Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Food For Everyone - Community Garden Project

Plans for the community garden and our veggie plants for the food banks are underway. Will you help? Can we help you? Let us know what you think and any ideas you have and your favourite garden recipes. We want to make 2017 our best sharing year ever. 



Here's the problem.

Many people in the local area eat a highly processed diet with few veggies. This can be due to preferences and cooking skills, lack of access, food bank use which typically means food with a good shelf life, or lack of knowledge on how to grow a garden. We believe that a diet full of fresh veggies and frozen produce in your freezer can make you not only feel better but be genuinely healthier. And we want to help. 



Here's the vision.

We rototill the community garden area and start a collection of seeds and transplants for people who either can't afford them, don't have a place to grow, or maybe they just need a hand up. Allotment growers do all planting and weeding, we will water during the week. 

People carpool, catch a ride or take the bus and walk to the community garden at the farm on a nice Saturday morning. There's a festival feel as everyone grabs tools from the tool shed and heads out into their plots to see what's grown since the last time they were here. Each allotment is different from its neighbours with peas, beet greens, lettuce and some exotic things not seen before. Each family or person tends their own little garden space, pulling weeds and thinning radishes until it's to their liking and then they lean on a shovel for a visit with their next plot neighbours. The community area is planted with lettuce that are ready for harvesting so they organize themselves into a small pick/pack crew and a wash crew. Everyone works together and splits the community produce between them with the extras being put in boxes in the cool room for the food bank. It varies each week. Some weeks it's planting, some weeks different people come, but every week it's productive and people leave feeling they've done something good. Seniors teach children how to plant, mums and dads trade recipes, and everyone learns a little. We teach approximately 20 young people from all over the world about gardening each year and they most often go on to grow food and teach others. They live with us and work in the garden then they go home and adapt what they learned to their own lives. 

Idealistic? Maybe. Idyllic? Certainly. 



We believe that by giving people plants, seeds and skills we can improve health and food security for everyone in our community but especially for families and seniors. Everyone can grow a little food. Everyone can eat a little better. Everyone can be a little healthier. 

That's our goal, a garden in every yard. And where yards aren't available, allotments. If the town and municipality could designate community garden space we feel that the potential benefits are huge in terms of health, social connectedness and community spirit, and food security. Give people a chance to lift themselves out of poverty or at least have a better and healthier life. It'll take time, it'll be hard work, but the benefits to the community and healthcare over the long term are great. 



We weren't able to get our local town interested in supporting a farmers market which is why we've been operating in a neighbouring town for the past 3 years but I'm still hopeful the support will be there for a garden/food program. Please share any feedback and advice. And happy gardening in 2017. 




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Baskets

One of the things I'm making for the nursery this year are handmade baskets for my hanging flowers. I'm still waiting for the chance to cut rushes and reeds but in the meantime I thought I'd experiment with various ropes and schooner line to see what works. I made one basket that measures 8" tall and 7" across at the mouth, so it's not huge. It took 15' of 3/8 rope and 116' of 3/16 so it cost me approximately $9 in materials and just over an hour in time. It's certainly sturdy though a little rough looking and it will hold one of my potted plants nicely. For a hanging basket it will need to be wider at the bottom. But hey, it's just an experiment. I also tried a subtle pattern but it just looks a bit messy. Food for thought though 🙂. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Down & Up Again

The snow came down, our main green house came down because of it, and spirits went down as a result. But not for long. Steve quickly got to work assessing the damage and shovelling the snow off. He made sure the contents (equipment & resident chickens) were okay and then started coming up with plans for repairs. It looks like the metal frames are pretty much toast at this point except for the end walls. We can still salvage some of it though. And hopefully the plastic is fixable with the application of lots of clear UV resistant tape. The other greenhouse structures have wooden frames with more steeply pitched rooflines so they shed snow really well. It's definitely a design we'll keep using. For now though the planning continues for the 2017 growing year, new markets and further growth of the farm. Today is sunny and we've warmed from -19 Celsius to +1. Yay! All the cats are camped out on windowsills snoozing in pools of sunlight. I know how they feel. The sunshine makes me feel all warm and happy too.

Hope your new year is great so far. 

The Faires




Monday, January 2, 2017

New Beginnings 2017

Here, as promised, is our new logo. Happy New Year!

