Friday, September 14, 2018

Conventional Manure on our Organic Farm.



With the addition of conventional manure on our land growing our upcoming fall veggies, we felt we needed to address it straight on, rip open that can of worms.  We’ve been so fortunate for being able to use certified organic manure for over 14 years on our land since going organic!  Our organic dairy neighbor simply needs his manure for his own land.  We will always continue to provide utmost transparency with regards to all inputs used on our land and in your food.  We know our customers, and we know that being honest is vital to our relationships with everyone whom chooses to buy and consume the veggies we produce.  We will always update our website including every single input we use on our farm.  We continue to be certified organic by Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd.  We continue to use 0 herbicides on our land, 0 fungicides, 0 synthetic fertilizers on our land and only 2 approved pesicides ‘Entrust’ and ‘Bioprotec’ on select crops when needed.

Using conventional manure on organic farms is nothing new and a lot of organic farms operate this way. There simply is a massive lack of organic manure available.  We didn’t decide overnight either and to say it was an easy decision is far from it – we actually let a large part of our farm get very deficient because we were holding back  – this is well over 2.5 years in the making.  We spoke with our certification board Pro Cert Organic Systems, they forwarded us to a soil analyst specializing in organic agriculture whom we hired.  Her recommendation was straight up animal manure to correct our deficiencies after going over our soil tests.  One thing we know well in growing veggies is we must feed the soil.  Since we do not use synthetics, we must find the most natural way to do this and manure fits the bill.  We wrangled with feelings of guilt and a fair bit of sadness to be honest, but a fellow organic farmer took some of the sting away: “...If we are going to grow this organic movement we need to be slightly practical....Don’t feel guilty. If handled well, conventional manure can be of great benefit to your soil structure and overall health of your farm.”  

Going forward my secret hope is that one of my kids may indeed want to get into animal husbandry and we can pasture raise animals here and have access to our own manure and create an awesome symbiotic system such as we once had reaching across the fence to the organic compost! We are also growing less acreage for profit – we’ve decided to skip most grain growing to be combined.  Our rotational land is cover crop, cover crop, cover crop. Put ‘er back.  We are not mass increasing acreage on the veggies and intend to stay small, humble and happy!  So, today’s quote is from Ben.  All you have to do is look in that man in the eye. Ben will never lie to you. “We may not be perfect but will always strive to do the best we can and always be transparent. If you want to know exactly how your food is grown – I will tell you.” ~Ben Sosnicki, 2018.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Time to order Sauce Tomatoes AND bulk SUN SUGAR CHERRY tomatoes!!!

It's officially a tomato year!  Tomato patch of romas, beefsteak and cherry field tomatoes are booming!  Very plentiful.  This will help to make up for the craptastic year we had last year with nothing but blight riddled tomatoes.  So, get your fill!  An exciting addition to the bulk offerings this year *for the first time* is our sun sugar cherry tomatoes!  For $5 we are selling 1.5lbs. So for $20 you can score 6lbs of these gorgeous gems to ROAST and freeze!  (or make sauce!).
**Roma cases $30 for 25lbs.  (this is a half bushel case. A full bushel amount is 50lbs).** 
**Add to that as many 1.5lb clams (pictured here) of the sun sugar cherry tomatoes for $5 each!**

To order:

1. Send me an email to: jb@sosnickiorganics.com.  Let me know how many cases of roma and sun sugar you so desire.  

2. Within that email include the farmer's market you wish to pick up at STARTING NEXT WEEK, AUGUST 22nd. (Wednesday - Waterford Farmers Market 4-7pm, Waterford Ontario; Thursday - Dufferin Grove Market 2:30-7pm, Toronto Ontario; Saturday - Evergreen Brickworks Farmers Market 8am-1pm, Toronto, Ontario.  Easily googled for directions.)

3. Include your full name and phone number in case I need to contact you regarding your order. 

4. PLEASE understand I have 4 small kids so I don't have time to answer questions this year about how many tomatoes will fit your recipes, jars etc.  I promise when they are older and I have more time I will cater more to my awesome customers. 

