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!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Thankful October on the farm!

Well, finally some cool weather!  Fall has officially arrived after that heat wave of a dry summer!  The men are leaving soon, but we use the last few weeks of October and the very beginning of November to get everything in the barn before the snow flies.
 Our onions were nice this year.  We got a whole wack of garlic planted. We have a nice cabbage crop to put a way for trimming this winter.  We'll be mass harvesting carrots and beets this coming week for the winter.  This year was very busy, but pretty decent despite the drought.
We are still selling peppers!  The red Sheps were AMAZING this year.  To the point we had a bumpercrop and couldn't even sell all of them!  The cauli is small, but at least we have some!  Apples were not as abundant but we found some to sell!  The romas and ALL tomatoes were pretty good out in the fields this season.  Particularly because we had them on drip and plastic mulch. 
The above pic was the tomato/pepper patch.  It's always bittersweet to see it go.  It seems so fast.  So much effort goes into growing all this stuff from seed, then the maintenance to grow it, harvest it...but this was a stellar patch for sure.  Excellent production on a small patch of dirt.
The kids kept us busy this year.  Who needs a jungle gym when you have farm equipment? I totally remember climbing on my dads cultivator when I was little!
Alot of my time was spent with this little dude here, Jonah.  I keep thinking I'm holding Nathan.  Ah, a market customer bought us that cute prince toy among other things, so THANK YOU!! That's always pretty special when the market truck comes home bearing gifts!
We got to celebrate Thanksgiving with our men, family and other helpers this year on our awesome new deck.  I wish I got a picture of 2 year old Nathan who was sitting at the end with my men in his highchair with corn all over the place!!
One of thee last jobs before our men get ready to leave for the season.  Cutting cabbage and loading the cooler.  I CANNOT believe we are at this stage already.  Blows my mind.  
Well, gearing up for a good, hearty winter.  We'll have:
onions, garlic, cabbage, kale, carrots, beets, potatoes for quite some time yet at the markets and to select stores.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September is Pepper month!

Pepper, like tomatoes are doing well for us this season.  They thrive in this heat and we were fortunate to set up and run drip irrigation with all the pepper patches.  The plants are heavy with peppers and our goal was sweet red, reds and more reds!

We have red shepherds, red bells and red pimentos.  All are so sweet when high red and yummy straight up, roasted, grilled, pan fried.... ah I love this time of year.
Sweet Corn was almost a bust this year!  F-ing deer and raccoons made a hell-o of a mess back there. Very depressing....BUT the second patch was left alone.  huh.  Ben thinks they just moved on. So more yummy, sweet NO GMO, sprayed with absolutely nothing organic sweet corn at all markets for a while!
And a quick selfie with baby Jonah and I checking out the wagon of beefsteaks which have also been amazing this season! We are still taking orders for Romas by the way! So keep making that sauce as the weather cools down!
And for any of you that follow the farm family know of our plight with my stepdaughter over the years, I am SO happy to report a happy reunion! ....AND her marriage to a terrific guy! It was an awesome day.  You couldn't wipe the smiles from their faces.  Everyone in attendance was gracious, respectful and most of all happy, happy, happy for these two incredible kids Ashley and Joe. Now married adults.  Geesh, she was just our little girl yesterday.  Yes, both these two visit the farm regularly now and play with the new batch of farm kids here.  One big happy family indeed.
And I'll leave this blog post on a cheeky note:  Sadie asking Nate in her own way if it's a good idea or not to do the cooler naked?! Who turned off the heat??  LOLOL.  These kids just run the farm naked during this summer of record heat.
See everyone at market soon,
Jess, Ben & Crew.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Now taking orders for our ROMA TOMATOES!

