Red Bag Contents Aug 16 & 17

Coming in the farm share red bags on August 16 (Brandon) and 17 (Rivers):

August 9 & 10 contents

Cucumbers, 1 – 2
Zucchini, 2 – 3 small
Celery, 1 head
Baby Carrots, bunch
Chard, bunch
Green Pepper, 1
Fresh Garlic, 1 head
Choice of Dill or Cilantro

Please be aware that this is our best idea of what we will be putting in the bags, but things can change before pickup day and so please check on your pickup reminder email for the updated, accurate contents. This is usually pretty close!

CSA Members please use this link & login to your account if you’d like to place an order for pickup with your red bag:
https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/vlc

Members of the public can place orders for pickup Wednesdays in Rivers using this link: https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/

Farm Update August 11

Spud the duck!

Hello, friends of the farm!

First, a photo update on Spud the duck, who has quickly surpassed the duckling stage and is now just a small duck. Still fuzz instead of feathers, so I expect he’ll be looking mega awkward very soon once those feathers start coming in! His abode is conveniently located near our patio, so we have had a few dinner parties with him nearby, to the delight of everyone. Our favourite is when he stretches out his legs or wings! (There are only nubbins, no wings yet, so it looks really funny and cute – think T-Rex arms!).

Here’s a couple recent views of the Barn field, facing North and South. We’ve flipped some beds for fall crops like arugula, radishes, watermelon radish, and turnips. The summer crops like zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant are behind, but coming along well now.

Cabbage, onions, and carrots in the main field

Our onions didn’t size up well this season, but I’m proud to say we did a great job weeding them and giving them everything we could to succeed! We were delayed planting them due to the cool and wet spring, and the cool summer wasn’t conducive to them growing big. But we have lots at least, even if they are small!

Paul’s Sweet Corn

My Dad’s sweet Corn is looking great! He’s got two successions of it, so we hope to have a nice long harvest this year. I never thought I’d see my Dad growing vegetables, this is something he tried for fun last year and really enjoyed it. He grew about half an acre last year which was a lot, so he scaled it back this year. If we have any of Paul’s Sweet Corn available outside of our CSA program, I’ll make sure to let those on our mailing list know!

Recently we’ve had a few people reach out who are missing our market in Brandon. This has been a tough growing season, and we’re happy that we are able to meet our commitments to our weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members. Even if we had planned to do markets this season, there just isn’t enough produce this year for it.

It has always been our goal to shift to supplying CSA members and not continue with doing markets forever. We really enjoyed the markets, and we also really enjoy not having that as part of our week anymore. Our market was more than the scale of our farm can handle, and we are finding that our CSA members and our public weekly pickup in Rivers are sufficient to sell all of the extra produce we have available. I don’t miss restaurant supply one bit, so happy to be out of that realm!

Markets are a ton of effort, and can be quite volatile — if it rains on market day, for instance, we can have a flop and not sell much of the produce we’ve worked hard to grow and get ready for market. There was a lot of wasted energy and veggies when we did markets, and with our new online order software we waste a lot less, especially time and energy, which are always the things in shortest supply on a vegetable farm in summer!

We did attempt to grow extra storage crops this year and hope to be able to offer some public pickups in Brandon later in the season. I will keep you posted!

Pickling pack!

Bulk Veggie Orders for Canning:

For now, we are taking orders for pickling cucumbers here. I’m not certain there will be enough tomatoes this year for bulk orders so I am not taking names for those yet, until the crop starts coming in. This year is the latest we’ve ever seen for many crops so we are not making any promises until we’re more certain we can fulfill them!

I hope you’re having a great summer!

Take care,

Teri 🙂

About your Veggies!

Hello Veggie Lovers!!

