Update: Rivers Pick Up

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Fam jam at Rivers beach May 20

Some Background & a Story about Limiting Beliefs:

When we moved to this community from Nova Scotia, I didn’t know a soul.  I grew up in Brandon, moved away to go to University in Calgary in 2004 and then met Jon and we moved to Nova Scotia to go farming.  We returned to join Mom’s veggie growing business in 2015 and moved onto the property of a family friend Sherman Myrah, just south of Walker’s Greenhouse, about 10 minutes East of Rivers.

I’ve always thought Rivers was the perfect little small town, and I have fond memories of camping here and being out in the lake in my Dad’s houseboat.  As we’ve settled in this area and expanded our family with the addition of our daughter Myrah in May 2017, we’ve gotten to know a few more people, fellow RELC daycare folks, and our neighbors, which I really enjoy.

We operate our business here and we live here and our daughter will go to school here.  Community is important to us, and we are proud to be part of Westman, and more specifically, Rivers community.

It was my eventual goal to offer a veggie pickup location in Rivers, but I expected that we were still 3-5 years out on knowing enough people to reach that goal.  It was a limiting belief that prevented me from even trying.  But in the meantime, my friend Chris asked about farm pickups this year, and I thought long & hard about it before saying No — our produce is grown near Rivers and I’ve often felt that it’s a shame that there is no way for people in Rivers to access it without having to go into Brandon: Especially in these current times.  We already have a couple members who live in Rivers but pickup in Brandon.  So I told Chris that I would reach out to judge interest, and in the meantime she rallied a lot of you, and you rallied others, and so here we are, less than 48 hours later with a full list.

Sometimes your thinking is keeping you from trying.  This story is proof that it’s important to expose and challenge any limiting beliefs that you may be holding onto!


Thank you: It’s safe to say that Rivers’ pickup is a GO!  

Thanks to everyone who filled out the form and submitted their email address as interested!!  I’ll hold a space for everyone who has already filled it out, but we do need to cap it at 20 members so any new submissions (after Friday May 29) will be pending an availability of space.

I can tell from a couple of the questions that some of you were so excited about this potential opportunity that you (maybe, possibly!) skipped reading the Membership Guide – For the next steps please make sure you read that, it tells you how we operate, the expectations, the price, and all the other little details.  This program is about building solid relationships with each other and we want the people who are the best fit.  Things run so much more smoothly when we’re all on the same page, and I put a lot of effort into communication.

It sounds like Wednesdays will work for most of you, and we think 6:30 – 7:30 is a good window, as it allows commuters time to get home and we can fit it into our schedule.  The 1-hour window is longer than necessary because we like to chat with members and get to know you, so that is built-in time for connection!
Unfortunately we can’t offer any alternative options at this time if that doesn’t work for you. Knowing your farmer in our world means that you’re picking up your bag from and talking to the actual people growing the food that you’re eating.  We love people but unfortunately growing veggies monopolizes most of our time in the summer, which is why we set up these specific connection points for folks to get our produce, which are game changing for us in terms of efficiency and capacity.

For more about why we do CSA on our farm, please see my post “A CSA is a Promise”

Just a note that we usually do registrations in February.  Right now is peak planting time for us, so I am not able to be on the computer much and if I’m ever a little slow to reply please be patient!

We planned to grow for 80 CSA members this year, but will be at 100 with the addition of Rivers pickup.  So….. If there is a crop we run short on, we may need to substitute something else for you.  You will always get your full value of veggies but it may have to differ slightly from the Brandon bags this year due to our last minute adaptation of opening up this option!

We offer a “Mini-Market at the Pickup” for our Brandon members and we expect to be able to offer that as well as optional pre-ordering of additional veggies to come with your bag for our Rivers members, though the deadlines will be the same (place order by Monday 9 am for Wednesday).  Executing orders of fresh veggies is complicated and so we need the orders first thing in the week so we can build our harvest plans.  Basically we hope to provide the same service as we do to Brandon members but we will judge as we go.

If you would like to sign up for the 24 week CSA you are welcome to, just note that the 10-week fall option will need to be picked up in Brandon on Tuesdays.  Please select both options when you are registering and note that the total is $580 plus $20 deposit for the 24-week program (not whatever the separate 14 & 10 week programs add up to.)  If there are enough people registered for this we may consider continuing with a Rivers fall pickup, but just know that as of this time we are not planning to.


