One Month Until Veggie Love! CSA Begins Tuesday July 3!

Hi folks!

img_4045-editedThis is the second pre-Veggie Lovers’ Club check in this spring.  If you missed the last one, you can check it out here!

Today marks 1 month until our program begins!  With that rain that we’ve gotten lately, we now actually know that things will grow and there will be veggies in a month… It was getting a little hairy there.  The past two weeks we have transplanted out most of our seedlings, which need water, and with the lack of rain it was beginning to look like we might have to spend time irrigating.  We can irrigate until we’re blue in the face but it will never compare to a good electrical storm with a decent amount of rainfall.  So, we were doing the happy dance the past few days!

If you’re like everyone else in the Veggie Lovers’ Club this year, you registered back in February or March and we’re thinking, “This sounds like fun”, and now you’re remembering, “Oh yeah, I signed up for that veggie thing… What was that all about again??”.  Never fear, Teri is here and I’m your guide to how our program works.  It’s not all that complicated but it IS different than just going to the grocery store whenever you need to, so we will be giving lots of support, especially as things get started.  If you want a refresher on how everything works, check out (& bookmark!) our Membership Guide on our website!

img_3712Our online Veggie Guide is your hub for all you need to know about the different veggies we put in your bag — Keep it in mind as we start our season together!  It’s been said by a few members that our communication and resources are one of the things that sets our farm apart from the rest, so make sure you make use of what we make available to you so that you maximize the “bang for your buck” in this program!

In this newsletter I am sharing our #1 most frequently asked question & answer that folks have before the program starts, as well as some great tips for salad season, and then a Meet Your Farmer section which introduces all of us on the farm team!  We hope you can give it a read and use it to help your excitement keep growing!

33359945_2119834021621137_3617325798626689024_nIf you can’t wait for fresh veggies, you actually don’t have to!  We have a beautiful crop of spinach that is being handled by James and Angie at Chez Angela Bakery right now.  There are three more dates to connect with our spinach: Tuesday June 5 or Thursday June 7 from 4 – 6 pm, or Saturday June 9 from 10 am – 1 pm.  They have a pop up market at 1228 Rosser in the YFC building, across from the Global Market.  In addition to spinach, their offering includes locally made slow dough and yummy creations… I’m a big fan of everything that they make!

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In addition the spinach option, in less than 2 weeks our Friday market will begin in front of Lady of the Lake Cafe.  Starting Friday June 15 from 10 am – 2 pm and running every Friday from then on until the end of September!  We are always so excited for the market season to begin.  For the first market we expect to have nearly a full selection of pickles and preserves (no dill pickles though), salad, spinach, green garlic, green onions, herbs, beets (last year’s), pea shoots, sunflower shoots, edible pansies, radishes, kale, pails of raw honey from Fresh Roots Farm, Quinoa and Quinoa products from Tamarack Farms & more!

Please note that due to a health issue last summer Kara from Dunrea Farming Company will not be returning to markets this season with her sourdough and croissants, however I do know a place in town where you can get some!


FAQ

IMG_9958The most Frequently Asked Question we get from registered Veggie Lovers is “what do I do if I have to miss a pickup (with advance notice)?”
There are a couple of options:
1) Find someone to pick up on your behalf.  This can be anyone, a friend/family member/neighbour, anyone you want to share your veggies with (and this can be a really exciting thing for the right person!).  This option is the easiest for us and also provides us with an opportunity to connect with others who might be interested in the Veggie Lovers’ Club in the future.  It’s not necessary to let us know if you are doing this, but it’s totally ok to, as often it happens that the person who is supposed to pickup forgets (Rookies!  lol).
2) Give notice to skip a week. Let us know via email by Monday prior to the pickup and we won’t make your bag that week.  You can tell us as soon as you know the dates (even right now, if you like) because I have a system for keeping track!  When you give us advance notice that you will be missing a pickup we will put the missed week onto your account as credit.  You can’t redeem the credit for cash, but you CAN request a “double bag” in the future, or use your credit towards purchases at the mini-market at the pickup or towards a pre-order for the pickup.  This way you still get the full value of your Veggie share in a way that works for your schedule.

What happens if I forget to pickup? (no advance notice given)
If you miss a pickup without advance notice, you will pay for that week and not get your veggies, so please set appropriate reminders so that this doesn’t happen!  There is nothing more annoying that trying to connect folks with their veggies after the pickup, and we are getting firmer on this every year as we have complicated logistics and busy lives.  Think about it this way: we have worked for months planning, planting, tending, growing, harvesting, washing, packing, and then delivering your vegetables.  Of course things happen and you might forget once in a while– I would too!  However, when veggies aren’t picked up sometimes I’ve found a home for them before they make it back to the farm, or if they do make it back to the farm we have to put them away properly and some things can’t be kept for future use (eg Packaged Arugula has a 3-4 day window to sell it).  Basically, we incur MORE work when you miss a pickup, so it’s asking too much to contact us and try to pick them up because you’re asking us to incur even more work– and the veggies you pick up usually aren’t the same ones you would have gotten Tuesday.  After watching Mom’s hard work be interrupted for years at the main farm, at the size that the farm is now Jon and I have made a decison that we do not allow farm pickups.  We just don’t, foot down.  We live and work here and if we’re here we’re either working or enjoying time together as a family, and though we really like all of you we want to keep the visiting to farm tour days, the pickup location, and the market!