Hamper of our organic romas 2016.
We are now taking orders for our certified organic roma tomatoes!  The crop looks nice this year.  We grew them on plastic mulch with drip irrigation and with this dry weather diseases such as blight are staying away.  Insect pressure is not that bad either. Ben anticipates a good harvest and a good month or more of availability.  But, of course, thats never guaranteed. It's farming after all ;)

Price is $1.20 per lb.  Which is $30 for a half bushel which is 25 lbs.  A full bushel is 50 lbs, sold as 2 25 lb cases for $60.  This slight increase in price will help pay for irrigation costs this season. 

We will bring these half bushel cases to DUFFERIN GROVE market each Thursday.  And to EVERGREEN BRICKWORKS market each Saturday beginning NEXT WEEK, August 18th.  We anticipate to keep shipping the cases into the first week of September and most likely longer.  But if you are a serious sauce maker - do it sooner than later! 

You may order by emailing me at and indicating the amount of cases you need and market and date you wish to pick up at.  Make sure to include a phone number to call or text, especially if you need alot. Or go to market and simply write your name down on our list! 

****Bear with me as I do have many small kids, so I may not get to respond to all emails.  We will do our best to make sure you get your tomatoes!

***Also, LOOK at your cases of tomatoes at market.  If you buy them, they are yours.  I cannot give you a refund if after a week you no longer like the quality.  They are very nice this year, but are organic and not perfect!

Friday, July 22, 2016

A dry, dry year BUT we are doing ok!

Well, our crops are doing quite well I must say.  Our strawberries were excellent. Our peas, zucchini and lettuces also did decent.  Now we are onto cucumbers and tomatoes as the big(er) crops and smaller item stuff like onions, potatoes and soon to come sweet corn and our colourful carrots and beets!  Growing a way is our cauliflower and cabbages, which look nice so far.
We will also be busy harvesting our garlic shortly - but then entire crop is going for seed this year.
Yes, it is dry.  But for us, this is not a total tragedy. And I'll share why.
Our tomatoes on drip irrigation

Heirloom, artisan, cherry, grape, beefsteak and roma from the fields this year.
We have 25 acres of market vegetables to care for. We can quickly and efficiently irrigate this amount of food.  By using the drip method and mulch our peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are thriving.
Because of the heat and dryness there is little to no disease we are encountering thus far. Even insects are not that bad. The plants are massive and healthy and the veggies themselves have amazing concentrated flavours.  Field tomatoes are exceptional. I expect our peppers to be gorgeous and have amazing flavour as well because of this heat. There will be additional expenses due to running the irrigation pump what seems like almost daily, but that will quickly be offset by the additional produce our fields will be producing this season. So, for us, when a 'dry hot' year comes around once a decade or so, we always do pretty well, because disease doesn't shut us down.  The only concern comes from watching storm clouds.  Hail can wipe us out. So the extreme heat and potential thunderstorms do cause great fear in my gut.  But, so far we've been lucky.  

IF we knew then what we know now, we would have hauled ass this spring and staked the tomatoes!  Getting them up off the ground. Half our patch is beefsteak and romas which are determinate and don't really need it, but for the heirloom and cherry - it would have been fantastic! Ususally on the years we take the time to do it, it rains and pours and they all get blight.  lol. So, instead we baby the greenhouse tomatoes by stringing and suckering them and let the field tomatoes go wild! 
Our onions and beets
  Carrots and beets are so so, as the patches got very weedy fast (while we were picking strawberries!!) but Ben has seeded lots for the fall.  So, our colourful carrots will be starting soon.  It sure was nice to have beet bunches from the greenhouse in the meantime thou! We've just started digging potatoes, and will have some nice yellow flesh and fingerlings to go along with our whites soon!

