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CSA 2018

We have been accepting applications for our CSA 2018 for a few weeks now. Response has been good!

For those wondering …

Here are some examples of half share boxes from last year …

CSA pick-up day in our barn …

And some pictures of the farm & the crops …

CSA applications & more information is available on this site, or email us at



Winter reading

I’m not ready to let winter go.

Certainly the sunshine & warmer temperatures of the last few days have felt amazing …

And the forecast of a potentially large snowfall later this week is rather unwelcome. I am so over snow plowing, piling on the clothes just to go outside to do chores, and constantly stoking the wood stove in the shop to keep the temperatures above freezing …

But winter is my time to read. Stretching out on the recliner with a cup of coffee, the cat on my lap, and a good book – a great way to spend a cold winter’s day!

Among the top books from my winter reading was The Third Plate – field notes on the future of food” by Dan Barber. This optimistic book looks at where our food system should be going and is going, from a chef’s perspective. Another good one is In Search of the Perfect Loaf – a home baker’s odyssey” by Samuel Fromartz. The author goes on a worldwide quest to learn about baking the best bread. Along with a lot of books, I enjoy reading magazines, and internet articles. Not surprisingly, many are about farming.

Now with spring approaching, the time for relaxing & reading is coming to an end. It’s time to take what I learned from my reading and apply it to our own farming practises. That’s exciting & challenging! We have lots of plans, lots of new ideas, and lots of optimism for this upcoming season!

I’m ready for spring … but a bit more winter weather would be okay too – I’ve still got a few more books to read!


Sage update.

Sage desperately wants to make friends with the Flynns. They’re warming up to her – slightly. Then she bounds after them …

Sage loves running on the bales …

… and digging in the pile of wood chips.

We are confident she will be a great dog – eventually!







Meet Sage …

Introducing Sage, the newest member of the team here at Thiessen Farms.

Sage came to the farm a couple of weeks ago and quickly stole our hearts! Technically she belongs to Amy which means Amy has all work & expense & time & trouble … of training her and ensuring that she grows up to become a useful member of the farm.

The rest of us get to simply enjoy her!

Sage’s mother is a Bernese Mountain dog and the father is unknown. Her paws indicate that she will likely be a good size dog. Sage appears to be quite intelligent and has easily learned basic commands. But being a puppy, she also obeys selectively and at her whim. She is loads of fun!

Good pictures are limited as Sage does not prefer to stay still.

She is excited to make friends with the cats. Oliver has reluctantly accepted her & mostly ignores her, but the 2 Flynns want nothing to do with her.

Sage loves the security of her porch. Here she sits and watches the farmyard and all that’s happening.

Sage looks forward to meeting everyone when our CSA program begins later in spring!



Winter eating

An extremely robust squash plant enveloped our compost pile last summer. When the fall frosts killed it, the fruit was revealed …

It resembles a pink banana squash (a variety we have not grown in several years), but who knows! The squash had several smaller siblings which we took to market where they sold quickly. This monster was too big – takes up too much room in the truck, plus a little awkward for someone to lug home on the subway!

So it has been sitting in the barn since fall, waiting …

There are now 2 small, dark spots appearing on the side & the stem end is getting soft. Before it spoils it will have to be eaten – either by us or the chickens. Most likely it will be both us and the chickens. Seems there should be plenty for all! It will be interesting to see what it’s like inside & what it tastes like.

We still have other “fresh” vegetables left in the barn that we are eating. There’s a few assorted squash – mostly butternut, some onions, garlic, a handful of wilted carrots & several large, winter kohlrabi (the same as the kohlrabi we had in the summer, just way, way larger). And tucked into our fridge is a bag with 2 Chinese cabbages.

The onions & garlic are always useful & a welcome part of our meals, but the rest … let’s just admit that we lose our excitement for these roots by the new year. Fortunately we put a lot of vegetables into the freezer last summer including peppers (sweet, hot, & roasted), roasted tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, kale, corn, edamame, squash, and some herbs. We also dried some herbs & hot peppers, made some jam & jarred a whole lot of tomato sauce & salsa. We definitely will not go hungry!

But that doesn’t stop the craving for fresh-from-the-field vegetables. This season’s seeds are arriving in the mail daily. As I unpack the boxes and check the packages I dream of juicy, warm cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, crisp lettuces and even eggplant. They suggest not grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Similarly, it’s not helpful to choose your crops & shop for seeds when you’re desiring fresh food! The result is more seeds, of more varieties, of more vegetables, than we had planned to grow!

It felt good to spend a few hours outside on the farm this week. We finally got the garlic patches mulched with a thick blanket of straw. We prefer to do this when the ground is frozen but without much snow. The straw will then keep the soil frozen throughout the freeze/thaw cycles of our winter and prevent the garlic cloves from heaving & being pushed out of the ground. When spring finally comes and the garlic sprouts & grows, the straw will prevent the weeds from growing too, and competing with the garlic.

