Week 13: Pete

Peter took this photo of a nest in the squash

Peter took this photo of a nest in the squash

This week in the pack we expect to have tomatoes; potatoes; carrots; kale; peppers; cucumber or zucchini; basil; onions; mustard mix; and Huntley’s unsprayed blueberries.

We are also offering pesto packs for those who are interested in making pesto.  This includes a large bag of basil along with garlic.  They are $10 each.  If you want one, please email Jen (jenredfox@gmail.com).  I will post a pesto recipe on the Recipe Page.

This week on the farm we said goodbye to Peter Gale, who has been helping us for the last several weeks.  Marshall started calling him ‘Pete’ when they worked together.  Peter would give Marshall ‘cool teen tips’.  We already miss Peter and hope he comes back to visit.

The guys lined up on his last day to say goodbye.  He asked me to take a photo that made him look taller than all the other guys:

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This is the time of year when we have to prepare ground for next year.  David has been plowing hay and pasture ground so we have another acre to put into cover crops.

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We were really happy when it rained Thursday night and Friday morning.  The ground was very thirsty!

Here are some more photos from the week:

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Todd Huntley and Bruce, with Todd’s blueberries

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The BCS in the machinery hospital Thursday morning.

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Peter got a chocolate zucchini cake from Marshall with 'Pete' spelled on top

Peter got a chocolate zucchini cake from Marshall with ‘Pete’ spelled on top

Check out Marshall's glasses!

Check out Marshall’s glasses!

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Ailis, Jeff, and Charlene volunteered their time on Saturday to helping out on the farm (and in the office). Thanks so much!!

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George and Isabelle were also on the farm on Saturday. They are regular helpers and their persistence in getting jobs done is so fantastic! Thanks again!!

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David and Nadege made a beautiful lunch for all the volunteer help.

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George, David, and Isabelle weeding in the carrots. This will save tons of time later on. :)

Elderberries after the rain

Elderberries after the rain

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See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Benjamin, Marshall, Lori, and Nadege

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, Produce Pack, Recipes, visiting and events | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Week 12: Open Farm

Little Winston stole the show at Open Farm Day

Little Winston stole the show at Open Farm Day

This week in the pack we expect to have potatoes; eggplant; green peppers; hot peppers; carrots; onions; salad mix; cucumbers or zucchinis; beans; and Huntley’s blueberries.

Thanks to everyone who came out for our Open Farm Day!  We had excellent sunny, breezy weather.  People were really into harvesting veggies!!  Two people offered to volunteer on the farm if we can come up with some things we need a hand with.  I think we can do that  :)

Here are some photos from the farm this week:

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David pumping used vegetable oil for our delivery vehicles

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We’re keeping a close eye on the water in the irrigation pond. A little more rain would be welcome.

We finally got to meet Andrea and Benjamin's new little son Brendan.  He's pretty cute!

We finally got to meet Andrea and Benjamin’s new little son Brendan. He’s pretty cute!

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What’s so funny Marshall?

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Lori prepping cabbages

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Jasper cherry tomatoes

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Super Mom nursing two calves, Wednesday and Thursday

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See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Marshall, Benjamin, Lori, Nadege, and Peter

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Week 11: The bull was busy

Marshall singing to his carrots

Marshall singing to his carrots

This week in the pack we expect to have potatoes; 2 small cabbages; beans; 1 bunch of carrots; 1 bunch of beets; cucumber; zucchini; head lettuce; cilantro/dill/parsley; hot pepper; and Huntley’s unsprayed blueberries.

Don’t forget our Open Farm Day on Saturday Aug 9 from 2pm onward

directions to farm.

This week on the farm we had very helpful visitors; a cattle herd expansion; a cattle escape; and lots of beans.  This morning David and I took down the temporary fence around the hayfield where the cattle have been grazing for the past 3 weeks.  In those three weeks the cattle have escaped twice and two calves were born.  Pretty exciting times, but we don’t think we want to go without a permanent perimeter fence again.  We wanted to get the hayfield ready for plowing so we could expand the garden.  The cattle did a great job!

The calves born Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are all doing well, although Thursday was having trouble finding her mom.  Wednesday’s mother took her on, luckily.  Friday and his mom will be moved back to Parkside Farm (where they are from) because she is a milking cow.

Wednesday with her excellent mom

Wednesday with her excellent mom

Thursday with her excellent white eyebrow

Thursday with her excellent white eyebrow

This is Friday, right after he was born and before his mom licked him off

This is Friday, right after he was born and before his mom licked him off

Friday is an absolutely beautiful calf!  He’s chocolate brown and this morning he was  pronking all over the pasture.

