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Archive for June, 2015

This has been a week of illness, injury and serious raining that has kept us from being able to be at some of our pickup locations and seriously hampered our ability to get into the fields and do more planting. A very big thank you to Marie, Deb, Andrea, Amanda, and Mike for stepping up and stepping in when they were needed. Big, big appreciation for these folks. Note: We are open this holiday Wednesday for CSA pickups and for our on-farm market at our regular time of 4 – 7 pm. We’ve had to look at our plans and to abandon some crops as it’s just too late to be able to plant them at this point. So sad to not have a Watermelon crop this year though we managed to sneak a few in for a small crop because otherwise the farm children would never have stopped pestering us to plant them. There is still a chance we’ll get more Cucumbers and Squash in but that possibility is slim at this point. There are many crops still waiting to be planted and we’re not sure what the veggie offerings are going to look like in several weeks from now with such a large gap in our planting schedule, only time will tell. Life around the farm this week as told in picture collages….

From top L - Beets are germinated and waiting for the Rain to cease to be planted; Squash blossoms; Tomatoes are fruiting!; Beans inter-planted with Chard have blossoms and small fruit!

From top L – Beets are germinated and waiting for the Rain to cease to be planted; Squash blossoms; Itty bitty Tomatoes fruiting in their tray!; Beans inter-planted with Chard have blossoms and small fruit!

From top L - Fungi popping up everywhere; Unknown Caterpillar; Zebra Caterpillar (a crop damaging insect); Brussel Sprouts looking good under floating row cover

From top L – Fungi popping up everywhere; Unidentified Caterpillar; Zebra Caterpillar (a crop damaging insect); Brussel Sprouts looking good under floating row cover. This week we’ve also seen a Grasshopper emerging from it’s old “skin” and Tortoise Beetles being “born” and feasting on Thistles (yay!) as well as several Snakes who are helping our Farm Cat take care of the Mole/Vole/Mouse problem.

From top L - Cool view of our greenhouse; more Beehives have arrived!; beautiful Rainbow Chard; Pumpkin Patch.

From top L – Cool view of our greenhouse; more Beehives have arrived!; beautiful Rainbow Chard; Pumpkin Patch (with BIG thanks to Daniel, Tammy, and fam for helping to lay down the rotted hay between the rows).

From our Facebook page this week….

It was a thrill to get some of our produce into the hands of the chef at the Iron Kettle!

It was a thrill to get some of our produce into the hands of the chef at the Iron Kettle in Comber!

An awesome foraging walk around the farm for Wild Strawberries and Mulberries, we had a feast!

An awesome foraging walk around the farm for Wild Strawberries, Mulberries, and Service Berries – we had a feast! A young friend picked himself a “tree” as a “treat to-go”. Most of the Mulberries will have been knocked down from all the wind now….sadly for us humans.

Swallowtail Caterpillar eating Dill, there's enough for everyone; CSA pickup outside ShopEco.

Swallowtail Caterpillar eating Dill: There’s enough for everyone; CSA pickup outside ShopEco.

How to properly store our Rainbow Salad Mix: Spin dry or pat dry the leaves and then store in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge, add a towel for extra moisture absorption. We got an industrial salad spinner this week that will dry off the leafy greens more efficiently so that your Salad Mix lasts longer. 10400032_791581667629189_705065778279196958_n It is possible to change your pickup location if you need to make a change. Just let me know 1 day in advance that you want to pick up at a different location so that I can plan to bring enough produce. This week’s crop list (as far as I can tell without having been out harvesting due to the torrential rain and winds): Sugar Snap Peas – they have plumped up and sweetened up, a really delicious seasonal treat! There will be some Purple Peas mixed in there, too, a new crop we’re trialing this year. Wild Rainbow Salad Mix, Rainbow Kale, Rainbow Chard, Dill, Arugula, a limited number of Scallions (green onions), mini-cucumbers, mushrooms, portabellos, and eggplant. I hope to find something new as a surprise….you never know what you might find out there! One last note – if you’re ever willing able to help out at the farm we won’t turn down an offer of help! We’d love for every member to see the farm at least once so that you know how and where your food is grown so please let us know if you’d like to come out and see us!

Garlic is coming soon! With thanks to Andrea Nickerson for most of the photo credits in this post!

Garlic is coming soon!
Thanks to Andrea Nickerson for most of the photo credits in this post!

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It was nice meeting all of you last week and seeing new faces as well as returning members – thank you all for being on this local farming journey with us!

