so that when the weather improves I can focus all my energy on planting.
I am aiming for the CSA deliveries to start the week of June 10th. This is earlier than previous years but hopefully allows us more time to enjoy early crops like spinach and peas! Now we just need the weather to get in line... Share members can expect a welcome email from me by the end of May with all the season's details and the confirmed start date.
One important change I am making this season is that our CSA pickups will now be free from single-use plastic. This means that I will not be providing any plastic bags for members. As always, I encourage members to bring whatever bags or vessels they wish to pack their shares. I am sure there will be some kinks to work out but as more communities move towards eliminating single-use plastic waste, I think it is fitting that organic farms lead the way. Stay tuned to future posts for more information on how I am attempting to eliminate excess waste on our farm.
Here's hoping for some sunshine and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for regular field updates!
It's always a little bit wild to realize that although it looks like a blizzard outside, we are nearly ready to start our first seeds inside! We have had a quiet winter season so far and are now gearing up for the promise of spring. We have a pig, Ginger, who should be farrowing any day now and a greenhouse that will be fired up in about 2 weeks. The seeds have all arrived, the planting maps are done, and I am in the midst of ordering all the other needed supplies such as compost.
Starting transplants in the greenhouse is my favourite way to start the spring and I am excited to be offering flower, herb, and vegetable transplants for sale this year! These transplants will be available through pre-order only (orders due March 16th). All of our transplants are grown from certified organic seed and potting soil. Unlike the transplants found in many big-box garden centres, we offer heirloom varieties suited to our growing conditions. They will lovingly tended, watered, and free from any insecticide treatments. Our flower varieties focus on pollinator friendly plants and our herbs and vegetables are varieties well suited to home gardens.
If you would be interested in placing an order for your home garden, please complete the Transplant Order Form and email to email@example.com or call 519.265.3335. For full descriptions of the available transplants, please read Transplant Descriptions. Pricing details are included in the Transplant Description file.
All plants will be available for pickup on the farm the weeks of May 13th and 20th. I will also be doing a delivery of plants to Guelph on Thursday, May 16th from 4:30 - 5:30pm in the parking lot of St James Anglican Church.
Stay tuned to this blog and our social media channels for spring updates from the farm. All share members can expect a welcome email in mid May with all the season's details!
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