We have so much to tell you! Let us begin by reminding you that deliveries of your first baskets for the 2016 season will start on Wednesday, June 15 for Montreal West, Town of Mount Royal, Yellow Pages Group and the Caisse de dépôt et placement/Ivanhoe and on Thursday, June 16 for our Westmount friends (see details here). We will welcome you with open arms, particularly if you come with your own loot bags to haul your veggies home. We’ll be bringing eggs, courtesy of our organic grain-fed hens ($6 a dozen – bring us your egg cartons, they’ll get a new lease on life). Accompanying us will be Ghislain Despatie and/or his wife Céline Richard, our very own Stanbridge East organic bakers. They’ll have breads for you to sample, in the hopes some of you may like to sign up for their bread basket program. We’ll let them fill you in on the details in person.
Following an unseasonably dry period, the weather turned – just in the nick of time – serving up abundant rains combined with chilly temperatures more fall-like than spring-like. The mad dash to water small plants and transplants ended abruptly, replaced by pacing and hemming and hawing as we wondered when the downpours would cease. We’ve been told the wet weather will end Tuesday, and it’s a good thing, too, because a cold-induced vegetative state is not one we wish upon our vegetables at this stage. A few days of sunshine will help make our strawberries redder and our beets rounder.
This week’s baskets are much like the first baskets of previous years – overflowing with the leafy greens that Mother Nature coaxes out of the soil first, when left to her own devices. We have a few suggestions to make re the handling of leafy greens, with a view to ensuring they last longer in your refrigerators: the sooner you wash them (again – as our leafy greens are dunked in an ice-cold bath as soon as they are harvested) and dry them, the longer they’ll last. The effort is worth the bother, as the special care makes a huge difference in their refrigerator life expectancy. Excess humidity can quickly damage most leafy greens – best practice is to wash the leaves as soon as you can, then spin/dry them and place them in an air-tight container in the fridge. For more info, come see us at the drop-off. We look forward to seeing you all.
The change has been brutal: from a cold and blustery start to spring, we’ve suddenly shifted to talavera blue skies and sun-baked days worthy of an all-inclusive trip to Punta Cana. We’re not complaining – sunshine is what we need, but it feels like we’ve had to turn on a dime, racing against the clock to install our irrigation system – drip hose here, aspersion sprinklers there – as we pray to the rain gods to fill the pond to the brim so we can take water off our worry list. The spring- and rain-fed pond is our very own ‘renewable resource’: it generally starts out full and is gradually drained as the season progresses, a mere puddle come September, that is then replenished during the fall and winter months. It’s a never-ending cycle. Meanwhile, field plantings continue apace – tomatoes last week; corn, eggplants, cucumbers and zucchini this week.
To those of you interested in the sourdough breads of Ghislain Despatie and Céline Richard, our bakers have launched their website – it provides a nice overview of their breads, the organic grains they use and delivery logistics. We are happy to support their endeavour, as it is not often one comes across artisanal bread of such good quality. Mark your calendars – 2016 vegetable baskets begin in less than 3 weeks, on Wednesday, June 15. We’re looking forward to seeing you all soon.
We are still recovering from two weeks of unseasonably beautiful but cold late-April weather, accustomed as we had become to warmer, wetter springs. In truth, we should have known things would be different this ‘El Niño’ year. With stubbornly sub-zero temperatures for nearly a fortnight, it was impossible to take our seedling trays outside to ‘harden’. As a result, the greenhouse was literally overflowing, with seedlings here, there and everywhere: under tables, down the alleys, in every nook and cranny…Had the cold weather not broken, we would have seriously had to consider renting extra greenhouse space! But last week things were back to normal, the nights turned warmer and we were able to plant our first brassicas – kale and Swiss chard – and most of our onions.
Online registrations are ongoing and it is easier than ever to sign up for an organic basket. Seasonal deliveries will begin the week of June 13 and will end the week of October 23rd for a total of 20 weeks. As always, you can choose between a large and a small basket and will continue to enjoy a broad variety of vegetables.
To all interested farm members: for the first time (as suggested by some of you), we have garden transplants for sale for your own home (back yard and balcony) gardens. The list includes red and yellow cherry tomatoes, Big Beef, Brandywine and Rose de Berne field tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, melons, watermelons, lettuce, and various garden herbs (dill, oregano, parsley, thyme) and even some broccoli, cabbage and pak choy. Place your orders by e-mail quickly (quantities are limited) so we can arrange for a pre-season special plant delivery at your respective drop-off location the week of May 23rd. The seedlings are priced at $2 each.
‘Ploughing and pasture are the twin paps of French prosperity.’ So said Sully, friend and minister of French king Henry IV. This week, we put his words into action. In fact, given increased production this year, we are in the process of re-claiming fields previously dedicated to growing hay. Ploughing under a hayfield is something we haven’t done in a while. Indeed, ploughing, period, is somewhat frowned upon in organic circles. It’s deemed too aggressive; organic farmers prefer softer, kinder approaches for soil preservation. I’ll save the topic for another e-mail, another time. The thing is, there aren’t many options for a hayfield – ploughs and other heavy equipment generally carry the day. IMHO, ploughing is the lesser of two evils. You plough once, you harrow twice, then you install permanent beds which you hope to keep for years. And that’s exactly what we did this weekend – the weather was such that it would have been foolish not to seize the opportunity to do so. In our seedling greenhouse, the seed trays are already green, our tomatoes have taken, as have our green peppers, our snap peas and our beets.
