Introducing The Pea Shoot Program!

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Happy New Year!
2018 promises to be another great year on the farm! We are kicking off the New Year with a winter Pea Shoot Program starting February 6th – Sign up today!

What it is:
-A weekly or bi-weekly tray (10″ x 10″) of freshly grown pea shoots from Feb – May
-Pickup Tuesdays 4:30 – 5:30 at Chez Angela’s temporary location 1228 Rosser Ave.
-Order additional storage veggies and preserves as you wish along with your pea shoots
Click here for all the info and the registration form!

What we’re up to:
We had a nice holiday season off and now we are busy finishing our seed orders and production plans for 2018. We aren’t changing things up too much for next year, as the biggest changes to the farm are our ongoing transition to the new growing site at Jon and Teri’s farm near Rivers. We will continue with the Friday markets in front of Lady of the Lake beginning on June 15th, and our Veggie Lovers’ Club will return for it’s third season in early July!
Jon is joining the farm team full-time this season, and Janelle is planning to return for her THIRD season (which we are thrilled about!!). Stephanie will be stepping back from some of the farming in order to do more “Grandma-ing”. We have a great team for 2018!!

Upcoming Dates
February 6 – Pea Shoot Program begins
February – Veggie Lovers’ Club Registration opens (for 2017 Members only)
March 1 – Veggie Lovers’ Club Registration opens to the public
June 15 – Markets resume Fridays 10 – 2 at Lady of the Lake

Note from Teri:

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We still have beets and carrots & more!  We are incentivizing the Pea Shoot Program with our storage veggies– Those who sign up for weekly or bi-weekly pea shoots can also choose additional items from our availability list!

We closed the farm for 6 weeks over Christmas and January in 2016, and I think it’s something we’ll continue to do every year!  Though, it’s only been a month since I last wrote a blog post and I’ve been itching to do one for a little while now.  I haven’t missed being off of Facebook and Instagram this month, though– Any of you who know me, know that’s the most detestable part of my job (though I can’t knock those platforms too much, as they have been instrumental in our success.  It’s not the platform I don’t like, it’s the philosophy behind it, and the way it gets over-used).  It’s not like we’re sitting around with our feet up, either.  Seed and supply orders, and our production plan for the season occupy most of our days, as well as a newly-toddling baby who gets into everything!

However we have had to come out of January retirement this year to market the Pea Shoot Program.  I even find myself looking longingly at the greens on the grocery store shelves this time of year… Knowing they will be half-composted by the time I open the box… Knowing that it’s not the kind of agriculture I want to support, nor the kind of nutrient-dense food that I want to eat, meaning No, it won’t even satisfy that craving… and still, I have dreams of salads this time of year!  If you do too, know it’s your body telling you it wants those nutrients.  When I eat ample amounts of pea shoots, I don’t have California lettuce cravings in the produce department!

So, that got me to thinking: Why not pea shoots?? It’s something we can produce here with minimal heat.  We don’t have a greenhouse for winter growing, nor will that likely EVER be feasible for our farm.  The infrastructure is just too expensive, and it’s just too cold where we live.  Yes, there are year-round greenhouses in Winnipeg growing cucumbers and tomatoes.  They are multi-million dollar operations, we are not, nor is it our goal to be.  We wouldn’t have a big enough market at a high enough price to make it work.  BUT– we can make Pea Shoots work, and by adding them to our production in winter we can increase the capacity of our farm, offset some of our set operating costs (the building is heated regardless of if we are growing Pea Shoots or not), and defer some of our work to the slower winter season, thus taking a bit of the pressure off in summer.

IMG_2668BUT– I know it involves a bit of a shift in thinking.  We’ve built up a market for Pea Shoots by treating them as a precious, limited resource.  Now we’re asking you to rip off big handfuls and eat them on everything, which is a big change! A tray, thankfully, is a totally reasonable amount (about 1/2 – 1 lb) and also very affordable at $10.

This program is for you if:
-you buy out-of-season veggies at the store and want to shift to a local source
-you want to support the growth of a small family-operated vegetable farm
-you love pea shoots!
-you are willing to follow us on a pea shoot journey this winter & spring (we will be providing lots of recipes and tips!)
-you are concerned about health and eating the most fresh & nutrient dense foods you can access
-you are flexible and willing to try new things

The other night, I made sauteed pea shoots and bok choy with a bit of sesame oil & soy sauce, topped with sesame seeds.  It was simple and delicious, I could have easily cooked enough for 4 and used an entire tray of these glorious greens!

More to come very soon in regards to Pea Shoots recipes, photos, tips, videos, etc.  If you’re interested in joining the program, you can sign up now or get more info here!

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We’re CLOSED for the holidays!

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We have decided that every year the farm will close for 6 weeks over the holidays, to give us farmers a break and some time to do our production plan and seed orders for the upcoming season.  We are closed from Dec. 14th 2017 – January 28th 2018.  We will be checking email occasionally and so please email us at sales@brownsugarproduce.com if you need to be in touch with us!

Thanks to everyone for an excellent season sharing food in 2017!  Have a great holiday season, and wishing you all the best in the New Year.  It will be our 18th season of operation, and like every year, we are hopeful it’s going to be the best yet!

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Cheers to a great year, and looking forward to 2018!

Make sure you’re on our mailing list if you want to stay in the loop once we reopen in February!

Your farmers,

Stephanie Dillon & Teri Jenkins

(with lots and lots of help from Jon, Paul, Janelle, Fran & Jayne!)

Week 24 Veggie Lovers Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is your LAST WEEK of delivery!*  Thanks for such a GREAT year together in the Veggie Lovers’ Club this season.  We had an excellent growing season and we hope that was reflected well in your weekly bags.  We welcomed many of you back from our 2016 program, and also added some great people, too!

Frequently Asked Questions of the Week:
When can I sign up for 2018?
We will open registration for the summer 2018 Veggie Lovers’ Club program in early 2018, probably around February.  Those who are in our current program will get first dibs on the available spaces, so if you were in the 16 or 24 week program this year, rest assured, you’ll be the first to know when we start registration for next year’s CSA!

How can I get veggies once you reopen in February?
Our stock is quite low right now, but it is highly likely that we will have some beets and carrots available when we reopen in February. If we have enough we will notify everyone on our mailing list (Get on it here) and those from our 2017 Veggie Lovers’ Club.  Right now we are planning that pickups would be bi-weekly or monthly, and if you have any suggestions or offering of a heated space for us to distribute veggie orders from, let us know! (sales@brownsugarproduce.com)

*Some of you may have picked up all of your remaining credit last week, and so if you did that I won’t see you today.  I will be sending out a separate email pickup reminder to those of you who have something to pickup today– please email us if you’re unsure!

Coming in your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag December 12th:

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You decide!!

For the final 2 weeks of the program, we are offering you the option to CHOOSE what you would like to get!  We’re calling it VLC Choice Weeks(The order window has passed, so if you missed placing an order for week 24, you will get a farmer-selected bags with the contents listed below)


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Week 23 Custom Bags!

