EMILY

  • A TABLE IS BORN

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    Last week I fulfilled a year-long dream…kit out an old splintery table to use for rinsing vegetables! Not a very impressive aspiration you say? Well, I keep my expectations of myself very mediocre, and trust me, I enjoy my life much more than those silly overachievers out there.

    In reality, this has been needed to be done for the last year, as we really had no surface on which to clean and prep the vegetables out at the market garden. This means that last season, we were sort of holding them up in the air and squirting them with the hose. This method resulted in giant mud puddles in the spray area, and not terribly clean vegetables. There had to be a better way! Now there is. Last week the lovely people who find things for me dropped off an old, beaten up table, mostly made of plywood and very weathered – it was beautiful. I then proceeded to alter it to make it suitable for our purpose, as I will illustrate below in a series of photos.

     

    First, we see the unadulterated table:

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    Next, I cut a hole in it using my handy-dandy skill saw:

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    I then flipped the table over, and used a staple gun to attach chicken wire to the underside, creating a spray-through area to rinse the veggies. This took a bit of stretching, so Monique helped, but I also made her take the photos so you can’t see her contribution to the effort:

     

     

     

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    And here’s me doing my best shmaltzy Price-Is-Right model impression with our brand new, wonderful table!

     

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    After taking the last photo, Monique suggested an extra bit of 2×2 under the screen to prevent it from sagging. This was a brilliant bit of advice, and further illustration of why it’s important to have a sciencey-smart type person working with you if you are not so mechanically minded yourself.

    So now when you notice our veggies looking particularly bright and shiny this season, you will know how it all happened.

  • PUT IT UP BUTTERCUP

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: emily, farmersmarket, garden, organic, recipe, updates

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    Canning, pickling, preserving, drying…these tried and true methods of ‘putting up’ the harvest have recently come back into vogue. You can’t swing a turnip without hitting someone holding a pickling seminar or dehydrating workshop. This is a good thing. Our dependence on grocery store produce is both contributing to global warming and dulling our taste buds. Have you tried a tomato in February? I figure I could just draw a tomato on a piece of cardboard and stick that in my sandwich instead, it would save me money and taste the same. Also, and this is maybe most important, we are killing the magic embodied by seasonal foods. Have you ever looked forward to the taste of Grandma’s Christmas shortbread? Or Auntie Lorraine’s rumballs? Would you feel the same sense of anticipation if you munched on gingerbread year round? Of course not. That’s why when I see shrink-wrapped corn on the cob in April on the supermarket shelves, I want to cry. Why desecrate the sacred act of crunching into August’s first harvest of corn, butter dripping down your fingers and heaven dancing across your tongue?

    Alright, you may say, but what about when it’s not August?  It’s freezing, snowing, ain’t-nothin’-growing WINTERTIME here 8 months of the year? What then? Well, aside from ODing on the aforementioned rumballs, winter is the time to crack open a jar of summertime preserves, or stomp down into the root cellar to pull out carrots and rutabagas that are as crisp as the day they were picked. I heard a fantastic saying yesterday “An aching back in autumn, and a full stomach in winter”. Well, I’ve got the aching back from the never-ending potato harvest, we may as well spend some time putting up all this food for a deep-winter reward.

    So today I’m hiding from the rain (and my harvesting duties for tomorrow’s market!) and putting up some preserves. I’ve been up to my ears in tomatoes lately, ever since I harvested about 90lbs from my canning tomato plants. I’ve done everything from roasted vegetable marinara to hot pepper salsa, with quarts and quarts of plain old crushed tomatoes in between.

     

    Today, I’m making grape jelly for the first time. My lovely neighbour, Leslie, gave me about 7 lbs of Concord grapes yesterday, so there was really only one thing to do with them, other than wrestle them away from my kids, who have a much higher tolerance for tart than I do. I generally try to stick to preserving things that will actually translate into a meal over the winter, there’s really only so much chutney and fruit butter one can eat. However, the grapes were looking at me with sad little grape faces, just begging to be turned into a high-sugar treat that my husband and kids will go gaga over, and who can say no to a grape with a cute purple pout? Well, the end result was delicious, even for a bit of a snob like me, and it will be great to open a jar in January, and be reminded of the aromatic experience of driving back form Leslie’s house with 12 quarts of grapes perfuming my hot, summertime car.

