November 19th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 21 of our 24-week CSA!

The link to place a pre-order and next week’s bag contents are posted.  The rest of your newsletter will be finished on Tuesday with the pickup reminder, so check back for that!


Pre-Orders

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the November 19th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon.


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest 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!

Week20

Last week’s bag!

Your November 19th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Celeriac, 2
Parsnips, 1-1/2 lbs
Potatoes, Red and Yellow Fingerling, 2 lbs
Red Onions, 1 – 2
Spring Salad Micro Mix (Microgreens), small bag
Frozen Spinach, 1/2 lb

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies this week:

Will be updated on Tuesday with the pickup reminder!


Teri’s Ten Topics Blog Series: #8

What Your Farmers Eat and 10 of my all-time Favourite Recipes

Coming soon!


Thanks and see you on Tuesday!

Teri 🙂

Root Vegetable Fritters

vegetable-fritters-23525-1

I so appreciate the slowing down that comes with fall and winter, and the warm comforting foods that go with it.  These Root Vegetable Fritters are a recipe we love.  I rarely follow a recipe, so I’ve tried to capture the method below.  Be creative! You can use any veggie you like, increase the amount of onion or spices, sub wheat flour for chickpea flour (to make them GF), etc etc.

Some combination ideas: Carrot and Cilantro, just onions, Celeriac and Thyme, Sage Squash and Onions, Zucchini and dill, Beets with dill, Apples Parsnip and Celeriac, just potatoes (I like them with maple syrup!), Parsnip and Pear. (Yes, you can use squash and fruit in them, too!).

Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

I usually make larger ones and finish them in the oven to ensure the veggies inside are fully cooked.  Ideally they should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  This recipe could totally work as a “veggie burger” too!

RootFritters

Printable Recipe for Root Fritters with copies to share

 

Teri’s Ten Topics #7: Parenting while farming: How we make it work

This is a Frequently Asked Question we get all the time: How do you farm with a kid, how did having a kid change what you do, what does the day to day look like? 

0q2a1315It feels a bit silly & privileged to me to be writing about how we manage with only one kid while we work from home. I try not to fall in the trap of comparing, but I think it seems much harder trying to make the goals of working full-time away from home and having multiple kids mesh (Like, so hard that I don’t want to do it!). I’m definitely no expert on parenting, but we’ve found a way to live so that we could be home with our daughter most of the time, and do work that we find fulfilling, and we feel really grateful about it.

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Myrah and Nana Elaine

What it looks like to us: Myrah is home with us 3-4 days a week. Two days a week she attends daycare in Rivers, the town closest to us (10 minutes away), with other kids her age that she will eventually be in school with. She spends one day a week with my Aunt Elaine and usually one day a week with my Mom and Dad. We still have work to do this time of year but we’re able to manage most of it with Myrah (for example, she played in the water while I washed parsnips yesterday for over an hour, and she will happily play in the shed or greenhouse while we prepare orders today). Jon is a true partner and we share the childcare fairly equally, taking turns when it is necessary. When I asked Jon “Who does the most childcare?” he said me and I said him, so we decided it must be fair enough!

In the summer when we are working outdoors, we definitely need the off-farm childcare. It’s not safe or possible for Myrah to work with us all of the time, and as a work buddy she’s not consistent: Sometimes it goes great and sometimes it goes sideways before we even leave the house. Something I underestimated was the amount of driving having a kid would add to our lives. There is a lot of valuable harvest day time spent delivering her to care, but of course it’s worth it. The feeling of working unencumbered is so amazing: The first day Myrah spent in daycare this April I spent most of the day going in circles jumping from one thing to the next, joyful to feel so free!

IMG_1017

Picking edamame!

When we do work with Myrah, we load up everything that we plan we will need for the time we are working: snacks, diapers, toys & activities. We don’t push it for more than a few hours at a time, and we leave a wide berth for any deadlines (eg she’s not here on Tuesdays because I need to load up and head to town that day). Often it goes really well – she can be a lot of fun to have along picking beans, and she’s already pretty capable! Jon and I really believe that there is no better setting than outdoors for raising kids! Occasionally working with Myrah is a complete fail: The times when that happens there is usually something more going on (Myrah is tired/sick/I am grumpy/all of the above). We take turns when it’s appropriate: Some farm tasks (like writing!) aren’t conducive to childcaring. (I’m currently writing this while Myrah dangerously chases Samson up and down the stairs giggling like a maniac.)

