Keep updated on all that is happening around Thiessen Farms!


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CSA 2022

Bok choy & lettuce from USA, peppers & tomatoes from Mexico, grapes & blueberries from Peru, mangoes from Brazil, apricots from Chile, oranges from Spain, grapefruit from Israel, kiwi from New Zealand, and mushrooms, yams & greenhouse tomatoes from Ontario.

I’m reading the weekly grocery flyer and in awe of the variety and origins of produce available. Whether we consider that to be good or bad, it really is amazing! I can eat “fresh” fruit & vegetables from at least 5 different continents – if I choose to!

Mostly we choose not to. (Though there are always lemons in our fridge & sometimes bananas on the counter.)

During our own growing season when there is a plethora of fresh vegetables, we preserve a lot. We freeze, can, and dehydrate. Now in winter, it is both convenient & satisfying to grab a handful of frozen peppers to add to our stir fry, spoon some canned peaches on my breakfast porridge or sprinkle some homemade paprika on our scrambled eggs. We are still enjoying our own onions, garlic, carrots & squash which have all stored well this winter. And we will buy some Ontario-grown vegetables & fruit as well.

But we sure are looking forward to our own fresh produce – tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce …

We hope you are too!

Which brings us to CSA. We are now accepting applications to our CSA program for 2022. Please consider joining us. You will enjoy fresh, healthy, delicious vegetables, herbs & blackberries grown right here in Jordan Station.

Find all the information on the CSA page above or email us and we’ll send it to you.

Here’s a reminder of what to expect …

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Around the farm this week …

Early morning sunrise today.
There’s too much snow to get out on the farm. We’re mostly catching up on indoor work.


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Winter walking

I go for a walk most days.

An hour of walking is great for the body, mind & spirit.

Depending on the weather – and my mood – my route takes me on various roads in the neighbourhood and sometimes through farms. There is so much to take in …

  • Lots of farms – fruit orchards mostly, several vineyards, a strawberry farm, nut grove, corn/soybean fields and many greenhouses.
  • A farm up the road has a flock of poultry – running loose in their front yard and scratching in the beds around the house. I see chickens, guinea hens and several peacocks (do you know how loud peacocks can be!) Not sure how they survive with coyotes and foxes around.
  • I am watching a new barn being built on the next road, which will house a peach packing line and a cold storage.
  • Vineland Growers Co-op where we purchase our farm supplies is putting up an enormous new facility at a new location – quite close to our farm which will be convenient.
  • Around the corner a neighbour converted an old shed into an amazing bakery (blossombakery.com). Unfortunately it’s too far from the road to smell what’s coming out of the oven when I pass by!
  • But I can smell the homes that burn wood for heat. I love the aroma of woodsmoke.
  • In the middle of a nearby farm is a sleek, black barn. Surrounded by vineyards, vegetable gardens and a few grazing cattle, it happens to be one of the highest rated restaurants in the country,(restaurantpearlmorissette.com) but you would never know by looking at it.
  • Visible from the rear of our farm is the Upper Canada Cheese Company (uppercanadacheese.com) which I often walk past. (there’s a reason I never bring my wallet with me on a walk!)
  • I even walk beside the QEW highway. Hundreds, or likely thousands of vehicles pass by during the 10 minutes or so that I’m on the service road. It’s loud and not at all relaxing – but makes me appreciate the peacefulness of the farm.
  • My favourite path takes me down & up 2 ravines with creeks running through them. I love the sound of the water spilling through the culverts and rushing over rocks.

I love walking (& checking out my neighbourhood) and am fortunate to have the time to do it in winter.

Of course today there was no walking! A massive snow storm made the roads impassable and kept me busy plowing driveways.

But maybe tomorrow or the next day …

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Around the farm this week …

Our resident fox who we are seeing regularly now around the farm – here in Amy’s yard. (Sage is not a fan!)
Sage relaxing indoors after playing hard in the snow.
The Flynns are especially needy this time of year – if it takes jumping on the chicken house roof during chores to get noticed, then so be it!
Floating boats in the ditch.
Husking the popcorn that’s drying in the greenhouse is a favourite activity of this little guy.
He loves to see what colours turn up!


