Veggie Lovers’ Club Week 5 Newsletter

Hello Veggie Lovers!IMG_9926

The “soft launch” of the pre-orders went well last week!  We opened the form on our website and announced it on Facebook so only a few of you placed orders.  We made sure to only list the items we knew we could manage getting ready and everyone was great about following the instructions, so it went very smoothly!  This week there are even more items available, including beans, peas, carrots, salad mix, spinach, herbs, Fresh Roots Farm raw honey, and Lady of the Lake’s salad dressing– see the form for the complete availability!

 –Sorry, the order period is closed for this week–

Orders can be placed from now until Monday at noon.  Please see last week’s post if you need more information about how pre-orders work.

A Reminder: Your second installment payment is due (if you signed up for 3 installments)  For the 16-week option the installment is $127 and for the 24-week option it is $194. (If you selected 2 payments, your next installment isn’t due until Tuesday September 5).
We can accept payment via email money transfer (to sales@brownsugarproduce.com, and email us the answer to your secret question), cash or cheque at the pickup, or debit at the pickup if you need to (we prefer if you can do an email money transfer or cash if possible so we don’t spend too much time processing payments at the busy pickup spot, but this is an option).
If you have chosen to pay in 3 installments and have provided us with post-dated cheques (Thanks!!), just a reminder that we will be depositing them August 1.

Please email us if you have any questions about payments!

Spoiler Alert: Stop reading NOW if you want to keep the contents a surprise!

In your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag this week:

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Week 4 bag

Beans, Green & Yellow
Carrots
Peas
Lettuce & Baby Kale Mix
Sweet Onion
Cucumber

Please click the links on each item above for more information about each of the veggies, including storage tips, preparation tips, and recipe suggestions!


Teri’s Veggie Lover Tips:

Myrah Janice and I are hanging out in my office right now, writing the week’s newsletter as a thunderstorm rolls over our farm.  It’s a tiny little one, and the radar shows it may not even reach Mom’s farm, though it is noisy with lots of lightning and the power is flickering on and off.  We are so glad for the rain and crossing our fingers for no hail!  The rain actually saves us so much time irrigating this weekend that we may be able to take Sunday off this week and take MJ to the lake for the day… Hooray!!  Mom is picking cucumbers at her farm right now, and I texted her to hurry up just in case the rain is headed her way.  I believe her plan is to make the first dill pickles of the season this afternoon! (Yes, Alana, I know that just made your heart skip a beat! :P)

The execution of the “optional baby dill” last week was less-than-perfect.  We were trying to save ourselves some labour, and also didn’t realize that it would be so popular.  I brought twice as much as I would have needed if we had portioned the dill into bags, and thought that would do, but next time I’d show an example of about how much should be in each bag.  The first half of the VLC members got dill, and then it was all gone!  I’m bringing some bags along this week and so if you were one of the ones who missed it, let me know and you can have some this week.  Thanks for your patience as we navigate different ideas for making the workflow easier!  I think if the herb was sage, or parsley, or cilantro, this method of distribution might work a lot better… Dill is just too popular!

The Carrots!
Everything has jumped in the fields over the past couple of weeks, and so we have many more crops ready each week.  Look forward to Celery, Green Garlic, Zucchini and Basil coming soon in your bags!  Unfortunately, though the carrots are coming along, we are still short from our production and so had to source some from Jeffries Bros. Vegetable Growers in Portage this week for your bags.  Judi Jeffries is a friend of a very close friend of mine in Nova Scotia and we met early this spring when she delivered a rocking chair on his behalf, just days before Myrah’s birth.  It is great to have a connection to some larger growers in the area so that we can continue to have a full offering of veggies, despite our own shortages (either in production or labour).  When Jon and I moved here, it was with the idea that we would produce veggies but also move towards a more cooperative, farm market model, like I had seen in action in Nova Scotia.  As we get to know other growers in the province, this direction is looking like a good fit for our farm.  I am in the middle of a big, fat, juicy blog post about it that I hope to publish to the blog this weekend and will include a link here once I do.

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Dave Jeffries and his sons Ernie and Roland

The carrots are grown in Portage on the Jeffries’ farm, where they specialize in this popular crop along with parsnips, strawberries, rutabaga, and asparagus.  This is a large-scale operation and so much of the production is mechanized, which makes them able to supply a large amount of quality produce at a good value.  If you’d like to read more about the Jeffries’, check out this article.

 

We did a taste test, and the carrots are not a Brown Sugar Produce carrot, but unlike our carrots they exist!  Without them, you wouldn’t be getting any carrots for a couple of weeks at least yet, which we don’t think is acceptable: We have lots of our carrots coming along for later weeks’ bags.  On larger scale farms, different things are prioritized in production, such as uniformity, ability to process with machinery, storage, disease resistance, etc.  Since we do a lot of our work by hand, we have different considerations, and our first one is usually selecting varieties based on flavour. So, these carrots may not compare in flavour to our carrots, but they’re gorgeous and uniform and clean, and locally grown and that’s something we support first and foremost.  MJ and I traveled to Portage last week to pick them up and see the farm, which was our first Mother-Daughter road trip, and a good task for us on a hot day.  Enjoy eating the fruits of the Jeffries’ farm team’s labour this week: I’d love to hear any feedback you have, email us at sales@brownsugarproduce.com!

