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Fall

“How was your year?”

“Did you have a good season?”

These are questions we get asked all the time in fall. They are asked by farmers & non-farmers alike, by friends & neighbours, relatives, acquaintances, customers & CSA members, even by strangers.

I sometimes wonder what people consider to be a “good season” ?

  • To us a good year means we grew and sold some good crops – healthy, delicious & beautiful. We did that!

  • We had good employees. Dependable, capable, cheerful workers on the farm & at market are essential to the smooth running of the farm.
  • The weather co-operated – mostly.
  • Sales at our farmers’ market were up again. And spending Saturday mornings at the Georgetown market and seeing all our friends – vendors & customers – is always a highlight of the week.
  • Our CSA program was a success. We had the numbers needed to make the program worthwhile, and our members were great! They showed up week after week to grab their box and were appreciative & kind, and generous with their conversation. Our new fall CSA worked well too.
  • We all managed to stay healthy and injury/accident free all summer – no small feat during this time of COVID and as our bodies age. Farming can be challenging & strenuous – both physically & mentally.
  • We were able to spend a lot of very enjoyable time with our grandsons on the farm. They love it here, playing and learning.

So yes, overall it was a good year.

Thank you for asking!

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Around the farm this month …

We are still picking greens for our own use – amazing how much cold they can tolerate.

Our kids from BC were finally able to visit, and these cousins got to meet each other for the 1st time!


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Fall CSA – final week!

Our season is rapidly coming to an end.

This is the final week for our fall CSA program. By all accounts it has been a success. The weather co-operated and we have been able to keep the boxes full of delicious vegetables – and even pawpaws! Our members have appreciated the extra weeks of fresh produce.

After some light frosts throughout October, we finally had our first heavy freeze last week. While it finished off the remaining sunflowers, the salad greens & beets came through it undamaged. There will be plenty in the boxes this week.

Once we have picked our vegetables for CSA this week, whatever is left in the fields will be picked and sent off to the food bank.

We have covered one bed with hoops and row cover. Under it is a mix of salad greens for us to eat as long as the weather allows. The cover should extend the season for awhile – we’ll see how long.

One of the last major jobs on the farm in fall is also one of the most important – spreading manure & compost. The smaller pile is guinea pig manure – that’s right, guinea pig manure! We have neighbours who breed & show guinea pigs and bring us manure every week when they clean the cages. It adds up over the season and we have quite a big pile of beautiful manure mixed with wood shavings. The larger pile is 40 tons of mushroom compost that we had delivered the other day. We mix the 2 piles together and spread it over the farm. This, together with the cover crops that we grow, feeds the soil and all the living things in it. The result is healthy, vibrant soil that grows our beautiful, tasty and healthy vegetables.

What’s in the box?

Cabbage/Chinese cabbage, squash, garlic, beets, salad greens, green onions.

The final week of CSA includes some storage vegetables – cabbages, squash, garlic & beets and also some vegetables to eat fresh – salad greens (probably our salad mix and spinach or bok choy …) and green onions.

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Around the farm this week …

Autumn mornings are beautiful on the farm – whether frost or fog or sunshine … and the colours …

Thank you for being a part of our 1st Fall CSA!


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Fall CSA – Week 4

Let me be honest and just say it outright.

We are lacking for ambition this time of year.

For sure we are still getting work done – but it takes us longer each day to decide which jobs to tackle and how much we need to accomplish.

There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, we are tired & weary from a long season – both physically tired and also mentally. And secondly, the schedule we followed all summer – the one that was basically the same all season long, the one we didn’t really have to think about because it was so similar week after week – is done. Seeding, planting, weeding, (almost all of the) harvesting, marketing & selling … is complete. Now we are into the clean up & put-the-farm-to-bed-for-the-winter time of year. Fortunately we have a list of fall chores that we can work from – crossing a few off the list each day gives us a feeling of accomplishment.

Today we planted garlic, the last crop to be planted this year. We put in 7 rows, each 250′ long. That’s approximately 4500-5000 cloves. Should be enough!

The other day I burned the brush pile.

We have also dug up the dahlias, cleaned in the barn and the workshop, painted the back barn door, cut down the plants in the water garden, winterized some of the equipment and put it away, emptied the outdoor water tank and removed the pump, filled the indoor water tank …

And the list is getting smaller – just like our ambition!

What’s in the box?

Chinese cabbage, fennel, radishes, salad greens, green onions, garlic, pawpaws.

