Adam and I just came in from the fields, we've have been weeding most of the morning and as all farmers know weeding is a time of contemplation. We have been discussing the drive/pressure we feel to make the CSA all that it can be, but at the same time through there are a lot of differences between us and other farmers that do CSAs .
The way we run the farm is a lot like a large personal garden that happens to take up 4 acres. All of crops depend on mother natures mercy but we do our part to work with her. Our irrigation system consist of one 100 gallon tank that we fill on the back of our pick up truck . All our weeding is done by hand due to the strong belief that the more you are in and around the plants the more you are aware of how they are doing in the fields e.g health or pest.
Also the manner in which we weed is quite different - a weed isn't just a weed, it has a purpose. Depending on the make up of your soil will determine what weeds gather there and the beauty in that is those weeds were constructed by mother nature to grow in that specific soil and often have the ability to harvest/produce nutrients in that soil that it lacks. Amazing huh!
Our pest management is also all done by hand. We have thought of the idea of using "organic" sprays but lets be honest they can be just as harmful to the ecosystem, although the majority of them do not accumulate in the ecosystem and break down quite quickly we just can see the point of using them as long as we are dedicated to removing pest by hand. There is also row cover which would be lovely we just haven't had the extra income to make that happen yet.
Adam & I are the only full time employees on the farm this yea.r We can only afford to hire our friend Stephaine on CSA days and Adam's brother Aaron on Market Fridays, other then that Adam and I do the other three markets and the CSA . We do everything we can to make the markets and CSA wonderful but this year has been especially trying. The season started slow with the cold weather hanging around that delayed our ability to transplant out when we wanted to. Our greenhouses we damaged and had to find time to fix them between our other job at the time at Valley Mushroom. Not to mention some of our first plantings taking weeks to actually germinate.
Our main goal is to keep the land healthy, the ecosystem happy, and keep quality vegetables for conscious customers available. In order to do this we intend to stay a small - to not sacrifice quality for quantity or sacrifice the delicate ecosystem for profit.
Courtney & Adam
At the end of last year Adam & Courtney had a choice to make, on weather or not to continue the farm without Deenie's full time help. It was a scary choice for them, they LOVED farming but the work load was pretty heavy even for three full time workers and now it would just be the two of them. Not to mention they would have to take over task they had never done solo before such as running the CSA sign-up, Ordering the seeds, General Marketing - It was all terrifying, since really the fields is where they like to be. Instead of being to afraid to grow and develop their skills as young entrepreneurs they decide to continue with full force and high hopes. First thing first, we needed more financial income, so in December Courtney and Adam started working at Valley mushroom to help supplement the start up cost just in case they were awful at maintaining and obtaining CSA customers. To their surprise it all went smoothly and successfully!! The next part was organizing the markets we were going to sign up for - for years we just attended the Kentville Farmers Market but knew it was time to expand our market base. We applied to various markets and got one yes out of four applications. Which was great, but we still needed at least one more market to reach our goal. While in the processing of establishing CSA drop off locations, we were offered our very own opportunity to run a farm market right on Bedford's main highway, 3 days a week - That's two more market days then we aimed for! So the terrifying leap of faith has been taken and the entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold!
Now that the CSA & Markets had taken root it was time to plan the season and order the seeds, which all went smoothly until the anxiously long winter kept its grip on mother nature. Courtney was tittering back and forth over to start planting in her unheated greenhouse or to wait a little longer to ensure all goes well. Her original plan would be delayed if she didn't plant but it would be delayed anyways if her plants died, so she waited and low and behold the only up and running greenhouse collapsed! So there it was, the season was starting when the fields were ready and that was that. We were able to salvage both greenhouse structures and the plastic which I am so grateful for! And even though we won't be able to start deliveries June 5th but instead on June 19th, I think will live with this little set back.
Below: Don & Deenie discussing what to do with the greenhouse once we take it all apart. Ultimately we decided to put part of it back up just enough for the seeding trays that are filling up the back room in the farm house.
-Pricing - This year CSA Members have the option of paying for a 10wk season or 20 wk season (June-Aug / Aug-Oct). We chose to do this to enable people with finanical restraints the opportunity to become a part of a CSA.