Don’t want to choose?  That’s ok!  Those who don’t select custom items will get:

Pea Shoots (small bag)
Potatoes, unwashed (5 lb)
Squash, assorted varieties, 1 – 2
Oregano, Dried (small bag)
Dried Calypso (Orca) Beans (1 lb)


Pre-Orders? The Pre-Order form will continue to be available for this week, and you can place an order through it if you like, above and beyond the $50 total credit from your weekly bags in December.  There may be some additional items that are not available on the VLC Choice Form on the VLC Pre-Order Form.


Farm Update:

I am writing this on Wednesday, the day after the Veggie Lovers’ Club pickup and my first day staying home with Myrah all day by myself!  Monday was Jon’s first day back at work since she was born, but Monday and Tuesday were VERY busy for us getting the custom bags ready for the Veggie Lovers Club. When I need to be at Mom’s working, I bring Myrah along and so then Mom and I share the parenting duties… Usually Mom does as much as she can short of feeding her, because I get lots of baby snuggles, etc all the rest of the time!

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An adorable Xmas outfit and baby!

So far we had some breakfast, a crawl around the floor (while I was cleaning it, a constant chore these days with her crawling and eating everything she finds along the way, ugh), and then a big dump and some milk and she went down for a nap.  I finished the floors, started the laundry, cleaned litterboxes and did dishes and now I’m getting the Newsletter posted for the FINAL week of the Veggie Lovers’ Club.  Hard to believe it’s been 24 weeks!!  Along the way you’ve gotten to (or been forced to!) follow our parenting journey so far.  Can’t believe how much has happened and how much she has grown in the past 7 months.  So glad you’ve been along for the ride!

Choice Week #1 ended up going off without a hitch, but we were very careful to keep our lists extra organized.  It gets really complicated really fast with everyone ordering custom bags, but it worked out great and we’re super happy to get you some veggies that are of your choosing!


closed_sign___contentLast year was the first year we decided to officially close for 6 weeks over the holidays.  We are doing the same this year because it was so nice for us last year!

We celebrated our family Christmas this Sunday, as Myrah, Jon and I are headed to Calgary (and are fortunate to have Janelle farm sitting for us!).  We’re spending Myrah’s first Christmas with Jon’s sisters and their families, his other sister lives in Seattle and so Calgary is a good meeting point for all of us.  Paul and Stephanie will visit Stephanie’s sister in Steinbach for Christmas, and I know Mom has a big stack of puzzles waiting for her to have some time off (though I did hear mention of making beet pickles yesterday…!).

I’d love to hear your plans for the holidays, or the highlight of your week, tonight at the pickup!  See you soon,

Teri 🙂

 

Week 23 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

In your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag December 5th:

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You decide!!

 

For the final 2 weeks of the program, we are offering you the option to CHOOSE what you would like to get!  We’re calling it VLC Choice Weeks!

  • There is a list of available items that you can select from, we’re going to call the form the VLC Choice Form just to keep things straight!  If you are looking for unwashed veggies for storage, they will be listed (Under “Bulk & Unwashed”), as well as washed versions (Under “Storage Veggies”).  We have provided the link in the November 28th email on Tuesday morning, as well as at the bottom of this section.  That will give you SIX DAYS to place your order, 13 if you choose to pick it all up on Dec. 12th!  We need the orders by Monday at the latest, earlier if possible!
  • You can order $25 PER WEEK or $50 ONCE (pickup on December 5th OR 12th).  It’s up to you!  Really, you can do any combination, and you will have $50 credit but if you want to order items over and above that and pay for them, that is fine, too.  We’ll be at the pickup both weeks, and with so many people requesting unwashed veggies at the end of the program we anticipate that will make packing a bit easier for us.
  • Those who DON’T choose to place an order for what they would like will get a $25 farmer-selected bag on Dec. 5th and Dec. 12th, just like you’ve been getting all along!  It’s totally fine if you prefer this, the order form has a place where you can let us know if you want this option, or just do nothing and you will default to the farmer-selected bag.
  • Help us make this work well and place your order as soon as possible.  If everyone waits until Monday this won’t work as we still need time to collect and bag the items.  When we have a farmer-selected bag it’s easy for us to know in advance exactly how many of each item we need, in this case we won’t and so if everyone orders at the last minute we’ll be scrambling.  Thanks in advance!

Clear as mud?  Here is the LINK TO THE VLC CHOICE FORM if you’d like to fill in your order for December 5th and/or 12th!


24131327_1702195409811414_1823323607213242050_nDon’t want to choose?  That’s ok!  Those who don’t select custom items will get:

Sunflower Shoots (small bag)
Carrots (5 lb)
Red Beets (2 lb)
Celery Leaves, Dried (small bag)
Dried Jacob’s Cattle Beans (small bag)

 


Pre-Orders? The Pre-Order form will continue to be available, and you can place an order through it if you like, above and beyond the $50 total credit from your weekly bags in December.  There may be some additional items that are not available on the VLC Choice Form on the VLC Pre-Order Form.

Here’s the Pre-Order Form for Dec. 5th and Dec. 12th!


Farm Update:

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Here’s the 4 of us and Sammy working on our 2018 production plan and seed orders last week (4th person is MJ, not pictured, but crawling around on the floor capturing most of the attention in the room!)

We’re about halfway done our 2018 Production Plan, which is great because we’re about 2 months ahead of the normal schedule for this.  The reason to light a fire under our butts is because Jon goes back to work soon, and as he will be participating full time in the farming next year, it’s very important that he be a part of the planning.  Well-laid plans are great, but execution is most important, and so if we want things to roll smoothly along with everyone in the loop, these sorts of meetings and discussions are important.

A peek into what is happening here: This is our third season planning together.  Each year, we build on the work done the year before, and so this year we are finally starting to reap some reward in the work done over the winter of 2015 & 2016.  Open on the computer is a series of spreadsheets that have our weekly seeding schedule for the greenhouse, field seeding, and transplanting.  It doesn’t change that much from year to year, but we do adjust some things based on what worked and what didn’t, and we often choose different varieties to try or even different crops.  It’s critical that the production plan be completed before (or at the same time in our case) the seed order, as knowing when and how much you’re going to plant, obviously, affects the amount of seed we order.

Seed is an expense, but not a very big one overall when you look at the benefits of investing in high quality seed from trusted suppliers.  You’ll rarely see us growing seed from gardeners or hobbyists, as Jon and I firmly believe that seed saving is a science best left to the professionals.  We’ve had some pretty awful results in the past with non-professional seed.  We buy most of our seed from Vesey’s Seeds in Prince Edward Island, but also get some from Stokes Seeds in Ontario and T&T Seeds in Manitoba, and a bit from Lindenberg’s Seeds in Brandon.  Our favourite seed supplier is Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine, but we incur a lot more costs bringing seed across the border, so we do try to keep our purchases to Canadian seed companies where possible.  But we’ll go our of our way to source a variety of seed that we believe is superior, because the increased disease resistance, pest resistance, yield, quality, etc is worth paying for!

