‘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)

IMG_9963If I’m being honest, I know that it’s August if I’ve had ratatouille and a good cry. Most of my resilience is used up by August and I don’t have much in reserve. I’m ready for a season change. It’s time to harvest so many things – which I love – no one who cooks or preserves can say that they don’t love a good bounty. But at the same time – it’s hot, everything needs to be picked and pickled, plucked and preserved all at the same time, and you’re trying to make sure that you have enough of everything else still growing to get through till frost. Oh, and there’s usually irrigation pipe to move, hay to cut (do I want it to rain or not to rain?) and 2 or 3 years of your life and fields to plan and prep for cover crops. So I usually have a good cry and get it all done and then in February look at photos and think how beautiful it all is!

However – there are so many wonderful things that I love about this time of year – the peppers (the red ones are just coming on now), eggplant, melons and tomatoes! Hot days and cool nights. Lots of pasture for the animals. Starting to clean the slate by taking out crops that are done and tucking in cover crops to grow before the end of the sunlight – keeping roots in the soil so that all the microbes will be happy and help us produce beautiful veg next year. Also – so many events!!

FRESH FEST – This Thursday, Seed Confections in St Thomas (a one woman shop, really gorgeous and tasty chocolates and macarons) will be using our beets, sumac and raspberries in her offering for Fresh Fest, the local food event in St Thomas – get tickets ahead or at the door, and then sample from local food vendors (and the farms behind them!).

VEGAN FARM DINNER AT WILDFLOWERS – On Saturday, September 16th, Wildflowers Farm (just down the road on Fruit Ridge – the owners of the bee hives on our farm) will be having a plant-based dinner on their farm – $50 per ticket. I will be making the soup course, and Seth of La Houlette de Vie will be supplying bread. There will also be wine and live music!

ORCHARD HILL FARM DINNER – Our farm dinner will be on Saturday, September 23rd 5:30-8 – four courses and wine pairing by Quai du Vin for $75 per ticket. We will be featuring lots of vegetables from the farm and pastured duck from Three Ridges Farm. There are only a few tickets left, and I will be publishing a menu soon.

RECIPES – There’s a wealth of recipes in the archives of this blog, and most of them are well labelled, so if you search ‘zucchini’ you’ll come up with a bunch of recipes! Here are a few of the hits for this season:

Kale Chips
Ok – so it’s not very seasonal (there are so many other things to eat this time of year, anyway), but I heard someone talking about them last week and they’re so good!
Flavour Paste:
1 red bell pepper, roasted and skin removed.

1 cup unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour

1 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste.

Blend until consistency of yogurt. Massage onto kale leaves that have had the stem removed and ripped into chip-sized pieces.  It should be covered like a light salad dressing.  Bake at 175 degrees for approx 3 hours, until crispy.

When cool, keep in an airtight container for up to a few days.

The paste recipe is easily doubled, and can keep in the fridge for a few days. It also freezes well. It is a great idea to double the batch and freeze the leftovers so that the next time you have kale, you have the paste easily available – just defrost and spread.

Panzanella (aka Bread Salad)

1 baguette, a dense artisan style loaf works best – Seth’s would be great

1/2 cup olive oil

3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, halved (seeded if necessary) and cut into bite sized pieces.

3 cups tomato, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped.

Whisk oil, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper together in a large salad bowl.

Add onion to dressing and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad. … it softens the bite of onion and adds a nice taste to the dressing.

Slice baguette lengthwise into quarters (you should have 4 long pieces), brush with oil an grill until toasted on all sides.  Remove, cool, cut into bite-sized chunks.

Add tomato, cucumber, basil and bread.  Toss and serve.

* can be served with grilled boneless skinless chicken breast that have marinated for about 2 hours  in …. 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 white wine, 2 Tbsp each fresh rosemary and thyme, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tsp mustard, 2 tsp sugar.

Baby Zucchini Pasta

This is a light, fragrant and very quickly made pasta dish using very firm baby zucchini, which hardly needs to be cooked at all.  The idea is to slice them as thinly as possible in an irregular fashion.  The big fat zucchini that are fluffy inside, won’t do for this recipe.