SMALL BOX $190 for 10wks / $380 for 20wks
LARGE BOX $280 for 10wks/ $560 for 20wks
-Referral Rewards- For each new person that signs up using you as a reference you get $10 off your seasonal price. Up to 5 People. Meaning you can get as much as $50 off this season!
- Student Discounts 10% off a season
-Recipes in the box
-'Customer Choice' Box - 5 days before delievery a veggie list will be emailed to you and you will have the option of "deleting" items you do not wish to see in your box. The amounts will be adjusted according to how much variety you have e.g if you have 5 veggies you would like to see you will have more of each to match price value or if you want more variety you would get smaller amounts of each. (AVAILABLE TO ALL CSA MEMBERS AT NO EXTRA COST)
-'Market Fresh' Box- This box includes the usual veggies plus 22 dollars worth of Kentville Farmers Market edible items (e.g pasta, bread, eggs, honey, pastries, etc) Items would vary from week to week as different items become available. (LIMITED SIGNUP)
PRICE: $500 per 10Wks
SIGN UP DEADLINES
MAY 1st - for the first 10wks/ the full 20wks
JULY 1st - for the seconds 10 wks
Well I have to tell you.....this spring has been VERY BUSY to say the least! I don't even know where to begin!
We started with the website and facebook ( business side of things), getting the fields ready from last year; plowing a new field.....oh before even that..... we put up a greenhouse!
With fields ready and greenhouse up; we then had to plan the fields (planting), order seeds and plant, plant, plant! The weather was very helpful this spring with beautiful sunny days. One of the greatest joys I personally have is listening to the birds while in the fields. They are soooo busy getting their nests ready for up coming family arrivals. I see lots of American Gold Finches, Blue Jays, Black Birds, Mourning Doves, Sparrows, Crows, Ravens, Red Tailed Hawks, Pheasants and many more......oh and of course...our family of Eagles!
While in the fields, they tend to fly over watching what we are doing.
Last year was our first season, so planting was the basics; one kind of tomato, one or two kinds of beans, etc. I just wanted to learn what would grow on this land. This year is quite a bit different! To list some of what we have planned for this season:
Serveral types of Sunflowers, so far 3 different types of carrots, 2 of spinach, mixed greens, mild and spicey. We have 6 different varieties of potatoes planted. Cabbage ( seeds and transplants). Beans so far about 4 different varieties.Arugula, kale, peas, 3 different varieties of beets so far, eggplant ( not sure how they are going to do; but we'll try them). Ornamental corn and sweet corn, 4 varieties of cucumbers, about seven varieties of tomatoes ( some I started from herloom seed and some from transplants). Leeks are new this year; along with cauliflower, brussel sprouts and brocolli ( again some I started from seed and some transplants). Radish, head lettuce ( various types , like romaine, butterhead, red rapids, ice burg). Celery, onions, asparugus ( for next year), swiss chard, Summer squash ( 4 varieties), winter squash ( 2 varieties), pumpkins ( I think 4- Jack-o-lantern, knucklehead, pie, little craft ones), watermelon, cantaloupe, ornamental gourds ( for fall decorating and bird house variety), peppers ( from seed and transplants - green, red, and 3 hot pepper varieties), turnip will be a bit later. I also started herbs this year....most from seed. Lavendar, rosemary,basil, cilantro ( my favorite), parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, summer savory, dill, and borage ( this is mostly for helping in the garden with insect control). And more planting to come!
A couple of exciting things that have happened ... one-thanks to the greenhouse; when the Kentville Farmers Market opened on May 16th; we were there...with produce to sell! I was very happy and pleased that we could open with the market! That was a big milestone for us!
Another exciting thing is our CSA program. It has been received very well this year. We have filled all our shares with families that are as excited as we are to have the fresh produce every week for a 20-week share. We will delivering out first boxes in a couple of weeks and I am very excited.
We have been very busy this spring... that includes Don ( on his weekends and evenings because he works full time in the city), Adam helping with ....everything from putting up the greenhouse to weeding), Courney with her knowledge of plants (many discussions on varieites and what we should plant), Aaron ( even though he was in St.John`s most of the spring) managed to write and record the catchy jungle for our website ( which was inspired on the farm last summer), Leah with her knowledge of computers, helped many times when I was stumped on how to ( drop a picture into a paragragh or even SAVE!). And myself...well a little of everything.