View of the North side of the barn field. We’ve flipped some beds and replanted for some fall variety. L-R turnips, watermelon radish, radishes, arugula, spinach, celeriac and celery, fall lettuce, basil, carrots, tomatoes

Coming in the Veggie Lovers Club farm share bags on August 9 (Brandon) and 10 (Rivers):

Romaine Lettuce, 1 head
Beets, small bunch with tops
Red Potatoes, 1.5 lbs
Kale, small bunch
Cucumbers, 2
Basil Plant
Onions, bunch of 2 white and 1 red with useable green tops

Welcome, Summer!

Holy hell it was hot digging potatoes on Monday! Luckily Aunty Jayne came to help for the day and made a huge impact on our day. We typically don’t finish preparing items for the shares until Tuesday morning*, but we managed to wrap up by just after 5 pm, even despite there being more items than average in the shares this week. A helping hand makes such a difference! The potatoes were the hardest part, they always are. Our soil is very heavy and we do all the digging by hand. We dig them Mondays and Wednesdays when they go in the shares, so I hope we can get at it earlier in the day on Wednesday. Definitely NOT complaining, we need as much heat as we can get if you ever want some tomatoes to go with that basil plant!
*That made it sound like we work through the night, we do not! Haha!

The basil plant was a suggestion on last year’s members survey. We’ve given them in the past in our Spring Shoots CSA program, and the member who remembered that said that she loved having basil for the entire summer, growing in her kitchen. I always laugh that we’re “sending basil plants home to die in your kitchen”: so if that becomes the fate of yours, know that it’s pretty normal! This was supposed to come with your first tomatoes, but those are a ways off yet, so we are sending it now because it’s ready for it’s first haircut.

It’s a mix of green and red (purple) basil that I seeded a few weeks back and Jon has been taking care of since then.

Where to pinch off your basil plant

Here’s a photo of where to pinch off the stem so that new leaves can quickly regrow! Make sure it has regular water, but allow it to dry out a bit between waterings (that’s a good tip for most things, if it’s constantly soggy it won’t be happy and you’ll have rot problems). Basil loves warmth and sun: A nice sunny spot in your kitchen is great. If it’s going to live outside, it should be potted up into a larger pot, as the one it comes in will dry out quickly in direct sun and heat.
If you don’t want the plant and all the obligation of keeping it alive, I’m giving you permission right now to snip the works off and throw the rest away and move on with your life! (I will bring some bags with me in case you want to part ways with the pot & soil at the pickup spot!)

Kale!! Try Buffy’s No Measure Marinated Kale Summer Salad or try our household favourite (which I have yet to make this year, and now I can’t stop thinking about):

If your name is Jenny and you just hate Kale and you’re done trying to make friends, then please know that I am also bringing a tub of Chard with me and you can sub it out if you like! I’m not bringing enough for everyone to choose this, but probably everyone reading this part of the newsletter who wants to! (And next week you’re getting chard, and we may do the opposite, bring some Kale for those who want to sub out). This option brought to you by: things I always think about doing that I now have a little extra space for and can execute! Yaaass!!

Our Kale this year is a mix of Green Curly, Lacinato (black/dino/tuscan) and Red Russian. We did a variety of different combos in the bunches. We didn’t grow a red kale this year because it looks nice but tastes like eating tree bark. (Red Russian is tender flat-ish green leaves with red stems. If you get a bunch of that you’re lucky, as there’s only one plant of that variety, and it survived 2 cutworm massacres earlier this season!).

The onions are a disappointment this season! They are very small and I believe the window for them to size up has really passed already. Some of our storage onions will be a decent size, but folks, we’ve got a lot of small onions to eat our way through this season! Fortunately there are lots of them. Lots and lots. I really hoped they’d turn out really nice this year, but we just didn’t get warm enough most of the summer, and they were delayed going in because of the wet spring. Onions are my favourite crop to grow, and we did a great job weeding them this season. They still taste great, and that’s what matters most anyway!

Cucumbers!!! Finally, some of the summer crops are hitting your bags. We’re mostly growing mini English (Katrina) cucumbers this season because they’re our favourite, but we also have some slicers growing, and some cool breeze (pickling type) coming too. If you’re interested in cucumbers for pickling, get your name on Mom’s list here.

