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

Week 22: Orange

sunbeamtractor22This week in the pack we expect to have carrots; kale; potatoes; herbs; small salad mix; nappa; sweet pepper; celery; broccoli; eggplant, or second broccoli, or parsnip; and apples.

This week on the farm was stunningly beautiful!  The mild temperatures have really helped vegetables grow.  Thanks Gonzalo!  We got most of our winter supply of firewood cut, split, and stacked.  Bruce started planting garlic.  We now have the root crop washer installed in the wash shed.  Must be time to harvest storage carrots.  The first batch of Nelson’s came out a phenomenally bright orange.

Rob and Janice Teale organized their annual apple cider pressing today.  It is the first time in many years that the weather was warm and inviting for this event.

maggycider22

Maggy the farm cat posing with freshly pressed apple cider

Here are some photos from this week:dashincoop22 broccoli22 calendula22 raingear22 janiceboys22 rye22 leeks22

See you all soon!

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

 

Posted in CSA, Produce Pack, visiting and events, growing vegetables | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Week 21: Giving Thanks

Racoon prints

Evidence of night-time visitors:  Racoon prints

This week in the pack we expect to have carrots; daikon or french breakfast radish; beet/chard/kale; leeks; potatoes; herbs; small salad mix; nappa; apples; pepper; and onions.

Don’t forget this week is the beginning of the 4th quarter for those of you who pay ahead. We have 6 weeks to go, ending in the third week of November if we have sufficient produce.

This week on the farm we are noticing unusually mild weather and for that we give thanks.  Jeff Hart, the backhoe operator who created the pond spillway and fixed the bank, predicted we would have 3 extra weeks of fine fall weather.  Remember when we worried all the rain would break the banks of the pond??  It seems so long ago.

jeff hart21

I asked Jeff where his prediction came from and he said it was from observing the fish.  Their pattern was off by 3 weeks, which correlated with the late spring, and in the fall, more mild weather.  It seems he was right!

We are also very very grateful for our loyal customers.  What a terrific group of people!  It was so nice on Saturday to get to know a few of you better.  I’m glad so many people made it to the Open Farm Day!

We are also grateful to our phenomenal farm crew!  It doesn’t get any better.  Thank you all for being there with us and for your extra work and very kind contributions.  Every one of the crew added their own flavour and we also have appreciated their feedback.

Our church family has also been such a sweet blessing in our lives.  Many helping hands have driven all the way from Halifax to labour in the fields, encourage us in our faith, and in our work growing healthy food for our customers and for the church members as well.

For all of this, we are humbled, and very thankful indeed.

Here are a few more photos from this week.

What sweet kids to snuggle with!

What sweet kids to snuggle with!

redonions21

ginger21

Bruce sorting vegetables

Bruce sorting vegetables

Ginger for Seaport Market

Ginger for Market

Nadege made the BEST parsnip fries.  Very simple.  Fry in oil, add salt, and serve on a paper towel

Nadege made the BEST parsnip fries. Very simple. Fry in oil, add salt, and serve on a paper towel

thomas21 kimchee21

Benjamin giving a fermentation workshop at Open Farm day

Benjamin giving a fermentation workshop at Open Farm day

Kim Chi

Kim Chi

See you all soon!

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

 

Posted in CSA, Ginger, growing vegetables, Produce Pack, Recipes, visiting and events | Leave a comment

Week 20: Git ‘er done

Wild witch hazel blooming in October.  Amazing remedy for burns.

Wild witch hazel blooming in October. Amazing remedy for burns.

This week in the pack we expect to have carrots; peppers; hot peppers; lettuce or salad mix; potatoes; tomatoes; herbs; parsnips; apples/pears; kale/beet/chard/nappa; and leeks.

Don’t forget Open Farm Day on Saturday October 11 from 2pm on.  Benjamin has offered to do a vegetable fermenting demo/workshop.  Please let us know by email if you are interested.  Also, Marshall’s partner Hilary has a show featuring her photographs at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery (a 10-minute drive from the farm, in Summerville).  So if you visit the farm, you may want to check out her show.  And also check out the restaurant, which features food from local farms including ours.

If you are paying quarterly, the next payment is due by Monday October 13.

