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!

Upcoming Red Bag Contents

Brandon bags and orders packed and ready to go, July 19 2022

Coming in the Veggie Lovers Club farm share bags on July 26 (Brandon) and 27 (Rivers):

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

*Fresh herbs make everything taste better! This is an optional item, but we highly recommend using fresh herbs with your veggies, it makes all the difference!

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

Coming in the red bags on July 19th & 20th:

Chard, bunch
Baby Carrots, small bunch
Mint, a few sprigs
Garlic Scapes, large bunch
Choice* of: Snow Peas (edible pod, 1/2 lb) or Shelling Peas (1 lb)
Butter Lettuce, 1 head
Romaine Lettuce, 1 head

*It will be a choice so long as people make different choices, if everyone chooses the same then we may run out of selection and then you’ll get one or the other. I’m actually not sure which type is more popular, so we’ll find out!

We had a great pea harvest on Monday, way more than we expected! What a difference an abundance of moisture makes for those crops. The tomatoes are also loving it and growing fast to catch up. So, we’re offering a choice between snow peas and shelling peas today at your pickup. Snow peas have edible pods and are great for fresh eating, stir fries, etc. Shelling peas are the ones where you eat the peas inside. I’ll be asking at today’s pickup which one you’d like, please make sure you get your peas!

We do plan to have more peas available once we can source some from our pea grower in Winkler. They are starting picking this week!

I meant to tell you last week that you’d be getting more garlic scapes this week. This is it, we got them all harvested (finally!) yesterday! They last for a really, really long time in the fridge in a container or plastic bag, and are a great sub anywhere you’d use regular garlic. Some of the ones this week got a bit away on us, so you may find some fibrous stems (the straight part, not the curly part). I save the tender tops for when I’m cooking and chopping them up, and I use the fibrous stalk for stocks (stalk stock, get it?!). I’m hoping the gigantic scapes translate into gigantic garlic later this season.

It smelled so good in the pack shed when I bagged the mint yesterday! For years Mom and I have attempted to establish mint in our gardens. It’s literally a weed that most people can’t get rid of, and we just couldn’t ever get it to grow more than one season. Mom took a cutting from a friend a couple years ago and now has gorgeous mint in her garden! I was looking after their place when they were away last week and I helped myself (on your behalf!).

So, what do you do with it? Mint and peas actually pair really well together. You can also use it in/as tea, or in cold drinks like iced tea, lemonade (or even plain water!) or get some limes and rum and make a mojito! It’s also a really great herb to add to a fruit salad, that’s a tip I learned from Buffy last year!

Here’s 15 ways to use fresh mint!

More lettuce! It’s been a great growing season for lettuce and it has thrived when many other things haven’t. I hope you’re not getting tired of it yet! This week you’re getting both as heads, and unwashed as our head lettuce always is. This is because even if we wash it — which is a HUGE messy job for us — you’ll still need to take it apart and wash it at home to get the dirt inside the head. Plus, us washing it at the farm shortens the shelf life. I recommend washing your lettuce a day or two before you want to eat it. I usually take apart a butter lettuce head, wash it, spin it dry, and leave it in the spinner in the fridge for our lunch lettuce wraps (and yes, we eat those most days in butter lettuce season!). With Romaine, you’ll find it benefits from being chopped & washed, then dried and crisped in the fridge for at least a couple hours (as opposed to washing it immediately before use).

Peak lettuce has passed,: you’ll still be seeing it in your bags, but less so as more crops are coming into fruition now. P.S. Isn’t the Romaine awesome?? Literally no one mentioned a thing last week, and it’s not a type we typically grow as we usually find it doesn’t do well for us. It sure did this year! It was a good year to try it.

Chard is such an underappreciated veggie! We love it chopped and mixed into rice, and it’s great mixed into a lettuce wrap filling (try ground meat or lentils, rice, and chard in a butter lettuce wrapper!). Or just saute it with butter and garlic (scapes). It’s also a great sub for cabbage in rolls. Or try this CSA favourite recipe from the last farm I worked on (kids usually like this one!):

Do I need to say anything about fresh baby carrots?!?!

One thing: wrap them in plastic or place them in a container when you put them in the fridge! That goes for anything that we skip bagging (ie turnips, radish, beet bunches). Just because it doesn’t come to you in a bag, doesn’t mean it can handle your cold dehydrator without protection: We just can’t bag every single item each week. Chard and carrots are stored in a container in our cooler overnight and then placed in your bags just before I depart. If you put them straight in your fridge without a bag or container, they will wilt and dehydrate and be very sad and inedible very quickly.

Post harvest handling of veggies is an important part of what we do. It can make the difference between something getting eaten or not! If you need more info about how to store your veggies, most items have an entry in our Veggie Guide and I’ve provided storage tips as much as possible. A good general rule is: put it in a bag in your fridge!


Put me in a bag!