Childcare time is for Myrah to get out and have some diverse experiences and play with kids her own age. Just as importantly, we need the breaks! I find parenting one of the most exhausting jobs on the farm, so it’s important to make sure we use our whole team and practice self-awareness of our feelings. In the summer we don’t have a choice, all spare moments are filled with getting the job done. The seasonality of farming means that winter is our time for rest. It feels pretty decadent to spend the day reading a book and cooking while Myrah is at daycare, but I do it. Time for rest and quiet contemplation can be so powerful and restorative, and doing those things while she’s away means I have more time to spend with her when she is home.

img_3115It’s taken me a while to find my footing in the role of Mother. As a young person I didn’t have any interest in kids and didn’t necessarily plan on having any. The first winter, when Myrah was partly mobile but not speaking much yet and Jon was working full time off the farm, was agony for me. I took us on road trips to visit friends which made me feel less isolated. Last winter Jon was home more and Myrah was older and it was a lot of fun. This winter is going well so far, and I am so grateful for the addition of 2 days of daycare so that she can play with other kids. I find my friends with kids are all too busy to have regular play dates with us, and also, truthfully, I don’t really like kids, so spending time at indoor playgrounds or public kid places is hard for me. (I like specific kids, just not situations where there’s a whole gaggle of children run amok. So stressful! I know that’s my own shit, but I’d rather own it and manage it than put myself into hard situations that I don’t enjoy). So, regularly-scheduled daycare for the win!

20180715-IMG_3133Having a child changed our lives and work for the better. We had to dig deep and be really honest about what we could manage and what we wanted our lives to look like. The decision to have kids started with a move halfway across the country to a province we didn’t dream about living in. Home is where you make it, and we’ve been really happy with how our lives have changed with the addition of Myrah. We couldn’t do it without lots of support from our village, including understanding customers who accept that our business is not currently in growth mode. In this time of Myrah being young and needing lots of care, we chose to focus on our family more than anything else: I feel grateful and privileged that we are able to do this. Recently a friend likened becoming a parent to “turning into goo inside a chyrasalis and emerging as a butterfly” and I couldn’t agree more! I feel like a different, better version of myself: Parenthood also brought on a spiritual awakening for Jon and I.

img_9748We don’t plan on having any more kids, though we are asked when all the time. I can’t imagine going through pregnancy and the first 2 years of life again! Jon and I didn’t LOVE that part and we are so glad for every bit of progress Myrah makes towards independence. We try to enjoy the present without lamenting the past or passing of time, or being too future-oriented (that’s the hardest for goal-setting me, I’m more likely to lament, “I wish you could drive already” than “I wish you would stay a baby forever”). Our baby is growing before our eyes and there is only Now, so we believe it’s important to us to make sure we are enjoying each and every day for what it is.

For parenting resources, I like the work of Janet Lansbury and Magda Gerber.  Eckhart Tolle’s work has impacted how we live our lives more than anything else.  Brene Brown keeps us courageously leaning into the sharp corners.  For more detail about our spiritual practices and beliefs see Jon’s blog The Frequency.

November 12th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 20 of our 24-week CSA!

Just a reminder about our weather cancellation policy, as it’s that time of year!  If you can’t make it to the pickup due to inclement weather, just let us know via email and we can figure out an alternate pickup arrangement (e.g. the following Tuesday, or possibly Thursday).  We will try to attend the pickup unless it doesn’t seem safe to.  In 5 winters we have only had to reschedule one delivery, but the important thing is that everyone is safe, so we won’t hesitate to if necessary!  Please feel welcome to use your own judgment about the weather and don’t come if you’re at all uncomfortable.


Pre-Orders

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the November 19th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon.


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest 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!

Week19

Last week’s bag

Your November 12th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Broccoli Shoots, small bag
Cabbage, 1 large
Shallots, 3/4 lb
Carrots, 2 lb
Rainbow Beets, 2 lb
Frozen Dill, small bag

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies this week:

We saved some special things for you!  Shallots, Cabbage, Rainbow Beets, and frozen Dill are all items that we held back for later in the CSA so you would have some variety now.  The dill was frozen by Mom early in the season when it was abundant.  We were thinking of you and this time of year!  I don’t know about you, but my root vegetable medley game has been strong lately, and I sure appreciate things like those shoots and some frozen herbs and spinach to keep it fresh!