Peter Gale was here helping out at the farm again this week.  He not only helps in the field, he washes dishes, and is training us in how to be cool.  We need a lot of training!  We also had a visit from George and his son Loïc.  It was a hot day and they were real troopers!  They picked 94 lbs of beans for Norbert, tacked down raspberry mulch, and picked blueberries and raspberries.  It is a great encouragement to have people like Peter, Loïc, and George helping on the farm.  Thanks guys!

Last night at 1:30 am David remembered he had to put the beans out at the end of the driveway for Norbert to pick up on his way to Market this morning.  He hopped out of bed, got them out of the cold room, and brought them out to the end of the driveway.  This morning when we got up, they were gone.  Phew!

Someone spilled the beans

Someone spilled the beans

Some growers refer to Open Farm Days as Farmer Mow Your Lawn Days because we often don’t make time to mow the lawn unless people are coming over.

Bruce trying to make the place look spiffy

Bruce trying to make the place look spiffy

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Can you see the nuts on this tree?

I went out to take a photo of him mowing in the orchard and I noticed that the hazelnut trees are loaded!  They got trashed during Arthur but the nuts are ok!!

Below are a few more photos from the farm this week.

Moonfire Farm crew picking beans

Moonfire Farm crew picking beans

Loïc

Loïc

David and George picking beans

David and George picking beans

George and Loïc resting after pinning down the landscape fabric around the raspberries

George and Loïc resting after pinning down the landscape fabric around the raspberries

See you all soon at the pick-ups this week!

Jen, David, Bruce, Marshall, Benjamin, Lori, and Nadege

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Week 10: Mid-summer Reflections

beet10This week in the pack, we expect to have beans; 2 bunches of carrots; zucchini; cucumber; basil; garlic; salad mix; arugula; herbs; we’ll try to have kale; and cherries.  Please note: the cherries are not from our farm and they are conventionally grown.

On Saturday August 9 we’ll have our first Open Farm Day from 2pm onward.  Directions to the farm can be found here.

David contributed this week’s farm news.

Over the next few weeks, the final field plantings of the year will be completed. Even though we are in the middle of the season, this is a time to review the goals we set last winter, assess how things are going, and start thinking about next year.  I’m glad to report that our original vision for Abundant Acres is still guiding and inspiring us. To build a farm that is a place of abundance on many levels. Health, joy, livelihood and perhaps most importantly, community.

In many ways this has been a successful year so far.  On a practical level, we are distributing almost 190 produce packs a week, close to our long-term goal of 200. Several big infrastructure projects were completed this spring as well:  the new wash area and walk-in cooler; the mile long deer fence; an irrigation system expansion to cover six acres of vegetables; farm road improvements; and the establishment of raspberries, seedless grapes, and 40 new fruit trees.  We also have continued to purchase equipment to further increase efficiency.

On a personal level we have also been experiencing major growth.  The big news is that Bruce and Nadege are getting married in September!  We’ve been getting to know Nadege over the summer and she is a gem of a woman.  Living and working side by side with Bruce for the past three years has been such a gift for Jen and I.  Spending so much time together building this farm has made us very close.  I can’t imagine making a connection like this with someone through leisure time activities and social gatherings, even if they spanned many decades.

This rapid growth has come with a number of challenges, and it is these challenges that make the personal side of farm life so rich.  For example,  I like to innovate constantly.  Over the past season, I began to use biodegradable plastic mulch with clover sown in the paths.  On the other hand, Bruce is cautious of trying unproven ideas.  I think this comes from his fondness for orderly planning, which of course relies on predictability.  Jen tends to sit back and let Bruce and I talk about farm plans for hours, only interjecting with a quiet voice of reason and caution every now and then.

Last fall I laid nine rows of plastic mulch and planted rye and clover between them.  I hadn’t guessed that the deer would go nuts for the cover crop, and punch holes through the plastic with their cute little hooves!

Come spring, with our new deer fence in place, we started over, laying thirty rows of plastic mulch.  This was enough space for all of our outdoor plantings of melons, onions, cukes, kale, chard and more.  I was nervous about putting so many important crops into an unknown field but could see how much easier the planning and management that Bruce puts so much energy into would be.

Well, for reasons we are still trying to understand, this system is not working well.  Most crops are way behind expectations.  Because of this shortfall, we have not been able to attend the Halifax Seaport market as planned, and some crops, notably chard, kale, melons, and onions will be light in the packs this year.

Fortunately, the hoop houses are booming and the other fields are doing fine, so we will have enough produce to keep the packs full.

Jen, Bruce and I have worked through this disappointment through a lot of talking, careful to avoid the spiral of blame.  Instead, I think we have drawn closer because we can trust each other to be supportive when something goes wrong.

While this has been a painful loss, we have gained more of the things we value the most: patience, mercy, acceptance and the ability to laugh at our big plans when they don’t materialize.  I’m also learning to listen to Jen more.  Being so quiet, Bruce and I can easily override her, clearly not a good idea when I consider how often she is right about something being a problem when I’m sure it will succeed, or seeing success when I see certain failure.