More about CSA and Why we chose to expand to Rivers this year:

CSA stands for Community Shared/Supported Agriculture.  It is basically a veggie subscription that means that you are signing up for a weekly share of the harvest from our farm, picked up from a central location in town.

It differs from a market, in that each week we have the same customers coming to get their farmer-selected bags and they have essentially “pre-paid” for their veggies and agreed to take them regularly.  It is not affected by bad weather or national crises in the same way as a market is vulnerable to this.

Our markets in front of Lady of the Lake have been building, especially in recent years, and we are well supported there.  However, COVID-19 has changed the world and many farmers markets across the country (including in this province) are reporting decreased attendance.  We are staying positive that our market sales will be strong this year and that people will continue to visit us with the necessary public health protocols in place.  However, we can manage and mitigate the risks that are inherent to marketing in this way by opening up more spaces in our CSA, and since we’ve always wanted to expand to Rivers anyway, why not now?

By doing this, we are shifting to more income from CSA and less reliance on the income from markets, which is much less risky for our farm as we move forward in the new normal.  Our CSA members are our friends, neighbors, and cheerleaders, and most importantly they are our security net in an otherwise uncertain time.

Thank you for being a part of this new direction, and we look forward to navigating it safely with you!


Next Steps:

  1. Please ensure that you have read the Membership Guide on our website. 
  2. Once you have read the Membership Guide and confirmed that the pickup time will work for you (Wednesdays from 6:30 – 7:30 at a central location in Rivers TBA), please proceed to the Registration Link provided to you via email.

  3. After registering, you will need to submit your $20 deposit by June 15 to confirm your space.  I call this a confirmation “handshake” and it helps me confirm that my list is correct and that people are following along. (Yes, this is a test!!)

I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have after reading the Membership Guide before registering and I will make sure to be more present on the computer in the next few days.  Send me an email at sales@brownsugarproduce.com or we can set up a phone call date!

I’ll be in touch again soon once you all fill out the registration form and are officially registered.  Thank you and I look forward to having you in our CSA this season!

 

 

Rivers: Additional Veggie Lovers’ Club Pickup??

Hi folks!

*UPDATE MAY 30: We had so much interest that we have filled up our Rivers list already!  You are welcome to still add your name to the list by filling out the form on the bottom of this page and if someone who was in the first round doesn’t claim their space then we may be in touch!  Sorry if you missed it, I didn’t forsee this happening, read this and my next blog post for more info!

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Teri and Jon: your local veggie farmers!

Yesterday I posted a question sticker on Instagram to collect interest for a pickup in Rivers.  Truthfully, a good friend was asking about a farm pickup and I felt bad saying No when I know that my long term goal is to have a pickup in Rivers… So I thought it wouldn’t hurt to reach out and see if this is something we may be able to achieve as early as this year.

I had a lot more interest than I expected.  So, first, I am contacting each of you who expressed interest to share the next steps.

The world has changed, and CSA (Community Shared Agriculture, basically a weekly veggie subscription) is really well adapted to physical distancing, and also a good way for us to mitigate the financial impacts & risks to the farm.  It’s a very real possibility that we will see a decrease in our market sales this year.  At the same time, we’re growing the same amount of veggies we were planning to grow and have felt an increase in awareness about buying local.  CSA is a commitment from you to accept our weekly harvest, and a promise from us to deliver you a weekly harvest.

The reason I want a CSA pickup in Rivers is because it’s the closest community to where the farm is located and we already have a few members who live there, and I want to get to know more people!  Jon and I believe in community: the more people that are rooting for you and supporting you, the more sustainable your business.  I love sharing food with people and there’s a lot of great folks in Rivers.  If you’re one of them, keep reading!

If you truly do want to participate, the next step is to Read our Membership Guide so you know how it all works and confirm that it will work for you.  