Here’s a Root Soup recipe shared by one of our summer members.  I love how flexible this recipe is!  Soup is my favourite thing to make, we eat it every day.  This is a good guideline for the method, Mo says it is great with Celeriac, but you could use beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, or even squash (the honorary root vegetable).RootSoup

Root Soup printable recipe with copies to share!

vegetable-fritters-23525-1Do you ever make root vegetable fritters?  I made some on the weekend and forgot how much we love them.  (aka Pakoras or root veggie pancakes.)  I like to make them in the style of Pakoras with chickpea flour.  You can totally use regular flour too, I like chickpea because it’s gluten free and seems to require less cooking time than regular.  The basic method is: Shred a bunch of different root veggies and some onion, shallot, or leek (I used celeriac, carrot, parsnip, squash, potato).  Mix in some flour to coat the veggies, and herbs and spices (frozen dill!).  Add an egg or two until it’s the right texture to make a blob on the pan.  Pan fry it until cooked (I do both sides and then put them in the oven to finish, for 1/3 cup size fritters (If I made them smaller I would skip the baking step, the ones I made this weekend I wanted larger so we could put cheese in between them like a grilled cheese! Things GF households do for fun, lol).

IMG_2887How about sheet pan bake?  We’ve been eating that once a week lately.  It’s super easy and often the meal I task Jon with making when I’m not going to be home in time to prepare supper.  Last night I even prepped the veggies for him!  Basic method: Dice veggies into similar sized pieces, toss in spices, herbs and oil, and bake on a pan until desired doneness.  350F, or 400F if you’re in a hurry and want it more browned.  Great served with Luna Field Farm sausages!  The veggies I used in last night’s sheet pan bake were: carrots, parsnips, turnips, radish, celeriac, potato (2 colors!), Winter Sweet squash (skinned and diced) & onion.
Would be great served with some sort of sauce…  Other than ketchup.  Maybe something with frozen dill in it?!

Continuing on that note… Frozen Dill!  Keep it in the freezer, it’s washed and ready to be tossed into whatever you are making.  It’s best in cooked dishes but I’ve totally used it in salad dressings and other sauces too.  Mom and I don’t waste our money on dried dill, this has way more flavour!

Shallots are small, garlicky onions, prized by French chefs and my friend Reta.  Use them in place of onions or in recipes that ask for them.  I often use them in my stock pot because they’re easy to throw in!  Shallots are stronger than onions so are generally called to be sliced or diced very finely and not browned – like leeks and garlic, they can easily take on a burnt taste.  I’m definitely no expert on shallots, but I use them all the time and they’re good!

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Your Cabbage might need a few leaves peeled off the outside.  We’ve been storing them in the cooler since they were harvested in September.  We grow some things that don’t really make sense in the bigger picture of profitability for the sake of our CSA, cabbage is one of those things.  They are very labour intensive and costly to grow due to the row cover required to grow them.  It’s so nice to have around we grow it anyway!

(Same with freezing things.  They don’t become more valuable necessarily because we’ve done the extra work washing them and bagging them, and then stored them in the relatively costly and limited freezer space.  We do it to add variety to the CSA and for our own personal needs, not because it’s in any way profitable.  But I love that CSA makes this option possible: How awesome is it to get a taste of fresh dill in November?!)

Broccoli Shoots are rich in Sulforaphane.  Doctors and nutritionists I follow say that Sulforaphane is really good for you, one of the new super nutrients that everyone is buzzing about.  (Who knew that broccoli was good for you?!)

winterbeetsColored Beets are sweeter than red beets, less messy, and prettier too!  I really like to use them for raw salads, and alternate between shredding and veggie peeler-ing them for an assortment of different ribbons.  Just make sure you mix in an acid (lemon juice, ACV) if you’re planning to put them in the fridge for serving at a later time!  If using shoots at all, mix them in just before serving, and make sure to rinse them first!