5. The season looks to be a long, plentiful one going well into september.  I will accept orders as long as the crop looks promising.  First come first serve. STARTING NEXT WEEK. 

THANK YOU and happy saucing! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

TIME TO ORDER OUR ORGANIC PEROGIES & CABBAGE ROLLS!!

Yep, long overdue, but I finally assembled my crew of fine ladies (and Ben!) and we are crafting our organic winter foods again!  These are handmade foods of the finest ingredients.

PEROGIES! CABBAGE ROLLS! 
Four kinds of perogies to choose from including a really, really good vegan one (that is actually cheaper to buy because it has no organic dairy or eggs!) The perogies are huge - twice the size of normal ones!
Cabbage rolls are all vegan, (no meat ones sorry) and loaded with kale, onions, brown rice and garlic smothered in tomato sauce.  They. Are. Awesome. If Ben doesn't miss the beef - you won't either! 

Processing multi-ingredient foods and getting them certified organic has intensified over the years, no doubt to the growing demand of organic foodstuffs.  It makes it a bit hard for someone who is a small-time processor like me, but I feel it to be necessary step.  Ingredient integrity is very important to us. All perogies and the cabbage rolls are CERTIFIED ORGANIC and we are pretty proud about that! Read along as I share the story of how they are made! If you are really anxious, just skip to the bottom of this post for prices and ordering into.  Cheers to good winter eating folks! And order quick - with baby no. 4 due in January the limited quantities I am making will go fast!


This is Anne.  She is 91.  Here she chops sauerkraut in anticipation for perogie filling. When I called her to see if I could take over the hall kitchen again and rent the space to cook again she said: "Good. We all need to work you know!"  I am very, very lucky to have spent over a decade learning the tricks of the trade from Anne who has made sauerkraut, perogies and cabbage rolls for decades.  I am also very lucky she has let me experiment over the years with ingredients.  The ladies didn't know what to think of Kale, but now they have all embraced my 'different, organic ingredients' with gusto!! They all love my organic kale, onion and potato perogie filling!



Here is my little sister Amber and our friend Stella.  They are cooling and squeezing the water from the sauerkraut.  Stella is amazing at 88 and keeps all of us laughing and entertained.  Her and Anne get into some pretty fierce arguments over things such as how white the aprons are, and where things belong in the kitchen.  It just never gets old. 
Prep day is peeling potatoes, rendering down onions in butters and oils. Boiling sauerkraut. Squeezing the water out of the sauerkraut and chopping it finely for filling. Chopping and cooking kale in a huge pot of sweet onions.  Mixing all the fillings and refrigerating them until the next day.

 Ben is our "dough roller".  We bought this nifty dough machine now, so no one has to roll dough by hand anymore.  However, the circles are currently cut by hand.  And that is a job in itself, especially keeping up with all the ladies 'pinching' who are speed demons! lol

My pinchers!  (Plus a couple missing).  Ben's mom passed away in 2013 and her absence is felt big time.  Her Polish friends Wanda and Kristine still come to help and their laughter and jokes warm the space. Anne, Stella and my own grandma Stella are the Ukrainian ladies who each have their own unique style of creating their perogies.

My job is cooking them all. After they are fully boiled we take them to the 'cooling station' where they hit cold water.  We get all the heat out of them and toss them in oil, then refrigerate until same day packing!  


Simply email Jessie at jb@sosnickiorganics.com and include your name, food item(s) and quantity you want, along with a phone number I can call or text.  I will email back a confimation and put you on our list! Pick ups begin first week in December each Saturday at Evergreen Brickworks.  We will also attend a Dufferin Market on a Thursday early December to do a drop - most likely December 7th or 14th - stay tuned!)

