Sunday, April 17, 2011

Farm Talk: The Joy of Planting


Farm Update
After wondering all winter where the early planting would occur (would it take place at the farm in Brampton, or at the newly acquired land in Sutton?), the answer emerged last week. With both acreages too wet to till, we settled on a third option. After reading our last newsletter which questioned where and when we'd be able to plant, our neighbours in Sutton responded and told us that they had a very dry 1/2 acre they'd be happy to share with us. Thank you Justin, Hans, and Loes Pape!!! So, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent on the tractors tilling up the soil, and on Thursday we had our first planting of the season! Specifically, we planted 6 beds (100ft x 4 ft) of salad greens, 4 beds of Asian greens, and 2 beds of turnips. The rains of the weekend were a nice gift, which'll ensure our seeds are nice and moist, leading to strong germination. A little flurries outside as we speak isn't great news, but with our beds covered in row cover (garden fabric), everything should be fine. This week the early planting will continue, with specific emphasis on onions, radishes, and arugula. After nearly 6 months of planting, it feels so good to be back in the fields, sewing seeds. The first planting of the season is always very exciting. Meanwhile, on the farm in Brampton, our garlic plants are now poking their way through the straw mulch. Nearly 20 varieties, totaling 32,000 bulbs, are merely months away from delighting our taste-buds, and boosting our immune systems. With the farming season now officially under way, there is great optimism from The Cutting Veg team for an abundant harvest season in 2011!

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Update
We're up to 130 members already signed up to share in the harvest this season, through The Cutting Veg CSA! Last year at this time, we had less than half this many families signed up. Torontonians clearly want to be part of a healthy food system, and to have access to farm fresh, local, organic produce, throughout the harvest season. As a community, we're recognizing that CSAs not only make a difference in the world, but also enrich our quality of life! If being a member of a CSA interests you, we have four different pick-up locations in the GTA! CHOOSE THE VEG YOU WANT! More info at http://www.thecuttingveg.com/CSA .

Being Part of The Cutting Veg Community:
There are so many different ways for you to get involved with The Cutting Veg. You can volunteer on the farm (more info to come in an upcoming edition of Farm Talk), you can be a CSA member (see info above), you can continue to read our newsletter, send words of support, visit us at Sorauren Market, delight in our garlic, etc, etc, etc. A new fun way to get involved is by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Through Twitter and Facebook we are letting you know what's happening on the farm, as its happening. View photos of the crops, hear what plants are germinating, learn what's being harvested... Join us at http://twitter.com (@TheCuttingVeg) and Facebook (http://on.fb.me/hpr4Lm). Get involved with the farm in the ways that are right for you! Show your support for the local, organic food movement by following us on facebook and twitter!

What's Your Local? (a note from author Sarah Elton)
The inspiring Daniel Hoffmann is one of the many innovative farmers whose story is featured in the national bestseller Locavore: From Farmers' Fields to Rooftop Gardens, How Canadians Are Changing the Way We Eat. Author Sarah Elton invites everyone to join her here: http://fb.me/St3Kg9F3 , the facebook page for the book, to showcase even more of the diversity of local food in this country. We're documenting the diversity of local food in this country to prove that sustainable food is more than a fad and is here to stay. Then, in a draw on Earth Day, there will be a draw for 10 signed copies. Share your local food stories, and learn of others' stories, by visiting http://fb.me/St3Kg9F3

The Cutting Veg in the News:
Check us out at Meghan Telpner's "Making Love in the Kitchen" Blog: http://bit.ly/hE5R92

The Living Kitchen Wellness Group --- a Great Organization to check out!
The Living Kitchen Wellness Group empowers people to create wellness in their lives. Our classes, workshops, and counseling are all based on the concept field to tummy, connecting where our food comes from right down to how food impacts our health. We teach classes that integrate gardening, cooking, and movement (dance and yoga) together from a nutrition perspective. We inspire people how to feel as they were always meant to feel - amazing! More info at www.livingkitchenwellness.com