Veggie Storage Update: Our Squash didn’t do amazing this year and it’s not storing well.  We are nearly sold out of Spaghetti Squash and we are going to lose most of the Honeynut.  If you still have yours, use it up before it rots!  We suspect it is due to the weird growing conditions this year, when the heat came 3 weeks too soon and without any rain.  In late August, Mom and I checked and there were few fruits developing on the squash vines.  It seemed like they finally came around, but then the storage capacity is not up to par.  Anyhow, it’s no big deal, we had great success with the large ones we were contracted by Chez Angela to grow (I use “contracted” loosely, more like friends meeting over coffee to discuss future squash needs), and we’ve already sold the majority of the crop.  What remains is some nice looking Winter Sweet Kabocha, some solid Hubbards, a bunch of giant Pink Banana and Musquee de Provence, and a boatload of beautiful Delicata.  We eat 2-3 Delicata squash a week around here, so I’m most happy about that!

IMG_3358Things Jon and I talk about: How much we love squash, and how crazy it is that people don’t eat more of it!  We grew some Sweet Potatoes last year, and for the extra effort they require, we don’t know why anyone would ever choose a sweet potato over a squash!  Delicata “fries” are better than Sweet Potato fries any day.  Anyway, it’s good that Jon and I love squash so much because we’re surrounded by tons of it.  If you don’t love it then rest assured, there will be less than usual in your last 5 pickups!

On the weekend, my Dad replaced the shelving in Mom’s storage room for a more practical shelving that will be better for the pickles.  It looks great and will be an improvement!


Direct Farm Marketing 2020 Conference

DFM

This year Direct Farm Manitoba is bringing their conference and trade show to Brandon, and they are looking for some help!

You’re welcome to talk to me at the pickup if you are interested in more info about this!  I volunteered to be a food mustering point as well as to distribute some sponsorship packages and do some groundwork for the organization as they are based in Wpg.


Auntie Jayne’s Kittens
JaynesKittens
Auntie Jayne, who lives in Strathclair, had a female cat show up at her barn and it had kittens.  Myrah and I met them on Saturday, they are not super used to people (the tortie and the grey one would have let me pet them if Stompy McRunnerton had just a little more finesse!!), but would make excellent barn cats or mousers if you’re in need.  Top 2 are females and bottom 2 are males. Let me know, or she can be contacted at the numbers above.  (Willing to sort out delivering it to Brandon if you want!)


Teri’s Ten Topics Blog Series #7
Parenting while farming: How we make it work – Click here to read it!

Three more posts remain but they’re not written yet, so feel welcome to ask me if there’s a topic you’d like to hear about!


Thanks Veggie Lovers, see you at the pickup and take care!

Teri 🙂

November 5th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 19 of our CSA!

Your newsletter is complete below.  See you tonight!


Pre-Orders

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the November 12th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest 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!

Week18

Last week’s bag!

Your November 5th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Buckwheat Shoots, small bag
Sweet Onions, 2 lbs
Refrigerator Pickles, 250 ml
Adora Potatoes, 4 lbs Grown by George & Barb at Grand Valley Strawberries
Delicata Squash, 1
Tomatoes, Quart

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies this week:

The last of the Sweet Onions and probably the last time you’ll have tomatoes in your bag! #savourit
We always try to be sold out of Sweet Onions by Christmastime, but we like them so we always hoard some for ourselves.  You getting some this week is the result of us reflecting that we have hoarded too many, more than we can eat by then!  Eat these ones up first, before any other onions you may have that are a long storage variety.

Adora Potatoes are a nice all-purpose yellow potato.  “All-purpose” in the realm of potatoes means you can bake it, roast it, boil it.  But aren’t ALL potatoes all-purpose, then?  Not quite– Russets aren’t a great choice for boiling, their soft flesh tends to fall apart.  Unless you want that, they are better suited for baking, and make the fluffiest mashed potatoes ever.  Really waxy potatoes like Red Potatoes don’t absorb dairy as well as a Russet or an all-purpose.  But, like everything these days, you can drive yourself bananas getting into in-depth detail about potato specifics: don’t overthink it too much!