Spreadsheets are my jam, so I’m the one leading the meeting as I update the 2017 plans to reflect our plans for 2018.  We started at the beginning, so that means onions, celery, and celeriac, and we are working our way through the season, just finished cabbage.  As we encounter a crop, let’s use onions as an example, we follow it through the season, starting with: How much do we want to have next year?  We felt like we wanted to have a bit more onions next year.  This was the first year in a long time that we didn’t get hail that damaged them, but as we are sold out now, we’d prefer to have a bit more for next year.   Also, as our shed is finished now, we know we’ll have a place on-site to store them, which reassures us that we can efficiently deal with more crop. The bags are really popular, and we held back from those at markets because the crop was limited.  Really, it just means that we made good $ on this crop this year, but as demand is also an important consideration, we want to balance the workload with keeping people happy.  We changed the way we planted the onions this year and so felt that was successful and helped decrease the weeding. We decided to increase the amount of red and storage onions for next year, and decrease the sweet onions slightly.  We moved the seeding up a couple of weeks: we had made it later last year because I was due to have a baby when we would have been transplanting, and Mom was away during the beginning of March last year.  When you move the seeding, the planting moves up a bit earlier, and possibly even the first harvest date.

I am re-reading this paragraph and hoping it doesn’t come across as intensely boring– we LOVE planning and look forward to it every year.  #plantnerds!

I’m meant to take a bit of a “newsletter break” these last couple weeks, as there is a LOT more admin time keeping your custom orders straight, so I won’t blabber much longer here.  So far, so good, many/most of you have put in your requests for the upcoming weeks, and I’ve got all the orders printed and harvest lists up-to-date (A “Harvest List” is a sheet we use on the farm to let us know what we need to get ready each day.  Normally we would just get “X” number of each item in the bags ready, but of course with folks choosing what they would like in their bags we have a very different, more complicated harvest list than usual!).

If you’re reading this before Monday at noon, make sure you get your custom order in on the VLC CHOICE FORM asap!  If it’s already Tuesday, you’ve waited too long, we will have a farmer-selected bag for you at the pickup today if you didn’t let us know otherwise.  (You can still opt to choose $25 of items for the final week of delivery on Dec. 12th.  Why not do it now while you’re thinking about it??).

Please don’t hesitate to email me at sales@brownsugarproduce.com if you have any questions, I don’t doubt that I have thoroughly confused some/all of you, and possibly even myself with this business of choice– but it sure is fun to do something different and shake things up!


My 33rd birthday will be celebrated tomorrow (Sunday), and there’s even a Supermoon in honor of the day! (A Supermoon is when the full moon occurs when the moon is in it’s perigee, the moon’s closest position to earth in the moon’s orbit– It’s HUGE, did you see it last night??)

Hard to believe our Veggie Lovers’ Club is nearly finished for another season!  See you this Tuesday, or next, or both, depending on what you chose for your final 2 weeks of options!

Teri 🙂

Week 22 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi there!

There are 3 pickups remaining in our Veggie Lovers’ Club program this fall: November 28 and Dec. 5 & 12.
For the final two pickups in December you will have the option to order what you would like from a list of items, and you can choose to pickup all on the 5th or the 12th, or spread it out over both weeks if you prefer!  More info about that at the bottom of this post.


Pre-Order Option:
-Sorry, the Pre-Order period for this week has closed!-

Orders for the Tuesday pickup can be placed until Monday at noon.


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

In your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag Nov. 28th:

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Week 21 bag

*As always, contents may change before Tuesday pickup!

Pea Shoots (small bag)
Red Potatoes (5 lbs)
Squash, small assorted varieties (1 – 2)
Frozen Edamame (small bag)
Garlic (2 – 3 small heads)
Baby Carrots (small bag)

You can click the links above to view more info about each item, or visit our online Veggie Guide!


Teri’s Veggie Lover Tips & news from the farm:

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Edamame blanched for the freezer

If you liked the edamame in your bags this summer, we have a treat for you this week: Frozen edamame!  We don’t do a lot of frozen items partly because we didn’t have the space for it, and partly because the work of freezing has to be done in the busy season.  Somehow we managed to get 40+ bags put away this year! They are all blanched for 3 minutes before they are ice-bathed, dried, and bagged in a freezer bag.  To serve, simply steam or boil the edamame for about 5 minutes or until the beans are tender.  If any of your beans look a bit rough, know that the outside doesn’t necessarily represent what is inside!  You can serve them as is in the shells, or shell them to add to other dishes.

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Jacob’s Cattle dried beans

Speaking of beans, I made bean and bacon soup last week and it turned out great!  That’s one of the ones we love from the can but I’ve never attempted from scratch.  You wouldn’t use this type of bean for the soup, but dried edamame would work, or our dried Jacob’s Cattle beans or Orca beans.  I didn’t have any of those on hand at home and so I used locally grown white beans I found at Safeway.  (I have this addiction for local food, I buy it even if I don’t specifically need it, just to support seeing that sort of stuff in the places I shop!).  Didn’t follow a recipe, but this was the method: Cook 1 lb of the best bacon you can find (I used Luna Field Farm bacon) until crispy, set aside.  Cook 2 cups onion, 1 cup celery, 3 cups carrots in bacon fat until soft.  Add 3 L water or stock, 3 cups beans (they are ok unsoaked especially if they are relatively fresh), a bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic and simmer until beans are tender and soup thickens (add some flour mixed with cold water if it’s not thick enough for your taste).  Add bacon back to pot and it’s ready to serve– but even better if you wait a day!
If you’re looking to get some of our dried beans, they are located on the top of the Pre-Order Form each week!

There are a few baby carrots kicking around, and so before we close for 6 weeks, we want them to go to good homes.  Small carrots don’t keep as well as full size ones, but luckily they are easy to make disappear quickly!  Slip them into lunch bags and they’ll be gone before you know it.  Myrah enjoys our carrots steamed and shoved up her nose.  I don’t know that I’d recommend that way!

We have squash coming your way this week and since we don’t have enough to give everyone the same variety, there will be a number of different varieties in the bags, including:

squashhubbardHubbard Squash: These will have green or blue/grey skin and golden orange flesh.  The flesh is quite thick, meaty, and great for soups or baking.  It is often on the drier side, depending on how you cook it.  Hubbard are often quite large, but we grow a special variety that doesn’t get too big so we can send them in your bags!  Hubbard are one of the longest keeping squash.

 

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Red Kuri Squash: This dark orange squash can be differentiated from a kabocha squash by it’s upright, jutting stem end.  The flesh is very sweet and dense, dark orange in color.  Similar to pumpkin, great for soups or baking and also excellent served on it’s own with butter.

 

 

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Kabocha Squash: A Kabocha squash can be orange like the photo on the left, or grey/blue or green, with orange flesh similar to pumpkin or red kuri inside.  It is dense and well suited to roasting.  Kabocha will keep nearly as long as Hubbard squash.  They are round and range from 1 lb to 6 lbs.

squashbuttercupButtercup Squash: Is green on the outside and can be differentiated from a green Kabocha squash by it’s cup, or “butt” on the bottom (see photo).  The flesh is sweet, not too thick, and often yellow in color.  It is buttery and good for roasting.  If you want halves that will cook evenly, cut it parallel to the stem/blossom axis, as the cup doesn’t contain much useable flesh usually.

