Category Archives: Uncategorized

Farm Fresh Cucumbers!

dsc01817We grow gorgeous fresh pickling cukes at the farm. They are picked every 2-3 days, and though we do make lots of our own pickles on the farm, many cucumbers go to our customers who make their own.

How it works: We keep a list of names of those who are interested in buying pickling cucumbers. After, or shortly before a harvest we go through our list and call to see who can take them. Since picking happens every few days, this may not always be on a market day and so pickup is often at the farm (just 5 miles NE of Brandon).

The cukes are small and perfect for pickles. Varieties are Pioneer, National Pickling, and Cool Breeze.

CLICK HERE TO PLACE AN ORDER FOR CUCUMBERS FROM OUR FARM

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Sam, Mom, and Aunty Jayne making pickles in 2016

Pickling Cukes are $2.75/lb.
Larger Cukes for sliced/bread & butter pickles are $2.50/lb
Relish Cukes are $2.00/lb
We pick every second day or so and will be in touch when we have some available for you.

If you have a preference for when you receive them please enter it in the comments section on the form and we’ll do our best to accommodate your request!
Please do not call or email us about this order repeatedly as that will move your name to the bottom of the list.
We do not have carrots available for pickling this year.

 

Fennel

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We’ve tried growing fennel in the past and not had good success, but this year’s crop is gorgeous and ready for distribution in our Veggie Lovers’ Club CSA this week!  (July 14 & 15, 2020).

You may be familiar with Fennel Seeds as they are a widely used spice: Think Italian sausage!  Fresh fennel bulbs are a bit different but the flavour pairs well with anything you’re already using fennel seeds in.  The whites and entire green tops are useable.

Preparation Tips: Fennel is in the carrot/celery family (Apiacae) and has a pleasant anise flavour (licorice).  It is shocking how well that flavour pairs with tomatoes.  My secret to making the best tomato sauce ever, that tastes like an Italian grandmother slaved over it, is adding thinly sliced fennel to the onions and garlic while they’re sweating.  It balances all of the flavours and acidity perfectly, and tastes divine!

This is a “weird one” folks, so I anticipate the CSA trade bin will see some traffic this week, and that’s ok.  But I totally encourage you to try it!

The recipe that I first fell in love with Fennel over was this one:

FennelOrange Fennel Orange Salad

The link is to a very simple version, that can be easily improved by adding other greens.  Highly recommend the addition of massaged Kale, and make sure you use the top “fronds” of the plant as well!  Looks like dill, tastes refreshingly like licorice!  The orange is usually juicy enough to not require any additional dressing for my taste.

Here’s Martha again to teach you how to cut a fennel bulb!

Generally, it’s best to slice it as thin as possible as it can be a bit tough to chew otherwise.  I like to (very carefully!) slice it on a mandolin for even, thin slices!

Check out this recipe shared with me by a lady at market.  She is Italian and so had a ton of ideas of how to use fennel!  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249459/tomato-fennel-salad/

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Tomato and Fennel Salad

Season: Fennel can be grown all year here but this planting was a trial.  We will see how it goes over and if it goes well we will plan to have a few plantings in 2021!  It is started as a transplant in the greenhouse but then quickly matures in the field, so we could easily do a few plantings most years.

Storage Tips: Keep this completely covered in a plastic bag or container in your fridge (you will probably need 2 grocery bags to cover it).  Cut fennel will turn brown (oxidize) quickly when cut so if you’re cutting it ahead of time make sure you squeeze some lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar on it.

I believe in people, especially CSA members, getting the whole vegetable when possible, not just “the part that most people think is edible”.  So we won’t be trimming this fennel much unless we need to for fitting it into harvest tubs or your bags.  The entire top is edible and very flavorful!  It might feel a bit overwhelming all at once.  It’s a great thing to chop up and keep in the freezer for in the fall when you have an abundance of tomatoes and want to make sauce!  I suggest eating the bulb now and some of the fronds, but maybe you’ll want to wash, chop & freeze most of the tops for later.  It’s even a great addition to Pho broth, which is mine & Jon’s current culinary obsession!

I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love your feedback if you get a chance!

 

 

 

 

The Wonderful and Amazing Fran!

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Beet Leaf Buns return to market this week, which means Fran returns too!