IMG_4071

George with his Red Potatoes

I noticed a spike in Potato sales around Thanksgiving, and they continue to be popular fall items on orders.  We are currently getting potatoes from George and Barb Neudorf at Grand Valley Strawberries in Brandon, and we have a few Russets left from Jody Weger.  I haven’t listed large sizes of potatoes (over 5 lbs) because we don’t grow storage potatoes and I don’t want to heft large heavy bags into town – It can be fairly profitable, but my elbow hurts and I don’t want to put any additional ask on it this fall.  If you’re looking for a 40 lb bag, you can pick them up at Grand Valley Strawberries (near Brandon Correctional on Veteran’s Way) for $12 per bag, $10 per bag if you buy 2 or more.  Call first: (204) 728-8453

Expect that you’ll get one more large (3 – 4 lb) bag of GVS Red Potatoes in your CSA bag this fall and possibly a small bag of our specialty potatoes, but that will be it.  We feel there is better value for our members in veggies other than potatoes, and locally grown spuds are pretty easy to find cheaply! #skippotatoeseatceleriac

 

Mom made some Refrigerator Pickles for you!  Make sure you keep them in the fridge (“Refrigerator” pickles aren’t processed/sealed), they will keep well for a very very long time.  We typically don’t use pickles in the CSA unless it gets desperate *Ahem, 2018*, but these have a couple less steps than regular pickles and so it makes it more achieveable.  All the work of cutting them up has to be done in cucumber season, which is located between “WTF” and “OMG I’m so tired” in the middle of the busiest part of the season, but the jarring just happened last week.
Please return the jar and ring when you are finished with the pickles!

IMG_3358

Delicata Squash is going to change the face of squash for so many people, I just know it!  Delicata Squash “fries” or “smiles” (pictured) have already won over so many squash skeptics.  It’s so nice and small, versatile, and quick to cook, a breeze compared to the multi-day commitment of large squashes (I cut open a Musque de Provence Pumpkin on Friday and I’m still not through dealing with it!  Made cookies, pie, froze puree, a billion PSLs, and there is still some left!)  Delicata is also featured on Prairie Firehouse’s Winter Roasted Squash Salad.  Delicata isn’t the longest keeper, so keep an eye on it and try to eat them by Christmas!  Most often the rot will first appear near the stem.  Same with Honeynut, eat them sooner rather than later!

The elevator speech for Buckwheat Shoots is, “Tastes like lettuce”!!  They are mild and tender and grown from locally-grown organic seed produced by Fran and Dan DeRuyck (Treherne).  The hulls can be eaten, but are a bit tough and should be removed, like sunflower hulls.


Direct Farm Marketing 2020 Conference

DFM

This year Direct Farm Manitoba is bringing their conference and trade show to Brandon, and they are looking for some help!

You’re welcome to talk to me at the pickup if you are interested in more info about this!  I volunteered to be a food mustering point as well as to distribute some sponsorship packages and do some groundwork for the organization as they are based in Wpg.


Auntie Jayne’s Kittens
JaynesKittens

Auntie Jayne, who lives in Strathclair, had a female cat show up at her barn and it had kittens.  Myrah and I met them on Saturday, they are not super used to people (the tortie and the grey one would have let me pet them if Stompy McRunnerton had just a little more finesse!!), but would make excellent barn cats or mousers if you’re in need.  Top 2 are females and bottom 2 are males. Let me know, or she can be contacted at the numbers above.  (Willing to sort out delivering it to Brandon if you want!)


 

 

Teri’s Ten Topics #6: So, what do you do in the winter?

RestNestInhale^This post on Instagram by Brene Brown inspired this blog post.  We are in the season to “Rest. Nest. Inhale” and this little note and quote really resonated for me when answering the question, “So, what do you do in the winter?”.

“There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and too often we feel like we have to exhale all the time. The inhale is absolutely essential—and then you can exhale.”  -Roshi Joan Halifax

This weekend I honored that feeling by doing lots of reading, cooking, and spending time with Myrah. I think it’s really important that there be time considered for both: the exhale when you share your gifts with the world, as well as the inhale, when you take care of the human behind the purpose. Just like every Monday to Friday has it’s weekend, vegetable farming allows us time for both, and it would not be sustainable long-term without the resting season.  

img_9780Jon and I love all parts of the seasonal flow that is vegetable growing. In spring and summer we rise at dawn to plant seeds, harvest lettuce, and prepare veggies for markets and CSA. The days are long and full. We have a tight weekly schedule that has time for everything built into it, including cooking and family time, but not a lot of flexibility for additional things or time off. Most of the time in the busy season we “divide and conquer”, working separately to achieve all of the goals for the day.

