Category Archives: Uncategorized

Holidays Dec 13 – January 28th

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We’re taking a break and so won’t be checking messages regularly or posting on Instagram or Facebook until February!  If you need to be in touch with us please send an email to sales@brownsugarproduce.com

Our Spring Shoots Program begins March 3 and registration is currently open on our website, click here for all the details!

Members’ renewal registration for our 2020 Veggie Lovers ‘ Club CSA Program will open in February.

If you’re not a returning member but would like to join the program please make sure your name is on our mailing list (Click here to join!) and watch for more info in February.
Details about the program can be found here on our website.

Thanks, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  See you in February!

-Teri 🙂

 

Teri’s 10 Topics Blog Series #10: Why we do this and the path forward

MyrahPiePumpkinThe Grateful Farmers

This year it finally clicked for me that you are what you practice most, and I had been giving attention to the wrong things for too long.  So I shifted.  Instead of talking about problems or people, I talk about what I’m grateful for.  I talk about my successes.  I focus on the good, and that gives it life, and the good gets better. It didn’t take long for my entire perspective to shift to a more positive one.  We need more positive farmers out there and I’m proud to be one!

At the same time, I identify less and less as a “farmer”, in a community where we’re at best demoted to “market gardeners” and surrounded by large scale agriculture that doesn’t speak to our souls at all.  We don’t fit in, and I am proud of that.  Around here we’re the weirdos with that vegetable subscription program and a goofy van.  People who get it, get it, those who don’t aren’t my community!

MusqueWhy We Do This

Health, Community, and Lifestyle are the three things I love most about growing vegetables.  By doing this as our occupation, Jon and I get to live the way we prefer, in the country growing food.  We have a community of people that believe in us and support what we do so we can earn a living doing this.  As a side benefit, we get the physical exercise and fresh veggies we need to eat to be healthy, and we get to share healthy nourishing food with our community.  It works, and it fills our hearts, too, which is the most important.

Community Supported Agriculture has been a great fit for our farm, and I love the members we have gotten to know over the 4 years our program has run so far.  They have started to feel like part of the family and I feel some security in an otherwise insecure occupation like farming, knowing that these folks will support us through the good times and the bad.  2019 was a really fantastic year for us, and I’m so happy to have been able to share an amazing harvest with these wonderful folks.  By being the ones to hand our produce directly to the consumer every week, we naturally build lasting relationships.  It feels right and it feels fulfilling and rewarding.

Jon attended the pickup with me last Tuesday because it was my birthday, and he always comments on how good it makes him feel to see all the members and hear about how much they are enjoying the veggies, and how supportive they are.

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Teri and Stephanie of Brown Sugar Produce sell fresh produce to customers during their setup in the parking lot of Lady of the Lake on Friday afternoon. (Colin Slark/The Brandon Sun)

An Intentional Business

I love our lifestyle, and I love that we are the ones in control of how we live and how we do business.  Limiting our marketing to one market and one CSA pickup each week allows us the time and space we need to do a really good job of our CSA vegetables and our market.  It currently takes us about 1.5 days to prepare for our weekly market and about the same for our CSA.  The vegetables don’t magically grow themselves like the weeds do: So it takes another 3 days a week at least to keep up with all the production work, admin work, and actually being at market and the pickup spot.  We are committed to not taking on more than we can do well and we aren’t interested in supply chains that take us away from being the one to hand our produce to the final consumer.

We’re careful not to upset the balance of lifestyle which includes sufficient time to enjoy life, even in the busy season.  What is a life if you’re not enjoying it as much of the time as you possibly can, including the category of “work”?  There’s a lot of jobs on the farm that aren’t particularly fun or enjoyable, but as a piece of the whole they are worth accepting.  Acceptance is really powerful and has helped me to find the difference between things that are worth doing and things that aren’t.

The Path Forward

img_9780Our path forward next year isn’t anything ground breaking: We want to keep doing this, it’s still the path through life we find most exciting.  For next year we won’t be making many changes, riding on the coattails of a year where things flowed really well.  Janelle is staying on the team and we even included her in our seed ordering this year.  We want to continue to work with growers like Marcus, George & Barb, and Jody to supplement our offering, and we are open to others.  We are hopeful Laryssa will return to help with market prep on Thursdays.  We don’t plan to expand the CSA because we haven’t gotten our limiting factor — water — sorted out in a way that we are confident we can increase membership and still not run short in a poor season.  We were thrilled with our market season and are hoping to push some additional labour to the market next year if we can.

Especially while Myrah is young we aren’t taking on more than we can easily handle for now.  So many other things are more important than working all the time: We live modestly and don’t want for anything.

What I’m Most Grateful For

0q2a1315Here’s a hint: you know this person better than anyone else in life.  It’s YOU!

I’m most grateful for the people who are part of what we do and so invested that they even read most of my blog posts.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to feel heard.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to share healthy food with others.  I’m grateful that what we do for a living also sustains our souls, and aligns with what my heart tells me is right.  When I look around me, there’s countless things to be grateful for, and when I think of all those smiling faces meeting our van every week to pick up veggies, it fills my heart.  This is rewarding in a way that I think few things are these days, which is why we are so happy to keep on doing it!

