At least the hoop houses didn’t blow away…

No, the plastic covered hoop houses didn’t blow away last night when the wind howled around here.  They stayed put.  With tons of snow around them, they weren’t going anywhere!hoopsnow

This winter has been a challenge!  Snow, intense freezing temperatures, more snow!  In my 23 years on this farm, I’ve never seen so much.  It got up to the barn roof at one point.

In other news, our fabulous, veggie oil chugging white delivery van was deemed unfit for the road.  Very sad!  VanGo was very inexpensive and we made good use of him in the 2014 season, but his frame was rotting.  So we had to get a replacement rightaway.  vangone

In a typically bold and outrageous move, David grabbed Bernard (one of our interns came early to learn what farmers do in the winter) and they flew to Ontario on a cheap Porter flight to buy a Sprinter van (diesel) for a great price.  It was posted on Kijiji, and within 6 minutes, was sold, with 6 interested back-up buyers.  We looked in the Maritimes, but there were no Sprinters to be had.  Bernard was happy because he got to visit his friends and family on their trip home.  So let me introduce you to our new delivery van:

sprinter

Do you like the lady on the side?  It was a retirement home excursion van.  David removed the retirement graphics, got her properly serviced, and she’s been incredibly useful in transporting all kinds of building materials and farm supplies ever since.  Can you help us name her (or him)?  We still have to work on the rust and get her ready for delivering produce to y’all.  Yay!

Another thing that has been going on here is we have been hiring our crew of paid interns.  Bruce and Nadege got offered a free house in Halifax in exchange for Bruce’s work on it, so they are moving on.  Bruce will be contributing a blog post of his own soon so stay tuned!  We wish them well, and we’re sure they’ll continue to be involved in some way on the farm.

We’ve been building cabins for the interns.  raisewall

bsfjan29Bernard also built a big door for the barn packing area and fixed all my computer technical issues.  And he made amazing pastry treats. Thanks Bernard!!  I will properly introduce all the crew soon.

machine2

David has been working with Lori’s partner Andrew on his machine idea.  It turns out that Andrew is a genius!  Thanks to Gretchen Bauta, the Weston Foundation, and the Ecology Action Centre for pulling together to make this happen!  I am really hoping this machine will be ready for the 2015 production season.

David spent a lot of time shovelling off the hoop houses as part of his winter exercise routine.  Because we’re in our 40s, we both have to stay in shape over the winter to be ready for the spring.  It’s critical, but also comical!  You’ll have to trust me because I am NOT including any pictures of us kickboxing in the livingroom.

This has truly been an excellent winter to test the hoop houses!  The end of one of the hoop houses got bent the other day, but otherwise, the 4 hoop houses are ok (so far).  We leave the plastic on to get extra early kale and salad mix.  But mostly we wanted to test the design and materials.  This was also a project in co-operation with the Ecology Action Centre.

davidshovel

Action shot! See that snow flying?

bentrib

There were 5 bent hoops on the kale house. Not bad, considering the immense loads of snow and rain, and then wind

hhsnow

We are so grateful we didn’t get more damage (yet).  It is truly humbling working with the forces of nature!  We are looking forward to seeing everyone soon.  Stay safe, stay warm.

jendave

puffpastry

Bernard’s amazing puff pastry. There is nothing home grown about it! But man it is delicious!

bernard hazel

Bernard also made an amazing german Hazelnusse Torte. With our home-grown hazelnuts.

 

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, Produce Pack, Season Extension | 1 Comment

New Logo!

LogoFullCLarge

Our new logo was designed by our friends at Starling Design, located about 20 minutes up the Shore of the Avon River from us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Four Paid Internship Positions for 2015

Abundant Acres Farm is hiring four interns for the 2015 seasonml14

Application Deadline: January 16, 2015

Apply by email to: Jen Greenberg,  jenredfox@gmail.com.  Please send a letter of intent, resume, and three references.

The internship positions begin in early April and continue until the end of November, 2015.  We provide room and board, workman’s comp insurance, a week of vacation in mid-summer and a salary of $400 a month plus 10% of the farm’s profits. The farm’s budget, earnings, and expenses will be shared with the interns throughout the season.

We work long hours, five days a week, with weekends off except when its your turn for animal chores or farmer’s market.

The main focus on the farm is growing vegetables for a 200 family CSA program plus selling at the Seaport Market in Halifax and several wholesale accounts. We also rotationally graze about ten cattle and care for 200 laying hens, tend young fruit trees and table grapes, cut firewood and engage in other homestead arts throughout the season.  Feel free to browse through our blog to get an idea of farm activities from 2014.