Into this rich mix we have welcomed Peter, whose family gets a produce pack in Fleming Heights.  Peter has been staying with us four days a week for two weeks now.  He comes eager to learn about farming and ready to take on big jobs.  It seems that he is quickly becoming part of our experience of community on the farm.

Thanks to all of you for supporting this farm.  After almost three years of produce packs, I think we are just getting started in terms of growing quality food and building the kind of community that truly nourishes everyone connected to it.

This week’s photos:

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Peter working with David

Peter working with David

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David blissing out on the compost heap

David blissing out on the compost heap

Produce pack in bike basket.  Pack, clip on bike, and go!

Produce pack in bike basket. Pack, clip on bike, and go!

See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Benjamin, Marshall, Lori, Nadege, and Peter

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, Produce Pack, visiting and events | 4 Comments

Week 9: Weed free carrots

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This week in the pack we expect to have:

edible podded peas; 2 bunches of carrots; salad mix; basil; zucchini; a choice of parsley, dill or cilantro; cucumbers; green onions or radishes; strawberries.

We are planning to have an Open Farm Day on Saturday August 9 from 2pm on.  We will open the farm to visitors and make time to connect and answer questions.  We’ll organize another one in October for those who can’t make it in August.

I was also asked to mention two other things:

1 – It is a good idea to take the tops off your carrot bunches and put them in a clear plastic bag in the fridge to keep them fresh and crisp.  Clear bags are good for all vegetables so you can keep the veggies fresh and see what’s in the bags!

2 – All cheques should be made to Jen or David Greenberg, not Abundant Acres.  Our credit union recommended we keep the business account in our names to avoid business account fees.  We have a very cool credit union.  But they can’t accept cheques in the business name.

This week on the farm the guys were getting the front field ready for planting.  It has been land formed for better drainage, cover cropped, and made into raised beds for fall and winter crops.  They have also been working on getting weed-free carrots and salad mix.  On Saturday David gave a weed control workshop in Antigonish at the Bethany Garden.  It was a beautiful day and we even fit in a little swim in the ocean near Cape George!

Almost weed-free carrots

Almost weed-free carrots

David really likes to sink his hands in the soil!

up to elbows9 Soon we hope to have lots of tomatoes (including sungold tomatoes), peppers, eggplants, garlic, and melons.  Below is a sneak preview, along with other pictures of the farm this week.

The peppers are looking big and beefy behind the ginger root boxes

The peppers are looking big and beefy behind the ginger root boxes

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Benjamin using the wheel hoe to prepare parsnips for hilling.  David applying compost in the background with the cattle looking on

Benjamin using the wheel hoe to prepare parsnips for hilling. David applying compost in the background.  Cattle looking on.

Bruce and Marshall preparing to plant out seedlings

Bruce and Marshall preparing to plant out seedlings

Laying hens just got a new patch of clover

Laying hens just got a new patch of clover.  Num num num

I thought this grape was toast, but it came back!!

I thought this grape was toast, but it revived and sent out a new shoot!!

We were putting landscape fabric around the seedless grape plants.  Luckily David was able to take a little break.

We were putting landscape fabric around the seedless grape plants. Luckily David was able to take a little break.

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See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Marshall, Benjamin, Lori, and Nadege

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Week 8: Horsefly Catcher

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This week in the pack we expect to have:

edible podded peas; 2 bunches of carrots; salad mix; large basil; zucchini; a choice of dill or cilantro; cucumbers; garlic scapes; strawberries.

** Don’t forget this week we have an alternate pick up location for Victoria Park customers: 1187/5 Queen St around back.  It is on the corner of Queen and South.**

This week on the farm we were cleaning up after post tropical storm Arthur but we were very fortunate to get away with minor damage.  Some crops got thrashed around, part of the cattle shed blew off, a number of trees blew over or cracked, and the chicken coop window got blown out.

Coop window

Coop window

There were some very tense moments when we wondered if we should take the plastic off the hoop houses!  The crew had to make a few adjustments, but in the end, there was no damage.

Hoop houses after the storm and after mowing the buckwheat around them

Hoop houses after the storm and after Bruce mowed the buckwheat around them

We lost electricity on Saturday morning and got it back on Sunday around noon.  Somehow the cattle knew it was off and they decided bust through their electric fence to go wandering down the boat house road, and into the marsh.  I was happy for them, and they looked like they were enjoying their freedom, but by Sunday evening, I was worried they’d wander into someone else’s garden, or worse, into traffic.  So, I grabbed a bucket of grain and with David and Peter bringing up the rear, I called them.  My insane ‘here boss!!’ call.  They all appeared, and actually followed me back for about 1 km.  It sure saves a lot of work if they follow the call.