This week on the farm we’ve accomplished a lot of big jobs.  David finished staining the house, which is a huge relief.  It was getting to the point where the clapboards were cupping and in a couple of places, starting to rot.  We also finished harvesting and storing all the potatoes.  We also dug up, evaluated, and selected the seed potatoes.  The next big crop to harvest is the squash.  The squash was set back by Tropical Storm Arthur so we are harvesting it late and we’ll let it cure in the greenhouse for best flavour.  potatoB20

potato20Unfortunately our pasture ran out so we had to put the cattle in the barn and start feeding them hay.  The good thing is, they start producing manure for composting earlier.

cattleshed20

lucy20

Lucy (foreground), and Frank in the background

We have a new compost pile.  Her name is Lucy.  She’s hanging out behind the barn with Frank, the covered compost pile.  Lucy is made up of sheep and chicken manure composted with lots of hay bedding.  She will be covered very soon.

Here are a few more photos from the week:

cub20 lasttomato20 market20

Benjamin and Andrea's daughter Elianna discovered a Ladybug on her forehead.  She was pretty cool about it.

Benjamin and Andrea’s daughter Elianna discovered a Ladybug on her forehead while visiting the farm. She was pretty cool about it.

See you all soon!

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

Posted in Produce Pack, visiting and events | 1 Comment

Week 19: Small is beautiful, profitable, and ecological

Marshall and Raj

Marshall and his buddy Roj, who works at Dave’s Produce Packs in NB

Hello all! Marshall here from the Abundant Acres farm crew. I will be making a guest appearance as the author of this weeks newsletter.

This week in the pack we expect to have carrots; peppers; hot peppers; lettuce or salad mix; herbs; onions; kale/beet/chard/nappa cabbage; tomatillos; hopefully tomatoes; and cortland apples.

Before I go further, I must make a quick comment about last week’s newsletter.  Although the post was about strong farm women, Jen humbly forgot to mention the strongest of all the farm women here at Abundant Acres: herself! Without Jen’s quiet yet essential advice, ninja level office management, and excellent care of the animals, the farm would simply cease to be the haven of bountiful eggs and vegetables that it has become.  A huge thanks to Jen for giving it her all on the farm, day in and day out!

Last week I had the privilege of travelling to seven different vegetable farms in Quebec with a group of many distinguished Maritime vegetable producers. The trip was an amazing opportunity to soak up knowledge on vegetable production and connect with other growers.

Every farm has developed their own unique set of growing systems that work for them.  By visiting and observing these systems at work I was able to pick up some tips and tricks that could be useful here at Abundant Acres. This kind of exchange of ideas is how farms keep evolving and improving!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is an example of a pepper trellising technique used by many producers in Quebec.  By setting up simple trellises with rebar and twine in their hoop houses, the peppers have plenty of room to grow to their full delicious potential and are held above the ground to decrease fruit rot.

We visited farms of all sorts of sizes and specialties. Some were as large as 370 acres (that’s over 275 football fields of veggies!) and some were as small as 1.5 acres (just over one football field of land).

Mont Rouge

Mont Rouge

Potager Mont-Rouge is the largest farm we visited with over 250 acres of various squash grown in an innovative cover crop mulching system. Woah!

Although each farm presented its own unique learning opportunities, the most impressive farm we visited (for me at least) was the smallest of them all, known as Les Jardins de la Grelinette.

Run by Jean Martin Fortier and Maude-Helene Desroches, this intensive and productive market garden stands as a testament to the fact that small is indeed beautiful, profitable, and ecological. Over the past 10 years this farming power couple have created an incredibly efficient micro farm that supplies over 200 families with vegetables, relies primarily on hand tools and a walk-behind tractor to function, and provides enough money for their family to live comfortably. As an aspiring young farmer looking to make a living from the land and grow healthy food in an environmentally sound way, the visit was incredibly inspirational. Yes, it can be done!

Jean-Martin demonstrating the use of a broadfork

Jean-Martin demonstrating the use of a broadfork

Jean Martin using his favourite market gardening tool: la grelinette (the broadfork)! This tool allows him to deeply aerate and loosen the soil without destroying the soil structure and ecology.