View of the South side of the barn field. L-R Leeks, Chard, Broccoli, Zucchini, Watermelons, Peppers, Eggplant. I don’t think the Watermelons are going to make it, but the eggplant isn’t far off, and neither are the peppers! Also, I’m most proud of the lettuce cage storage I sorted out last week on the far right. It is so tidy and so nice to have them stored away already, but it does harken the end of lettuce season!

Our crops are looking good right now: Coming up soon you’ll see beans, eggplant, peppers, celery, and zucchini in your bags!

I hope you have a great week, see you at the pickup spot!

Teri 🙂

Pickling Cucumbers 2022

Jon and I didn’t grow many/any cucumbers intended for pickling this year, but Mom (Stephanie) did!

If you’d like to connect with some this year, please fill out this form and we will contact you when she has some available.

Our “Pickling Pack” is 8 lbs of pickling cucumbers plus dill, garlic and our recipe for $25

Orders will be filled based on availability of cucumbers. We will contact you when some are ready for your order and you can confirm if you are able to take them.

We really appreciate when people can take them when we call, the reason Teri and Jon aren’t continuing growing these is because it is a huge hassle to connect customers with cucumbers as they are available. Please note in the comments on the form if there are particular times that work better for you, or times that don’t work.

Pickling Cukes are $2.75/lb.
Larger Cukes for sliced/bread & butter pickles are $2.50/lb
Relish Cukes are $2.00/lb

Mom and Aunty Jayne and pickles!

August 9 & 10 Red Bag Contents

Coming in the Veggie Lovers Club farm share bags on August 9 (Brandon) and 10 (Rivers):

Romaine Lettuce, 1 head
Beets, small bunch with tops
Red Potatoes, 1.5 lbs
Kale, small bunch
Cucumbers, 2
Basil Plant
Onions, bunch of 2 sweet and 1 red with useable green tops

My Dad Paul is growing corn again this year. This will be in your red bags when it’s ready! He’s got two plantings staged to be ready at different times, so it should be in your bags more than once. Not ready yet, but soon!

Please be aware that this is our best idea of what we will be putting in the bags, but things can change before pickup day and so please check on your pickup reminder email for the updated, accurate contents. This is usually pretty close!

CSA Members please use this link & login to your account if you’d like to place an order for pickup with your red bag:
https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/vlc

Members of the public can place orders for pickup Wednesdays in Rivers using this link: https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/

About your Veggies

Good Morning Veggie Lovers!

Reminder that this is a payment week, if you chose to pay in 3 or 4 installments.
For the Brandon 24 week the payments are $200 (3) or $150 (4)
For the Brandon 14 week the payment is $127 (3)
For the Rivers 16 week the payment is $140 (3)
(If you chose 2 payments, your next one is due the first pickup in September).

Coming in the Veggie Lovers Club farm share bags on August 2 (Brandon) and 3 (Rivers):

Carrots, extra large bunch
Peas, Shelling (peas in the pod) 1 lb: 4A Farms, Winkler
Green Garlic, bunch
Fennel, 1 head
Leaf Lettuce, 2 heads, Red & Green

If you’re not sure what the heck to do with fennel, check out the entry in our Veggie Guide about it! I share the recipe that made me love it, Fennel Orange Salad. Fennel is a very aromatic veggie that tends to enhance whatever flavour you pair it with. So even if you just chop it and add it to a salad, it’ll add a fresh flavour and a nice crunch. And don’t waste those tops! They can be used in salad dressings, to flavour soups or stocks, or try this fennel fronds pesto recipe.

Peas! These come from 4A Farms in Winkler.
We won’t have any more for a couple weeks, and we have some left that I’ll bring to the pickup tonight in case you want to pick up some more. The uptake on peas wasn’t great this week and so we can’t justify driving to pick any more up for at least a couple weeks. In the bigger picture, now that we’re not doing markets we hope to just grow more of these kinds of crops ourselves and avoid having to outsource.