We are able to offer bulk cucumbers for family pickling and also to businesses as wholesale as well. We always try to offer cucs, but most years they don't turn out to us due to mildews.  No mildew out there yet ;)  !!! Also roma tomatoes will be offered in bulk too.  Your best bet is to head to our market booth at either Dufferin Grove or Brickworks, as I am not taking small email orders.  Just too busy enjoying my babies this year!  If your order is 2 bushels or more, I will accept your email and do the best I can to get Ben's attention. He is keeping VERY busy in the fields this season.  We are hauling ass trying to make up for the cabbage/cauliflower loss of 2015. So far it looks like this season will bring us back to where we need to be ;) 
Enjoying lunch hour at the beach.
Keeping cool: We've been heading down to our local beach at least once a week with the kids during the lunch hour.  The new baby Jonah seems lulled by the sound of the water and Sadie and Nate get a good soak and play before afternoon nap time.  Both  Ben and I are witnessing the fast pace at which these tiny children of ours are growing and I'm doing everything I can to put the breaks on. That means for me a lot of home/family time right now.  I am rarely at markets these days and while I do really, really miss that environment and my customers - I am totally taking this time for my kids. It really is true - they do grow fast, and I don't want to miss a second.  They are so awesome on the farm and seeing them grow and get more interesting in all the farm stuff each year is just wild.  I'm looking forward to getting them ALL down to market in a couple weeks thou!  Now, THAT will be an adventure!

Log onto our INSTAGRAM account by seeking SosnickiOrganic to keep updated on whats happening on our farm!  I'm always snapping and sharing quick crop photos and the odd family shot!
Enjoy the harvest - it's a good one!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 1st Field Update!

Getting some blogging done before I have baby #3 and things go quiet on my end for a bit ;)
The kids and I went out in the field on the quad last evening and took some pictures of the crops to post an update on our veggies!!
Field 101: Clockwise: Black and Green Kale, Lettuce, Sweet Onions, Summer Cabbages.
Our front field 101 is split in two sections.  We've planted early items such as peas, kale, lettuces, cabbage and sweet onions. These are bare ground transplants, (except for the peas that were direct seeded) and are thriving nicely.  Green kale is already being plucked and lettuces start coming off this week.  Yes, the fields are clean.  Ben has one word for that: wages. We have booked/logged many many hours of cultivating, hand weeding and hoeing and investing in paying wages to have such clean fields.  Our men have the time right now - we are only harvesting a small amount from the greenhouses, therefore the majority of all days can be spent on maintenance of these growing crops. 
Field 105, top left: Sweet Corn; Field 101, top right: Garlic; Field 101, bottom left: Strawberries!!; Field 101, bottom right: Shelling and Sugar Snap Peas. 
Our sweet corn is up and doing well!  Not as big as all the other corn in our area (we don't plant corn on mulch and use untreated seed therefore soil must be warm before we plant resulting in our August corn.)  We are back into garlic once again, but this crop you see here will be for seed only as we establish a decent amount.  We'll have scapes on our tables thou! Strawberries are fan-tas-tic!!  Please take a minute to read our strawberry blog to learn everything about how we grow organic berries! Our peas-in-a-pod shelling peas are in blossom and sugar snaps are soon to follow. It's going to be full on peas/lettuce/berries all at once in a week or two and I'll probably go into labour too at that time!  That's how it goes!
Field 101, top left: Cherry, Grape, Roma, Basket, Heirloom Tomatoes!; Field 105, top right: Cucumbers!; Field 101, bottom left: Zucchini; Field 101, bottom right: Sun Sugar Cherry Tomatoes. 
We've got all the tomatoes and peppers in. These are all on mulch and drip this year.  Also cucs and zucs are on the mulch too. Once these crops go into high gear there will be little time for hoeing, hand weeding, therefore the mulch truly aids in this. Not to mention drip irrigation instead of overhead mass irrigation. I know the mulch is totally hated by some for understandable environmental reasons, so please know that we truly make an effort not to go apeshit and use it for everything.  

Our potatoes, carrots and beets are in Field 201 and are just growing away as well.  These are all bare ground plantings and I will share Instagram photos about how these crops are doing as well shortly. We succession seed the carrots and beets, so another seeding is going in this week, and another in a couple weeks.