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At Take Back The Farm in South Windsor

We haven’t had a break in the rain and so we haven’t been able to plant many new crops but so far the ones that were in the ground before the floods are doing just fine. We’ve been tending them while wading in water halfway up our knees and we tell ourselves we’re at the spa as the water is quite warm and that helps us get our work done. Our farming would be a total loss if not for our raised beds and we’ve been busy cleaning them up after getting out crops like bok choy and getting ready to put in broccoli and cauliflower and other fun goodies, we’ve had to use diatomaceous earth as the slugs as quite prolific this year. Our garlic crop would be a loss if not for the raised beds so we’re grateful for all the hard work we put in last year to create them.

IMG_0177Unfortunately most of the folks who signed up to do the work share option have not been able to come through and help us and we are in big need of some volunteers to help us with harvesting on Mondays from 8am-12pm. If you’re interested but want to volunteer at a different time or day please contact us as we might be able to use your help. Last week we had a lovely time with volunteers harvesting and sorting spinach, bok choy, kale, and garlic scapes (thank you to Marie for showing us a trick to get a more abundant harvest) – it’s great conversation and laughs 🙂

IMG_0231New this week you will see some fresh herbs….

L - R Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Arugula

L – R Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Arugula

We’re taking off a small amount of peas and by next week we’ll be swimming in them!

IMG_7601We’ll have some rainbow radishes as well but they aren’t faring so well with all the rain.

IMG_7594We’ll have more rainbow salad mix and rainbow kale as well as a savoury salad mix with “spicy” mustard greens and scallions. When we opened up some of our beds to harvest we found MONSTER kale and MONSTER collards in there!

IMG_0199We’re bringing in more mini-cucumbers, tomatoes, and mushrooms to help round out the baskets while we wait for the flush of peas.

Now if it would just stop raining so we can finish planting…..see you all soon!

Week 1 offerings at Take Back The Farm in South Windsor

Week 1 offerings at Take Back The Farm in South Windsor

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Week one has finally arrived for those of you who have been patiently, or not so patiently, waiting for the start of the fresh veggie season! It seems to have come quickly for us but that is because, while we desperately needed the rain, it came as too much too late and we are still working very hard at getting all of our crops in. One thing we’ve done differently to compensate is to start our beets as seedlings in trays as opposed to seeding them directly in the ground. The soil is too wet and may be that way for another few weeks so this way the beets will have a chance to grow and when we transplant them they will have a huge head start on the weeds.

Beet seeds are so cool! ~ Picture By Andrea Nickerson

On a more difficult note…our tractor and equipment operator, aka Mike aka Pepe aka Daddio, got seriously injured at his full-time day job, breaking his shoulder and collar-bone, and will not be able to do any farm work for the rest of the season. We are grateful to have a large, generous, and helpful family who are willing and able to pitch in to help us.

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A panoramic view of some of our gardens ~ Photo by Andrea Nickerson

The season starts off slowly as it always does with an emphasis on the leafy greens that are cold tolerant – they get planted early and thrive in cooler temperatures while also being ready to harvest sooner than most other crops.

Bok Choy – we grow several different kinds that may be white or green stemmed and will either be stocky and compact or long and slender. Bok choy is light and crispy, much like celery. It’s perfect in a stir fry as it doesn’t have much of it’s own flavour and takes on the flavour of the ingredients in the stir fry beautifully. It’s also easy to chop up and throw in the freezer for winter stir fries – no blanching necessary. Some recipes to try can be found here, here (a crunchy slaw but this site has another dozen recipes to try), and here (this one uses Garlic but you can substitute the Scapes in this week’s share). For more ideas put “bok choy” in the search bar in the upper right of our website to get recipes we’ve posted in past years. I posted all of this before checking the Bok Choy for market harvest today and while it was beeeyouuuutiful last week it has almost all bolted so it will be slim pickings <sad face>

'Mei Qing' Bok Choy interplanted with Scallions.

‘Mei Qing’ Bok interplanted with Scallions, under row cover to protect them from Flea Beetles and hail storms.

Garlic Scapes – these beauties showed up overnight to make their way into your weekly veggie shares! Our farm children couldn’t wait to harvest them (and our Garlic will be happy they did as harvesting the Scapes allows the Garlic bulbs to grow larger). Scapes are the upper part of the Garlic plant and can be used any way you would use Garlic in a recipe. We like to dehydrate the Scapes and turn them into a powder using a coffee grinder so that we have an aromatic Garlic topping to use (we LOVE Garlic), we’ve also chopped them and thrown them into a freezer bag to add to soups and stir fry’s for the winter. Garlic Scape pesto is a favourite way to use this limited-time produce or try this Salad dressing with our Rainbow Salad mix, recipe courtesy of Made With Metta.

