Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


Preparing the land

A sunny day. An open field. And a tractor.

That’s all it takes to make a farmer happy!

There is nothing better than feeling the warm, spring sun on your face, riding on the tractor & working the land, watching the birds soar overhead or grabbing worms on the ground, and smelling the soil as it gets loosened & turned.

This was my field and my view today.

This particular field is where we will grow many of our vegetables this season including tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers …

Last summer it rested. Instead of vegetables we grew cover crops here (oats, peas, buckwheat, vetch, clovers …) which grow and “cover” the ground and are then turned under and allowed to decompose, adding nutrients & organic matter to the soil – feeding the soil. The other day I plowed the field and today I leveled it with a disc. A pass with the cultivator will smooth it out and then it’s ready to be planted.

To the left of this field is the patch of ground where we grew vegetables last year. It has already been seeded to oats & peas and will get it’s break from growing vegetables this season.

We are fortunate that we have enough acres that we can rotate fields in and out of vegetable production. Growing vegetables can be hard on the land and giving it a rest helps maintain the soil health. Growing cover crops on it and applying manure & compost in the fall improves the soil health.

And as much as I – and most farmers – enjoy being on our tractors and working the land, we know this is harmful to the soil. Turning it over with a plow or slicing it with a disc disturbs the layers and damages the living things in the soil including bacteria, fungi, worms, insects and plant roots, all of which contribute to the health of the soil.

So we try to keep it to a minimum, disturbing the ground as little as possible, while still preparing the soil enough to allow seeding & transplanting. We are constantly learning, experimenting, evaluating and hopefully improving our farming practices.

But today I was on the tractor – and I loved it!

Happy spring!


Around the farm this week …

We have lots of vegetables in the ground – and we are planting more each day. The sunshine and warmer temperatures this week following the rains of previous weeks make for optimum growing conditions. (The taller plants on the left are kale from last fall. We have been eating & enjoying it. Quickly it is going to flower & then to seed. Then the bees & other insects will enjoy it too.)

The new barn quilt that I painted this winter.

Amy has so many helpers!



It’s April and the farm is springing to life.

After a lot of rain last week followed by sun & warm temperatures this week, things are really going to move quickly!

In the small greenhouse a wide assortment of vegetables are up and growing – with more added every day.

In the big greenhouse we have begun transplanting – a task that will take up much of Amy’s time over the next month and more.

Out in the field the garlic has popped through the straw.

And the blackberries are showing life. This makes us especially happy since we lost our blackberry crop last year due to the cold winter. But this spring the canes are mostly looking good! We will be pruning and tying them in the next week.


Around the farm this week …

Sage and her new friend Jimmy. Jimmy’s mother rejected him, so he is being bottle fed (and spoiled) until he is big enough to join the herd. (He belongs to our neighbour – not us!)

Rosemary is recuperating nicely after surgery last week. But not at all happy with her cone!

We finally got smart and laid ground cover in the greenhouse. This will eliminate weeds and give a nice clean surface for our pots.

A new road sign with our new logo.

Still thinking of joining our CSA? We will only be accepting applications for several more weeks.

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Signs of Spring

March is always a cruel month.

Sunny, warm and spring-like one day, followed by grey, cold, snowy weather the next.

The first flowers bloom, heralding spring, only to be silenced by the snow.

After a long, gloomy winter (the darkest in 73 years so we’re told) we are more than ready for spring. Apparently we will have to be patient – spring will be taking it’s time to arrive.

Fortunately spring has sprung in our greenhouse. The first seeds are up – peppers, tomatoes and onions. And artichokes! We are enjoying watching them grow!

For the first time ever we tapped our 2 silver maple trees in the backyard and collected sap. Boiling it down is a long process, but resulted in some very tasty maple syrup. The first batch was quite pale & thin but later ones were thicker with a lovely, rich colour.


Around the farm this week …

The remnants of the last snow are finally disappearing – but it is snowing again today!

The garlic patch. This is where we will see the first green growth of spring out on the farm – but not yet.

The Flynns and Sage and Rosemary are also anxious for spring!

We are still accepting applications for our CSA program.

Friday pick-up is full, but there is availability on Tuesday & Thursday at the farm, and picking up at the Georgetown Farmers’ Market.


CSA 2023

Twelve minutes!

That’s the amount of time between sending out the email announcing our CSA (community supported agriculture) program for 2023 and receiving our first sign-ups.

After so many years of running a CSA you would think we’d be used to it, but it always amazes & surprises us when people so eagerly join us. (We even had several sign ups already back in December!)

*** New this year will be a fruit option. We are partnering with our friends at Pineview Orchards to bring fresh, in-season fruit. It will be 5-6 weeks depending on the season and may include yellow and blue plums, peaches, nectarines and pears. Pineview is a neighbouring family farm located just 1 road over from us – we can see their new, red barn from our fields. They had their own CSA for several years but have decided to focus on farmers’ markets and their fruit stand, along with wholesaling their produce. We know that the addition of fruit will be welcomed by our members. Pineview will also be supplying some of our winter squash.


