The fact that we are taking this class alongside fellow farmers really enriches the experience and we often gain insights from one another that is just as valuable. Working together has really helped build my confidence too. It has made the farm business feel more real. I know that is an odd thing to say/feel but there is this subsconscious tendency to feel negated because you are a small farm and I am not going to let myself do that anymore. Adam & I work way to hard to feel like it's for nothing. We grow valuable food!
I am doing this to ensure I have a wide variety of high quality crops for the CSA. I want to be able to harvest crops that were never sprayed. I want to be able to pick out the best of what we have for our CSA. I want to be able to surprise CSA members every week with something new. I want to be able to have a bumper crop of tomatoes and basil so I can say "thank you for supporting our farm!" As I started to answer the "why" I started to feel better about it.
So I say to all the small farmers out there. When you are in doubt or feeling lost just ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Don't get sucked into what other farms are doing because your farm is an extension of you and your values. There isn't a right way or wrong way even though it may feel that way.
Be Stubborn, Farm on!
OUR CSA VIBE
WOLFVILLE FARMERS' MARKET
WFM2GO (ONLINE ORDERING)
Squash Breeding Project
Here's one of our breeding projects on the farm. We allow different varieties of squash to cross-pollinate and then save the seeds each year. The goal of this is to end up with a squash that is perfectly adapted to growing in the Annapolis Valley and has excellent flavour, is a vigourous grower and will store for a long time through the winter.
Saving seeds has become more and more of a fascination for us each year once we learned how easy it is! Many vegetable seeds can be saved simply by removing them from the mature fruit and placing them in a container of water overnight, the viable seeds will sink to the bottom and the duds and other matter will float to the surface which can then be poured off. The remaining seeds can be placed on a cloth or paper towel next to a window to dry, then when they are fully dry place them in a bag for planting next year! If you are still unsure if the seeds are viable, take a few of them and place them in a ziploc bag with a wet paper towel and just wait to see if they sprout!
Seed-saving and the breeding of new varieties is how all the types of vegetables we now enjoy have come to be. Through all the hard work of the countless generations before us we now get to enjoy such a diversity of delicious food. For example, the corn that we now have was bred from a grain called Teosinte in what is now Mexico, and watermelon was bred from a bitter fruit with hard green flesh in the Kalahari. It's such an amazing thing to think about how much we benefit from our ancestors hard work, and it's definitely an honour to continue to work with what is literally their artwork that sustains and nourishes us. This is not just a squash, it's our history in edible form!
Silver Slicer Cucumber
Here is a variety of cucumber that our CSA members and market goers will be very familiar with- Silver Slicer Cucumber! We've been growing this type almost since we began Olde Furrow Farm and it has consistently been a favorite of ours and many, many people that try it! It's sweet, juicy and perfectly crunchy with not a hint of the bitterness that green cucumbers can sometimes get- you can eat it skin and all. We like to pick them a little smaller because they tend to be even sweeter and crunchier at that size.
Even looking at the pictures makes me think of the heat of the middle of summer and the refreshing bite of one freshly pulled off the vine (which happens quite often while they're being weeded).
Our Unique Nasturtiums
These are our beautiful and tasty Nasturtiums! We've saved seeds from them for several years now, picking out our favourite colours and letting them freely mix. The original seeds already produced beautiful flowers but over the years we've seen more pastel and bi-colour ones pop up which is always exciting!
Nasturtium flowers are edible and have a nice spicy flavour, and the leaves do as well. They go great on top of salads. The plants are really easy to grow and can get quite large in optimal conditions, and when planted next to many other vegetables they are a pest deterrent. Bees love them!
Ali Baba Watermelon
Ali Baba Watermelon - A delicious heirloom watermelon from Iraq. We grew these for the first time last year and we LOVE them. They have the best flavour out of any watermelon we've tasted or grown, and they get HUGE (30-40 lbs were some of the biggest)! In these pictures you can see them filling up our large harvest container and you can see me (Adam) cutting up one of the "small" ones. They are also shaped oblong which makes them easy to cut into chunks for the CSA shares. It's true that we had to harvest them a little early this past year because of an imminent frost (so they didn't achieve their full colour on the inside) but even then they tasted amazing. They are certainly high on the priority list for the upcoming growing season!