Salad Tips

For much of my life, I didn’t eat salad.  What I thought a salad was supposed to be (just raw veggies) compared to it’s potential was pretty sad.  It’s all about using the freshest, local-est greens you can get your hands on, and then adding a bunch of yummy stuff on top to make those greens shine!

Your veggie bags are filled with seasonally ripe vegetables, and so they will be greens-heavy in the first weeks because that’s what is ready first on the farm!  Be warned, there will be lots of salad coming your way!

img_0558Want to take your salads to another level? Check out these tips👇:⠀
-Choose seasonal produce, for the best flavor & nutritional value.⠀
-Use a variety of colors & textures to maximize appeal. From creamy avocado, to spicy greens, to sweet red raspberries, and of course, something with crunch.⠀
-Don’t be afraid to add non-traditional salad ingredients (I’m talking about you, little boxes of leftovers sitting in the fridge👌).⠀
-Don’t limit yourself to cold salads. Try grilling up your fruits, veggies, or other ingredients to add a new layer of flavor.⠀
-Try making your own dressings using ingredients that you love. You may be surprised what a difference fresh dressing can make!

(From Nutritionist Melissa Groves @avocado_grove_nutrition on Instagram)

We also have a couple favourite homemade dressings that we like, you can find the recipes here:
Spicy Honey Vinaigrette
Poppyseed Dressing

If you’re like me and like to be prepared and plan ahead, having some nice oils and vinegars on hand and maybe some homemade dressing would be a great way to get prepared for your first CSA pickup on July 3!
Chez Angela just started carrying a phenomenal Greek Olive Oil that puts all the rancid/counterfeit* EV olive oils on the store shelves to shame, and I know Lady of the Lake also stocks lots of nice oils and vinegars, too.
*Check out the Olive Oil episode of the Gastropod Podcast if you’re into learning more, it was good!


Meet Your Farmers

…Because that’s one of the main reasons you signed up for this, right?!

I’ve asked all of my co-workers to write a short bio for our website, and I have now added them to our website to be on there permanently.  I wanted to make sure everyone highlighted what they most wanted to share about themselves, because that’s an interesting perspective, more interesting than if I wrote it!  My Gran wrote her own eulogy and it was incredible, very different than if any of us wrote it.  So, it is in my voice because this whole website is, but know that each person got to work closely with me on their biography.
Here we are!

IMG_1428More About Stephanie Dillon (Pawluk)
Stephanie’s knack for growing vegetables was nurtured in her mother’s large household garden, which existed out of necessity as she was one of eight children! Her sister Nancy (now deceased) in Winnipeg who also had a greenhouse business and market garden was a mentor for Stephanie and her sister Jayne still helps at the farm a lot, especially in canning season. Stephanie began growing vegetables full-time in 2001, after leaving a career teaching Early Childhood Education at the local college. She made a name for herself at the Brandon Farmer’s Market in the Town Centre, which she attended for the first 10 years of Brown Sugar Produce. In 2012 she purchased a concession trailer which saw a very successful first year selling in the parking lot of Lady of the Lake. In 2015 she was thrilled to welcome her daughter Teri back with husband Jon to join the business, and in 2017 she got her dream of becoming a Grandma fulfilled!

IMG_0174Stephanie is happiest when in the garden, but in the winter when she can’t be she enjoys making puzzles, playing Bingo with friends, and spending time with her granddaughter. Her husband Paul ran a used harvest equipment business in Brandon for many years and grew up on a farm and has been a big support in the business over the years. In 2019 they will celebrate 40 years of marital bliss!

More About Janelle Vachon
Janelle Vachon currently lives in Brandon and grew up on a cattle/grain farm south of Oak Lake, Manitoba. She is a recent graduate from Brandon University with a degree in Environmental Sciences with the goal of pursuing a Master’s degree in the Environmental Sciences/Paleontology field beginning in September 2018 at Brandon University.
In the winter, Janelle’s main passion is curling. For the past two seasons she has curled competitively on a team based out of Winnipeg. Over the course of these two seasons this has involved a lot of traveling and five months living in Winnipeg to curl full-time. Curling for Briane Meilleur, her team was able to make it to the Olympic Pre-Trials with a 4-2 round robin finish and losing the final to advance to Olympic Trials. Her team also made it to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts held in Killarney, Manitoba. Janelle spends countless hours on the ice and in the gym training for competition. janelle
Janelle is fortunate to have the opportunity to work her summers for Brown Sugar Produce. She loves being outdoors and working with her hands making this the perfect fit for a summer job that also works around her curling schedule. She also LOVES good quality locally grown vegetables like those grown and sold by Brown Sugar Produce!
Other hobbies/interests that Janelle has include motorcycles, natural healing and food as medicine, reading, hitting the gym, and hiking.
More About Jon JenkinsIMG_1144
Jon Jenkins grew up in Earnscliffe, Prince Edward Island with the ocean as his backyard.  He discovered his passion for growing at a young age in his Dad’s large garden, as well as his love for digging clams!

