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Happy Birthday!

It was my birthday last week … and I’m feeling old.

It’s not my actual age – though my girls delight in reminding me that I now qualify for the seniors discount (south of the border).

It’s also not the grey on my head – though Lorie points it out while giving me a haircut.

It’s not even because I am tired & weary – that mostly comes from a summer of long hours & hard work.

 

Here’s why I’m feeling (somewhat) old …

  • According to Statistics Canada the average age of a farmer in Canada is now 54. That puts me older than the average farmer. Wow! And more than half of all Canadian farms have operators over the age of 55. Me again!
  • A grade 10 food & nutrition class visited the farm today. They were great kids & I enjoyed giving them a tour of the farm. But when I told them that I have been farming for more than 37 years, that made me old in my own eyes, as well as theirs.
  • I shared the story of our farm to these same students. More & more I enjoy talking about the history of our farm, and what it was like back when I was growing up, or retelling the even older stories that my father used to share with me. Don’t old people do that?

Here are some examples …

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When my father purchased our farm in 1947 there were no fruit trees – it was open land. To earn the needed money to buy trees, he worked in construction for many years. He also grew tomatoes those first years, both as a cash crop & to make use of the land. One year the tomato money was enough to buy a pick up truck! Some of the first trees he planted were these pears – still producing fruit & earning money.

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I talked to the students today about why the farm beside us is no longer a peach orchard but a strawberry farm. They were canning peaches and when the cannery shut down a few years ago there was no market for this fruit. Out they came, to be replaced by strawberries. Any canned peaches purchased in the grocery stores now, are not from Canada.

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This is a lone sour cherry tree, located at the end of a row of sweet cherries, right beside the train tracks. It seems out of place – and it is. But when I was growing up there was a whole row of sours  the entire length of the farm, along the railway tracks. This one tree remains only because it fits in with the sweet cherry row. It will probably come out in a year or so as it is no longer healthy. I’m not really sure why my father planted this row of cherries. But I remember picking them. I also remember how they got beat up & bruised by the wind. Some years there would be train cars parked on the siding & they would protect the cherries from the wind. We would play on those train cars too – sometimes instead of picking!

I remember that row of Damson plums that were cut down & removed while in their prime – because we could not sell them. Now 40 + years later I am replanting Damsons because there is a demand for them at our markets.

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I feel it is important to remember & share these stories and many more like them.  Not only do they connect us to our past, but they help us understand the present. They are not just stories, but useful information & knowledge about the farm.

If this means I’m old – so be it!

 

Here are a few pictures of the farm this past week – when the fall colours were at their peak.

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And some of the vegetables we are still picking for the markets …

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The other old timer on the farm – remembering his good old days!

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CSA 2014 – The end … and Thanksgiving

Sorry for not posting the final newsletter last week. We were without internet for a few days.

What was in the box?

Cabbage, squash, sweet peppers, Bartlett pears

Our CSA program for 2014 is now complete.

Was it a success? We feel it was, and hope our shareholders agree. A short survey will be going out to all our members soon, and we welcome your comments & critiques.

Our farmers’ markets continue … Georgetown ends this coming Saturday, while East York & North York markets continue until the end of October. We are still selling pears – Harrow Sweet & Bosc, along with squash & pumpkins. A frost on the weekend was heavy enough to finish off the sweet & hot pepper plants. We were able to make a final pick today and will have hot peppers available at market still this week. The kale is not affected – in fact the flavour of kale improves with a frost! The swiss chard continues to grow (slowly), and there should be some cabbage & lettuce yet to come.

Here’s hoping the weather cooperates for the final weeks of market!

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It’s beginning to look like fall.

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It is Thanksgiving today and we have much to be thankful for …

  • We are thankful for a good harvest. After that long, cold winter, we did not know what to expect. However the orchards came through the winter fine and all the tree fruits produced a crop. While the berry crops were down, the quality was good. Most of the vegetables turned out okay too – there was even enough to share with the rabbits!
  • We escaped most of the extreme weather events – no hail, no damaging winds, no harmful thunderstorms … just a few big downpours. The crops survived unscathed.
  • We were blessed with good health & a safe summer on the farm – both our family & our employees.
  • Thank you to all our CSA members. We find it amazing that you pay us for a share of the harvest way back in winter or early spring, with no guarantee that there will indeed be a harvest. You come to the farm each week to pick up your box of produce – a big committment. We are thankful for the trust you place in us to grow your food & your family’s food.
  • Thank you to all our loyal customers & friends at the farmers’ markets. Wind, rain and sun, you venture out weekly to purchase your fruit & vegetables from us. You thank us, encourage us & give an honest evaluation of our produce. You bring us favourite recipes, samples of what you made with our fruit (jam, chutney and baking …), bottles of frozen water to keep us hydrated on the long ride home, chocolates & candies, newspapers, and even supper. Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!