Week 22 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi Veggie Lovers!

Your carrots and beets had to sit overnight in the non-cooler, so if they are a bit wilty they will recover in the fridge in the bag they come in.  For extreme dehydration of root veggies like carrots, you can stick them in a pitcher of water in the fridge for a couple of hours and they seem to perk up.

I was sick yesterday and can’t tell how I feel yet today so in the small chance I’m not at the pickup tonight, Mom or Jon will be there in the same van.  In fact, this time of year you can probably scarcely tell the difference between any of us, we are so bundled up!

Gala of Gifts at the AGSM Dec 1 & 2
I have been taking pottery classes this fall at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba under the instruction of Marci Bomford, and I absolutely LOVE it.  They are having a sale this weekend that I am really looking forward to, lots of great artisans will be there!  Check their Facebook Page or Insta @agsmagram for all the vendors and daily schedules.

galaofgifts

Registration for winter session art classes is now open on their website also: https://agsm.ca


Here’s the link if you’d like to place a Veggie pre-order!
You can place an order anytime before Monday at 5 pm for the coming week and not much changes as far as availability from week to week this time of year so you can order any day, including Tuesday, for next week’s pickup if you want!

We encourage you to make use of the Pre-Order form if you would like additional veggies, preserves, pickles, etc.  There will no longer be a mini-market at the pickup.

We always anticipate the very last week of pickup to be busier than average due to folks wanting to stock up, so if you can help us spread that out a bit and not everyone wait until the very last week to stock up, we greatly appreciate it! (This is less important if your items are not things we need to wash or are already packaged eg pickles, honey, quinoa.)


The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much/any notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest or pack it freshly for your bag.  So, this posting is meant to give you a good idea of what is in your bag, but just be aware that it may change and we will do our best to let you know if that happens!  At the very least, the posting on the website will be updated prior to delivery with the actual contents for that week, so that you can check that you’ve received everything you are supposed to!

Spoiler Alert: Stop reading now if you want to keep your bag contents a surprise!

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Your Week 22 Veggie Lovers’ Club bag  for pickup on Tuesday November 27th contains:

Carrots, 3 lb Rainbow
Beets, 2 lb
Pea Shoots, small bag
Squash, Spaghetti
Stephanie’s Crabapple Jelly, 250 ml
Sunnies from Week 21!

 

You can click the links above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season when it is available, storage tips, and lots more!  Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Spring Shoots Program Registration Now Open!

We are running a Shoots Program starting in March 2019: Registration is now open and all the details can be found on our website here!  You are the first to know!  I will reach out to our 16-week members next, and eventually our mailing list.  So you have at least until then to think about it, just don’t wait too long as there are only 40 spaces!

We plan to run it a bit differently than last winter’s Pea Shoot Program, this year it will have more of a range of items, run for a shorter period, and is WEEKLY pickup.  Make sure you read though the entire page before you sign up and let me know if you have any questions as you read it (because those edits I do help everyone!).

If you are reading this and not currently registered in our Veggie Lovers’ Club, you can still sign up for the Spring Shoots Program now if you want to!  Anyone who voluntarily reads our newsletters counts as a current Veggie Lover.  😛


About the Veggies in this week’s bag:

Last week’s sadness about no shoots is quickly forgotten in the excitement about double shoots this week!  Peas AND Sunnies this week and then we also got more Radish seed so those are coming up soon in your bags, too!  We hadn’t planned so many shoots in the Veggie Lovers’ Club but it’s been really nice to have something fresh and green every week, don’t you agree?

The recently reported Romaine lettuce E. coli illnesses, for the second year in a row, make me even more glad that our farm can produce fresh, safe greens all year round.  Shoots are very very safe, which is why we produce them and we don’t produce Sprouts.  (People call the Peas, Sunnies, and Radish SHOOTS sprouts all the time, but you’ll notice I never do, due to the differences).  The basic difference is that Shoots are grown in a growing medium and Sprouts are grown in a jar by rinsing multiple times a day in clean water.  The potential for contamination and illness is much higher with sprouts because of the growing method, which also means the CFIA has something to say about it, which is another reason we steer clear of growing them.  Jon has lots of experience doing it but if we were going to add that aspect to our business I would only do it in a certified kitchen space and after a voluntary inspection.

shootssalad
Shoots Salad!  All 3 types plus an avocado and some nuts and seeds.  Delish!