After completing high school in Ottawa and exploring post-secondary options, Jon went WWOOFing on a goat farm on Pender Island.  From there he found a 2-year apprenticeship at Glen Valley Organic Co-Op, where he learned organic farming skills from two mentors, John Switzer and Alyson Chisholm.  He got out of farming for a few years and did a carpentry apprenticeship, spent 8 months traveling in New Zealand, and eventually found himself working at the Calgary Farmer’s Market, where he met Teri.

IMG_3937Jon enjoys a wide range of other activities when he is not farming.  He is a self-taught DJ on digital as well as turntables.  He also loves fishing, listening to podcasts, karate, he plays the didgeridoo and made his own, plays banjo, he’s made his own shoes and loves to sew, he snowboards, he’s run half marathons and also built his own ninja obstacle course in our barn. He’s traveled to Mexico and to New Zealand twice; gone skydiving; worked at a summer camp; he has an interest but a healthy skepticism about all things paranormal, unexplained, and otherworldly, as well as a ton of knowledge about astronomy and outer space; he’s great with animals and loves kids, especially his daughter Myrah.  AND, he’s truly a wonderful husband and father!

More About Teri Jenkins (Dillon)IMG_0583
I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba.  I was 15 when Mom started a market garden, and as soon as we went to the farmer’s market, I was hooked.  I prudently moved to Calgary to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature/Sociology, and while going to school I worked full-time in the produce department at Safeway to learn the corporate & retail side of the business.  When I finished University I moved on to further my skills working at Blush Lane Organic Produce in the Calgary Farmer’s Market.  When Jon and I started dating a year and a half later, we both realized that our passion for producing and selling organic vegetables could become a reality through this convenient romantic/business partnership.

IMG_1204After living in Nova Scotia for three years and getting hitched, Jon and I moved to Manitoba to join Brown Sugar Produce in May of 2015. Since then we’ve purchased a farm property near Rivers and also added our daughter Myrah Janice to the farm team (May 2017), as well as lots of cats and some hens. Now that I’m a Mom I feel like my role on the farm has shifted a bit, but also all those years of farming without a baby were practice for the hardest role of farming with a baby! Speed and efficiency in each tasks has never been so valuable as when you have a muddy toddler screaming at you.

I love all animals, especially cats, especially Samson :).  I enjoy drinking coffee and cooking gourmet meals with amazing local ingredients, and going to Farmers’ Markets.  My favourite part of what I do is seeing all our customers each week in the summer at the markets and Veggie Lovers’ Club pickups: it feels like a real community that we have built here!


Farm Tour?

If you are interested in participating in a tour of our farm this year, please add your name to this list and we will be in touch when we are scheduling tours.  In the past we have had lots of interest but then little attendance and so this year we are trying a different way to try and make the time(s) work for everyone who wants to visit!  The tours will be at Jon and Teri’s Farm near Rivers this year.

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That’s all for now, folks!  The photo above is from July 2015, so the garden doesn’t look like this quite yet but it will very soon!

Feel free to be in touch with us if you have vacation dates to book off, or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or even a rant or two to share.  This is a two-way conversation and I always love to hear from you!

–Your farmers,

Teri & Jon, Stephanie, and Janelle

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Spinach at Chez Angela & Poppyseed Dressing Recipe

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Spinach!!  We’ve waited a long time for this crop of greens to be ready.  It’s very dry this spring and so despite even resorting to watering, it’s just ready now, about a month later than usual.

Because we have a gap now between our Pea Shoot Program and our markets at Lady of the Lake (starting Friday June 15th!), we’ve teamed up with James, Angie & team from Chez Angela Bakery to get our spinach from the field to your table!  We’re doing the growing, washing, and packing, and then delivering it to them just in time for the next 3 Saturday markets (May 26, June 2 & June 9)– where you can visit them from 10 am – 1 pm at 1228 Rosser Avenue (inside the YFC Building) to get some spinach for yourself (and of course, some bakery goodies, too, if you choose… There’s a reason we like working closely with James and Angie, because we love their products almost as much as we like them!).

