Monday, October 29, 2012

Farm Talk: Putting the Farm (and Farmers) to Bed


Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
The garlic is planted and mulched, the fields are fertilized. Most of the plants have withered and died, and our soil is blanketed with cover crops, straw, fallen leaves. One more week of harvesting, and some clean-up to do, before the core of the farming season comes to an end. Of course, there will be some farm tasks to do in November, like organizing the barn, and mulching the strawberries. And, planning and visioning will begin for 2013, with several key questions being addressed: What are our goals for 2013? What will we grow and how much? How will we distribute our veg? Who will the team be? But the pressure is off, and a slower pace can take root. For all of us, there's a mix of relief, joy, and sadness, knowing that after this week, the farming season is over. Yet, shockingly, I haven't yet heard a single complaint about the winter hiatus from 5am wake-ups.

Veggie Tip: Massage Your Kale!
Whether it's for roasting, a salad, or making chips, massaging your kale with a little bit of olive oil is a great way to bring out its flavours. It also makes sure to create a great texture for your finished kale dish: perfectly crispy kale chips or softened, easy-on-the-tummy leaves for a raw kale salad or slaw. Just add a few drops of oil to the leaves and use your fingers to work it in to each leaf evenly. No need for excess oil or dripping, just use enough to reach all of your kale. For a raw salad, let the kale sit for 20 minutes before eating to absorb the oil (and any other dressing) and soften up. Your body will thank you for all the delicious kale-y nutrients!

Produce this week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Turnips, Arugula, Garlic, Kale. From Zephyr Organics: Potatoes, Spinach, Green Onions, Peppers. From Sharon Mushroom Farm: Mushrooms

Recipe: Potato Kale Pizza with Rosemary & Red Onion (from http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/)
Your favourite pizza dough
2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced, about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, for seasoning potato slices and onion
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups chopped kale
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon, freshly chopped rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place potato slices and red onion slices in a bowl and toss with 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for about 20mins, or until potatoes are soft and tender. Make sure you turn them once during the 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the pizza dough.

2. Turn the oven to 500 degrees F or as high as your oven will go. If you have a pizza stone, place the pizza stone in the oven to get hot. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough, using a rolling pin. Roll it out to about 3/8 of an inch. Place the pizza dough on a pizza peel or pan that has been generously coated with corn meal. Lightly brush the dough with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. In a small bowl, toss the kale with balsamic vinegar. Top the pizza dough with mozzarella cheese, potato slices, kale, red onion slices, and fresh rosemary.

3. Place the pizza in the oven-directly on the pizza stone, if using one, or on the oven rack. Bake for 10-15 mins or until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before slicing. Slice and serve warm.

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team



Monday, October 22, 2012

Farm Talk: One Special Little Clove

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
The garlic planting is complete! We set a goal of planting 50,000 cloves, but we hit 50,000 last Monday, and just kept on planting! In the end, we've planted approximately 57,000 cloves, which will become 57,000 bulbs next summer. All of our garlic is mulched with several inches of straw, which performs several functions. The straw will suppress weeds, reducing competition (and our workload!) The mulch will also help with moisture retention, ensuring a constant source of water for the garlic plants. Further, the straw will eventually decompose, providing organic matter to enrich the soil. Finally, the straw insulates the garlic from a mid-winter-thaw. If we have a warm stretch in the winter, the garlic could start growing, and emerge from the ground. This would be a disaster, as when the cold returned, all the garlic could be killed off. The mulch will ensure that this doesn't happen. For those interested in growing their own garlic, it's not too late to plant. Garlic growing instructions here: http://bit.ly/L6rn6g. Having started the Global Garlic Project with 100 bulbs in 2005, it amazes me to think we have grown our crop to 50,000+. My passion for garlic seems to multiply as our crop does. Too bad I can't convince my wife Terri to name our child-to-be Garlo. Or, Garly if it's a girl.