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Farm talk

One of the best things about our CSA is getting to meet a lot of really great people!

We have gotten to know neighbours who we might not otherwise have met, reconnected with cousins and old friends, and made many new friends from all across Niagara.

Some CSA members stay and visit when they pick up their box – especially if they arrive when it is not busy in the barn – and we (ie Lorie) get to know them a bit. This has been especially enjoyable and satisfying during the pandemic when human contact has been more limited.

This year we learned that a CSA member hosts a really good podcast. Each week Mike interviews someone about their work or an interest they have. There’s no limit to the variety of topics discussed.

Mike interviewed me the other week and we talked about the farm and our CSA program. If you are interested, here is the link to our conversation: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/have-you-ever/id1556225814?i=1000544079255

Check out his other episodes too.

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Around the farm this week …

We mulched the garlic recently. With Sage’s “help” we spread a nice, thick blanket of straw over the patch.
After some very windy days, yesterday was calmer so I spread this pile of leaves received from a lawn care guy (and a few neighbours). My hope was that the snow forecast for today would hold them down and make them somewhat wind-resistant. I think it worked! I spread them with the manure spreader, over a field where we will plant tomatoes next summer. A lot of the leaves will break down over the winter and we will incorporate them into the soil come spring. Leaves are a free source of nutrients and organic matter for the soil. The more I can get the better!
Strong winds like we’ve experienced lately always bring down many branches from the 2 silver maples in our backyard. But no damage done!
Flynn & Flynn are happy to enjoy the warmth of the greenhouse on cold December days.
Christmas preparations!


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Late fall

Our first seeds arrived this week.

That’s early!

It is usually later in January when our mail carrier starts delivering boxes & boxes & boxes … of seed. But we needed to get a head start this year – because last season we came up short. All the seed companies were inundated with orders early in 2021 and fell behind with shipping. Most of them shut down for days or weeks on end to try and catch up. Some even ran out of certain seeds. We never did receive some of the seeds we ordered. And we don’t want that to happen again!

So we are already ordering and receiving seeds.

In some ways it is difficult to get excited about next year when we’re still tired from this one. On the other hand, the memory of growing season 2021 is still fresh in our minds which makes it easier to plan for 2022. I have only ordered from 3 different seed companies so far, but we already have 5 new pepper varieties and at least 8 new tomatoes (don’t tell Amy!). Still plenty of chances to go crazy yet!

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Around the farm this week …

Fall brings variable weather conditions. Here’s a few pictures – same spots on different days.

Some kale we’re still enjoying. Behind it is our garlic patch (approx. 5500 cloves) planted back in mid October. We are waiting for a day when the ground is frozen but there is no snow to spread a thick layer of straw over the field. The frozen ground will prevent the mice from burrowing into the soil under the straw, and the straw will protect the ground from freezing and thawing throughout the winter which will keep the garlic safe & secure. It will then stop weeds from growing next spring.

Snow covering our lettuce & spinach bed. When the snow melted the greens still tasted amazing though the quality is diminishing. Hoping to be able to eat salad until Christmas at least.
We are working our way through a lengthy list of fall & winter chores. Recently we rebuilt the end wall of our small greenhouse which had rotted extensively. Weather was nice enough to paint it even and then decorate it for Christmas.
(Why do we have netting stretched around the greenhouse perimeter? Because the Flynns like to climb up the plastic and play on the barn roof. The netting (usually) discourages them.)
(Notice how the trim on the chicken coop matches the sunset!)
Sage and her best friend Milo. They play together every morning.
Sage and her other best friend.


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Fall

It takes a very good reason to get me on an airplane at any time – and especially during COVID.

So here’s a very good reason!

Lorie & I flew to BC the other week to meet our grandson (born in January) for the 1st time, and to see our son & daughter-in-law. Then we moved on to Alberta to visit my brother and sister-in-law.