We have had such a great summer, and all that time we used to spend at markets has been easily filled with visits from old friends! My longest friend Casey (Leonard/Smithson) and her family visited this week from Texas: She was maid of honor at our wedding 8 years ago. We haven’t seen them in 3 years and have daughters the same age, so it was SO nice to reconnect. We spent the weekend visiting at Rivers Campground & Beach, and our farm.

I hope you’re having a great summer, too!

Take care and see you at the pickup!

–Teri 🙂


P.S. For those who are reading this but may not be in our CSA, please know that you can place orders for weekly pickup in Rivers through our online store: https://brown-sugar-produce.localline.ca

We may do some public pickups in Brandon in August, but as of right now we don’t have much additional produce outside of our CSA program. We will wait until there is sufficient supply to make it worthwhile for us to add a second weekly pickup in Brandon.

Peas: Why we buy in

Nothing beats fresh peas in the pod!

Peas are an incredibly popular crop. When we were doing markets, we could easily sell 400 lbs of peas in 4 hours. For some perspective, I can pick around 20 lbs an hour if the picking is good. This year we’ve got 2 rows of peas and they yielded about 20 lbs from the first picking. In order to share 1 lb of peas with every CSA member, we would have to pick every 3 days and save up 3 – 5 pickings worth. Our small farm team of Jon, Myrah and I plus our lack of space for succession plantings of peas makes buying peas in the best option!

Also, picking peas is one of our least favourite jobs to do on the farm. I love picking beans and so we grow most of what we can sell on that crop. (Myrah loves picking peas, but gets about a pound into her pail before she just starts eating them! She eats about 3:1 what she picks, so we would really need to grow a lot to benefit from her assistance!).

To ensure we can supply both the volume, quality and freshness that we need, we buy peas in from 4A Farms, James & Andrea Friesen located in Winkler, MB. They took over the pea operation from Marcus at Covenant Growers/Dead Horse Cider last season, and it was a really tough growing season so I’m happy to hear that they are doing it again this year and the peas are almost ready!

We’ll have them in our CSA members Red Bags and in our Local Line store for pre-order, and available for order pickup to Rivers every Wednesday. If you are interested in connecting with some, send me an email!

Ironically hugging the peas! Peas don’t agree with me, so I don’t eat them, and I don’t enjoy picking them, so this picture is kind of ironic. I DO love how much others love peas! Specialized growers like 4A grow shorter varieties that don’t require fencing like these ones do.

July 19 & 20 Red Bag Contents

Whoops, I forgot to take a photo this week!

Coming in the red bags on July 19th & 20th:

Chard, bunch
Baby Carrots, small bunch
Mint, a few sprigs
Garlic Scapes, bunch
Snow Peas, small bag
Butter Lettuce, 1 head
Romaine Lettuce, 1 head

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

Coming in the red bags on July 12 & 13:

Last week’s share contents

Garlic Scapes, bunch
Romaine Lettuce, 1 large
Lettuce Mix, 0.5 lb
Hakurei Turnips (white salad turnips with edible tops), 1 bunch
Baby Dill, small bag (Grown by Mom!)
New Potatoes (Red) 1 precious pound

As I write this for you, my back aches from digging all those precious new potatoes yesterday. We’re not thrilled about the yield, but the flavour is there and we wanted to eat them and share them with you, so we went for it. We planted a boatload more than usual this season, hoping to have more to go around, especially at this time of year! And dill to go with, that’s the BSP way!

Hakurei Turnips

TURNIPS!! We grow these every year and rarely get more than a handful of success, which immediately sell out at the markets. NOT THIS YEAR! We have a beautiful turnip bunch for each and every one of you. They are buttery and tender and I hope you love them! (But we’re not great at growing them, so don’t get too attached to them, haha!). I like to cook the roots and tops together, simmering the roots in butter and a bit of water in a fry pan, and then once those are mostly cooked, adding the tops and more butter and maybe chopped fresh garlic scapes or dill. They also work on the BBQ or in a foil pack or added to other veggies you’re roasting. They’re more like a radish than they are like a rutabaga (those big yellow storage turnips you might be picturing).

Garlic Scapes in the field!

Garlic Scapes are the seed stalk of the hardneck garlic plant, which we remove to encourage the plants to focus on root development (read: big garlic heads!). They seem extra juicy this year due to all the moisture, I was dripping with garlic juice while harvesting them! (It kept the mosquitoes away too, haha!). The saying is, “Things that grow together, go together” and we’ve always found that to be true! Use the green stalk chopped up anywhere you would use storage garlic, and the mild green flavor goes well with those tender early summer veggies! I use this in place of garlic in every recipe at this time of year, our garlic doesn’t store this long (or has been planted already) so it’s all we’ve got, and that’s fine by me!

I expressed a goal this year, “to smother our members in lettuce wraps filled with lettuce mix and a side of caesar salad” and we seem to have had success! If you are feeling as though you are getting a lot of lettuce, you are! If you contrast it with the very little that we sent last year, hopefully it kind of evens out. By July last season we had multiple crop failures standing in the field, it was just too hot, and we lost many plantings after doing all of the work other than harvest. It kinda sucked, so we are happy to have more lettuce than we know what to do with this year!