The Next Few Months

SnowmanFor the next 6 weeks, Jon, Myrah and I will be away on a holiday to California and to visit Jon’s sisters and their families in Seattle and Calgary.  We find the winters too long and so it will be really nice to break things up, especially with an active toddler. Mom is hosting her family’s Christmas gathering this year and she and Dad plan to visit a friend in Arizona sometime this winter.  I am working on an online writing course this month and next and taking my annual social media break, which I always look forward to.

2020 will be our 20th year in business! Garlic and some experimental spring overwintering crops are already in progress.  In February we will open registration for the 2020 Veggie Lovers’ Club.  All of our 2019 members get first dibs on the spaces for next year, spaces for friends of members & those registered in our Shoots’ Program have second priority, and after that we’ll open up some 8 week spaces for new members if we feel there is space.  In March, our Spring Shoots CSA Program begins at Chez Angela Bakery and Cafe.  By March we’re into full on seeding mode in the greenhouse, so another season is not far off!

We feel blessed and grateful to be able to share what we love with you.  Thank you!!

December 10th Veggie Lovers Club Newsletter

VeggieLovers

A pickup in July!  Looks a little different these days.

Hi folks!

This is THE FINAL WEEK: Week 24 of our 24-week CSA!
Thank you for being along for the long haul.  We appreciate our full-season dedicated members the most of all!  You’re the local food heroes, who support local even when you have to make a weekly commitment for half the year and trudge through ice and snow to get to us!

Your newsletter is complete below, see you at the pickup tonight!  Jon is coming with me and it’s going to be COLD, so we’ll need lots of smiles and visits to keep us warm.  I literally am planning to wear my snow suit.


Pre-Orders are closed for the season!

Thank you to everyone who placed pre-orders this year!  It has turned into a significant part of what we do and I really enjoy it.  Will definitely be repeating that aspect of the CSA next year.


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

 

Your December 10th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Week23

Last week’s bag!

Pea Shoots, small tray
Carrots, 8 lbs UNWASHED*
Red Beets, 5 lbs UNWASHED*
Leeks, 2 lbs
Winter Squash, 1 large or a couple small ones, choice at pickup! (Choices will include Delicata, Winter Sweet Kabocha, Hubbard, Musque de Provence, Pink Banana, Red Kuri, Sunshine Kabocha, Buttercup)

THANK YOU for washing your own produce on the final week.  Unwashed veggies typically store better for longer, and it greatly reduces our workload for the final pickup.

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies this week:

99befa2e-4128-4c70-af1c-56c0d3450106WE DID IT!  (To the tune of the Dora song, which is on repeat around here these days.)

We made it to Week 24!  Jon asked me if I remembered groaning on Week 1 about committing to half a year of weekly pickups, and I totally do.  But this year was absolutely, positively THE BEST year of Veggie Lovers’ Club ever!  A huge part of that is your positive attitudes, reliability on pickup days, communication with us, and excitement about the veggies and what we do.  So, THANK YOU!!  We are riding high after a fantastic year and will probably just float our way to CA after this.  (You know, or struggle and fight with our 2-1/2 year old, what are we thinking, lol!).

I haven’t been calculating the value of the bags lately because it’s been less about making sure we get you your full value than it’s been making sure we distribute all the crop excesses before the season ends!  It makes no sense to me to store 40 crates of Leeks and then eventually throw them away.  So, we doubled up the amounts the last couple deliveries, and we’re sitting in a perfect spot right now, there are only large squash left (for restaurant clients typically), 3 crates of Leeks, 1 bag of Celeriac and lots of carrots and beets (which will store just fine).

Feeling overwhelmed?  You very well might be.  One of the “things” we have to be careful about with CSA is not being too generous, even in crop abundance years.  The #1 reason people cite for leaving CSAs is “not making good enough use of the food”.  People know the effort that goes into growing the veg that we grow, and it really tears them up inside when it goes to waste on their clock.  If this is you, don’t despair!  Maybe you could share with a friend or neighbor if there’s more than you will use?  As someone who regularly “vegetables” people, let me tell you, people get really excited when you give them vegetables! Or, you can be decadent and throw away those leek tops with abandon, knowing that by accepting the leeks into your home you are saving them from eventual composting here.  You’re doing Teri a favor.  Thank you!

The “actual” value of this week’s bag is $48!!  (Your cost was $25).  We always beef up the final bag a bit so it can carry you into the future a while.  So, I hope you enjoy some of our veggies into the New Year!  (FYI, I’m totally traveling with veggies.  I’m a veggie snob and there won’t be any good markets until we get closer to our destination.)

Need resources for growing the tray of Pea Shoots at home?  They’re right here, on our Pea Shoot Page in the Veggie Guide!

How to wash carrots and beets: In the winter, all of the veg gets washed at the kitchen sink.  This year we got a laundry tub to make life a bit easier, but in the past when we used the actual plumbed-in sink, we would always try to first scrape all the mud and dirt off of the veggie into the compost, trim both ends, and then soak for 15 minutes in room temperature water.  Use a brush or a scrubby cloth to scrub clean.  Dry thoroughly (on the counter on a towel, you may need to flip them once) and then store in a plastic bag with a couple of holes in it in the fridge.