 

If you get one and you’re not sure what kind it is, feel free to email me a photo or a detailed description!  Really though, other than Spaghetti Squash, all of the other “mushy” squashes will do fine with the same treatment.  Often I just poke a couple holes in the squash and roast it whole while I’m cooking other things, and then I have cooked, ready to serve squash in the fridge, good for babies or cats (not kidding) or a quick side dish.  Last night when we returned home from the day just at suppertime, the roast was ready in the slow cooker and I just mixed some butter into cooked kuri squash I had in the fridge and put it in the oven for a few minutes until it was heated through.  We split a bag of sunnies between our plates, and that was supper!

The red potatoes did really well at George and Barb’s this year and they are HUGE!  Luckily there shouldn’t be anything wrong with them and this way you have less peeling!  Let us know if you do find any hollow hearts (brown cavity, or “hole” in the middle of the spud).  This variety isn’t really susceptible to that issue, but as we can’t see inside them, you never know– and it’s good to get feedback any time there is an issue.  We can’t do anything to fix an issue we don’t know about, so always tell us first!

Your pea shoot bags might be a little skimpy this week.  We are still working out growing them in the shed, so they have a bit of catching up to do yet before Tuesday when we harvest them!  Every time we change the growing area of this crop, we have to adjust the time needed to grow the shoots.  As Jon always says, Pea Shoots are easy to grow until they’re not!  Slight differences in soil, water, light, and temperature can have a big effect.  In the meantime, as we saw this coming, Jon has modified the original set up (pea shoots upstairs in the heated mezzanine, in front of the windows) to an enclosed version which will hold heat and passive solar within a “room” sectioned off with an insulated tarp.  Hopefully the extra heat will make a difference we need!  He is out planting the pea shoots for the first week of December as I write this.

Some recipe ideas:

Did you know you can make the awesome Zucchini Bake recipe from the summer with any kind of winter squash, including spaghetti?  We also still have some zucchinis available on the Pre-Order Form, Mom made a zucchini loaf the other day and dubbed it “Best Zucchini Loaf Ever”, so they are still in great shape!Fullscreen capture 2016-08-07 74640 AM

This curried squash soup is a winter staple in our house!  You can get creative and use any combination of spices in the soup, it also tastes good with pumpkin spice or cinnamon and citrus.  If you don’t like curry, just omit it!

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This recipe for glazed carrots and parsnips is great with just carrots, too!  I love using honey in place of sugar whenever possible.  It tastes great and supports our local honey farmers!

Wondering where all the parsnips are?  We only grew one row this year and they were all used up the week of Thanksgiving!  We hate digging them and so when we knew we’d have less labour this fall we only planned to grow a few.  Look forward to more next year!

 

This recipe uses the humble Vegetable Marrow Squash, which has the worst name of all the squashes, but this dish showcases it very well!  If you are interested, you can order Vegetable Marrow through the Pre-Order Form or even for the VLC Choice Weeks coming up.  You can substitute any of the other squashes for this recipe (including spaghetti).  I would substitute 1/4 cup real cheese in place of the plastic stuff!  This recipe comes from our neighbour who passed away a long time ago but loved Vegetable Marrow Squash.

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Feel free to send us your favourite recipes to sales@brownsugarproduce.com and we’ll share them with everyone!


 

Jon, Myrah and I are headed South today to visit friends in Cartwright, and to pick up some more honey.  Our friends Michelle and Troy run Fresh Roots Farm and raise livestock (sheep and cattle) and supply us with the raw honey that we sell via the Pre-Order form and at the markets.  They also have a little baby boy, Sydney, who is almost 3 months old now.  On the way we will visit my friend Kara, who you might know from the sourdough bread and croissants we had at the first 6 or so markets of the year this season.  Unfortunately Kara was diagnosed with cervical cancer mid-way through the season and that’s why she stopped coming to markets.  She has finished her treatment in Winnipeg and is home now and I haven’t seen her in a darn long time, so I am looking forward to it very much!

 

Above photos: Myrah gets to be in the middle of the work these days.  She loves playing with pails and check out that fat little face peeking around the corner of my desk while I was writing your newsletter!

There’s been a burst of babies rip through our group of friends lately, which is really nice because once you have a baby, then all you talk about and think about is babies, and so it makes sense to surround yourself with other people who are the same.  I was NOT a baby person before I had one and so I can see the other side, too, and try not to bore or gag anyone with too many baby stories!  Lydia and Wian from Luna Field Farm are also expecting, and I am lucky to have Reta and Kara ahead of me, who I am grateful to for passing on all sorts of knowledge and second-hand clothes and equipment!

My new “thing” is asking people “What was the highlight of your week?”, which is such a great way to get a quick snapshot of what’s up in your life.  I was delighted to have this conversation with quite a few of you last week and I’ll leave you with the video I promised to share with a few of you: The highlight of my week last week was getting a Jolly Jumper from a friend for Myrah.  She loves it!  This video is from the first day, when she was figuring out how to jump but you can tell from her squeals, clearly delighted:

Myrah’s Jolly Jumper


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Stephanie harvesting Pea Shoots

This space is reserved to tell you all about how Week 23 & 24 will work! 

For the final 2 weeks of the program, we are offering you the option to CHOOSE what you would like to get!  We’ll call it VLC Choice Weeks!

Just as further explanation (because it helps ME when I understand WHY things are the way they are): We have run out of many of the fall storage veggies to the point that we are comfortable with what is in storage and so can be flexible about what you take.  For example, if we had lots of leeks left, we would have to make sure they were sold before Christmas and so would need to put them in your bags.  For the final 2 weeks, we just have squash, beets, carrots, potatoes, and a few other long-storage items available, and so rather than loading you up with items you may not use, we are happy to be able to be flexible and so if you want to stock up on lots of carrots for the winter you are welcome to, and if beets aren’t something you make use of you can avoid them, et cetera.