Extras – squash

  • We did it! We finally got some nice Chinese cabbage – it has taken all season and more than a few tries but it sure is beautiful. Crisp, tender, and mild, Chinese (or napa) cabbage is delicious eaten fresh in a salad instead of lettuce. Or use the large leaves as wraps, make it into coleslaw, kimchi or stir-fry it. While the outer leaves are a lovely green colour, the inside is often creamy white. (If you want to save it for later, it will keep for a month or more wrapped in plastic in your fridge.)
  • This last harvest of fennel is also the nicest of the season. Enjoy it fresh in a salad or slaw or try the soup recipe below. A longtime customer from Georgetown market shared a tub of this soup with us along with the recipe. It is super delicious!
  • There are still a few pawpaws on the trees – so we decided to add them to the CSA share this week. Pawpaws are a “tropical fruit” native to North America, growing in the Carolinian forests in Kentucky, Ohio and north to Southern Ontario – around Lake Erie & in the Niagara peninsula. Once popular with indigenous people & early settlers they began to disappear as the woodlands were cleared for farming & development. Now they are considered to be somewhat rare. The taste – the taste is heavenly! Distinctly tropical like a banana/mango/pineapple with a soft, mushy, custard-like texture. I slice them in half & scoop out the delicious flesh with a spoon. (Each fruit has a lot of large, hard seeds to eat around.) Let it get very soft before you eat it. It may turn brown & bruised but that’s ok. That’s when it will have the sweetest flavour.
  • Radishes, salad greens, green onions & garlic complete the box this week – our 2nd last week of the season.

Tricia’s Fennel & Roasted Garlic Soup

2 fennel bulbs

5 redskin potatoes

½ large sweet onion

2 carrots diced

1 roasted red pepper

Saute vegetables in olive oil in a stock pot.

Then add 2 bulbs of roasted garlic.

Add water to cover and cook.

Add 4 cups vegetable stock and seasoning – nutmeg, celery salt, dill seed, cumin, allspice.

Use a potato masher to break it down.

When serving, top with this yogurt topping.

Combine plain yogurt, lots of finely chopped chives and fennel fronds, salt & pepper.

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Around the farm this week …

The final beds of salad greens to be harvested this fall.
Sunflowers blooming too late for market, but the bees are still enjoying them – as are we!
Fall is a beautiful time of year!

Everybody was enjoying the sunshine & warm fall weather today!


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Fall CSA – Week 3

Our Georgetown Farmers’ Market ended this past Saturday.

And what an ending it was!

Rain, wind, cold, sun … we had it all.

But after a summer of almost perfect weather every Saturday we felt we shouldn’t complain – though of course we did anyway.

Despite the weather, sales were good and it ended up being a very successful day. Georgetown residents always support their market in a big way.

Thank you Georgetown for a great season!

What’s in the box?

Red cabbage, radishes, beets, pea shoots, salad greens, green onions, sweet pepper, garlic.

Extras – winter squash

  • Red cabbage is a favourite vegetable of mine – especially the way my mother prepared it. I have included a similar recipe below.
  • Radishes are usually considered a spring crop, but they thrive in the cooler weather of fall as well. Enjoy a bunch of “spring radishes” in your box this week.
  • Continuing with red vegetables, we are still harvesting beets.
  • Pea shoots are a delicious green that taste like … peas! Snip them off as needed and add them to your salads, sandwiches, wraps and even stir fries. If you cut them about half way down and keep them well watered, they will regrow and you can keep on harvesting them.
  • Salad greens, green onions, sweet peppers, and garlic complete the box.
  • Winter squash is available for those who want it.

Sauteed Red Cabbage

  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium head red cabbage – shredded
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat for several minutes.
  • Add cabbage and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.
  • Add vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper.
  • Lower heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Around the farm this week …

A colourful pick up for week 2 of our fall CSA, last week.
Our 2 rows of old blackberries have been removed & the roots pulled.
Here are the 2 new rows planted in 2021. Next year we will harvest our first crop.
Tomatoes – gone!
Plenty of beautiful greens growing for the last 3 weeks of fall CSA.

Fall colours in the gardens and around the farm.


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FALL CSA – Week 2

Week 1 of our new fall CSA was a big success. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend we filled the boxes with plenty of fresh, delicious vegetables – and even fresh sage for stuffing the turkey!

Week 2 includes several vegetables that have not been in the box this year. And there are still good things to come. Fingers crossed that we continue to have some nice weather so the vegetables keep growing!

