Monday, September 30, 2013

Farm Talk: The Joy of Farming

FARM UPDATE My love for farming grew immeasurably this season. My approach to the season? Plant less land; in the best location on the farm; and don't depend solely on veg sales for my income. I took a small chunk of the barn garden (where all crops turn to gold) and grew some of my favourites: Peas, Kale, Chard, Onions, Tomatoes, Salad Mix, Peppers, Cukes, Eggplant, etc. No staff, nor interns. No CSAs, no distribution vans, and significantly less financial pressures connected to the farm. Just me, an amazing support team (Farmers Paul, Louise and Hans, and dedicated volunteers), and the plants. It turns out this was an excellent plan. The crops rocked --- nearly every one of them. I fed my family handsomely, donated loads of veg, sent some to the farmers market weekly as part of the Elmgrove Organic Collective, and preserved tons for winter. As part of the preserving process, I made and froze baby food for Ayla for the first time, including pureed zukes, pumpkin, and applesauce. Indeed, the 2013 season will stand out for me as one in which my love for farming grew to new heights. When I started farming in 2000, a friend and I cultivated 1 acre together. By the end of the 2012 season, I had graduated to 10+ acres! However, that scale didn't suit me, and scaling back to less land this year has made the workload more manageable, and the joy from the process has skyrocketed. The lesson? Manageable workload + great soil + supplementary off-farm income = VERY HAPPY FARMER! The line between "down-time" and farming is blurring. And, I still have my favourite part of the farming season --- THE GARLIC PLANTING! --- to look forward to. JOIN US FOR THE 9TH ANNUAL GARLIC PLANTING It's time for The Cutting Veg 9th Annual Garlic Planting! Starting with 100 bulbs in 2005, we have grown our crop into the tens of thousands, with the goal of planting 30,000 cloves this fall! Please join us on the farm on Sunday, October 13th, and/or Monday October 14th, between 7:30am & 4pm to help us with this process. Please rsvp to, and mention what day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift. Looking forward to planting garlic with you! ORGANIC GARLIC AVAILABLE FOR PLANTING & EATING We still have lots of local, organic garlic available for eaters and growers. Many varieties to choose from, including Persian, Russian, Korean, Former Yugoslavia, Sicilian, Salt Spring Island, Chinese, and Ukrainian. If you would like to place an order, you can do so right now by clicking here. THE BACKYARD FARM & MARKET HARVEST FESTIVAL Join us on Saturday, October 5th, at 1pm for a three course outdoor meal at The Backyard Farm & Market at Erin Mills. In addition to feasting on local, seasonal cuisine, enjoy our kids activities, garlic planting, labyrinth walks, and more. To support the development of The Backyard and have an amazing day, click here for more info and tickets. GROW YOUR OWN GARLIC! Garlic is my favourite crop to grow as it's super easy, and super rewarding. In Southern Ontario, we plant it in mid-October, and harvest the following summer. To learn more about how to grow your own garlic crop, click here. That's all the news from the farm for now. Until next time, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Join us for the 8th Annual Garlic Harvest: Aug 4 & 5

Hello Farm Folk, It's time for the 8th Annual Garlic Harvest, and we've got close to 50,000 bulbs of Persian, Korean, Italian, Russian, Israeli and 15 other varieties to harvest and hang in the barn to cure! Please join us for the garlic harvest on Sunday, August 4th, and/or Monday, Aug 5th (Civic Holiday) from 7:30am-4pm. Two of the most fun days of the year on the farm! If you are interested in helping with the garlic harvest, please rsvp to and let me know which day you want to come, and if you need directions to the farm, or a lift. Looking forward to harvesting garlic with you very soon! Daniel P.S. If you would like to place a garlic order, and haven't done so yet, please do so at

Friday, June 28, 2013

Core Volunteer Positions Available

Hello Farm Folk,

The Backyard Farm & Market at Erin Mills (Mississauga), and our organic veggie farm in Sutton, are both currently accepting applicants for the following "Core Volunteer" positions for the 2013 season. Please forward to anyone who you think may be interested.

The Backyard Farm & Market at Erin Mills (located at 2475 Eglinton Ave. W, Mississauga)
  • FARM Volunteer: Tuesdays, 9am-3pm, 8 shifts minimum, weekly or bimonthly, from current date until Thanksgiving
  • MARKET Volunteer: Saturdays, 8:30am-2:30pm, 8 shifts minimum, weekly or bimonthly, from current date until Thanksgiving
  • Newsletter Coordinator: 1/2 - 1 day per week, work from anywhere
  • Community Outreach & Marketing Assistant: 1/2 - 1 day per week, some work to occur in Mississauga, and some from home
  • Events/Programming Coordinator: Work to occur both at market, and from home
  • Music Programmer: Work to occur both at market, and from home
  • Market Photography & Social Media: Work to occur both at market, and from home
To apply:

