Monday, July 30, 2012

Farm Talk: When it Rains, it Pours (HOORAY)

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
When it rains, it pours. And that's a good thing! The farm team has been euphoric over the past week, thanks to the multiple inches of rain we've received. I'm not sure what has been louder --- the sighs of relief from the team, or the sound of the plants gulping as fast as they can. It seemed that within minutes of the first rain, the kale had grown several inches. The eggplants burst to new heights. The zucchini plants responded by gifting us with 100 zukes within 24 hours. The first cantaloupes started to emerge. The basil quickly bulked up. The hot pepper plants seemed to double in size. Of course, we're not the only farmers dancing in the fields, as much of Ontario received rain this past week. Conventional farmers, organic farmers, produce growers, livestock producers...we're all so thankful for the long awaited precipitation. Now, if we could only order up another inch or so, every 3 or 4 days! And only between 8pm and 6am please --- when we're not in the fields or at the markets. :)

The Garlic Harvest
It's time for the annual garlic harvest, and we've got 35,000+ bulbs of Persian, Korean, Italian, Tibetan, Israeli and 15 other varieties to harvest and hang in the barn to cure! Please join us for the garlic harvest on Sunday, August 5th, and/or Monday, Aug 6th (Civic Holiday) from 7:15am-4pm. If you are interested in helping with the garlic harvest, please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com and let her know which day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving at 6am from the Bloor & Christie area). Looking forward to harvesting garlic with you very soon!

Stories From the Field
My name is Jackie Gamble and I'm an intern on the farm this summer. In the spring, I started a juice cleanse which entailed drinking 4-6 quarts of vitamin rich, organic green juices every day. As a result, I needed to seek out a source for all of this organic veg I was consuming. I quickly realized how expensive organic produce is and figured that if I could grow it myself, I could cut my costs considerably and feel good about my small contribution to healthier local food systems. Except there was one problem...I had no idea how to grow food and I lived in a basement apartment. I have done many things but I have never grown my own food, so I thought it was high time I learn how. Serendipitously, it was around this time that I first heard about the internship at the Cutting Veg, and I knew it would be a great fit. I am currently employed as a flight attendant, which means I spend a lot of time inside airplanes and hotels. I wanted to do something this summer that would ensure that I got outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. Mission accomplished and then some!! I was also looking for a more direct connection to my food source and to meet new people who have similar interests in healthy food systems, healthy living and urban agriculture - Check! Check! And Check!  My favourite part of the internship is first and foremost the people that I have met and come to love over the course of the past months. There is a strong sense of commraderie and common purpose that binds us all together as we go about our daily tasks, rain or shine, on the farm. We encourage each other in ways many of us have not been encouraged in our daily interactions at school, at our jobs or even in our families. We share our stories and dreams, we laugh, we curse at insects, and while all this is going on, we learn how to plant, care for, and harvest the healthiest, tastiest food imaginable. The benefits of such an undertaking are, in my eyes, endless and invaluable. Of the many tasks that we do on the farm, the one I enjoy the most is harvesting green onions. There is something so satisfying about plucking them from the ground and hearing the roots tear. You have to be quick but gentle, so as not to break the green onions. In fact, I love the whole process, including cleaning them up and making them shiny and appetizing for the CSA drop-off!

Produce this Week
This week membeCSA members can expect to see most of the following items:  Garlic Scapes, Green Onions, Kale, Beans, Zucchini, Sunflowers, Potatoes, Red Leaf Lettuce, Mushrooms.  The Potatoes, Lettuce, and Mushrooms were outsourced from other local, organic farms.

Volunteers Welcome
Each week we welcome volunteers to the farm from Sunday-Friday, 7:15am-4pm. If you are interestedin 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!

Healthy Bulk
Introducing this week, The Cutting Veg's Healthy Bulk Order Form! The Cutting Veg has teamed up with an organic foods wholesaler in order to provide CSA members with a direct connection to organic bulk foods. Look for the form and more details on the ordering process at your CSA this week! You will also be receiving an email about the Healthy Bulk program.