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I dream of salads like this all winter!  Poppyseed dressing on spinach with grilled asparagus, boiled egg, potato, feta, blueberries, roast Luna Field Farm beef, and a chunk of Chez Angela Cracked Pepper & Parmesan Fougasse bread!  A great lunch.

SPINACH – Saturdays May 26, June 2, June 9 – Chez Angela’s bakery pop up – 1228 Rosser Avenue – 10 am – 1 pm (or until it’s sold out!)

Our markets resume at Lady of the Lake on June 15th!  10 – 2 on Fridays from June 15 – Sept. 28, 2018.

Unfortunately there will be less spinach than expected this week because we finally got rain last night, but it was the almost-hail-very-hard-kind and so a lot of the spinach got badly ripped up.  Fortunately we somehow seem to have a sixth sense for that and so I actually harvested a pail quickly yesterday that is unscathed.  The ripped up spinach was picked first thing this morning before the sun hit it and so we are eating our way through it, and just enjoyed a great salad and lunch and I thought the dressing recipe was worth sharing!

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Poppyseed Dressing Recipe
This dressing pairs really well with spinach, and tastes even better if it sits for a day before you eat it!

1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp onion
2 Tbsp poppyseeds
1/4 C. Fresh Roots Farm Raw Honey (or other excellent local raw honey!)
1/4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 C. salad oil (Click here to see a great guide to different oils & their various purposes.)

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until smooth!

Week 16 Pea Shoot Program Newsletter – The Last One!

Hi folks!

This week is pickup for Option A & C groups– 1228 Rosser Ave, 4:30 – 5:30 pm on Tuesday!

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Picked her first dandelion… So excited!

This is the last pickup of this program!  After this we have a few weeks “off” of selling before our season gets into full swing.  Our markets begin at Lady of the Lake on Friday, June 15th 10 am – 2 pm.  If you’re registered in our Veggie Lovers’ Club that begins Tuesday July 3.  And of course, you can continue to find small amounts of our produce on your plate at local restaurants Lady of the Lake and Prairie Firehouse!


If you haven’t yet filled out our end-of-season Pea Shoot Program survey, please do so by clicking here!  It only takes an average of 3 minutes and 50 seconds to complete.  It’s so valuable to hear from you, and helps us to shape our future programs and make our plans for next year.

Fill out the Pea Shoot Program Survey!

We hope you can connect with us at a market this summer and return your last Pea Shoot tray: We’ll make the trip worth your while!  No worries if not, we know we’ll connect with you at some point, possibly even in next year’s program!


It’s BBQ season!  We’ve been enjoying lots of outdoor meals already, but last night to go with our roasted potatoes and Luna Field Farm pork chops I made Sesame Stir Fried Pea Shoots.  I forgot how good they are!  Plus they only take a few seconds to cook.  Easiest side ever!  I am looking forward to salad season already.

Temporary home for all the transplants that need to go in.  It’s not the ideal spot but at least we don’t forget to water them or how long our to do list is these days!

This week and next week are the busiest weeks on the farm so far in terms of the amount of transplanting, seeding, and other work to do.  It’s exacerbated by this very dry spring, which causes us to have to spend lots of time irrigating crops (like onions, which were transplanted over the past couple of weeks and there’s been NO rain since), and that’s really time that we didn’t budget for because of course we never expect it to be THIS dry!  So, unfortunately we have to defer some of the work until a time when there is more moisture around, as it is easier to look after all the plants in trays than when they are spaced out in the field and suffering for lack of water.  We don’t have irrigation in our main field and don’t plan to bother as it would be a huge investment, instead we are developing a field which is close enough to our well that we can get water to it.  There is also a potential that our RM will get hooked up to a rural water line in the coming years, so we are hopeful for that project to go ahead as it would be a game changer for us.

Myrah and Grandma picking spinach yesterday

If you’re a BIG fan of what we do (which, if you’re reading this, the end of the final email newsletter after 16 weeks– YOU ARE!), then you should know that we plan to have some of our spring spinach crop available at Saturday Chez Angela bakery pop ups!  We’re hoping for the first week to be this Saturday.  This will just be a temporary thing while we are in between programs and markets, and while James and Angie continue to pop up prior to their permanent location opening.


Ok, folks, that’s it for now, but we’ll be back with armloads of veggies on Friday June 15th in front of Lady of the Lake from 10 am – 2 pm, and we hope to see you there!

Thanks for being a part of our Pea Shoot Program and for being fans of what we do: we literally wouldn’t be able to do it without you!  We’ll keep you posted about next year’s program and any other opportunities to connect with us via email, Facebook, Instagram, and our website!

Talk soon & see you tonight (I’m there right until the end at 6 pm!)!!

Teri 🙂

Week 15 Pea Shoot Program Newsletter

Hi folks!

This week is pickup for Option A & B groups– 1228 Rosser Ave, 4:30 – 5:30 pm on Tuesday!