If you read that and are still a yes, some things we need to consider:

  • If we were to do this, I would prefer if the pickup time could be on Wednesday evenings around 7 pm, but that’s a bit flexible and we can discuss what works for us and for everyone.
  • We will need a centrally located pickup spot in town… Any suggestions?
  • At no point will farm pickups be possible.  We are firm about not having people on the farm because we live and work here and it quickly gets out of hand.  This boundary is necessary but makes me feel a bit “unneighbourly” because of course I want to say Yes, I just know it ends up being a burden and a point of disorganization for us.  We are a small team running at full capacity in order to serve as many people as possible and focus on doing our job tending veggies with love and positive intention. That takes some space!
  • I would prefer that if we do move forward with trying a Rivers pickup this year that it be for the 14-week period only.  If you want the 24-week bag, please be aware that the final 10 weeks would likely need to be picked up in Brandon.

If you have any friends who may be interested, please forward this info along to them, as the more people that we can get the more real of a possibility it becomes!

Finally, if you are at least 90% sure you want to join, please add your name and email and any questions you may have to this form so I can easily contact you in the near future when we make a decision about this:

Thank you!  I find this really, really exciting, and I hope we can make it a go this year!

Veggie Lovers Club: May Farm Update

Hi folks!

Just a quick May check in here!  I’m going to be sending out payment reminders to those in the Veggie Lovers’ Club who I don’t have deposits from yet this week and so I wanted to have a little update ready too.
$20 Deposits are due June 1. I will be sending out a reminder today (Tuesday May 19) to those that I haven’t yet received, so do look for that and if you don’t see it you’re probably good!  83% of you have already sent it, thank you!!!

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Farmer in training

Things are going really well on the farm with spring start up.  We’re on track with all of our seeding and planting so far.  The season is proving to be a bit later than usual, but it always catches up at some point.  I picked (and ate) the first asparagus Sunday!

We are resuming optional weekly pickups with our Spring Shoots Program members as of May 26th.  The first 2 weeks (May 26 and June 2) are reserved for those members only as we have just a trickle of things starting to be ready.  We may continue Tuesday pickups through June if there is enough produce, we will keep you posted!

Our markets in front of Lady of the Lake will begin Friday June 12th from 10 – 2.

Our Veggie Lovers’ Club 14-week and 24-week programs begin on Tuesday July 7th.  (I will remind you approximately 3 more times before it starts!)
Last month’s Survey Results: PICKUP TIME Extended to 4 – 6 pm (see below for more info)

The rest of this update is optional, because I know we’ve all got enough stuff to read these days!


Farm Update

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Jon holding up a tomato transplant

How are things flowing for you?

This time of year is kind of a nice ramp-up, as we are just raising plants, planting, and seeding and not also fitting in weeding, harvest and markets to our days.  It makes for more ability to go with the flow, which is really nice for Myrah.  Sometimes she helps us work, often she plays near where we are working.  Washing trays is something on the to-do list for today that I know she will enjoy.  We use the kiddie pool and the hose and it makes it more fun for me, too!

At the same time, I miss the gratification that comes with regularly seeing the people we are feeding.  When the workload is heavier I really need that regular motivation!  So I look forward to getting back in front of the public, safely.

Today I’m having a computer day, which sucks a bit because it’s going to be nice, so I hope to cram it all into a couple of focused hours this morning and then take Myrah outside.  That kid never tires, even when we run her all day long.  I need to do accounts payable and get some emails ready to send post-long weekend.  I was intending to do all this yesterday but instead *squandered* my kid-free Sunday (thanks Grandma!) by doing yardwork all day!  It was fully worth it, I sat down in front of the computer for one minute and just felt like it was the last thing I wanted to do in the whole world, so I cut and ran!  Got all my flowerbeds ready for planting, including working in horse manure to all of them.  Did some landscaping with sand and rocks and landscape fabric around our patio. Watched the hens on their first day outside.  I don’t plant many flowers, my “flowerbeds” mostly contain herbs, edible flowers and vegetables.  Not that I have anything against flowers, I just know I have limited time to water them in the summer and so I want to set myself up for success.  If it’s food I’m more likely to remember to water it: Zucchini is a beautiful plant!

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First market’s lettuce crop

Today Jon will be preparing Section IV for planting by applying compost and tilling, and starting shoots, and taking care of the greenhouse and shoots, and getting a couple raised beds ready for planting carrots. We visited Mom’s place on Saturday and helped plant potatoes with Janelle, who has gotten some of the soil ready for planting at Mom’s and started setting up the irrigation system.  Things are rolling along really well for spring start up this year!

