Sunday, June 26, 2011

Farm Talk: My 2 Toughest Farming Seasons are...

Hello Farm Folk,

Please help others to learn about what we are up to, and how to get involved: 1. Twitter (http://twitter.com/): Follow us at @thecuttingveg; 2. Facebook: Like us at http://on.fb.me/iTSbQQ, 3. E-mail this newsletter to anyone who may be interested; 4. Share the link to this newsletter (http://bit.ly/ga5Am0) on Facebook or Twitter. 5. Bring a friend with to the farm or a CSA pick-up. Thanks for helping us to spread the word!

Farm Update:
I started farming in year 2000. My two toughest farming season to date are...2010 and 2011. Last year, it rained almost every day in June, and was scorching hot through much of the summer. While the weather made working conditions challenging, it was the over saturation of our soil in June that made it a disappointing growing season. With the soil over saturated, the plants couldn't "breathe", and their growth was stunted. A great deal of our crops under-produced as a result. This year, the constant rains of the early spring delayed our planting by more than a month, and forced us to secure a 2nd growing location, with sandier soil (which dries more quickly). When we were eventually able to till the soil at our primary growing location in Brampton, the soil was still more wet than ideal. Our soil now looks more like rubble than a place to grow veggies. Waiting any longer was not an option, as it was already 6 weeks too late, and our last possible chance to get started. How our plants do in this rubble-like soil remains to be seen. Some crops, like our zukes and cukes, are looking great, and are likely to produce well. Others, like our recently transplanted tomatoes and eggplant, are alive but not yet thriving. For the not-so-vibrant looking crops, there is still hope. Once they have had a chance to acclimate to their new environment, perhaps they will draw upon our nutrient rich soil, and flourish. Perhaps. We just can't say at this point. We're not alone in our struggle. Farmers throughout Southern Ontario, and other parts of Canada, are saying it's one of the toughest farming seasons in recent memory. Extreme, unpredictable weather conditions are becoming the new norm that farmers must deal with. We continue to hold out hope for an abundant crop this year. We will continue to give our best to provide the best possible environment for our plants to thrive in, with the results being out of control. And we will continue to do our best to provide you with the best local, organic produce that we can grow and outsource. Interestingly, as you can imagine, outsourcing is more challenging this year as well, since other organic farmers are having their own growing troubles.

Volunteer Needs:

We will be welcoming volunteers to the farm this Monday-Friday, and next Sunday, from 6:30am-3:30pm. We will be on the Brampton farm all of these days but Tuesday and Thursday, when we will be at the Sutton farm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week, please rsvp to jessica.gibson81@gmail.com, and let her know what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Davenport and Bathurst area). Hope to see you on the farm this week!

RECIPE: Roasted Root Veg (from www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)

Several Turnips, diced

Several Sweet Potatoes, diced

Several Beets and/or Parsnips and/or Radishes and/or Carrots, diced

Several Potatoes, diced

1 Large Onion, diced

Zucchini, cut into rounds

Mushrooms, whole

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Salt


Preheat oven to 400F

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with oil. Season with generous amount of salt. It's so delicious, no other seasoning is necessary!

Transfer to a shallow baking pan. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until potatoes are cooked through.


That's it for this edition of Farm Talk. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

Daniel

P.S. It's not too late to join one of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs in the GTA! More info about how to get this local, organic goodness at http://www.thecuttingveg.com/CSA.

Daniel Hoffmann
Organic Farmer
The Cutting Veg
(647)388-7444
www.thecuttingveg.com
twitter: @thecuttingveg
facebook: http://on.fb.me/iTSbQQ

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Farm Talk

Hello Farm Folk,

Please help others to learn about what we are up to, and how to get involved: 1. Twitter (http://twitter.com/): Follow us at @thecuttingveg; 2. Facebook: Like us at http://on.fb.me/iTSbQQ, 3. E-mail this newsletter to anyone who may be interested; 4. Share the link to this newsletter (http://bit.ly/ga5Am0) on Facebook or Twitter. 5. Bring a friend with to the farm or a CSA pick-up. Thanks for helping us to spread the word!

