The apprenticeships on our farm end on Thanksgiving weekend. This year is unusual because our last pick-up was on Tuesday, because we started pick-ups on a Saturday. As a result, this morning, we had help from our apprentices to fill the pickup room/wood shed with firewood! This afternoon, we are lifting the gladiola bulbs to store for the winter and picking our apples! What a treat to have our own organic apples. When Ken was studying horticulture at the University of Guelph he made some extra money pruning a local apple orchard. The man who owned it had found a volunteer apple that he liked, named it “Laking” and propagated it. In the spring, Ken saved some bud wood and grafted it onto a wild apple tree in the fence row here at Orchard Hill Farm. Now, 34 years later, we have the biggest crop we have ever had. Laking are my favourite apple, crisp, juicy tart and sweet they are hard to beat!
Our CSA end of the season potluck was held on Sunday and was well attended, despite the forecast. Fortunately, the rain held off until after the party was over. As usual, we had lots of great food to share. It is a nice way to end the season and wish farewell to our apprentice crew who have worked so hard to provide wonderful organic produce for all our CSA members.
It’s hard to believe that we are already at the end of the Spring/Summer CSA season! Yesterday, it felt more like July with the hot dry weather. I guess we are making up for the cool spring. Our squash harvest has been more drawn out than ever before, while we wait for some of the squash to ripen in the field. It got off to a slow start in the spring and has needed the warm sunny weather of the last week to catch up. We are planning on bringing all the remaining squash up today. Yesterday, we finished digging the last six rows of potatoes and the field has been disced. The popcorn and ornamental corn was all picked too. Gradually, we are finishing up all the big fall harvest jobs and then we have the garlic to plant and the winter fire wood to bring up to the woodshed. Our pick-up room doubles as our wood shed. Once the main season CSA is finished we fill it up with firewood. The greenhouse is used as our Fall CSA pick-up room, because it doesn’t freeze. The produce for the Fall CSA looks great and we are looking forward to abundant harvests of stored and fresh picked produce throughout the fall. Today, we will plant a couple of the hoop houses for fresh baby greens to add to the in November pick-ups. I enjoy the challenge of extending the season and the fresh picked fall greens have such full flavour they are a big hit. We still have a few spots left in our Fall CSA.
Ken and I had a wonderful trip to Vermont and saw about 30 Suffolk Punch Draft horses on our travels. Considering it is a rare breed that was quite something. We also had fun visiting Jolianne and Jonathan, two of our past apprentices and seeing their CSA farm operation Ferme Melilot in Quebec. (www.fermemelilot.com). It’s amazing how quickly they have advanced considering how long it took us to find our way forward with our CSA farming. It is a tribute to the individuals, but also demonstrates the great benefit there is in farm apprenticeships. On route we stopped off at Prince Edward County and I picked up a cookbook with some seasonal recipes that looked good. Here are a couple adapted from The Miller’s House Cookbook by Robert Simpson:
GRATED RUTABAGA CAKES
1 lb rutabaga, peeled
1/2 lb baking potatoes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion or cooking onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Coarsely grate the rutabaga and potatoes. In a kitchen towel squeeze the grated vegetables to extract the excess liquid. In a bowl toss the grated vegetables with the flour, stir in the whole eggs, egg yolk, onion and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet heat 2 tbsp of the oil over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking and in it fry rounded tablespoons of the mixture in batches, flattening the cakes with a slotted spatula, for 1-3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden and tender. Transfer the cakes as they are fried to a warm heat proof platter, and adding more oil to the skillet as needed. If necessary,reheat the cakes before serving.
yield: about 20 cakes
SWEET POTATO SOUP
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup leeks, finely chopped ( add 1 cup onion if you don’t have leeks)
1 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, sliced thin
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 lb sweet potato (2 medium size)
1 baking potato
2 1/2 – 3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
Cook the onion, leeks, garlic and carrots in the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are soft. Add the sweet potatoes, baking potato, broth, wine and water and simmer the mixture covered for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.
In blender puree the mixture until it is very smooth. Add additional broth to thin if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.