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove finely chopped garlic

8-10 small very firm zucchini

juice of 1 lemon

1 good handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

1 pound of pasta

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated.

Put the olive oil and garlic into a thick bottomed pan and set over medium-high heat and fry for about 30 seconds without colouring, then add your baby zucchini and toss gently.  After about 2 minutes squeeze in the juice of the lemon, add the basil and cook a little longer.

Meanwhile cook the past in boiling salted water until al dente.  Toss it with the zucchini to mix the flavours, season to taste and add the Parmesan to round all the flavours together- you may need a little extra olive oil to loosen it.  Serve with some torn basil and a sprinkling of Parmesan on top.IMG_0002

 

0P5A9289-edit When I was a kid I thought everyone knew that the first line of defense for a toad is to pee. Toad pee was a part of my life, because I loved to catch toads. Just like I knew that you can’t eat rhubarb leaves because they’re poisonous (but toads love the moist mulch and cool shade of their leaves), and that if you had a bee sting and were out in the field, you could chew the leaf of a plantain and put the pulp on the welt to take the sting away. These are the lessons that I see my children learning on the farm, from people and from nature – the same lessons that I learned as a child here. I tried to explain to my husband recently that although I was open to talk of moving to another place, or to travel, and although we lived together in Portland, Oregon for 12 years – there would never be another place that was home because this land – the taste of the last tiny ripe strawberry, the smell of hay drying, the weight of the wind in August, the itch of peach fuzz – it has been such a tangible part of me that I can’t imagine having that relationship with any other place in the world.

For two years, I’ve been anticipating having a farm dinner – a semi formal affair, hosted on a part of the farm that’s romantic, relatively fly-free, away from the barn, slightly tarnished mostly matching vintage silver plated flatware (I feel like it’s an analogy for the farm), and extremely localized food. The kind of food, that as a chef, I think about making when I’m harvesting at 8am – it’s the most inspiring thing, to walk around a garden, thinking about what I could make with these tiny perfect leeks that you can never buy in the store because they’re usually harvested 2 months later. Or how much more elegant I could make a plate of pasta with this purple basil.

But I’m a farmer! We have a 100 member CSA, which means that we’re growing the vegetables for 100 families. They come to the farm to pick up the vegetables, and we have relationships with all of these people that are passionate enough about farm life, or fresh food, or organic vegetables, that they drive sometimes 45 minutes once a week to see us. So I have crops to plant and harvest and weed – and not a lot of time to plan a party. But I designed the CSA pick ups and schedule this year so that I would have time to have 2 dinners – one in July, and one in September (one before and one after the flies). I collected vintage silver plated flatware. I scoured the local Bibles for Missions for vintage stemware. I made a light fixture out of wild grape wines to hang in the tree above the single long table. I borrowed 3 tablecloths from my grandmother and 3 from my mother.

And I made hay and honey panna cotta – to capture for the diners that intoxicating aroma of a freshly cut field of hay. I steeped together alfalfa, clover and pineapple weed with milk, sweetened with honey (from hives beside the hay field), and served it with wild mulberries, blackcaps, raspberries and whipped cream. Because I want people to taste this place like I do.

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We will be cooking some food from the farm this Sunday 2-6pm at Wildflowers Solstice Party! http://www.wildflowersfarmsolstice.com It’s only $10 (advance tickets) and $15 at the door – chock full of fun music, local food and artisan vendors. Come say hi – and eat some black bean and roasted carrot salad, or an ancho chile pulled pork sando on a Houlette de Vie bun!