If you’d like to place an order for any additional items to come with your Pea Shoots for next time: Here’s the link to the order form
You can use this same link any time you’d like to place an order!
New Items Listed!Nettles and garlic chives!

img_2511If you’re interested in culinary stinging nettles and want some more info, check out our collection of posts on our blog: https://brownsugarproduce.wordpress.com/tag/nettles/
Long story short, they are a delicious weed– believe me, there are lots of other edible weeds around this time of year that I don’t prefer and so you won’t find me singing their praises, but Nettles get a special place in my heart because they taste good!  They’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals and everything your body is craving in spring.  Yes, they sting, but not when cooked or blended, even vigorous washing is enough to disarm them.  I’ve written extensively about them and shared many recipes at the link above, so check it out!


This is the second to last week of pickups for the Pea Shoot Program!  It’s hard to even remember February when we started… That’s kind of like childbirth, right?! Us Manitobans are good at forgetting the trauma of winter every year!  (Pfft, it’s not that bad!)

If you’re a bi-weekly Group B pickup, this is your last week!

Groups A & C have their last pickup next week, May 22!


Myrah and I having breakfast made by Jon on Mother’s Day!

Last week was made busy by Myrah’s first birthday party which kind of consumed the whole week for me!  We had a nice lunch out at Prairie Firehouse on the actual day of Myrah’s birthday, and then a brunch on Saturday with family and friends and a party Saturday afternoon with friends and young families (sounds ridiculous, I know… rainy day contingency planning! And we ended up with two nice groups which were less overwhelming than one big one, and a solid toddler nap before each party, so it was really nice).

 

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True… But look how dirty she was after tilling!  It’s very dry and dusty.

Jon, Janelle, and Stephanie kept their heads in the game and got quite a few trays of onions transplanted into the field, potatoes planted, 50′ added onto our asparagus patch (that’s hard work digging a 1′ deep trench, thanks Janelle!), irrigation set up, the plastic on the tunnel, and many other tasks, including daily watering in the greenhouse which takes hours at this time of year!  Unfortunately we had some onion transplants freeze on the night where it reached -11 with the windchill.  So, we will have less than we would have, but as we have so many different crops it’s like having lots of different eggs in the basket and so if one or two things are less than we wanted, it usually evens out with something else being better than we expected!  We also have two baskets– as  in, we mitigate our hail risk a bit by keeping crops at both locations.  It’s still not quite the time when we can set out most transplants as there’s still a risk of hard frost like that for a couple of weeks.

This visually big job is the one we are most often offered help with!  It took Jon 2 hours on Friday morning.

On that note, if you are planning on purchasing any plants and want to check out some of the nice local greenhouses in our area (near Rivers, less than half an hour from Brandon), I highly recommend you make the trip!  We are fortunate to be close to Walker’s Greenhouse (formerly Marriott’s) and so went on Sunday to buy some Mother’s Day plants.  I also love The Trestle Greenhouse in town and Eleanor is very knowledgeable.  I’m totally plugging my neighbours and friends here, people– because if you like what we do, there’s a high chance that you’ll like what these folks do, too!  It’s not about the widest selection or the lowest prices, but it IS about quality plants, shrubs, and trees from small local business owners who are offering community building over just a transaction.  When we went Sunday we got a tour, as well as met both Travis and Kendra’s parents who were there helping out, visited the cats and dog, and saw lots of other people from the community out shopping, too.  It was a really nice Mother’s Day experience with Jon and Myrah!

(Also, if you’re headed this way, Lee’s Chinese Restaurant is reopened as of May 1 after their trip to China, and The Honey Hut is also a nice place in town to eat breakfast or lunch!  Rivers beach is really nice, and CJ’s Snack Shack has great burgers, mini golf, and ice cream.  We love this community!)


Thanks for being a part of the farm and reading our updates!  I will be sending out an end of season survey for the Pea Shoot Program with this week’s newsletter as well.  Take care and see you at the pickup!

Teri 🙂

Week 14 Pea Shoot Program Newsletter

Hello and welcome to week 14!

This week is pickup for Option A & C groups– 1228 Rosser Ave, 4:30 – 5:30 pm on Tuesday!

If you’d like to place an order for any additional items to come with your Pea Shoots for next time: Here’s the link to the order form
You can use this same link any time you’d like to place an order!
New Items Listed! We now have some greenhouse salad mix and sunflower shoots available, and we will soon have some nettles and spinach, too.


In the kitchen this week

The Pea Shoot Program is as long in duration as our summer Veggie Lovers’ Program, and so some of you have been eating weekly pea shoots since the beginning of February!  I imagine, like me, you have gotten really good at putting them in everything you’re eating.  There’s been a few weeks of sell outs when I don’t have any pea shoots on hand and I really miss them.  Luckily, I just found the first nettles yesterday, so as the pea shoot program ends we’ll transition into wild greens, and then soon into spinach, lettuce, and kale!

