Sunday, October 30, 2011

Farm Talk: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Hello Farm Folk,


With the core of the farming season now complete, this will be our last weekly edition of "Farm Talk" for 2011. We will be in touch periodically throughout the winter, to let you know how plans for the 2012 season are progressing.


Farm Update:

The CSAs are done for 2011, the Internship program is complete. All of our heat loving plants (eg. tomatoes, zucchini, basil, etc), have been hit by frost and died. Our 45,000 garlic cloves have all been planted and mulched. In short, the core farming season is done! We will still be on farm throughout November --- harvesting for our winter farmers markets, and moving our supplies from the Brampton farm to the Sutton location. However, for the first time since January, when the planning and marketing process began (goal setting, crop planning, distribution planning, and bringing the team together), the pressure is off. No need for regular 5am-8pm workdays, no need for 6 day work weeks every week. Just the low-pressure wind down of November, and the deep slumber of December. The farm, and the farmers, are being put to bed.


Reflections on 2011:

In running The Cutting Veg, I focus on three core areas: growing veg, growing a sustainable growing business, and growing people. It has been well documented that it's been a difficult and disappointing growing season. The abundance of winter and spring precipitation saturated our clay soil for too long, stunting the growth of our plants. For the "growing veg" part of my job description, it was a very disappointing year. The business side is tied to 2 key factors: CSA members, and the harvest. I can't complain about the CSA memberships --- to be at 300 members (total of our 4 locations) after 3 years is pretty strong. However, the poor harvest necessitated outsourcing much more veg than anticipated, making it an unsatisfactory year financially. A stepping stone year indeed, but disappointing in and of itself. While the "growing veg" and "growing a sustainable business" parts of my job description didn't play out as I hoped, I am thrilled by the "growing people" side. The "people" can be boiled down to CSA members, market-goers, interns, volunteers, staff, and supporters. Throughout the season, wherever I spent my day, I could see the people growing. The volunteer who came out week after week because it helped with her depression. The Interns who gained clarity on their life path. The newsletter readers who felt more connected to the growing season and natural cycles through the weekly updates. The staff who found their calling. The CSA members who took pleasure in local, organic flavours, and meaning in being part of something good for the world. The kids who came to the farm or the CSA, and deepened their connection to nature, and where their food comes from. Great growing seasons and financial abundance will come. In 2011, as a community, we grew people.


Looking Forward: Where to get your veg this winter:

We have been blessed with an influx of farmers markets in the GTA, and many of them run during the winter. Throughout the winter, there's tons of great local, organic veg available, including salad greens, sprouts, beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, winter squash, and so much more. The Cutting Veg will be at 99 Sudbury Market (http://bit.ly/v3l6Qi) on Sundays and the Sorauren Farmer's Market (http://bit.ly/Tw2DZ) on Mondays, where we will have our garlic, salad mix, root vegetables, winter squash and more. For a complete listing of farmers markets in the GTA, including the winter markets, visit http://bit.ly/vMJsIl.


Recipe: Marinated Kale Slaw Salad (from marniwasserman.com)

1 bunch of kale (any variety)

1 fennel (optional)

1 head of cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

1 beet shredded

2 tbsp hemp seeds

½ cup hemp oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

2-4 Tablespoons honey

1 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, toss in all ingredients (except the hemp seeds), squeezing as you mix to “wilt” the kale.

Allow marinating in fridge for a few minutes – or up to an hour, mixing in the hemp seeds just before serving.


That's all the news for the farm for now. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!


Daniel

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