About us

David and Jen have many years experience with farming and farmer training.  In addition to farming at Abundant Acres, they direct the Bethany Gardens apprenticeship program at the Sisters of St Martha’s convent in Antigonish NS.  They are active members of a church in Halifax.  People from the church often come to help with farm work and we bring produce to church every Sunday throughout the harvest season.

Jen is in charge of animal care, fruit tree, grapes, berries, and business administration

David is in charge of vegetable production and fixing things.

Benjamin Lee will be returning for another year on the farm team.  He will be responsible for wholesale orders in the Summer and Fall and will take a leadership position in spring and early summer field work.  Benjamin brings many skills and interests to the farm.  He is a gifted cook, a classics scholar, and has nine years of tree planting experience.

What we are looking for:

People who can meet the challenges of farming: physical, mental, and social.  We are outside in all weather for long hours, moving at a fast pace, doing hard work.   It  takes clear thinking, attention to detail and a lot of endurance to make it here. Since the interns live, work, and eat together, this position requires good social skills as well.

Experience with farming is a plus but not required.   We will hire based on a work history that requires good hand-eye coordination and stamina, the ability to demonstrate an interest in farming, and excellent references.

A primary goal of this program is training  aspiring farmers. Transplanting, weeding and harvesting take up the majority of the labour on our farm, so we usually do these jobs all together as a crew.  Since there is so much more to learn about farming than these “bulk labour” jobs,  we will rotate each crew member through several areas of responsibility on the farm. We plan to group these tasks into a rotation that one intern will be in charge of for a few weeks at a time in addition to the main field work. For example:

Week 1-3  Greenhouse  irrigation and ventilation,  Lunch cook

Week 4-6  Field irrigation, cattle chores

Week 7-9  Chicken chores, mowing, trellising, and row cover

Week 10-12  Machinery maintenance and operation, direct seeding

Two interns will do CSA packing and delivery every Tuesday and the other two will do it on Thursdays

The amount of training time will be directly related to our ability to get the farm work done on schedule.

The internship will begin with an orientation week in the beginning of April.  This is a chance to learn where things are, how we do things, and why.brucehh14 14 crew marshall14 dmb14 garlic14 tractorsun14 ginger14 bm14 market14 md14 vppp14 md14van ben14 lori14 cattle14

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Week 26: First Snow

ben26This week in the pack, we expect to have double potatoes; a large portion of storage carrots; salad mix; herbs; parsnips or cabbage; kale or chard; curly cress; leek; and apples.  We will also offer extra storage roots at the pick ups for $1.20/lb.  I’ve included a recipe for Szechwan Carrot Soup from my neighbour Suzanne at the end of this post.  She was raving about the carrots so she told me about it.

Benjamin will have his ferments available during this week at the pick ups.

Thanks so much to all our loyal customers for showing up to pick up your packs week after week!  You made our business a delight.  Please let us know what suggestions you have for improvements, and how it went for you this season.  You can send us your thoughts by email, or fill out an anonymous survey online.  Or visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8LDQSQQ.

If you are missing the veggies, or you miss Bruce and Nadege, they will be at the Seaport Market on Saturdays.  Right at the front door.

This week on the farm, the weather was glorious!!  On Wednesday David and I went to the ACORN conference (Organic Regional Network) in Halifax.  Bruce and Nadege held things together on the farm while we were comparing notes with other farmers, and learning about the latest in organic farming practices.  We came home on Friday, and the conditions were snowy and slippery.  We passed a lot of vehicles in the ditch.  First snow. Good thing we got the last hoop house covered earlier in the week!

Covering the last hoop house

Covering the last hoop house

bcover26hoop26bdhoop26Here are some more photos from last week on the farm.

Laura and Mitch came to the farm on Saturday to help out.  Here's Laura cracking garlic for planting.

Laura and Mitch came to the farm on Saturday to help out. Here’s Laura cracking garlic for planting.

Eggwink

Eggwink

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Harvesting salad mix for the conference

Harvesting salad mix for the conference

This is what the fox field looks like going into the winter.  We like to have fields covered if we can.

This is what the fox field looks like going into the winter. We like to have fields covered if we can.

See you all soon!

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

Szechwan carrot soup recipe.  Suzanne said she usually doubles the recipe to use the full can of coconut milk.