We decided against Myrah returning to Daycare this season, as we think it’s more socially responsible to keep that task within the farm team while we are operating.  So, you’ll get more kiddo spam than ever before as we navigate this growing season as a family.

I’ll be sharing some of our covid-19 protocols closer to the first pickup, but we are confident that we can make the execution of the CSA work quite easily and in a safe-for-everyone manner.


Last month’s Survey Results: PICKUP TIME Extended to 4 – 6 pm, and please be in touch with me (sales@brownsugarproduce.com) if you work until or past 6 and are interested in an alternate option.  There were a few of you who expressed that you work late and the later time would be better, but the majority say the earlier time is better for them and I agree, if only because I get groceries after the pickup.  I’m a very routine person and so I thought we can either work out an alternate pickup location, or a plan for getting your bag to you each week if you regularly can’t make it by 6.


I posted this on Instagram last week and I thought I’d share it in this newsletter as well.

STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY

This time of year, people tell us how busy we are constantly. “I’ll bet you’re busy!”

“Busy” is an interesting term: I find it somewhat triggering post-burnout. When I was at my “busiest” I got far less accomplished because I was overwhelmed all the time, stressed, inefficient, and making silly mistakes caused by a crippling workload. It’s not even worth mentioning the personal life because there wasn’t any: Zero balance.

3f85a103-1808-4969-8f9f-1d9958b2342d“Busy” is never my goal: Flowing is always my goal. In this business we scale back our ambitions until our workload is manageable and there’s enough space for life, too. It’s the only way to keep what we do sustainable in my opinion.

Because you’re not buying cheap commodity crops from a weary, disgruntled farmer. We’re selling the dream: happy farmers growing veggies with love. In order to have the space to achieve that in an authentic way, we CAN’T overload ourselves.

There are seasonal ebbs and flows. Spring is the time when we set the tone for the coming growing season. Inspired by positive changes and their impacts last year, we are starting off strong with an emphasis on “the INTENTION with which you DO the work, IS the work”.

Prioritize Being over Doing. And definitely prioritize Being over Being Busy! For many, “busy” is just a form of numbing.

Disclaimer: I stand on the shoulders of the many ahead of me who had to struggle and work hard and didn’t have the immense privilege to step back and examine the meanings of how we describe our work, and I am endlessly grateful for them and also for the task of finding a new way forward.

The words we use to describe our lives matter. Personally I’m going to *try* to stop assuming others are busy, and instead ask “how are things flowing for you?”


Thanks for reading, I hope you had a great long weekend and I hope you have an awesome week too!

Take care,

Teri 🙂

May Farm Update: Re-opening & Dates

Hi folks!

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We had a team meeting last week to discuss our plans for re-opening and for selling veggies this season.

Our Veggie Lovers’ Club CSA Program starts in July and it is full.  The method we use to distribute our weekly CSA bags is well suited to physical distancing and we will communicate with our members closer to the time with our plans to meet requirements.

But the big news is: Our public markets in front of Lady of the Lake will go on! 

Currently (May 11) the shop is open for appointments only and the cafe is closed, but that will change as we go so please check with Lady of the Lake for current details as to their status.

We plan to have our “Soft Opening” market on Friday June 12th from 10 am – 2 pm.

We won’t have tons of produce for the first market, but we are going to start so that we have time to refine our systems and processes before our peak busy season (late June/July).  We invite you to come visit us, but keep in mind there won’t be corn or tomatoes yet, and that we’ll be being very careful to keep everyone safe.

Jon, Janelle and I (Teri) will be executing the markets this year, and Myrah and Stephanie will be holding down the fort at home.  I am really going to miss having Mom at the markets, and I’m sure a lot of you will too, but this is the best way we could figure it out this year.

We will be parked in front of Lady of the Lake, directly West of the little barn building.

If you are immunocompromised, self-isolating or quarantining, or unable to visit us in the lineup, we can accommodate small amounts of pre-orders for curbside pickup (and possibly delivery).  Please email us at sales@brownsugarproduce.com if you will require this option.