It was great to spend time with family!

Other highlights of our trip …

It was a spectacular sight flying into Abbotsford – the mountains in the background along with the bright red of blueberry fields in the fall.

The ranching country around Cochrane is beautiful.

Driving through the Rocky mountains around Kananaskis – we even experienced our 1st snow of the season!

Now it’s good to be home where there is less rain than BC, warmer temperatures than Alberta – and no snow yet!

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Around the farm this week …

Our 2 main vegetable fields. On the left, the fall cover crop is thriving. It’s purpose is to cover & protect the soil over the cold months. Most of this vegetation will die over the winter and be incorporated into the ground in spring adding needed organic matter & nutrients to the soil. We will grow a lot of vegetables here in 2022. The field on the right was where our crops grew this past summer. By the time we finished the harvest it was too late to plant a cover crop, so mowed all the vegetables down but did not work the soil – any weeds & vegetables that regrow this fall yet will cover & protect the soil over the winter. I spread manure & compost over the field. Next spring we’ll cultivate & work the ground and grow cover crop all year to give the land a rest from vegetables and to prepare it for the following year.
Our 1st heavy frost of the fall happened this morning.
The lettuce & salad greens early this morning …
… and a few hours later after the sun had burned off the frost. No damage done – most greens can handle frost.
We’ll be eating fresh salad until winter sets in.
Burning the brush pile.


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Final Pick

It feels good. Really good!

Today we picked all the peppers and eggplant for the last time. There wasn’t much. Then I hitched the mower to the tractor and mowed all the plants down.

In a few minutes our large vegetable patch went from this …

… to this!

Usually I find it hard to mow down the crops, but not this year. The plants were basically empty – picked clean. So I had no problem getting rid of them.

Yesterday I picked the popcorn. It was supposed to be ready for the last week of CSA but didn’t quite make it. Now it’s drying in the greenhouse.

Tomorrow we’ll pick greens from our last beds – spinach, lettuce, arugula, salad mix, bok choy – for our final Saturday market.

Our last planting of sunflowers started opening this week too – just in time for Saturday’s market.

Next week any leftovers from market, any lingering squash in the barn, and whatever greens are still in the field will be packed up and sent off to the food bank.

Then we’re done!

And it feels good!

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Around the farm this week …

A wet day at Georgetown market last Saturday. Here’s hoping for better weather this week!

Thank you Georgetown for a great market season!


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CSA 2021 – Week 18 – final week!

It’s the final week of our CSA for 2021, and we can’t help smiling.

We’re smiling because the year has been a success – in our opinion. We grew, harvested, and prepared enough vegetables to fill 132 boxes each week for 18 weeks – that’s 2376 boxes in total. More than 40 different vegetables, herbs & berries were included in the boxes – an average of 9 each week (plus extras were often available to those who wanted a few more vegetables).

We’re smiling because the year has been a success – in our members’ opinions. At least that is what you have been telling us! Thank you for all the positive & encouraging comments each week and for the suggestions & critiques. One of the best things about CSA is knowing who is eating the food we produce and getting immediate feedback on it.

We’re smiling because our workload is suddenly going to be a whole lot easier. Our Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays will no longer be spent harvesting, washing, sorting, packing, bagging, boxing and distributing … produce. (But no worries – we’ll still have plenty to do!)

We’re smiling because we can take some time to sit & enjoy …

What’s in the box?

Squash, kale or Swiss chard bunches, mini-romaine lettuce, arugula (or salad mix), edamame, beets, onions, garlic, sweet peppers.

We will have several varieties of squash available again this week for you to choose from. It’s possible you have not eaten all the squash yet from the last 2 weeks, but squash stores well – keep it dry and at room temperature or slightly cooler. For most kinds of squash the flavour improves after a few weeks of storage. But remember to keep your eye on it for any soft spots or spoilage. Then use it fast!

We prefer our squash roasted in the oven, (Cut in half, remove the seeds and bake in the oven – cut side down – until tender. Then scoop out the flesh, add seasoning if desired and enjoy!) but squash is also great in soup or in baking (muffins, loaves, scones …).

