While we’re on the subject of TED…

Even though this is from last year, I thought that you might be interested in a TEDx (independent TED speakers forum) talk by one of my farming heroes, Joel Salatin. Once we decided that we were really going to do this, really going to jump in and buy a farm, it was Joel’s books You Can Farm and Pastured Poultry Profits that gave us the encouragement we needed to really get moving and take some concrete steps to starting Our Farm.

I don’t always agree with him (remember that social convention about never discussing politics or religion?!), but when it comes to agricultural philosophy, healing the land through encouraging your animals to do what comes naturally, and encouraging farmers to deal directly with their customers I am a huge fan!

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TED Talks about the future of sustainable food

If anyone is unfamiliar with the concept of TED talks, this is an independent organization that hosts speakers to give their thoughts on “things worth talking about.” A little bird recently sent me a CNN link that includes the video and transcript of a recent TED talk by British chef Arthur Potts Dawson. It’s certainly a thought-provoking speech, and even though it doesn’t apply here quite as much since Canada isn’t nearly as dependent on food imports as the U.K., it does make you think about the future of our food supply and food supply chain.

Basically, if you’re worried about peak oil at all then you are worried about the length of your food supply chain… and cheap supermarket food is dependent on cheap oil for transportation, cheap oil-based pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers, and cheap exploited labour in third-world countries.

I wish we could grow papayas and pineapples in our climate here, but we’ve got the start of a little apple orchard even if it won’t be ready for about five more years … and we’re planning on adding plums and pears to Our Farm’s fruit ration too. It’s one of the laws of nature that fruit trees take about seven years to start producing, so we’ll just wait patiently and patronize existing local businesses for local and in-season fruit in the meantime!

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2011 Sign Up Now Available!

I’ve just posted the 2011 CSA contract for those who are interested in signing up. Knowing ahead of time the number of customers we will be growing for is a HUGE help in knowing the number of seeds to order. But sign up fast, because we are still keeping our numbers limited to the equivalent of eight full shares!

Basically, that means that we will pick and pack for a total of 16 bins each week of the season… so there are a total of either 8 full shares, 16 half shares, or 32 quarter shares available, it just all depends on how you look at it!

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Making a list…

We planted the garlic for 2011 back in October, so assuming all goes well eaters should see some lovely bulbs of garlic appearing in their boxes next July. But what about some other new treats? Please take the Wishlist polls below, and elaborate in the comments. These are all vegetables we feel would be a good addition to complement the current contents of our boxes, but if anyone has any other suggestions we’d love to know about it.

Please make your voice heard – before we start making our choices from all these lovely seed catalogues!

Oh, and since we plan to order many of our seeds from a local organic (and mercifully online) business, feel free to let us know your favourites varieties of tomatoes out of the 382 available from Greta’s Organic Gardens right here in Ottawa (or whatever, it doesn’t have to be tomatoes!). It’s really hard to choose when there’s so much available, and we could use your help!

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The best of 2010

Please help us out folks! We’re not fishing for compliments, but we’d really appreciate knowing where your tastes lie so we can plan on planting more of certain vegetables.

Please let us know in the comments what your other favourites are, or if there were things you wanted to see more often in your box.

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Needs improvement for 2011

Maybe there was a veggie in your box that you just plain didn’t like, or that you thought was great but you just saw it too often? Help us out by taking the poll below, and we’ll take your preferences into account when planning what to plant for 2011.

Please feel free to go into a bit more detail in the comments. For example, you truly love carrots but you just weren’t a fan of the purple dragon carrots we grew this year. Or, maybe you love lettuce but you thought there was too much of it in the box each week.

All feedback is good feedback, because it will help us to improve on things that need work.

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Thanks for a great 2010!

We would like to thank all of our customers for their business in 2010 and we look forward to another great season in 2011. We will soon be posting a customer satisfaction survey in the interest of learning and improving as we go, and to see what vegetables were our customers’ favourites!

Sign up will start soon for the 2011 season, and while we started off with a “pay as you go” scheme because of the late start in our first year, we will be moving to a true CSA model for the upcoming year. As such, we will be asking our eaters to “accept” our customer agreement (stay tuned, it’s coming soon!) and to pay for their shares, half shares or quarter shares in either one or two lump sum payments. We hope that you will understand that a firm commitment from our eaters at the beginning of the year helps us plan the year properly right from the start – by knowing the right amount of seed to order, for example – and helps us spread out the income to a time of year that actually contains most of the expenses.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to produce some wonderful vegetables and chickens for our eaters this year, and we’re really excited about growing forward in 2011!

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Wow, what a year!

[This post is back-dated from early September, 2010.]

From the day we moved in June 1st, we’ve been off and running!

With a ton of help from family…

Kelly helps when the chicks arrive

Kelly helps when the chicks arrive

Our first year of operation has been a wonderful success. We started seeding and transplanting seedlings on June 6th, and harvested our first vegetables for customers on July 31st. We’ve had 6 weeks of harvests so far, and we’re on track to keep going to the beginning of October if Mother Nature will let us. So far, Mother Nature’s been incredibly helpful to us so far this year, too – except for the small matter of the flooded basement.

Customers have been raving about the wonderful taste of our vegetables, too!

This is chickens gone wild week on Our Farm. Batch # 1 goes to the processing plant this Thursday, and a few days after that Batch # 2 will go out on pasture (as soon as we have a couple of rain-free days!).

Day old chicks from Batch # 1 - they're much bigger now!

Day old chicks from Batch # 1 - they're much bigger now!

Garden-wise, we had our first harvest of jalapeno peppers this week, and the sweet peppers are starting to come in too, so it looks like our only total failures were green onions. Still not  entirely sure why. The six cauliflower plants are still coming along. Definitely transplanting them next year, along with broccoli and cabbages! Live and learn.

Sautéed some salami and onions and chili pepper flakes last night with some blanched green beans, swiss chard, spinach, tomatoes, basil and parsley, and had it over white and whole-wheat spaghetti and dusted the whole thing with parmigiana reggiano cheese. Wow!

Next time I won’t forget to include some zucchini!

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