Volunteer Needs:

We will be welcoming volunteers to the farm this Monday-Friday, and next Sunday, from 6:30am-3:30pm. We will be on the Brampton farm all of these days but Tuesday, when we will be at the Sutton farm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week, please rsvp to jessica@thecuttingveg.com, and let her know what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Davenport and Bathurst area). Hope to see you on the farm this week!

Farm Update:
The rains of last weekend were a blessing in disguise. We had already planted in most of our available beds, and the saturated soil prevented us from tilling up more beds. Thus, this past week we were forced to stop planting, and instead focus our energy on weeding. Being able to focus most of our time and energy on weeding for a week was a gift, as it ensured our existing crops got the loving attention they need. By weeding our beds full of chard, kale, peas, parsley, beets, onions, salad greens, Asian greens, turnips, radishes, etc, we were able to reduce the competition for space, nutrition, and moisture, and provide a more optimal environment for our crops to thrive in. All of these crops are doing well, and it seems our chard, kale, peas, and next timelines of salad, Asian greens, and radishes will be harvestable soon. Meanwhile, we were very excited to add 265 Rhubarb plants to the team this past week, which we planted at our Sutton Farm. The rhubarb plants will spend this year establishing themselves, and we will begin to harvest from these plants next spring. This week, emphasis will turn back to planting, including our Winter Squash crop (Acorn and Delicata), our next timelines of Salad Greens and Beans, still more Onions (almost finished getting our 130,000 Onions in the ground), Beets, Sunflowers, and the rest of our Tomatoes. At this time of year, there is always more work to do than time available, and an ensuing tension --- plant or weed? This past week this decision was made for us, and thanks to the tenacious will of Paul and Jessica (our staff team), and our Intern and Volunteer teams, our weeds are under control, and our crops are looking happy and healthy.

The extreme nutrition of Turnip Greens:
While we're used to eating the roots of the plant, turnip greens are also edible, and extremely nutritious. More info on the incredible health benefits of turnip greens here: http://bit.ly/RefRy. While many do enjoy the flavour, some find cooked turnip greens to be too bitter when cooked as its own dish. Thus, you can just integrate the turnip greens into something else you're cooking --- a soup or a stew or a stir-fry. When cooked amongst other things, the bitterness goes unnoticed, and you still get the health benefits.

RECIPE: Steamed Greens & Lemon Dill Sauce (via Marni Wasserman - www,marniwasserman.com)

1 bunch of greens, such as kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy, spinach, or chard.

Dressing:

1 ½ cup fresh scallions, chopped

1/2 cup tahini

1/3 cup fresh parsley

3 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)

2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger or 1 clove of garlic

¼-1/2 cup water to thin out

  1. Steam greens and rinse with cold water to maintain brightness.
  2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until creamy and smooth.
  3. Transfer spread to a small bowl.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and allow flavors to blend and the spread will become slightly firm.
That's it for this edition of Farm Talk. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!
Daniel
P.S. If you haven't had a chance to listen to episode 2 of The Cutting Veg Podcast yet, you can at www.thecuttingveg.com/podcast.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Farm Talk

Hey Farm Folk,

Please help others to learn about what we are up to, and how to get involved: 1. Twitter (http://twitter.com/): Follow us at @thecuttingveg; 2. Facebook: Like us at http://on.fb.me/iTSbQQ, 3. E-mail this newsletter to anyone who may be interested; 4. Share the link to this newsletter (http://bit.ly/ga5Am0) on Facebook or Twitter. 5. Bring a friend with to the farm or a CSA pick-up. Thanks for helping us to spread the word!