I first met Fran by attending elementary school with her daughter Christine.  I remember being at her farm and the one and only time I’ve ever ridden a horse (I found it terrifying and not repeatable!!).  Fran came back into our lives the year that Christine worked for Mom.  She was interested in helping with getting ready for the markets and she hit it off with Mom and Dad and now Thursdays aren’t complete without Fran in the kitchen, laughing and rolling up beet leaf buns!

Fran is a retired HR specialist with a big family and a huge heart.  She is a ninja when it comes to avoiding photos, and it’s a testament to her spirit that the only photos I do have of her, is of her hard at work.  She’s the kind of person who sees a gap and fills it with exactly what you need.  She is a proud Grandma and Great-Grandma and a great friend, her and Mom go on trips and spend time together in the winter, too.  On the farm she can be found making beet leaf buns, bagging peas or beans or salad, and always showing up with some sort of delectable treat for us!

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Fran and Sam bagging beans, 2016

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Fran making sandwiches at Myrah’s baby shower, 2017

Thanks to Fran for being a staple of our farm team and family for years now!

Find the fruits of Fran’s & Mom’s labour of love, Beet Leaf Buns, at the market this week and every Friday until the end of September!

First Market a Success: Thank You!

Wow, folks!  What a turnout for our first market of the season!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  From the bottom of our hearts, from all three of us who got to experience the magic that was the energy at yesterday’s market: Thank you.  We have been working hard all winter and spring to get to this point, and our community of Veggie Lovers showed up and supported us.  Especially in these uncertain times, we appreciate you so much!

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Virginia and Brenda, first in line!  Thanks to Shannon, third in line, for the photos!

Our first market in our 20th season!  The earliest we’ve ever had a regular market.  And the first time executing our “new normal” setup.  I am really glad to have that one under our belts, folks!  It was causing me worry and anxiety thinking about how it would all work best and if we would create bottlenecks in traffic flow or annoy customers by changing how things work. I thought through our setup endlessly over the past 3 weeks, and now I can move on and work on making tweaks to keep improving it!

Everyone was patient and understanding and supportive, as you always are.  Thank you!

unnamed (2)Our physically distant market setup worked great and now that we’ve seen it in action we have some ideas to improve the display for next week.  We realized that people can’t see what we’ve got from the lineup now, like you used to be able to, and so we’ll make sure to bring some “menu boards” for you to peruse while you’re waiting in line.

We’re going to make sure you can see what we’ve got well from both windows next week, we have lots of ideas, just bear with us as we get used to displaying veggies in the new setup!

I LOVE being on the cash so I get to talk to every single person who comes through.  And how ’bout that sweet awning that has been on the trailer all along??  We just didn’t have the resources to set it up in the past, but it’s a huge improvement and really necessary to block the beating sun.  It will keep our trailer and veggies cooler in the summer as well.  As I mentioned, we separated the transactions so that the people who are touching your veggies are not handling money or near customers.  (We decided against a plexiglass divider as we need the airflow from the window, so we were happy with how the space worked out).  I also love the system of getting people’s names with their total, which helps us to learn your names, which is totally what we’re all about.

FullSizeRender(1)One of the hardest things to figure out was the bag situation, and unfortunately we haven’t quite cracked it.  Our system relies heavily on you returning your bags on a regular basis– If everyone forgets next week then we’ll be out of bags as I am waiting on a re-order that is going to be a longer process than usual due to the state of things.  If you know you won’t be returning to our market, please bring your own bag and use the re-bagging station, or request a plastic bag (unfortunately the paper ones I wanted are not super practical for veggies and also out of stock, due to the state of things).  Basically your bag is like a shopping cart, meant to help you get your veggies home safely, and if everyone takes off with all the carts we’re going to be in a pickle as there isn’t an unlimited supply right now.  And if everyone treats it like a “free reuseable bag” we will lose our shirts.  The cost of the bags is an investment we make to reduce waste and the cost is mitigated by the fact that they are reused over and over again and we are avoiding single use plastic.  But we will soon be in a situation where we have to use plastic if we don’t see enough bags come back next week.

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Janelle and I at the first market 2020!

When people who are passionate about supporting local connect with people who are passionate about providing local, the magic happens!  We’re grateful for our market customers who have supported what we do for 20 years now, especially as we have evolved and changed so much in the past 5 years.  The new market setup is an improvement overall and we hope you agree!