This week Mom gave me half a watermelon for Myrah and instead when I saw it sitting in the fridge beside the feta and Jon and I ate one of our favourite summer salads!  It’s totally out of season right now and only a shadow of what it is when the ingredients are local, but sometimes that’s ok– you have to taste the other option in order to know the difference.  I’m guilty of being spoiled by only eating what’s around me and then being *shocked* when I have to eat veggies from the store.  We are growing more watermelon this year than we ever have before as they seem to do really well for us, so we do plan to put them in the Veggie Lovers’ Club bags at some point, and definitely to have some at market for you to make this salad when it’s in season!

watermelonfetasaladPea Shoot Watermelon Feta Salad

Jon says this is his favourite way to enjoy watermelon!  As you can see, I added some cucumbers– also not in season right now, but darn good in this salad.  The recipe above includes a simple lime and black pepper vinaigrette, but if you want to keep it dead easy, just a sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinagrette will do the trick, too!


In the fields this week

We’ve been busy planting early crops of carrots, beets, peas, and garlic.  Today Janelle is putting in the rest of the garlic at our place and then some asparagus roots and starting on potatoes very soon.  It is very dry right now but we are doing our best to get as much in as we can before it rains, which will then kick everything (& the weeds!) into overdrive!  Jon is being prudent and got a new stainless steel tank that we will be using to transport water to the field ready to go last week.  It needed some replacement parts and a good cleaning.

Last week Janelle and Jon also cut down a bunch of hanging branches from the side of the field to make it easier to mow, as we have an intense wood tick issue here at the farm and keeping grass down is one of our techniques for battling them.  I never knew the importance of the full surround 80’s wall mirrors in our upstairs bathroom until the first season of living with the wood ticks on this farm.  People from the city who visit are disgusted to find one crawling on their pant leg– we’re happy for a day from now until mid-July that our personal count doesn’t reach the double digits!  The goal this and every  year is for no one to get Lyme disease.

Speaking of that, now who wants to come visit the farm? 😛 We’ll be hosting tours once the wood ticks have moved on and the mosquitoes take up residence (July & August).  For now, please indicate your interest in a tour by adding your name to this list:

Sign Up for a 2018 Farm Tour at Brown Sugar Produce – Time(s) TBA!

In the past, we’ve had lots of interest prior to the tour but then been disappointed with attendance and so this year I’ll be trying to be more flexible with dates so more people can make it.


FAQ: Can I plant my pea shoots in my garden?

I found this question in the inbox this morning and thought I’d share it with everyone– in the past people have tried this without asking and I felt bad because I knew enough to know they wouldn’t have success but didn’t want to poo on their parade when they told me after the fact!  With this warm weather we’ve been having it just makes you want to go outside and plant something!  Gardening is fun because you can try almost anything so long as you’re not really concerned about the results.

 As far as planting your pea shoots in your garden to get a crop of shelling peas it is a waste of your time– not only will the peas probably not grow into mature plants after being started in such a stressed environment (being crowded in the tray isn’t their ideal field growing conditions, and the roots are intertwined in such a way I don’t know if you could even separate them)– But, even if they did grow to maturity, they are field peas and so the actual peas in the pods are starchy/chalky and not sweet like garden peas.
However, if you’re just looking to transplant the whole tray into your garden and see if you can keep harvesting pea shoots, go for it, that will probably work for a while at least!  They are very voracious growers and we usually have some sort of pea shoot monster growing all summer on the compost pile!

Here’s some things popping up around the farm!

Little Miss Myrah turns 1 on Wednesday May 9th!  It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year already but it’s also hard to believe our little strong-willed girl is only one.  I am continually reminded by her enjoyment of the world around her to slow down and enjoy the moment.  Saturday she contentedly played outdoors with a tub of water and some garlic skins (because we were separating cloves for planting) until bed time.

Playing with water on Saturday!  Miss Kitty on the right.  Those two are never very far from each other.  Miss Kitty belonged to Sherman Myrah, who Myrah Janice is named after.  She came to live on the farm with us (where she was originally from 6 years ago) last July when Sherman passed away.  So, there will always be a Myrah on this farm, and right now there are two!

Jon will be filling in for me at the pickup spot this Tuesday, so he’ll see you there!  This week only if you’re running late you can pickup between 4:30 – 6 pm as he can stay until the end, usually we have to swap parenting duties hurriedly on Tuesday nights.

Have a great week and talk soon!

Teri 🙂

Week 13 Pea Shoot Program Newsletter

Hi folks!

This week is pickup for Option A & B groups– 1228 Rosser Ave, 4:30 – 5:30 pm on Tuesday!

If you’d like to place an order for any additional items to come with your Pea Shoots for next time: Here’s the link to the order form
You can use this same link any time you’d like to place an order!
New Items Listed! We now have some greenhouse salad mix and sunflower shoots available, and depending on the weather we will soon have some spinach, too.