Why are the Garlic Bulbs Small?
CSA Members will have noticed that the garlic they are receiving is on the small side. This is because we're trying to reduce the number of smalls the farm produces, by planting only large cloves. Large cloves tend to produce large bulbs, and small cloves tend to produce small bulbs. This year, we haven't distributed any of our larger bulbs, because we want to replant them all. By planting cloves from only larger bulbs, we will see a significant increase in the size of the bulbs we produce in future seasons. If we had brought our large bulbs to the CSA this year, we would have had to replant the small bulbs, and the cycle of producing small bulbs would continue. Those receiving our garlic will see a significant increase in the size in future years. In the meantime, we hope you are loving the flavour and incredible health benefits of eating our fresh, local, organic garlic as much as we are!

Produce this week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Garlic, Carrots, Arugula, Radishes, Parsley, Kale. From Zephyr Organics: Beets, Broccoli, Eggplant.

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!

Preserving Garlic
Follow the link for ideas to preserve your garlic: http://bit.ly/

Recipe: Spicy Kale and Chickpea Stew
(http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spicy-Kale-and-Chick-Pea-Stew-11641)

• 1 1/2 cups chick peas
• 10 cups water
• 2 large onions, chopped coarse
• 3 large garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 green bell peppers, chopped coarse
• 1 1/2 pounds kale, coarse stems discarded and the leaves washed well and chopped
• 2 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes including the juice, chopped
• 6-ounce can tomato paste
• 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, and sugar
• 1 bay leaf

In a large saucepan simmer the chickpeas in the water, covered partially, for 1 hour, or until they are tender. In a heavy pan cook the onions and the garlic in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden, add the bell peppers, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas with the cooking liquid, the kale, the tomatoes with the juice, the tomato paste, the chili powder, the thyme, the orégano, the red pepper flakes, the cumin, the sugar, and the bay leaf, bring the liquid to a boil, and simmer the stew, stirring ocassionally, for 1 hour. Discard the bay leaf, season the stew with salt, and serve the stew on the couscous or rice.

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Farm Talk: The Importance of Long Underwear

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
The strength and resilience of plants never ceases to amaze. It's been frigid outside, so how is it that the arugula is so damn tasty, the kale has never looked better, and the carrots are slowly but surely sizing up? "It's cold," have been the two most popular words on the farm over the last week. This is the first year of farming for most of our interns & volunteers, who are learning the hard way how important touques, thermal underwear, and extra socks are in the fall. While working in the cold can be challenging, I just love how farming connects us to the seasons. I love how we started working outdoors in the cool of March, went through an absurdly long heat wave, and now we return to the cold. I love how I can vividly recall the relentless heat of 2005, and dripping with sweat before even reaching the field at 7am. I love remembering how we always seemed to get rain when we needed it in 2008 and 2009. I love knowing precisely what time it gets light in the morning, and when it gets dark at night. I also love how you don't need to be a farmer ---- just having a relationship with a farm deepens ones connectedness to the seasons as well. Our CSA members could tell you in detail about the weather of 2012 including the heat wave, the rain (or lack thereof), the first frost, etc. Every job has its gifts and challenges, and in organic farming, working in all kinds of weather offer both. Yet another reminder how, in farming and in life, challenges and blessings are often a package deal.

Sutton High Visits the Farm
On Friday, October 5th, we were thrilled to host a special education class from Sutton High school. They sent us the following delightful thank you card. http://on.fb.me/SUfwKJ.

Veg Tip of the Week
Not sure if you'll use up your oregano before it goes bad? Dry it to keep it longer! Drying your own herbs can be done very simply by dividing them into small bunches, binding each bunch with a twist tie or elastic, and hanging them somewhere warm and dry in your house. Alternatively, you can spread the oregano out on newspaper to dry. When they are completely dry and crispy, remove the leaves from the stems and crunch them up a little. Store them in an air tight container or jar in a dry, dark pantry and use as you need in your cooking. Yum!

The Get Well Stay Well Guide
Check out the Get Well Stay Well Guide offered by Borden Communications, which is loaded with fantastic, common sense wellness tips to keep us healthy through the fall & winter: http://ow.ly/epfT6

Produce this week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Garlic, Oregano, Arugula, Kale, Onions OR Potatoes. Outsourced Veg: Broccoli, Rainbow Carrots, Leaf Lettuce, Onions.