Email Deanna Berry, at, and let her know:
  • What position you'd like to apply for
  • Dates you'd be interested in committing to
  • No resumes necessary
Our Veggie Farm in Sutton
The Elmgrove Organic Collective is currently welcoming Core and Casual Volunteers to help on our farm in Sutton on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. (Please note, we're closed on Saturdays and Mondays). Please visit our website at for more information.
Need a lift? We are offering carpooling from Toronto on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Interested in interacting with the community on a weekly basis in a fun, busy environment? Interested in learning how to sell produce? We'd also love your help at our Farmer's Market stand at the Newmarket Farmer's Market. (Please note, for the farmer's market, we are looking for volunteers who can commit to a minimum of 8 shifts throughout the summer until the end of October).
To arrange to help out on the farm, or at the market, please contact Pam at to find out more. No resumes necessary.
Looking forward to farming with you soon! Until then, Keep Livin' on the Veg!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Volunteering at The Backyard & Farmer's Market Grand Opening

Hello Farm Folk,

The Backyard Farm & Market at Erin Mills

The Cutting Veg, Garden Jane, and The Daniels Corporation are hosting a new Farmer's Market in Erin Mills! Our Market will run every Saturday from 10am-2pm starting June 8th. Local farmers, producers and artisans alike will join our community food hub to bring the Mississauga area amazing local foods, chemical-free produce, and scrumptious delicacies! There will be live music, entertainment and gardening opportunities to enjoy weekly! Set in front of a ravine on 1.5 acres of land, we are your farm-getaway right in the city!

What else is happening at The Backyard?
There's something for everyone at The Backyard! Bring the family for a day of fun and interact with:
  • Our Straw-bale veggie garden
  • Free & Fun Kids Food Education Programs
  • Outdoor Waste-Free Kitchen and Picnic area
  • Recreation and Play Spaces including Straw Bale forts, and labyrinth!
Where to find us
We are located on the North East corner of Eglinton Ave. West & Erin Mills Pkwy at 2475 Eglinton Ave. West, Mississauga.

We're new to the neighborhood! Please help us spread the word!
Volunteer Days at The Backyard!
Interested in helping out at The Backyard Farm & Market at Erin Mills? We will be on the farm from 9am-3pm on June 2nd, 4th, and 7th. RSVP to, and be sure to bring your lunch, snacks, drinking water, lots of layers to adapt to the changing weather conditions, suscreen, and a hat. Tools and golves are provided, and we work rain or shine. Looking forward to seeing you at The Backyard!

Recipe: Rhubarb Lemonade (
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 3 tbsp lemon rind
  • 1 ½ cups lemon juice
In a large saucepan stir together water, sugar, rhubarb, and lemon rind; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb breaks up. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Strain liquid through fine sieve (or colander). Allow to cool. When ready to serve, mix 3 parts of water to 1 part of rhubarb lemonade syrup. Serve in glass with ice cubes.

Keep Livin' on the Veg!

Friday, May 17, 2013

4 days on the Farm in Mississauga: Join us!

Hello Farm Folk,
I want to tell you about one of the coolest projects with which I've ever been involved. The Backyard Farm and Market at Erin Mills is a small, urban farm and farmers' market in Mississauga, Ontario. An urban agriculture hub for the GTA, The Backyard provides opportunities for people to learn about (and delight in!) all aspects of the food system --- from growing to cooking to eating to sharing. The site features a straw-bale veggie garden, a compost demonstration site, a zero-waste outdoor kitchen, natural kids play spaces, and lots of visiting wildlife! The market runs on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm (starting June 8th).
Garden Jane (, The Cutting Veg, and The Daniels Corp (cutting edge developers with an appetite for sustainable urban agriculture) are all collaborating to make it happen. The Backyard is in the very early stages of getting set up, and we could use your help! We will be welcoming volunteers to help build the farm on four days over the next two weeks:

  • This holiday Monday, May 20th, 9am-3pm
  • Friday, May 24th, 9am-3pm
  • Tuesday, May 28th, 9am-3pm
  • Sunday, June 2nd, 9am-3pm
Interested in helping out? Please rsvp to and let her know what day you'll be coming. The farm is located at 2475 Eglinton ave. West, at the corner of Erin Mills Parkway and Eglinton. Here's what to bring:

  • lunch, snacks, and lots of water
  • lots of layers to adapt to the changing weather conditions. A raincoat and rainpants are essential, if there is any chance of rain.
  • protect yourself from the sun: hats, sunscreen, etc are strongly advised
  • your friends and family
  • gloves and tools are provided
Hope to see you at The Backyard Farm! Until then, Keep Livin' on the Veg!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Farm Talk: Introducing our Baby Farmer