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

Daniel


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Farm Talk


Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update: Visited the farm yesterday for the first time since we stopped farming in early November. It was lovely to see the twenty-six 100ft garlic beds again. The straw mulch has held up well over the winter (hasn't blown away), and the garlic plants are just starting to poke through the soil. Within weeks, all 30,000+ garlic plants will be above ground, soaking up the sun. Otherwise, the stretch of dry weather that lasted 10 days or so was encouraging. However the rains of the weekend resoaked the soil, making tilling impossible. With our soil at the farm in Brampton being a dense clay, it is very slow to dry, and thus it is saturated at this point. It is important that we do an early planting within the next 2 weeks. It is looking more and more like the early planting will occur at my new land (and home) in Sutton. The soil is sandy at the Sutton farm, which means it dries a lot more quickly. If we get 3-4 days in a row with a mix of dry, warm, and windy conditions, the soil will dry right up. Then, we will be able to till with a tractor, and start planting right away. Thus, I anticipate that in ten days or so, we will proceed to plant our early crops of salad greens, Asian greens, arugula, peas, green onions, radishes, turnips, kale, chard, etc. Lets hope for a stretch of dry, warm, windy weather!
Introducing Paul Clarkson, our new Field Manager: I couldn't be happier to introduce you to Paul Clarkson, The Cutting Veg's new Field Manager. Paul is a remarkable person, with a great deal of farming experience, as well as vast experience working with and supporting people. Paul will be playing the role of Field Manager, which means he will be on the farm a great deal, helping us to grow great volumes of local, organic produce. Paul is not only amazing with plants and people, but originates from Brampton, and so knows the area surrounding our farm better than anyone. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work, learn, and grow with Paul over the course of the growing season, and I look forward to you meeting and farming with Paul when you visit the farm this season. Welcome Paul! We're so blessed to have you!
The Cutting Veg in the Media: Canadian Jewish News Article: http://bit.ly/fZRvEs
Kavanah Garden Internships: Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs is still accepting intern applications for the 2011 growing season at the Kavanah Garden! Are you looking for an amazing opportunity to
  • Learn about organic gardening from a uniquely Jewish perspective?
  • Be trained in and facilitate cutting-edge experiential Jewish educational programs?
  • Meet other eco-minded community members from across the Jewish spectrum?
  • Help vision, shape, and manifest an exciting new community project?
Apply today to be a 2011 Kavanah Garden Intern! Internships are part time (8-12 hours/week) from May-October. In 2009, Shoresh established the Kavanah Garden, an organic educational garden that models Jewish agricultural laws and environmental ethics. Located in Vaughan, ON, the Kavanah Garden features 100+ varieties of organic veg, herbs, fruit, and wildflowers; a havdallah spice garden; raised wheelchair-accessible garden beds; and more! Kavanah Garden Interns participate in a multi-disciplinary program where they help plant, maintain, and harvest the garden while also helping to facilitate hands-on educational programs. For more info, visit http://shoresh.ca/kavanah-garden-internship or contact Risa Alyson Cooper at risa@shoresh.ca or 416-805-8382. Spaces are limited and will be filled on a rolling basis (so apply today!!!) Interested in volunteering but not able to commit to the full internship? Visit www.shoresh.ca for more information about different volunteer opportunities!
Green Party Presentation this Thursday: The Green Party of Canada has asked The Cutting Veg to come and provide a presentation to members of the community about Organic Farming and Community Supported Agriculture. I hope that you will join myself and Willowdale Green Party of Canada CEO Michael Anthony on this Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 7 pm at Edithvale Community Centre. Edithvale Community Centre is located at 7 Edithvale Drive (near Yonge and Finch). This is a fundraiser for the Green Party of Canada, Willowdale Riding, and the requested donation is $20.00 per person. You will get a tax receipt for your donation, while learning and enjoying organic snacks. For more information or to reserve your spot, please contact Michael Anthony at manthony10@rogers.com or call him at 416-554-7962.
CSAs in the GTA - Where are you getting your veg this harvest season?: The Cutting Veg is thrilled to offer another year of freshly harvested, local, organic produce through our 4 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) locations in the GTA! A CSA is a mutually beneficial partnership in which individuals or families receive fresh, local, organically grown produce weekly, while supporting local farmers and sustainable growing practices. The Cutting Veg Organic Farm grows and sources local, organic produce, and community members come to their chosen depot from June to October, to choose their weekly share. CHOOSE THE VEG YOU WANT! A few words from members of The Cutting Veg's other CSAs:
  • "Loving being a member of your CSA, which provides me and my family with healthy, fresh, and tasty produce each week. We'll miss you in the off-season, but until then...yummm!"
  • "Thank you!!! The vegetables are delicious. It's wonderful to know where they come from and to feel confident that they were grown with the well being of the consumers and the land in mind."
  • "My kids are eating more vegetables…and enjoying it! And my husband too!"
  • "I cannot tell you how happy we are to have joined the CSA. The spinach, garlic, and asparagus yesterday were amazing. I am spreading the word, and hope people realize how special it is what you and your team are offering."