We continue to harvest fresh beets, salad mix and turnips from the greenhouses and sucker, string and prune the covered field heirloom tomatoes as well!  These crops have been providing the small income to be able to pay the men for all their hard work weeding.  Plus the sale of our greenhouse seedlings which is also essential for farm start up costs and early wages. Do yourself a favour and always support a farmer selling plants in the spring.  If you like the veggies you eat all summer, supporting the family farm early on with costs associated with growing this amazing food is very important.  Selling extra seedlings is a great way to supplement income without going into debt for small growers. It's also an awesome way to get some great varieties of the veggies you love to eat all summer that you can grow yourself!  Win/win!  We are fortunate to have some great buyers and folks that understand this concept! 

In the next few weeks all our storage cabbage and cauliflower will hit the dirt and we are truly hoping that we have a better year than last season!  As some of you will note, we had very very little of these crops during this past winter which was a horror show for our bottom line.  We are hitting it hard this season to make up for the loss!  That's why if other growers are jealous because our display is awesome and we seem to have lots of early stuff - it's for good reason!  We have some mighty bills to pay and fear is a great motivator to haul serious ass!!! 

Again, if the blog seems sparce, it's all child related now, as I get busy and can't keep up.  Always check our Instagram which I find an easy, quick way to keep our customers connected with how we grow your food! 

Cheers to great organic grub 2016!! 
Jessie, Ben, Sadie, Nate & no. 3 soon to arrive!!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Our Organic Strawberries 2016!

I cannot even express how excited we are about this year's strawberry crop.  I still don't like to talk too much about them, boast or brag, as harvest has not begun and I always worry when stuff looks so darn nice that we'll get a blast of stupid hail or something.  Now, that's thinking positive!  lolol
Anyhow, they are coming along and there should be a lot of fruit out there this season - hopefully!
Our little strawberry Sadie sitting in the patch 2016.
Organic strawberries are not easy to grow and take a lot of time and patience.  For this patch we purchased three different varieties last spring from G.W. Allen nurseries in Nova Scotia. We've bought plants from this nursery in the past and love the quality of these hardy perennials. Choosing the right varieties for our winters and growing season is very important.  They are shipped dormant and look like shriveled up half dead frozen plants when they arrive.  Definitely  not much to look at but have a nice strong root system.
dormant strawberry plants spring 2015
 I've blogged about this before in June 2012 to explain where our plants come from:
" The plants came from G.W. Allen in Nova Scotia. Certified Organic plants are not readily available, so we do buy the conventional ones. So last year we got the shipment of 'druggy' dormant plants and planted them in our organic soil. I look at this process as like 'rehab' for the young strawberries plants! They root down into organic compost rich soil, are weeded by hand and cultivated. We also bed them down with organic straw! By this year when they began to blossom and grow they were just fueling themselves with all organic goodness! The patch was alive with bees and critters and most importantly NO chemical CRAP like fungicides or pesticides have been dumped on them!!! Organic strawberries smell amazing!"
That about sums it up for this years oncoming crop!! One day, yes, I want to try growing organic plants from seed myself.  A nice heritage variety. This is another big job that is not an easy one.  I need to do a lot of research into properly growing them and making sure I can actually grow hardy perennial varieties before I can tackle a new job like this one. 

Men planting the strawberries spring 2015
The plants were planted in 'Field 101' nestled in by a big fence row in our rich sandy loam organic dirt that was built up over the years via crop rotations and rich organic cow manure.  The two biggest challenges to growing organic strawberries for us is making sure we have healthy, fertile soil to sustain a perennial crop for a minimum of 2 years and keeping the weeds from taking over.   This is simply because we DO NOT apply a chemical fertilizers at any time during the growth of the crop.  We plant one row giving each plant enough soil to thrive within. Trying to fit in twin rows to ramp fruit production would pull more fertilizer than we can naturally provide.  So our patch is still lush, but not overly exuberant with mass plants for this reason. We DO NOT apply any herbicides to get rid of weeds in the patch.  We also DO NOT use any type of fungicides to deal with disease issues that may arise.   We are very very proud to social media the hell out of the fact that our strawberries are #sprayedwithabsolutelynothing!  This includes any type of sea kelp as a fertilizer or any approved pesticides or fungicides.  Nothing. Nada.  We simply make sure our plot of land is vibrant and healthy well before planting.  
Our organic straw 2015 
And yes, the straw we use on our strawberries is our own and is organic too! We overwintered the straw next to the patch and applied it this spring 2016.  We've started applying the straw in the spring instead of the winter.  Ben likes to cultivate to keep the patch clean and we do a lot of hand weeding and hoeing in the spring as well before the straw goes down.