By using permanent raised beds with minimal tillage, applying lots of compost, and planting vegetables densely to create a crop canopy, they have managed to increase the amount of stable organic matter in their soil from 2% to 10% and have encouraged the proliferation of beneficial soil bacterial and fungal communities essential to plant growth. Since at Abundant Acres we have been experimenting with similar growing techniques, it was very educational to walk around les Jardins de la Grelinette and observe their systems at work.

Dense canopy cover at Les Jardins de la Grelinette

Dense canopy cover at Les Jardins de la Grelinette

Canopy cover at Abundant Acres

Canopy cover at Abundant Acres

Planting densely creates a crop canopy that decreases topsoil erosion, prevents weed growth, and increases production per unit area. You can see the canopy at work at both les Jardins de la Grelinette (top) and here at Abundant Acres farm (below).

I returned home buzzing with ideas, but also with a new found appreciation for where I work. Abundant Acres farm has a real spirit of experimentation and diversification that is unique and refreshing. While growing healthy vegetables intensively on a small scale similar to les Jardins de la Grelinette, Jen and Dave have many other interesting and innovative projects on the go. They produce as much compost as they can on-site, grow storage crops for the winter as well as summer crops, manage pastured cattle and laying hens, design and test important tools suited to small scale growing, experiment with cutting-edge cover crop hybrid mulching systems, and much more (seriously, I could go on for pages and pages). Abundant Acres has been an amazing place to learn and grow as a young farmer.

However, don’t take my word for it! Come out and see for yourself on open farm day on Saturday October 11 from 2pm onwards.  As I’ve learned from the Quebec farm tour,  visiting farms is a fun, educational, and rewarding way to connect with the land and people that sustain us all. It is a great way to remember that:

“Whatever lofty things you may accomplish today, you will do them only because you first ate something that grew out of dirt.” – Barbara Kingsolver

See you all soon!

Jen, Dave, Boo Boo, New New, Ben-Chi, Lori and Nash

P.S. Below are more pictures form my trip!

Stawberry seedlings planted in August that will over winter and produce by the 1st of May on Ferme Horticole Jean-Yves Gamelin.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fall raspberries grown in a multi-bay high tunnel (large unheated greenhouses) at Ferme Horticole Jean-Yzves Gamelin.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Robin Fortin of Ferme de la Berceuse describing the unmatched delightful taste of Carmen red peppers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Annual rye grass planted in between beds of field tomatoes at Potager Mont-Rouge, preventing erosion and weed pressure.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now that’s some healthy looking soil! (les Jardins de la Grelinette)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jean-Martin Fortier showing off his award winning leeks at les Jardins de la Grelinette.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Specialized tractor operated mechanical tillage equipment for permanent raised beds at les Jardins de Tessa.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Frédéric Duhamel warning us about a dangerous pest known as the swede midge.  Luckily it has not yet made its way further east.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The group out for a tour at Potager Andre Samson.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Week 18: Strong farm women

Normally buckwheat seeds are black, but these ones are red.  I think I'll save the seed.

Normally buckwheat seeds are black, but these ones are red! I think I’ll save the seed.

This week in the pack we expect to have carrots; peppers; eggplants; hot peppers; garlic; kale; lettuce; a selection of herbs; bok choi; potatoes; arugula/mustards; apples.

How about another Open Farm Day?  Everyone is invited on October 11 from 2pm onward.  It is also David’s birthday!

This week on the farm was very invigorating.  Marshall came back from Quebec on Thursday tired, but full of ideas and stoked for farming.  Laura Lipniki from Laserena Farm in PEI helped us for a couple of days, hoping to learn a few tips.  I really appreciated having a strong farm woman by my side.  She is originally from Columbia and had many inspiring stories.  She encouraged me to take care of myself because I was quite sick.  To be honest, she bossed me around and took excellent care of me .

Laura Lipniki from PEI

Laura Lipniki from PEI

Marshall bunching greens

Marshall bunching greens.  He’s back!

We are still praying for rain.  The rye cover crop came up despite no rain (thank you thank you!!).