Our pick-up locations are:

  • Holy Blossom Temple, Bathurst and Eglinton area (Tuesdays, 2:30-6:30pm)
  • Park Road Healing Arts, Bloor and Yonge area (Thursdays, 3-7pm)
  • Temple Sinai, Wilson and Avenue rd area (Tuesdays, 2:30-6:30pm)
  • Kavanah Garden, Bathurst and Rutherford rd. area (Thursdays, 3-7pm)
For more information, or to register for the 2011 season, visit http://www.thecuttingveg.com , or contact Daniel at 647-388-7444, or daniel@thecuttingveg.com.
That's all the news from the farm for now. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

Daniel

Why do people join a CSA?

"Thank you!!! The vegetables are delicious. It's wonderful to know where they come from and to feel confident that they were grown with the well being of the consumers and the land in mind."
~2010 CSA Member
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial partnership in which individuals or families receive fresh, local, organically grown produce weekly, while supporting local farmers and sustainable growing practices. The CSA model is one that has become hugely popular among veggie-loving Torontonians, over the past several years. So, why do people choose to join a CSA? Having run a CSA for three years now, I am always amazed by how everyone joins for a different reason.
Certainly, many folks are motivated by the health benefits that come from eating freshly harvested, local, organic produce. Intuitively, we know that because organic produce is free of harmful chemicals (in the form of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers) is must be healthier for us. However, it is also scientifically proven that organic produce is richer in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and essential fatty-acids than conventional produce. Of course, scientific evidence can be generated to support any claim. However, the qualitative data I have observed from The Cutting Veg CSA is remarkable. One member told me that she joined because of her husband's cancer, and the desire to provide the best possible nutrition for his body. After a year of being a member, she reported significant health improvement in her husband, and gratitude for the role organic veg was playing in that process. Another CSA member simply reported: “My friends have seen the change in me --- that I feel much more alive and stronger since I started eating foods from your harvest.”
Others join a CSA for the sense of community it creates in their lives. The weekly veggie pick-up provides the opportunity to schmooze with people in the community who share similar interests and values. The relationship with the farmers provides people with a sense of connectedness to a wholesome lifestyle. Further, many CSA members choose to come out to the farm to help out, where they are able to connect with themselves, the earth, the growing process, and other folks -- furthering their sense of community and connectedness. As one member of The Cutting Veg CSA reflected: "It's that sense of being part of a team and a community that I love. It contributes to my psychological well being."
A lot of people join a CSA for their kids. Being part of a CSA, and having a relationship with a farm, supports children and youth to develop healthy relationships with food. CSA members whose children help choose their veggies at the weekly pick-up notice their kids develop a greater love and appreciation for produce and healthy eating. Further, kids thrive on the farm, and parents who bring their children to the farm to volunteer, rave about the positive impact it has on their lives. "My Kids are eating more veggies now...and loving it! And my husband too!"
People join for a variety of reasons. Some do it because they appreciate the exquisite flavours and superior nutrition of locally-grown, freshly-harvested, organic produce. Some do it because they want to be part of a healthy food system, and support local farmers. Others appreciate the financial savings that comes with being a CSA member. Many people join a CSA to be part of a healthy community, and to expose their children to healthy, fun, ethical choices. Regardless of ones motives, participating in a CSA allows one to enrich their quality of life, while making a difference in the world. If you're interested in joining a CSA for the 2011 harvest season, visit http://csafarms.ca/index.html, or http://www.thecuttingveg.com .