  • There will be a list of available items that you can select from, we’re going to call the form the VLC Choice Form just to keep things straight!  If you are looking for unwashed veggies for storage, they will be listed, as well as washed versions.  We will provide the link in this week’s email on Tuesday morning.  That will give you SIX DAYS to place your order, 13 if you choose to pick it all up on the 12th!
  • Pre-Orders: The Pre-Order form will continue to be available, and you can place an order through it if you like, above and beyond the $50 total credit from your weekly bags in December.  There may be some additional items that are not available on the VLC Choice Form on the VLC Pre-Order Form… For instance, we anticipate that we can offer the option of 1 jar of pickles or preserves, up to a maximum value of $12, on the VLC Choice Form.  However, if you want 10 jars, that’s fine, you can order as many as you like from the VLC Pre-Order Form, and pay for them separately.  (Sounds complicated, I know… But we always have to extrapolate these things, and so if we had 40 people choose to get $50 of pickles for their final 2 weeks of bags, that wouldn’t work, so we have to limit it to one jar per order.)
  • You can order $25 PER WEEK or $50 ONCE (pickup on December 5th OR 12th).  It’s up to you!  Really, you can do any combination, and you will have $50 credit but if you want to order items above that and pay for them, that is fine, too.  We’ll be at the pickup both weeks, and with so many people requesting unwashed veggies at the end of the program we anticipate that will make packing a bit easier for us.
  • Those who DON’T choose to place an order for what they would like will get a $25 farmer-selected bag on Dec. 5th and Dec. 12th, just like you’ve been getting all along!  It’s totally fine if you prefer this, the order form will have a place where you can let us know if you want this option, or just don’t fill out an order and you will default to the farmer-selected bag.
  • Help us make this work well and place your order as soon as possible.  If everyone waits until Monday this won’t work as we still need time to collect and bag the items.  When we have a farmer-selected bag it’s easy for us to know in advance exactly how many of each item we need, in this case we won’t and so if everyone orders at the last minute we’ll be scrambling.  Thanks in advance!
  • And yes, one last point: Thank you for being the sort of group who (a) will let me know that this sort of option appeals to you, and (b) are engaged and involved with this program, so that most of you will read and follow instructions and make this possible!  We’re happy to be able to be flexible and hope that this will add value to the program for you, and that you will enjoy stocking up on some veggies that will be put to good use in your household!

Clear as mud?  Here is the LINK TO THE VLC CHOICE FORM if you’d like to fill in your order for December 5th and/or 12th!


Let me know if you have any questions at all about the VLC Choice Form and the December pickups!  This is the first time we’ve offered members the option to choose what’s in their bags and we hope you find it helpful and maybe even sort of fun!

Have a great week and make sure to share your highlight with me at the pickup!

Talk soon,

Teri 🙂

Week 21 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi there!

There are 4 pickups remaining in our Veggie Lovers’ Club program this fall: November 21, 28, Dec. 5 & 12.

If you still have a $100 installment payment owing, they are due this week.  I haven’t gotten around to cancelling and returning the debit machine and so will have that on hand if you’d like to pay with debit!  At this point we can safely say I’ll just keep it until Dec. 12th, so plan to use it if that’s more convenient for you!


Pre-Order Option:
Sorry, the pre-order period has CLOSED for this week!-

If you always miss the order window, email me at sales@brownsugarproduce.com and I can add you to my weekly reminder email!

Orders for the Tuesday pickup can be placed until Monday at noon.


Spoiler Alert: Stop reading NOW if you want to keep the contents a surprise!IMG_2100

In your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag Nov. 21st:

*As always, contents may change before Tuesday pickup!

Sunflower Shoots (small bag)
Rainbow Carrots (2 lbs)
Rainbow Beets (2 lbs)
Spaghetti Squash (1 medium)
Frozen Basil (1 x ice cube)
Shallots (small bag)

You can click the links above to view more info about each item, or visit our online Veggie Guide!


Teri’s Veggie Lover Tips & news from the farm:

The other day, Mom and I both wrote up a few notes of what we planned would be included in the upcoming Veggie Lovers’ Club bags this fall.  Completely separately and unplanned.  When we realized we had both done this, we compared notes and lo and behold, the lists were nearly identical!  Even down to specifics like “rainbow beets”.  One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with my Mom.  We work really well together and are almost always on the same page!

IMG_0544Sunnies aka Sunflower Shoots are a great way to make those winter veggies pop!  They are great added on top of finished dishes– just like the hot sauce, you can put that stuff on everything!  Soups, salads, sandwiches, or just on their own.  They will keep a good long time in your fridge, but are best eaten quickly to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients.  Also, they are very high in folic acid, which is great for women who are expecting or expect to be expecting… soon!

Taste the Rainbow… Beets and Carrots!
This week you get a rainbow of carrots and a rainbow of beets!  One of the original Veggie Lovers, Judi, raves about the grated carrot and beet salads made with our colorful veggies.  I must admit that Jon’s carrot allergy prevents me from ever making this salad, but I know it’s good and delicious, and we make the beet-only version all the time!  You can shave the veggies thinly on a mandoline, or you can just grate them– even in the food processor if you need to save time (who doesn’t?!).

Rainbow beets and carrots need no special treatment in storage (keep in a container or bag in the fridge), but they may require some accommodation in the kitchen.  Make sure to apply some citrus to your cut colored beets to prevent them from oxidizing and turning black– A little squeeze of lemon will do!  (that goes for Celeriac, too, if you are eating it raw– thanks to Veggie Lover Jenn for that one!).  If you grate them, squeeze some lemon and give them a stir to coat.  With colored carrots, be wary which you use for soups or stocks: purple ones will make your broth-based soup turn the most unappealing shade of grey.  Sometimes they turn things anywhere from green to purple, so when using purple carrots, raw or roasting is best if you want the color to stay put!

As far as I’m aware, this week is the last week you’ll be forced to take beets home.  There are 2 more farmer-selected bags before the final 2 bags which you will have the option to select what you’d like to take home with you!  So, if beets are unwelcome hitchhikers in your life, the end is near!

Spaghetti Squash!
If you’re not keeping up with your bags at this time of year, at least you can just put all the squash aside for a later date!  If you’re wondering what order to eat it in, know that Spaghetti is one of the longest keepers!

Squash Storage Estimates:
There are no hard-and-fast guarantees or rules about how long squash will keep as it depends highly on how it was handled from the time of harvest to consumption.  The lists below are based on personal experience storing our squash, and what keeps longest.  It is just to give you an idea of which squash are longer keepers than others– I’ve had shorter keeping squash last all winter and vice versa!

Shortest Keepers (eat by Christmas or before): Delicata, Pie Pumpkins, Buttercup, XL Zucchini, Vegetable Marrow, Musque de Provence, Cheese Pumpkin

Longest Keepers (may keep until February or later): Hubbard, Red Kuri, Butternut, Spaghetti, Kabocha, Acorn, Kogiku, Pink Banana.

img_6129If you are storing your squash for later, make sure you examine it regularly for signs of rot.  Generally, it will start to rot at the stem end or the blossom end, especially if either end is damaged.  Occasionally you may find healed scrapes or cuts on your squash, those can be vulnerable sites as well.  If you check your squash regularly (pick them up and turn them around, because just looking can lead to missing squishy bottoms), you will catch any that are going South and be able to make use of them before you lose them completely!
(side note: sometimes I don’t heed my own advice, and a squash will get away from me.  My personal squash stash is stored on top of my cupboards.  It makes for a very gross discovery, as it’s usually from goo starting to drip down my cupboards!)