Podcast:
We are thrilled to present "Sprouts" --- episode 2 of The Cutting Veg podcast, written and produced by Eric Rosenberg (http://healthymoney.ca). Listen in: www.thecuttingveg.com/podcast

Volunteer Needs:

We will be welcoming volunteers to the farm this Monday-Friday, and next Sunday, from 6:30am-3:30pm. We will be on the Brampton farm all of these days but Thursday, when we will be at the Sutton farm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week, please rsvp to jessica@thecuttingveg.com, and let her know what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Davenport and Bathurst area). Hope to see you on the farm this week!

Introducing the 2011 Interns:
Why would anyone voluntarily choose to wake up at 5am, in order to be on the farm at 6:30am, only to do heavy physical labour in the rain, cold, and intense heat? Because they love food, they love our planet, and they want to learn how to grow food organically, while making a difference. Yes, the 2011 Intern team is a collection of 12 exceptional individuals, working hard to provide the GTA with an abundance of fresh, local, organic veg. Please allow me to introduce you to Janaki Hadida, Jane Hutton, Jesse Mudie, Kirsten Cole, Leanne Moss, Linda Lavelle, Megan Robertson, Paolo Granelli, Sandra Cazaux, Tara Khiabani, Tom Nolan, and Tunde Sinclair. Amazing people, with amazing character, working hard to provide our community with high quality produce, while providing themselves with an organic farming education. The 2011 Intern team is a phenomenal group of people --- phenomenal hearts, phenomenal work ethic, phenomenal farmers-in-training! It is truly a privilege to work with this team, and their efforts are largely the cause of the health and abundance of our crops. Thank you 2011 Interns!

Farm Update:
June is by far the most challenging month of the farming season. In addition to continuing with the vast planting and weeding demands, farmers now have regular harvesting and distribution to deal with. At the best of times, June is extremely challenging. This year, however, it's even more challenging than usual, since the spring rains delayed planting of so many crops. Thus, over the last few weeks, our team has been working regular 14 and 16 hour days, juggling planting, weeding, harvesting, Farmers Markets and CSAs. Exhaustion, illness, heaps of stress are part of the daily reality right now --- for our team, and for farmers throughout Southern Ontario. Nonetheless, when you see the progress, it all feels worth it. Over the last week, The Cutting Veg team has given our all to get the heat-lovers in the ground. Since Monday, we have planted 14 beds (130 ft x 4 ft) of Tomatoes, 12 beds Cukes, 12 Zukes, 3 Hot Peppers, 3 Basil, 10 Eggplant, and 5 more beds of onions. All of our heat-lovers are being interplanted with either Calendula or Nasturtium flowers, which are great pest preventers. Plant-o-rama continues this week, including finishing off the Onion planting (130,000 total!), Winter Squash, Sunflowers, Beets, Rhubarb, Salad Greens, and Asian Greens. Further, there's volumes of weeding to do, including our Snow Pea and Snap Pea crops, Onions, and all of our cooking and salad greens. No doubt about it --- it's a very challenging time of year. And rewarding. As my friend Franklin often reminds me, "With great rewards come great challenges --- they're a package deal."

Recipe: TURNIP SALAD

Ingredients:

4 turnips, peeled and chopped

1 bunch green onion, chopped

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

4 slices canned pineapple, chopped

½ cup white sugar

The dressing:

4 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp water

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions:

Ø Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Throw in the turnips and cook for about 15 minutes.

Ø Drain the water and let the turnips cool.

Ø Combine turnips, green onions, apples, pineapple and sugar in a large bowl. Stir well.

Ø Whisk together the oil, water, salt and pepper.

Ø Add the dressing to the salad and mix. Chill in the fridge before serving.

Serves 4

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

Sunday, June 5, 2011

CSA Farm Talk

Hello CSA members,

Just a reminder that this week the pick-up will be Monday, 2:30-6:30, due to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. This will be the only time during the season that our CSA doesn't happen on a Tuesday.