The biggest thing we need you to know right now is this: The health and safety of our family, farm team, and customers is of utmost importance to us.  It’s impossible to predict what is going to happen: We may have to shift the way we do things as we go through our season if things change, and we will keep you posted if we do. 

Make sure you’re on our mailing list so you stay in the loop with what we’re up to, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram


If you were part of our Shoots Program that was postponed on March 24, we owe you some credit and check your email for a message about 2 exclusive pick up dates we are holding for members only!

Please feel welcome to be in touch with us if you have any concerns, comments, suggestions, or feedback.  Or even if you’re just lonely and want to say Hi — I miss you, too!!

Thanks, take care, and I look forward to seeing you — from a distance — soon!

Teri 🙂

 

 

May 6th Farm Update

Hi folks!

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Hi!!  Here I am planting onions last week!

Just me here, doing field yoga and keeping the blog up to date with our spring start up activities!

This week I placed an order for some of our market sanitation supplies from Progressive Sanitation in Brandon.  I was very happy with the help I received over the phone as to what we need to be compliant, and very happy to know they are well stocked and discouraging hoarding.  I’ve always wanted to patronize this local business as I’ve heard really good things, so I’m grateful we have a reason to now!

We’re having a team meeting this Friday to discuss execution of markets, and so we have checked in with some of our “partners” like Lady of the Lake and our pea & corn grower Marcus, and we are good to go on those fronts.  We will follow recommendations for physical distancing and sanitation, and likely offer some sort of curbside pickup option.  It’s hard for us to know where things will be at 5 or so weeks from now, but we’ve got to move forward as though we’re going to operate because we’re growing the veggies for market already!

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Myrah turns 3 this Saturday, Jon made her this playhouse

Taking orders is a bit of a stumbling block for us.  We used to allow it at markets, but we found that we didn’t have the time to assemble the orders, and because items come from both farms it’s complicated and can’t be done the night before.  We have a bottleneck on Friday mornings, with more to do than there is time for before the markets as it is.  And I’ve been burned a few too many times with people not picking up orders, which is annoying to us and wasteful as we usually can’t resell the produce. So, we will offer it for some, but it will be limited and it may need to be on another day other than Friday.  More details to come on that in the near future!

I checked in with our 2020 Veggie Lovers’ last week as well.  Our program is full for this year, with the most members we’ve ever had.  We are still able to squeeze in a few friends and family if you are an existing member, or if you were in the past and want to re-join, please be in touch.


In the fields: We had a nice slow melt at mine and Jon’s place, and some of the fields are dry enough that we can get out planting already.  We always schedule the planting for the last week of April but it’s more common that we delay it.  So it’s nice to be on schedule!

We made good progress transplanting onions last week but now it’s too cold at night so we’re on pause again.  We grow our onions and leeks as plugs which reduces the transplant shock and helps them grow bigger, plus it’s easier to transplant them.  But they need a few nights of mild overnight temperatures to get established and move through the shock of going from the babied tray to surviving in the field.  There’s lettuce and chard waiting patiently for warmer night time temps so they can move outside, so hopefully next week turns around!

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Watering in the greenhouse

Mom’s place is still too wet for field work, so it’s nice that our start up is staggered.  It always feels better when we have seeds in the ground, even if they’re just sitting there, letting the weeds get ahead of them and waiting for the right conditions.  We did our part, now it’s their turn!

So far we’ve planted carrots, beets, onions, shallots, radishes and spinach in the field and the pepper, tomato, celery, celeriac, lettuce, eggplant, herbs and chard transplants are looking good in the greenhouse and awaiting their time.  Potatoes are chitting (sprouting) in the shed to hit the soil next week hopefully.  We’re careful to wait until it’s warm enough to avoid having them rot.  Since we’re paused on planting we’re focusing on the other jobs like setting up irrigation, preparing beds and soil, and weeding (yes, already!) right now.


Lack: An Unwelcome Farm Guest

This week a fellow grower (Ashley at Root & Sprout) talked about the sense of “Keeping up with the Joneses” that happens at this time of year. Her words resonated for me so much. I think this is particularly an issue for us Northern climate growers, because we have to experience FOMO for months before it’s time to plant here.

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My lovely friend Jocelyn’s peas popping up!

