Fall CSA Here’s the application – Fall CSA Application

Fall is my favourite time of year because we all get to enjoy the bounty of the harvest! People sometimes think that it’s going to be all onions and potatoes, but we often still have delicious tomatoes and peppers, the most beautiful greens and lettuces still grow into November, enjoying the cooler weather after the hot summer. This year we will have our own fresh turmeric and ginger, as well as popcorn and cornmeal grown and milled by us! We also some ornamentals planned like cornstalks and broomcorn. Pickups are generous and every 2 weeks. Some of our members store extra squash in their closets or basements for months!

Join us! $240, payable by Oct.17th or in monthly instalments of $80/month in October, November and December.

Pick ups are Saturdays 11am-3pm here at the farm, every 2 weeks, October 20th-December 1st.

Farm Dinners

Farm Dinner, August, 2017

September 7th and September 8th, 4:30-8pm

5 courses + wine pairing, $80 per person, including tax and gratuity.

Featuring vegetables, fruits and grains from our farm. Vegetarian and gluten free options are available. Payment required to hold reservation.  Limited number of tickets! UPDATE – SOLD OUT!

Connor Ross, from ‘Pie by Night’ in Guelph will be joining me to cook for you again!

Hope to see you there.

 

Come on out and see us tomorrow at our Second Saturday – it’s 11am-3pm. We have a market and and open house – learn more about how we grow food, buy a flower bouquet and some sausages! There will be a demonstration about Sourdough (pancakes and coffeecake, good beginner stuff) at 12 and 2pm. 

The CSA will start May 23rd and run for 22 weeks – until October 17th! It’s a week later than anticipated because of the late spring this year. We still have space left in the CSA, it’s not too late to join!! If you’re a member of the garden and haven’t gotten an email from me (info@orchardhillfarm.ca) – let me know (and check your junk mail).

Next Wednesday, May 16th 4-7pm, members can come by and pick up a bonus bunch of asparagus! Just email/text me to say that you’re coming and I’ll have it ready for you! It’s also a great time to pay for your share and pick up some eggs!

We have been busy on the farm! The windstorm tore the plastic off our big hoophouse and it had to be replaced, but aside from that and some chasing of row cover, we came out unscathed!

Today we have a CRAFT day on the farm – it’s our turn to host a monthly farm tour and worshop. We will be talking about soil health and planting some onions – it’s amazing what you can get done in an hour with 30 people! CRAFT SW is a group of farmers in SW ON that also host interns on their farms – it’s a way to foster a community (for farmers and interns) of like minded folks – people who want to educate and collaborate – and broaden the scope of the interns’ education. Exciting stuff.

What a roller coaster! Watching the horses sweat and the kids in t-shirts and barefoot, it’s hard to comprehend that last week we had an ice storm! Spring is a slow one this year – most plants are two or three weeks behind their normal growth at this time of the year.
I was planning on a CSA start date of May 16th – and it still might – things often take off very fast once it warms like this – but I was starting to wonder! I’m happy we have plenty of room in the greenhouse and hoop houses. A few more weeks of winter has sent us scrambling for more firewood (for the houses and greenhouse), and we are scraping the bottom of the hay barn for the horses and cow.

Unmulching strawberries!

But the chickens are laying lots of eggs! If you’re in the area, come by for some eggs – until the CSA starts, they’re only $5/dozen. We have some new pullets that are laying little eggs – and they’re only $4/dozen. We feed our laying hens our own sprouted grain (organic oats and barley) as well as certified organic feed. The last time I went to the feed store to get layer feed, they accidentally sold me GMO-free feed instead – and claimed that it was ‘organic’. It’s not the same thing, folks! We pay extra for the feed because we feel like it’s worth it – I like knowing that I’m supporting other organic farmers when I buy my chicken feed, and have the assurance that it has been grown responsibly.

Here’s a recipe for some cured egg yolks – I made them last week and they’re fantastic! So far we have eaten them on pasta, and on salad. They’re salty and rich, like little umami bombs. You can use them on anything that you would use grated parmesan on – I like to grate them with a microplane (or a really fine cheese grater).