We like to stay warm & cozy in the winter – and so does the garlic!













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The beginning of winter.

And now it is winter! Cold temperatures, biting winds, snow covering the ground …

At least that was the weather last week.

Now we’re back to milder temperatures, melting snow, and slush – normal winter weather for Niagara!

I love it!

After a seemingly endless and mostly pleasant fall, it’s nice to settle into winter. The first snow signaled the end to our outdoor work.

Now we can move inside  …

  • to the office – to catch up on our bookkeeping. This is also the time to review our notes & evaluations of the crops etc that we made all summer and to begin planning for next season. (The seed catalogues have arrived).
  • to the shop – to clean, tidy & organize and begin winter maintenance & building projects.
  • and to the comfy chair to relax, read & perchance to nap even.


Seems like everyone has moved inside for the winter!

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No, we don’t miss the peaches!

Rarely does a week goes by that I’m not asked the question – the same question. The wording might be different or it’s asked another way, but it is basically the same question …

Do you miss the fruit?

It has been exactly 2 years now since we removed our fruit orchards – cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines, pears – to focus on growing vegetables. And people continue to ask about it.

(for a bit of background, check these blog posts from when this happened.,            ,

I think what’s often meant by the question is – did we make the right decision? After all, ripping out a few thousand fruit trees, some of which had been in the ground for well over 50 years is a big thing! And once it’s done, there is no going back.

These past 2 years have been difficult & scary!

We always considered vegetables to be a supplement to our tree fruit. Now they have become our main enterprise. That means growing the quantity & quality required to make a living. There are no peaches to fall back on! The first year was extremely dry while this past season was too wet. Both of these were challenging conditions for scaling up production. On the marketing side, we immediately lost many of our CSA members who were there for the fruit. Others tried the new “vegetables only” CSA for a year, found they really missed the fruit and moved on. At the farmers’ market, our customers’ reactions ranged from disappointment to anger. Not a market day has passed in these 2 years that they have not reminded us that our fruit is missed. It continues to be a struggle to regain our customers & their loyalty.

But these past 2 years have also been exciting & fun! After a lifetime of growing tree fruit, it’s been a great change to concentrate on vegetables.

  • The miracle of planting a tiny seed in the soil, watching it sprout and grow, and then harvesting a crop in as little as a few weeks – that never gets old for me!
  • I like that every year is a fresh start. We can grow the same vegetables again or try something new. We are not bound by what we grew last year. A few dollars for a pack of seeds and it’s a whole new adventure!
  • If a crop is damaged or lost to insects, disease, weather, even our mistakes … we can replant and try it again. Unlike fruit where there’s only 1 opportunity each year, vegetables offer more chances.
  • Vegetables respond rapidly to their growing environment. Nutrients or the lack of, water (enough, too much or too little), weed pressure, temperature, cultural practises … all have an immediate effect. It’s fascinating to see how we can so quickly influence their growth, and learn to provide optimum conditions for the best vegetables.
  • I enjoy the task of planning and the challenge of timing our seeding & planting to hopefully result in a harvest – the right amount of the right vegetable at the right time… (The fruit trees mostly set their own schedule which we could influence very little).

We are probably working harder physically & mentally now than when we grew fruit. Part of this is because we have fewer workers around to help, & partly because we’re still learning better & more efficient way to do things. But we also work fewer hours, spend more time observing, and take more coffee breaks!

So … do we miss the fruit? Not at all! It was the right decision – a great decision!


















Planting garlic. Late October. Warm weather & sunshine. T-shirts. Beautiful leaves. It doesn’t get any better!

Garlic is always the last thing we plant in the year. Once tucked in the ground it sends out roots & gets established, then waits through the cold winter until the warm spring temperatures return, when it sprouts and grows.


This is our last week of farmers’ markets. We finish the season on Thursday 26 at North York. We’re excited to be done!

For the end of October we have an amazing amount of vegetables & herbs to pick for our final market – lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, winter radishes, carrots, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, sweet & hot peppers, kale, baby kale, parsley, cilantro, chives and pawpaws. Other crops stored in the barn include squash, baby pumpkins & garlic. And it will work out well – there should be enough of all these for the market and then the fields & the barn should be about empty.

We’re also working at cleaning up the farm. Yesterday we pulled all the posts in the tomato patch & mowed down the plants, and disced lightly. We’ll spread a layer of manure or compost yet, seed cover crop if conditions allow, and this field will be ready for winter.

Other parts of the farm that were cleared earlier & seeded to cover crops are showing new green shoots. We’re pushing ourselves to get the fall clean-up and other work done. The temperatures have been so nice lately that we tend to forget next week is November and cold weather could soon be here.

But until then, we will enjoy this beautiful fall!