    I heard from one of our CSA members that she was a bit overwhelmed by the bounty of the garden lately (not a bad problem to have!), and her comment was what prompted me to write this post. I’m not going to give out any preserving instructions here, there are so many fantastic books and other resources out there, plus this new-fangled thing called the “internet” that will teach you basically everything you need to know instantly. I am, however, going to recommend some books and give you a fantabulous recipe for salsa that I’ve been experimenting with. All of the vegetable ingredients will be available at the market this week, most notably the tomatoes. Since many of our tomatoes have developed cracks with the uneven moisture levels of this season, they are cheap, cheap, cheap. Not so pretty to look at, but perfect for canning or freezing. Ask for “seconds”, this goes for any farmers’ market wherever you are reading this in the world.

    Is preserving food difficult, dangerous, not worth the bother? No, no and certainly not. At the very least, sit in an armchair and lob baggies of vegetables into your freezer. You can do that! Or if you want to get a bit more involved, check out these books:

    Put ‘em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton – This is a trendy recipe book with recipes that are a bit more gourmet than the relishes and pickles you remember Grandma making.

    The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market by Linda Ziedrich – I LOVE this book, it covers absolutely every possible pickle, from garlic dills to sauerkraut to pickled eggs. I have learned so much from this book, I feel really grateful to have stumbled across it.

    The Joy of Keeping a Root Cellar: Canning, Freezing, Drying, Smoking and Preserving the Harvest by Jennifer Megyesi – Hmm, bit of a theme developing here. This book is unrelated to the one above, but also fantastic. It gives a very comprehensive look at the best ways to put up each kind of food. I can tell you from experience, just because you can dehydrate kale, doesn’t mean you should. You definitely don’t need a root cellar to get a lot out of this book.

    Okay, here’s the recipe I promised. It doesn’t have the syrupy, unpleasantly-viscous quality that many recipes for salsa seem to produce. You can make it as hot as you like by scaling up the hot peppers. The recipe will make about 8 cups, so you’ll need around 4 quart jars, but feel free cut make more or less, just halve or double it as you see fit. As for me – the blog post is over, the jelly is happily sitting on my countertop, but the rain is pounding down more relentlessly than ever! I’ll have to get my wellies and tromp out there soon. Was it really me begging for rain back in July?

    Market Stand Salsa

    12 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 3 lbs)

    3 medium onions, chopped

    2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped

    2 or more jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

    9 cloves garlic, minced

    1 ½ cups tomato sauce

    1 ½ cups red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, etc.)

    ¾ cup cilantro, chopped

    6 tsp honey or cane sugar

    1 ½ tsp pickling or kosher salt

    Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 35 minutes, or when the desired thickness is reached. Stir often, and check the finished result for salt and adjust of necessary.

    Fill sterilized jars to ½ inch of rim. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

     

    - Emily

  • STATE OF THE VEGETABLE UNION – PART II

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: basket, emily, farmersmarket, garden, organic, updates

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    Well, it’s time to check on the rest of our vegetables! With our cooler nights, we’ve been feeling like harvest is in full swing. It’s hard to believe summer is almost over.  We’re already planting our first patches of green manure to enrich our soil in the sleepy time of winter. However, that does not mean the garden is empty! No indeed…

    Tomatoes

    Oh wow. People of Lagoon City, have we got tomatoes. Giant ,golden, yellow tomatoes. Single-sandwich-serving tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes for snacking. Crazy, convoluted, heritage tomatoes. Think eggs benedict with a thick slice of dark burgundy tomato. Think crispy baguette rubbed with garlic and olive oil and topped with diced tomato and basil. Think a marinara sauce that just screams summer freshness. Yummm!

    And we have so many, were practically giving them away! (I know I sound like a used car salesman, but I’m not kidding.) So come out to the market and talk tomatoes with us. I’ll give you the recipes for any of the above, and I’m sure your own imagination will also go wild.