Jon says my carrot bunches this week are at least twice the size of a standard bunch. I say, Good! We’re happy to get you a generous portion of carrots, finally! They are still on the small side (most of them), and we’ve now used up about 10% of our plantings.

Cabbage, Onions and Carrots in the field

Carrots are a tough crop mainly because of the weeding and timing of weeding. If they get weedy at the seedling stage they can be easily overtaken. They’re at the seedling stage at the busiest time of our season and so it can be tough to make sure we get to it, as well as all the other planting and seeding we are doing then. We have a system for weeding them as soon as possible weekly with a hoe, and then picking the weeds from the row twice before harvest. We did pretty good on weeding this year, but only have 3 sets of staggered beds (9 rows each). There is a spray that other vegetable growers use, it kills everything but carrots — As fun as that sounds sometimes, I prefer to skip the chemicals and do it with love and my labour.

You’ll want to pop those carrots off their tops when you get them home and store them in a plastic bag or container. You may find some dirt in the middle of the bunch, they were big and hard to wash! We give carrots as a bunch because we can bunch them in the field and it’s an easy format to wash, and then we can skip weighing & bagging. The tops can also be used to make a pesto, and one of our members adds them to her salads. They taste like carrots, but stronger. If you’re really into “root-to-stem” eating, try this sauteed carrot tops recipe! (also, you have permission to chuck them and move on with your life! Or leave them with me at the pickup spot and I’ll compost them for you.)

Green Garlic is garlic that hasn’t been cured yet. In this case, it’s also from a row that I planted last fall of garlic that didn’t fully mature and form heads. They had started to form cloves inside, but hadn’t separated and so I re-planted a row of them and they came up as clumps this spring (as I had expected they would). I did this intentionally so we could let our large garlic grow, but still have some garlic to sell and eat until it was ready. We will be doing our garlic harvest in the next week or so, and it looks good so far. I’ve been worried about how wet the field is all season, so I hope it isn’t affected and still cures well. We are sourcing our seed from somewhere that had better growing conditions than we did this year, as garlic is very susceptible to disease, and my heart tells me not to re-plant ours this year. Only time will tell: we hope to have a good crop this year, and it looks good so far!

I keep cringing a bit and asking, “tired of lettuce?” at the pickup, and across the board I’m hearing, “Nope, I love salads!”. So, I hope that is the case for all of you! If you’re tired of lettuce I’ll try to have some good trade options today. This week’s lettuce is just a couple heads, and they’re not huge. Lettuce still attached to the core like this lasts far longer than lettuce mix, so if you don’t eat it right away it should keep at least a week, or two.

Eventually we won’t have any lettuce, and we are going to start having some gaps when we don’t have any available.

Coming up soon in your bags are the summer crops: They got the message that it’s August, and time to hurry the F up! Cucumbers are starting to be on in a bigger way, and zucchini is going now. Eggplant, celery and peppers are coming too. Basil looks amazing for next week. Cabbage is weeded and has no excuse not to grow anymore (it’s been really behind this year!). Tomatoes and corn (grown by my Dad Paul) are on track for later this month. There are melons, but I don’t know if they’ll make it. Pray for them, and for the squash! Jon did a bunch of seeding last week after we flipped some beds, so there will be some fall radishes, arugula, spinach, if the weather cooperates. I’ll keep you posted!


Farm Update:

I spent more time at the beach than on the farm this past weekend, which was awesome! Every Thursday and Friday I wake up intensely grateful that we don’t have to prepare and execute the Friday market. We only have about 70% of our fields planted this year due to the spring flooding, and find that’s all we can really manage anyway. It’s working out really nicely to have the CSA, plus the orders from CSA members and the public order option on Wednesdays. I thought we would have to keep doing markets forever, and I’m so happy that we don’t. I love them, but I’ve been at it for 22 years in a range of different places, and I’m just done with it.

This weekend we went horseback riding (Myrah’s first time) at Lucky Break Ranch.

