Dad says: Need new post…

Evening photo of Cogmagun River, at the end of the winter when the ice has cleared away.  Sigh...

Evening photo of Cogmagun River, at the end of the winter when the ice has cleared away. Sigh…

When my dad says “Jen, I haven’t seen a new post for a while,” I sit up and listen.  I’ll share a few recent photos. We also have a confession to make.  Most farmers at this time of year are in a panic.  There is SO MUCH to do to get ready for the upcoming season.  I think David and I would be in a much more full blown panic if we didn’t have such a great field crew shaping up this year.  Of course it is not 100% settled yet, but we are pleased that Bruce is still on board.  We are also feeling very grateful that two of our customers, Marshall Zuern and Benjamin Lee have joined the crew.  Marshall will be returning from Montreal at the beginning of May. We also have a spunky neighbour, Lori Maxwell, who will be with us part-time.  She also has a catering business called Bare Roots Catering.

Seedlings ready to migrate from the seedling greenhouse to the big kids hoop house.

Seedlings ready to migrate from the seedling greenhouse to the big kids hoop house.

Ginger sprout peeking out.

Ginger sprout peeking out.

Sweet potato admiring a painting by Robert King

Sweet potato admiring a painting by Robert King

Moo!

Moo!

The cold room is coming along

The cold room is coming along

Garlic sprout peeking out above the straw

Garlic sprout peeking out above the straw

Bruce and Benjamin

Bruce and Benjamin

Can you guess what this vegetable is?

Can you guess what this vegetable is?

Bruce and David planting

Bruce and David planting

 

Seedling greenhouse at the end of the day

Seedling greenhouse at the end of the day

See you all in May! PS – We’ve got more spaces left at Bedford, Victoria Park, Fleming Heights, and pick up at the farm.

Posted in Cold Storage, CSA, Ginger, growing vegetables, Produce Pack | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Welcoming New Customers

sidetable2Every day, one or two new people sign up for our produce pack.  Yay!  We are welcoming new folks into the Abundant Acres fold if you know anyone who is interested.

Meanwhile, what is happening on the farm?

1) David and Jen are out on Red Bank Rd. doing the ‘middle-aged shuffle’ so we can be in shape for the spring season.  This might eventually lead to jogging, or even running.  We were inspired by the Mexican Taraumara runners who are fast and happy.  You will notice I have not included a photo with this item.  ‘Nuf said.

2) Bruce and David are doing a lot of crop planning.  That means deciding what to grow, how much, where to plant it, and making sure there is an abundance of delicious food available for our customers every week through the spring, summer, and fall.  Crop planning is somewhat tedious.  It is probably the least desirable part of farming, but oh so necessary.  crop plan cont

3) Ordering seed.  Once the crop planning is finished, the seed has to be ordered.  We got a real shock when David discovered several seed companies had run out of curly kale seed!!!  I guess it is popular.  Don’t worry, we found some.   seeds

4) Keeping the livestock fed and happy.  This means picking up straw to bed the animals, making sure the truck to pick up straw is working, cleaning out the cattle shed and building the compost pile, and then collecting up the cattle (or bribing them) who escaped during the clean out process.

The return of Gertie the truck

The return of Gertie the truck

straw

Compost pile in the sun

Compost pile in the sun

Escape!

Escape!

5) Cutting firewood.  Ack!  We haven’t started that yet.  We always have to cut firewood a year ahead of using it.  It serves the double purpose of clearing the edges of the fields and keeping us warm in the winter.  Sorry, triple purpose.  It keeps the little seedlings warm in the seedling greenhouse in the spring.  Gosh, that will be starting soon!

6) Gathering supplies.  David spends a lot of time sourcing tools, equipment, and amendments.  He has to have everything in place and ready to go at the right time when the temperature rises.  He actually loves this job, which is good because he has to do it for the Bethany Garden project too.

7) Hiring the crew.  We’ve hired Bruce and Marshall, and hope to hire Cassie and Stephanie from last year.  I have been spending time figuring out payroll and integrating it into my Macintosh accounting system.  I’m very stubborn about sticking with Mac.

That’s not all of what we do in the winter, but we wanted to share a few highlights.  And welcome the new folks!

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, livestock, Produce Pack | 2 Comments

Week 27: Little Victories

Cover crop growing on back field by the Cogmagun River

Cover crop growing on back field by the Cogmagun River.  A strip of mulched garlic is on the left.