Meanwhile, online registrations are continuing apace. If you haven’t registered yet, don’t wait until it’s too late. Our website has been completely revamped in order to streamline basket registration and to allow for extra orders of vegetables and fruits throughout the season on a new platform. The season will run from the beginning of the week of June 13 to the end of the week of October 23rd — a total of 20 weeks. Yet again, we will be offering two basket formats (small and large) and as wide a selection of vegetables and fruits as in previous years.
This year, we will be partnering with a local baker, Stanbridge East newcomer Ghislain Despatie, with a view to offering you mouth-watering organic breads, made with ancestral organic grains.
We’ll also be introducing a special offer in response to requests from some of you: a plant sale for those of you with vegetable patches, or herb gardens, of your own. We’ll post a list of available plants in a few weeks, based on our extras. We look forward to seeing you all again this summer.
March 24, 2016: a deep breath and a sigh of relief. The greenhouse has been cleaned, the bags of potting soil are piled high. The devil’s in the details (as always), but we’re ready to roll. Relatively speaking, I don’t spend that much time in the greenhouse over the course of a season — a couple of months in all — but it’s long enough to appreciate its warmth-filled nooks and crannies. Knowing that it would be my primary abode from mid-March to early May for the foreseeable future, I built it with a wooden frame, to the surprise of my greenhouse supplier. ‘A wood frame?!’ he had asked, doubtfully. ‘No one uses wood anymore, it’ll rot in no time,’ he had added. Poor Richard. He just didn’t get it. He couldn’t begin to understand my love of wood in general, hemlock in particular, and its amazing ability to morph over time, greying gently at first, then darkening to bold hues of brown. In truth, I had little interest in the metal frame he was suggesting, which dwindled to no interest at all considering the reality of snow-covered spring fields and night temperatures still hovering around -10 celsius when we fire up the greenhouse furnace every year. I wanted a cocoon, a nursery to encourage the birth of my seedlings. Hence the wood-framed bubble in which I have just sown leeks, onions, herbs and our first kale. And that’s just for starters…
Meanwhile, online registrations are in full swing. If you haven’t registered yet, don’t wait until it’s too late. Our website has been completely revamped in order to streamline basket registration and to allow for extra orders of vegetables and fruits throughout the season on a new platform. The season will run from the beginning of the week of June 13 to the end of the week of October 23rd — a total of 20 weeks. Yet again, we will be offering two basket formats (small and large) and as wide a selection of vegetables and fruits as in previous years. This year, we will be partnering with a local baker, Stanbridge East newcomer Ghislain Despatie, with a view to offering you mouth-watering breads, made with ancestral organic grains. We’ll do a more formal presentation of Ghislain shortly. We look forward to seeing you all again this summer.
What a schizophrenic winter we have just had! On four distinct occasions the surrounding fields turned green in … February! Even the most phlegmatic of farmers can be forgiven for losing their bearings as we head towards Spring — no longer a matter of months, but rather two to three weeks at most according to the latest forecasts.
Meanwhile, we’ve been chafing at the bit to get the ball rolling and open up registrations for the 2016 season. Our website has been completely revamped in order to streamline basket registration and to allow for extra orders of vegetables and fruits throughout the season on a new platform (please bear with us as we iron out the wrinkles over coming weeks). The season will run from the beginning of the week of June 13 to the end of the week of October 23rd — a total of 20 weeks. Yet again, we will be offering two basket formats (small and large) and as wide a selection of vegetables and fruits as in previous years. We’re hoping for a strong showing on the berry front, particularly following on last year’s hugely disappointing blueberry harvest. Given the mild winter, we expect bushloads of buds ready to burst as soon as warm weather settles in. We’ll have strawberries early in the season, along with other fruits: melons, watermelons and even apples and pears from our young orchard. On the vegetable front, we’re planning a broad variety of cultivars and anticipating a bumper tomato crop. This year, the vast majority of our tomatoes will be grown under cover in our cold tunnels — and so we hope that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor …” will stay your farmers from their appointed tomato growing and harvesting tasks.
So without further ado, to your computers to send us your online registrations. We look forward to seeing you all in a few months.
2015 ended just as busily as it started. The last two months of the year are usually quieter, but not this year, as we scrambled to complete the installation of our new greenhouse and to build an observation deck on the foundations of an old bridge that used to straddle the river that runs through our fields. We finally got the greenhouse raised, all 32 by 200 feet of it, and the base electrical and computer wiring in; already we’re planning production to include a variety of greens, asian and other, cucumbers and much more. Although unheated, it should eventually allow us to start the season a little earlier.
The deck, or platform as we like to call it, is a project we’ve been waiting to complete since our early days at the farm. We had to call on the services of a local crane operator to install the h-beams and ordered a lot of wood to build it out, but construction went off without a hitch. We can now cross over the river from one field to another without it becoming an expedition. Had it not been for the clement weather we had in December, said platform would not have been built until much later this year. And now, as we settle in to hibernate and await the snow, we wish you a nice winter and a new year filled to the brim with good things.