In the kitchen this week

I’ve run out of specific new recipes for Pea Shoots, but we now have all of these from previous weeks, why not try a new one!
Pea Shoot Salad with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette
Sesame Stir Fried Pea Shoots
Pea Shoot Soup
Pea Shoot Pesto
Pea Shoot Green Goddess Salad Dressing
Pea Shoot Risotto
Pea Shoot Garlicky Mayonnaise
Pea Shoot Green Smoothie
Pea Shoot & Ginger Grilled Carrot Salad

It’s cold today so I made a batch of Kale Chorizo Soup… Except I didn’t have any chorizo so I used Luna Field Farm pork Italian sausage… Didn’t want to use my frozen kale so I used frozen nettles instead (after a quick and cold trip outside searching for fresh), and really, I didn’t use the recipe at the link at all, because once you master the soup pot, the first thing you let go is *boring* measuring and following instructions!  However, spicy sausage, greens, and potatoes is such a magical combination, in whatever ratio you fancy.  Pea Shoots have been scarce around here these days thanks to lots of extra interest at the pickup, but if you have pea shoots, they would be great added at the last second of this soup!

I also wanted to share a neat link that was recently shared with me from my friend Michelle at Fresh Roots Farm (where the raw honey we sell comes from!).  Once a Month Meals (https://onceamonthmeals.com/) gives you everything you need to shop, prep and cook a bulk of your monthly meals in just one day — and freeze those meals for when you want to eat them.  It’s a great tool for us seasonally-busy farmers, but also, who have you ever met these days that isn’t busy and wouldn’t benefit from having some meals prepped in the freezer?!  I do a lot of this in the winter, but didn’t realize there was (obviously!) help on the internet for it.


In the fields this week
Seeds are in the ground!  Three years ago, Jon, Samson and I were still carefully navigating our way to Manitoba from Nova Scotia, so this is the earliest we’ve planted seeds in the past 3 seasons!  After all that lingering snow and speculation that it would be a late spring.  Last year at this time I was uncomfortably pregnant right now and we were getting antsy because we wanted to get the seeds in before the baby arrived (and we did, barely!).  We don’t get too worked up about it because you just never know!

Jon has planted carrots and also beets, and within the next couple of days he’ll also plant peas.  The soil has to be dry enough to drive on the field with the tractor and so that we can rototill to get a nice soft seed bed.  If we push it and try to till too early, our Newdale clay soil turns into big hard lumps that will last all season and make it hard to work in, and even hard for seeds to germinate.

Stephanie (Mom) pulled the flax straw mulch off of her garlic crop on the weekend and found that mice had tunnelled through the mulch and soil, so we aren’t sure if they’ve nibbled the cloves in the ground and caused them to rot.  We hope not!  We had a similar issue last winter as well but still had a decent garlic crop.  This is the hardneck garlic, the softneck is still to be planted this spring.  Jon hasn’t checked ours yet, but this is the reason for not putting all of our eggs in one basket with the garlic crop, as it is a bit of a finicky crop.

Janelle has been transplanting and seeding at Mom’s farm.  Some of the vegetables with very small seeds (celery and celeriac, pansies, tomatoes too) get seeded in open flats and then are bare root transplanted into plug trays when they are the right size.  This is a very critical part of the growing season and so we are lucky to have someone we trust for this work for the first time!  In the past it was all Mom’s domain, but she’s busier this winter with Grandma duties.  Janelle also just cleaned out our “construction trailer”, which is our storage area on the farm.  A.K.A. where the junk goes.  We store things like trays, boxes, jars, bags, plug trays, bins, and tubs in there, and I didn’t have to do the clean up but I can imagine it was really gross and took a long time!

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I guess this is “helping”? At least she threw all the clean clothes on the floor, first!


That’s all for this week!  Remember there are still 4 WEEKS of pickups remaining if you are a weekly subscriber (Option A), TWO including this week if you’re Option B biweekly, and two for Option C biweekly.  C group, next week Jon will be filling in for me at the pickup so that he can meet all of you!  He subbed for me a couple weeks ago when it was B groups’ turn.

Have a great week & talk soon!

Teri 🙂

Week 12 Pea Shoot Program Newsletter

Hi folks!

This week is pickup for Option A & C groups– 1228 Rosser Ave, 4:30 – 5:30 pm on Tuesday!

If you’d like to place an order for any additional items to come with your Pea Shoots for next time: Here’s the link to the order form
You can use this same link any time you’d like to place an order!

New Items Listed! We now have some greenhouse salad mix and sunflower shoots available, and depending on the weather we will soon have some spinach, too.