In late summer and fall, the heaviest part of our season hits. By “heavy” I mean both physically as well as emotionally/mentally. After a busy spring and summer we are very mindful of our time and energy in this season. It’s when we’re most susceptible to burnout, family stress and illness. It takes extra self-compassion at this time of year, because sometimes our bodies are just plain tired and we need to honor that, rather than keep pushing through. When we can, we work together at this time of year, because many hands make light work.

Our CSA goes until mid-December, and our Shoots Program begins in March, we supply a few restaurants year-round, and we start seeds in the greenhouse in late February. There’s little down time on the farm. “Winter” is a 6 week break from mid-December until the end of January that we started taking a few years ago. This year during that break, Jon, Myrah and I are leaving on a roadtrip. We always talked about wanting to do that “when we retire” and then reflected that (a) we may never formally “retire” and (b) there’s no time like the present, so we decided to grab life and go for it now.

seedordering

The truth about the busy season is that it is hard and we couldn’t do it without the slower season. I love the busy season, but I also know that if it were busy like that all the time I wouldn’t enjoy it. In the winter I prepare for being busy by freezing healthy foods like soups and prepping things like curry paste, tomato sauce, bone broth, and freezer meals. Jon completes projects that there isn’t time for in the summer. We do all of our planning, seed ordering, supply ordering, budgeting, household renovations, and catch up on our hobbies in the winter. Without the down shift that is the winter season, our job would quickly burn us out, because it takes almost all of our time in the busy season: The slower pace of winter helps support the frantic pace of summer.

There’s a beautiful flow to the seasons with vegetable growing which gives us everything we need: time to grow and share, and time to rest and reflect. It’s all part of the same picture!

I hope you are able to honor both the inhale and the exhale that makes up your life!

-Teri 🙂

Teri’s Ten Topics #5: Shoots and Microgreens Production on the Farm

History:IMG_3222
Our Shoots production goes all the way back to 2012 when we were living in Nova Scotia near some really smart organic farmers. They did markets all winter with their Pea and Sunflower Shoots that they grew in their heated, lighted basement. We really looked up to David and Cindy and they were happy to share information, like most other organic farmers I’ve met. Later that year, we made a move to the other side of the province, and in order to land Jon a job at the same farm where I had found work, we needed to come up with a winter enterprise. So, we proposed Pea Shoots, and it worked out! Jon enjoyed growing about 100 lbs of Pea Shoots every week for the farm’s wholesale markets and large CSA Program.

IMG_9014Mom began growing them here for her customers as well. She tried Sunnies before we ever did. After building our shed in 2017 with a mezzanine space, we couldn’t stand seeing all that heated space not being used. So, in the winter of 2018, we began ramping up Shoots production with a Pea Shoot Program (bi-weekly trays of Pea Shoots, 30 members). The following winter of 2019 we branched out and decided to try a bunch of different varieties, with great success! We now offer an 8-week Shoots Program that runs during March and April and includes over a dozen different varieties of Shoots and Microgreens! (Registration is open now on our website, click here)

radishmicroShoots? Sprouts? Microgreens? What’s the difference?
Shoots, also known as Microgreens are baby plants, grown in soil in trays and often sold already cut. They often get called “sprouts” but the two crops differ in the way that they are grown.

The process of growing Shoots is totally different than growing seeds that will become vegetables: We crowd the plants, starve them of light, and harvest them long before they start flowering or producing fruit. They grow for about 10 – 14 days (for most crops) and then we harvest them, usually at the first leaf stage or slightly beyond that.

Sprouts are seeds that are sprouted to the first leaf stage of the plant by soaking and rinsing in water, usually for about 3 – 5 days, depending on the type. Jon and I have worked on a farm that produced Sprouts (alfalfa and broccoli), and been closely involved with the process as well as obtaining the necessary certification from the health department. It required extensive record keeping, as well as a growing space akin to a commercial kitchen. The health department views Sprouts as a potentially hazardous food because they are highly perishable and due to the way they are grown in water they can be susceptible to bacteria growth (i.e. Salmonella) if not handled properly. It’s not out of the question that we may look into what it would take for us to produce Sprouts in the future, but we aren’t there yet so we don’t produce Sprouts.

Some Tips and Tricks if you want to try growing Microgreens at home

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Pea Shoots looking out over the frozen prairie landscape

The only thing I can assuredly say is that “Shoots are easy until they’re not”, which is something Jon always says. Water, soil, temperature, humidity, light, airflow, seeds, sanitation, timing, and care are all important aspects of production, if one of those things is off it can upset the whole works.