It’s been a busy month on the farm! I went to Italy for a week and a half – helping my old boss and friend teach a cooking class at a villa in Tuscany – a lovely place, an organic farm with olives, a vegetable garden and some livestock.  http://www.montecastelli.com/home/

IMG_9872The first day there we made coq au vin with 3 roosters that the grandmother deemed ‘no good’ (the younger generation still hasn’t worked out what exactly puts a rooster in this category). It was a lovely week and I came back refreshed and newly appreciative of the support that I have here to make it all possible. Maybe a little guilty, too, because it was a doozy of a week – the strawberries are ready, they baled hay in the first round of really hot weather, there were birthdays to celebrate, and the zucchini started! And of course, they got the second flat tire on the tractor in a week, the squash all had to be weeded and mulched and all the fall seeds were ready to go in the ground. But what a team! They did it! I am extremely grateful, too, that I have a husband that can wrangle a 10-kid 5 year old birthday party (and deal with the fall out the next day).

And when I came back – summer had sprung! It’s so inspiring to have a new ingredient to work with each week – when I was planning for this year, I thought a lot about what I would be excited about at the farmers market in Portland, and I was always excited to get the first zucchini – I know, I know – zucchini gets a bad rap because everyone gets sick of it by the end of the season – but I made an effort this year to have EARLY zucchini, because that’s when I’m the most excited to see it (a grill-able vegetable when it’s first time to grill! Something that tastes great smothered with the herbs that are just starting to come on – i.e. parsley and basil!). So we planted the zucchini in April in the hoophouse and after a rough start – it was overly mature when it first went in the ground because I thought we would move and plant the hoophouse even earlier, so it was flowering when we finally got it in there and then it frosted hard for two nights in a row! So they were hating it and I was kicking myself for making such a big production for zucchini….but now, after some fertilization and some TLC, they look great! The other thing about zucchini is that it often poops out (gets diseased/weird and we stop picking it) before the glut of the peppers and tomatoes and eggplant are ready, and so all of the ratatouille dreams I have shrivel up like the diseased plants. So this year there will be a late planting too – for ratatouille! Ha! We will now refer to this summer as ‘2017, the year Ellen went nuts with the zucchini’.

Recent favourite zucchini recipes –

  • blacken them on the grill to eat as is  – slice them thick – 3/4-1″ thick, brush with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, throw them on a hot grill until charred well – either on one side, or two.
  • pasta sauce/dip – blend up blackened slices in a food processor or blender with some garlic scapes (I know you have some of those), toasted nuts, salt, pepper, a handful of parsley and/or basil and then add olive oil slowly while it’s running. Toss with hot pasta, or chick peas for a fast, veggie dinner.

IMG_9917In other garden news – there are still strawberries out there to pick! Both varieties are ready now (Annapolis and Jewel). The winter squash plants look great – last year we had a tough season for the squash, but this year they’re off to a great start. We gave them a heavy dose of nutrients when we planted them, covered them with row cover to protect them from the cucumber beetles and now have uncovered them (they can handle some beetles when they get a little bigger and stronger), mulched them with hay from barn and now they’re growing like gangbusters. IMG_9921

 

One of the first things we have this year is Hakurei (HACK-er-eye), a Japanese salad turnip. It’s crunchy and sweet, and best fresh or barely cooked. You can sauté it briefly, or add it to a soup, but really it’s best eaten the way it is, or with some hummus or your favourite dip. IMG_9201Don’t throw out those greens, either! They’re highly nutritious and really lovely added to a soup at the last moment – they have a peppery flavour that really livens up a root vegetable soup, or a chicken noodle soup.   The greens are an excellent source of antioxidants such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C, carotenoid, xanthin, vitamin-K and lutein.

Rhubarb Lemonade

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to have a pile of rhubarb if you’re not a big baker – but it’s really easy to make rhubarb lemonade – just roughly chop the rhubarb and throw it in a pot with just an inch of water in the bottom. Put a lid on it and cook it over medium heat until the rhubarb has collapsed. Use a colander over a bowl to strain the rhubarb from the juice. Toss the rhubarb out, and put the juice back in the pot. Add a healthy handful of sugar and heat to dissolve the sugar. Taste and add more sugar until it’s as sweet as you like! Depending on how much rhubarb you start with, it may be very concentrated – keep it as a concentrate in the fridge (it will keep for a couple of weeks), and add water (or sparkling water!) to taste. Also good with vodka 😉

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I love pick up day! It’s so fun to harvest and watch people take home vegetables. I’m happy that it’s that time again – rather than early spring, when you don’t know when you’re going to be able to plant things, or if everything is going to get eaten by slugs, flea beetles or voles…phew! We are getting ready to plant a few rounds of corn – sweet and polenta varieties, and some squash and melons. Hopefully it doesn’t rain too much this week and we can get them in the ground. It was nice to get some moisture this weekend though – to encourage the plants that are out there to keep growing!

