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 😉


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.


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!


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


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!


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


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

2 Tbsp butter


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!