1 medium onion, chopped

1 rib celery, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 lb carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

3/4 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced

1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes

3 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 can coconut milk (leftover can be frozen)

In a large, heavy saucepan, cook onion, celery and garlic in oil over med-low heat.  Stir until onion softens.

Add carrots, ginger, pepper flakes and broth.  Simmer 45 minutes until carrots are very tender.

Stir in remaining ingredients and cool slightly.  Blend in food processor in small batches.  Return soup to pan and heat over low heat.  Do not boil.  Makes approx. 6 cups.

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, Produce Pack, Season Extension | Leave a comment

Week 25: Migration

poppy25This week in the pack we expect to have leeks; kale or chard; cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or cabbage; potatoes; carrots; beets; squash; herb; and golden russet or ambrosia apples.

This week on the farm we’ve been blessed with more warm fall weather.  It’s nice, but its discombobulating!  It’s hard to believe that it is this warm, and there are only two weeks left of produce packs.  At the end of the season, we always ask our customers to give anonymous feedback in a 3rd party survey.  This survey is conducted by ACORN, the local organic network, so we don’t see who is sending in what comments.  We encourage you to be very honest.  We want to keep building a better business, so we take feedback very seriously.  This is your chance to, once again, help us out.  Please go to this survey link, and fill it out before Nov 28.

On Wednesday of last week, Nadege and I used our sister power to do a produce pack distribution all by ourselves in Fleming Heights.  I really have to thank Nadege for all her spunky volunteer labour contributions to the farm!  It was a beautiful, warm evening, and when we returned to the farm, the full moon illuminated a very unusual migration!  The caterpillar tunnels had migrated, and were transformed from 100-foot hoop houses to 200-foot hoop houses.  Bruce and David had been working hard to set everything up while we were gone.  We had wondered if they just wanted some bro time without us girls.after25

These hoop houses will be covering lots of veggies for the rest of the fall and protecting them from cold temperatures.  We are curious to see if they will last through the winter, and provide extra early tasty, tender produce in the spring.

Some people have mentioned that they will miss our produce after produce packs end.  We will have a market stand at the Seaport Farmers’ Market, right by the front doors.  This will continue as long as Bruce, Nadege, and Isaac are willing to keep going with it.  They’d love to see some familiar faces.

Here are some more photos from the farm:

Wednesday and Thursday are showing off their new winter coats

Wednesday and Thursday are showing off their new winter coats

Buddy watches patiently as David is harvesting the last leeks.  Buddy loves David.

Buddy watches patiently as David is harvesting the last leeks. Buddy loves David.

The hens are totally stoked about the new ground we gave them.

The hens are totally stoked about the new ground we gave them.

Bruce getting ready for market

Bruce getting ready for market

orange25

Benjamin harvesting for a wholesale order

Benjamin harvesting for a wholesale order

See you all soon!

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

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, Season Extension | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Week 24: Transformation

Wild carrot trying to look casual in the carrot field

Wild carrot trying to look casual in the carrot field

This week in the pack we expect to have head lettuce; carrots; sweet turnips; broccoli or cauliflower or cabbage; herb; potatoes; butternut squash; daikon radish; garlic (grown by Stella Nunn at Parkside Farm); and apples (grown by Danny Davison at Fair Acres Farm).

This week on the farm we’ve been working very hard to get the winter crops in.  Bruce started to move hoop houses from the summer crops to winter crops.  We said a fond farewell to Marshall and Hilary who began their big cycling trip today (November 1).

We have only 3 weeks of produce packs left!  There are two preferred ways for everyone to get their deposits back.  1) Let me know by email if you want us to keep it, and apply it to your pack next season; and 2) Let me know by email if you want it back after your last pick up, and, if you want it by cheque or e-transfer.

One morning last week, I went in the cold room and saw that it was organized, and the space very well used.  We knew this change had the marks of Bruce on it.  He is the most likely person to tackle a room and organize it.  Yay Bruce!!  What a fantastic surprise.

'Brucified' cold room

The cold room got smartened up by Bruce

Moving hoop houses to winter crops

Bruce moving hoop houses from summer crops to winter crops

Lori picking brussels sprouts

Lori picking brussels sprouts

Check out that cute little smile

Check out that cute little smile

Nadege claims she's a city girl, but I see her being transformed

Nadege claims she’s a city girl, but I see her being transformed

What a relief!  The pond overflows again.

What a relief! The pond overflows again.

They're back!  Sweet turnips.

