Autumn has arrived. Our calendars now agree with the shortening days, cooler nights and the yellow confetti of ash leaves on the lane-way. The garden reacts by producing large floppy leaves of kale, thick stalks of leeks and crates and crates of winter squash. It also means that many people are changing gears. Steve Laing, who spent the last five months living, working and learning at Riverglen is heading back to class at the end of the week.
The success of our enterprise demands largely on our summer interns, who spend their spring and summer fully immersed in the rhythms of the farm. On top of routine garden tasks such as weeding and harvesting, these students take on serious responsibilities during their stay. Steve took charge of the daily care of our laying flock – currently 100 birds – as well as our 200 broiler chickens.
For 5 months, I could trust that the daily care of our flocks had been carried out on time and on spec. To take the experience even further, Steve collected feed, productivity and sales data as a school project for Flemming’s Sustainable Agriculture program. This information will help Steve during planning stages of his own projects, as well as help me improve my own system.
Farm internships are incredibly powerful experiences that truly propel someone through a learning experience that challenges the mind and body, pulling at your heart strings all along the way. If you or someone you know are considering taking on a farm internship, this is a good time to look up potential host farms. You may want to offer your services for a day in order to introduce yourself and have a quick look at the place. A big part of what makes a successful internship this the ability of farmers to interact and communicate. You’ll be spending alot of time together, working side by side.
Steve’s visit last October came at a perfect time when I needed help to plant garlic. We were late. It was cold and wet. But on that sunny day the few people I had managed to gather for the task worked quickly, efficiently and everyone seemed to get along. That says a good deal, for me, and that same dedicated, positive vibe has persisted throughout the season.
|Washing beets with the old apron|
We’re having a lot of fun with our little store front here and we’ve been experimenting with offering a few more farm products. You might of noticed the jars of honey on display. These come from Kurt Streckeisen out in Lanark County. For several years he has helped organic farmers in the area get started in beekeeping. This spring, he helped Carolyn setup two hive boxes in the orchard. One caught a swarm from the wild hive in the house and the other housed a nuke (starter colony) imported from Australia.
Both colonies have thrived this summer and one has even yielded 20 lbs of honey. While this precious liquid will be distributed to friends and family over Christmas, Caro hopes to have twice as many hives next summer. In the meantime, Kurt’s own honey will be available this fall on our shelves.
Also in response to customer demand, we are raising meat birds. Known in the industry as broilers, these are the chickens you are used to seeing in the supermarket. Their large muscle mass, light feathering and fast growth rate make them ideal for meat production. Ours, however, get to go outside. Every morning, after their breakfast binge session, they spread out in their pen, pecking at bits of vegetables and hiding in the tansy. These chickens have over five times the space awarded to their supermarket cousins.
With all this extra care and the certified organic feed we provide, it’s pretty remarkable we can offer the meat at $4.75/pound, 25 cents cheaper than supermarket organic chicken. But Steve’s done the math and looks like we can actually pull it off! And just to add an extra p
erk to being a CSA member, we’re only charging $4.50/pound to CSA members. A $15 deposit will ensure you get yours fresh on October 19th, and frozen chicken will be available at the store thereafter.
I will also start selling Joel’s Coffee. Fairly traded, organically grown coffee beans, roasted in Rockland, Ontario.
What’s in my Box?
- Salad mix: First cut lettuce mix in bags. No mustard greens, but a splash beta greens.
- Radishes: Valentine’s pink radish mix. A mixture of colours with a more of a familiar shape for many. In an effort to keep the radishes mild, crispy and juicy, we’re trying to pick them a little younger/smaller. We hope you enjoy!
- Siberian Kale: This is one campaign promise I did manage to keep. Fall kale! This green kale is particularly soft and tender compared to kurly or black kale. It’s taste is very green, almost like collards and braises particularly well.
- Orange Carrots: This bed of carrots seems to be growing quite slow… But we haven’t had them in a while so let’s just dig them up anyway! yum 😉
- Spaghetti Squash: Winter squash of the week: spaghetti squash.
- Rinse it briefly and cut it in half.
- Put the halfs upside down in a pyrex dish. Fill with a little water to keep the bottom of the squash halves wet.
- Cook 10 minutes at 350F.
- Flip and cook another 10 minutes or so.
- Drain the water and scrape out the veggy spaghetti (lengthwise) with a fork.
- Top with your favourite sauce or pesto. Enjoy!
- Onions: 2lbs of yellow onions
- Garlic: I’ve started late night garlic cracking/movie watching sessions. Some of the garlic is too small for planting so you all get a mini-bulb of garlic this week..