Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring farm update!

It would be easy for me to whine about the hard winter, cold spring, all our various hardships - but I'm not going to do that. Ben and I decided that we would kick ass the best we could paying off the mortgage and deal with all that farming brings so that when we are 60 years old we can inspire young farmers and show them how to get through the rough patches.  We are going forward with optimism about the rest of this growing year :) Just check out the plants! Whooo!! 
These giants are the heirloom tomatoes that will be planted once again in our covered fields (this time two greenhouses full!) Seeded in between the tomatoes are beets for extra early bunches. Usually these toms would be in the ground by now but it's just too cold. It was below 6 last night and the water pipes were frozen so I had to wait until mid morn to water. Ben had to drain the big water tank and the pump to ensure they didn't freeze last night. Warmer temps from now on I hope!  We've created the plastic barrier to maintain heat in half the middle house. The other side is for onions, lettuce, kale etc - the cool loving crops.
Kale, Kale and more Kale! We have transplanted an early planting to have larger plants to put out in the field if we can't get out to plant early. There was a Kale seed shortage this year of everyone's favourite green curly but not to worry - we secured a hefty amount and will have plenty to go around! We have redbor curly, Dino and the Russians again this year. Even a bit of White Russian Kale too ;)
Lettuces are growing nicely. The leaf lettuces, butterheads and romaines will be in abundance... Below are yet more kale and those oak stained butters and other lovelies. Ok, I'm hungry for a big salad now!
Our onions are doing well. Though we will not be planting them as early this year, we seeded them a bit later so their growth is not out of control. They'll probably be moved to the wagons soon in anticipation for planting. We'll have those big sweets and lots of cooking onions this year.
Beautiful Swiss chard :) We're growing lots of early chard and a bunch of transplants for other farmers too.
I can tell you that we've got a lot on the go out there in the greenhouses. We've also been scrubbing, cleaning and fixing the ol' bunkhouse as our first two Men arrive in a few weeks so we need to get the inspection completed. The pipes burst in that old house, the roof leaked to the point where we had to replace a lot of dry wall upstairs and redo the kitchen ceiling! It's once again ready to be inhabited. What a beating that old place has taken! AND our little ONE year old daughter is all over the place!! So miss Sadie is very accustom to hanging out in both the bunkhouse and greenhouses so far this spring!
Marigolds waiting patiently to be transplanted! Ever wondered all that we grow out in those greenhouse? I surprised myself when I started looking around. No wonder going 7 days a week is mandatory!!  We're growing: 
kale, lettuce, onions, broc, cauli, chards, celeriac, celery, leeks, basils, thyme, marjoram, savory, oregano, borage, dill, chamomile, mint, chives, amaranth, stevia, cilantro, sage, parsley, okra, collards, peppers, eggplants, tons of tomatoes in so many different stages, zucs, cucs, melons, squash and sunflowers. I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch of crops :p.   Our plants are sold at Evergreen Garden market available Victoria Day weekend in all their glory! With an emphasis on 70 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We won't be attending market until the end of May/ into June and due to major start up costs on farm we needed a good venue to moving volume for seedlings. That is why you won't see us with the plants ourselves. We are just behind the scenes doing all the work! So head to Evergreen if you want some choice certified organic veg and herb seedlings this season!
We are happily growing for other producers as well this year. Currently we have 5 other farmers that count on us for their field crop seedlings. We are able to max out the old glass beast to the brim with plants!! 
Stay tuned... The weather is changing and I'll be wanting to blog and share :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Day on the farm!

While Sadie naps the paperwork continues and I finalize seedling orders and order more seeds. Did I ever mention how I lothe being attached to a desk? It is my least favourite job ev-er.  And though I never let cabin fever set in around here, I can't take Sadie out on these very cold days. Today was an exception for a quick outing, however! And we had fun! 
The year is exceptionally cold and snowy. Usually by this time of year we are ready to almost fire the middle greenhouse. Not this year. It would cost a fortune to heat the old glass cold frames in these frigid temperatures. So we wait. And trim cabbage. And grade potatoes and onions. And more cabbage. I am not good at waiting and to me a successful season begins with robust, healthy large plants. I have this internal spring clock that is urging me to get ready to seed! If we have to postpone early seeding - then look out! Come March I will be a seeding demon out there! Lololol And that my friends is no lie. I will be in high gear!
Above: The chilly oil tank waiting to be filled :(  It's way to cold to do repairs like glass fixing, wall patches. I walked through the houses yesterday on my way to the barn and it's dark inside with snow covering the glass roof. Time to head for the barn, sit by the wood stove, have a tea and trim more cabbage! We also have garlic and celeriac as well as an abundance of potatoes yet. So storage crop work is never done. What makes me feel spring-like are the tomatoes growing in the warm room under grow lights. I like to go and brush them and smell tomatoes!
Above: Lady Bug and Sadie interacting. They are becoming really great friends. She's our resident wooly mammoth! We bring her carrots and apples from storage (that unfortunately we are not selling, just harbouring for the family).  On a carrot note, today I juiced carrots with lemon straight up. It was SO refreshing!  First time adding lemon and it will become a mainstay in my juices now! So stay warm everyone and as soon as we get growing I'll post and share :)) Oh, February is heart month, so here's a link I'd like to share: Cholesterol - a Nutrient!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Forget the snow, spring IS coming!