Last week I saw a photo of a dear friend’s peas popping up in Nova Scotia, and the first thought that went through my head was “fucccckkkk youuuuu!!!” It will be a month, at least, until we have peas at that stage. For perspective, I don’t compete for market share with this person, and I’m actually super stoked she’s having an amazing spring start up with her new partner, and we’re in a totally different growing zone over here.

So why the harsh thoughts?

I’m all about connection and community, and I believe there’s space for ALL OF US in the marketplace, plus lots more! But Lack rears her ugly head this time of year, and whispers that we’re behind and we’re not doing a good enough job, and that can devolve into a counter-productive negative thought spiral, which feels like competition but is really rooted in Lack, with Comparison fuelling the fire.

Because we are all just doing what we do, and that is enough, in and of itself.  We have unique situations, different climates and microclimates, different goals and dreams, different hurdles.  In the same way that it doesn’t make sense for me to compare my growing ability with someone in California, because we have completely different EVERYTHING– it also doesn’t make sense to do it with local growers, because we are all doing our different things for different reasons, too.  We’re all doing our best with the tools we have available, and there’s many ways to get the job done, and we need to support one another.

So I limit my social media consumption heavily at this time of year, and I just keep on putting one foot in front of the other to get the work done.  I tell Lack that she’s wrong, and I dropkick Comparison, and instead work to cultivate Community and Collaboration, because they serve me better in the big picture.

We all proudly display our accomplishments, especially when things are going well.  I’m as guilty of that as anyone here!  I can’t control what other people post, but I can take note of how it makes me feel, and disengage with it when I need to.  I have a personal rule that every time I have a “lack” thought when looking at someone’s post, I either have to find something encouraging and nice to say, or I have to unfollow them.

If you can’t say anything nice then get it out of your life, it’s not serving you.  Don’t let Lack and Comparison run the show.

I am enough.

You are enough!


Thanks for reading!

Take care, Miss you, and talk soon!

Teri 🙂

Stinging Nettles

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Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in swampy places and riparian corridors along
streams throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. They resemble a
mint, though they’re in their own botanical family (the Urticaceae). They’re easily
identified by their pairs of deltoid (slightly triangular), dentate leaves (oppositedecussate in orientation), with fine spines covering the stems and leaves.

Apart from the slight fact that even the very young plants sting, nettles are a wonderful
ingredient to use in soups, pasta dishes, frittatas—basically in any cooked dish where
you would use young spinach. They’re certainly worth the slight challenge involved in
picking them, for they are rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, flavonoids, histamine,
and serotonin—all the great chemicals one needs to reenergize after a cold winter and to
combat Spring allergies.

The stinging power of nettles is instantly dismantled when they’re cooked (and by
cooked, we mean anything from pureeing into a soup or quickly steaming/blanching the
leaves). What you’re left with, once the scary stuff is out of the way, are delicate greens,
with a flavor like a spinach-cucumber hybrid and so many nutrients we don’t even have
time to list them all. Nettles have long been used in natural medicine for their antiinflammatory properties, and they have the added bonus of tasting delicious and not like medicine at all. You can really use nettles anywhere you’d use cooked spinach, and
we’ve collected a couple of easy recipes for you to try!

Stinging Nettle Recipes (Soup, Pesto, Fritatta)
Some Ideas for Nettles: Use in green smoothies | Enjoy a simple sauté with garlic and
butter| Blanch and freeze for easy future use in stews and soups | Enjoy healthful nettle
tea brewed as a simple infusion by pouring boiling water over nettle leaves and steeping
them for as little as 15 minutes or as long as overnight. | Substitute for cooked spinach in
recipes | Create a lustrous hair tonic by steeping nettle leaves for 2 hours and applying
the cooled liquid to the scalp | Pairs well with goat and other creamy, strong cheeses |
Great in savoury tarts, crepes, and egg dishes | Nettle Beer | Nettle Pesto | Create Nettle
Vinegar by adding nettle leaves to organic Apple Cider Vinegar and steeping in a dark
place for a few weeks

Teri’s Notes: 

I love nettles!!