PEROGIES:

Vegan: ~ ALL ORGANIC ~ Flour (unbleached white or spelt); Sunflower Oil, Onion, Kale, Potato, Sea Salt. ...........................................................................................................$16/doz

Buttery Onion and Sauerkraut: ~ALL ORGANIC~ Flour, Sunflower Oil, Butter, Eggs, Onion, Sauerkraut (Sosnicki Cabbage, sea salt), Sea Salt...............................................................$20/doz

Traditional Potato and Cheddar: ~ALL ORGANIC~ Flour (unbleached white or spelt), Sunflower Oil, Butter, Eggs, Potato, Old Cheddar, Sea Salt..........................................................$20/doz

Decadent Potato, Cheddar and Buttery Onion: ~ALL ORGANIC~ Flour (unbleached white or spelt), Sunflower Oil, Butter, Eggs, Potato, Old Cheddar, Onion.................................$20/doz

(Feel free to order half dozens too.  Half the price.)

CABBAGE ROLLS:

Vegan: ~ALL ORGANIC~ Cabbage, Onions, Tomatoes, Kale, Garlic, Brown Rice, Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt............................................................................................................................$20/doz

(Feel free to order half dozens too. Half the price.)

Spelt Traditional 









Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sorry folks, No bulk Romas this year!

I hope you've been keeping up with our farm's progress on Instagram, facebook and twitter! I've seriously not kept up with my poor blog. Life is just too busy for everything. I'm getting all the lovely emails about our romas, so unfortunately here's the news:
We won't have our bulk organic romas for sauce this year.
Sorry folks, there is late blight out in the patch and though the romas don't look too bad its too risky to start taking orders and packing boxes.  We know there are a lot of you out there that understand how to cut some rot off your tomatoes and the odd spot but unfortunately there are some really picky folks who need close to perfection and I just can't bother with the complaints.  So, unfortunately there are a few out there that ruin it for the majority.  What we will do is pack into our baskets and sell at market. For those that need sauce you will probably be able to score 5 baskets which is 25lbs, which is half a bushel. Which happens to be a case amount. We know our regulars and folks that have been good to us over the years, esp understanding growing organic tomatoes can be a real challenge, so we will try and do what we can. The roma patch is a great hybrid variety that is holding it's own and the tomatoes so far are pretty nice, but we know it won't last.  We will harvest as many as we can.  We took a few case orders for WestEnd Food Coop that we had planned for months, but that is it.  We have cut off all other orders. (Check out the picture of the field.  The greener tomatoes are the roma, but when it's this bad we know that the first time the guys go through to pick it will spread everywhere.)
It's always a bit depressing to drive around our community and see gorgeous green fields of tomatoes and watch ours die.  BUT we are not spraying fungicides or ripeners, so we simply have to let it go. We are fortunate to have tomatoes last year, year before.  The weather with all the wet conditions this year have a lot to do with local organic crop failures.  We choose not to control everything. We will be lucky to break even on the tomatoes this year, but for us it's not worth profiting off tomatoes that have been stabilized with chemicals of all sorts.  
We have beautiful watermelons and other crops this year! We know we will have successes and failures so that is why we never bank on one crop and grow a diverse lot and hope for the best.  Watermelons and all our cabbages, cauliflower look great! We had a very weak spring, slow summer but we are hoping to bring it on strong for a great fall harvest! I know, I know, our instagram is loaded with gorgeous pictures - but we are proud and I don't like to whine about problems and failures and instead try and concentrate on the positives.  There is a great investment and risk that goes into all we do and there are many days we look around at how others operate/make their living and how much easier it would be. We simply love what we do. With Ben kicking ass in the fields, nose to the ground (why you don't see him at market much) he's able to grow some amazing stuff that has given us our loyal customers over the years. .  
This market picture was taken last week.  I'm proud of this awesome display!  And we will continue to bring on the goods year after year.  Be it tomatoes one year or cabbage the next - we'll always have something good to share! Thanks for understanding!


 

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New Land!

Looking across our field at our neighbours barn peaking through.