Jessie cultivating berries 2015
Maintenance!!! Our strawberries were cultivated, hand weeded and hoed numerous times during 2015!  It is essential to keep the patch clean.  It's hard as we were SO busy with other crops but must think a head and dedicate time to the berries in anticipation for the 2016 crop!
Laying down the straw this spring 2016
So, here's hoping we get a bountiful harvest to share with all you lovely locals out there! Here's a picture of our Jewels from 2009.... the countdown is on.  Our organic field berries will be ready in a couple weeks! And please, please keep in mind and remember that in our organic strawberry patch: Slugs, Bugs, Birds and Bees, (and sometimes baby bunnies) roam free, so don't freak out if you find a half eaten berry in your quart!  We try very hard to sort out and compost the chewed on fruit!! 

Jewel variety we grew in 2009

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Farm update

Things are speeding right along!  The nicer weather has helped us catch up and get tons done in the field and our covered fields (aka Greenhouses!)

In the field we have planted: Peas, lettuces, kale, sweet onions, summer cabbages.

In the covered fields we have planted: Heirloom tomatoes, beets, turnips, radishes, salad mix & bok choy!

Ben has been busy plowing, the men have been weeding the garlic and strawberries and chores this week include laying down our organic straw on the strawberries.

We plan to be back at market on May 7th (Evergreen Brickworks Market) and May 12th (Dufferin Grove Market). Maybe May 5th for Dufferin - check our social media leading up to the date. 
A special early treat this year is overwintered KALE!  We didn't plan for this, didn't mulch it, the weather conditions turned out to be just right and our beloved Darkibor Green Curly Kale is growing back beautifully!! Look for it on May 7th at Brickworks and at Dufferin Grove too of course!
**Daribor Green Curly Kale coming soon!**

**Radishes and field Kale coming soon!**

Beets, Heirloom Tomatoes, Radish and salad mix growing in the covered field.

Bok Choy growing in our greenhouses (covered fields).

Ben and the guys planting our newest patch of kale this past week. 

Seedlings now for sale!

We've shipped out a nice selection of early seedlings to Evergreen's Brickworks Garden Market just off the Don Valley in Toronto.  Also The Big Carrot on the Danforth has some of our seedling treats too!

At Brickworks you'll find our:  Cabbage, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Pak Choi, Cauliflower, Swiss Chard, TONS of beautiful Kales, Beets, Arugula etc!

At The Big Carrot you'll find our: Big Cilantro Pots, big Swiss Chard Pots and big Salad Mix pots!

**Coming soon (weekend before Victoria Day weekend in May) to both locations soon are our awesome HEIRLOOM TOMATOES!!

We grow all our seedlings from seed here on farm.  They are all certified organic and all the soils and fish ferts we use are approved for certified organic growing.  The profits of the sale of these seedlings enables us to help with our farm start up costs.  Nothing better than buying seedlings from the actual veggie farmers that grow your food!  

New this year:  #ShowWhatYouGrow on line by connecting with our social media! #SosnickiHarvest  @SosnickiOrganic on Instagram ;)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Dealing with the crazy spring weather!