Lettuce & Baby Kale Mix!
As it stands right now, the plan is that you will be getting lettuce & baby kale mix this week.  The difference from Salad Mix being that it doesn’t contain spinach or beet greens, just the lettuce and baby kale (which we have a beautiful crop of right now).  In the summer, our lettuce doesn’t grow as well and so we have less available.  We are finding the lettuce field and mine & Jon’s place to be very productive and since it is shaded part of the day, it is ideal for lettuce production and so the crop is doing better than usual for the beginning of August.

IMG_9993 (Edited)Cukes!
The cucumber harvest has just begun.  Last year, just before the cucumbers were about to start producing, we got a bad hail storm which actually pushed them (and the zucchini) into production.  So, last week I went out and kicked the crap outta the cucumbers (well, maybe not quite, but I did rough up the plants with my boots).  They are producing this week, so I’m not sure if that is just because it’s their time, or due to my intervention!  We are getting you 1 or two of our favourite cukes this week, they are called Katrina, and are 4-6 inches long, thin-skinned, and very sweet, crunchy, and juicy.  They come from the caterpillar tunnel, where crops are looking great and we actually just ate our first two tomatoes last night!  I didn’t get home from market day until after 10 IMG_0013last night and Jon had a tomato, cucumber, basil, and feta salad prepared with supper.  I was excited to see the tomatoes, but dismayed that he had harvested without documenting with a photo!  Here’s one from this morning –>

Coming soon in your bags!!

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Grilling Time!!
grilledlambkebabsLast summer, Andrea prepared this Grilling Guide for some of the veggies we grow.  On the really hot summer days, using the barbecue to prepare meals saves your house from turning into an oven, or as Michelle from Fresh Roots Farm (our honey producers) says, “because BBQ is the only sane option in this heat!”

Here’s a link to Jamie Oliver’s Marinated Lamb Kebabs recipe, which is shown in this photo by Michelle.  Lots of veggies are great on the grill, including the sweet onions!  Cooked potatoes and beets are also delicious additions.  I’m making my own version of this for supper tonight, so thanks to Michelle for the inspiration!!


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Hi, Veggie Lovers!

Baby Update: Myrah is growing faster than the weeds!  It’s shocking to look back at photos from a couple of months ago.  She is 12 weeks old this week.  Twice a week I am working all day and so she stays home and Jon looks after her.  Yesterday I was away from 6:30 am until 10 pm, which is a bit longer than usual.  When I got home, as soon as I sat down to eat supper, Myrah woke up crying.  When I picked her up, she was so happy to see me, she spent quite a while just staring at me, smiling at me and cooing.  Both Jon and I agreed it really seemed like she was happy to see me!  I’m not an overly warm, motherly person at the best of times, so sometimes I get caught up in getting tasks accomplished and have to remind myself that she is the #1 priority in my day…  To remember the most important thing right now is this little girl’s care, not how many weeds I pull or pounds of lettuce I harvest.  It was certainly touching to have her respond so much to seeing me come home!


Farm Update: Things are going great this year!  Crops are about a week behind last year, due to the dry spring and early summer.  With the occasional rain lately, things have really jumped.   We are confident that there are lots of veggies to fill our commitments to the 70 Veggie Lovers’ Club members as well as our Friday market.

Our market at Lady of the Lake has exploded and we have broken sales records three weeks in a row.  We see lots of you on Fridays and are so grateful for your support both on the Tuesday pickup as well as the Friday market.  When Jon and I moved here 2-1/2 years ago and joined Mom’s business, we weren’t sure if it could support three of us earning a full-time living from the farm, and we are getting closer and closer to that each season!  Year one, Jon, Mom and I worked together and did ok, but Jon and I worked off-farm in the winter to supplement our farming incomes.  Last year we hired employees and Jon worked full-time off the farm while I ran the farm team at Mom’s location.  That worked a bit better, but was even further away from our goals of earning a living farming together full-time.  This year, Mom and I are farming together at two separate locations, and Jon is on parental leave from work so helps with property maintenance and baby care, and we are even closer to our goal of farming together full-time as a family.

4C97F203-AC6E-4E6B-A3AB-88B20FEBC0F2Our farm is currently in a succession transition, as we move more of the production to mine & Jon’s farm (Myrah Farm) which will be the long-term location of Brown Sugar Produce.  We are currently in the middle of a building project which will be functional very soon.  Last winter, we erected a pole shed on our property (after a fire last April destroyed many of the buildings on our farm), and this spring we have been working on getting 1/3 of the interior finished as a vegetable production area.  We are having to build this with the future growth of the business in mind, so it includes a larger cooler than we currently have, as well as an indoor potential propagation space, and lots of room to grow.  We are also building it to meet CanadaGAP On-Farm Food Safety specifications for production facilities for the most part.  This is not something our farm has to adhere to (yet), but as I have experience administering the program on another farm, we know the rules and think it’s prudent that we adhere now in case it’s ever mandatory in the future, or if we ever decide to expand our marketing to include wholesale where it is required (doubtful).

It’s expected that our cooler will be finished in about a week, and that will save us from lugging our harvest down to our basement and shuttling produce over to Mom’s cooler, which has added to our workload so far this year.  We are looking forward it and will be sure to share some photos of the finished workspace!


That’s it for this week!  I absolutely LOVE seeing all of you at the pickup and I am soon confident I’ll soon know all of your names: apologies if I’ve had to ask you more than once!  The nature of this business is that we meet and see a lot of people each week, so sometimes I just can’t quite place a person or remember their name off the top of my head, but we sure do try!

We are surrounded by such a supportive community of Veggie Lovers’: Thank You!!

See you Tuesday!

Teri 🙂