I was never a horse girl, and in fact I’m really just afraid of them, and she wasn’t that into them, either. I think had Jon been there she may have found the horses more interesting! At least we went with friends, so there were lots of people to take turns riding.

We got some more visits with our friends who live in Texas this weekend, and then they headed home. Today my Auntie Joan arrives in Manitoba from The Netherlands! We are really looking forward to spending some time with her over the next couple weeks.

We added a new life to the farm yesterday! Some hens went broody and Jon put some eggs under them. 21 days later, we have a little peeper in the henhouse! Hopefully a few more have hatched overnight or will today. This is our first time hatching our own chicks.

Spud the duckling is doing well, growing quickly and moved into a new house on Sunday. I hate keeping him in a jail cell for his own safety and I look forward to the day he can fly away from the farm and be independent. Until then, he’s pretty funny and nice to have around! We installed a couple pools in his yard, and he spends all day swimming.

He is less fun at 10 pm when I’m trying to get him to go inside for the night! He has grown a lot and I can barely catch him now.


I hope you had a great long weekend, and I look forward to seeing you tonight at the pickup!

Teri 🙂

Meet Spud!

While digging potatoes Monday, we were annoyed by a loud & persistent peeping sound. “What kind of bird is that?” Jon pondered. Suddenly, I had a realization that it was much closer than we had first thought, and walked a few steps away to find:

A duckling! He was alone and stumbling through some weeds, peeping loudly. We caught him easily, named him Spud, and got a home set up for him. We have no idea where he came from — mother ducks sit on clutches of a dozen eggs, and it’s common for ducklings to wander off and get eaten, only 2/12 generally make it to adulthood. He is a baby Mallard we think. We hope he makes it and can fly away from the farm once he grows bigger! Until then, I guess we have a new pet to care for. Quack, quack!

Here’s a video of Spud swimming in our bathtub!

Red Bag Contents Aug 2 & 3

Coming in the Veggie Lovers Club farm share bags on August 2 (Brandon) and 3 (Rivers):

Spud the duckling and Myrah

Carrots, extra large bunch
Peas, Shelling (peas in the pod) 1 lb: 4A Farms, Winkler
Green Garlic, bunch
Fennel, 1 head
Leaf Lettuce, 2 heads, Red & Green

Please be aware that this is our best idea of what we will be putting in the bags, but things can change before pickup day and so please check on your pickup reminder email for the updated, accurate contents. This is usually pretty close!

CSA Members please use this link & login to your account if you’d like to place an order for pickup with your red bag:
https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/vlc

Members of the public can place orders for pickup Wednesdays in Rivers using this link: https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/

About your Veggies

Hello Veggie Lovers! In today’s red bag:

Beets, Red bunch with tops
Snow Peas, 1/2 lb (edible pod), Ours & 4A Farms
New Potatoes, 1 lb
Green Onions, bunch
Lettuce Mix, 0.5 lb
Daikon Radish, 1 – 2 roots
Herb choice*, small bag/bunch (Dill, Cilantro, Parsley, Mint & a few others!)

The beets we prepared for this week’s shares

Tips for this week:
-Make sure to store your beets, daikon, and green onions in a container or bag in the fridge so they don’t wilt!
-If you still have head lettuce from last week, plan to eat your lettuce mix first. Head lettuce keeps longer than lettuce mix as the leaves are still attached to the core.
-Plan to eat the beet greens as well as the roots – they are in the same family as Chard and are even more delicious, in my opinion!

Daikon is a type of radish that is white, long, and milder than the red round radishes. I like to enjoy it in stir fries, on top of salads, or bowls. It can be thinly sliced with the vegetable grater or just chopped.
Here’s a link to some ideas and recipes for Daikon Radish!