My Mom’s sisters are known as “The Barracudas”.  There were 5 and after losing Aunt Nancy this fall now there are 4 (but there are really still 5, because the remaining 4 will speak loudly enough to make up for Nancy’s absence!).  They are masters of the domestic domain, loud and opinionated, and all of them are incredible cooks.  So, you know if a recipe comes from the Barracudas it’ll be a good one.  The first time I ate this was the first time I really enjoyed Spaghetti Squash!
Here is Aunty Jayne’s Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Recipe:
1 3-4 pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the baking sheet. Bake until you can poke a sharp knife into the squash with little resistance, about 35-45 minutes. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool. (OR: bake whole by poking a couple holes in it and placing on a baking sheet, you can cut it in half after it’s cooked and scoop out the seeds, as it can be hard to cut through when it’s raw!)
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook briefly, about 1 minute. You only want to warm the tomatoes.
Use a large fork to shred the “spaghetti” from the squash and place the strands in a large bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

You know what would go really well in that recipe above?? Some BasilLucky for you I managed to get some into the freezer and so we are sending a bit along for you this week.  What I did was puree fresh basil with a little splash of water (basically, I washed it in bottled water and then immediately pureed it while it was still wet), and pour it into ice cube trays to freeze.  (Thanks to Jon for washing the ice cube trays after, I promise I will never do that again!).  So, that little dark green or black ice cube is summer preserved in an ice block.  It will be in a bag when you get it, but if you want to keep it for more than a month you should place it in a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.  Keep it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.  If you want to use less than the entire cube, let it thaw for a little while until you can (carefully!) break it apart with a butter knife.

A good use for these “basil pucks” is to throw them into pasta sauce.  Tomato based sauce is great, but you can also make a cream based sauce with basil that is very nice.  Simply make a roux with butter and flour, add garlic and stock and milk or cream, and stir in the basil at the very end until it is melted into the sauce.

We might label the pucks, if only because it just drives me crazy to think of them going into your freezers unlabelled.  Seriously, I am a bit obsessive about freezer organization- I blame my time as a Fresh Specialist managing the entire realm of perishable food in an organic grocery store.  Disorganization is death to fresh food.  Rotation is key to reducing food waste!  The rule with my own home chest freezer is “What goes in must come out within a year”, because there’s no point in putting it in the freezer and wasting all that space and electricity to store it if you’re not going to eat it!  We eat about two pigs a year and I always make sure to completely reorganize my freezer each time we put one in, to make sure all the older meat gets eaten first and that nothing gets tucked away and ignored.  The first things to get ignored in my freezer are the items that are unlabelled, or poorly labelled.  (I asked for a label maker for my upcoming birthday!  Jon and I nearly got divorced when I found a container labelled both “Chicken Stock” and “Pineapple Juice” on the same sticker!).

Can you make pesto with it?  I’ve never attempted pesto with frozen basil, but you could sure try!  It turns black where the air touches it but should still be green on the inside.  If you let it completely thaw it, it might turn completely black.  If you do try, let me know, I haven’t had a chance to experiment much with these pucks.  We used to get them in our CSA in Nova Scotia, I know the summery taste of basil is always appreciated in the dead of winter!

The basil pucks come to you from Brown Sugar’s new 25 cubic foot chest freezer!  That’s big enough to hide about 4 dead bodies in, in case you are wondering (see me trying it out? For when Jon gets fed up with me nit picking over home freezer labelling procedures!).  We have always preserved items for ourselves and over the years we’ve had enough people asking (and buying our personal stash!) that we’ve started preserving a bit extra.  Right now in the freezer we have a few hundred pounds of tomatoes, a few dozen bags of beet leaf buns, frozen beans, strawberries, parsley, corn, peas, baby dill, cantaloupe, enough frozen edamame for the Veggie Club, and my large stash of frozen kale for smoothies.  Not all is for sale, and some will be used to make preserves in the winter, like salsa and mustard bean pickle– because Mom is busy enough in cucumber season, it’s nice to defer some of the work!

It’s great to have this new piece of infrastructure on the farm!  As we name everything, we are currently taking suggestions for the new van and the new freezer!  It’s much easier to direct someone where to find something when you can say “Go get the frozen dill from Bertha” rather than “the freezer in the shed on the left”.  Our first “coolers” were two household fridges named “Dumb” and “Dumber”, until at the end of the first year we got the walk-in cooler, which was immediately labelled “Smart”!

shallots--1Shallots taste like a cross between onion and garlic, and so they are an excellent addition to many dishes.  You can substitute shallot in place of onion in many recipes.  Generally they will have a stronger flavour than onions, but less garlic flavour than true garlic.  They are also great slow roasted until they are soft, and because of the small size I like to keep some on hand to throw in the crock pot with roasts and stocks.  They keep a long time and will do fine in a dark well-ventilated place like your cupboard.

Shallots (aka “multipliers” or “bunching onions”) are also a great way to quickly grow green onions– you first saw shallots in your bags in July, though you may not have realized!  We use these to produce the first green onions of the year.  You could actually place the root end in a glass of water and grow some yourself indoors this winter!  Green onions from sprouting onions and shallots become a late-winter staple in our house!

Why not store shallots, onions and garlic in the fridge?  The cool temperature in the fridge signals to these alliums (onion family) “time to sprout!”.  So, contrary to what you’d think, cooler isn’t better for storing absolutely everything.  You will find this especially true with the hardneck garlic (the purple one with the easy to peel skin).  It will sprout at this time of year regardless of where you keep it, but quicker if in the cool fridge.  We have already planted all of our hardneck garlic, which gets planted mid-October and then covered with a thick mat of flax straw mulch.  Under the mulch it will sprout roots in the cool soil (cool like your fridge!) before it eventually freezes solid.  Timing is key, because if it is planted too late and doesn’t have a chance to sprout roots it will just freeze solid and then rot in the spring.  Too soon and the sprout may break the soil surface, which is unnecessary and only sets it back.  Planting in the spring doesn’t allow the garlic long enough to complete it’s growth cycle, nor would it keep long enough to be planted in the spring.  (Softneck garlic, however, is planted in the spring, but is always the first crop to go into the ground!  I was planting this year’s with Mom on May 5th, 4 days before Myrah arrived!  This year’s planting will be much easier.)


IMG_2108

Fat ‘n happy chewing on a lamb bone.  Baby led weaning is going great!  MJ is going to be a foodie.

Farm Update: Myrah has been in a schedule of waking at 4 am for some time now, and that’s such an irresistibly tempting time of day for me!   Today I gave into it and got up.  I love getting up early, it’s my favourite thing to have a full french press of coffee and sit down at my computer to write (newsletters, blog posts, or emails– I do a lot of correspondence).  I try not to give in too often these days as 4 am is a bit early to rise for the day and I don’t need to get up that early, so I have been sleeping in as much as possible (which is not all that much!) for the past 6 months.  But I have missed my morning routine and time to myself in the dark wee hours of the morning!

Jon goes back to work in a little over a week, so that will be a change for us and our family.  I think he is going to miss Myrah a lot!  He is used to spending lots of time with her, and as much as hanging out with a baby can be trying at times, only a few hours away and we miss her!  I am always disappointed if I get home on Tuesdays and she’s already in bed.  Funny how set their schedules can be… Ever since the time change, she’s been sticking hard to her routine of 7:30 pm bedtime (which is now 6:30, and earlier than is convenient for us).  We try to push it later and it is just met with meltdowns and super cranky baby, so it’s been easier to just get her to sleep when she wants to go.  At least she’s going to bed easily and staying there with 2 wakings for a total of 12 hours!