Planted the last greens of the season today – a suitable Thanksgiving activity I think. We are thankful to be finished planting as we have been at it for 8 months. But we are especially thankful for an abundant harvest this year!

What’s in the box?

Carrots, Swiss chard, salad greens, green onions, sweet peppers, squash, garlic.

  • Anyone who has been a part of our CSA before knows that carrots are not often found in the box. They are just not our thing! Carrot seeds are slow to germinate and require several things that we are not able to provide in the field – consistent moisture & weed-free soil. But we can provide them in the greenhouse, so we started our carrots there and transplanted them into the field. This works much better – except that carrots don’t like to be transplanted. They grow well but turn out misshapen and wonky. So in your box this week are carrots – in all sorts of shapes & sizes. They taste great! But don’t frustrate yourself and try to peel them. It’s not worth the effort. And also not necessary. Simply wash them and enjoy – both the way they look and especially their taste!
  • Swiss chard is in the box this week, for the 1st time this year. Colourful, nutritious and delicious, chard can be used in many ways. Check cookwithwhatyouhave.com for a good description of chard and 47 recipes that use it!
  • As usual the salad greens could be spinach, arugula, kale or bok choy. Most of the greens are doing well and thriving in these cooler temperatures. Add some green onions and a sweet pepper to your salad as well.
  • Winter squash & garlic complete the box. Both of these vegetables store well – keep them dry and at room temperature or slightly cooler.

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Around the farm this week …

Most of the vegetables have been cleaned up and mowed down – like the pepper & eggplant patch.
The stakes & string have been removed from the tomatoes. This week we’ll pull the posts and mow down the plants.
We have begun cutting down the old blackberries and moving the wires to the new blackberry rows.

It’s pawpaw season! We have been taking them to market for the past 2 Saturdays. It’s a good crop and there are still plenty to ripen. Never heard of pawpaws? Read our blog post from several years ago for a good description & pictures.

Rosemary is growing, and getting even more adventurous. Today she ventured as far as the big greenhouse and beyond.


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Fall CSA – Week 1

It’s all about the weather. Always. On the farm.

(And lately in the news too – big weather events have been making headlines.)

At the farmers’ market, we greet each other by asking about the weather. All summer the question was, “Did you get any rain this week?” Lately the question has changed to, “Any frost yet?”

Already 2 Saturdays ago there was frost for some farmers resulting in crop losses. Here in Niagara frost often holds off until early October and a hard freeze comes even later.

With our Fall CSA beginning this week and running until early November, we have been hoping for no early frosts and a month of pleasant weather. There are still a lot of vegetables growing in the field that we would like to harvest. We are counting on these vegetables to fill our CSA boxes!

But this morning we awoke to frost – a frost that was neither forecast nor expected. It was a fairly heavy frost, enough to do some damage. Fortunately most of our crops will recover – this time.

Welcome to our fall CSA.

It’s all about the weather.

Frost is both damaging and beautiful!

What’s in the box?

Cabbage, green beans, sweet peppers, fall radishes, salad greens, green onions, squash.

  • Our fall cabbages are still small – it was very dry when we planted them and they got off to a slow start. But they taste great! We have green cabbage this week with red yet to come.
  • The green bean plants were damaged by the frost, but we were able to pick off the beans. Same with the sweet peppers – we picked what we could and there should be enough for a few weeks.
  • Fall radishes, most salad greens & green onions were not hurt by this frost and are included in your share.
  • Winter squash completes the box this week.

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Around the farm this week …

Autumn brings some amazing skies.

The last of the roses.


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CSA 2022 – Week 17 – Final week!

The final week of CSA brings mixed emotions – as usual.

Certainly we are happy & excited to be finished – the picking, washing, & packing of the vegetables, along with setting up for CSA pick-up and the actual pick-up itself. Together with the growing – seeding, planting, weeding, watering … it has been a busy time.

Of course Lorie enjoys seeing and visiting with all our CSA members and will miss this part of it very much.

But while the summer CSA program winds up this week, our new fall CSA begins next week. So there is really no rest – yet. We had a good response to this new venture (it is now full & no more applications are being accepted), and are looking forward to it.

Plus, we still have 3 more weeks at the Georgetown Farmers’ Market to grow & prep for.

Thank you to all our CSA members!

Thank you for your confidence in us to grow safe, healthy & delicious food for you & your family, for your dedication to coming to the farm each week to pick up your box, and for your willingness to eat whatever you found in the box. CSA is a big commitment for the members as well as the farmers.