There will be a bunch of kale or Swiss chard in the box this week. http://www.Cookwithwhatyouhave.com has about 45 recipes for each of these vegetables if you need ideas for preparing them. (With this being the end of CSA, our subscription to this website http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com also ends within 2 weeks. Download & save any recipes you want to keep from this site before they are gone!)

The salad green this week is mini-romaine lettuce. It was last in the box way back in week 5. Always a favourite, mini-romaine is tender, tasty – and beautiful! We have several varieties ready now, in various shades or green & red.

Arugula (or maybe salad mix later in the week) is the other salad green in the box.

Edamame, beets, sweet peppers, onions & garlic complete this final CSA box of 2021.

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Around the farm this week …

Thank you for supporting our CSA!

We hope to see you again next year.

Look for an email with details of CSA 2022 in late January.

 

 


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CSA 2021 – Week 17 – 2nd last week!

The farm looks different at this time of the year.

Since early spring when we began to plant outside in the field, most of the farm has been chock full of vegetables, herbs and flowers. But now there are open patches – lots of open patches where no crops are being grown. There are still some vegetables growing – we are even still planting – but we’re running out of growing time.

To me, the farm looks a little sad.

I prefer to see it full of plants – green & growing, flourishing and waiting for harvest. But late September means the season is winding down, coming to a close. We have only 1 more week of CSA after this one, and 4 more Saturdays of market.

What’s in the box?

Squash, edamame, lettuce, stir-fry mix, green beans,

sweet peppers, onions & garlic.

This week choose 2 squash from the varieties we will have available. Winter squash keeps well if stored properly. Ideal conditions are a temperature of 10C (or a bit warmer) and dry, with low humidity.

We received many positive comments on the edamame that was in your box the other week. We are picking the final planting of edamame now and have included it again. Boil it in salted water for 3-5 minutes, drain, and sprinkle with lime juice. Pop them into your mouth, squeeze the beans out & enjoy! Another option is to toss the boiled pods with sesame oil and soy sauce. Delicious!

Our goal this season was to have lettuce or salad greens of some kind in the box every week – because that is what you have asked for – and we have succeeded! This week we are harvesting the last of the bibb lettuce. If we run out by Friday’s pick up we will have some beautiful mini-romaine lettuce instead.

Our stir-fry mix contains bok choy and various other greens, some mild and others with a bit more flavour. Enjoy it on it’s own or add green beans, sweet peppers, onions & garlic to make a delicious meal!

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Around the farm this week …

The tomato patch looking sad & forlorn. There are still tomatoes on the vines, but they do not taste good – and the heavy rains last week cracked most of them.
The eggplants are not ready to give up yet! They liked all the rain and are blooming again. However the coming cooler weather means these blossoms will not produce fruit.
Sharing a favourite snack!
The chickens are thriving on any spoiled & unsellable vegetables – and watermelon rinds!

This little guy is now big enough to enjoy all the activity in the barn.

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Remember – CSA finishes next week!


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CSA 2021 – Week 16

What’s in the box?

Squash, rapini, bibb lettuce, shishito peppers, sweet peppers,

green beans, onions & garlic.

We have picked the first of our winter squash. Choose either a butternut or a sweet dumpling squash this week.

Butternut (left) is everybody’s favourite squash with rich, orange, nutty flesh. Sweet dumpling (right) is a very sweet, moist squash with yellow flesh. Both are delicious!
We prepare all our squash the same way – cut in half, remove the seeds and bake in the oven until tender. Then scoop out the flesh, add spices if desired and enjoy!

Rapini (also known as broccoli raab) is a green vegetable with edible leaves, buds, flowers & stems with a slightly bitter flavour. Rapini is usually blanched for several minutes in salted, boiling water to reduce it’s bitterness before being sauted, stir-fried or roasted.