Hello Farm Folk,

On April 18th, we welcomed a new addition to the farm team. Terri, my wife, gave birth to our first child, a 7Lb, 11oz baby girl! It's been a challenging and remarkable first few weeks of the baby's life, and we're thrilled to say that at only 4 weeks old, our baby is already driving the tractor, running the rototiller, and building greenhouses. Despite nine months of advocating to name our baby after my favourite crop ("Garlo" if it had been a boy, and "Garli" for a girl), in the end we settled on Ayla Joni Segal Hoffmann. Terri and I look forward to you meeting Ayla on the farm! Speaking of my favourite crop, the 60,000 garlic cloves we planted last October are thriving! The warm stretches of weather, in combination with great soil, and ample moisture has our garlic looking big and a beautiful, deep green colour. In 12 weeks or so, it'll be garlic harvest time! Additionally, our perennials have come back beautifully. The rhubarb, chives, oregano, and mint are all looking robust, and within a couple weeks we'll be drunk on strawberries! And then there's our 1.5 acres of organic asparagus. Planted last spring, we're waiting until 2014 to start distributing this crop, in order to allow the plants to establish themselves. But, can we be blamed if we harvest a delicious spear here and there for supper? We have a good excuse --- nothing supports the nutritional needs of Mommy and Baby like some fresh green veg!

As the Cutting Veg moves away from managing and growing for CSAs, we are thrilled that our friends and partners at Shoresh and Frall Foods are stepping in to maintain and further develop the CSA network. Shoresh will be managing the Holy Sprouts CSA and Kavanah Garden CSA, in partnership with Highmark Farms. Frall Foods will be managing Park Road Organic Harvest and the Elmgrove CSA, in partnership with Terra Organics. For more info about the Holy Sprouts CSA and Kavanah Garden CSA, visit or contact Shoresh at or 416-805-8382. For more info about Park Road Organic Harvest and the Elmgrove CSA, visit or contact Frall Foods at, or 647-973-2501.

If you are interested in getting outside and getting your hands dirty, and you have a passion for food and sustainable food systems, you need to check out the Elmgrove Organic Collective (EOC) this growing season! We are on the farm Sunday through Friday from 7:30am to 4:00pm - Rain or Shine! May through October. No car? Email Pam to inquire about volunteering and possible car pooling opportunities (

The Farm Family is growing --- several more organic growers have joined the farm. This small, grassroots group is called the Elmgrove Organic Collective (EOC), and includes Pam Jackson - EOC Volunteer Coordnator and Market Manager, "Terra Organics" (Paul Clarkson), "Black River Bees" (Tom Nolan), "Cultivating Opportunities" (an internship program led by Zandra Zalucky for adults with mental health challenges), "Frall Foods" (Paolo Lavalle), and "The Cutting Veg" (Daniel Hoffmann). The Collective is passionate about building community through organic agriculture, and welcomes all farm helpers.
      Recipe: Dill Dressing (
This is a great dressing for salads as well as cooked cauliflower and hard boiled eggs.

1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp dill, chopped
1 tbsp honey
1 clove garlic
½ lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper

Whisk everything together or use a blender.

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


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sustainable Business Opportunity with Garden Jane and The Cutting Veg

2013 Garden Coaching Internships... and a Sustainable Business Opportunity

Garden Jane ( and The Cutting Veg have teamed up to offer an exciting, new Joint Internship Program. The internship program is targetted to those who want to deepen their community development and gardening skills, as well as their coaching skills. Ideally some of our interns have an interest in joining our team in a paid capacity as an Associate Garden Coach in future as well.

The Background

Currently, we are working with The Daniels Corporation ( to integrate community gardens into many of their condos across the GTA. Our role is to help get the gardens up and running, and help the Gardening Committees learn to manage the garden. Engaging with these gardens and their communities will be a core component of this year's internship.

The Details

Garden Jane and The Cutting Veg are currently looking to train 2-4 individuals to become garden coaches. To become a lead garden coach will require an internship process of 1 year minimum, to develop the necessary community development and agricultural skills and knowledge. Upon completion of the internship, one may qualify to become a paid Associate. Associate compensation will be negotiated on a contract-by-contract basis, following completion of the internship.

Key Qualifications:

  • Solid foundation of gardening skills
  • Experience supporting/mentoring people in a professional context
  • Open minded, enthusiastic, punctual, reliable, with excellent interpersonal skills
  • Availability 1-2 days per week, starting beginning of March, 2013.
  • Driver’s license and access to vehicle is not required for the internship, but will be required to become a paid Associate.
To apply:

  • Email Daniel Hoffmann to request our "Intern to Associate Overview" document.
  • If still interested after reading the “Intern to Associate Overview", submit current resume, cover letter, and 2 references to by Friday, Feb 22nd.
  • Chosen applicants will be contacted by Feb 24th for an interview.