Thiessen Farms

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CSA 2015 – Final Week!

Our last big crop of the season is squash & pumpkins. Most of them are now in bins in the barn & ready for selling – and eating!



This year we grew about 30 varieties of squash & pumpkins. We choose as many colours & shapes as possible to make for an eye-catching display at market. And of course flavour is very important! There isn’t enough space on our farm to grow a lot of any of these – just enough for CSA & our farmers’ markets.

Here are pictures & descriptions of most of them. (The same gourds are in each picture to give some idea of the relative size of each squash.)

Butternut – everyone’s favourite squash. Rich orange flesh with a nutty flavour. We grew 5 different kinds of butternut – various sizes.


Black Futsu -bright orange flesh with the flavour of hazelnuts.


Sunshine – a beautiful, bright orange squash (inside & out) with a sweet & somewhat dry texture. Sunshine are great for pies, baking & mashing.


Blue Hubbard (heirloom) – an old variety that is large, yellow-fleshed, somewhat dry, and not too sweet.


Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato (heirloom) – a small, sweet, tasty, acorn squash.


Jarrahdale (heirloom) – a beautiful, slate-grey, high quality, delicious pumpkin.


Long Island Cheese (heirloom) – tasty pumpkin that looks like a wheel of cheese.


Boston Marrow (heirloom) – large, dry & sweet, with good flavour.


North Georgia Candy Roaster (heirloom) – a long, banana shaped squash with sweet, orange flesh.


Moranga (heirloom) – a pink to salmon coloured squash from Brazil used to make a traditional “camaraona moranga” or shrimp in a squash.


Tetsukabuto – deep yellow flesh with a sweet, nutty flavour & smooth texture.


Stripetti – a spaghetti/sweet potato cross. The flesh is stringy like spaghetti! More flavour than a plain spaghetti squash.


Australian Butter (heirloom) – beautiful, peach coloured squash from Australia with good flavour.


Musquee de Provence (French heirloom) – The flesh is deep orange, rich & moderately sweet. The outside turns a rich brown colour as it ages.


Red Warty Thing or Victor (heirloom) – gorgeous, red-orange, large squash covered in bumps.


Galeux d’Eysines (heirloom) – commonly called “peanut” squash. A pale pink squash covered in warts or peanuts, & used for soup in France.


Porcelain Doll – a pink pumpkin used for pies, soups …


Sweet Dumpling – small, individual sized squash with very sweet, moist, yellow flesh.


Mini-squashHoneynut (mini butternut), Gold Nugget (mini orange hubbard) & Shokichi Shiro (mini kabocha).


Assorted small pumpkins


What’s in the box?

Squash, Bosc pears, tomatoes, sweet peppers.

extras – hot peppers & Bartlett pears.

  • Your choice of a few squashes this week! Not all the varieties listed above will be available – but there will be a good selection! Squash can be stored for a few weeks & up to several months for some kinds. It is important to keep them dry & cool. The easiest method (& our favourite way) to prepare squash is to slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it – usually at 350 C. until it is soft when poked with a fork (approx. 45 minutes to an hour depending on size). Bake it cut side up or cut side down – it really doesn’t matter. Then scrape the flesh out of the skin, mash & enjoy. You can add brown sugar or maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter squash, or just salt & pepper.
  • The Bosc pears in your box are still very hard & green. They will take more than a week or 2 to ripen. Bosc are at their peak for eating when they begin to turn a golden brown colour. If kept refrigerated, they will last until Christmas.
  • Tomatoes & sweet peppers are coming to an end along with the CSA. Enjoy the last of them!
  • There are still hot peppers available.
  • So many of you have said how delicious the Bartlett pears are. Grab another basket if you want more. Eat them now while you wait for your Bosc pears to ripen.

This is the final week of our CSA for this season!

Thank you to all our members for being a part of this adventure in fresh eating! We hope you enjoyed all the vegetables & fruit. 

