This month life is literally sprouting all around me. I have been successfully ‘nursing’ my baby cabbages, cauliflower, lavender, sage, and broccoli in the spare room of my house. I absolutely love this part of the season. There is a whole lot of anticipation, a little anxiety, and the excitement of new life that happens every spring when you are a grower. It never fails that every year I wonder - will the plants grow? will I have enough? will they make it when transplanted into the field? But the plants always prove their smarts – they just genetically have it imprinted in them what they have to do to survive and they do it! Pretty amazing when you think about it –just trust, go with the flow, and you will grow:) I really do very little, just provide them with what they need to grow, cheer them on, and they figure out the rest - so cool!
This season is already proving to be much different from last year at this time. Last year I had already worked up the soil, had my beds staked out, and some seeds and transplants in the ground. This year I have yet to even do anything in the field as I patiently (and sometimes impatiently) wait for the rain to stop, the sun to come out, and the soil to dry enough to be worked.
In the meantime, as I wait, my transplants continue to rapidly grow and I joke that if the weather stays how its been they will produce baby cabbages before they even make it to the field! This was theoretically supposed to happen next week. Oh well, I guess it is just part of the ‘have a plan but remain flexible’ mentality I’m slowly getting better at. With farming, you are forced to learn this one in a hurry (with all the thousands of variables you are forced to encounter each season).
This waiting has actually allowed other opportunities to flourish. I was able to sell all my carrots for the price I wanted (wahoo), found 5 fabulous individuals to work with me on the farm this summer (double wahoo), made a connection with Marbles restaurant (triple wahoo), and updated my website so you can now find nutritional, storage, and preserving information on each of the vegetables I will be growing this summer. I also have sold 2/3 of the CSA shares - 20 more to go. Thank you all for your continued support. And, I also ‘found’ several items I need for the farm this summer – tents, tables, washer, and a lawn mower :)
I also decided to apply for organic certification. Last year I decided to opt out of the certification process since I sell direct and feel I have a very transparent process already. This year after weighing the pros and cons I decided I will incur the expense (about $600 for the year) and be part of the larger organic movement, ensure my methods are consistent with organic regulations, and probably improve my record-keeping in the process (so much paper work – eek!).
After a few discussions with people this month I realized there is still a lot of misconception around 'organic' and as an organic grower I feel it is partly my role to impart knowledge on this. I recently heard that such-and-such vegetable is okay to buy non-organically because it isn't sprayed much, but this other vegetable should be bought organically because it is heavily sprayed. I felt like part of the point of organics had been grossly overlooked by this statement. Organic means more than just no pesticides/herbicides. It means ensuring the long-term viability and fertility of the land through crop rotations, cover cropping, and additions of organic soil amendments (i.e. compost). It also means furthering the organic reach by sourcing organic seed, feed, and amendments for your land (encouraging the proliferation of organic growers to be able to supply these resources in the process). Organic is about the health of the land, the people, the soil, and the ecosystem. Buying and growing organically is about helping to ensure our lands are kept fertile and in balance with the natural systems that surround them for generations to come. Hopefully this provides greater insight and just one more reason to seek out and support organic:)
Cheers to sunshine, and healthy plants, people, and soil:) Happy Earth Week!
Maple syrup collection in March:) One tree provides a surprising amount of sap. Boiling it down doesn't leave much actual syrup though (with a 50:1 ratio of water to syrup). Got about 8 pints from our one tree!
Boiling down the sap. The smell was incredible!! I think our neighbours were jealous (or maybe just hungry:) after passing by the house, hehe.
On a bigger scale my friend from Heartwood Farm in Erin boiling down the sap from her farm. I got to lick the big spoon and wash it down with a shot of good ol' amber syrup:) Syrup on syrup - I highly recommend it.
The Heartwood farm animals. Val has a couple of milking cows, goats, chickens, and uses draft horses on her farm.
Inside the Heartwood Farm greenhouse. Okay I'm slightly jealous of the fresh greens in March they have growing. Oh one day when I get my own farm I too shall have a greenhouse with fresh greens in March:)
Broccoli seed just before planting. I have a few special rituals I preform to ensure they know what to do (of course they do but just in case they need a reminder:)
Broccoli growing under lights. Getting too big, needs to be planted outside. Send thoughts for sun and heat to dry out the fields for me please!
Pleasantly surprised by my little garlic bulbs coming to life already:) Ummm, this also makes me hungry!
Yeah, I just had to capture this moment. Miracles happen and with one email all my carrots were sold (and 40lbs of 'damaged' carrots were donated to the Food Bank). A deep sigh was issued just before this shot as I looked into my now empty bin:)