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: MUSHROOM FALAFEL BURGERS (from www.thecuttingveg.com/recipes)
1 can (540 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1⁄4 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp each ground coriander, ground cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper
Salt
4 burger buns
4 lettuce leaves
Sliced tomato
Sliced onion

Spread chickpeas out on a kitchen towel. Use another towel on top to remove any moisture. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, mushrooms, 1 Tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano, cayenne and salt. Pulse until a crumbly paste forms.Taste the mixture and add any additional spices if needed. Pulse again. Form four burger patties, about 1 cm (1⁄2 inch) thick. In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil on medium heat. Add the burger patties and cook for a few minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Place each burger on a bun and top with lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve with tzatziki sauce, homemade ketchup, or cabbage slaw.

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Monday, October 8, 2012

Farm Talk: Autumn on the Farm

Hello Farm Folk,

Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
It's a special time on the farm these days. The fall colours tantalize us as we dig potatoes. The temperate autumn air intoxicates, as we thin the carrots and turnips. Cardinals, Blue Jays, Geese, and the occasional Heron visit for their last times before winter comes. We are savouring the last month of the season on the farm. The final month of the physical work that we love. The last weeks to enjoy the magical on-farm community we have developed and nurtured. And the last days to delight in eating our local, organic veg! Of course, anticipating the end of the farming season excites as well. (Only a couple dozen 5am wake-ups left!) But, for now, we are rejoicing in doing the work that we love, for people that we love, with people that we love.

Stories From the Field
Hi! My name is Erika and I am an intern this year at The Cutting Veg. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to try working on a farm but growing up I never thought it was realistic. Only real farmers could work on a farm! Then one day I stumbled upon The Cutting Veg website. The internship information told me I could be on the farm and still live in the city. I thought, “This is it! This is for me!” Ever since then I have been going up to the Elm Grove farm twice a week and loving every minute of it. While it wasn’t initially as important to me, since being at The Cutting Veg, the act of farming or growing my own food has become a ‘must’ in my life going forward. Daniel, Paul and the rest of the Cutting Veg team, as well as the other interns have taught me and inspired me so much that it’s something I can’t imagine not incorporating into my seasonal year in the future to some extent. It would be ridiculous not to!  While some days it may rain on the farm and other days it may be too hot, nothing can beat the good company of my fellow farm workers, the fantastic feeling of helping to provide healthy food, and of course, nothing can be more satisfying than the feeling you get from pulling a nice juicy beet from the soil.

Veg Tip of the Week
While the frost may harm some crops, it actually enhances others. Some plants, like kale, react to the cold and frost by producing extra sugars, making them sweeter than before. Try this week's kale and see if you can taste the difference! Other crops revelling in the cold include leeks, brussel sprouts, chard, parsnips, and cabbage. Yum.

The Garlic Planting Continues
It's been a great start to the garlic planting, and we continue to march towards our goal of planting 50,000+ cloves this fall. Please join us on the farm on Sunday, October 14th, between 7:30am & 4pm to help us continue this process.Please rsvp to catherine.j@thecuttingveg.com, and mention if you need directions to the farm, or a lift (leaving from the Bloor and Christie area at 6am.) See you on the farm!.)

Produce this week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Kale, Winter Squash, Chinese Garlic, Salad Mix, Another item TBD. Outsourced Veg: Potatoes, Bean Sprouts, Cabbage

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: ASIAN KALE STIR-FRY
• 1 bunch of kale, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 small bunch of green onions, chopped
• 1 cup green peas, pods removed (or frozen)
• 3 medium carrots, cut into thin long strips
• 2 medium red peppers, seeded and diced
• 3 Tbsp sesame oil (or any other vegetable oil)
• 3 Tbsp soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
• 1 Tbsp ginger, minced (optional)
• 1 cup bean sprouts to garnish