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What’s in the box?

Winter squash, sweet peppers, edamame, salad greens, garlic, green onions

  • Choose from several varieties of winter squash again this week. We will have them labelled along with a brief description to help you make your choice.
  • Today was a good day. When I picked sweet peppers I was putting more in the basket than I was throwing away – that’s a first for this season! There are even some coloured peppers (Thursday & Friday pick-up last week saw a few of these already).

  • The last CSA box of the season includes the last of the edamame. That worked out well!
  • The salad greens are enjoying this cooler weather. Lettuce is still in short supply, but there could be spinach, bok choy, arugula, or mixed salad … in the box.
  • Garlic has been part of the box for 11 weeks now. Keep it dry and at room temperature or slightly cooler and it should last well into the winter. If at some point you feel it is getting soft and are worried it might spoil, then freeze it. Break the bulbs apart, peel the cloves and put them in a glass jar in the freezer. Then whenever you need garlic for a recipe grab as many cloves as you need. We suggest using a glass jar because the strong garlic odor can seep out of a plastic jar or bag into the other food in your freezer.
  • Green onions complete this final CSA box .
  • Extras – eggplant, tomatoes, hot peppers …

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Around the farm this week …

At this time of year the farm includes both nice, clean, new beds of vegetables (above) and tired & weedy vegetables (below).

The fall/winter cover crop is coming up in our big field. This is where we will be growing vegetables next year.
Eggplant still growing strong

Thanks again for being part of our CSA!


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CSA 2022 – Week 16

The passing of time can be marked in various ways – by weeks, or months, or seasons …

But here on the farm we most often measure time by crops.

And right now it is squash time (otherwise known as fall).

While our customers have been asking about it for awhile, we have been in no hurry for squash. Our stock answer is that we haven’t even looked at the squash patch since we planted it. And that is not far from the truth.

We started the squash seeds in the greenhouse at the end of May and then transplanted the seedlings to the field a few weeks later. A mixed cover crop was seeded into the field about the same time. We hoed the squash once and then never set foot into the patch until last week.

This is what it looked like, so we really had no idea if there was any squash there or not.

Why do we neglect our squash? Because squash is not a high value crop. It takes up a lot of space, for a long time, with little return. So it is not worth putting much time or effort into raising it. Fortunately squash doesn’t demand much attention. We grow it because it matures at the end of our season, when we need to fill our tables at market and need a new vegetable for our CSA box. It looks beautiful, tastes great and people love squash – especially the heirloom varieties we grow.

When we finally ventured into the patch last week, we discovered a decent crop of most varieties. (We grew 15 kinds this year.)

And the real reason we are never in a hurry for squash season? Harvesting squash involves a lot of bending & heavy lifting and we are tired & weary from the long season. But we finally got at it and squash will be available at the farmers’ market this week and in the CSA box.

What’s in the box?

Winter squash, green onions, fennel, fall radishes, salad greens, beets, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic.

  • Here’s part of our squash harvest so far. Choose from several varieties this week. We will have them labelled along with a brief description to help you make your choice.
  • Green onions are back after a long absence. They don’t grow well in the hot weather but are looking good now.
  • Another crop of fennel is ready for harvest. Fennel has a beautiful anise or licorice flavour and is wonderful shaved into salads or sliced on a vegetable tray. Roasting or sauteing fennel results in a milder and very delicious flavour. The green fronds are also delicious and often cooked with fish or added to salads. Check out fennel recipes & tips on how to use it at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com.
  • How did you like the fall radishes? Enjoy another radish in your box this week.
  • There will be a bag of salad greens in the box – maybe spinach, bok choy, or baby kale …
  • Beets, green peppers (the coloured ones continue to spoil from the rains), tomatoes & garlic complete the box.

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Around the farm this week …

The buckwheat field has been mowed, turned under and reseeded to a fall cover crop of oats, vetch, clover and peas. Next summer we will grow vegetables here.
Cover crop already growing where vegetables are finished.

Our market stall at Georgetown this past Saturday.

After this week, there is just 1 more week of CSA!


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CSA 2022 – Week 15

Life is quiet and peaceful on the farm this time of year.

It’s just us here. Our summer student crew has long since returned to school. It is off-season for the strawberry farm next door, so no activity there. Across the road, the neighbour’s peaches are picked and the orchard is empty – of both fruit and people. It is quiet all around.