IMG_4245Greenhouse Salad Mix: this is distinguished from our regular season salad mix because it is grown inside our propagation greenhouse, which is very small.  Tucked in amongst the trays of veggie seedlings is a variety of lettuces and asian greens that we grow so that we have some fresh greens this time of year.  We ask a higher price for it than our regular season lettuce due to the extra time, labour, infrastructure, and duration it takes to grow and harvest.  It is SO fresh and SO delicious, and ONLY available to our Pea Shoot Program members due to very limited supply.
(So, if any of you get wise and place an order now for your upcoming future delivery next week or the week after, that’s totally fine, we can always carry orders forward.  The salad will be distributed first-come, first served for orders and when I think we’ve reached capacity I’ll indicate it as sold out for the upcoming week.  Limit one per person for now and if there is any additional harvest I’ll bring it with me to the pickup.)

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Baby spinach in front right

Spinach will be along soon as well.  Each fall we try to fall seed or overwinter some small spinach, and some years it works out better than others.  In 2016, it got really warm in February, the snow melted, the seeds germinated, and then the spinach sprouted and promptly froze and died, and so we had no spring spinach that year.  Last year we hadn’t planned to have any as we were having a baby in early May, peak Spinach season, and figured that would keep us busy enough (and she did!).  Last fall, we let 2 areas that had been planted to spinach go to seed (“self seeding”, still the most effective way to ensure a spring spinach crop, despite our preference for planting in rows), and we also planted every week from early September onward, to ensure that we got the correct stage to make it through this winter.  Without knowing exactly what winter would bring, it’s hard to say whether germinated small spinach plants, or pre-emergence seeds, or full size mature plants are the way to go– each winter is different and so we put our spring spinach eggs into many baskets.  Now that the snow has melted, we are seeing lots of success.  Both self-seeded patches came back well, and 3 of our planted rows are doing great with small plants, and there are still 2 or 3 areas where we planted seeds that should germinate.  So, what I’m saying is, there will be lots of spinach this spring!

IMG_4419I hate feeling like a “salad nazi” this time of year, so hopefully the abundant spinach crop will balance that out.  Everyone and their dog wants a taste of our salad mix.  We are well aware and our long-term plans do include more spring production, we’re just not there yet.  So, this is when you get to rub it in your friends’ face that you’ve been dutifully eating your pea shoots all winter in the Pea Shoot Program!  Our members get first dibs.  Thanks for committing to our farm!  (P.S. Only Seinfeld fans may catch the soup nazi reference above, so if you’re not one, know that I mean no antisemitism with my comment…  Just a reference to a funny show, and an outdated joke that probably wouldn’t be written today.)

I’m well aware that it’s not only Pea Shoot Program members who read these newsletters, so if that’s you and you’re dying for Salad Mix– it probably won’t happen until our first markets in June, but we do have some plans for marketing our Spinach crop in the works and will keep you posted.  As it is outside of market season, we have to be a bit creative to make the most of our time.  As much as we love doing markets, we have to balance the amount of time involved, as it can quickly not make sense to sit somewhere hawking one produce item in the busy spring season.  It’s the same reason I don’t bring bags of pea shoots or beets or pickles or anything else to the Pea Shoot Pickup with me– the amount of time getting all that stuff ready just isn’t worth the small amount of sales we might glean on a Tuesday, and it’s definitely not worth a trip in on Saturday, especially taking into consideration that we will sell most/all of our produce through our existing channels anyhow.  So, there WILL be spinach in the world this spring and we’ll keep you posted!  As always, being on our mailing list is an important step: Click here to join it!

If you’d like to access any of the information from previous posts, you can always visit our blog on our website, as well as the Pea Shoot Page in our online Veggie Guide!


IMG_4420I thought it would be fun this week to share the page of our planting schedule from this week which shows all the crops that are being seeded this week.  Yesterday Janelle spent the day transplanting tomatoes into larger pots (potting up), to give the plants more space to grow for the next 8 weeks that they will remain in the greenhouse.  This year we are doing all that we can to have tomatoes earlier.  It’s a tough balance, because our space is still really limited until we have our second greenhouse put up (this year’s project but not useable until 2019).  Anyhow, that’s the part I truly love about farming: balancing what is possible with the dreams and goals of the farm, and working within the limits of time, costs, nature, etc that are inevitable to this industry.  I joke about having a “hobby farm” someday where things don’t have to make sense, but the reality is that I derive a lot of satisfaction from working within the framework of our business and making things work in a way that is profitable but still takes all of the impacts of our decisions into consideration.

Here’s the crops we are seeding this week in the greenhouse:

Lettuce Salanova – Premiere
Lettuce Butter, Adriana
Kohlrabi Early White Vienna
Kohlrabi Early Purple Vienna
Cabbage Lennox
Cabbage Storage #4
Cabbage Caraflex
Cabbage Red Express
Cabbage Napa – Minuet
Basil Mammoth
Basil Purple Ruffles

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Myrah trying out a tricycle for the first time on Sunday!  She loved it.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the pickup tonight!

Teri 🙂