Recipe: CHILLED ZUCCHINI SOUP (www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)

4 medium zucchinis, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic scapes, chopped finely
1 Tbsp dill, chopped finely
Salt
Pepper

Throw all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
Chill in the fridge before serving.
Tip: to add colour and more nutrition to this soup, leave on the zucchini peel. Enjoy!

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

Daniel

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Farm Talk: Skydiving Without A Parachute

Hello Farm Folk,

Farm Update:
There's a skydiving company near the farm, and a few of us were recently enjoying watching parachuters float through the air after leaping out of a plane. Suddenly, one of the jumper's parachutes burst. We watched in stunned silence as a man fell through the sky, hurtling toward the ground. I've never been skydiving, but I imagine the feeling of falling through the sky without a parachute must be similar to the feeling of having 11 acres of mixed vegetables and no way to water them. At least the skydiver had an emergency parachute, which opened long before the jumper reached the ground, much to our relief. Sadly, the farm's back-up 'chute --- irrigating from the pond --- isn't working, as it is empty following 3 consecutive seasons of minimal precipitation. No rain, no water in the pond, no way to irrigate. Yet, this past week, I decided I was weary of worrying and of being disheartened from the lack of moisture. Instead, we are focusing on what we can control. Weeding to reduce competition for moisture. Mulching with straw to maximize moisture retention. And personally, I am focusing on bringing joy to my work --- how lucky I am that I get to spend my days working outdoors with amazing people, and amazing plants! It's easy to be happy when everything is going well. The challenge is to keep an even keel when times are tough. Fortunately, organic farming --- working with the earth --- has a stabilizing effect on one's spirits. Falling through the sky ain't so bad when you have two feet on the ground.

The Cutting Veg in the Media:
Check out this blog post from The Cutting Veg CSA Member Jennifer Bartoli on her experience of being a CSA Member: http://bit.ly/O6Nl6R

Cooking with Kavanah:
In partnership with Living Wellness Kitchen and Delicious Knowledge By Marni Wasserman, Shoresh is pleased to announce the Cooking with Kavanah (CWK) series. CWK aims to teach and inspire Kavanah Garden visitors and Kavanah CSA members to use fresh produce in creative and healthy ways in the beautiful Kavanah Garden. Classes will be held the last Thursday of every month from June-September. Date: Thursday July 26th with Delicious Knowledge by Marni Wasserman. Times: 4:30 PM and 6:00 PM. Location: Kavanah Garden, 18 Lebovic Campus Drive.

Grow your own Sprouts:
Interested in learning to grow your own edible, organic bean sprouts, lentil sprouts, and more? Cathy's Composters has a very affordable and excellent sprouter available: http://bit.ly/OKvSUo. Sprouting is a great way to participate in the growing process, while increasing the nutrition in your diet. And it's so much fun!

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 let her know 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!

Produce This Week:
While there will often be last-minute, unanticipated changes, this week CSA members can expect to see most of the following items at the pick-up: Broccoli, Bok Choy, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Lettuce, Beans, Garlic Scapes, Swiss Chard, a Herb, and Green Onions. The Broccoli, Bok Choy, Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Lettuce were outsourced from other local, organic farms.

Recipe: Mediterranean Bean Pate (from www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
1½ cups beans
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 - 4 sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup black olives, pitted
Salt
Pepper
Fresh basil, mint, or parsley for garnish (optional)

Steam the beans, until tender. Let it cool.
Throw all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until a thick, chunky paste forms.
Chill in the fridge before serving

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Former Cutting Veg Intern Launches Website for Growers

Distribution Platform And Operations Tracking For Agriculturalists: ExtraShare
Hi there, my name is Paolo and I'm a graduate of The Cutting Veg's intern program. While on the farm during the 2011 season, I was inspired and motivated to grow my own garden at home, and, with the knowledge I gained, was very successful. I was so successful, in fact, that I ended up with more than my family and I could consume! This led me to begin a search for ways to get these vegetables in the hands of hungry people near me. I started by giving them to friends and neighbours, but, when I still had leftovers, I turned to the internet. I started looking through sites like craigslist and Kijiji, but none seemed to be touching the food space, so I built a solution.