Preheat oil in a large wok or skillet. Add garlic, carrots and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add kale, onions, green peas, and red pepper. Stir well. Add soy sauce and sesame seeds, stir. Cook on med to low heat for another 10 minutes. Serve hot on a bed of rice or egg noodles. Garnish with bean sprouts and fresh green onions. Serves 4

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team

Monday, October 1, 2012

Farm Talk: Our 8th Annual Garlic Planting

Hello Farm Folk,
Farm Update from Farmer Daniel
A severe frost hit the farm in Sutton on Monday, wiping out our tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and other heat lovers. While it's always sad to say goodbye to some of our favourite crops for another year, we are grateful that the frost came 12 days later than last season, allowing for an abundant September. While many folks associate the start of the school year with the end of the summer, veggie farmers often consider it summer until the heat lovers are done. If we're still harvesting tomatoes and basil, it must be summer!

With the changing of the seasons, we turn our attention to our last major farm projects of the season: Continuing to fertilize our fields with countless loads of compost, and the garlic planting. As an organic farmer, nothing satisfies me more than nourishing our soil by carting compost into the fields. Feeding the soil feeds my soul. Further, we'll be planting at least 50,000 cloves of garlic over the next month...one at a time. Sounds daunting, but I love planting garlic so much, some Octobers I feel like we could plant 500,000 cloves! Between the soul nourishing work of adding compost to our fields, and the joy of planting garlic, October looks to be a very rewarding month on the farm.

Stories From the Field
Hi, my name is Kat and this is my second year as part of The Cutting Veg staff team. I joined the team last year with an interest in building upon my gardening experiences and continuing to explore ways of growing community through food. I’ve enjoyed the variety of roles I’ve played this year whether it be at the farm, market, CSA pick-up spot, one of our two community garden sites or at my computer and, most importantly, have loved the people I’ve been able to work alongside. Food represents this wonderful “nexus” point where we can all connect. It offers us a reason to come together, join our energies and co-create something of great value. I’m currently doing an MA in Adult Education and Community Development at OISE. I’m exploring the transformative learning that arises from deepening one’s relationship with food and, subsequently, the relationships this connection stirs up, including one’s relationship to self, to community, to our environment, to something larger than “me.” Perhaps as we shift these relationships, we’ll be able to change the food system into a more equitable one.

Veg Tip of the Week
Want to take optimal care of your mushrooms? Refrigerate them as soon as you get home in a dry paper bag. Mushrooms keep best away from moisture so it's best not to keep them in an air tight plastic bag where condensation will build up. When you wash them, use a damp paper towel to wipe mushrooms instead of soaking them completely.

Join us for the 8th Annual Garlic Planting
It's time for The Cutting Veg 8th Annual Garlic Planting! Staring with 100 bulbs in 2005, we have grown our crop into the tens of thousands, with the goal of planting 50,000 cloves this fall! Please join us on the farm on Sunday, October 7th, and/or Monday October 8th, between 7:30am & 4pm to help us begin this process. 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 from the Bloor and Christie area at 6am.)

Produce this week
This week members should expect to see, from The Cutting Veg: Salt Spring Garlic, Swiss Chard, Chives or Asian Greens. Outsourced Veg: Carrots (Zephyr), Lettuce (Zephyr), Green Peppers (Zephyr), Rutabaga (Zephyr), Mushrooms (Sharon Farms)

The Cutting Veg in the News
Check out this article in the Globe & Mail about the role of volunteerism within the local food movement: http://bit.ly/ULD3j4

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: Rutabaga with Carmelized Onions (From www.epicurious.com)
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
• 1 3/4 pounds onions, halved, thinly sliced
• 2 1/4 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
• 2 tablespoons honey

Melt 5 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté until brown, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook rutabagas in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add rutabagas; sauté until heated through, about 10 minutes. Drizzle honey over. Gently stir in onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Rutabaga Oven Fries:

• Rutabaga
• Sea Salt
• Olive Oil
• Herbs (I recommend rosemary and thyme)

Peel rutabaga. Cut into fries. Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and herbs. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Toss every 10 minutes. Remove when they are brown and look delicious.

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

The Cutting Veg Farm Team