Cattle looking like they are swimming in the marsh grass

Cattle looking like they are swimming in the marsh grass

At one point, they got ahead of me, and I worried they’d go right on by their paddock and onto a road with cars.  Much to my surprise, they turned right into their paddock.  I sure like obedient bovines!!

I took this blurry photo while running after the cattle

I took this blurry photo while running after the cattle

This week was very special for two reasons:  David’s parents visited us from Boston, and Nona Fuller’s son Peter came to live at the farm for 4 days.  Peter fit right in with the crew and he worked really hard.  He’s going to come back for most of the summer and help out more.  Yay!!  What a delightful guy.

Bruce and Peter packing basil

Bruce and Peter packing basil

Peter's first harvest morning on Tuesday.  It was wet.

Peter’s first harvest morning on Tuesday. It was wet.

Peter disappearing in his t-shirt.  It happened a couple of times

Peter disappearing in his t-shirt. It happened a couple of times…

David’s parents told me that when he was a little kid, he would hang out in the kitchen with Danny, his father.  That’s where he learned to cook so well.  His mom, Hannah, also told me he didn’t really play with toys.  He just played with whatever was around him.  She said he played with beans on the floor a lot.

Now he likes to play with toys!!  I should say tools.  Like the tractor, tiller, thresher etc.  The newest one is the rotary power harrow.  Finally!  It is a special piece of gear that goes on the BCS and gets rid of weeds without pulverizing the soil like the tiller does.  We are really excited to use it on all the raised beds ready to plant.

Rotary power harro

Rotary power harrow

David is cleaning out the cattle shed and building a manure pile right now.  A fundamental operation for building soil fertility and tilth.  Here is Frank, the manure pile.  He’s probably grown since I took the photo.  Frank has a great view of the river.

Frank, the manure pile

Frank, the manure pile

We’ll cover Frank with a black tarp and he will shrink.  Little red wiggler worms will turn him into rich compost for next spring.

In general I like little critters.  But I really can’t say I like horseflies.  I don’t like the way they bite into us, and I don’t like their creepy green eyes.  So I’m in the chicken coop collecting eggs the other day and I notice one of the hens jumped up on the nesting box, which is tricky because it is slanted.  She makes her way up to the screened window and proceeds to consume about 15 horseflies in 3 seconds!  She waits around a bit longer, one more appears, she grabs it in her killer beak, and then she hops off.horseflyhunter

I also noticed in the evening that the hens will stand in the coop and kill mosquitos on its wall.  Tap tap tap tap tap.  Ecological pest eradication!

See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Marshall, Benjamin, Lori, Nadege, and Peter

 

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Week 7: Relaxing Wind

carrot7This week in the pack we expect to have:

2 bunches of carrots; salad mix; large basil; a choice of chard, kale, or perpetual spinach; a choice of green onion, dill, or cilantro; cucumbers; sugar snap peas; strawberries.

This week on the farm it has been hot!  Crops have been trellised, weeded, and irrigated; manure has been taken out of the cattle shed for composting; and things have been growing!

Peter and Nona helping out with a weeding job

Peter and Nona helping out with a weeding job

We are excited to welcome Peter, Nona Fuller’s son, to our farm team.  Nona is a faithful Fleming Park customer, and has known Bruce for about 6 years through the Hearing Institute.

As I write this, it seems like the strongest of the winds are passing over the farm.  I am feeling a little tension as I watch things blow around and trees crack.  Bruce and David are monitoring the hoop houses and fixing ropes, ribs, and plastic. We are hoping the hoop houses don’t get shredded because there are some mighty fine tomatoes starting to ripen up inside!

David came back to the house just as the line holding our bird feeder snapped off the wall and nearly hit him in the head.  He thought he’d better come in before he gets hurt.  A perfect opportunity to relax a bit.

The electricity has been off for several hours, which means our electric fencing is not operating.  The cattle decided to go for a stroll out of their fence, down the boat house road, and into the salt marsh.  They are having a ball!  I am grateful they didn’t decide to stroll down the Red Bank Rd. to go visit some neighbours.

Cattle on the marsh

Cattle on the marsh

Here are some photos from this last week.

Trellising in the fox field

Trellising in the fox field

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Weed control with black plastic

Weed control with black plastic

Onions are coming

Onions are coming

Compost!

Compost!

These are a collection of potatoes selected by Raoul Robinson for disease resistance.  I think they are so pretty

These are a collection of potatoes selected by Raoul Robinson for disease resistance. I think they are so pretty.  I planted them this week to continue the selection process

Marshall made a bracelet with scapes

Marshall made a bracelet with scapes

Nadege

Nadege

arugula7See you soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Benjamin, Marshall, Lori, and Nadege

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