See you next year! 

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CSA 2015 – Week 17

The season is coming to an end.

The orchards are empty – all the trees are picked.

Many of the vegetables fields are empty too.

Our last workers are leaving this week – one going home to Mexico, and one going to work at a greenhouse operation for a few months.

Our CSA program is wrapping up – only 1 more week after this one.

But the season is not completely finished.

While the orchards are empty, the cold storage is full of pears to be packed.


We are still picking some vegetables – tomatoes (mostly just some small cherries), eggplant (though the plants are going downhill fast), kale (still going strong), peppers (both sweet & hot continue to slowly ripen), and maybe some lettuce (here’s hoping the last planting will mature in time & still taste good). But our ambition & enthusiasm for harvesting is fading as fast (or faster) than the plants.

The squash & pumpkins are picked, but mostly still curing out in the fields & waiting to be hauled into the barn.



We washed the last of the gourds today – it’s time for fall decorating! Our market displays are very colourful this time of the year.


Although the CSA is finishing, but the farmers’ markets continue – one closes after Thanksgiving & the other goes right until the end of October.

Our days begin a little later now as the sun is slower to rise in the morning. It sure was beautiful this morning!


What’s in the box?

Squash, tomatoes, sweet peppers, garlic, kale, Bartlett pears.

extras – hot peppers.

  • The first taste of squash will be in your box this week. Next week’s newsletter will have pictures & descriptions of the many kinds we grow. Some will be familiar & others are less common.
  • The cooler weather on the weekend immediately slowed down the ripening of the tomatoes & peppers. Enjoy them, as they are coming to an end.
  • Another garlic bulb is part of your share this week. We have all the garlic trimmed & cleaned. Now we have to count out enough for planting & then we can see if there will be more for CSA next week or not?
  • Kale is one crop that likes the cooler fall weather. It gets sweeter as the weather gets colder!
  • Can you guess that there is an abundance of Bartlett pears this year! Your box will include another basket this week. They will be greener & will last longer – especially if stored in the fridge.
  • A selection of hot peppers will again be available for those who enjoy them.

Here are a few pictures of last week’s CSA pick-up …




Only 1 more week left for CSA 2015!


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CSA 2015 – Week 16

The rain on the weekend was very welcome!

Things were quite dry on our farm, and the trees & vegetables were looking a bit weary after the heat of the previous weeks. However, 2 days of rain perked them up & freshened up the entire farm (including weeds).


But it certainly looks like fall here.

Many of our tomatoes – especially the heirlooms – are brown & dying back. Other, like these cherry tomatoes are growing wild & unruly and still pumping out the fruit.




There is only 1 row of peaches yet to be harvested.


Some years when it is cool, these later peaches have little colour, and a dry texture. This season thanks to all that warmth we have had, they are colourful & flavourful – sweet & juicy!


The Bosc pears are still on the trees & will be picked this week.



A new planting of kale ready to be cut.




What’s in the box?

Green beans, cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, Bartlett pears, Seckel pears.

Extras – peaches, hot peppers.

  • A late summer planting has produced a bounty of beautiful green beans. We had some at dinner today & they taste wonderful!
  • The cabbage that looked so good the other week is being eaten rapidly by … ? Good thing we planted lots – there will be enough for our CSA boxes this week!


It may be the light green, tender, early cabbage that we had a few weeks ago, or the darker green, more robust late cabbage. Then there are some “conehead” cabbages – something new for us this season – that are round at the bottom & pointy on top.


  • Sweet peppers & tomatoes continue to be a part of your share, though perhaps in smaller quantities.
  • It’s fall – pear season! This week there will again be 2 kinds of pears – Bartletts & the little Seckel “lunchbox” pears. A reminder again that pears can change from almost ripe to overripe very quickly. Store them in the fridge. One way to use very ripe pears is to make pear sauce – just like applesauce, but made with pears! Peel, chop, cook, add some sugar & mush them up. It’s easy & delicious!
  • An extra this week – peaches. There will be some #2 grade peaches available for those who want that final taste of summer!