Cured Egg Yolks

1 pound sea salt

1 pound sugar

12 egg yolks

Find a glass or porcelain 9 x 9 inch casserole dish, or a bowl that has enough surface area to hold 12 egg yolks with a good couple of inches between them and an edge about 3 inches tall.  Measure the sugar and salt (if you don’t have a scale, just shoot for about 2 cups of each) into a bowl and mix it well. Use about 1/3 of the salt/sugar mixture to coat the bottom of the dish. Use an egg in the shell to make 12 little indentations for the yolks to rest in – with space in between them. You want each yolk to be completely surrounded by the salt/sugar mixture and not touching one another. Place the yolks in the indentations and then pour the remainder of the salt/sugar. Each yolk should be covered with it. Wrap with plastic wrap (or like a wax fabric wrap if you’re a hippie like me), and place it in the fridge for 3-4 days. Check it after 3 days. The yolks should be firm. If they’re still a little soft in the centre, let them go for another day. When they’re cured, remove them from the curing mix, rinse them under cool water and dry them. Dry them at 150-200˚ for an hour or two in a dehydrator, or an oven set to its lowest setting – you’re trying to dry them, not bake them. And they’re done! They will keep for a month in the fridge – just keep them in an airtight container.

 

 

Perhaps you are part of our CSA [community shared agriculture] garden already or are considering joining us this season but are wondering what it is special about our farm. We are a small farm by today’s standards at 93 acres but that allows us to better manage the many complex details involved in producing wholesome nutritious food and caring for the land we steward.
One of the most important aspects of growing nutritious food is having a healthy soil. Healthy soils grow healthy crops for humans to eat and results in healthy people and ultimately less health care costs for society to bear. This is a responsibility we take very seriously at Orchard Hill Farm. So what do we do differently?

One thing that really sets us apart is that we do most of our fieldwork with draft horses. They allow us to work the fields and harvest vegetables while reducing our dependence on petroleum fuels and represent one of our ways of tackling climate change right here on the farm. Granted, we are not purists, so we do use a tractor for a few jobs like loader work and baling hay and a rototiller for small plots that are difficult to work with horses. These working horses are fed pasture, hay and grain we grow on our fields as part of our diverse crop rotation which keeps the bugs and weeds guessing as to what is coming next. In the winter months, we collect the horse manure and straw bedding (from the grain we grow for feed and flour) and start the composting process, which results in a soil amendment rich in plant nutrients and organic matter which is then returned to our vegetable and grain fields to help supply the many nutrients essential to plant health.
A big part of creating healthy soils is promoting all the biology [bacteria, fungi, etc.] living below ground. We encourage this biology by crop rotation, cover crops, compost applications, minimizing tillage and even developing organic no-till methods. Every time the soil is disturbed, it also disturbs the bacteria and fungi – they play a critical role in providing plants with nutrients, and impact the water holding and drainage capacity of the soil – so we want them as abundant and happy as possible.
Another aspect of healthy soils is avoiding compaction, which squeezes the soil particles together – eliminating pore space where air and water are stored in the soil for use by microbes and plants. The use of horses helps us avoid compaction caused by using heavy tractors in the field.
This year we are beginning a trial of a “permanent bed system” that if successful will eliminate field wide tillage for most of our annual vegetable crops. This is a big change initiated by the next generation of farmers at OHF – Ellen and Aaron – and a big challenge for Ken to develop new field and equipment designs to make it possible.

So join us for an exciting season of progress and good food at Orchard Hill Farm CSA.

All the animals can feel it. Yesterday Florence, the cow (she’s pregnant – due in June) was hopping and tossing her head when I forking straw into her pen, and the horses came trotting into the barn wildly when I let them in for their dinner. The days are noticeably longer! It’s about time! I’m putting the finishing touches on the greenhouse plan, and we are ready to fire it up in two weeks for the longest maturing crops – onions, some of the cutting flowers and herbs.
Ken is finishing up kitchen cabinets and counters for the bunkhouse so that he can start training the two youngest horses in March. Martha has been helping with the cabinetry, weaving and is now re-upholstering a chair!
As I’ve been planning the garden, I’ve added A LOT more flowers to the mix – I’m planting rows of different flowers (zinnias, calendula, borage, nasturtiums and marigolds) within the garden and to divide different varieties, to attract beneficial insects and to help support natural pollinators. Hopefully it will provide more pollination for our fruiting plants, and maybe attract insects that eat the non-beneficial insects. And if nothing else, it will be beautiful!
It’s time to sign up for the CSA! If you know anyone who might like it, send them our way!!

Digging the last of the (delicious frosted) carrots

The pace of winter life on the farm is critical part of the whole. The speed and pressure of the spring and summer season is balanced by the introspective and intellectual focus of the fall and winter. This year has been especially slowed by the lack of Fall CSA – we were able to close up the garden particularly early and get the cover crop (rye) planted in October so that it would have a chance to get some roots established over the winter. Even if there isn’t much visible above ground growth, there are a lot of small roots that extend into the soil and help build up the soil’s resiliency during the cold season. This year we are experimenting with a plot of daikon radish as a cover crop in the section of the garden that we would like to plant to the earliest chard, carrots and beets. The daikon was planted in August and grew vigorously until the first frost. It winter kills and breaks down quickly so hopefully it will be easy to (gently) work up the ground in the spring for the first planting. We are always struggling to get the cover crop killed, worked in and planted when it first warms in the spring – and hopefully having a section with this already dead daikon will speed things up!