The shoots we grow are totally safe.  Literally zero cow shit comes near them, ever (they are grown in a soilless growing medium that does not contain compost and they receive no supplemental fertilization in their short growing time). Buying from a small farm doesn’t guarantee you are always safe, but knowing the people who grow your food is a really big step in the right direction.  We care about you and wouldn’t want anyone to get sick!  To the point that all of our seasonal lettuce crop is washed in town water, which requires us to transport it to Mom’s farm post-harvest.  It was a step we took to ensure the safety of the food we produce and though it is a significant burden, we never cut corners on your safety!

 

Why don’t we grow lettuce in the winter?  First of all, you need to know those heated greenhouses near Winnipeg producing cukes and tomatoes in winter run in the millions of dollars!  We currently have a lettuce crop that has been growing for 6 weeks inside the shed (the shed we will be paying for for 23 more years!) and is no larger than my fist.  Plus it needs lighting and fertilization.  So, add up all the daily watering, plus the cost of lighting and heat (our hydro bills are over $1K/m in winter) and those are some mighty expensive lettuces for us to get paid fairly for all the effort.  Plus they don’t even taste like anything, especially when they’re grown that way.  Lettuce is 96% water, you’re basically eating water in the shape of a lettuce leaf, so why not eat a pea shoot and drink a glass of water for the same nutrition content and 90% less growing

winterbeets
Grated & ribboned beet salad with shoots!

time?!  Generally we would rather educate people than do ridiculous things to try to meet demand.  Consumer demand already drives too much ridiculousness, (like planting lettuce along a contaminated irrigation canal!) so we try to do what makes sense for us and build a market for it, which is why we are doing the Spring Shoots Program this winter! Lettuce is really overrated. 😛

 

Instead of lettuce in the winter, a bunch of shoots mixed with ribbons of root veggies steals the show!  I use a vegetable peeler to make the ribbons and I focus on beets only because Jon is allergic to raw carrots, but those would be great too, as would the addition of cabbage, celeriac, etc.  So much more nutritious than lettuce, too!

Spaghetti Squash I’m told is great for keeping blood sugar levels stable!  We are nearly out of them after last week, but there are still some listed on the pre-order form if you need to stock up before we close.  We sold out of a lot of our squash varieties last week, thanks to those who heeded my request that not everyone wait until the last week to stock up!  Thank you so much!  We are going to be completely sold out of everything except carrots and beets and shoots by Christmas.

A couple of years ago, we all of a sudden noticed an crab apple tree at Mom’s farm that we had never noticed before.  Lo and behold it produced some apples!  Janelle picked them this year on the day when they were perfectly at their peak, and Mom froze the juice with the plan of making some jelly.  Well, this is it!  I love preserves that can be made outside of the busiest part of the season like that.  The opportunity cost of making pickles in the busy season is my major stopping block: There is already a million other things that need doing and we are already over-extended at that time.  We tell everyone that the pickling ends when Mom retires!


Farm Update: Jon has been busy working on projects, like the greenhouse end walls and finally building a tool storage area.  We moved all the storage veggies out of our cooler and to Mom’s storage last week which means a bit more complicated logistics as we wrap up the CSA.  We’ve been doing some end of season cleaning in the shed and wishing for sun so we can hang out in the greenhouse!  Our hens are not enjoying the cold weather and so he is installing a window in their coop so they can get more light at least.  If they get really unhappy we will retire them for good, we don’t usually overwinter our hens as they arrive at our farm as retired from being egg layers at a livestock farm (read: they are already old when we get them).  We noticed that most kids’ cartoons and books have chickens and we think Myrah must think that everyone has chickens!

*Update Tuesday am: I finished most of your newsletter on Friday morning, before the really big story broke on the farm.  That day, Jon was home working and Myrah and I had a playdate in Brandon.  He was working in the barn and all of a sudden heard the chickens all distressed as well as the sound of an animal being killed.  If you’ve had cats even, you know what I mean by that!  He quickly went to see what was the matter and saw a cute little ferret face peek out of Skippy the Barn Squirrel’s house, which is located above the hens with wire mesh separating.  So, he returned with the gun and didn’t wait long and got Mr. Mink right through the head in one shot!