After this week, there will be 2 more weeks in our CSA program for 2015!

Here’s what to expect in your box these final 2 weeks – garlic, pears, squash, sweet peppers, tomatoes, kale …

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CSA 2015 – Week 15

Today was labour day, and we certainly laboured – in the heat & humidity!

The last of the Bartlett pears were picked today. It was a good crop so there are lots of pears for our CSA shares, and to sell at the markets.


The Seckel pears are also picked. These are a very small pear compared to a Bartlett.


Pears are always picked rather green & hard, and then ripened once picked. A Bartlett will get sweeter & sweeter as it softens & turns yellow. A Seckel stays firm (it will never get soft), but tastes sweet – but probably not as sweet as the Bartlett.

I continued to cut down sweet cherry trees today. Once the trees are gone it gives the farm a whole new look – one that takes a bit of getting used to!


The heat & humidity cause an increase in mildew on the squash, gourds & pumpkin plants. As their leaves get diseased and then dry up the squash is revealed, and we finally see what sort of crop there is. We will begin harvest in a week or so.


What’s in the box?

Seckel pears, Bartlett pears, Damson plums, tomatoes, sweet peppers, garlic.

extras – hot peppers …

  • Seckel pears (see brief description & picture above) are the perfect fruit for lunch boxes! Small, firm & tasty, they take up little room, are not easily bruised, and taste great!
  • Bartlett pears are a favourite pear for many people! They are great for eating fresh, baking, cooking, jam, sauce … The pears in your box this week have been ripening in the barn for about a week already. Some will still be a bit firm while others are beginning to soften. We recommend you check them over. If you prefer a firm pear, store them in the fridge immediately. If a soft & yellow pear is your choice, let them sit out on the counter for a day or so – but keep your eye on them. Pears change from almost ripe to over-ripe very quickly! It may be better to keep them refrigerated & bring them out a day or so before you will eat them.
  • The only plum variety that had much of a crop this season was the Damsons. In fact we’ve never had so many Damsons! They are a small, round, somewhat tart plum – especially amazing in jam or baking! But let them get slightly soft & they sweeten up & taste great. There will be some damsons in your CSA share this week. Give them a try & see how you like them!
  • Along with the fruit, your box will also contain tomatoes, sweet peppers & a bulb of fresh garlic. The garlic is dried, so store it at room temperature in a dry place. It is not necessary to keep garlic in the fridge.
  • Hot peppers are an extra again this week.

Here is a Damson plum recipe that a customer from market recommended. She also brought us a sample – it was great!!


Original Plum Torte

  • Time1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield 8 servings


Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamonfor topping


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
  3. Spoon the batter into a spring form of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with (about) 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
  4. Bake one hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream.
  5. To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.


  • To freeze, double-wrap the tortes in foil, place in a plastic bag and seal.



Not everyone was labouring today!



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CSA 2015 – Week 14

Today I’m feeling both happy and sad.

Today I began to cut down our sweet cherry trees – all of them!

We talk about it every year, but this time we are really doing it. All our cherry trees are coming down (except for the few trees in front of the barn – the ones that provide a screen between us & the road).

But certainly all the rest of the cherry trees are going to be history.

It’s sad because they do have a lot of history. Most were planted by my father years ago. Many of them are older than me. I know each tree because I’m the one who has pruned them each spring for more than 30 years. I picked the cherries on these trees when I was a boy. I know which trees ripen their cherries first, which ones always have a heavy crop & where the sweetest fruit can be found. I know where to duck my head when driving through the orchard to avoid the low branches – without even looking ..

I’m happy, very happy because we won’t have the stress of cherry season anymore. “Expect a good crop 1 out of 5 years” is what the old-timers used to say. I say that’s pretty optimistic. It seems that almost every year either the crop is poor, or we get rain at the wrong time & the cherries crack & rot, or the market is slow, or prices are low, or we can’t find people to pick … No, we definitely won’t miss cherry season & all it entails.