We have a great team on the farm this year, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about them – here are their faces – Yoan and Maike are married and have already worked together on other farms in Australia and Germany. Connor is the one in the front.

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Yoan is an Electrical Engineer who believes that there is more in life than Ohm’s law. He started learning about permaculture, herbal medicine and gardening many years ago volunteering on farms on three different continents and is now in his third full time season of working at organic market garden farms. He really likes picking vegetables straight from the field and eating them when they are still sun-warm, fixing and improving tools on the farm in creative ways, and working the soil with his hands rather than a computer keyboard.

Maike is a trained anthropologist, but rather than starting a research project on young professionals who decide to move from the city to the country, she decided to give it a go herself. After a first year of interning on horse-powered CSA farms in Germany, she is very happy to keep learning about market gardening, driving horses, and managing a CSA farm at Orchard Hill. She particularly likes entering the stable early in the morning and being greeted by horses whinnying, helping to grow vegetable from seed to harvest, and finishing the day with a delicious homegrown, home cooked meal.

Connor came to Orchard Hill with high recommendation from a restaurant in Guelph called ‘Artisanale’, where he worked for 2 years. He’s 23, and grew up in Hamilton and Port Coburn, Ontario. He loves dogs, making desserts and rolling his eyes at the political ‘admin’ in the States.

I’m so grateful for their enthusiasm and hard work!

As promised, here is Maike’s mother’s rhubarb cake recipe…

Regina’s Rhubarb Cake

This is what Maike describes as her mother’s ‘best’ rhubarb cake. Recently she made the cake a little soft in the center and I thought it was even better – kind of like a cake batter custard!

Cake

½ C butter

½ C + 2 Tbsp sugar

3 eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla

¼ tsp of salt

¼ tsp lemon zest

2 tsp. baking powder

1 ½ C all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp milk

3-4 stems of rhubarb

1 tbsp. brown sugar

Meringue

2 egg whites

½ C sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F

To make the dough:

  • Whisk together butter, sugar, and 3 eggs until smooth and creamy
  • Add vanilla, salt, lemon zest, and milk to the mixture
  • Combine baking powder and flour and add to the mixture
  • Pour dough into a buttered 9” springform pan

For the rhubarb filling:

  • Cut rhubarb stems into 3-4cm long chunks (pealing the rhubarb is not necessary)
  • Place rhubarb unto the dough in the baking tin
  • Sprinkle brown sugar over the rhubarb
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes

For the meringue topping:

  • While the cake is baking, beat 2 egg whites until frothy.
  • While whisking, add ½ C sugar slowly and continue to beat to stiff peaks.
  • Spread on cake
  • Bake cake with meringue for an additional 15-20 minutes

It’s asparagus season! Here are a few recipes to get you started. At the Open House on Saturday, I made the Asparagus and Ramp soup – it’s delicious and the most vibrant green.

Pick ups start next Wednesday! It’s been so cool recently that the crops have really slowed down, but we’ve got asparagus and rhubarb and some really gorgeous green onions as well as some other things. Just remember that the season starts slow, but makes up for it in the summer and fall!

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Asparagus and Ramp Soup with Yogurt

This is a quick but elegant soup, featuring asparagus and ramps (wild leeks – if you pick only the leaves, they’ll come back year after year – pulling the whole plant devastates the population). You can also use green garlic, leeks, or green onions.