Depending on the wind direction we might hear the kids playing outside at recess at the school just down the road. Of course the trains go by and whistle for the crossing, but we barely notice. The occasional flock of Canada geese flies over honking. And that’s about it for noise.

Usually.

Friday was different. It was neither quiet nor peaceful.

The neighbours had come the previous night and removed their bee hives from our buckwheat field. Whether some bees were left behind or perhaps some returned looking for their home I’m not sure, but there were a lot of loud and aggressive bees on the farm Friday. And they took their aggression & anger out on us! Vegetables had to be picked – for CSA pick-up and for Saturday market – but the bees wouldn’t leave us alone. We resorted to wearing complete hazmat suits, with only our faces exposed. Not very comfortable on a hot, humid day! We would rush out to the patch, pick for a few minutes until the bees found us then return to the barn for a break, bees chasing us all the way. This continued all day. We never did get everything picked. Finally by late afternoon the neighbours returned with some empty hives for the bees to hopefully gather in.

I suppose it sounds funny and probably looked funny too – but we failed to see the humour. We were hurting from the many bee stings we all received.

Here’s hoping any remaining bees have settled down and are calm for our vegetable picking this week.

Or else your CSA box just might be empty!

What’s in the box?

Fall radishes, kale, salad greens, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers, garlic.

Tuesday only – green beans

  • Fall radishes (often called winter radishes – but I can’t bear to say that in September!) are large, beautiful and delicious. They have the same flavour as spring radishes – but slightly stronger & sharper. Slice them thinly into salads or slaw, or roast them along with other vegetables. Check for recipes at http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com. (Look under daikon or watermelon radishes.) Choose from 3 colours – pink, white or purple. Wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge they can keep for a month or more.
  • This will be the first time we’ve offered bunches of kale in the CSA box this season. Earlier we had bags of baby kale and often there is baby kale in the salad mix. But this week it’s full size kale. Eat it for the great taste and eat it because it is healthy! We are growing black kale (pictured below) – also known as dinosaur kale – as well as curly kale.
  • We know you have been missing our lettuce. It is back! This week’s box will include a bag of salad mix – mostly lettuce, plus some add-ins such as arugula, mizuna, mustard, baby kale … Enjoy!
  • Jalapeno peppers (for those who want the heat), tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers & garlic round out the box this week.
  • There will also be green beans for Tuesday’s pick-up only. Thursday, Friday & Saturday members received beans last week. (There are still several plantings of beans growing. Depending on the weather they may appear in the box again this season (there are only 2 more weeks after this week) and will certainly be a part of our fall CSA.)

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Around the farm this week …

The tomato plants are looking weedy & weary – they have been producing tomatoes since late June.
The weeds are flourishing – they love all the rain we’ve been having.
A few rows of just planted spinach and kohlrabi.

Rosemary continues to amuse us with her kitten antics!

Her and Sage are slowly getting used to each other. It does NOT always go well!

After this week, there are just 2 more weeks of CSA!


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CSA 2022 – Week 14

It’s raining today – a lovely, slow, soft, steady rain.

This rain is very welcome.

While we had some rain last week and the week before, it is ideal to get rain every week in the summer when the crops are growing – and thirsty.

The downside of this rain is the damage it can cause to the vegetables – tomatoes tend to crack, peppers rot, greens too. The weeds will flourish. Our picking schedule is thrown off.

And since Monday is the day we finalize the contents of the CSA box for the week, this precipitation causes some uncertainty there.

What’s in the box?

(Here is our best estimation for the box – but it could be different at pick-up!)

Beets, salad greens, sweet peppers, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic,

and ???

  • Beets are back in the box this week. We are picking 3 varieties – the common red beets, which are a lovely dark colour, golden beets, and the candy cane which are red & white striped. You may find any of these or a mixture in your share. They all taste similar (perhaps the candy cane are slightly sweeter?) and are delicious!
  • We are hoping to include 2 salad greens this week. There could be mini-romaine lettuce, lettuce mix, spinach, arugula or bok choy.
  • Sweet peppers will continue to be picked green rather than waiting for them to ripen and turn colour and risk losing more to rot.
  • Another planting of green beans is ready to harvest – when the weather allows.
  • There are plenty of tomatoes on the plants in the field. Many will crack & spoil in today’s rain but there should still be enough for the boxes this week.
  • Zucchini & garlic complete the box.

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Around the farm this week …

Some of our recent plantings.
The weeds are coming on with a vengeance!
Waiting out the rain in the barn.