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Sweet Faenin says, “Mom, can I pick all the Garlic Scapes for you?” Why yes you can dear child 🙂

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Garlic Scapes or Green Garlic

11 ingredient Rainbow Salad Mix – Red and green lettuce, spinach, wild spinach, baby kale, baby chard, arugula, chives, dill, purslane, bok choy, parsley.

IMG_7551Rainbow Kale – We went out to pick baby kale only to find that many of the plants have leaves too big for a salad, lucky for you we can bring some bunched leafies!

'Olympic Red' in an un-weeded bed; gorgeous 'Curly Roja'.

‘Olympic Red’ in an un-weeded bed; gorgeous ‘Curly Roja’.

The peas are just coming on so some folks might see a few this week but not to worry if you don’t get them this time there are more coming. We might be able to scrounge up a few scallion bunches and radish bunches as well. Limited quantities of mini-cukes, greenhouse tomatoes, and mushrooms.

IMG_6377We always have Sunshine Pickles and Sunparlor Honey available.

From our market sign

From our market sign

For interest if we were doing pre-packaged bags a small $15 ($300) share would have 1/2 LB of Salad Mix, 1 Bok Choy, a bunch of Scallions, a bunch of Rainbow Kale, 1/2 LB of Garlic Scapes. A medium $20 ($400) share would have 1 LB of Salad Mix, 1 Bok Choy, a bunch of Scallions, a bunch of Rainbow Kale, 1/2 LB of Garlic Scapes. A large $25 ($500) share would have 1 LB of Salad Mix, 2 Bok Choy, a bunch of Scallions, a bunch of Rainbow Kale, 1 LB of Garlic Scapes.

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Panoramic picture by Andrea Nickerson

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The Belle River Farmers Market opens this Sunday June 7th from 10am – 2pm at Optimist Park (705 Notre Dame St.) in Belle River. It’s still early in the season but here are some fresh veggie goodies we’ll have on offer at the market:

2 different varieties of delicious Spinach 'Butterflay' and 'Corvair'.

Two varieties of delicious Spinach, ‘Butterflay’ and ‘Corvair’.

Week 1 Market Produce

From Left to Right: Salad + Scallions, Bok Choi, ‘Olympic Red’ Kale, ‘Red Russian’ Kale, ‘Vates Curly’ Kale, Certified Organic Seedlings.

We’ll also have Sunshine Pickles, Sunparlour Honey, Mushrooms, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, and ASPARAGUS.

Fresh goodies to come in the next couple of weeks….

Garlic is coming along beautifully; Snow Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, and Shelling Peas; a new crop this year - Fennel; more Spinach!; Onions.

Garlic is coming along beautifully; Snow Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, and Shelling Peas; a new crop this year – Fennel; more Spinach!; Onions happy under their leaf mulch.

We’re expanding our production space this year by not just doubling but tripling the amount of area we’re using to produce vegetables. We’re using more of our “back 30” for heat-loving veggies that are grown under black plastic and we’re using an old pasture that has been used by our free-range chickens for many years (using the fence to grow Pole Beans, for example). We’ve added more companion crops and beneficial crops like Horseradish and Tansy while re-using old tires for the farm children to grow their own personal crop of Potatoes.

ExpansionAfter receiving 4 inches of much-needed Rain all at once we are reminded of why we use permanent raised beds even for crops grown under black plastic (these beds differ from our boxed raised beds). If our crops were grown “on the flat” these precious seedlings would have been lost and drowned but the seedlings are raised several inches up off the ground while the excess water pools in the “valleys”. Underneath the plastic is also a “valley” where water can pool and where the roots of the seedlings have to work to get the water but in the process it strengthens the seedlings and keeps them from drowning.

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Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant seedlings.

We are still accepting new members for the 2015 season at all of our locations so don’t forget about our referral program and have your chance to win FREE produce for the season! We will be sending out emails to current members in the next couple of weeks when we are ready to start the season for FRESH VEGGIES!, and to discuss the various share size options and final payments. We will also be announcing soon the details of our weekly on-farm farmers market so stay tuned here and at our Facebook page!

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