2 pounds asparagus, root end trimmed

salt

1 pound ramps (only need the leaves), green garlic or green onions

2 Tbsp butter

pepper

2 C veg or chicken broth

1 C plain (full fat is best) yogurt

¼ C olive oil

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp chopped mint

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Prepare an ice bath (or at least a cold water bath – I don’t always bother with the ice) to cool the asparagus as it comes out of the pot.

Cut the tips (about an inch or two) off the tips of the asparagus and blanch them in the salted water – about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and put in the ice bath til cool, then transfer them to a plate and set aside as a garnish for the soup. Add the asparagus stalks to the blanching water and cook them until just tender – about 2 minutes. Chill in the ice bath and then transfer to your blender.

Separate the ramps – set aside a quarter of them as the garnish. Heat a large skillet and chop the remaining three quarters ramps roughly and sauté in 1 Tablespoon butter until tender and lightly browned. Throw them into the blender jar with the asparagus. Add the broth and yogurt, and blend on high speed until totally smooth. With blender running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pot and heat gently (not too long or it will turn army green). When ready to serve, stir in lemon juice. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in skillet and sauté the asparagus and the garnish ramps together.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with asparagus tips and ramps, as well as chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil.

 

Asparagus and White Bean Salad

You may remember this salad from a few years ago – I first started making it in Portland. Make your own beans for the very best salad possible, but use canned if you must. Any type of slightly salty, firm-ish cheese will do – cotija (kind of like Mexican feta – salty and crumbly) is lovely but you can also use feta, pecorino, or a fresh water buffalo cheese from Monforte Dairy.

1 bunch (1 – 1 ½ pound) asparagus, cut in pieces about twice the size of the beans

2 C cooked white beans (cannellini or navy beans), drained of liquid

1/3 C cubed or crumbled cotija cheese

¼ tsp lemon zest

Juice of at least half a lemon, more if you like

1 small shallot, minced

¼ C parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp mint, chopped

3 Tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. It seems like a lot, but the asparagus is only in the water for a short time, so the seasoning has to be aggressive to have an effect. Also prepare an ice bath – a bowl of cold water with a cup or two of ice in it to cool the hot asparagus and halt the cooking process.

Blanch the asparagus for a short amount of time – like 30 seconds. You want it to still taste fresh and not at all mushy, so when it’s turned bright green after 30 seconds, it might be done! Pull it out with a slotted spoon into the ice bath. When cool, remove to a plate lined with a towel to dry.

Place everything in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Add a little more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

 

Lacto-Fermented Asparagus Pickles

Just like all fermented pickles, there’s not much to these aside from the process, time and my favorite – air locks! An air lock jar allows the gases created during the fermentation process to escape, while ensuring that no air gets in to the jar to feed the bacteria (and mold) that you don’t want in there. Harvest Pantry – a stall at the Western Fair – sells gallon jars with an air lock for $16 or so and they’re perfect.

 

Asaparagus – as much as you think you’ll eat! Leave whole or chop

Garlic – green garlic, or a clove or two of regular garlic

Lemon (optional – a slice or two)

Dill (a big sprig – also optional – but if you love dill pickles, why not dilly asparagus?)

5 Tbsp salt

8 C water

Place the asparagus in the jar and pack as tightly as possible. Throw the garlic and/ or lemon in there too.

Dissolve the salt (use Himalayan or a pure sea salt, no iodine) in the water (use natural spring water – well water is good, not treated city water) and pour over the asparagus until submerged. Don’t worry too much about the asparagus poking out of the brine, if you’re using an airlock, it should be fine.

Sit it in a dark corner or cupboard for 3-5 days. The longer it sits, the more ‘vinegar-y’ they will taste. Then refrigerate and enjoy for the next month or two.

See you soon!

 

HouseCome visit the farm next Saturday May 6th and celebrate spring! RSVP to info@orchardhillfarm.ca if you can make it, but if you forget – come anyway. We will have wagon rides, an asparagus cooking demo at 3pm and snacks! There will be plants, eggs, honey and bread for sale, and it’s a great chance to check out the farm if you’re thinking of joining the CSA – there’s still room. If you’re already a member, it’s a great time to drop off payment and visit with fellow members.