Last night’s supper. Most night’s supper. We throw a bunch of veggies, some rice and protein into a giant bowl and add dressing, sesame oil or olive oil. I keep soaked & cooked beans or lentils on hand, rice or noodles, and cooked meat (this was a pork roast) so this is easy to throw together. This bowl also contains Chard sauteed in garlic scapes, green onions, and butter; Cilantro; the very first Broccolini (passed the taste test with flying colors!); we topped it with sesame seeds and a dollop of sesame oil and some soy sauce. This took 10 minutes to prepare (with some advance prep to have beans, rice and meat ready to go) and was so, so delicious!

We’re happy with the selection we’ve been able to offer in the red bags this season, and we hope you are too! I know there’s been a lot of lettuce, hopefully you are enjoying it, or you’re able to share with a friend or neighbor if you need to.

Member Kelly wrote to thank us for putting mint in last week’s bag because she loves it with new potatoes. That’s what inspired the “Herb Choice” in this week’s bag! Fresh herbs are a simple way to make your veggie preparations delicious. We have Dill, Cilantro, Parsley, Mint (and if you’re not into eating herbs there’s Catnip, too) to choose from. Dill goes well with potatoes and beets. Snow peas and mint would be an excellent combo, or try Kelly’s fav, mint & potatoes. If you make a lot of curries or spicy foods, you might need some cilantro in your life! Nothing beats fresh parsley, I love making lentil salads with tons of parsley, almost like tabbouleh. All of them are great in salad dressings, too.

Thanks to Megumi for this lovely photo of last week’s red bag contents!

Field Update:

In the field the other day, Myrah noticed some bugs on a potato plant, which we quickly determined to be Colorado Potato Beetle (Great job, crop scout!). We’ve battled that pest at Mom’s so we are well acquainted. They just hadn’t found us yet, but we knew it was inevitable that they would. Last year I found a few but squished them and they never became an issue, so we went for it and had a gross hour squishing beetle larvae (The worst is when you get squirted in the eye, and it really hurts, too, ask Myrah!). The next day and subsequent days we’ve not seen very many at all. We were pondering how they pupate yesterday while digging potatoes, and then I found some pupating in the soil and so we will have a losing battle soon (the adults will lay eggs faster than we can squish them). At any rate, there are some organic-approved controls that we will look into for next year, but this year’s potato crop is already sufficiently mature that they won’t be affected likely.

Our potato crop is decent this year, but the yields per row just aren’t there yet so we are still giving out smaller portions for now. It will increase as the season progresses and they grow! They are so delicious and buttery. Worth all the larvae squishing!

While digging your potatoes, we were annoyed by a loud & persistent peeping sound. “What kind of bird is that?” Jon pondered. Suddenly, I had a realization that it was much closer than we had first thought, and walked a few steps away to find:

A duckling! He was alone and stumbling through some weeds, peeping loudly. We caught him easily, named him Spud, and got a home set up for him. We have no idea where he came from — mother ducks sit on clutches of a dozen eggs, and it’s common for ducklings to wander off and get eaten, only 2/12 generally make it to adulthood. He is a baby Mallard we think. We hope he makes it and can fly away from the farm once he grows bigger! Until then, I guess we have a new pet to care for. Quack, quack!

On Sunday I made another field tour video to show you how things are growing, you can check it out on YouTube here (16:40):

Thanks for reading, enjoy your veggies, and have a great week!

-Teri 🙂

P.S. Happy Birthday to our friend & veggie lover Henry, who turned 2 on Sunday! Pictured here fist bumping Jon. (If you have a little veggie lover with a birthday and want to send me a photo for the newsletter, please do!)

Field Tour July 24

I managed to figure this out a second time, so here’s an updated video of the fields on July 24, 2022!

Overall, things are looking good, considering how extremely wet and cool it has been this season. Definitely behind from a typical year. About 30% of our fields aren’t planted this season due to the wet spring conditions. Fortunately we only committed to our CSA members this year, so there has been just enough veggies to go around!

Members of the public can make orders for pickup weekly on Wednesdays in Rivers via our online store: https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca/

We had hoped to offer some public pickups in Brandon starting in August, but we still don’t have enough additional produce available to offer this option yet. Stay posted on our newsletter or this blog!