  • I  usually start finding nettles in mid April or so, depending on the year.  They tend to grow in certain places on the farm but the best ones are in the woods.  The first ones are always in a full sun spot.
  • I actually don’t wear gloves to pick anymore!  I find the stinging doesn’t bother me and it helps me to stay present in the task.  However they do sting kitty toes and toddlers too, so choose your picking companions wisely.
  • The sting can be removed by cooking, blending, or vigorous washing.  Don’t eat nettles raw unless they’re in a smoothie!
  • The reason I love nettles so much is because they (a) taste good and (b) they’re ready before everything else and so they’re all I’ve got to eat and talk about at this time of year!  I often feel like I need to limit myself on the early spring crops like spinach, so because nettles are in great abundance on the farm I tend to gorge on them.
  • Nettles are just what your body needs after a long winter.  Eating the right foods at the right time, aka seasonal eating, is an important rhythm for us.  Thanks Mother Nature!
  • Be careful to snip or pinch off nettles, not pull them, so you can continue harvesting and leave some for others.  Later in the season there is a caterpillar who favors the nettles, so I like to pick into an open basket and leave it out for a while to allow them to crawl out.
  • If you go into the woods to pick nettles, please don’t be an asshole. 🙂

Make sure to check out all the Nettle info from previous years, including more recipes and preparation ideas, right here on our blog!

Veggie Lovers Club: April Update

Hi folks!

Please see 3 important things in BOLD, the rest is optional!

img_6570Wow, what a different world it is from last time I wrote to you!  Apologies for the delay, I didn’t really have any news or changes to share and so I’ve just kind of been waiting until I did.  But I realize that many of you might be wondering about the status of our summer program that you are signed up for, so I wanted to check in now!

Firstly, rest assured if you are receiving this email this morning, you are on our list.  If you’ve paid your $20 deposit then your spot is secured.  If you still need to pay your deposit you can e-transfer it to sales@brownsugarproduce.com or mail it to us at Site 520 Box 40 Brandon MB R7A 5Y5


Farm Update: 

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Keep bloomin’!

We postponed our Spring Shoots Program as of March 25th at the halfway point.  We discussed it as a family and decided that was where we felt comfortable.  Things have settled out a bit since then as we all adapt to the new normal.  The microgreens crop overages that were already in process and time sensitive storage veggies were donated to Samaritan House and all members were given credit to be used at a future date.  We plan to fulfill the credits this spring and summer, hopefully.

 

*Hopefully.  Disclaimer that basically anything I say in this newsletter is subject to change, because there’s no way to know where we’ll be at in a couple months.  So, I am trying not to make any promises that won’t be able to be fulfilled.  

Other than that, things have been rolling along smoothly for spring start up and it looks like the weather might actually turn now.  I’m renaming April to “Wait” so I remember next year: It has felt like a lot of waiting this year more than ever!  Both greenhouses (one at each location) are in use and once the soil dries we’ll be popping in those onions.  Jon and I have worked at field cleanup this week, all the things we left “for spring when we had more energy”, because there’s so much to do in the fall and it’s true, I’m thrilled to remove plastic mulch these days and I was NOT in October.  

VeggieLovers

CSA pickup July 2019

Our program is completely full and we pulled less than a handful of names off of the wait list this year.  We are serving 80 families, but we do have the capacity to increase that slightly, so if you have friends or family who may want to share pickups with you this summer, those are our ideal candidates – please feel welcome to send us their names (email me their names and email address please!).  Less people picking up multiple bags will ease the burden at the pickup spot while we work to follow physical distancing guidelines and keep everyone safe and well.

We anticipate market sales will be impacted and so we do want to shift a bit more volume into the CSA to make up for that.

 

One of our members, the wonderful and amazing kale-hating Jenny, is known to sign up her friends and co-workers, and I joked that there could almost be a button on our form for “Jenny pick up”.  She regularly leaves with 2-4 additional bags!

On that note, if you know anyone already in the Veggie Lovers Club that you may be able to share pickups with, it might be a good idea to put a plan in place for that.  Maybe alternate pickup weeks?

I’m unsure if we’ll be able to offer the mini-market at the pickup this year.  But– if you want to add on to your CSA membership right now, you can sign up for a second weekly bag, or if you want to extend your 14 week membership into a 24 week (or 10 week fall into a full term 24 week), we can do that too – send me an email!
If circumstances have changed for you and you need to cancel, please let us know.  