Farm Update:
Thank goodness for the sun and heat over the last week! With the soil drying on our farm in Brampton, we have been able to till the land, and finally start planting our heat-lovers. Over the last few days, we have been making beds, fertilizing them with countless loads of compost, and putting our seeds and seedlings in the ground. Today, we were planting cucumbers (long english and lemon cucumbers), and tomatoes. Both crops were interplanted with nasturtiums, which is a pest-deterring flower. Planting the heat lovers will continue to be our focus throughout the week, including our summer squash crop (yellow zukes, green zukes, gem squash, patty-pans), more tomatoes (approx 10 varieties), eggplant, hot peppers, and basil. After such a long wait, it is satisfying to finally get these crops in the ground. Meanwhile, our other crops planted at the Brampton farm continue to thrive. The snow and snap peas are looking great, as are our 4 varieties of string beans. The kale, chard, and bok choy seem to be progressing nicely, as do our second timelines of Asian greens, salad greens, radishes, arugula, and turnips. In spite of a challenging spring, things are off to a great start for our veg!

How do you best store your CSA veg?:
IN A SEALED BAG IN THE FRIDGE. As most of the veg was harvested the same day you receive it, it should last a long time. With the exception of a few items (such as tomatoes, garlic, and winter squash which don't like refrigeration), get your veg into a sealed bag in the fridge asap after you receive it, and it is likely to last you a long time.

On-line recipe book:
Looking for new and interesting ideas to inspire your cooking? Check out our new on-line recipe book at http://www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes/.

CSA Members Day on the Farm - June 12th:
Please join us on the farm on Sunday June 12th, from 10am-noon, for our first "CSA Members Day" of the season. During the morning, we will participate in various farm activities (eg. planting, harvesting), a farm tour, and an interactive hand-drumming circle, provided by the Rhythmic by Nature drumming ensemble (http://www.rhythmicbynature.com). If you can make it, please rsvp to your CSA contact person Jessica, at jessica@thecuttingveg.com, and she will provide directions. Bring your friends and family! Get to know YOUR farm!

Eco-Shabbat Guide
Check out this fantastic Eco-Shabbat Guide, provided by Lisa Borden, a CSA member, and volunteer with The Cutting Veg: http://bit.ly/ktx03l

Produce this week:
This week you can expect to see most of the following items at the CSA pick-up: Salad Mix (2pts), Green Onions (1pt), Green Garlic (1.5pts), Radishes (1pt), Arugula (2pts), Potatoes (2pts), Apples (1pt), Parsnips (1.5pts), Mushrooms (2pts), and Rhubarb (1.5pts). The first five items in the list were all grown on our farm, and the others are being sourced from other local, organic farms.

The Nutrition and Safety of your Food:
At The Cutting Veg Farm, we grow our produce using organic growing practices. This means that not only are your vegetables chemical-free, but safe and of the highest nutrient value, due to the use of our traditional organic growing practices. These practices include crop rotation, cover-cropping, companion planting, and use of well-composted organic matter to nourish the soil (more to come on these practices in future newsletters). Further, all the produce we outsource from other local, organic farms is "Certified Organic", which means these farms go through thorough, regular inspections, and practice the highest standard of organic growing. All this to say that in addition to the delicious flavours you are enjoying, you can feel great about the nutritional value and safety of your veg.

Volunteer Needs:
We will be welcoming volunteers to the farm in Brampton this Tuesday to Friday, and next Sunday, from 6:30am-3:30pm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week, please rsvp to jessica@thecuttingveg.com, and let her know what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Davenport and Bathurst area). Hope to see you on the farm this week!

Spread the word:
Please help others to learn about what we are up to, and how to get involved: 1. Twitter (http://twitter.com/): Follow us at @thecuttingveg; 2. Facebook: Like us at http://on.fb.me/iTSbQQ, 3. E-mail this newsletter to anyone who may be interested; 4. Share the link to this newsletter (http://bit.ly/ga5Am0) on Facebook or Twitter. 5. Bring a friend with to the farm or a CSA pick-up. Thanks for helping us to spread the word!

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

Daniel

Daniel Hoffmann
Organic Farmer
The Cutting Veg
(647)388-7444
www.thecuttingveg.com
twitter: @thecuttingveg
facebook: http://on.fb.me/iTSbQQ