    Greens

    You know when it’s so hot you can’t do anything but lie on the couch, sticky magazine in one hand, iced tea in the other, with an upright fan blowing full blast two inches from your face? Well faced with the same conditions, most green leafy vegetables won’t do a darn thing either. Not so with one of the sleeper hits of the summer – New Zealand Spinach. It simply thrives in the heat. While not actually related to the traditional spinach we all know and love, it cooks up just the same, in fact it holds its texture a bit better. It’s been very popular this year and we’re very glad we took a chance on this unconventional plant.

    Many people have been asking me about radishes. Yes, radishes are in no way greens, but we put them on salad so they can hang out in this category. And they’re just about ready for fall. Kelly will check for them this week, but if they’re not big enough they will be for sure by next Saturday.

    The green onions, or scallions, as the slightly snooty call them, are continuing along their merry way. They have been a fairly underrated hero this year – there really hasn’t been a bad time for scallions since May. 5 gold stars for you, green onions.

    And of course, the Swiss chard and kale are both still growing strong. I often get asked what to do with these two greens. They can be used anywhere you would use cooked spinach – spanakopita, lasagna, pizza, and many other foods that end with “a”. We should all eat far more of these two! They are both high in fibre, packed with micronutrients that will turn you into a superhero.

    I must now bid you adieu. I’ve been canning tomatoes all  afternoon, now it’s time to batten down the hatches in the garden before another awesome Ontario thunderstorm rolls in. We’ve extended the Saturday markets through to Thanksgiving, so see you there!

    - Emily

  • THE STATE OF THE VEGETABLE UNION

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: basket, emily, farmersmarket, garden, organic, updates

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    Well, summer is in full swing now, in fact we’ve swung so far that the nights are getting cooler and it feels like fall is around the corner. Hard to believe. However, we can still squeeze the last few drops out of summer, and squeeze we shall.

    I thought I’d give a little overview of our lovely veggies, now that they getting consistent moisture (thank-you rain dancers!) and are really starting to produce. Our last few CSA baskets have been literally overflowing, requiring an engineering degree and a steady hand simply to keep all that goodness in there. Huzzah! So here’s the lowdown on all our little plant babies.

    Root crops:

    The carrots have finally sized up! It’s a miracle! Really, it is, seeing as a skunk or some other mysterious burrowing animal had a vigilante mission to rid the world of our carrots earlier this year. Every time the tiny little fronds popped up, Mr Skunk came along to wreak havoc. But somehow, they pulled through. We’re actually harvesting mid-sized carrots and we should continue to have them right up the end of the season.

    We are harvesting potatoes for the third straight week now. The Onaways are lovely, well sized, and I think we’ll dig the majority of them today. Some of our other varieties had to battle the drought, but are at least still kicking. We planted so very many potatoes that we can’t really have an unsatisfactory harvest. Aaack! I can’t believe I would tempt the harvest gods in that way! Knock on wood one thousand times!

    Our parsnips look very parsnippy right now. Not too much to report, seeing as we won’t harvest the majority of them till spring. We’ll throw a thick layer of mulch down and they will sleep cozy until then.

    As far as onions go, I only wish I had planted twice as many! Most of them have really pulled along, for that matter so have the leeks and scallions. It’s so difficult to believe, even after doing it for years, that the wee little onion seedlings, much tinier than a blade of grass, could ever amount to anything. But of course, they grow up to become an indispensable vegetable. Life’s little miracles never cease to amaze me.

    Squash Family:

    Yes, Virginia, there is a cucumber. During the drought, our cucumber vines were growing all over the place, but no fruit! When they are on the vine, we call them fruit for some reason, which brings me to any issue I could really only gripe about on this blog. People are always going on about how tomatoes are really a fruit, but we call them a vegetable. Something about the fact that they contain seeds. Last year, my son’s Grade 1 teacher taught him that anything with seeds is really a fruit. Which would mean that beans, peas, zuchinni, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, peppers and countless others are also fruits. You see where I’m going with this? I feel this is food bigotry. Why must we continuously classify and force our plant friends into society’s molds? I, for one, will let my cucumbers grow outside of the box. Which is what they’re doing right now, we’re getting tons of cukes and I couldn’t be happier.