5 Ways to Serve Broccoli Rabe (from https://www.masterclass.com)

  1. Sautée it over low heat in extra virgin olive oil with onions, garlic, and black pepper to make a simple and delicious side dish, or to add to a main dish.
  2. Combine it with olive oil and nuts in a blender to make a broccoli rabe pesto.
  3. Roast it like you would broccoli in the oven at medium-high heat until crisp. It can then be served alone, with other roasted vegetables, or added to sandwiches, or as a pizza topping.
  4. Broccoli rabe is commonly a leafy addition to Italian-American pasta, often paired with spicy Italian sausage, parmesan cheese, and black and red pepper.
  5. Sautéed broccoli rabe with red chili flakes, garlic cloves, and guanciale, is a common side dish for pork recipes like grilled ribs, porchetta, and Italian sausages.

Also check https://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com/category/raab-kale-broccoli-collard for additional recipes.

We are growing several kinds of bibb lettuce this season. Bibb is a beautifully coloured, leafy, ruffled lettuce with a compact, soft heart. Try it and tell us how you like it.

Enjoy some shishito peppers in your share this week. They were last in the box back in week 11. Here’s a quick review of how to best prepare shishitos. Char them in olive oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a splash of lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.

Sweet peppers, green beans, onions & garlic complete the box this week.

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Around the farm this week …

Our latest planting of assorted salad greens.
Tomatoes & peppers make a colourful display at market.

The morning after a heavy night rain is a beautiful time.


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CSA 2021 – Week 15

Edamame … finally!

Edamame – or fresh green soybeans – are a vegetable we always look forward to. But they take a long time! We seeded them in trays in the greenhouse in early May, transplanted them to the field a few weeks later, then waited until now to harvest them. That’s about 4 months! They should have been ripe & ready to pick a few weeks earlier but because it has been so dry they took their own sweet time to mature. The pods just hung there on the plants for the longest time without plumping up – we actually had about given up on them.

They say edamame has been around for 2000 years or more, first grown in China and then in Japan. There, it is a traditional bar snack eaten lightly steamed and sprinkled with salt.

Edamame are full of protein, fibre and loaded with vitamins & minerals – a very healthy vegetable. And they are easy to prepare. Simply boil the pods in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the water & drain. Then squeeze the pods to pop out the beans and enjoy as a healthy snack. Delicious! We like them sprinkled with lime juice and salt. Or they can be added to soups, stews, salads, noodle dishes …

In Asia they are sold by the plant with the bean pods still attached. We tried that one of the first years we grew them – it didn’t go over very well at market. Now we harvest the entire plant, cutting it off at ground level. We bring them into the barn where we can sit in comfort and pull the pods off the plant. It’s a cushy job – especially on a hot afternoon!

What’s in the box?

Edamame, blackberries, peppers, tomatoes, salad greens,

onions & garlic.

Extras – Hot peppers.

This week’s CSA box includes a paper bag of fresh edamame. It will keep in the fridge in plastic for about a week – but eat them right away for the best flavour (see above for suggestions).

Blackberries have come to an end – this will be the last week for them. A good rain would have prolonged the harvest but unfortunately that never came. Nevertheless it has been a great year for blackberries!

Sweet peppers, tomatoes (also almost finished!), salad greens, onions and garlic complete the box.

We are picking more hot pepper varieties now and these will be available as an extra for those who like a bit of heat!

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Around the farm this week …

The last planting of green beans are almost ready.
Mini romaine lettuce.
Beets.
Last seeding of sunflowers.

Everything was going smoothly with our sunflowers. A new planting was ready for harvest each week just as we planned. Then the heat of August hit and they matured faster & faster causing a sunflower overload. Then the birds dug up and ate the seeds of 2 plantings before they could even germinate! We stretched out some shiny, reflective ribbon for the last planting to try and keep the birds away- it worked! But we will have a sunflower gap at market for a few weeks towards the end of September before these are ready. Not everything goes according to plan!

We enjoyed some beautiful skies today over our farm …
… and over the neighbour’s farm.
Working hard making tomato juice …
… and playing hard!