Now, don’t all the vegan activists start emailing me (that’s a real thing, you know!)– We don’t like killing any animal.  Jon is a farmer, not a hunter.  We have been present for many livestock deaths and a cleaning a deer, as well as our own chicken slaughter & processing, and Jon has shot a few skunks that tried to move into our buildings.  The first neighbor we got to know when we moved to this farm told the story of how on his farm they had mistakenly smoked the foxes out of a building on their farm– the foxes moved on, and then returned to kill all the chickens they had previously not bothered.  When Jim knew we had chickens and foxes living below the coop, he told us that story.  We heeded his advice and despite foxes existing in close proximity these past 4 summers, we haven’t had any trouble from them  (Their kits are ADORABLE, picture little wild puppy kittens running around!).

So, we generally believe in Live and Let Live.  My Dad encourages us to shoot everything that moves, but we don’t.  In fact, we have a metal grain bin with a hole in it that has turned into a very productive pigeon farm (Now to build a market for squab and pigeon eggs!).  The hawks and falcons have lots to eat around here, and I think actually they are well fed so we don’t have predatory birds bothering our hens, either.  We do what we need to do to protect our livestock and our pets, which are in an enclosure and unable to defend themselves.  But the gloves are off when we see a Mink, Weasel, or Marten.  Those are all in the remorseless chicken killer family, they kill just to kill beyond their own food needs.  I have no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have hens anymore had Jon not acted quickly like he did. We are so lucky he was there!  RIP Skippy.  (I think another squirrel has already moved in!)

Mom takes care of the restaurant orders most of the year, so this time of year that means washing carrots and beets and delivering on Wednesdays.  We also work to catch up our accounting in the winter and soon, if the catalogs arrive through the mail, will be doing our seed orders.  Mom was recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis and we are glad to know the cause of her resting back pain, and have already been taking steps to make things work for her.  Lifting is bad, but staying active is really important.  So it’s time for Mom to really retire from the heavy lifting!

Myrah ran into the living room this morning with Jon chasing her at full speed while she screamed… She had gotten a hold of the 1 kg bag of chocolate chips, and it was almost like she was yelling “start the car!!”.  The many hilarious things that interrupt my newsletter writing!


The Story of the Red Citron Seeds

A few weeks ago, we gave you some Citron Marmalade and I briefly explained what a Citron is.  Basically it is a heritage melon that is very seedy and hard to cut up, but a good source of needed Vitamin C in the winter as it was used by early settlers in this area, it stores well and is also known as “fodder melon” as it can be used as a water source for cattle.  Or you can add a heck of a lot of sugar to it and clear your schedule for a week and make some marmalade!

We got an email this fall from Kelly, who is an occasional caretaker for an elderly gentleman Les in Falmouth, Nova Scotia.  He procured a Citron out there and followed Mom’s recipes to make the Citron Preserve and Marmalade.  But Les was disappointed that they weren’t the red seeded variety he remembered.  So, we shipped him a few seeds for next year!

Kelly wrote me yesterday to say the seeds have arrived and Thank you.  I replied, “I’m so glad that Les is pleased. I hope he gets a bumper crop of red-seeded citrons next year, and I also hope he doesn’t enlist your help cutting them up because it’s terrible work! With a good knife and nice conversation it’s not too bad. I’ve always wondered why people like my Mom keep the tradition going, because they are definitely not the tastiest or the easiest fruit, but they were probably all the early settlers had and they were grateful for them! So it’s good they are still remembered. We are fortunate to have lots of bounty these days, maybe the citrons are a remembrance of earlier times when we didn’t have it so easy!”

So that’s Teri’s thought of the day today!


Spoiler alert… Here’s what’s coming the last 2 weeks of the CSA:

Week 23 Dec 4:
Radish Shoots, small bag
Potatoes, 5 lb Adora Yellow from Grand Valley Strawberries
Squash, Honeynut
Onions, 1 lb
Pickled Beets, 500 ml

Week 24 Dec 11:
Carrots, 4 lb
Beets, 3 lb
Pea Shoots, small tray
Sunflower Shoots, small bag


Thanks and see you at the pickup!

Teri 🙂

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