I would love if you could be in touch with me if you have any feedback or suggestions for us!  Send me an email to sales@brownsugarproduce.com or call me (I probably won’t answer but can call you back) at (204) 901-2800.

Markets continue every Friday 10 – 2 in front of Lady of the Lake until the end of September… Or until they don’t.  We’ll keep you posted, anyway!

Visit our This Week at Market page later this week to see what we’ll have next week – it will be very similar to this week’s selection.

Stay safe, take care, be well.  Thank You!

Teri 🙂

 

Update: Rivers Pick Up

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Fam jam at Rivers beach May 20

Some Background & a Story about Limiting Beliefs:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Next Steps:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Rivers: Additional Veggie Lovers’ Club Pickup??

Hi folks!

*UPDATE MAY 30: We had so much interest that we have filled up our Rivers list already!  You are welcome to still add your name to the list by filling out the form on the bottom of this page for next year.  Sorry if you missed it, I didn’t forsee this happening, read this and my next blog post for more info!

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Teri and Jon: your local veggie farmers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you have any friends who may be interested, please forward this info along to them and they can add their name for next year’s CSA if they wish.

 

Thank you!  I find this really, really exciting!

May Farm Update: Re-opening & Dates

Hi folks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Teri 🙂

 

 

Stinging Nettles

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

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

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

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

Teri’s Notes: 

I love nettles!!

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

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

Covid-19 resources for producers

We are still members of ACORN Organic, based in the Maritimes, as it was a really good organization when we lived there which helped us very much.  Their recent newsletter contained a plethora of links to information for producers that I wanted to share here.  The following is directly from ACORN’s newsletter and not my content:

Check these good news stories for farmers and consumers in these local articles:

This farmers market has turned a shutdown into a booming online business

Small farms tackle COVID-19 and Canada’s food system

This market wasted no time after the Covid19 shutdown

Resources for Farmers

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council has put together a COVID-19 dedicated webpage with the latest information on everything from mental health support to information on foreign workers, recommendations, employee management tips, tools (posters, policies) and links to authorities for farms and agricultural businesses in Canada.

Organic Federation of Canada Producer Survey
COVID-19 is impacting Canadian organic operations and the OFC wants to know what types and levels of impact are being experienced across the country.
Please respond to the short survey by clicking on the following link –Survey

The information collected is being routinely shared with AAFC and CFIA.

The following sites contain accurate and up to date information on the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian agriculture:

Agriculture and AgriFood Canada
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Federal Government Economic Relief
Guidance for Employers of Temporary Foreign Workers in English and French including FAQs posted by Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

The National Farners Union has complied a page of resources for Emergency and Mental Health Resources in the provinces.

CFIA Notice to the Canadian organic industry regarding implementation of theCanada Organic Regime during COVID-19 situation

A Guide to Alternative Delivery Systems for Local Producers During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Purdue Extension. See Here for details.

Canadian Horticultural Council COVID-19 Information Center, including links to updated government economic response, WHO, and more.

Calling all farmers! The Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) has launched a campaign #wearegrowers. The campaign is calling on you to share your story of the impacts of COVID-19 on your farm business in order to highlight what growers are doing to support domestic food production and Canadian food supply while CHC continues to provide concrete recommendations to the government. For a link to the campaign, template letter and list of MPs, click here.

New online farm store? Please share it with us on Instagram and tag @acornorganic and we’ll get it out to our members!

COVID 19 letter from NFU Stating Farmers as Essential Service, Re: Municipal, Provincial and Federal restrictions on nonessential activities in response to COVID-19 Public health emergency.

Upcoming Events

The award-winning documentary film “Modified” is now available online! You can watch it online for $5 – or order it for a community screening.
In the documentary, the filmmaker, Aube Giroux, and her mother embark on an investigative journey to find out why genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not labeled in the Canada. A beautiful, inspiring, infuriating and educational film. Well worth the watch!

Organic Orcharding With Michael Phillips
Location TBD – April 19, 2020. Info. CANCELLED.

Annual Wireworm Information Session – Webinar
See the link below for the Wireworm Webinar, in case you missed it the end of March:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZpzJ_ZQ4U8

Innovations in Cover Crop Based Organic No-Till Systems
Rodale Webinar – April 23, 2020. Info.