You probably don’t want to put ALL that mud down your sink, but I also know that we think about plumbing differently out here.  If it backs up it’s our problem!

8 lbs Carrots and 5 lbs Beets is a nice big portion for you to store for a while in your fridge. People ask all the time the best place to store veggies, the easiest answer is always the fridge.  It’s temperature controlled and so it’s not like your garage or porch where you might find the right climate for a while, and then forget and find a bunch of frozen disappointing carrots later.  Squash likes it warm, it will rot in the cold!  Leeks should be completely wrapped up, even the tops, and stored in the fridge.  The Pea Shoots can be cut and regrown, or just cut them and compost the container and store the shoots in the fridge if you don’t want to bother with regrowing!


Some Results from the 2019 Veggie Lovers’ Club Survey

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Jon washing Celeriac this weekend

I haven’t had a chance to sit down and score the lists of “Less of/More of”, but based on just reading through the surveys, they seem really balanced.  In any year you’ll get the same answers for both question!  i.e. Some people say too many carrots and others say not enough.  If that happens we know we’re doing well, keeping everyone happy all the time isn’t possible!

I tried to drill down to some topics of interest this year and I was pleased that you are most interested in Recipe Kits (like Hello Fresh) and Farm to Fork Dinners.  I am really good at planning stuff, and I secretly hoped we could host a Farm to Fork Dinner next year, so we are going to try it out and see how it goes!  More info to come next summer!

The Recipe Kits, well, I’ll probably reach out to some friends in the nutrition realm, and I will definitely be asking those of you who indicated interest what that looks like to you.  Because I’ve never used one and I want to make sure we check all your boxes if we’re going to try it!  So, watch for an upcoming feedback survey asking for more detail about that!

img_1615The third most votes was the plastic issue.  Don’t even get me started on that one!  All I will say is that the support and tech isn’t yet there for it to make sense for us to switch to compostable packaging yet, and Brandon doesn’t have the facility to deal with the commercially compostable PLA materials yet anyway.  It’s not like we can just buy plant-based plastic bags for commercial use, they don’t exist yet in a readily available, cost efficient form yet.  But know that I am staying informed of this issue and always looking for ways to improve what we do.  As a whole, our single use plastic bag consumption isn’t very much.  I can fit all the boxes of plastic bags we used this year into a single armload. There are certain crops where a bag of some sort is essential: no bag, no salad mix! There are definitely other areas on the farm where our petroleum-based plastics consumption is a larger issue, ie the drip tape we use for irrigation.  Again, no water, no vegetables!

But we’re going to make a vote with our Shoots’ Program, and use compostable plant-based packaging for that program.  I’ve had to make the customers bear the cost of that one as we can’t add any expense to our Shoots Program as it has too narrow of margins as it is.  If no one tries to switch, then what’s the incentive to manufacturers to come up with solutions?  We’re going to try it out and hope that more innovations come to a point where we have appropriate options.  The extra $20 on the Shoots Program this year will cover your 8 weeks of compostable PLA containers, which can be reused at home or thrown in the garbage where they will definitely break down sooner than petroleum-based plastics.  It’s a baby step in the right direction for now.

All of the Quantity/Value/Quality metric on the survey was “excellent” or “good”, and same for the pickup spot.  One lonely person prefers a pickup until 6:30 pm — so if that would also be better for you, please reach out!  I prefer to get home sooner than that, as I often have to pick up Myrah from my Mom’s after.  But if a few people prefer it I’m happy to extend the time and sort out the back end of life.  Right now, most of the pickups are clustered at the beginning so I’m not thinking this later window is needed by most of you!

I will post a summary of all the results sometime in the next 6 weeks on our blog, once I have a chance to sit down and look closely at them!  I do this for myself in future years, but also for anyone who is interested, so check back if you are!


img_3752Teri’s 10 Topics Blog Series #10: Why we do this and the path forward

This week’s post is a bit of a summary and looking forward to next year.  We had an amazing year and we are looking forward to a great year in 2020, our 20th year of business!

Thank you for being part of our community!


img_3722.jpgOk, Veggie Lovers, that was a long one this week and probably took more time than I have today, but it’s hard to say goodbye so I’m stalling!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Spring Shoots Program, which starts in March, if you’re interested!

See you tonight, looking forward to it — and until next year, Veggie Lovers!!

Teri 🙂

Teri’s Ten Topics #9: What Intentional Living means to me

Someone asked me to write about this, and I must include the disclaimer that I don’t really feel that qualified to talk about “Intentional Living”, having not engaged with that movement/concept much.  I do think it most accurately describes the way that I choose to live, but I also think that it can look really different for a lot of people.  So, I’m no expert here, and this is just my opinion and what this concept means to me. 

What does it mean or look like to you?

IMG_1186For me, intentional living means having the space to build the life I want, and also having the space to figure out what I want deep in my heart & soul. I notice that so many people get trapped in the “finish school, go to college, find a ‘good’ job to pay for it all” illusion, which eventually turns into a materialistic treadmill of chasing things that will never make you happy. Because a “Good” job usually just means one that pays well but leaves a deficit in your soul.