Rye cover crop coming up

Rye cover crop coming up

Back to the subject of strong farm women, I want to appreciate Lori, Hilary, and Nadege.  Lori is such a dependable and fast worker.  Practical, spunky, and sweet.  Hilary is Marshall’s girlfriend, and is always willing to pitch in, helping out with whatever is going on.  She and Marshall are going off on a bike tour in October and want to return here to Abundant Acres for another season in preparation for their own farm dreams.  Yay! Nadege is settling nicely into farm life.  She has made the bulk of the meals since she moved in.  This is huge, because there are a lot of people to feed and they are HUNGRY! She is strong in her faith and is determined to help her new husband in any way she can.  She took over when Laura left, making teas and hot drinks and encouraging me to drink them so I would get better fast.

Nadege and Bruce harvesting

Nadege and Bruce harvesting

Hilary getting ready for her bike tour

Hilary getting ready for her bike tour

Here are some more photos from this past week:

We have such a great farm crew that David has found some time to work on re-staining the house

We have such a great farm crew that David has found some time to work on re-staining the house

pepper18kale18

Maggy the farm cat visits on my way to feed the hens

Maggy the farm cat visits on my way to feed the hens

Did someone decorate Flubber, the farm minivan?  The red pepper kind of looks like a nose...

Did someone decorate Flubber, the farm minivan? The red pepper kind of looks like a nose…

Y-rouge continues to patiently feed two calves

Y-rouge continues to patiently feed two calves

Look out for parsnip power

Look out for parsnip power

nose18

See you all soon,

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

Posted in growing vegetables, Health and Diet, Produce Pack, Seed Saving, Uncategorized, visiting and events | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Week 17: Resistance!

brassicas in the mistThis week in the pack we expect to have carrots; peppers; tomatoes; spinach; apples; hot peppers; salad mix; arugula; chard/beets/kale; cilantro/dill/parsley; and garlic.  Unfortunately, our garlic was not a super crop, so we are giving out two per person in case one is soft.

On the farm, there’s a lot going on!  Bruce and Nash are back from their honeymoon and ready to start a new life together.  Yay!

Big News: Marshall is heading off for a week as part of a farm tour in Quebec.  We are very excited for him because he is going to meet some of the most innovative vegetable farmers, including Jean-Martin Fortier at Les Jardins de la Grelinette.  We are green with envy, but he deserves this week off.  He has been working so hard and has been so consistent.  Of course we appreciate our whole team here at Abundant Acres!  But Marshall has been a real superstar of effort.  I hope he learns a lot and has a great time.

Marshall

Marshall

In other farm news, I am very excited because our potato trial is showing some results.  In the spring we planted about 25 different varieties of potatoes to see if any of them had disease resistance potential.  It seems that two of them are pretty darned resistant to blight relative to the others.  They were handed to us by Raymond Loo, an organic farmer in PEI who has since passed away.  His family spent years selecting resistant potatoes and one of them was Island Sunshine.  He also gave us a few tubers of another variety that is not named.  Both are green and growing well, while ALL the other varieties have succumbed to disease.  To see more about our work on disease resistance in potatoes, we have a series of posts on the Heliotrust site.

Island Sunshine potato

Island Sunshine potato, green and growing, with weeds

Chieftain was the variety that seemed to be the most resistant to disease

Chieftain was the variety that seemed to be the most resistant to disease in the past, but here the blight got it

This week David planted cover crops and went to pick up a second hand greenhouse in Berwick.  Putting up the greenhouse will be the next big project.  It comes with fans so the seedlings don’t freeze or fry (a good thing).  We are also hoping to set up a heater in the greenhouse that can run on used veggie oil (like the truck).  But don’t tell anyone because someone might think to make it illegal.

Newly planted cover crop of rye.  In a week or so, it will have a fresh covering of green

Newly planted cover crop of rye. In a week or so, it will have a fresh covering of green.  The ginger greenhouse is in the background.

A load of greenhouse parts David brought home Monday night.

A load of greenhouse parts David brought home Monday night.

Here are some more photos of this week on the farm:

Benjamin cultivating

Benjamin preparing new beds

peppers17david carrotsmardave17vpa17vpb17charlene and GeoffDavid and AilisThanks to Ailis, Geoff, and Charlene for coming out to the farm to help on Saturday.  They weeded the onion bed, and the carrot bed — a total of 500 feet of thankful little seedlings!!  We also got in a great yoga session and made plans to change the world.

See you all soon!

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

Andrea at Bedford pick-up looking mighty fine

Andrea at Bedford pick-up looking mighty fine

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment