Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Farm Talk: Our Favourite Problem

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
This past week we were faced with our favourite problem. Too much veg to harvest! We were scrambling all week long to get the veg harvested and ready to send out to our beloved CSA members. But neither the volume of harvesting, nor working in the rain, nor the fatigue that comes with a long farming season, could get us down. How can you be upset when you have so much veg coming on? In a season which has been often disappointing from a production perspective, September has been good to us so far. Our current batch of zucchini are stunning. The tomatoes just keep on coming. And the leeks and potatoes are finally ready! Who knows what the rest of the season will bring? A heavy frost could come tomorrow, and wipe out our tomatoes, summer squash, eggplants, peppers, beans, and so forth. But for now, we're frantically harvesting our butts off. And loving it.

Stories From the Field
Hi ,we are Hans and Loes Pape, owners of Elmgrove farm, home of The Cutting Veg. Elmgrove farm is located in the township of Georgina, just south of the village of Sutton. This property of 50 acres is nestled between two forested areas. About two thirds of the land is open fields used by The Cutting Veg and the rest is taken up by several acres of Spruce and Fir trees, planted and grown by Hans to be sold for Christmas as well as landscape trees. Near the road is our house (building in progress) and barn.

More then ten years ago we were very lucky to be able to buy this farm from our good friends and neighbours, Berta and Wilto Schortinghuis. They in turn had owned this property since 1949 and for all the years have never used any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Besides running one of the first landscape businesses in the area, they also supplied part of the community with fresh vegetables, which were, of course, organically grown .

When we took over the property, it was very important to us to keep it organic. Hans started with planting and growing the evergreens and a few years ago, through our son Justin and friends, we started with a small market garden, selling organic veggies at a farm stand.

We had some enthusiastic customers and interest was growing, but Justin and his friends decided on doing some long distance travelling and closed up shop. We actively looked for some young new farmer in need of some land, contacting Farm Link and Farm Start (organizations that bring landowners and new farmers together). Unfortunately we were not able to find anybody, mostly because of lack of accommodation.

Then one fine August day, in drops Daniel and his wife Terri, just curious about our little business, being an organic farmer himself. They were in the process of purchasing a house in the area, but not looking for any farmland to use. Too bad, because those few minutes of talking with them gave us the impression that Daniel would be the perfect person to have here on the farm.

Next spring, through Justin and friends, we learned of Daniel's problems with wet clay soil down near Brampton, not being able to start his spring seeding. "Tell him to come over”, we said, “we have a whole area ready to be used, well drained sandy loam”.

And he did.

Daniel did not come on his own. He brought with him field manager Paul and a group of enthusiastic interns and volunteers.

Now that, finally, we live on the farm (still in a camping trailer) it is great to see all the activities every day and of course to see all that bounty being brought in from the field. Sometimes somebody will walk over with a ripe melon or some cobs of corn ready for the pot.

It is also great to be part of the farm team, when I, Loes, host the Tuesday Elmgrove CSA. To be able to meet our local CSA members every week and send them off with shopping bags and baskets filled with fresh organic produce.

Life is good at Elmgrove farm!

Veg Tip of the Week
Ever wondered how to best store your potatoes? Potatoes don't need to be refrigerated and in fact, will keep best in a paper bag or box in a cool, dry, and dark place. If potatoes are damp when you get them, let them dry before you put them away. They should also be stored separately from onions as the two spoil quicker when left in close proximity!

Produce this Week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Tomatoes, Potatoes, Leeks, Winter Squash, Garlic, Zucchini, Salad Greens One other item TBD. Outsourced Veg: Golden Beets (from Zephyr Organics)

Volunteers Welcome
Each week we welcome volunteers to the farm from Sunday-Friday, 7:15am-4pm. If you are interested in helping on the farm this week or next, please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com and mention what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from Bloor & Christie area). Hope to see you on the farm soon!

Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup (From www.epicurious.com)
2-3 medium sized potatoes (about 1/2 pound)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large leeks (white parts only), halved lengthwise, sliced thin crosswise, and washed well
2 1/2 cups broth of choice
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley, sage, or tarragon leaves

Peel potatoes and dice fine. In a 3 1/2- to 4-quart saucepan cook garlic and onion in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add potatoes and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in broth and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until potato is very tender. If desired, in a blender purée soup in batches until very smooth, transferring to another saucepan. Stir in cream, fresh herb, and salt and pepper to taste and heat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

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