The Vegetable Nazi: Yup, that’s me.  Well, that’s my nickname here on the farm, anyhow.  In no disrespect, only in the referencing-Seinfeld’s-soup-nazi kind of way.  As the person who is responsible for the majority of email replies on the farm, I am on the front lines for inquiries.  We get quite a few, especially as the markets end for the season and people are wanting to get veggies for the fall and winter.  When items are in short supply, we save them for our best customers– you!  So, this year we knew that we had a good supply for about 40 Veggie Lovers going into the fall.  The total number is slightly over 40 and so we knew things might be a bit tight.  We want to sell the veggies as quickly as possible so there is minimal loss (shrink) for us in storage, balancing that with retaining enough variety to keep things exciting and appealing for you.  I’ve had to turn a lot of people away this fall, including some who have been long-term customers!  We value your commitment to the farm, and you get first priority on many of the items, and we’re not afraid to do what it takes to defend them against hungry local veggie seekers!

seedordering

Jon and I ordering seeds, January 2014

Mom, Jon and I are working on our seed orders.  This is about 2 months ahead of schedule which is really exciting, because it’s nice to get tasks done before the absolute latest deadline!  We are doing it early so that Jon can participate in the seed selection and production plan for next year when he will be a full-time part of the operation.  Our plan always was that I would be the one who would work off-farm in the winters and Jon would look after the kid(s).  With nursing it’s easier this winter for him to work, but come spring Jon will join the Brown Sugar team full time.

Last week we discussed crops that we grew this year, what worked and what didn’t, and anything that we are thinking to change for next year, including how and where things will happen as we continue the transition to our place.  Because our building wasn’t finished, most of the packing work was still completed at Mom’s farm this year, but that will change next year.  Also, we grew some of everything at both places for the most part, because Janelle was on the team and able to do everything including irrigation and tractor work.  Next year we can’t count on finding someone like that and so we are arranging things so that we can accommodate a regular employee who will require supervision (we are taking applications now, if you happen to know of anyone who might fit the bill!).  So, Mom’s farm will be growing some storage crops like beets and carrots, onions, half of the squash, as well as pickling cucumbers and some garlic.  It will be planted to allow for quick and easy tractor cultivation, which will minimize our time required there– hopefully less than 2 days per month in the busy season.  With two locations we either need 2 teams (like this year), or one well-organized team and a plan that is mindful of efficient logistics.  We are lucky that we have experience working on a poorly-organized farm with multiple locations and so got to learn a lesson of what not to do on someone else’s dime!  Employees and farmers going between locations without a concrete plan gets exponentially inefficient really quickly, and so we work hard to do things smartly and in as little trips as possible.

Fullscreen capture 2017-10-08 80022 AMI am completing this newsletter early this week as I’d also like to get the survey results finished and posted this week.  I have reviewed all of your responses and carefully combed through the results, which we use to help inform some of our production plan and crop choices.  In terms of general feedback about crops, for next year we will be growing less kale, chard, and herbs for you, and more head lettuce, zucchini, and cabbage.  Broccoli will be added to the mix, as well as Sweet Potatoes, more peppers, different winter squash varieties, and another Rutabaga attempt.  We all said No to Cauliflower, though it was tied with broccoli for “most requested crop of 2017”.  Broccoli would have been a “No” as well, save for Jon being willing to try it again for you!  Mom and I hate row cover and those crops need to be grown under it, which makes them labour and input-intensive for us.  Anyhow, I have the rest of the results mostly summarized and so will work on publishing that this week, as we work on our seed orders and wash carrots and beets.  Thanks again for all your input!!

Have a great week and see you on Tuesday!

Teri 🙂

Week 20 Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi everyone!

Welcome to Week 20!

Just a reminder that we will take the empty jars back from your refrigerator pickles when you are finished with them.

It’s dark by the end of the pickup now, so please use extra caution when exiting your vehicle and crossing the street!

There’s a note near the bottom of this post about options for ordering some storage veggies near the end of the program, if that’s something you are interested in.  More info coming soon!


Pre-Order Option:

There was an outbreak of Veggie Lovers using the Pre-Order form last week to send us messages and special requests.  Most of the messages were missed because that’s not the correct way to send us these sorts of things.

I don’t read every order that comes in as it is received, but spend my time more efficiently doing those tasks in batches.  So, if you send me a note about your bag or a time-sensitive request like a last minute order, the only way to ensure I’m going to see it and get back to you is to send an email to sales@brownsugarproduce.com.

We’ve never had much of a problem with this, but there were 4 of you last week so I don’t know what happened!  Anyhow, we are pretty particular about how things are done because we share the email account and so both Mom and I can easily stay in the loop without having to constantly update each other, and we don’t accept messages over Text, Facebook or Instagram or any other outlet for that reason.  So, if it’s to do with the order you are placing and isn’t time-sensitive, use the comments box; for anything else– Email us at sales@brownsugarproduce.com.  I don’t like to miss your notes!

-Sorry, the order period for this week has closed!-

If you always miss the order window, email me at sales@brownsugarproduce.com and I can add you to my weekly reminder email!

Orders for the Tuesday pickup can be placed until Monday at noon.


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

In your Veggie Lovers’ Club bag Nov. 14th:

IMG_2005

*As always, contents may change before Tuesday pickup!

Pea Shoots (small bag)
Potatoes, Yellow Adora (5 lb unwashed)
Squash, Assorted medium sized (Kabocha, Kuri, Japanese Acorn, Buttercup, or Hubbard)
Watermelon Radish (1-2)
Leek (1 large or 2 med)
Tomatoes

Remember, you can click the links above to view more info about each item, or visit our online Veggie Guide!


Teri’s Veggie Lover Tips & news from the farm:

As far as I’m aware, this is the last week for tomatoes in your bag!  What a good long season it has been for these, especially after such a poor season last year. Don’t forget, you can throw them (well, gently place them) in the freezer as is once they are ripe if you’re not going to use them right away!

Leeks are one of our favourite crops on the farm, because they grow well for us (BIG!) and we really enjoy eating them.  Last time you got Leeks I sent you my favourite Leek recipe, Cock-a-Leekie Pie.  I almost made one today but then settled for a chicken and wild rice casserole instead, only because I wanted to save the Cock-a-Leekie Pie for sometime when we are having company!  I put lots of Leeks in my casserole.  You can use them anywhere you’d use onion (and count on a sweeter, milder flavour overall), or try our favourite Leek and Potato Soup Recipe.

Watermelon radishes make a great edible garnish, salad topping, stir fry addition, and you can ever roast them!  Not too long or they will get bitter.  I heard back from a couple of you that the shredded watermelon radish, carrot, and beet salad was a hit!  The best was Iris, who made the salad for her son and daughter-in-law who were away for a couple of weeks.  How nice that she picked up their veggies while they were away and then welcomed them back with a nice homemade salad!  I love when someone fills in for pickup if you go away, it gives us an opportunity to get to know your friends and family, too.

We are thrilled at how clean the potatoes are, so having them unwashed from here on out shouldn’t be too offensive for you.  Some years when it is very wet in the fall they are very dirty and it makes for a long winter slogging through mud.  One frequent comment/commendation that we receive is “Wow, your veggies are so CLEAN!”.  Jon and I didn’t think anything of it until we got a chance to scope out some of the other markets/producers in the province… Apparently clean isn’t the standard!  Anyhow, we normally send everything out washed but the potatoes are an exception, so you get more pounds of potatoes than you would if we had to wash them all.  In the works at the farm we are exploring veggie washer options, but as the plumbing hasn’t been installed in our new shed yet, the earliest for that will be next year.

IMG_0762Pea Shoots are an essential soup topping in our house!  We rinse them and chop them and put them on top of heated soup, so they just cook a little bit.  They add a nice freshness and flavour to the finished dish.  I love having fresh shoots to put on winter dishes, it makes the cold weather seem more bearable.  They’re also a great sandwich addition, or you can take them as is as a nice work or school snack.  As always, make sure you rinse your shoots clean just before you eat them, we don’t wash them as they degrade very quickly after they are washed.

This week we’re sending you a medium sized squash, which will be something other than Spaghetti, and in the realm of “mushy squashes” like Kabocha, Kuri, Japanese Acorn, Buttercup, or Hubbard.  Depending on which size and type you get, they will have different applications, but all of them can be roasted and served as a side dish, and if they are big enough they’re all suitable for soup or for baking (substitute squash for pumpkin in any recipe!).  I will try to let you know which squash you are getting when I give you your bag, as we don’t have enough of any one type for everyone to get the same kind this week!  Luckily, squash is a very flexible veggie and most have very similar flavour and cooking characteristics.

Did you know that you can make our favourite summer recipe, Zucchini Bake, with any winter squash, too?  Just substitute raw grated squash for the zucchini.

And don’t forget that squash keeps best in room temperature rather than cold storage!


We’re always thinking of things to enhance your experience as a Veggie Lover, and we want to stay on top of the trends with CSA. The main trend is seeing the popularity of CSAs decline, and the number one reason is when members don’t feel they are making good use of the veggies. Because, you love our veggies, and you love us too, and you feel like it’s the worst thing ever if you don’t like kale and have wasted your money on it and also possibly let it go to waste in your fridge. I don’t blame you! But you must know that if you are the kind of person who feels guilty about wasting veggies, you’re probably still overall a great farm supporter and better than the average consumer: and we need people like you! But, I totally understand that a bag of farmer-selected veggies can be hard to make work in your life. So, as we move forward we are always thinking of ways to enhance the experience of our members, and one of those goals is moving towards more of a market-style CSA, where you’d have more options and say in what you take home every week.

img_5989Unfortunately, it’s a complicated situation, as many of the reasons that CSA works so well for US are in direct conflict with what is more flexible and works better for YOU. For example, we grow planning to be able to supply all of our members from week to week, which this year meant we had to have at least 70 of every item each week. If half of the members don’t like a certain item, (let’s continue using kale as an example) then what do we do with all the kale crop we grew? There is limited amounts we can sell at the market, but in order to grow 70 bunches for a given week we have to have at least 128 plants in the ground. If we only need 35 bunches instead of 70, then we start to have crop going wasted in the field.

Also, stunning fresh produce waits for no one… Often we have to switch up our plans and say, “Oh, the turnips are ready this week, we have to send them out”, as waiting a week would mean that members get sub-par veggies and/or we lose some of our crop. So, us having some agency over what people are getting each week is important. In 2015 before we started the Veggie Lovers’ Club we did 50 custom bags. It was horrible, and we can’t earn a living doing it that way, it is just too labour intensive. I haven’t figured out the answer yet, but to wrap up this long explanation: We are aware that getting a bag of farmer-selected veggies isn’t ideal for many of you, and we are always working on ways to improve how we do things.

IMG_1481Now, why I have gone off on this tangent in the first place: We’ve had a good run with the Veggie Lovers’ Club this year, over the next 3 weeks we will deplete our stock to a point where we are comfortable offering you FREE CHOICE! for the final 2 weeks of the program. See, if we are stuck with a bunch of things that won’t keep that we need to sell, we have to distribute them to our members. By December, we will have mostly carrots, beets, potatoes, and squash left. Thanks to the questions of members Lynne and Reta which got me thinking on this track, we decided that this would be a good opportunity to offer you a chance to stock up on things you’ll actually use. Don’t eat squash? Order something you’ll be able to make use of! Want to store some potatoes or carrots for winter? Do it!

More to come on this closer to the time, but do know that we’ll be allowing you to choose $50 of produce that works for you for the final two deliveries (pickles not included). You can choose to order it each week at $25/week, or do it all in one shot of $50 for pickup on Dec. 5th OR Dec. 12th. I’ll be brief on the last 2 newsletters to allow more admin time sorting out who ordered what (and because who needs to hear me ramble for 24 consecutive weeks?!). If you don’t want to choose, no worries, we will have a farmer-selected bag for those who don’t.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for this before we get to it!

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The storage room, full for winter.  Each wooden bin holds about 1,200 lbs of produce.

Myrah turned 6 months old and got her first cold this week and then I got it, too, so I spent a couple days on the couch. Luckily Myrah didn’t get it very bad and so other than a lot of boogers, didn’t seem too bothered by it. I caught some sort of man-cold that came with a lot of complaining and shirking childcare responsibilities… Because looking after a baby when you have a headache and runny nose and just want to sleep is like the worst kind of torture! I haven’t been sick in ages and epic amounts of lemon-ginger-honey tea seems to have gotten it mostly beat now. Getting more sleep helps a lot; how ironic that as soon as I started sleeping, I got sick!

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A food lover, just like her Mama!

Veggie Lover Cathy-Jane asked me last Tuesday, “What was the highlight of your week?”, and I thought that was such a nice way to frame the interaction at the CSA pickup. I love seeing you each week, and the ongoing conversations that we have from week to week are so nice. At the same time, if you’re just having a bad day, you can tell me that, too! Last week, the highlight of my week was us trying the “Ferber method” getting Myrah to sleep at night. She’s been getting increasingly difficult to get to sleep at night and it has been causing us a lot of anxiety and sleeplessness. Just as my mother and every old wives tale suggested, she just needed to cry it out (much to the chagrin of many current parenting books). One night of 26 minutes of crying and since then she pretty much goes right to sleep without any crying and stays asleep much longer than before. It’s amazing how different the world looks when you can get 5 or 6 hours of unbroken sleep for the first time in 6 months! I think that’s the highlight of my week this week, too (or maybe it was watching Myrah eat bacon for the first time?!).

Tell me what the highlight of your week was at the pickup!

Talk soon!

Teri 🙂

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