We know that April is a volatile weather month.  So unpredictable. Last week the family went to Easter breakfast wearing winter coats.  By the afternoon my 1 year old was outside going barefoot in the grass for the first time this season - sun was out and hot.  Now, exactly one week later there has been more freezing rain and snow covers the ground.  Temps hovering around -5 degrees C.  Oye.  But, we roll along here and just ignore it all!!
The cost of running the furnace is offset by the custom grow we do, so this is always a good feeling going to bed while the furnaces keep humming away. We use every square inch of greenhouse space to the max of either our own field crops or seedlings for buyers.
The heirloom tomatoes are awesome!  This example above will be hardened off and shortly planted directly into the soil in our 'covered fields' (aka greenhouse #1 and #2).  This allows us to offer the late June early July tomatoes we offer at market.
The kale, onions, cow pots with early greens (like chard, spinach etc), lettuces, early cabbages are all hanging out in the back part of the seedling greenhouse.  We don't heat this back half and this hardy spring stuff prefers the cooler temps.  IF it gets crazy cold, Ben will fire up a little propane space heater overnight to 'take the edge off'. These crops are for the field and will go under row covers and a whole table of seedlings are custom grow.
We still utilize 2 whole greenhouses as covered fields  and even with these cold night temps, the direct seeded stuff is holding it's own.  We will happily have a crazy awesome selection of salad greens, radish, beets, turnips and Asian greens by the end of April and first week in May this season! 
The above pic is Ben planting Bok Choy.  We took turns popping these little guys into the soil yesterday. It was snowing outside and it was so amazingly awesome to have my hands in the dirt planting something!  This rest of this house will be home to beets, turnips and a jungle of heirloom tomatoes.  The weeds are just beginning to show, so hoeing is a big job when we decide to cultivate the whole space.  Somehow, it all gets done! 
And recently Easter Sunday fell on my daugher's 3rd birthday!  She had a couple organic cheesecakes to enjoy at her great-grandma's house and more partying at home with more friends and relatives! We also had some mom and daughter time checking out the organic strawberry field.  I will be blogging a lot about this strawberry patch in the coming weeks. We spent A LOT of work on this crop.
And a nice family capture on a sunny day!  One of our buyers requested a family picture to use for window posters to advertise who the actual farmers are that grow the vegetables they sell. It's an honor to be involved.  It's more important than ever now to have a direct connection with your food, and knowing your farmer is the most direct of all, besides growing it yourself.  As I get bigger and bigger and ready to pop with baby no. 3, I find I am more passionate than ever about what we do and teaching all these little ones the benefits of farming this way.  And hoping to spark some inspiration inside them to want to continue this journey.  Stay tuned - it's going to be a crazy year at Sosnicki's!  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Greenhouse Progress!

Now that it's March, we are high speed out in all houses! We were able to start two weeks early this year due to mild temperatures. As small growers we are able to afford firing early as we do custom grow which offsets the cost of running heat in the middle glass beast. Sadly, I had to streamline growing (because of our kidlets) so I was unable to do ALL the custom grow we usually do! To those farmers I couldn't accommodate this season - thanks for understanding! Kids grow fast, so my time with them is most important right now.
The kids are just starting to enjoy some time out in the greenhouses too! DIRT! The best toy!!
We are seeding down greenhouses #1 and #3 with early root and greens available at market by the end of APRIL! These houses will be brimming with green very soon! Stay tuned for awesome progress pics!
Our heirloom tomatoes have been transplanted and are growing away nicely. It is VERY dicey to play around with tomatoes this early. Due to cloudy/snowy days, cool temps even with furnaces at full bore, they can stress easy. Being very careful with water applications to avoid damp-off is crucial. Some days they just seem to look cold and sad. But, now the sun is out, they are rooting down, taking a hold and growing great!

Our onions, lettuce, kales, other greens, swiss chard, early herbs are germinating and growing away as we speak. The front half of greenhouse #2 is filling up super fast! Check out our Instagram, as I will post oodles of green progress pics! See everyone soon at market!