ExtraShare (http://ExtraShare.org) is a web application that enables gardeners to track their growth and map out extra stuff for distribution to community members. You can plot out markers, like seedlings, vegetables, space or even knowledge, on the public map, or log in and create private maps for your inner circle. I started one for my family and I. The latest feature, "My Grow Ops", helps users add pictures of their backyard gardens and indoor oases. It's been fun seeing how everyone's plants are progressing!

In addition to building the website, I've been helping out community spaces and getting involved with education programs for new participants. My main goal is to help push food security work forward, so we can ensure that tomorrow's generation has access to a clean environment and equitable food system.

Paolo Granelli





Sunday, July 15, 2012

Farm Talk: The Dog Days

Hello Farm Folk,

Farm Update:
We were in the potato patch this week (it's Friday afternoon, as I write this). Shaking the Colorado Potato Beetle into bins, only later to be killed. Either they eat, or we do. Lead Intern Tara teaches us respect, honour, humility, by praying with them, before we drown the poor bastards. This is our version of Integrated Pest Management. "Intergrating" our care for all living things, with the realities of organic farming. Balancing respect with the reality that for one to eat, others must die (whether it's pests or weeds.) It's the dog days of summer on the farm, and this week kicked my ass. The heat, the workload, the crop disappointments. I don't know if I'm more excited about Shabbat (my day of rest), or to start farming again on Sunday.

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 let her know 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!

Produce This Week:
While there will often be last-minute, unanticipated changes, this week CSA members can expect to see most of the following items at the pick-up: Bok Choy, Zucchini, Beets, Mushrooms, Lettuce, Garlic Scapes, Kale or Swiss Chard, and Green Onions. The Bok Choy, Zucchini, Beets, Mushrooms, and Lettuce were outsourced from other local, organic farms.

Recipe: Preserving Garlic Scapes and Green Onions
On the farm we love to encourage people to preserve some of the harvest, so that they have access to local, organic produce during the winter. I love freezing garlic scapes and green onions (separately), as it sets me up for a winter of yummy flavours, and medicinal food:

The procedure:
  1. Wash your garlic scapes or green onions, and allow to dry.
  2. Chop into small pieces
  3. Double bag them and freeze.
For more fun recipes, visit www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Farm Talk: Dealing with Drought

Hello Farm Folk,


Farm Update:
Up until the glorious rains of Friday night, it had been many weeks since we'd had a good rain. On the farm, we minimize the amount of irrigating we do, not only to reduce water waste, but because there is nothing quite as beneficial to the health of our plants as a natural rain. In addition to depending on the rain to irrigate our crops, we also mulch our crops heavily (covering our beds with straw to maximize moisture retention). Of course, when rain is sparse, we do water our crops. However, not only has it been a dry start to the summer, but we had a very dry spring, and minimal precipitation this winter as well. In order to irrigate, we draw upon water from the pond on the farm. Sadly, due to the lack of winter, spring, and summer precipitation, the pond is almost empty(!), so we can only irrigate on a limited basis. How is the lack of rain affecting our crops? The good news is that the plants still look very healthy, and are not generally showing signs of distress. However, production is slowed by the lack of water. The Cuke, Zuke, and Melon plants are growing more slowly than usual. The Kale and Swiss Chard leaves are smaller. The 2nd timelines of Salad Mix and Asian Greens got stunted from a lack of moisture, and will not produce. Our first timeline of beets never germinated. On the whole, things have been working out so well for us on the farm this year, and I sense they will continue to. All of these challenges are part of the new reality of farming in a world dealing with climate change. We can no longer count on spring rains, or predictable frost dates. Unpredictability in farming is the new normal.