I always get excited this time of year, as it's planning time! The time when you start fresh, make changes according to how last year went and how you predict this year will go.  To start the year of right, we are one of the proud recipients of The Big Carrots 'Nature's Finest Fund' ! This grant money will help with the purchase of a new seeder we need for the direct seeded crops so we can afford to grow more wholesale for The Big Carrot and other specialty retailers.  So if you live in the west end and shop at the Carrot, you'll be sure to see more of our homegrown veg in store! We've never received a grant before, so the whole concept is wild, but I can tell you that we are happy, humble, grateful and will no doubt work harder for The Big Carrot because of it.  We would encourage new, small organic farmers to seek information regarding these incentives. We should have been doing this for a decade now! Start by having a chat with Dave Cohlmeyer

 In other news, the heirloom tomatoes are up! We will not be firing the greenhouses for a few weeks yet, but this pic will make you feel spring in your soul!
So once again we'll have our tomato jungle greenhouses plus field planting of various types of heirlooms. Around the hundred variety mark perhaps? We shall see :)  If you are a small grower and need organic seedlings, now is the time to email me about custom growing your plants for you. We don't have a ton of space left but will accommodate as many as we can. Let us know: 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A year in review and a look ahead :)

(Big Panzer, Ben & Sadie January 1st, 2014)
Well, we certainly won't forget 2013. A year full of the most amazing happy moments with the birth of our awesome Sadie Bug, to moments of sheer sadness with the death of Ben's mom Sophie. The farm is definitely not the same anymore. Sophie is gone so that extra pair of strong hands to seed and greenhouse grow, hoeing, grading, smiling, laughing, complaining....has gone silent. Her minivan no longer creeps about the farm to see what she can help out with next. The Mexican guys lost their ride to town. The one thing we didn't lose were her recipes and her advice. I made a lot of her food for Christmas and while Ben ate, he smiled. And we'll never forget her smiles and her points of view. We've got the time invested and all those awesome memories. And Sadie is the newest rockin' soul around here. Now crawling everywhere and pulling herself to a stand, any day now she'll be walking! It all happened so fast! She's my big baby girl now with the sweetest smile and most infectious laugh. Her twitter handle is #MarketBaby and from time to time she'll be featured on our Instagram! And you are always sure to meet her at market! 

2013 was not a spectacular growing season. The cold summer that freakishly stopped the tomatoes from ripening and wreaked havoc on other growing crops (I blame this cold snap in summer to our failed Brussel sprout crop) to basically make me shrug and say it was a 'meh' year. Yet, we always seem to have gorgeous tables of produce! No one sees the failed crops at home thou and I'm a proud farmer and dislike talking failure. I will be more realistic this season with a bit more negative so there is more understanding.  A few pictures of awesome produce doesn't show the whole farm story :) I just like to stick to the positive people!!

Looking ahead I am optimistic and excited about 2014. As we run around chasing a little girl and working the heck out of those greenhouses and field crops, Ben and I'll be planting yet more strawberry plants, different fingerling potatoes, keep trying with a cauliflower crop, a possible connection with the amazing folks at Chocosol (stay tuned!), dare I say it: less markets and more stores,... dreams of early this and late that....well, it all truly depends on the weather now doesn't it?!  And 2014 marks our 10 year anniversary of being certified organic. Truly proud!  A lot of you market folk have told me to 'blog more' and 'share those farm stories' so I shall! Onward to a killer 2014!!! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Buying organic and local is far from over!

We've got a decent amount of storage crops this year to keep us pretty busy. Please don't forget about visiting the markets this winter! We need your support! Our farm will be at Dufferin Grove Thursdays and Evergreen's Brickworks on Saturday mornings.
We grew our sweet carrots again this fall and have enough stored for Christmas sales. Same with Beets. 
Celeriac (root celery) is also in abundance! Stored with roots and field soil, it takes a bit to clean these guys. Eat mashed, roasted, in a slaw or a creamy soup :)
Bins and bins of cabbages! Our own winter staple should be available at markets until April 2014. 
Also available are Potatoes, Onions (sweets, reds & cooking), Garlic AND we'll be field harvesting infamous KALE for as long as we can! Will be picking it out of the snow!! Bundle up and come enjoy real food!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time to Order Organic Roma Sauce Tomatoes!

Without further ado, you can now email me your orders for our bulk Roma's! They have been super, super slow this year...cold nights, cool days have stopped the ripening process in it's tracks.  Now they seem to be perking up again. They're are lots of beautiful tomatoes out there and I have a feeling when they are ready - they'll be ready. So for ours there will be a short window off time for the bulk. Probably two-three weeks at the most. We have a late patch but you never know what weather may bring in the form of blight..

We sell 1/2 bushel cases (25lbs each) for $30. Email me your name, phone number, how many cases you need, and the market you wish to pick up at, and the date you would like them to: (Dufferin on Thursday; Junction-Wychwood-Brickworks on Saturday mornings). 

We won't be shipping much bulk for this weekend, but get your orders in for the following week: Aug 29 and 31st and into September. First come, first served. 

There are certified organic Roma paste sauce type tomatoes we've grown for years now. Very high quality, meaty and wonderful flavour. Picked vine ripe typically the day before we bring them to market. So far the patch shows little to no disease (blight), so they are perfect for sauce this year. Please keep your emails brief, as I usually get bombarded and may not be able to answer everyone back. That's why I create the blog :)

I don't know how long into September the crop will last so plan to do your sauce sooner than later if you wish to use our tomatoes. Maybe we'll get lucky and we'll be able to offer until October. Who knows. But I know some avid sauce makers have been waiting :) Email away to get onto Jessie's 'master tomato list'!!