I will miss eating cherries ripe off the tree though!





Anyone need some good firewood?

What’s in the box?

Garlic, shallots, kale, tomatoes, sweet peppers, peaches.

extras – eggplant, hot peppers

  • The first of the garlic is finally dry & ready – and it tastes great!
  • This is the first time we have grown shallots & we’re a bit surprised by their large size and beautiful colour. Good Housekeeping says that shallots are similar to an onion, “their flavor is richer, sweeter, yet more potent. Like garlic, they grow in clusters, with several bulbs attached at the base. You’ll recognize them by their coppery skins and their off-white flesh, which is usually tinged with magenta. Shallots add a great depth of flavor to pan sautés, soups, sauces, and stews, and pair especially well with chicken and fish. To substitute one for the other in recipes, use half the amount of shallot that you would onion”. Try our shallots & let us know how you like them.
  • Your green this week is kale. Enjoy it raw in a salad, sautéed with your shallot, or blended in your morning smoothie.
  • Tomatoes continue – in abundance. Our go-to lunch these days includes tomatoes, onion, eggplant & garlic sauteed together & eaten on toast – quick, easy & delicious! Enjoy the different colours, & sizes & shapes in your box this week!
  • There will be another sweet pepper in your share. But the plants are hanging full of peppers & sooner or later there will be more.
  • Peaches! The season is winding down & we only have a few varieties of peaches left to harvest. This may be the final week that peaches are part of your CSA. For anyone thinking of purchasing extra peaches to can or freeze – this is the week to do it!
  • extras – more eggplant along with hot peppers. We are growing about 25 kinds of hot peppers this season. The first of them are ready & will be available for those who want them. They will be the milder Hungarian hot wax peppers and jalapenos. The hotter varieties won’t be ripe for a few weeks yet.


This week our ducks found their wings & are enjoying the wonders of flight. They like to see things from a higher vantage point!







CSA 2015 – Week 13

It’s the same every year.

And every year I mutter & whine about it – how messy & disheveled the farm looks at this point in the season.

Harvest is a busy time and always take priority over other work, especially farm maintenance and just making things look nice. So the weeds grow, the wild areas become a little wilder and we pretend we don’t see it.

Or rather, we try to look beyond the mess & find beauty anyways – ignoring the big picture & focusing in on the details.





In the peach orchard there are now more empty trees, than trees with fruit.



Many of the vegetable fields are mowed down or worked up and ready for a cover crop to be planted, with only a row here & there of vegetables waiting to be harvested.



But there is beauty here too!




The tomato patch has become a jungle – a jungle producing an abundance of amazing fruit!


The cabbage is forming nice, firm heads.


And the Bartlett pears are making their final growth spurt before harvest.



What’s in the box?

Cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, collards, pears, peaches. 

Extras – white peaches, eggplant.

  • The first of the cabbage is in your box this week – a mini head called Tiara. The seed catalogue describes it as a lettuce-like cabbage called “lettage” – good tasting, tender, crisp & juicy, excellent for coleslaw or salads. We’ll see if it is an accurate description.
  • Sweet peppers are in short supply – thanks to the mice that keep nibbling on them as they ripen! But there will be at least 1 for every share.
  • Tomatoes on the other hand are plentiful! The possibilities are endless – tomato sandwiches, roasted tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato salad … Our favourite tomato salad includes lots of chopped up tomatoes, some onion, a drizzle of vinegar, a sprinkling of sugar, and lots of dill.
  • Another bunch of collards is part of this week’s share. We have included a recipe below for collard greens with pears.
  • This week’s pears are called Harrow Delight. Similar to the pears in last week’s box, they are sweet & tasty now – don’t wait for them to turn yellow & get soft. They are best eaten while still firm.
  • Peaches! There will be another basket of peaches in your box this week. For some there can never be enough peaches, but others are telling us that they are getting “peached out”! How about peach smoothies on a hot day, or peach cobbler for dessert? Grilled peaches are a favourite of ours (just cut the peach in half and put it on the grill cut side down until soft. Then flip it over until warmed through). Surplus peaches can be sliced, laid out on a baking sheet & frozen overnight. Then bag up the frozen peaches & use them throughout the winter for smoothies, on oatmeal, cereal or yogurt …