They’re back! Sweet turnips.

The gang, sending Marshall and Hilary off

The gang, sending Marshall and Hilary off

A pear of bikes

A pear of bikes

hilmar24display24

Bye!

Bye!

Cover crop after potatoes

Cover crop after potatoes

See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Benjamin, Lori, Nadege

Posted in Cold Storage, CSA, growing vegetables, Produce Pack, Season Extension | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 23: Ambrosia

You never know who you're going to find in the wash shed at night.

You never know who you’re going to find in the wash shed at night.

This week in the pack, we expect to have carrots, potatoes, herbs, small salad mix, sweet pepper, broccoli or cabbage, squash, brussels sprouts, red meat radish, and pears or apples.  The fruit is from Danny Davison’s Fair Acre Farm in Falmouth and is low or no spray.  The pears are Bosc, and the apples are Ambrosia.

Ambrosia apples and Bosc pears

Ambrosia apples and Bosc pears

I must jump in here and tell the story of Ambrosia apples.  These are my ultimate, all-time favourite apple.

In the Similkameen Valley of British Columbia, a chance seedling magically appeared among a row of Jonagold apples.  The chance seedling flourished into a healthy apple tree, and in the early 1990s, it bore its first fruit. The apples were so attractive and delicious, that pickers working in the orchard stripped the sapling clean and ate all the fruit.  The Mennell family, who owned the orchard, decided to produce more of the fruit, swearing the pickers to secrecy until they had enough plant material to corner the market. The resulting apples were as perfect in appearance and taste as the apples from the original mother tree.  Wilfrid Mennell named the bi-coloured apple “Ambrosia”, which in Greek mythology means “food of the gods”.  This apple is also particularly good for organic production because it is so resistant to disease.

This week on the farm, the crew was very busy harvesting.  The cold room is filling up, and the root crop washer built by Isaac Villeneuve in NB was brought down from the original wash shed on the hill to its permanent digs in the basement wash shed, and put to use.  David gave a short training session for the crew on how to use it.rootwashtrain23

It sure saves a LOT of time!

On Tuesday David made the long trip to the Island of Arichat in Cape Breton with Sean Saunders (one of the apprentices at Bethany) to pick up lobster bins for our farm and for Bethany Garden.  It was an outrageous load, a long trip, and a gorgeous day.  Near the end of the trip David had to get some diesel fuel because he ran out of veggie oil.  The fuel cost was only $30.  Way to go Gertie, Sean, and David!  An exceptional team.load23

colorbins23

The bins are colourful and cheerful, as well as sturdy, large, and stackable.  It is amazing what you can get for free.  Once we got the cool weather ratio for veggie oil/diesel figured out, David and I went on a ‘leaf date’.  Talking about free things, we pick up bagged leaves on the way home from church, or meetings, or doing errands.  The hens and cattle love leaf bedding!

Bruce started to move the hoop houses off the summer crops and on to the winter greens.  That means the end of tomatoes and basil.  Eggplants will hang on for a little bit.  But this really helps keep the greens going until the end of December.  The hoop houses also help us start with greens very early in the spring too.  Bruce, who has a Newfoundland heritage, is excellent at moving and lacing up these hoop houses.  Rope handling is like second nature to him.

lastomatoes23

Nadege got in there and collected the last tomatoes.  She is showing great promise as a homesteader.  She said: “I’m turning into my mother!”  When her mother, who is originally Haitian visited, she gathered great quantities of eggplant to take home with her to the Bahamas.  Yay Mama Toussaint!  We have to get her to share a few of her eggplant recipes…

Nadege does not want anything to go to waste!

Nadege does not want anything to go to waste!

 

Here are a few more photos from this last week on the farm.benkale23benkalea23hilmar23benbroc23

Sometimes Marshall likes to get tied up so his pants don't fall down

Sometimes Marshall likes to get tied up so his pants don’t fall down

Bruce had to do a switcheroo when VanGo wasn't working properly.  Good thing we've got back up plans!

Bruce had to do a switcheroo when VanGo wasn’t working properly. Good thing we’ve got back up plans!

All this rain has made the farm roads a mess, but the irrigation pond is full again.  Phew!

All this rain has made the farm roads a mess, but the irrigation pond is full again. Phew!

Bruce is trying out a farm stand at the Seaport Market.

Bruce is trying out a farm stand at the Seaport Market

See you all soon!

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

Posted in growing vegetables, Produce Pack, Season Extension | Tagged , , | Leave a comment