The culprit of stomachaches

Seasonal eating is like that, you’ve got to eat what there is and be grateful for it, knowing that it isn’t always available! Case in point, Joanna’s boys sickened themselves on strawberries last Thursday when we went picking. We reflected “maybe we should have stopped them”, but then decided that it’s a good lesson, but also a completely natural thing to do, when faced with oodles of delicious seasonally brief delicious, juicy berries. I don’t know if you can sicken yourself on salad, I’ve never reached that point yet!


I try to judge how much to write in this newsletter based on engagement, and there hasn’t been much this season so far, so I’ll keep this short! (crickets chirping lol)

Please always feel welcome to share recipes and things you’re doing with your veggies. People say they love getting recipes, but I’m a veggie grower, not a chef, and we mostly enjoy really simple preparations for our food. Grabbing recipes off the internet that I haven’t even tried feels disingenuous to me. You can search Google as easily as I can! I really have the urge to let go of some of the things that don’t serve me, feeling like I have to provide a recipe every week is one of those things. I do keep all of our favourites here on our website!

I like to keep lots of options on hand for lettuce wraps and buddha bowls at this time of year, that’s what we eat the most. Janelle and Eric popped in for supper Saturday night and we had a mountain of lettuce wraps: ground beef mixed with rice and chopped asparagus and herbs and spices, plus peanut sauce and cilantro. It was simple and delicious, the way I like my meals in summer. Starting with fresh ingredients means you don’t need to work so hard to make it taste good! We had a kale salad last night that was just kale rubbed with sesame oil and a bit of salt and lemon juice with seeds and raisins.

We had an ice cream break on harvest day!

Things are going oh-so-smoothly on the farm this year, we feel like we are following the right path for this season and it’s paying off in us enjoying more what we do (which I scarcely thought was possible!). Thank you for being along for this journey, we feel that growing for 100 families is the right fit for our farm, our energy, and what we want our life to look like. It’s really thanks to members feedback that we’ve been able to get to this place – initially, we never expected to sell additional veggies to our members, but over the years it’s become so popular that we now have software to execute it, and that has changed how we market extra veggies as well. The crops we grow are directly impacted by your feedback. For instance, one person mentioned it was nice to get a basil plant during tomato season, so we have those growing and planned for an upcoming bag!

Thank you for loving and supporting our farm, our family, and our veggies!

See you at the pickup spot!

–Teri 🙂

The Strawberry on Top!

2022 Strawberry harvest at Grand Valley Strawberries, Photo by Joanna

Our dear friend Joanna and her family visited us on their way back from Michigan this week. We went strawberry picking: I highly recommend it! (though I noticed GVS are picked out for this weekend!) We got 9 boxes filled in just a few minutes and a few row feet, then processed and into the freezer the same day. It was epic!

We had a great visit and it increased the joy that we put into weeding after they left on Friday! Part of the reason for pulling back on doing farmers markets this year was to have more space in our lives so that if someone happened to be passing through we’d actually get to visit with them, so it was nice to practice that (otherwise all time fills in with weeding these days!).

9th basket free! Photo by Wojtek

It’s always nice to have people visit the farm: It helps me to see the farm with fresh eyes. Even though we express daily gratitude for where we live, I forget how exciting the continual stream of traffic at the hummingbird feeder is, how terrible the mosquitoes are when you’re not used to them (and even if you are!), and what it feels like to eat yourself sick on strawberries!

Paper mulch on the cukes

Other than that, we’ve been weeding as much as we can these days and trying to stay on top of it so the plants can thrive. Many things are stunted and behind this year, like these cucumbers that just got mulched yesterday. Jon tried this method last year and after he applied it, it all ripped and he was certain it wasn’t going to work, but then it ended up being a repeatable method this year! It’s literally just kraft paper we bought on a roll, it’s not even that thick, and it works to suppress the weeds while the cucumbers grow vines and then it eventually dissolves into the soil. It means we won’t have to weed the cucumbers, which can be a really tough job once they grow vines. When we do slightly tedious jobs like this one, I channel future Teri, who is grateful for the effort spent today which prevents having to spend time in the future.

I also applied plastic mulch beside the zucchini, so we will have a good path to walk on when picking it. It’s one of the heavier lifting jobs on the farm so it’s important to make it accessible.

You can see the previously weedy state of the cucumbers from this photo from yesterday morning! I was peeking at the broccoli which is looking good. We have a couple funny variety names this year, that one is “Happy Rich” and the zucchini is “Gold Rush” and “Cash Machine”. I call it our “get rich quick” veggies! (There’s no getting rich on growing zucchini, unless you consider volume of harvest the metric, which I do!)

I’ve added some exciting new items in the store this morning that you’ll want to check out! 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/

Mom’s kitty Geronimo and Myrah

Have a great weekend!

T 🙂