Digital Forum: Food without Farmers:
Difficult times like these mean navigating new ways to communicate with each other and find solutions to global challenges. We have to rethink how we do a lot of things, from buying food to how we shape our food systems, particularly as the trend toward lab-grown food continues.
IFOAM – Organics International in collaboration with the Global Landscapes Forum, will host a digital forum that aims to answer two questions:
How can organic agriculture contribute to food security, mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity?
Can we imagine the future of food and farming to be without farmers – Is this the future we want?
Join the forum HERE

Sector News

Perennial Crop Development Program now accepting applications!
The Perennial Crop Development Program supports the establishment or expansion of perennial crops and improvements in existing systems using technological advances and improvements in production, storage and processing. Applications will be assessed for a project’s ability to have both ecological and economic benefits. Deadline for submitting applications for the next intake of the program is February 28, 2020.
For more information, please visit https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/agriculture-and-land/perennial-crop-development-program, or contact Adam MacLean at 902-314-0825 or at adammaclean@gov.pe.ca

Participate in the National New Farmer Survey
The 2020 National New Farmer Survey is open until March 31st! Share your experience and needs as a new farmer in Canada to help shape policy going forward (and be entered to win over $500 in cash and other prizes!). Complete the survey HERE.

Watch Jane Goodall’s Keynote Speech at BIOFACH 2020 in which she speaks to the role of organics in the current global context. . “I truly believe that when head and heart can work in harmony, can we attain our true human potential.” Watch it here

2020 Seeds of Diversity Directory Available
Seeds of Diversity Member Seed Directory is Canada’s largest seed exchange, where members offer 2100 different kinds of seeds from their own gardens. Vegetables, flowers, herbs, grains, fruit, and some plants you’ve never heard of. If you’re looking for diversity, this is where you will find it.

FarmFolk CityFolk, a not-for-profit society aimed at strengthening BC’s sustainable food systems, recently published a COVID-19 Response Report summarizing impacts of COVID-19 on BC farms and what kind of supports are being called for. See full report here.

Read more.

Reimbursement for Organic Certification fees!
The Organic Conversion Support Fund **is aimed to financially support farms who are in the certification process. Find out more about the Organic Conversion Support Fund here.

How You Can Help

Join a CSA.

Buy local! Find out how your local farmers market is operating during COVID-19 times. See Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia

Demand that Farmers Markets are essential services. Share the NFU’s press release on social media.

Growing a garden this year? Buy LOCAL SEEDS! Check out the up to date online listing of regional seed companies at http://www.acornorganic.org/seedsecurity

How to Grow Microgreens at home

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To supplement our fall offerings and to add to our winter income our farm produces microgreens, also known as “Shoots”.  It’s something easy to grow and nutrient dense that keeps us healthy in the winter.

Yes, you can grow lettuce in the winter in Manitoba, but you’d better have a lot of time on your hands, a close personal relationship between MB hydro and your bank account, and a lot of lights…  Ideally a hydroponic growing system.  I’m not trying to discourage you, I just laugh when people assume or wonder why we don’t grow lettuce year round:  Think outside of the box!  Shoots are way more nutritious than lettuce and can be easily grown in under 2 weeks in nearly any setting.  That’s the kind of food security I want.

We’ve postponed our currently-running Shoots CSA due to the #stayhome recommendations, because we think that is the most important thing right now.  I had planned some workshops this spring to share with folks how to grow their own microgreens and sprouts at home, they’ve been cancelled too.

So I decided to share the info for those of you who are interested!

The photo at the top is some trays I started in anticipation of a March 29th Brandon workshop.  I seeded them March 16th.  The idea was to grow some trays in my own home to prove the method…. Because Jon is actually the Shoots Grower on the farm, and so I thought it ironic for me, the Marketer, to be out in the world teaching people how to grow shoots!  Doing this made me feel more legit.

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Trays about 5 days after seeding.  I wish I had left the cover on the buckwheat longer (the one with the least sprouting happening), but it worked out anyway.