And now for some lesser-known-facts & history about our CSA program …

  • This is our 14th year with a CSA program. We began back in 2010 with 10 members – 3 of them are still with us! Other members have been with us for many years.
  • CSA enabled us to gradually decrease our farmers’ markets from 4 each week to only 1.
  • Our biggest year was 2015 with 150 shares. That fall we made the big decision to remove all our fruit orchards and only grow vegetables. This didn’t go over well and we lost over half our CSA members in 2016.
  • COVID was a boon to our CSA as our numbers increased by around 70% from 2019 to 2020.
  • Most of our CSA members live in St. Catharines and Lincoln.
  • Our closest CSA member lives right next door – 2 others are close enough to walk to the farm to pick up their shares.
  • Our furthest members drive from downtown Hamilton – approximately 45 minutes to reach the farm. Other live as far as Stoney Creek, Grimsby, & Niagara Falls.
  • We offered delivery for several years. We stopped because it took to much time, and we never developed a relationship with these members since we never saw them. They rarely stayed with us for more than 1 season.
  • We sometimes barter CSA shares. In the past we have traded for working on the farm, meat, wine, shoes, osteopathy treatments …
  • Last year we ran our 1st Fall CSA program for 5 weeks. It was very well received and we plan to continue it in 2023.

CSA has been a good fit for our farm.

Thank you for supporting us these past 13 years!

We invite you to join us in 2023.


Around the farm this week …

The garlic patch is finally mulched. The ground should be frozen with no snow – but that hasn’t happened all winter! We finally picked a coldish day when the ground was almost frozen. Mulching on soft, unfrozen soil encourages mice to settle in where its nice & warm. But some of the garlic was heaving – being pushed out of the ground by the freezing/thawing temperatures so it had to get done. The garlic will grow through the straw in spring, but most weeds will not.

On sunny days (a rare occurrence here!) the greenhouse is a favourite hang out spot for the cats …

… and others!

Want to join our CSA?
Click here for more details.
Click here for the 2023 CSA application.


Dancing With Smurfs

Our credit card stopped working the other week.

Apparently, when you purchase that much seed, from that many places, all at once, it is flagged as suspicious activity and your card is shut down. Who knew!

Buying seeds signals the official start of the new farming year for us. It means we are finished with the last season and are now looking ahead to the next. That this coincides with the new calendar year just adds to the significance.

Choosing seeds is an important job.

Our entire farm is based on seeds – and the crops those seeds turn into (except for the blackberries – our only perennial crop). So it is imperative that we choose well – quality seeds from dependable seed companies, the right vegetables for our markets, the best varieties for our growing conditions, and the tastiest ones to satisfy our customers.

For 2023 we purchased seed from 10 different companies (plus we save some of our own seed). We will be growing well over 400 varieties of 40 different vegetables, plus about a dozen herbs and more than 25 flowers – mostly edible flowers and sunflowers.

Why do we grow so many different things?

  • Our customers expect it! At market, people often stop by just to see what’s new & different, and our CSA members want variety.
  • Insurance against the weather. Different vegetables thrive in different conditions. Even amongst tomatoes which are warm weather vegetables, we know that some prefer drier conditions, while others like wetter, or hotter, or cooler … Since we can’t predict what the upcoming year will be like, we grow varieties for many weather conditions knowing that at least some will flourish.
  • We grow different crops for the different seasons. Radishes, salad turnips & broccoli grow best in spring when the temperatures are cooler. There are different spinach varieties developed for each season so instead of 1 kind, we will grow 3 or 4 to have a longer harvest. The same with bok choy. Zucchini is a hot weather crop while winter squash matures in the cooler conditions of fall.
  • Diversity is beneficial for the farm ecosystem.
    • Having many different crops makes better use of the soil. Carrots and other root crops grow deep into the soil, drawing their nutrients & moisture from lower than lettuce and other shallow rooted vegetables which gather their energy from closer to the surface.
    • Each vegetable will attract different insects – both beneficial & harmful. Mixing up the plantings and separating similar vegetables can confuse the bugs and lessen the chances of harmful infestations.
    • The rows of edible flowers we grow attract bees & other insects which then pollinate other vegetables growing nearby.
  • We love colour!
  • I have a short attention span & get bored easily. Growing so many different vegetables keeps things interesting.

Each year we try to grow something new. This year’s choice is cauliflower. And we might attempt Brussels sprouts again (last season we were not particularly successful with them – but we learned what to do better for this season).

We always try out new varieties of vegetables that we are already growing – if they offer something beneficial for us. Perhaps a heat-loving broccoli, or a better tasting bean … But tomatoes are our weakness! They are one of our most important crops and there are soooo many kinds we haven’t tried – but simply must! Dancing With Smurfs is a temptation – if only because of the name – but it is too similar to other kinds we grow so we choose to forgo that one! But other new tomatoes that we are trying include Evil Olive, Queen Of The Night, Pink Champagne and even Clint Eastwood’s Rowdy Red (who names these!).

A quick chat with the nice folks at VISA and our credit card was back up & running. The seed buying frenzy continued…

Most of the seeds have arrived now, and are waiting for spring – it won’t be long!

Happy New Year!


Around the farm …

We are still picking spinach. It’s getting more difficult to find some nice leaves – but they sure taste good!

Before the last snowfall.

And the same fields covered in snow.

Sage waiting for snow – her favourite weather!



“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!


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.