  • Proper sanitation is key. We scrub all of our microgreens equipment with soap and bleach and then rinse it well.
  • We get seed from organic farmers in the area (Tamarack Farms, DeRuyck’s Top of the Hill Farm), or from Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds in Saskatchewan.
  • Large-seeded crops (Peas, Sunnies) get soaked for a day before planting.
  • We grow in a soilless growing medium because it produces consistent results for us.
  • We don’t use any supplemental lighting (we are already in an unwanted serious relationship with MB Hydro!). The point here is to grow “stressed” plants that are trying to grow out of their undesirable dense planting situation, and reaching for the light. That’s what makes them tender! Too much light makes for fibrous shoots, and really bitter sunnies.
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Popcorn Shoots grow in the dark!

Farmer Jon is AMAZING at growing shoots. He has a consistency and routine that I admire. It only takes a few minutes a day but it’s important that they get regular water (not too much!), and rotation, and that they have a fan on them (especially sunnies).

Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds also has lots of good information about growing shoots and sprouts at home:

http://sprouting.com/

 

So, what do I do with them?

Here’s a few ideas!Screenshot 2019-02-26 10.15.15

Shoots are very tender and so are best enjoyed raw or slightly cooked.  They should be rinsed just before use.  We don’t wash them at the farm as they degrade quickly when wet.  If you get them home and there is condensation (wetness) in the bag, make sure to insert a piece of towel or switch them to a dry bag so they will keep well.  They will store well covered in your fridge for a long time, but are best enjoyed within a week of when you buy them.

  • Our favourite way to enjoy shoots is on top of soup.  After your soup is heated up, simply sprinkle some rinsed & chopped shoots on top.  The heat from the soup will cook them just the right amount to release extra nutrients (versus consuming raw).
  • You can also snack on shoots as is!  They are a tasty and healthy snack.  I often include winterbeetsthem on a veggie tray with hummus or other types of dips.
  • For a great winter salad without having to buy any imported veggies, grate some root veggies and mix in some shoots!  These colored beets and Sunflower Shoots (pictured right) make a really spectacular mix!  >>
    I also use a lot of cabbage in winter, if you slice it really thinly on a mandoline slicer and mix in some shoots it’s better than lettuce!
  • Pea Shoots can be quickly stir-fried with garlic and are really great enjoyed this way!  Chow Dau Miu Recipe
    There are a lot of additional recipes for Pea Shoots on our Pea Shoot Page in our online Veggie Guide – including Pea Shoot risotto, and a garlickly pea shoot mayo (aioli) that I love!)

Get creative and think big! There is nothing more decadent to me than when I have lots of shoots on hand and can make an entire salad with different shoots! They are nutrient dense and really flavourful.

What we grow:

We grow about a dozen different varieties of Shoots, mostly in the winter, and only to order (for our restaurant clients and Spring Shoots CSA members).  You can find more info about some of the different types by clicking the links here:

Pea Shoots  |  Buckwheat Shoots  |  Fenugreek Shoots  |  Popcorn Shoots  |  Radish Shoots  |  Spring Salad Micro Mix  |  Sunflower Shoots

 

IMG_0544Why do we grow Shoots?

We started growing shoots as a way to help spread out some of the work and to provide some winter income for the business.  But we also grow shoots because I used to get frantic for greens by March, and now I don’t: I call it “the root vegetable blues”.  I don’t like buying vegetables out of season in the winter at the grocery store, and this occupation doesn’t always allow me enough time to preserve as much as I would like to, but also: Nothing beats fresh!!  I could eat all the imported greens I want in winter, but I find they don’t satisfy me: they are often sad and nutrient depleted from shipping. Shoots are a locally grown, healthy and nutritious way to supplement your diet in winter.  The proof is in the way I’ve felt the past 2 winters eating tons of shoots, and Myrah loves them too, which is great!

If you’d like to sign up for our Spring Shoots Program beginning March 3, 2020, Click here for all the info!

October 29th Veggie Lover’s Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 18 of our CSA!

The Pre-Order form link and your expected bag contents for Tuesday are posted below.  The newsletter will be completed on Tuesday with the pickup reminder!


Pre-Orders

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the November 5th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest 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!