    There are straightneck summer squash, along with pattipans, and let me answer this question right up front – what do you do with them? Cook them like zuchinni. They taste exactly the same. Why don’t we just grow zuchinni instead? I have no idea.

    And happy, happy day, we have some pumpkin and other winter squash that have set fruit and are sizing up! I was having a sick-to-my-stomach moment not long ago at the thought of not having any pumpkins for fall. What self-respecting gardener can’t produce a pumpkin? None, I tell you, but while I was considering Hari-Kari as my only course of action Mother Nature stepped in to help me both save face and my pumpkin crop. So now we have to wait and see how big they will get before frost comes.

    Tomatoes:

    Wait a second… this blog post is getting a little long winded. I don’t want to push the parameters of the public’s interest in our veggies, as earth shattering as they are. So, I think I’ll make this a two part post, and you’ll simply have to wait on the edge of you seat to learn about the brassicas et al. So…

    TO BE CONTINUED…

     

    - Emily

  • THE GREEN GODDESS AND GARLIC

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    I am very pleased to announce that we harvested the first third of our garlic yesterday! The bulbs look good – all of fair size, with large cloves, I’m definitely satisfied with our first year’s crop. Right now, they are lying in the sun on the clean straw, curing. We had a wee bit of fresh garlic available last week at the market, but the garlic from here on out will all be cured, making it suitable for storage.

    Garlic is one of those foods that is so ubiquitous, most people don’t even think about where it comes from. Well, I can tell you where the vast majority of it comes from, at least in Ontario, most supermarket garlic comes from China. Now, I have nothing against China, in fact, my 6 year old son and I have already planned a fantasy bicycle trip there. But we have all the available resources to grow our own darn garlic, right here in old On-tar-eye-o. Garlic grows very well here, I plant mine in the fall, throw a thick layer of mulch over top and I barely have to think about it until harvest time. After it cures, it can be stored for up to a year, if you don’t eat it all first. It takes up very little space, and can be grown amongst vegetables (even flowers!), where it acts as a pest deterrent to unwanted crawlies. So folks, let’s let China manage the production of panda bears and green tea, and grow our own garlic ourselves!

    You probably don’t need a garlic recipe, but I’m going to give you one anyways. Don’t let the name fool you! Green Goddess Dressing is not some hippie glop, but was actually created in 1923 by the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, in honour of a theatre production of the same name. It’s everything a summer salad dressing should be: bright with lemon, lots of fresh herbs, with the zip of that newly harvested garlic. And don’t be afraid on anchovy paste! If you like Caesar salad, then you like anchovies. They aren’t at all fishy in this recipe, just give it a certain je ne c’est qua that will have you reaching for seconds.

    Green Goddess Salad Dressing
    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 chopped green onions
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    • ¼ cup chopped parsley
    • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
    To prepare, just whirr the whole deal up in a blender. Easy!

    - Emily

  • THE GREAT GARLIC SCAPE

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    Well folks, our first market day went off without a hitch. Tons of folks from Lagoon City came out to enjoy the festivities. We had a rockin’ band, bouncy castles, face painters, and lots of great vendors. It was a blast.

    And we actually had vegetables for sale! After our crazy dry spring, I was seriously concerned we’d have a big ol’ table of nothing on the opening day. However, our veggies were finally meeting my expectations, and loveliest of all the garlic scapes were ready! What’s a garlic scape? Apparently, even Microsoft doesn’t know, because it’s giving me the squiggly red underline as I type this.


    Garlic scapes are garlic’s futile attempt to reproduce by seed. Each June, little curly shoots holding all the seeds the garlic plants wish to put forward come sprouting out of the top of our garlic. And what do we award this attempt to further their delicious race? We snap the scapes off, of course, to promote proper bulb development. And then we eat them.

    They are absolutely delicious! I just polished off a plate of fresh pasta with cilantro pesto and sautéed garlic scapes, so I’m an expert on their excellence right about now. They have a texture somewhere between a green bean and an asparagus stalk, with a beautiful mild garlic flavour when cooked.