I am very excited to see the results of all this hard but rewarding work. We will be at the Kentville farmers Market every Wed. til Dec.21st and our CSA program id from June to end of Oct. Farming.......the best ! Till later in the season! Happy eating!
We recently went on a trip to Cuba for a vacation with Leah (our Daughter - it was her 18th B-Day!). While there we visited a couple of
farms....just had to.... It was a very interesting adventure! We asked a taxi driver (driving a 56 Chevy with a very smokey diesel engine) if he could take us to see some farms.....I`m not sure he understood what we were looking for because as we drove by this particular farm and I screamed stop! Right here! He pulled into the market that was in front of the farm. This farm was right in the city of Veredaro. It was about an acre and a half of raised beds fenced in. There were sidewalks right beside it, streets, buses, cars...everything a city
would have but a farm in the middle of it. The farmer who worked this land was happy to let us walk through his fields while he tended to his market. There was a restaurant right beside his farm which apparently he supplied with fresh produce. Nice ay! He had pretty much all of the same veggies we plant in these raised beds; leaf lettuce, beans, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. at
various stages of growth. He grew for this restaurant next door, his family and local community. What a concept! A hint of sarcasm! The raised beds were made out of recycled concrete blocks. We saw no tractor; he did this all by hand. The one thing we learned while visiting these farms is: SUSTAINABILITY. They reused and recycled everything! They used very little farming equipment and a lot of manual labor! This farmer filled these raised beds with a shovel and wagon. Planted, weeded and harvested everything by hand! The irrigation system was very primitive as well. Rubber tubes with holes at various distances placed in the middle of the bed. This was hooked up to shut off valve. To stop the flow; they just pinched the hoes with an elastic band.
The second farm was a little farther away. It also had a market in the front of the farm. There were two people running this particular market. This farm was a bigger operation; about 5-6 acres of raised beds. There was a crew of 6 men who worked these fields and only one spoke English and was the head worker. He was again very happy to show us the fields. Very proud of what they accomplished....and so they should be; all done by hand; using only hand tools and some wagons! Their carbon footprint.......very small!!!! On this farm; they grew for their families, local community and for some of the resorts close by. Both farms DID NOT use any chemicals, pesticides or fertilizer other than compost which they made on their farms from the produce they grew. When I mentioned `"Organic", he did not know what that meant. They just farmed! In Canada, saying you are an organic farmer means something! I thought farmers in Canada worked hard....but after seeing what they had to work with....I had a whole new appreciation for these people! Something you would see thrown out in the garbage here, was recycled and reused in another way. EX: Wheels from some old machine was reused to make a wagon. Wood that we would consider throwing out was stored in a specific location on the farm and reused to build a fence, a wagon, a raised bed or even a storage hut, etc. Old steel from buildings that were torn down was hammered out to straighten it and reused again to build or fix up another building. All preparation of the soil, planting, weeding and harvesting was done by hand. Seed saving was very valuable to them. While on the second farm, the head worker picked some plantains growing on the farm and we got to taste a fresh pick plantain (small bananas). It gave me a whole new appreciation of the work that went into the buffet at the resort!!!!!! The second farm had fresh herbs that they grew for the resorts, like, mint (for thedrinks) and fresh oregano; t I have to tell you that visiting the farms was one of the highlights of my trip! They were VERY happy to talk to us knowing we were farmers as well! They asked us
questions of how’s and what’s as much as we did. I am very happy to have had that experience and will go into this growing season with a whole new perspective. Being sustainable CAN be reality!!!! We have posted some pictures and videos of this experience on our face book page. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did! Til next time!
Welcome our Blog page! This will be the first of many to come! We are soooo excited about getting our website up and running! It seems everything is under full swing. It's SPRING! The birds are busy! The weather is getting better each day! And we are just itching to be in the fields! This weekend , the greenhouse is getting it's finshing touches by Adam and Don. How exciting! Courtney , Leah and I are dying to start planting. I know it's still too early! And Lewie and Shallie( the family dogs) are always looking for something to chase!
We will be adding to the website as we go..... recipes and tips on how to prepare and use up your veggies will be coming a little later.
Thanks soooo much to all those that supported us last summer with our first season; I invite you back for this season along with our new supporters.
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