It's surprising that a watermelon from such a hot country like Iraq would do so well in cool and wet Nova Scotia, but once you take into account this is an heirloom that has been grown for thousands of years by different people in different weather, shared across different lands and different growing conditions it's a little less surprising that it did well. That's why heirlooms are so important! (and new varieties bred from heirlooms). They have stood the test of time for surviving and flavour.
Compare this with "commercial" varieties of vegetables which you get in the grocery stores, they are inbred over many, many generations to get the uniform shape that they think customers want, and they select more for storability and their ability to stand up to shipping then for flavour and nutrition, because if it lasts longer on the shelf it's more likely to be bought and that's more money in their pockets! Commercial varieties also are overwhelmingly sprayed by pesticides and herbicides over years and years, so each generation is less able to survive in natural growing conditions. Heirlooms are important because all those adaptable genetics haven't been bred out of them, and with the unpredictability of future weather due to climate change we are going to need these strong, resilient and nutritious varieties of vegetables.
We are so thankful for all the people that are keeping the good old vegetables alive both by growing them and by buying them! (You vote with your wallet after all) - nobody would have access to these delicious foods otherwise.
Passamaquoddy Sunchokes! They are a pretty amazing vegetable to grow since you harvest them like a potato and they grow like a sunflower! (over 6 feet tall) They are also super productive- you easily get 1lb per plant. They are great food for the bees since they bloom so late in the season, around the end of September, when most other flowers are done.
They will certainly play a large role in the future as an incredibly important food source (as they have since time immemorial for Native Americans) since they are pretty tough to kill and provide plentiful food year after year even in adverse conditions. They are very nutritious, more so than potatoes, containing more much more iron as well as inulin- a carbohydrate that doesn't metabolize in the body- meaning it's completely safe for diabetics to eat!
We've found that not everybody likes these guys, and that's understandable because they have a very noticeable flavour (as opposed to something like carrots or potatoes). We've determined that the flavour is similar to the one you get with sunflower seeds, but others have said they taste like artichokes. Another reason some don't like them is because they give some people gas, but over time we've found that really cooking them down more than you would a potato is the tastiest way to have them, as well it reduces the chance of gas. If you are part of our CSA this year just let us know if you don't like them and we will substitute for something else!
On the other hand, if you really like them, and have a patch of garden soil you are not using, you could take one and bury it about an inch or 2 down and you will have sunchokes until the end of your days! You can plant them pretty much any time the soil is unfrozen (before August if you want a decent harvest). They will even last in the frozen ground over the winter, getting sweeter tasting by the spring- that's where most of ours are right now- just waiting to be harvested for market goers in May.
This specific variety was made available to the public through Hope Seeds and we find it to be the tastiest and best looking of the kinds we've tried. They are originally from Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick.
Brandywine Tomato - one of the best tasting tomatoes ever, in fact it might just be the perfect tomato. Anyone who's tried these before can attest, there's regular tomato flavour and then there's Brandywine, it on a whole other level. It's fruitier, juicier and more tender than a lot of tomatoes and it gets huge, 1lb or more, perfect slices for sandwiches with mozzarella and basil.
Brandywine tomatoes are said to be the single most popular heirloom vegetable, and they also contributed greatly to the recent growing interest in heirlooms. They are not the most carefree tomatoes to grow however- they need to be started early because they are a late-season tomato, they tend to get a bad spot if they are touching moist soil, their skin splits if they get alot of rain at once, and we've found the pheasants on the farm really like to take little test-bites out of them! However, even with all those drawbacks, the flavour is still worth it. We actually had our best Brandywine year ever in 2018! While other vegetables had trouble in the hot and dry weather these guys thrived. We've saved seeds for these basically since we started farming, they are always a top priority to save for sure.
The best way to store tomatoes for flavour is to keep them outside of the fridge, yes they won't last as long but you will get the full fresh-off-the-vine flavour much longer. Grocery store tomatoes are harvested when still green and then ripened artificially by ethylene gas to turn them red. They do this because it allows them to be shipped farther and store longer, because they stay harder-skinned like an unripe tomato - this decreases the flavour and nutrition of tomatoes. That's why when you pick up a tomato at the Farmers Market they have more "give" to their skin, it means they are ripened naturally on the plant! It's a good thing!
Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) has gone through big changes this season and for many reasons. We would like a chance to share with you how and why we are making these changes because there is a lot of thought that goes into it!