    The season for garlic scapes is really short, they were ready last week and will be pretty much over by this weekend. If you’re itching to try them, but are not sure how to prepare them, you’re in luck, my friend. I’m including in this post an amazing recipe for garlic scape quiche that I developed last week. MAKE THIS RECIPE! Your mouth will never forgive you if you don’t.
    - Emily


    GARLIC SCAPE QUICHE

    Pie Crust (makes 2, save the other for another use)
    1 cup unbleached flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    ½ tsp salt
    1 cup solid fat (butter, coconut oil, shortening, lard)
    1 tsp vinegar
    water

    Filling
    3 eggs
    1 ½ cups grated Jarlsberg (or try gruyere or gouda)
    1 cup heavy cream
    ¾ tsp salt
    8 garlic scapes, cut into 2 cm pieces
    1/3 cup chopped onion
    Dash of cayenne or black pepper
    Butter or olive oil

    To make the pie crust:
    Combine the flours and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the solid fat, cutting it in with 2 knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the vinegar. Sprinkle on 4 tbsp cold water, and gently combine with a fork until the mixture forms a ball. If you need more water, add it 1 tbsp at a time. Do not overwork the dough, the key to a flaky piecrust is touching the dough as little as possible. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Cut the dough in half, roll one half out and place in a pie plate, crimping the edges. Prick all over with a fork, place a sheet of foil on top of the crust, and then fill the bottom of the crust with either pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven, remove the foil and weights, and then bake for 3 minutes more. Set aside.

    For the filling:
    Sautee the onion and garlic scapes in the oil or butter until tender. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the cream, salt and pepper, and the sautéed scapes and onions.

    To assemble:
    Place 2/3 of the shredded cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the surface. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the filling is firm. Let sit for 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Can be enjoyed either hot or cold.

  • OUR FIRST BASKET

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: basket, emily, garden, organic, updates

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    As pleased as a new Mama, I am announcing – our first CSA basket! Let me take a moment to explain what a CSA is. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, or Community Shared Agriculture, depending on who you ask. The concept is simple and brilliant: the grower (me) offers shares in the year’s harvest for either an upfront fee or a share in the labour. In exchange, CSA members get a weekly basket with a bit of everything the garden has to offer that week. It’s seasonal, very local, and eliminates the problem of have to grow enormous amounts of food, just to get the attention of a supermarket buyer. Also, it gives small operations, like us, the chance to sell organically grown food even though we are miles and miles of red tape away from certification. Members are welcome in our garden any time, and can talk directly with us about the food they are bringing to their table. Many farmers use the CSA structure as a way to grow their businesses until they are big enough to compete with other market or grocery chain growers. Seeing as so many organic farms fail, simply because they are not able to get their product to the right market of shoppers, CSAs bridge the gap and help many Mom and Pop farms stay afloat.

    Alright, enough of all that, check it out:

    All together now: “Awwww! So adorable!” Okay, maybe not quite as cute as my real kids when they were babies, but I’m a proud parent all the same. Darn, I should have gotten a picture of my kids holding the basket. That would have knocked your socks off.

    This first week was little sparse as far as veggies go, considering our very dry spring that has thrown our cool season crops for a loop. Nevertheless, we are able to include a bag of greens, spring onions and rhubarb. We also had artisan jam, freshly baked bread made by a mysterious, amazing, local baker ( okay, it was me ) and 1 dozen eggs from the Orillia Community Garden Egg Co-op.

    I’ll try to post each week what is shaping up for the baskets, so you can salivate along with me. And if you’re in the Brechin area, and would like to become a member this year, we still have spots available, and would be happy to pro-rate depending on when you join.

    Tomorrow I’ll be picking up our tomato seedlings, I’m really excited! See you soon!
    - Emily

  • THE LONG DAY (AND NIGHT) OF THE POTATO

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: emily, garden, organic

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    Yesterday, I had an adventure.

    9:30 am – I pack Levon, my adorable 3 year-old, into the beloved but increasingly decrepit Jeep. Not to be forgotten is my GPS, which I am starting to refer to as Gepus, owing to its amazing ability to lead me to the promised land. Or in this case: Coe Hill, Ontario. Today is the day I finally get to pick up our seed potatoes!