I have a very Good job. The pay is shit. But I love what I do every single day, and it all works out despite, because following your passion and loving life makes you a more resilient human.

I’m fortunate that a family member helped pay for my university tuition so I never had to jump on the treadmill of materialism and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, I’m fortunate that I was spoiled as a kid and realized early that things were shallow and didn’t bring happiness, and I’m fortunate that my parents didn’t push their desired outcomes for my life on me too much. I’m also VERY fortunate that I got to watch my Mom chase her passion during a late life career shift. There is a lot to be grateful for in how I got here. But I do think that anyone and everyone can.

_mg_9876I think the only difference is that some people don’t leave enough SPACE to fill their lives with their dreams. We get too busy too soon, before we really have a chance to figure out what makes us happy. What our passions are. What drives us to want to grow and be the best person we can be. We get stuck, we get trapped.  Monthly payments and material needs take the driver’s seat in our lives, instead of passion.  As soon as I felt like this was happening to me, I dropped my life-as-it-was and took off with Jon across the country.  Through that process I was able to figure out what really lit me up, though it’s changing all the time, just like we are constantly growing and changing.

I’m so grateful that we can live this way, and it brings me great happiness to know that we are modeling this behaviour and lifestyle to Myrah. I keep space in my life by saying No and setting boundaries, like not allowing pickups at the farm, only doing one market per week, not overbooking my personal life so there is room for me to decide how I feel and what I most want to do each day.  I try to stay a human being instead of always a human doing.

When Jon and I make decisions about our life or business, we think about the impacts they may have and how it might affect us. If it sounds like something we don’t want to do, then we try to find a way not to do it. There’s no such thing as “a means to an end”, if the means isn’t enjoyable, then the end isn’t worth it – No matter what. We choose to grow vegetables because we enjoy the lifestyle of working outdoors, growing healthy food to nourish people we care about, and being self employed: What lights me up about agriculture is HEALTH, COMMUNITY, and LIFESTYLE.

We make decisions on the farm the same way as we do about our life: we consider what it looks like and if we are excited to do it. If Jon didn’t love growing shoots, we wouldn’t be trying to expand that as a part of our winter production. I find technology frustrating, so we limit how much we use it – no online record keeping or cloud based calendars here.  I don’t get much out of farm conferences or workshops, so we don’t waste my time attending many of them: the farmer role has taken a backseat in my life lately as different things get me more excited.  Just because we grow vegetables for a living doesn’t mean we have to eat-live-breathe farming at every moment.  I feel I’m a better balanced person when I’m not chained to any one role or archetype.

It’s important to us that we craft a life we love.  The whole point of being self-employed in a seasonal business is to have extra freedom, so this year we are even taking a winter trip.  Travel is exciting to us and something that we want in our lives, so I feel it’s worth the steps to make it happen.

img_8320I feel people who are in pain sneering “must be nice”, or “Ha, I wish, but I’ve got a family to feed”, and believe me, I can identify with that, and we’ve been there too. But the truth is that you’ll never regret chasing your passion. Living that way opens you up to receiving all the good that the universe has in store for you. If you’re closed to it, you can tread water your whole life and never really get anywhere, always feeling like you’re missing something. It’s called fulfillment, from a life lived wholeheartedly.

You can replace “the universe” with god or whatever you prefer. It’s irrelevant, because it’s all about YOU, which is one and the same. Always acting on your greatest passion allows you to be a light, even if you don’t feel like you’re consciously being intentional about it. My current favourite farmer/writer, Kate Spring, says that being responsible to others and yourself means “turning your spark into a flame, taking what brings you alive and sharing it so another person feels that warmth and light, too.” I feel that living this way allows me to be my best self, and to be a light to others, and I’m so grateful for having taken this path. Thanks for being here with me!

For more about living wholeheartedly see Brene Brown’s work.  The work of Eckhart Tolle has been my biggest inspiration to chase my passions.


Side note: I decided to go for it and registered for Kate Spring’s creative writing workshop, Harvesting Words, as part of my winter goal to grow my writing practice.  It’s a 30 day writing course that I plan to complete over the next 2 months while we are traveling.  I’m on Day 2 and really enjoying it so far!

December 3rd Veggie Lovers Club Newsletter, Birthday Edition!

Hi folks!

This is Week 23 of our 24-week CSA!

TWO pickups remain, Today December 3rd and next Tuesday December 10th!

*Important Note for next week: Next week we are planning to send a larger quantity of carrots (8 lbs) and beets (5 lbs) that will be UNWASHED.  If you prefer your produce washed (slightly less amount, 6 & 4 lbs) please send us an email and let us know!  We don’t mind washing for some of you but we’ll need to know by Saturday if you want this option to allow us time to execute it.

Your newsletter is complete below.  See you tonight at the pickup!  Jon is coming with me to keep me company and help.


Pre-Orders

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the December 10th pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon.  (Currently having some trouble with the form I’m trying to sort out asap, so if the selection list is cut short that’s why!  I will wait to send out the email reminder for next week until I have a resolution)


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

Your December 3rd Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Week22

Last week’s bag!