Extras …

  • White flesh peaches might be new to some of you. Like the name suggests, they are white inside, instead of yellow. They have almost a floral fragrance, and are very sweet & juicy. We will have some #2 grade white peaches ready for you to try.
  • An assortment of eggplant will also be available.

*** We are pleased to offer extra fruit or vegetables  for our shareholders when available. However we ask that you only take enough for your own family’s use – not for other relatives or friends.



Collard greens with spiced pears 
2Tb unsalted butter
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch ground cloves
1-2 pears – peeled, seeded, and cut lengthwise into thin slices
kosher salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot or onion
2Tb olive oil
1 bunch (or up to 8 cups) collard greens – trim & cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
freshly ground pepper
Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in cinnamon, cayenne, and cloves
In a medium bowl, gently toss the pear with the spiced butter mixture and 1/4 tsp salt.
Arrange the pear slices in a single layer in a 12″ skillet and sprinkle the shallots in the spaces between. Cook undisturbed over medium-low heat until the pears are golden on one side, 3-5 minutes.
Gently turn over the pears and stir the shallots. Cook until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Gently transfer pears to plate, leaving the shallots in the pan. Add 1/3 cup water to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Transfer the shallots and any liquid to a small bowl.
Heat the oil in skillet over medium heat and add half of the green, quickly stirring and turning with tongs. Once the greens have just started wilting, add the remaining greens. Pour the shallots and liquid over the greens. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover with a tight lid. Braise until the collards are tender, about 5 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the pears.
Sprinkle with nuts if desired.

(adapted from fine Cooking magazine)


Oliver out to save the crops from marauding mice!


CSA 2015 – Week 12

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that our CSA boxes were green – just green – and shareholders were wondering when something besides green would appear?

Things have been much more colourful lately & this week is no exception. There is colour bursting from every fruit & vegetable that we are harvesting now – colour & flavour!

peaches …


pears …


heirloom tomatoes …


sweet peppers …


mini sweet peppers – something new we are trying. (We just grew a few so they will be available at our farmers’ markets only.)


eggplant …


some of the different eggplant we are growing …


What’s in the box?

Peppers, tomatoes, beans, onions, eggplant, peaches, pears.

  • Our sweet peppers are beginning to be ready for harvesting, so there will just be a single pepper in your box this week. Hopefully the numbers will increase.
  • Tomatoes have certainly increased. The weekend warmth meant a very large pick today – field tomatoes, heirlooms of every size & colour, and lots of cherries too. This is the week to feast on tomatoes!
  • The beans are slowing down but you will find some beans included in your share again – onions too!
  • The pictures above show the vast array of eggplant that we are growing this season. Eggplant will be available for those who want it.
  • Peaches are plentiful, colourful & flavourful! Enjoy them because the season is short. Another few weeks & they will be gone!
  • The first pears of the season are part of your share this week. Harvest Queen is their regal name, a rather grand name for such a small pear. They are already sweet & delicious even though green. Eat them now while they are still a bit crunchy.


There is sadness on our farm today. We said good bye to our Meesha this afternoon. She took ill on the weekend & it became apparent that she would not recover & return to health. Amy got her as a puppy and we all have enjoyed her for almost 13 years.

Meesha was always smiling & happy to be with us!


She always found joy in the cold & snow!


I especially enjoyed our daily walk around the farm.


We will miss you Meesha!


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