In this week’s pack, we plan to offer apples, squash, garlic, celeriac, salad mix, cabbage, leeks, sweet potatoes, a bag of root vegetables, spinach, kale, herbs, and eggs.  We are distributing the frozen stewing hens for those who spoke for them.  They will make beautiful soup stock!

If you want extra kale for freezing, this is the week!  Let me know how many extra bunches you’d like.  They are $3 each.

Two Fleming park gals were raving about the yummy meals they were making with kale.  They graciously shared the recipes (below).  I’ve also included a couple of links to introduce celeriac (which can be intimidating, but ultimately rewarding) and some great ideas for using other root vegetables.  The websites are worth a scan for other delicious ideas too.

Kale salad recipe courtesy of Bonnie-Sue

Kale lasagna courtesy of Rebecca

All about celeriac

How to use root vegetables

On the farm

OK, it was cold, and muddy, and we’re having vehicle difficulties.  We’re missing Cassie and Stephanie.  But we are feeling so grateful to all our customers who stayed with us right to the end of the season.  Thank you!  We are also feeling grateful for all the leaves you’ve brought to us too.  Those leaves are adding significant amounts of carbon to the livestock pens.  The bedding gets shovelled out and composted, and the compost is used to fertilize and build the fields.  It is a really exciting process!

Thanks for the truckloads of leaves!

Thanks for the truckloads of leaves!

Leaves in the barn add carbon to absorb nutrients, help with composting, and make the animals more comfortable.

Leaves in the barn add carbon to absorb nutrients, help with composting, and make the animals more comfortable.

Another winter preparation job is changing the water from above-ground lines to below-ground (frost-free) lines.  There is a frost-free line in the barn (yay!) and for the animals on pasture, we fill up a barrel at the barn, bring it up the hill with the bucket-loader, and fill up another barrel with a waterer attached to it.  waterbarrel27This is a fun process, but I was intimidated by a critical tool, the dreaded ratchet strap.  I have been struggling with them all summer.  Below is a close-up. On the left is the gear assembly that I’m supposed to be able to use, but no matter how much I practice, it evades me.

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I just couldn’t let it get the better of me.  So I finally (without any on-lookers) took a deep breath and got the strap off.  These little victories are so empowering.

We have also been looking for a source of used (free) vegetable oil to use as fuel in our old diesel truck.  We did the rounds of a number of establishments with deep fried foods on the menu.  Most places take the oil out of the deep fryer after a day (or a week – ugh), and put it outside for pick-up.  The idea is, we pick it up, filter it, and use it in our truck’s second tank.  It’s a little messy, but it sure saves money on fuel!  We encountered two problems.  One, the truck developed a serious oil leak last week on Thursday.  We had it towed to our home garage.  They looked at it and said “we can’t fix that.”  So we had it towed to another garage in Windsor where it sits, waiting to be looked at.  The suspense is killing me!  The second problem is all of the places we asked for used deep fry oil were not able to supply it.  On my way home, I stopped in to the local pizza joint and hallelujah!  The kind lebanese man said, sure, I can save the oil for you.  We will keep looking for more sources, but I’m using this little victory as encouragement that we’ll find more veggie oil for the truck, and we’ll get the oil leak taken care of soon.

Looking Forward to 2014

As the 2013 season comes to a close, we are already getting excited for the coming year.  Our plans include expanding to 200 produce packs, building more greenhouses, and planting a plum orchard.  These efforts reflect our desire to build a business that nourishes everyone connected to it.  Next year we plan to have a lot more carrots, earlier potatoes, more consistent lettuce, and more fruit variety.

Improving the overall quality of our produce is an endless process.  We are increasing our compost production this year with the addition of leaves and straw to our cow and sheep bedding.  Last year we bedded with moderate amounts of waste hay and made about 70 tonnes of compost.  We hope to double that in 2014.

In addition to composting we are getting our cover cropping program established.   This past season, we brought a lot of new fields into use.  Now we have enough space to have soil-building crops on half of our land every year.  Cover crops are a great way increase the fertility of the land while greatly reducing weed and disease problems.

If you filled out the online feedback survey, thank you! We will be getting the results soon.  If you didn’t, or have something further to tell us, please get in touch.  We base most of our decisions on what we hear from our customers, so please let us know what would improve the packs for you.

Since we are expanding, feel free to tell your friends about us.  We will invite everyone from the wait list, and also have room for more.  For those who are interested, they can go ahead and sign up on our website.

See you all soon!

Jen, David, and Bruce

harvestgreens27

Posted in chickens, CSA, growing vegetables, livestock, Produce Pack, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Week 26: Dare to believe

Thanks Karyn!

Thanks Karyn!

In the pack this week we expect to have fruit, squash, onions, hot peppers, salad mix, celery, leeks, two kinds of radish, a bag of root vegetables, tomatillos, potatoes, spinach, and herbs.  The large packs will have an extra bag of salad mix, an extra bag of carrots, and an extra quart of fruit.

We stored the tomatillos for a month, and find that they have more flavour now.  We’ve been putting them in omelettes along with leeks and loving the effect!

omlette26

Omelette with leeks and tomatillos

We noticed quite a few people putting kale in the swap box last week so we are not offering kale this week.  (For those who love kale every week we will have lots in the swap box.)  Since next week is our last produce pack week, however, we thought people might be interested in freezing some kale.  So we will offer it next week.  If you want extra, let me know.  I used to blanch kale before freezing, but now I just cut it up and pack it in freezer bags.  Simple and easy and very nice to have all winter!

For those who have spoken for chickens, we will have them for you at your pick up next week.  Everyone who said they wanted chickens will only get one.  Sorry, the supply is very limited.

On the farm this week we were getting ready for winter.  Most of the crops are harvested, and tender crops were covered with hoop houses.  The salad mix is really fabulous at this time of year, and so is the kale. The cattle and sheep are in the barn, all tucked in with straw and leaf bedding, but with access to outdoor pens.

Friday was Cassie and Stephanie’s last day of work here on the farm.  We said our fond farewells and thanked them for contributing so much to the farm team.  It was beautiful to see the friendship and support blossom between them, and by the end of the summer, bear fruit.  Go in this, thy strength!

Cassie wrote a blog post, which I have copied at the end exactly as she wrote it.

See you all soon,

Jen, David, and Bruce

Abundant Acres crew: Jen, David, Cassie, Steph, Bruce

Abundant Acres crew: Jen, David, Cassie, Steph, Bruce

Kimm Kent joins the gals

Kimm Kent joins the gals

 

Ooops!  Fell in the bin

Ooops! Fell in the bin

stephleeks26 smix26 cass26 hoop houses26 underrowcover gettin ready26

Omelette with leeks and tomatillos

Wet and windy produce pick-up at Victoria Park

Hey yall………………………….This weeks blog comes straight from yours truly, Cassie Wood.

“Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body”

-Marcus Tullius Cicero

I have been on the farm for roughly 5 months now, and the season is nearly comming to the end and I must say its been an honnor and a privilege to have this oppurtunity. I have and continue to learn more as each day  passes. I learn about soil, how to plant and when properly,animals, weeds (good and bad) ect. It is great to know how your vegetables grow and what time that they should be put in to the ground,  how much you should irrigate, when to harvest, what pests you may encounter and how do deal with them ect. Since being on the farm i feel my spirts rise more and more each day. Working with your hands and the land beneath us to grow beautiful and delicious food is so rewarding especialy to be able to feed more than 100 familys a week, also it is good for our bodys, mind and soul. Eating fresh produce every day has really gotten me spoilt. Knowing where your foods come from and knowing that they are not sprayed with a heap of chemicals is a major bonus, things taste so much better when you gain an understanding of how much work goes into  growing them. Well that is my oppinion any ways.

I love it, I get a free tan, workout and get to eat amazing vegetables on the daily (Dave is an amazing cook). Not to mention working  with very beautiful and fullhearted souls. Further more i get to look at the land and begin to understand it. If you just sit and observe, the land, plants, animals and our surrounds they will speak to us, you just have to be open to listen and see. I believe everything speaks to us, just at times we are oblivious to our surroundings.

We encounter a few challenges and glitches here on the farm such as  cows or sheep escaping or weather or time ect. But with support and determination of the Abuntant acres crew we overcome and acheive greatness. Jen, Dave and bruice have taught me so much they are amazing people as most of you may already know. Gaining understanding of their love of life, land, peope, growing food, and constant learnings inspires me. It makes me want to do great things. I aspire to learn more from them.

Another thing i  found very interesting was the new chickens  and seeing the egg growth. They start off so small then get really large then normal again. I find it very fasinating.

On wedenesdays and fridays i get to do the chores, I love doing them. Egg collecting and washing is a fun job,seeing all the chickens come running towards you is a great feeling and when they think you are a rooster and sit for you just makes me giggle every time. It never gets old. Also feeding and moving the cattle and sheep and seeing them  graze. There is just something so magic about it. Although were not a certifide organic farm  we do practice organic farming and quite honestly makes me extreamly proud. There is alot of hard work involved but every ounce of the hard enduring work is worth it. With every bite i take of the food we grow i taste the goodness, I taste the hard work and  i dont have the same guilty effect as if i were buying the same thing that has been shipped a few thousand miles.

Here is a way to use most of the ingredents of a pack……

Subject to change week to week though but you can also add your own twist to it by adding other diced or shredded things.

Choped vegetable salad    

Ingredents:

1-3 lg tomatos ( sm diced)

5-8 cherry tomatos or sungolds (sliced in half or forths)

1 lg red pepper (small diced)

1 onion red or white (sm diced)

4-6 garlic cloves (fine diced)

1 carrot (shredded or juilenned)

1-2 leaves of  kale (chopped)

1 bunch of oragano(diced)

2 tbs of lemon juice

3 tbs olive oil

Mix all ingredients let marinate for at least an hour or serve right away. I like to add minced ginger, parsley, fairy tail eggplant to bulk it up or to add starch and protine  add corn, peas and rice.

So as i sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to thank jen and dave for having let me come and work on there farm, Kim from  moonfire farm for making this possible and starting a change, And for metro works for giving the chance for making this happen Also to the great people who have  been involved in our CSA distriubtion. The W.E.E.D project has been a life changing expierence. A thanks to all  who made it possible.

“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with dispair, we must still dare to dream. and in a world filled with distrust , we must still dare to believe.”

-Michale Jackson 

Sincerly

Cassandra Wood

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Week 25: Fermentation

delicata25This week in the pack we expect to have Ambrosia apples; squash; garlic; salad mix; cabbage; leeks; daikon radish; potatoes; kale; a bag of root vegetables; herbs; and eggs.

Leeks, cabbage, daikon…hmm, what to do…?  Here are some ideas from David’s fall/winter kitchen.

Leeks are tremendously versatile.  Sauté them, and add them to soup for a creamy, thick texture.   Added to any slow cooked meat dish, they impart a delightful sweet onion flavour and creamy texture.  I sometimes cook leeks and chicken in a crock pot with nothing more than salt, pepper and half a cup of water.  Usually, I go further and add curry spices, cream, and tomatoes.  Whatever direction you take, the leeks will make a great beginning to your meat dish!

We also love to sauté them in a pan and then scramble eggs with them for breakfast.  Since we’ll be giving out lots of leeks over the next three weeks, you may end up with a surplus.  If so, you can easily freeze them.  Simply sauté the leeks in a bit of olive oil and pack tightly into a bag or container with no air included.  This year we also added leeks to Kim Chee (see below).

Taking cabbage cookery beyond cole slaw is a worthwhile journey!  My favourite way to prepare it is lacto-fermentation.  Every year we try to make three cabbage-based ferments.  Red cabbage sauerkraut with caraway seeds, traditional green cabbage kraut, and my personal favourite, the spicy ferment from Korea known as Kim Chee. Kim Chee is usually made with Nappa cabbage but Savoy cabbage also works well.  Kim Chee is not only tasty, it makes winter meal preparation so much easier.  The vegetables are already chopped and combined, and the fermentation is like ‘cooking’.  Scoop some out of the jar and on to your plate.  Traditional fast food!  And the best thing is it is so incredibly good for our digestive system!  We love Kim Chee time of year and so do our tummies.  Easy Kim Chee recipe.

The huge white radish you’ll be seeing in your packs are Daikon.  We like it sliced thin and added to stir fries, grated raw into salads and best of all, fermented on its own or added to Kim Chee.

Nappa cabbage ready for making Kim Chee

Nappa cabbage ready for making Kim Chee

kimchi25

Kim Chee in jars, starting to ferment

Kim Chee in jars, starting to ferment

Pear slices about to go in dehydrator

Pear slices about to go in dehydrator (thanks Wilma)

lickear25

Psst Bruce. Do you think this is winter?

rootsfri25

Firday night root washing

irrigation25

Irrigation lines arrived from Quebec.

vanessasun25

Vanessa! There’s a sun coming out of your head again

garlicherb25 cassiehalloween25 streetsales25 sleepy25 cassie25See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Cassie, and Stephanie

Posted in CSA, Ginger, Health and Diet, Produce Pack, Recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week 24: Hope

brucedisplay24In the pack this week we expect to have apples or pears; squash; garlic; carrots; lettuce; bok choy; sweet peppers; beet greens or brussels sprouts; potatoes; hot peppers; kale or chard; herbs; and eggs.

As the colder weather settles in, people start making more soups.  Vegetable soups taste so good with chicken stock.  Soon we will have some hens for sale frozen.  We simmered one yesterday and the resulting stock really warms the belly.  They have been on pasture all their lives, supplemented with whole grains, kelp meal, kitchen scraps, and oyster shell.  We will only have about 25 for sale.  If you are interested, email Jen at jenredfox@gmail.com with the number you would like.

As usual, it has been an eventful week on the farm.  The mother hen and her three chicks have gone to live at Moonfire farm close by.  Vogue, the cow, and Apple, her newly born bull calf have gone back to Parkside Farm where Vogue will join the milking line.

Apple, 1 day old, and Vogue, his mom.

Apple, 1 day old, and Vogue, his mom.

newherd24

The winter herd

I was sad to see Apple go.  He was so soft and fresh.  Phil and Bernice at Parkside Farm brought a new young bull, along with three cows/heifers to spend the winter here.  They’ll be out on pasture for the next few weeks, and then they’ll move to the luxury cattle shed.  It has nice fluffy peat moss bedding, and the animals can go in and out at will.  Over the winter, they will produce the material for our next big compost pile.  And we all know that compost = delicious vegetables and fertile land.  We really value our relationship with Parkside Farm and with Moonfire Farm.

After weeks of searching, we decided to buy a truck to haul produce to the city.  The minivan couldn’t handle the loads anymore.  This truck is OLD (1986) and we hope it will do the job.  David is in love with her, and so was the previous owner.  I saw testosterone in action as Adam handed over his beloved old diesel Ford to David.  We are hoping to use veggie oil to run her, and save on the fuel bill.  Does anyone know good places (restaurants) to pick up clean vegetable oil?  We’re keen to hear about them.

The old Ford is brown and tan.  (Sorry it is not a great photo).

The old Ford is brown and tan. (Sorry it is not a great photo).

This week Cassie, Stephanie, and I harvested potato seed from our disease-resistance trial.  They looked good!  Everyone was impressed with the row of potatoes that looked better than all the other potatoes.  I am hoping that we will be able to select a variety or two that will be resistant to blight AND taste great.  potatotrial24

We are on the lookout for bags of leaves.  We use them for bedding in the barn and the animals find them very comfortable.  We’d be happy to take away leaves from anyone living near the pick-up locations.  Just let us know.

Lawson chopping apples before they go in the press

Lawson chopping apples before they go in the press

Look who's in the bin!

Look who’s in the bin!

See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Cassie, and Stephanie

Posted in CSA, growing vegetables, livestock, Produce Pack | 1 Comment

Week 23: Optimistic Farmer

A joyful romp in the fall

Calf joy

This week in the produce pack we expect to have pears; salad mix; squash; leeks; carrots; brussels sprouts; sweet peppers; eggplant; potatoes; kale or chard; herbs; and eggs.

My new favourite recipe blog is Nourished Kitchen.  Check out the Baked Butternut Squash Fries!  My other favourite is the mysteriously named Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter.  Both focus on using and enjoying real food.  Please add your favourite food/recipe blog to the comments section below.

Last week we welcomed Stephanie back to the farm.  She will be taking on light duties during her recovery period.  Cassie and Stephanie are working here for another two weeks.  Thanks to Kimm Kent and Metro Works, along with Service Canada for their work placement on the farm.  It has been a great boost to us.

On Saturday night many of the livestock got out of their enclosures and went for a full moon adventure.  This set the dog barking and the geese honking at 3 am.  The sheep – who are not generally the adventurous types – decided they wanted to go back to the barn.  They marched down the hill and put themselves in their favourite pen.  Too comical!  We are VERY happy they didn’t go an help themselves to the kale and carrots in the front field.  Disaster averted.

See you all soon!

Jen, David, Bruce, Cassie, and Stephanie

Our 3 little friends

Our 3 little friends: Pumpkin, Beercan, and Peach.  We think Peach is a boy

A fennel fan!

A Fleming fennel fan!

alien23

The full moon is having an effect on Stephanie too…

onion23cassiechard23purple cabbagechard23

Sign of a busy market gardener: harvest elastics don't come off  during lunch

Sign of a busy market gardener: harvest elastics don’t come off during lunch

broccoliring23calvesfall23

Posted in CSA, Produce Pack | 1 Comment