Stephanie’s Refrigerator Pickles, 250 ml
Red Potatoes, Unwashed, 4 lbs Grand Valley Strawberries
Parsnips, 1.5 lb
Celeriac, 2
Birthday Mix Shoots, small bag
Onions, Yellow & Red, 2 lbs

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies this week:

Celeriac! I really like having a trade bin because it helps me get some on-the-spot feedback about what people like and what people don’t like so much.  Last time we gave Celeriac 2 weeks ago, a lot of it ended up in the trade bin.  I never intend to judge your choices, and if you’re not in the mood for something weird/new, that’s ok!  I just want to say that I LOVE celeriac and you don’t need to be afraid of it!

tinyceleriactaco

CSA Member Reta wins the title of “Most creative use of Celeriac” in these tiny tacos!  She sliced and baked the pieces first.

It’s like a fancy potato, or a round celery.  It’s more versatile though because you can eat it raw OR cooked.  It’s really good just cut into veggie sticks.  Or you can take those veggie sticks and fry or bake them into Celeriac fries.  Or add it into your hashbrowns – I like to have a few different roast veggies in there to benefit from the different nutritional profiles of all the different veggies.  On Sunday for breakfast we had hashbrowns made of potatoes, parsnips, and celeriac.  Earlier in the week I made assorted fries with the same trio: “White veggies that taste kinda like potatoes and can fool your kids”.  My cousin Leslie mentioned at our family dinner that her oldest boy won’t eat vegetables, but he loves Parsnip fries!  I even julienned it into coleslaw yesterday.  

Aren’t Mom’s Refrigerator Pickles delicious??  I try to snub my nose at pickles because I don’t want to get addicted to them like so many of you are.  I’ve never been a huge pickle fan anyway, and I feel like if I was I’d be (literally) eating into our profits!  But refrigerator pickles are different.  Mom can make them a huge batch in an ice cream pail at a time and then pack them into smaller jars later.  I’ve allowed myself to love these pickles, and now I can’t eat a pork sandwich without lots of mustard and these refrigerator pickles!  (Cuban sandwich style!).  Keep them in the fridge!

Potatoes are reds from Grand Valley Strawberries.  This is the last potatoes you’ll get this year and we’re close to running out.  George and Barb have lots available, they’re just on Veteran’s Way near the jail & Call first: (204) 728-8453, 40 lb bags of Reds or Adora Yellow are $12 or $10 each if you buy 2 or more.  In the past we listed larger sized bags of their potatoes, but I’m not into hauling other people’s heavy produce around and we aren’t going to restock for next week because we have to shut down our cooler after next Tuesday anyway.  #skippotatoeseatceleriac

The last of the Onions! I haven’t officially announced that we are out of onions until now.  I’m having trouble with the order form and I don’t like to announce things like this until I have it updated, because otherwise I invite an eye-roll-inducing mass panic, where everyone orders onions as though I can magically make more appear!  I often delete things on there, forget to save, and then the next order that comes in someone wants 4 of whatever I just failed to delete.  It’s an imperfect system, but still better than any form I can make, and it comes with tech support who I can email when half of my list goes missing like it is right now! #dontpanic

1b551de0-7cd6-4106-806a-9b79335da9b5

“FN parsnips!”

We’re so delighted to be able to give you lots of beautiful Parsnips this year.  Mom wasn’t happy with the spacing when she planted them in 2018 (too close, so they were too small), so this year she planted all 4,000 seeds by hand, crawling along in the field.  It was worth it, we decided at this year’s planning meeting, but hopefully someone other than Mom can plant them next year!  We would never grow more than 1 row of parsnips because it would negatively affect morale in the fall too much.  I gifted a bag of seconds to some friends last night and told them, “every scrape or fork stab represents me saying “FN parnsips” at least once!


Today is my 35th birthday, so I decided to do a couple of fun things for you!  I got Jon to grow a bunch of different shoots and so we’ll have a nice festive “Birthday Mix” for you. (They haven’t been harvested yet.  We always harvest the Shoots of the week on Tuesday morning… now that’s fresh!!)  I got together a bunch of my favourite things, and at the pickup we’ll have a draw where you pull a number and it corresponds to a prize!  My aunt lives in the Netherlands, and there on your birthday it’s YOUR responsibility to host a party, which is an idea I really like.  So, I look forward to sharing some celebration with you on Tuesday, and I hope you go home with a fun little bonus that you enjoy!

I sent out the 2019 Veggie Lovers’ Feedback survey last Thursday morning.  We are working on our seed ordering and planning for next year, and your feedback is important to us: without you, there would be no Veggie Lovers’ Club!  Member feedback has shaped the way we do things over the past 4 years, and we want to continue to be dynamic and open to changing things so that they can work well for everyone.  Please help us by completing the survey!  If you forget, there will be an automated reminder email on Thursday.

Update on last week’s mink situation: We haven’t caught or killed the mink, but Jon installed a bunch of old windows as a ceiling to the chicken coop and reinforced the coop so the mink can’t get in.  We expect it has already moved on after not finding any more easy meals.  Having chickens in the basement for a couple of days was hilarious and amusing!

Next week is your LAST CHANCE to order any veggies from us in 2019, and we have a nice last bag planned for you as well.  I’ll post the contents tomorrow and send you an email once the order form is fixed and back up and running!

