Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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May weather

It’s tempting to yearn for the good-old-days (ie pre-coronavirus), when our biggest challenge was the weather.

And then came last week – and our biggest challenge was the weather!

For close to a week there was a frost warning each night. And sure enough there was frost almost every morning … and some snow flurries, and temperatures cold enough that I wore my coveralls – my lined winter coveralls – a few times. There was even ice in the chickens’ water pail a couple of those mornings. Several days I woke up before dawn to hear wind machines roaring in the vineyards in the distance, stirring up the air to prevent damage to the tender grape buds. The blooms on our neighbours’ strawberries froze – acres of potential berries destroyed. Fruit growers in our area lost a significant portion of their sweet cherry, apricot and nectarine crops.

We were fortunate to suffer little damage. While there was no worry for the plants in the greenhouse, we covered everything with row cover anyway, for added insurance. Out in the field we knew most of the vegetables could handle temperatures around the freezing mark. We chose to cover the broccoli since it would take the longest to replace if we were to lose it. Spinach, lettuce, radishes … are all quick crops to grow and these we plant weekly, so we took our chances. In the end we only lost several rows of parsley and some lettuce both of which had been recently transplanted and were not well established yet. Everything else came through those frosty nights looking rather unhappy – but alive. They have mostly bounced back now!

By this past weekend we were enjoying seasonable temperatures and rain, and everything is looking brighter & greener already!

Broccoli still under the row covers – it’s been enjoying the extra warmth. Under the hoops & white insect cover the radishes, salad turnips & arugula are protected from insects.

All the trees are quickly getting their leaves & turning green.

The blackberry canes are leafing out and growing well.

Herbs & weeds happily growing together, and golden hops beginning their climb up the sides of the pergola.

Around the yard we continue to enjoy the beauty & colours of spring …

And I finally finished & hung my winter project – a barn quilt that I painted.

The sunshine & warmer temperatures in the forecast for this week will be very welcome and enjoyed by all. As it looks now, our CSA program should begin sometime in early June. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again & meeting all our new CSA members!


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Changes 2020

My favourite tulips opened this week … and they are beautiful!

Tulipa tarda is a species tulip dating all the way back to the 16th century. We have them plantedĀ  around our deck so we can admire them while enjoying our morning coffee outdoors on warm spring days (not many of those yet). They faithfully appear each spring, with the clumps spreading more each year.

Along the barn their taller, brighter & showier relatives are also blooming …

… while the daffodils – just finishing now – put on a brilliant show again this spring.

With this pandemic requiring us to stay at home, we’re especially enjoying our spring flowers this year.

The pandemic has also required us to make some changes to our marketing plan for 2020 – major changes!

We were planning to run our CSA program again (expecting a modest increase in membership) as well as attending the same 2 farmers’ markets – downtown Georgetown & North York at Mel Lastman Square.

However our CSA membership has increased by well over 50%, far more than we anticipated. Our Georgetown market is still scheduled to begin on Saturday June 6. We intend to be there with our masks, face shields, gloves etc – whatever is recommended or required at that time. A number of our Georgetown customers have joined CSA this season and will pick up their weekly boxes at the market. The North York market remains much more uncertain with possibly a late June opening.

After a lot of thinking, discussion & deliberation, we have decided that we will not be returning for our 27th year to North York. It was a difficult decision. We have so many loyal customers who visit every week, and we have made a lot of friends there through the years. It is hard to leave. But it is close to impossible to grow our crops not knowing if/when we’ll be able to market them there. We looked into the possibility of delivering our vegetables to Toronto but couldn’t make it work in a way that would satisfy both our customers and us.

So rather than limiting our CSA numbers, we are continuing to accept applications. It feels right to be growing more food for our local area. There is a lot of anxiety about food now and worries about access, availability, where it comes from & quality. We are grateful for the trust that so many have put in us to provide food for their families. We will honour that trust by doing our best to grow the best!

And things are growing! Despite the weather being on the cool side lately, we can see things coming along on the farm.

The plants in the greenhouse are finally putting on some healthy growth and should be ready for planting out on the farm within a few weeks. We will have vegetable & herb plants for sale at our roadside standĀ  by the May long weekend.

The garlic loves the cooler temperatures.

The snow peas are lush & green.

Yesterday we transplanted green onions, beets, spinach, lettuce, parsley into the field and seeded more radishes. These joined the broccoli, salad turnips, radishes, green onions, kale & spinach that were planted back in April. Later this week we’ll put out the first cabbages, onions & carrots.

The blackberries are growing rapidly now too.

Another change that this season has brought is the amount of time we need to spend in the office. While it is never a farmer’s preference to do office work, it has become increasingly necessary. Much time has been spent on figuring out our new marketing plans, answering emails & inquiries about CSA, keeping up with the rapidly changing rules & requirements pertaining to the COVID-19 situation especially as it applies to having employees on the farm, and how we can sell our vegetables, how CSA pick up will work this year, doing our farm purchasing online as well as banking & other business etc.

But it does make our outdoor work on the farm far more pleasurable!

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More of the spring beauty we’re enjoying!

And our enthusiastic helpers!