Let me tell you the troubles I had!  I had trouble getting the trays watered the first time…. The soilless peat we use for growing was really dry and I filled the trays too full.  The water just ran off at first, causing my careful even seeding to get ruined, and I ended up overwatering the trays.  They were so soggy they didn’t require any additonal watering for the entire first week while they germinated.  I didn’t leave enough air space for the sunnies and they got moldy while germinating.  The cover didn’t get left on the buckwheat long enough and so I thought they would never come.  The radish and broccoli showed signs of stress (yellowing) from overwatering.

But you guys: it worked out anyway!

I ended up with 6 perfect trays: Broccoli, Radish, Sunnies, Spring Salad, Fenugreek, and even the Buckwheat came along eventually.  I even got out of the habit of checking for water regularly and found them flopped over a couple of times, dry as a bone.  And it all worked out despite, which is a powerful lesson right now.  Mother Nature always prevails.  There is so much power in a seed!

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At this point, the shoots were almost ready.  The buckwheat was just starting to come, and 5 days later they are all ready to harvest!

Here’s what you need:
A seed tray, cookie sheet, or suitable container with at least a 1.5 inch wall
Peat or suitable growing medium
Fresh water
A fan (maybe?)
Seeds with good germination, preferably grown organically for human consumption

Where to get seeds: We get our Peas locally from Ryan & Ali at Tamarack Farms, our Buckwheat and Sunflower from Fran & Dan of DeRuyck’s Top of the Hill Farm and the rest of our seeds from Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds in SK.  You can find good quality seeds at most seed suppliers online, including T&T Seeds which is our local MB seed supplier.

Soaking: Large seeded crops such as buckwheat, sunflower, corn, and peas will benefit from soaking overnight before planting. Small seeded crops such as alfalfa or broccoli do not need to be soaked first.

Seeding: Use about 1/4 – 1/2 lb large seed or 1/4 cup small seed per square foot. Spread seeds densely on top of 1” or so of dry growing medium. Do not cover or cover very lightly, water heavily, and place a tray or plate over top for the first 2-3 days to aid germination.

Here’s a video made by Jon of how he seeds Pea Shoots

Watering: Check water daily. Water until tray feels heavy and make sure to get the very edges as they tend to dry out first. Allow tray to dry somewhat between waterings, if mold appears it is likey due to over watering. Place a fan near the shoots as they begin to sprout to increase airflow and minimize mold growth.

Harvesting: After 10 – 14 days you should have a dense growth of microgreens. Harvest dry shoots with scissors or a knife at least 1/2” above the soil level and place in an airtight container or bag. Peas can be regrown from the “stubble” that remains on the tray: most other crops are a one-cut process.

Storing: Dry, mature shoots should keep well in the fridge for up to 10 days. If you notice any condensation in the container, adding a paper towel can help. Rinse before use.

Helpful tips:
-You don’t need a sunny location or extra lighting to grow shoots, and it is important that they be planted densely so that they are stressed and grow up rather than out. The less light, the more tender they will be! Some crops, such as popcorn, require complete darkness to grow in order to remain tender.  Rotate daily to prevent them from growing too sideways!
-If it is cold in your house they will take longer. Consider the top of the fridge if you want a warmer location. If it is warm in your house you may find they grow faster or are more prone to mold and other issues.
-We’ve had poor results using potting soil and/or compost as a growing medium. There is enough energy in the seed to grow shoots without additional fertilization, so a soilless medium is recommended.
-Beware of pets, some of them like microgreens too!  Wheat is a great choice to grow as microgreens for cats.

This one is “Spring Salad” seed mix from Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds in SK (sprouting.com)

Kaiware Radish.  There are many types of radish but our farm is out of stock on anything but the green one.  We really like the red one and the pink-stemmed one (Triton).

Broccoli.  Myrah and my favourite.  Tastes like broccoli and very high in sulforaphane.

Fenugreek.  The seeds and mature leaves smell and taste like maple syrup… The shoots and sprouts are bitter and taste like they’re good for you!

What I love about growing microgreens is that with a little planning, I can completely bypass imported greens in the winter.  They keep us feeling great and healthy.  They are loaded with nutrients and Myrah likes them too.  It’s nice to have some food growing in the house, too!

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about growing shoots at home!  sales@brownsugarproduce.com

If you’re interested in growing Sprouts at home, check out my Grow Guide on my Instagram Stories Highlight here.

Take care and happy sprouting!!

Teri 🙂