 We are pretty stoked for 2017!  We have a new opportunity to transition another 30 acres into organic. And this opportunity is right next door.  The Jopko family has graciously rented us a most unique property comprised of 5 small fields with very good buffer zones. By the summer of 2019 we will be able to pull organic veggies from this newly replenished soil. It takes a total of 36 months after the last application of prohibited substances to have the crops certified organic. The past farmer (whom I will get to fill out a prior land use affidavit with all information including past substance use.) grew conventional cabbage then corn and soybeans for quite a few years, so we have some work to do. During the next few growing seasons we will be cultivating green manures on this land, minimal grain crops that will be sold conventional/transitional, and soil testing will be done. We'll do the best we can to leach the unwanted out and add in the good stuff. Build ‘er back up and put this land into our rotation. The goal will NOT be to max out the land and grow tons more veg. The volume of veggies produced will increase slightly, but our rotation and the health of our own farm land will be improved. We will proudly still be farming just under 100 acres. The vegetable portion of the farm will rise to no more than 25-35 acres per year which is the majority of all our income.  We've been able to pay our mortgage, mass debt down and remain alive and kicking without supplementing our income with any off farm jobs growing on that small acreage. As Ben says about our land and opportunity here: “we haven’t even scratched the surface”…


I wanted to learn the history of this quaint family farm we've lived next too for so long that I had the Jopko family over for dinner to hear their farms story. I’m sure glad I did. The landowner Anton Jopko has lived his entire life on the home farm. His father Michael was born in 1906 and in the spring of 1930 at the ripe age of 24 purchased the farm. By the fall of 1930 he married Anton’s mother Irene. Anton was born in 1944. That same year of Anton’s birth the original farm house burned down. A new home was built that same year and stands today. Mike and Irene grew strawberries and raspberries and lots of tomatoes. The tomatoes were delivered in hampers to the old cannery in Simcoe in their two ton truck. Anton also said they did local door to door strawberry and raspberry delivery sales which I think is just awesome. In 1950 they introduced dairy cattle to the farm. Anton and his father  built other barns and sheds on the property together.  By the time 1963 rolled around, they stopped milking cows as Anton left for University. The family continued to farm and Anton was always still very active on the farm as well.  In 1967 they put up their first corn crib and a second one in 1970. Anton and his wife Carolyn raised twin sons Adam and Brandon and daughter Erin during the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's on the home farm. Anton continued to farm well into the 1990's after his parents passed on. Along with farming, Anton had a part time job for 35 years as a professor teaching physics and math to first and second year engineering students at McMaster in Hamilton. It was important to them to raise their kids on the farm and he explained that for them, his job at McMaster enabled them to be able to do it.  They are known for their large vegetable gardens they have grown over the years.  When I asked Anton what he thought about us renting the farm to grow organically he said:
"We are glad you will be growing organic vegetables here because it is environmentally friendly with less use of pesticides"
And we couldn't be happier for the opportunity to have use of this land next door.  It's a complete win win for both families.  And with fields of organic vegetables surrounding them - they don't have to worry much about growing that large vegetable garden anymore! So welcome 2017, new year, new land - let's fire up that soil and get growin'!
Ben and neighbour Anton looking at a land atlas of our farms from 1877!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Happy Holidays from the farm!

I CANNOT BELIEVE ITS DECEMBER 19TH!!!! Waaaa? Our third baby Jonah has turned 6 months old today and I'm desperately slamming on the brakes because these kids are growing TOO fast man! It was a very busy year and I hope you are all keeping up with our Instagram account, as my blogging time has been slim.

We wish all our customers and friends a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year a head! Once again we have a crazy amount of things on our 2017 "to do" list.  Both Ben and I will most DEFINITELY be back at markets. We miss everyone so much.

We have learned over the years that for our farm the best approach to paying our bills all winter is growing a couple main storage crops for wholesale and not doing the winter retail markets anymore. So, we will see everyone in May 2017! (Our cabbages can always be enjoyed through The Big Carrot and Mama Earth in the meantime.)

Full speed a head 2017, I'm ready for your arrival and a kick ass new season!!!