    10:08 am – My gas gauge is creeping towards empty, and I’m bombing around back roads, looking for a gas station. I get a hot tip that there’s one only 7 km away, but that turns out to be 7km back in the direction I came from. I refuse to backtrack, and have to settle for traveling 10 km to Washago. Washago is an adorable town, but also, not in the direction I should be traveling. It takes 20 minutes or so to get back on track. Thanks for nothing, Gepus.

    10:30 am – It’s a stunningly beautiful day. I am driving down country roads, past rolling hills and 100 year old barns. My son is asleep in his car seat, and my ever-present wind-up radio has been silenced for the moment, having failed to find a signal. I feel so grateful and contented under this brilliant blue sky. I take big lungfuls of lilac-scented air and smile.

    11:35 am – I am getting some disconcerting information from Gepus. I still have another hour to go before I reach Coe Hill. That can’t be right! Coe Hill is only an hour and 45 minutes from my house! That’s what it said on Google Maps – wait a minute. I didn’t check Google Maps. In fact, the only research I did into my destination was a brief conversation with a Coe Hill local who doesn’t come out my way very often. And once again, I am faced with another example of Emily Wilson’s Quixotic Driving Theory. It goes something like this: I have a great sense of direction, things are generally easy to find, and the best tenet of all – if I just get in the area and drive around for a while it will all work out. I’d like to state right here that none of the above are true. I may be slightly lost, but at least I’m honest.

    12:18 pm – I think I’m getting close, but spirits are lagging. My coffee has long ago been consumed, there isn’t another espresso place for at least another 20 minutes ( Ha! That’s a hilarious rural Ontario joke! In truth, there are no espresso places, period) and my son is starting do the old ‘wake up and whine’. I fumble for my radio, apply adequate pressure to the broken volume knob, and – Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix is playing! I haven’t heard this song in ages! Things are starting to look up. If driving down a dirt road singing along to a slightly creepy classic rock song won’t cheer you up, nothing will.

    12:40 pm – I arrive at Ellenberger Farm! I’m greeted by Henry Ellenberger, who along with his wife, Janet, is the only grower of organic seed potatoes in the province. Think about that for a moment. Potatoes are a North American staple, and the only major starch that we can all grow in our own backyards. And yet they are also one of the most heavily sprayed crops when farmed conventionally, and potato DNA is constantly being tampered with in search of the world’s most uniform French fry. But here are Janet and Henry, sustainably growing a product that can be purchased for $30, and feed your family for the entire winter. They deserve so much more than our business, (although they should get that too, visit their beautiful website at www.ellenbergerorganicfarm.com) really, they deserve a medal.

    Henry helps me load the Jeep with 150 lbs of potato potential. This year we’re growing:
    - Onaway, a white skinned early potato
    - Cheiftan, a red skinned potato
    - Norland, another red skinned potato
    - And Dakota Pearl, which should be eaten based on the name alone, but also happens to be delicious.

    Henry and I spend a bit of time shooting the breeze: rain (or lack of it), root cellar optimization and the like, and then I trundle away back down the dirt road.

    1pm – Now we get to the fun part: The Great Race to Catch the Schoolbus. I mentioned I have an adorable three year old. I also have an adorable six year old. He is getting off the bus at 3:57. Considering it took me over three hours to get here, I am now going to need to book it home. I can proudly say I am in the minority, and I never drive over the speed limit. I’m just not that kind of gal. Or rather, I could make that claim, before today. Now, I have to high-tail it on these back roads like I’m being chased by a Wendigo if I’m going to make it back it time.

    3:45 pm – I’ve been racing along, comparing the estimated time of arrival to the clock, and I’m always one minute or two too late. I have to get home! By child’s sense of security and well-being depends on it! Who knows what lifelong emotional trauma I could be causing by not being home when my little boy walks in the door! Pedal to the medal, you can do this.

    3:54 pm – Miraculously, I glide into the driveway with 3 minutes to spare. The bus drives up, my son gets out, the world continues on as if nothing happened. Amazing.