Thanks Veggie Lovers, looking forward to seeing you tonight!!

Teri 🙂

November 26th Veggie Lovers’ Club Newsletter

Hi folks!

This is Week 22 of our 24-week CSA!

TWO pickups remain after this, on December 3rd and 10th!

Your newsletter is complete below.  See you tonight!


Pre-Orders

Here’s the link to PLACE A PRE-ORDER for the December 3rd pickup!  – Order deadline is Monday at noon.

*If you plan to make an order for next week, please make it as soon as possible as we were barely able to manage the large amount of orders this week.  Many of them came in at the last minute which makes it really hard for us.  We expect the final 2 weeks will be very busy, so please help us be as prepared as possible!


Spoiler Alert: If you would like to keep your bag contents a surprise, you should STOP READING NOW!!

The contents of the upcoming week’s bag are subject to change at the last minute, possibly without much notice, depending on harvest. It can be tough to estimate how much of a crop will be available before we actually harvest it freshly for your bag.  So, this posting is meant to give you a good idea of what is in your bag, but just be aware that it may change and we will do our best to let you know if that happens!  At the very least, the posting on the website will be updated prior to delivery with the actual contents for that week, so that you can check that you’ve received everything you are supposed to!

Week21

Last week’s bag!

Your November 26th Veggie Lovers’ Club bag contains:

Leeks, 2 lb large bunch
Carrots, Rainbow 3 lb
Popcorn Shoots, small bag
Frozen Spinach, 1/2 lb bag
Frozen Dill, small bag
Delicata Squash, 1

You can click the links on the items above to view more info about each veggie including recipe & preparation suggestions, season, storage tips, and lots more!

Don’t forget to bookmark our online Veggie Guide so all the veggie info is at your fingertips!


Notes on the Veggies this week:

I made my favourite Leek recipe, Cock-a-Leekie Pie last week for Laryssa and Sid and they declared it a winner!  If you don’t want to go to that much trouble (it’s a very, very good recipe, but a big commitment!), how about just Buttered Leeks?  It’s a bit outside the box to think of Leeks as a side dish rather than just a fancy onion, but I swear, the Brits love their buttered Leeks, and they are totally onto something!  We used to know a British lady who was a sausage maker and made a delicious Buttered Leek sausage, and I still hear her accent in my head when I say “Buttered Leek”!

We do the Rainbow Carrots in 3 lb bags because they’re so big that you need that many to make a nice mixture of colors!  There is a purple one in each bag.  The purple we grew this year are “Purple Haze” and they’re orange inside, so if you want the purple to be shown off, make sure you wash them but don’t peel them!  We often grow “Deep Purple” which are purple all the way through but we took a break this year.  They’re on the list for next year!

We’re losing most of our squash this year in storage.  It’s hard to say exactly why, but we suspect the dry weather too early in the season followed by wet weather too late in the season had a bad effect.  So, don’t dally eating your Delicata!  This is the last whole squash you will get this year unless you order some. If you’re ordering, I recommend Pink Banana, Hubbard, Winter Sweet or Red Kuri as those all seem to be keeping ok.  We’re sold out of Honeynut and Spaghetti and probably Delicata after today!

Don’t forget to check last week’s post for a ton of seasonal recipe ideas for the fall/winter veggies that are in your bags these days!


Farm Update:

I’m taking a week off of my blog posting, and this week’s newsletter is brief because we have a ton of orders today and an extra last-minute project of killing a mink who killed some of our hens last night.  Three were killed but we’re so grateful: It’s remarkable that any of them made it, actually, because the only reason Jon was out in the coop at 9 pm was because we had gone out for supper after we dropped Myrah off at my Mom’s.  If it had been literally any other night we probably would have had a grim scene this morning.  The coop is far from the house and sleeping chickens are an easy target.  So this morning we have chickens in the basement of our house, including two who had their heads chewed on and are a little worse for wear but seem to be ok.  And Mistadobalina, the Rooster.  Luckily he waited until I turned the lights on to start his crowing this morning!

If anyone has any tips for catching/shooting mink, we’re all ears!  The one Jon shot last year was on November 23rd, so I guess this is the season for them.  Bloodthirsty MFers.  I hate things that kill other innocent things for sport!  We don’t prefer to shoot wild animals, but the reality of keeping hens is that they sometimes require us to intervene.

In other news, we put some time into booking accommodations in California for our upcoming vacation.  We tried really hard to save money all year since February, but we didn’t reach our goal, which just meant we had to be more resourceful.  For $30 USD I joined a website, MindMyHouse, and connected with a couple who is traveling during Christmas and leaving their beautiful home in the Santa Cruz mountains and dog, cat, and chickens that we will look after for 10 days.  It’s right where we wanted to be, and fits the budget ($0), and our travel goals of being able to cook our own food and shop at local markets.  Following that, we have a week to 10 days of WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a work-stay exchange where we can help out with some farm work in exchange for a place to stay and meals, $70 for an annual family membership to that website) at a small homestead about an hour South near Monterey.  Again, right where we hoped to spend time as that is an agricultural world hub that I’ve always wanted to see.  After that we’ll head up the coast to visit Jon’s sisters in Seattle and Calgary.  With accommodations for most of the trip taken care of, we just have to budget for our travel expenses to drive there and stay along the way, and some food and activities, meaning that our meager savings should suffice.  Yay!  We are pretty excited to hit the road after the CSA ends!