The other benefit CSA members will get is building their relationships with local producers outside of our farm. We have always strived to share and support other producers whenever we could and we know our members would love the opportunity to grow their local food family!
Here are ten of the perennials we've decided to add to the farm. Other perennials we've added in the past are - ginkos, seabuckthorn, pawpaws, figs, mayapples as well as many herbs! You'll notice a theme amongst the plants below. One, they have multiple purposes and two, they are survivors - every farmers dream. :)
LESS of what you don't like and MORE of what you LOVE!
Choose YOUR own WEEKS and Bi-weekly options!
Flexible and Customizeable Payment Plans
Remember what's TRUE to you
We have been on this journey with our CSA for many years now and have heard it all from farmers and from customers. We were always ping-ponging back and forth with all these suggestions being thrown our way - "Remember keep the CSA simple" , "We should be able to pick exactly what we want" , "Don't be a push-over" , "Why can't I have tomatoes in May?" - the list goes on. All we could think is every one has a point and all these points are vaild but are limiting in one way or another - so how the heck do we make this work? Well the answers were already right in front of us. They were in the actions we were complusively already doing behind the scences and these were the things that MATTERED to us- which was giving the customers what they needed when they needed it whenever humanly possibly to do so!
For Olde Furrow the CSA is the BACKBONE of our farm without it we'd probably wouldn't have a farm to put it bluntly. SO WHAT if we need to be more organized - good for us! SO WHAT if we need to find more ways to communicate since everyone has different ways of doing so - good for us! SO WHAT if we need to learn to be more flexible- good for us! SO WHAT if we have to spend more time doing what we LOVE- good-for-freaking-us!
And we HOPE IT IS GOOD FOR YOU TOO! :D
I wanted to speak about some personal nourishment and how it's helped me. I came across these wonderful ferments in 2016 from Seven Acres and at the time I was having difficultly with digestion mostly due to stress (this tends to be a rather natrual state for me, something I am working on. haha) What I have come to realize is that the friendship I have built with Jocelyn greatens the nourishment I get from these delicious ferments. Anytime Adam or I pull a jar from the fridge we instantly just have a feeling or warmness and goodness.
If you have an opportunity to deepen your relationship with food - do it! Talk to the people behind the product and then take note of the first thing you grab from you fridge... :)
Adam & Courtney
MISATO ROSE RADISH
What a beautiful winter radish we've found! If you didn't know this about us already we are pretty radish obessed. In many other places radishes are like our carrots and well we think they should be! We will grow our usual black radish, green lubo radish and our classic daikon radish so no worries there.
For the last couple of years we have been trying to focus in on the most fabulous squash we could grow and while we have some favorites there is more to be discovered in the vast squash world. This Yokohama squash is suppose to have wonderful texture and depth of flavor. We are really excited to be growing it! Here is a link to its back story!
ASHE COUNTY PIMENTO
We have still to find a pepper we are undeniably in love with but we are not giving up on the journey! These pimento peppers although small are suppose to be concentrated in sweet flavor with a hint of pepperiness. And while these are commonly used in pimento cheese they can easily be a stand in for a bell pepper.
While the majority of our crops are annuals we do add more and more perennials to our farm. When adding perennials we look for not only diversity but strength and sea kale caught our eye! This plant can seemingly survive wherever and is drought tolerant - something that is very important with a changing and uncertain climate. Its flavor similar to cabbage/kohlrabi. It can be used just the same.
JUANE ET VERTE
This heirloom summer squash (zucchini) looks like a piece of art. From its frosty green color to its scalloped shape. I almost feel it's to pretty to eat! Zucchinis are one of those veggies for us that we could take or leave but so many of our customers drool over them so every year we try to bring them something new. Although zoodles have brought us closer to zucchinis.
BLACK NEBULA CARROT
No longer will you be disappointed when you cut into your purrple carrots only to find an orange carrot hiding inside! Not only that but these carrots pack high levels of anthocyanins. This is an heirloom carrot even if it looks like science fiction.
GETE OKOSIMIN SQUASH
Now for the squash that Adam has been peeing his pants to grow aka "800-yr old'. The story is the seed was preserved in a clay ball and still germinated -amazing. These suckers get up to 18lbs (my back will thank me in the fall) and have a hint of melon flavor with a smooth texture. I doubt we will be putting a whole one is the CSA shares but some cut up ones for sure!
Adam & Courtney
Olde Furrow Farmers!!