Mulched strawberries

As always, one of the last field jobs was to mulch the strawberries – they like to be good and frozen before being mulched in the fall, and a lot of times that takes until December.
We have also been taking care of construction projects that seem to take too much mental focus in the summer – even if we have time, we don’t have the mental capacity! We dug a hole 5 feet down (before it froze!) to expose a leaking water faucet in the barn and replaced it. We’ve got three new pigs in the barn – Della has named them Sprinkles, Cream Cheese and Greenie. Florence, the calf born the summer before last, is pregnant and due to calve in June! We haven’t decided whether or not to milk her (for our own use) – it’s so much milk! So many dishes…

Two of the new piggies

This year we will be training two new work horses – Flynn and Sadie. They’re now not 3 1/2 and ready to train to work! All the rest of the workers are 15-18 years old. Flynn is a character – he regularly hops up into his manger, or onto the sleigh in the paddock.
I am in the thick of garden planning right now – mapping the garden, planning a planting guide for the field and for the greenhouse. We will be experimenting this year with some permanent raised beds, and some intercropping of flowers in the vegetable garden – to help attract predators for pests as well as pollinators! Somehow the kids don’t have school and/or daycare for most of January, so I’m trying to get all my important tasks done before the end of the week! The first week of February I will be in Colombia visiting friends, and then it’ll be time to fire up the greenhouse!!
Have a healthy and happy holiday –
Ellen

Order now and pick up any of the next three Fridays before Christmas – a big bundle of vegetables – potatoes, carrots, leeks, beets, rutabaga, parsnips, kohlrabi, winter squash, winter radish and garlic! We also have a lot of eggs if you need some rich yellow yolks for that holiday baking, for only $5/dozen – all organically fed and pastured.

Here’s the Order Form – or just send an email to info@orchardhillfarm.ca and tell me what you’d like!

It would make a great gift, help you with all of that holiday cooking – and we all know that lovingly raised, local food tastes better, right? Happy holidays!!

 

‘Zhoug’

AKA middle eastern pesto (or skoug or zchoug – there are about 15 different names and spellings for it because it’s eaten in so many different places throughout the middle east). It’s often slathered all over falafel, or sandwiches with eggplant and tahini sauce. In the summertime, I like to make it just to have in the fridge (it’s good for 5-6 days) – so I can put it on sandwiches (great with tomatoes and peppers), or toss with any kind of grilled vegetable or steak. If you like to take it easy on the spicy side, substitute a green pepper for the hot ones. You can also add a chopped tomato at the end of blending (keep it chunky). Enjoy!

2 C cilantro

1 C flat leaf parsley

2 hot green peppers (jalapeno, serrano or Hungarian wax, seeds removed)

1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

1 tsp cumin seed – whole or ground

¼ tsp cardamom (optional)

¼ tsp ground cloves (optional)

½ tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

½ C olive oil

2 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp lemon juice

 

Toss in food processor or blender and blend until smooth! You’ll want to scrape down the sides of the machine a few times to make sure it’s evenly blended.

Eggplant Dip (Babaganoush)

Great alternative to dairy-based dips – delicious with bread, pita or vegetables. Or make it into a salad by adding a handful of cherry tomatoes and some chopped cucumber!

1 large eggplant (or 2 small)

1/3 C tahini

2 Tbsp water

1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed (or more if you like)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

First you need to blacken the eggplant- leave it whole and you can do it in the oven at 450˚, on the grill, or even on a gas burner on top of the stove. Blackening the skin on the outside really imparts a lovely smoky flavor to the dish, so don’t be afraid to really go for it. Another key element is getting the flesh inside the eggplant totally cooked and collapsed. So if you blacken the outside and it still seems as though the inside is raw, throw it in the oven to completely cook it. When the eggplant is totally soft and collapsed, cut a slit in the skin and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Mix it with the rest of the ingredients. If it seems too lumpy and goopy for your tastes, put it in a food processor and give it a blitz.

Options –

  • Add 3 Tbsp chopped parsley or cilantro (or both!)
  • substitute yogurt or sour cream for the tahini
  • add 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (sweet-sour flavor)