(P.S. One of the things Jon and I love most about our lifestyle is how it requires us to be resourceful.  We end up with different and usually better experiences than if we could just buy our way through life.  We’re usually doing something off the beaten path, and we’re happiest that way anyway!)

Alright folks, Jon is out sorting out the mink situation and I need to get to bedding and feeding hens, cutting shoots, assembling bags and orders.  Thanks to my Mom for having Myrah on Tuesday mornings, especially this one!

See you at the pickup tonight folks!

Take care!

Teri 🙂

What your Farmers Eat and 10 of my all-time favourite recipes!

img_6247Earlier in the year, I asked our Veggie Lovers CSA Members to share with me “what the heck do you eat?”. It inspired a lot of really interesting conversation for me & our members and so I decided to revisit it. When I have time to read it’s often books about nutrition that I choose, and feeding our family well is one of my most strongly-held values, one of the reasons we do what we do.

My Personal Health Journey: Be your own Advocate

A year ago, I was feeling at a juncture in my health journey. I’d had IBS-like symptoms for a few years and had made no progress in figuring out what was causing it. Jon had similar symptoms. We decided to cut out gluten, and at the same time we added tons of healthy fats to our diet. In the past when I had tried to go gluten free I had not been able to eat enough calories to keep me satiated, I would quickly fall over and then scrap the avoidance to eat a big glob of glutinous goodness. It took about 6 months away from gluten to start feeling like my body was functioning properly, but it was within days on the increased fats that I lost the brain fog I’d had for years, which was the missing key to help me stick to it.

img_3950They lied to us! That food pyramid I learned growing up had a thick foundation of breads, cereals, and other processed grain products. The peak was a tiny triangle of “oils & fats” that mentioned nothing about quality or source. Lots of people, including many health care practitioners, are still operating with this information, while chronic illness caused by these diets kills people. This scares the crap out of me!

You can’t rely on most doctors– or even many nutritionists– to help you with diet: what we are told to eat is too heavily influenced by agriculture lobby groups and government policy. I had to do the research and critical thinking and advocate for myself.

What We Eat and How We Got There

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I now believe that what we choose to eat is individual to each person. What one body thrives on might not work for the next. So when I talk about what we eat, that’s what Jon, Myrah and I seem to feel the best eating. It’s not a prescriptive diet for everyone. What’s important to me is to view food as the medicine that it is, and to listen to my body and be constantly adjusting. I also believe in intuitive eating, that if I can tune into my body it will tell me what I most need. Sometimes that might be a croissant. I’d rather eat one and satisfy the craving, rather than eating around the craving for a week and never feeling satiated but resorting to all sorts of “I-wish-this-was-a-croissant” alternatives.

In our journey to better health, Jon and I avoided gluten fairly strictly for 6 months. In my view, that time got us out of constant inflammation and back to feeling pretty good/“normal”. Now we’re not as strict about it, and having a bit here and there doesn’t seem to have so much negative impact as before. Generally, at home we eat mostly pastured meats and our own veggies. I haven’t eaten factory meats for well over a decade, and if I couldn’t access the pastured meats we buy I would not eat meat, for both ethical reasons as well as nutritional content. We have decreased our meat intake significantly this year, and I am thrilled to be able to eat some beans and other pulses again.

I still limit my intake of leafy greens due to a suspected oxalate sensitivity (25% of people have this), but I have resumed eating nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant) without issue, and tomatoes are fine so long as the skins and seeds are removed. I don’t eat much dairy other than heavy cream, Jon and Myrah consume more, mostly as fermented milk kefir. Jon has a birch pollen allergy so is allergic to all raw stonefruit (peaches, plums, cherries, etc) and apples, carrots, pears, almonds, peas, strawberries, kiwi, etc. When those foods are cooked even slightly the enzyme changes and he can eat them, so it’s not as bad as it sounds!

A big part of our day to day eating at home is healthy fats. We don’t eat any processed seed oils (canola, vegetable/soybean, commercial olive oil, etc) so that means I make all of our salad dressing and mayonnaise from healthy oils at home. Any of the grains or flour we do have at home is local and organic, because avoiding glyphosate exposure is pretty important to us as well.  We buy local organic grains and flours from DeRuyck’s Top of the Hill Farm (Treherne MB), and Chez Angela has the best Olive Oil in town (pictured above).  

Minimizing Stress and Living Authentically

We try to stick to our eating plan as much as possible when we are at home and then not worry about it so much on the rare occasions we go out. We eat out about one meal every 2 weeks or so. I am prone to over-restricting: One of the biggest shifts I made that made a difference was to let go of the stress associated with what to eat. I also believe the intention with which you eat the food matters nearly as much as what the food is: If we’re having a great time and hot dogs are the meal, then we do our best to enjoy them! We do many things to minimize stress including daily meditation, conscious decision making, and intentional living where we try to act as our authentic selves.