Week17

Your October 29th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Sunflower Shoots, small bag
Rainbow Carrots, 2 lbs
Parsnips, 1.5 lb
Winter Sweet Kabocha Squash, 1 large
Leeks, 1 lb bunch

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies:
Have you gotten through last week’s bag yet?  We made it a big one because there was a lot of beautiful stuff we wanted you to have!  The chard is now frozen (in fact, Jon already disked it in), and tomatopocalypse is nearing an end.  We might tomato you today, we might not, we’re going to pack the orders first and see how ripe the remaining fruit is.
I think we can officially say outdoor harvest has come to an end, though I do tend to glean for household use as long as I can!  There is still some kale out there (badly flea beetled, but delicious so we eat it anyway) and some spinach if the snow melts.  We spent the whole day yesterday working in the shed, packing orders and washing things and wiping squash.  The neighbors who rent our grain bins were loading them in the yard, and I always wonder what they think we’re doing in there!  Grain farming and veggie farming are very different, and it’s fairly uncommon to see people earning a living from growing veggies around these parts, so people don’t seem to know much about our workflow.  I assume we’re the “crazy hippies growing vegetables”, and when I reflect on us I suppose they’re not that far off!
We’ve got shoots growing indoors, and I’ll have some extra harvest along today.  Peas and Radish, and you’re getting Sunnies in today’s bag.  Sunnies are Myrah’s favourite, she ate an entire bag last night on the way to Grandma’s from daycare!  She used to only eat the leaves but now she eats the stems too.  Member Jenny sells the little people in her life on them by calling them “Sunflower Spaghetti”!!  Shoots are such a fantastic source of nutrients, it always makes me happy when Myrah eats them.  We send an occasional extra tray over to her daycare for the kids there too!
Make sure you remove the hulls (black seed shells) from the sunflower shoots before you eat them!  And give them a quick rinse just before you eat them.
Winter Sweet Kabocha Squash is the big grey one.  It makes a great soup, or can be used in place of pumpkin for a pumpkin spice latte, or even for a pie!  I made a pie with a Red Kuri squash this weekend and it is delicious.  Skipped the crust so it’s basically just cooked pumpkin pudding!
Here’s the recipe I used.  I like it because it calls for lots of pumpkin/squash and not a lot of other junk, just eggs and cream and spices: No fail pumpkin pie.  I baked it for 40 minutes when I skipped the crust and it came out perfect.  This recipe doesn’t seem to crack as easily as others I’ve used.
Here’s a couple of my favourite Squash Soup recipes:
Curried Squash Soup (click the link for the recipe) – I make this soup more often than any other soup, we love it!  I even made my own curry paste last winter and froze it, it’s been really nice to have on hand this fall!
SquashSoup
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Harvesting Parsnips earlier this season

Parsnips are a contentious issue in our house.  I don’t really like them, exacerbated by really disliking harvesting them.  It’s always the hardest, most sore day ever.  Jon loves them and so every time he has to cook dinner we have parsnips.  I guess I’ve been busy and away at suppertime a lot lately, because we’ve been eating a lot of parsnips!  Last night he did a sheet pan bake, which we forgot about for 20 minutes longer than intended and it turned out awesome!  The parsnips were crispy and golden, which is when I like them best.  He also likes to boil them along with carrots for a few minutes and then pan fry them with heaps of butter.  I don’t prefer them that way (Shh, don’t tell Jon!) but I will never complain if someone else is cooking!

Lady of the Lake makes a Parsnip Pear Soup, Here’s a recipe!
winterbeetsHere’s a fall and winter salad trick that I like to use!  When lettuce isn’t in season, thinly sliced root veggies mixed with shoots makes a great alternative!  Shown in this photo is gold and pink beets, both grated and sliced with a vegetable peeler, mixed with a nice vinaigrette and some sunflower shoots.  Carrots, especially rainbow ones, would work well also!  And celeriac, and cabbage, too!  Just make sure you mix in the vinaigrette right away so they don’t turn brown (or in the case of pink beets, black?!).  I usually marinade the root veggies in the fridge for a while and then add the rinsed shoots in just before serving.

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This week’s Blog post is all about Shoots and Microgreens, as per popular vote on Instagram stories last week when I asked what folks wanted to hear about next.  Let me know if you have any ideas or topics you’d like to see for next week’s post!

Looking forward to seeing you at tonight’s pickup!  Take care!!

Teri 🙂