We WILL be extending the Tuesday pickup window by at least 1/2 an hour, and I need your feedback to know which way you prefer: 4 – 6, or 4:30 – 6:30?  
Click here to share your answer with us!
I will consider the comments just as importantly as the deciding vote, especially if it’s a matter of a different time making a significant impact on your ability to make it to the pickup, so please let us know if that is the case for you.


Eat Local.
aka Teri rants for a while & shares some Myrah photos…  Optional reading!

img_6735I’m a bit conflicted (and truthfully, somewhat annoyed) by the sudden attempt of everyone to embrace eating local.  The reality is that we can’t just pivot and start growing more veggies and supplying more customers this year.  As was always the case, our farm is not in growth mode as one of our shareholders is in the process of retiring.  I DO hope this is the beginning a long-term increased awareness of local supply chains, and a realization that we need local producers to feed us, not multinational corporations.  There’s a hell of a lot of required infrastructure & labour availability needed first, not just the willingness to buy of the general public.

You guys were all buying local before it became cool in the pandemic!  You know what’s up.

img_6701The past few weeks I’ve received a number of messages and emails, most of them panicked-sounding and rude, asking for price lists and to join our CSA and to come out to the farm and pick up.  Most of you know me well enough to know how I feel about that!  We SO appreciate the commitment that you have made, year after year, to our farm.  Demand for what we produce has always exceeded our capacity, and I’ve always told people that the best way to guarantee your veggies is to join our CSA.  A CSA is a Promise.  Our CSA members are always our #1 priority, so regardless of what the world looks like in July, we will do our best to fulfill that promise.

I’ve always felt like I needed to be a gatekeeper for the farm, and my parents call me the “Vegetable Nazi” (like the Seinfeld Soup Nazi) because I’m usually the one who sets the boundaries of what we will do and what we won’t (we discuss plans as a team and I deliver the “No” to things that don’t fit).  I’m not afraid to say No to people if it doesn’t work for us.  The reward for a few little No’s has been great: We have more balance in our lives and efficiency in our business than ever before, and believe me, it’s necessary so that we can make a living doing this.

450fe2b1-f743-4138-81cc-2b57e2245300NO, We WON’T be building an online store, hiring a bunch of staff, ramping up production to meet demand.  Not now, not ever.  It’s just not the kind of farm I want to run or live on. I hope we see many more veggie growers and local farms pop up in Westman as a result of this.  There is lots of room in the market for more!

There are many online ordering systems that come at great cost and purport to save admin time, but we already have strong systems in place for that, and our bottleneck in small-scale veggies is freshness, not organization.  It’s impossible for me to know exactly how many of an item we will harvest before we do it: We basically harvest to order.  It’s too complicated to get payment first and it’s been common that when I allow someone I don’t already have a relationship with to place an order that they don’t show up.  Those veggies are wasted and I’m mad.

I also want to spend LESS time on the computer, not more, BUT the reality is that when I administer the orders we get to keep that income, not pay it out to someone or software.  Plus, as much as I hate it, I’m super organized and rarely make mistakes.  It’s imperfect but it works.

img_6736So, we recognize that we will definitely try to implement a contactless pickup option for our market, it will only be available if we know you or it is pre-paid, and it will be very limited in order for us to be able to execute it.  You will all have the option to place an order to come with your Tuesday weekly bag as always, and *likely* the same option for the Friday market if you wish.

It’s always been my dream/long-term goal to have less customers but have all of them be “heavy users”.  If we could get just 50 customers to give us $2,000.00 each year it could work, and how cool would that be?  It would take commitment from people to take lots when there was lots available, do some freezing and canning and preserving.  But maybe things are shifting in a way that might make us able to go this route.  Just dreams for now!  (If this is your dream too, let me know!!  Pilot project??)


If you read all the way to the here and you have an appetite for more, then click here to read the past 4 week’s newsletters (most have been adapted to Instagram posts already).  The Shoots Program was postponed, but I kept writing the newsletters, and I plan to continue publishing weekly blog updates to keep in touch, so check back soon!

Please feel welcome to be in touch with us!  It’s not full-on outdoors for me yet so now’s a really good time.

Take care, stay well, and look after each other,

-Teri 🙂