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 let her know 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!

Produce this week:
While there will often be last-minute, unanticipated changes, this week CSA members can expect to see most of the following items at the pick-up: Field Cucumbers, Head Lettuce, Rhubarb, Onions, Garlic Scapes, Snow Peas, Kale, Radishes, fresh herbs (tbd). The cukes and lettuce were outsourced from other local, organic farms.

Shoresh Wild Raspberry Summer Festival:
There is a quarter acre of wild raspberries about to ripen at the Kavanah Garden! You are invited to join in harvesting and enjoying these delicious delicacies at Shoresh's Summer Festival. Celebrate the bounty of summer with storytelling, music, garden crafts and of course, wild raspberry smoothie making on a bicycle blender. Everyone is welcome! Bring friends, family, sunscreen, hats, water and a picnic lunch to enjoy. Date: Sunday July 15, 2012. Time: 12:00 PM-3:00 PM. Location: Shoresh's Kavanah Garden, 18 Lebovic Campus Drive. Cost: $6/person or $18/family. Contact sabrina@shoresh.ca for more info.

Recipe: Noodles with Kale and Spicy Rhubarb Sauce (from Erin Alderson's Blog "Naturally Ella")
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup green onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cups rhubarb
1/2 teaspoon dried chilies, crushed
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt
4 oz udon or soba noodles
2 handfuls of kale
cilantro and lime wedges for topping

  1. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in onions and ginger, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Next, stir in rhubarb, water, honey, and chilies. Let simmer until rhubarb has broken down and sauce comes together. Add a pinch of salt and taste to adjust seasonings (if you want it sweeter, add more honey or if you want it spicier, add more chiles.)
  2. Prepare noodles according to directions, drain, and set aside.
  3. Shred kale and place in a large bowl. Once noodles and rhubarb are done, toss with kale to slightly wilt. Top with cilantro and lime wedges to serve.
That's all the news from the farm for now. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Farm Talk: The Great One Minute Pea Race

Hello Farm Folk,


Farm Update:
Last week was another great one on the farm. Harvesting remains our primary focus, taking up much of our days. We spent well over 150 human hours in the Snow Pea and Snap Pea patch alone last week! A relentless job, but with peas in season for only a couple weeks a year, we want to harvest every last pea we can to provide an abundance to our 350+ CSA member families, as well as for our 2 Farmers Markets. We're absolutely thrilled by the quality of the produce coming out of our field: the luscious lettuce, gorgeous carrots, mouthwatering kale. Everybody has their personal favourite crops to harvest. Intern Erica likes Radishes, Green Onions, and Green Garlic. Farmer Paul is currently digging the Carrot harvest. For me, it's the peas right now. Last week we invented "The Great One Minute Pea Race" in which we time how many peas we can pick in 1 minute. I set my personal standard at 46 peas/minute early in the week, and then bested it at 50/minute by the end of the week. Of course, CSA Manager Kirsten, who is on the farm minimally, shamed us all by setting the farm record of 52/minute! I'm not sure if the invention of "The Great One Minute Pea Race" can be attributed to delirium from the heat, or too many hours in the pea patch. But as we harvest our hearts out, while trying to keep up with weeding, planting, and caring for our plants, we're clearly having a great time. Won't you join us?

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 let her know 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!

Produce this week:
This week CSA members can expect to see the following items at the pick-up: Beets, Apples, Snap Peas, Swiss Chard, Snow Peas, Garlic Scapes, Green Onions, Asian Greens, Arugula. The Beets and Apples were outsourced from other local, organic farms.

Recipe: Pea Hummus (from www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
1½ cups peas, cooked
2 garlic scapes, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
4 Tbsp tahini paste
¼ cup oil
Pinch of salt

Throw all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Serve chilled with vegetable sticks, or with baked pita crisps

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team