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A typical meal salad, which makes up the majority of our meals.

Minimizing stress has had some of the biggest positive impact for me. I used to have regular (3-4 times a week), debilitating stomach aches, which I now believe were a combination of inflammation, emotional repression, and stress around food & eating. There’s no way around it: You’ve gotta feel the feelings, or risk tearing yourself apart from the inside out! Like many women, I struggle with the fact that when I am sick and at my thinnest, I get more compliments on my appearance. I have some disordered eating patterns, but they are easily managed when I minimize stress and focus on listening to my body over anyone else. I love the advice from Brooke at @mybodywpg which is, “Stop commenting on other people’s bodies”. Once you take that advice to heart, you’ll realize how often we all do it. Even if you think it’s a compliment, just stop. It can sound like a lighthearted “you look great!” coming out of your mouth, but to the person inside it can mean, “you look better at a smaller size”, or as often in my case, when I would be feeling terrible and struggling to keep weight on it reinforced the already-internally raging battle in my head against “thin is better”.

Resources

I find it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the latest new studies and information, and it’s also a minefield of fake news and provocative headlines with no real substance. I have had little success finding a practitioner who is on the same page as me. I have come to trust the work of Chris Kresser, a functional medicine doctor in California; Mark Hyman, also a functional medicine doctor, in Cleveland; and to some extent Dave Asprey, a self-proclaimed bio-hacker and health nerd. Chris Kresser reviews all the new studies and writes about them and in 4 years of following his work he’s never led me astray. All 3 have great books, I recommend “The Paleo Cure” by Chris Kresser, “What the Heck Should I Eat?” by Mark Hyman, and “The Bulletproof Diet” by Dave Asprey.  They also all have great health-oriented podcasts that I enjoy.

I follow Christine Damphouse @wildsoulwellness, she is a holistic nutritionist in Brandon who beautifully shares her own personal health journey, as well as great information and tips. If I was still struggling like I was a year ago, she is who I would visit. She talks a lot specifically about women’s health and balancing hormones, as well as intuitive eating, body image, and sexuality.

As far as a spirituality resource, the work of Eckhart Tolle is what resonates most with my personal beliefs.

Teri’s 10 all-time favourite recipes!

Alright, it was WAY too hard to come up with 10 favourites, I feel like I have 10 favourites in each category, so I will happily do this again!  For now, I’ve included a good range of favourites across all categories as well as recipes we use on a daily/weekly basis.  

Farmer Jon’s Granola Recipe -For the longest time, Jon ate store-bought granola for breakfast.  It was loaded with extra sugar, inflammatory seed oils, and fillers.  I told him I wanted to make a really local granola and we worked together on getting it to have the flavour and texture he prefers.  This is our result:  Farmer Jon’s Granola!  We make this about once every 2 weeks or so, and Jon and Myrah eat it almost every day with fermented milk kefir.

Massaged Kale Salad – The first time I tried Kale, I was like… Whaaaatt?  This stuff is like eating shoe leather.  Then I followed someone’s advice to massage it, and now I love kale.  Especially with raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.  You’ll notice a theme that it’s all the same fruit and seeds from Farmer Jon’s granola recipe!

Spicy Honey Vinaigrette Dressing – No really, we eat this almost daily.  It’s loaded with healthy spices and oils and helps us stick to our eating goals by making everything taste delicious!  We use it as a dressing, dip, marinade, stir fry sauce, etc.

20150216_132939Curried Squash Soup – I make this about every second time I make soup because we love it so much!  I could easily list 10 favourite soup recipes, I love soup the most of any course. Squash soup is such a comfort food for us.  Shoots on top of every soup, every time!!

Zucchini Bake – This is such a versatile and yummy recipe.  I often make it with winter squash because I am too busy to get my fill of it in summer when the zucchini’s on!  Great as a side dish or even as an appetizer.  Very subb-able!

Cock-a-Leekie Pie – If I had to choose a favourite food, it would be this.  It doesn’t meet our GF goals, but I only make it about twice a year and so it’s a treat.  The combination of chicken, leeks, bacon and prunes is magical.  Goes hand in hand with:

All-Butter Pie Dough – Also not GF, but I have tried many pie crust recipes in my life and this one is the easiest by far and also the tastiest.  All made in the food processor.  Make it a day ahead for optimum success!  Great for sweet or savory pies.

Lemon Curd – this is a household favourite, and when I make it I double the recipe and use no sugar and 3/4 cup raw honey instead.  Great on it’s own, with fresh berries and whipped cream, or turned into:

Gran’s Frozen Lemon Pie – Nothing will ever beat this as my favourite dessert because, well, nostalgia!  My Gran always made two desserts for special occasions, and this was always one of them.  My cousin Andrea and I usually chose both!  When I make this now I use the lemon curd recipe above, but the same method as described in this recipe.coldfacekilla

Teri’s ColdFace Killa (Homemade cold remedy) – When/if food as medicine fails, use this!  I make this whenever anyone has a cold.  I freeze it in ice cube trays so it can be reheated quickly in hot water in case of emergency!

That’s it for this week folks, thanks for reading and chat soon!

Teri 🙂