    11:30 pm – Well, my family has eaten dinner, my husband and children are sleeping and now I have one last task to accomplish. Potato seeds are the same potato you eat, but are often cut up to maximize their potential. I must now sit down with a paring knife and cut 30 lbs of Onaway potatoes into ‘slips’ – little chunks of spud with at least two eyes on them. They have to sit out overnight before planting them tomorrow. I pop my well-worn copy of Dazed and Confused (best summertime movie , ever!) into the disc drive and away we go.

    12:30 am – One short hour later, I have turned this:





































    Into this:


    It’s all done, and Wooderson is still cruising around screen looking insanely cool. I am going to sleep well tonight! I’ll have to, I’ve got lots of potatoes to plant tomorrow.

  • IF I BUILD IT…

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: basket, emily, garden, organic

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    Okay, so we’re about to weeks away from our first CSA basket. This morning, I surveyed the garden, and one thought went screaming through my mind – more. I need more. More spinach, definitely more scallions. More radishes! So what does this mean? More garden beds.

    You see, over the winter, I spent hours making complicated plans for this garden. It had to produce lots of food, but still be a beautiful place for the community to visit. It had to employ permaculture principals, companion planting, crop rotation, attract beneficial insects – everything. So I consulted all the books, made countless diagrams, cursed the sky at the fact that I hadn’t paid attention in drafting class, but in the end, I had the most wonderful garden plan ever created. I was giddy with self-congratulation.

    Come April, the plan went into effect. No amount of blistered hands, aching backs or swear words hurled at the electric screwdriver could stop me from executing it. Raised beds, eco lawn, wildflower meadow, it’s all just about in. So why were bright red lights flashing in front of my eyes this morning? Why, when I looked out at the results of the last 6 weeks of work did it look incomplete? No, not even incomplete, barely started?! There was only one thing to do. Grab a shovel and dig like a madwoman until this feeling went away.

    Well, I’m pleased to say it worked. I created two gigantic extra beds right in the middle of the garden, and walked away with a comforting sense of satisfaction. “Ha!” I say to my doubting subconscious, “Just try to get all pessimistic now, buddy!” Who could have negative thoughts when viewing the results of so much human power? Not me, certainly. Tomorrow I’m attacking those two beds with all the seeds and transplants I can muster. First CSA baskets, here I come.
    -Emily

  • WELCOME TO OUR GARDEN!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: emily, garden

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    It’s all happening! I’m excited to be writing my very first blog post on our new and gorgeous Simcoe Organics website. So, hello!

    Here’s a bit about me:

    My name is Emily Wilson, and I have somehow snagged the dream position of being paid to grow organic food. I’ve been obsessed with food for as long as I can remember, beginning with eating it, into cooking it and now growing it. I recall bursting into tears at age five at the sheer cruelty of a world that would allow an entire homemade blueberry pie to slide off the top of my Dad’s Buick Skylark and smash into smithereens on the pavement below. Utterly tragic.

    I’ve been gardening for about a decade, although only really got serious about it 5 years ago. What started off as a sweet but largely ineffective hobby has grown into a full time life style. I’ve been helped and mentored along the way by various people and organizations, including at both the Strathcona Community Garden in Vancouver, and the amazing juggernaut of political, social and vegetable change that is the Orillia Community Garden. Now, the stars have aligned to allow me to make a living doing something I truly love, and for that, I am humbled and grateful.

    Hmmm, what else? I performed in the opera as a child (the highlight of my career was playing the so often underrated role of a frightened chipmunk in Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde), I was trained as a magician’s assistant, I was part of a women’s cob building collective, I’m far too obsessed with CBC Radio, I’ve never owned cell phone, and I’ve been a vegetarian for  18 years but have recently decided to eat animal products as long as they’re the weird organs no when else wants. Hey, it’s local!

    Now that spring is in full gallop, I’m furiously digging, raking and planting with my pint-sized helper, Levon. I’ll be keeping you updated as to what’s growing, what’s sulking (I’m looking at you, lanky spinach transplants), and where we are on our journey through the first year of running a market garden. Until next time…

    - Emily