Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Farm Talk: Exciting Plans for 2012!

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. Thanks for helping us to spread the word!

Planning for 2012:
I cannot tell you how excited I am about the farm plan for 2012. For a farmer, the physical work represents approximately a third of the job. Planning and Marketing form the other two thirds. Winter is a key time to get the planning and marketing on track. At this time of year, I focus on four key questions: What are the goals for the year? What crops will we grow and how much? Who will the team be? And what's the distribution plan? Without going into too much detail, here's a quick overview of the plan. The goals continue to be guided by our mission: "Cultivating personal, social, environmental, and economic health through organic agriculture." When I asked myself what I wanted for The Cutting Veg in 2012, three key answers came clearly: Make a difference, Abundance of veg, Financial sustainability. Knowing what you're aiming for is crucial, and I hope we will be successful in achieving all three of these primary goals. Regarding the crops, we have an ambitious plan this year. Given that we're farming full-time in Sutton, where the soil is fantastic, we're increasing the variety of crops from past seasons. In specific, new crops for this year include carrots, sweet potato, spinach, parsnips, dill, cilantro, corn, celery, and bell peppers. In total, we'll be growing approximately 35 crops this season, and often many varieties of each crop (eg, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe.) Further, the team is looking outstanding this year! I am so thrilled that Paul Clarkson and Jessica Gibson are returning for a second season, in the roles of Farm Manager and Operations Manager. Paul and Jessica are both so talented, and kind...it is a gift to work with them. Additionally, two of last years interns are also joining our staff team. Kirsten Cole is taking on the role of CSA Manager, and Jesse Mudie will be our Farmers Markets and Product Development Manager. This staff team has so much heart and soul....I've been dreaming of a team like this for years. Joining our team will be the 2012 interns, core-volunteers, and casual volunteers. As for the distribution plan, we will continue to focus on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which people choose to become members of the farm for a season and receive a weekly share of the harvest. In addition to our four locations in the GTA, we will also be launching a Sutton CSA, in which members can pick up their produce from the farm. Last year, we had 293 CSA member-families in total, and this year we are aiming to be able to feed 400 member-families . More info on the CSA to come soon. All and all, I couldn't be happier about the plan for 2012. With the right soil, the right team, and a supportive community already in place, it is shaping up to be a very exciting season of Livin' on the Veg.

Farm Update:
Thank goodness for the recent snowfalls. Since we'll be farming full-time in Sutton this year, where the soil is sandy, we are going to need to irrigate more regularly. As we'll be drawing from the pond for our irrigation, we need it to be full of water. The generally mild weather of the winter is concerning for the world as a whole (climate change), and for organic farms in particular. We depend on the deep freeze of winter to kill off pests and their eggs. The lack of cold could mean a year abundant in pests. Using our Integrated Pest Management approach, we will continue to be hyper-focused on prevention. This means caring for the soil. Pests attack weak plants. Healthy soil produces strong plants, which will not be attacked, or will be strong enough to overcome pest attacks. We also use a variety of other prevention techniques, including crop rotation, companion planting, and row-cover (use of garden fabric to protect plants when they're young and vulnerable). Otherwise, our 45,000 strong garlic crop sits happily below the soil & many inches of straw mulch. We are excited to see how our new garlic varieties do this year --- including Portuguese, Hungarian, and French Pink --- and will likely see the leaves poke through the soil in early April. Hard to believe, but planting season is closer than we realize. Our hope is to be planting salad greens, cooking greens, and root vegetables by April 1st, which is only 6 weeks away!

Farming Internship with The Cutting Veg (Part-Time)
Do you want to learn to grow your own food, or take a step towards becoming a farmer? The Cutting Veg organic farm offers season-long, part-time farming internships, in which you can immerse yourself in the world of organic agriculture. Located in Sutton, close to Toronto, this internship is ideal for people who are rooted in the city, yet ready to take a significant step into the world of veggie farming. Through farm work and discussion, Interns will be exposed to various aspects of organic agriculture, including plant propagation, plant care, soil preparation and health, pest-management, green-manuring, and planning & marketing. As a potential Intern, you must be willing to commit two full days per week (on-farm from 6:30am-4:30pm) from the beginning of May to the end of October, and be excited to receive agricultural skills, knowledge, and organic veggies, in exchange for your labour. As this farm is not residential, no accommodation is available on-site.

To Apply:

  • Please contact Jessica Gibson at jessica@thecuttingveg.com to receive an email version of the Internship Curriculum. Please indicate in your email which orientation session you will be attending.
  • Interested applicants need to attend one of two Orientation sessions --- either Wednesday, March 7th, 7-9pm, or Thursday, March 8th, 7-9pm. Orientation sessions will take place at Cooper's Furniture (111 Bathurst Street at Adelaide above Waddington's)
  • At the end of the Orientation session, those still interested will sign up for an interview.
  • Those who cannot commit to the Internship, but are interested in volunteering on the farm, please contact daniel@thecuttingveg.com, with the subject line "Interested in Volunteering."

Event: FoodShare's Recipe for Change:
Recipe for Change is a Tasting Adventure unlike any other, and includes a lovely full meal and accompanying beverages, plus unprecedented opportunities to mingle with 25 top Toronto chefs and local gastronomes. Torontoist called Recipe for Change “a Food Network fantasy come to life”, James Chatto called the event “a must attend” and the National Post says it is “the perfect foodie fundraiser.” Chefs creating the creative and bountiful full meal include Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto, Fabio Bondi of Local Kitchen, Marc Breton of the Gladstone Hotel, Mark Cutrara of Cowbell, Donna Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Katherine Hall of Hall’s Kitchen, Steffan Howard of Palais Royale, Ruth Klahsen of Montforte Dairy, Brad Long of Café Belong, Doug McNish, Bashir Munye of Simply Fresh, Timothy Palmer of EPIC at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Mario Pingue of Niagara Food Specialties, Albert Ponzo of Le Sélect Bistro, Chrystal Porter of Chocosol, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe of Keriwa Café, Abby Sabherwal of Magical Catering, John Sinopoli of Table 17, Peter Tompkins of Quince Bistro, George Tyminski of Annona at the Park Hyatt, Luis Valenzuela of Torito, Winlai Wong of Spice Route Anne Yarymowich of Frank at the AGO and more! This exiting event will take place at the St. Lawrence Market on March 1st, 6-9pm. For more info, visit http://bit.ly/88JaB1

York Region Seedy Saturday
A great place to get your seeds for the growing season ahead is at the York Region Seedy Saturday, which will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at the Aurora Cultural Center in Aurora. More info at http://www.healthyfestivals.org/events/seedy.aspx

Recipe: Winter Roasted Veg (http://www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes):
There are many winter Farmers Markets in the GTA, where you can still get local, organic vegetables. If you'd like more info, please let me know. For the recipe below, feel free to change the veg that you use.

2 large turnips, diced
3 medium sweet potatoes, diced
4 medium parsnips, diced
1 large celeriac, peeled and diced
2 medium kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1/2 cup olive oil
Dry Thyme
Salt + Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with oil. Season with thyme and other spices.
Transfer to a shallow baking pan. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables brown.

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