The pick ups will start Wednesday, May 17th (or 24th for some half shares)! If you’re signed up and haven’t gotten an email from info@orchardhillfarm.ca, please let me know!

We have planted a lot of the early crops, and the first few weeks were full of tests – we tasted all the varieties of potatoes that did well against leaf hoppers, performed well in storage and chose 3 to plant again this year. We are participating in a potato trial run by the Bauta Seed Initiative to try and come up with new varieties of potatoes that grow well under organic conditions (and taste good!). We will be receiving some new varieties to trial again this year. Here’s a photo of our three interns for the 2017 season, and the line up for tasting – their name’s are Yoan, Maike and Connor. They have already been a great help with all of the early season work and are getting along well with the horses.

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Another trial that we’re running this year is in the garlic field that was planted last fall – we have divided it into 15 sections, and there are 3 different tests on randomly selected plots within the field – we will attempt to control weeds using a living cover crop (oats), mulch (hay) and standard cultivation. Here is a hill view of the field with the mulched sections visible.

IMG_8877Ken and Martha are all moved in to their new(ish) house, the one on the laneway that was under construction in the fall. There are still a few pieces to keep them busy next winter (tiling floors, doors, railings, etc), but the kitchen drawers and counters that Ken built from raw edged walnut slabs are absolutely beautiful.

IMG_8890Hope you’re enjoying the beautiful weather and we’ll see you soon!

Ellen

 

IMG_8719Is it spring? It must be because there are English Violets (so fragrant it’s incredible – here infusing some sugar to be used for a future project – perhaps a FARM DINNER in June??!), apprentices and the greenhouse is looking – well, green.

Come see us this Saturday, April 8th at the Go Wild Grow Wild event in London at the Western Fairgrounds! There are tons of fun people to see and things to do (hawks, snakes, climbing wall) – we will be there spreading the word about the CSA and handing out popcorn. If any of you members need some popcorn – stop by and pick up some at the farm or at Go Wild!IMG_8372

We also have a lot of eggs from some enthusiastic new laying hens – the eggs are $6/dozen and they’re in the white cooler, just drop the money in the (plastic) jar! Last week Martha and I, with baby Frankie, went to get some new laying hens – organic pullets from around Kitchener.  A pullet is a young hen that’s ready to lay. We’ve got 50 new chickens – hopefully they’re more obedient than the chickens that we have now – we have 20 chickens that we got in the fall that will not stay in the beautiful huge pastured area that they have to explore, because they’ve discovered the rest of the barnyard and feel as though they are being ripped off if they can’t eat blueberry roots, dropped grain and all the roots of the flowers in the flower beds.

Greenhouse is filling up, but there’s still more to go in for another couple of weeks. Onions, leeks, shallots, hoophouse tomatoes, ground cherries, tomatillos, herbs and lots of flowers have been started, along with some sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kohlrabi. We just planted out the first pok choi and head lettuce into hoop houses. We plant head lettuce every 2 weeks from now until September so that we can offer lettuce every week to our members.

When it gets really cold, we have to stoke the fire in the greenhouse in the middle of the night, as well as before bed and right away in the morning. Not having to keep all the plants warm makes spring that much sweeter!

Ken and Martha have made a lot of progress on the massive bunkhouse renovation in the last few weeks – they’ve got the propane hooked up for hot water and a working stove. Martha did all of the drywall, mudding and painting. Ken has made all of the trim for the window sills. They have a bathroom that’s awaiting tiling, and a kitchen that is gradually getting cabinets, drawers and counters – there’s a lot of beautiful raw edged walnut from the farm. Martha loves it that it’s been raining because it means that Ken wasn’t been pulled away from construction and wood working to do farm work quite as soon as he might have been. Here is the fancy moving equipment that we use here on the farm! IMG_8495

Now we have 3 new members of the team – the interns Connor, Yoan and Maike! They just arrived last week and have been settling in – today they started working with the horses and they did great! It’s always fun to meet the new people that we will be working and (mostly) living with for the season, and to see things from their perspective for a while.IMG_8697