Every week continues to be filled up with events here at Orchard Hill Farm. On Wednesday, July 17th we had a Ecological Farmers of Ontario Field Day to demonstrate how Draft Horses can be successfully used for a small vegetable operation. It was an interesting day for participants despite the intense heat! Bill raked the wheat straw at the same time and we were able to get it into the barn the next day without any rain on it! The apprentices enjoyed throwing around straw after the heavier hay of the week before.
Ken, Bill and I have spent the last three days getting ready for the first Fall CSA pick-up! Today we were realizing that we are picking a two week share, which means double the volume that we usually prepare for our main season pick-ups, with half the people. However, things are well in hand for tomorrow and we are looking forward to the first Fall pick-up. I am pleased to be able to use the new greenhouse as our pick-up room. We are missing Amanda, Elizabeth and Michelle as we move forward with the season, but wish them well as they carry on with their own pursuits. We managed to get the garlic planted while everyone was here and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal to finish off the season with an amazing sweet potato pie topped with home made sweet potato ice cream with a carmel sauce made from Mabel’s cream!
Ken and I left after Thanksgiving for a holiday on Manitoulin Island, while Bill held for fort here. We saw the salmon spawning at Bridal Veil Falls and did some hiking. It’s good to go away for some perspective, but we were happy to be home again upon our return.
I have a couple of recipes to share:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, green top removed, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 celeriac, peeled, roughly diced
- 1 potato, peeled, roughly diced
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup 35% cream
- pinch fresh nutmeg
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds for garnish
- salt and pepper
- Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat.
- Once butter has melted, place leeks, onion, bay leaves and thyme in pot, stir until onions are translucent.
- Add white wine and reduce liquid by 2/3.
- Add celeriac and potato, stir.
- Add vegetable stock, bring up to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook until celeriac is tender, approximately 35-40 minutes.
- Transfer mixture into a food processor, puree until smooth.
- Stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- To serve, garnish with sour cream and black sesame seeds.
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons onions thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 medium beets, cooked and quartered or (sliced in 2 inch pieces for Cylindra)
- 6 cups fresh arugula
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
- 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Whisk the vinegar, onions, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with goat cheese, and serve.
Today was a typical busy day at Orchard Hill Farm. Tuesday is always a pick-up day and after the flurry of activity in the morning getting the produce ready for the pick-up some of us moved on to other things. I walked around the farm and took pictures of all the goings on at the same time. Elizabeth, Michelle and Caesar were weeding mesclun in the main garden, Ken was plowing this year’s corn ground (now that CSA working share members picked all the popcorn and ornamental corn), and Bill was seeding wheat in the field that he had cultivated yesterday with our Suffolk Punch Horses, while many of our CSA members were picking and snacking their way through the raspberry patch. We will now seed the corn ground to rye for a winter cover and start in plowing this year’s squash ground and plant it to rye as well. We will finish seeding the hoop houses with greens tomorrow for our Fall CSA and bag up our cured sweet potatoes. The gladiola bulbs need to be dug and put in the basement over winter and a bit more cover crop seeding done in the main garden to prevent erosion over the winter.
As I was strolling around trying to capture pictures of all that was happening on the farm I snapped a picture of the garden plots for next season seeded down with mustard, rye and Sorghum Sudan grass. I then walked over to take a picture of Bill planting the wheat. The seed bed looked so beautiful with its soft, fluffy soil and lots of organic matter. I cast back over the summer, sorry that the ground wouldn’t be the destination of the 2013 CSA main garden after all, despite Ken’s careful preparation of the land. The hay had been cut and left in the field to be worked in, more hay from another field had been brought in addition to increase the organic matter, the land was then plowed in 2012 and planted to buckwheat. Soil samples were taken and minerals and compost spread and worked in to balance the soil. The reason for the change of garden location was the wire worm problems we had right next door in this year’s early garden…the warm winter last year seems to have been the contributing factor and perhaps a soil type preference. So we changed the location of the garden for 2013 and started preparing ground on the other side of the lane in hopes to avoid wire worm. Then we found wire worm there too! After considerable alarm and research we are starting in on a new cover crop approach that includes mustard and trying to avoid cereal grains in May when the click beetle (adult wire worm) lays it’s eggs. The challenge is coming up with a rotation that works and still adds back organic matter to the soil and leaves the ground covered over winter to prevent erosion. There is considerable research going on for wire worm problems and we will be experimenting here as we try and keep abreast of other people’s results. One of our CSA members, Jeff Tolman, a retired Ag Canada entomologist, has been a great assistance to us in our quest to figure out what to do. All I can say is, we should have a bumper crop of wheat in 2013 after all the care that went in to preparing the ground.
Sunday is our CSA Pot Luck and next week is the last week of our main season CSA. We will be sadly saying good bye to our two wonderful young women apprentices, Amanda and Elizabeth. All of our apprenticed have given us so much support and energy over the season we are very appreciative and grateful to them all! Bill will be staying with us over the winter and for next season and we are very happy to have him with us for another year! Michelle has also been a big boost this season as she has popped in and out to give us a hand! We wish her well in her farm search.