Plans are underway for expansion of the nursery and greenhouses so that entails not only extra supplies which will make Kerwin, my local Co-Op feed supplier happy, but also means it's barely the new year and already the seed catalogues have been out on the table for a couple of weeks and I've arranged my apple and sweet potatoe orders already. Next it's a seed order from West Coast Seeds and arranging to buy fruit bushes and trees. It seems odd to many people that so much work and planning happen at what is essentially the beginning of our worst winter weather, but we want to be able to get the varieties we want before everyone else orders them, and we need seeds on hand along with soil, pots, fertilizer so we are ready to get going in February and March. In order to have produce ready for May we're starting things 60-90 days ahead, and the timing for bedding plants varies too so we get our calendar and work backwards from the date we need either seedlings or plants for harvest. 

Another change this year is that veggie boxes will be available for pickup at the farmers markets we attend, at our farm stand and for local delivery. No CSA this year per se. Instead you can order ahead but you'll just meet me at the market and pay me on the day of delivery. I think many customers will find that easier than coming up with the money in advance and we will be at several markets so we're easy to find. 

Also available will be a beautiful and eclectic mix of garden art from myself and my mums at Prairie Wind Creations. Stained glass, garden whorls, wind chimes, I'll post pics but I encourage you to like and follow us both on Facebook and watch for giveaways and other prize packs as the nursery season begins in April, weather depending. The only thing better than getting something you love, is getting it for free!

Well, that's all for this week folks. May you have a delicious, happy, productive and love filled 2017.

All our best wishes,   Elizabeth, Stephen & Family


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking Forward to 2017

After a mix of lessons we learned in 2016 we are going into the New Year with a clearer vision of where our farm is going in 2017. Our focus is going to be to continue to develop the farm, increase our nursery operation and double our fresh market sales. 

PLANTS
Beginning in the Spring you'll find our vegetable starts and bedding plants available at Mid Valley Farmers Market (Friday 3-6) and Greenwood Mall Farmers Market (Thursday 11-3) plus at our farm stand in Torbrook and at Annavale Co-Op in Middleton where our greenhouse will be filled beginning in April. We will have a wide selection and include growing tips and recipes. We know we have superior plants, and we want to help you be successful in your garden and kitchen. 

PRODUCE
Veggies will be available as soon as the weather allows, usually early May. Be patient, just because the afternoons are warm doesn't mean the nights are and plants live outside 24/7.  Give them time, it'll be worth it! And check out the new farm stand which should be completed in April too. A new section of garden is being developed to include perennial fruits such as strawberries and raspberries, 

GARDEN ART
From wind chimes to sun catchers, we have just what you're looking for, all locally made! Available year round from Prairie Wind Creations, you'll find a good selection at the farmers markets and in the nursery at Annavale Co-Op in Middleton beginning in April.

COMMUNITY GARDEN
If there is any interest this year, we will be offering community garden plots again for 2017. Plots will be 10x10' and payment is by donation to help cover the cost of tilling and watering or you can help us with our weeding. We will fertilize, dig and water your plot, you just have to plant, weed and harvest. 

WWOOFERS
We will welcome 12 wwoofers from May to September. The cabin will also be getting a facelift in the form of a new floor and fresh paint. I'd like to take a minute to thank all the amazing people we've met through the wwoof program, you guys are awesome and we appreciate you all very much!

BAKERY/COOLER
The bakery will potentially be moving into its own building this year which will be great during the summer when it's so warm out. And a walk in cooler is planned as well for mid summer. I think my husband will be busy! 

So there you have it. Plans for 2017 in a nutshell. We're currently working on turning our daughter Meghan's logo design for the farm into a digital format and then we are going to make a new sign on the weekend as well. Something bright & fresh for a new start in 2017. You'll see it soon as we hope to revamp all our social media January 1st.

We also wish Jordan well in his new ventures, he's been the main helper in 2016 and he's a terrific son. He's leaving home to go be a missionary for 2 years. We will miss him but don't worry, I will post regular updates once we know where he's going and how he's getting on. 

Thanks for all your support and encouragement through what was not a very good year, and here's to the future, may it be brighter, full of love and laughter, and may it rain one day each week all summer. 

Love, 

        Elizabeth


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Poetry

People have different reasons they write. Escapism, therapy, a burning desire to help others. For me I sometimes feel compelled to write things down and last night was no exception so here is a rough draft of what happened to me yesterday night. Try not to laugh too hard. 

The Fifteen Dollar Moth

Driving, comfortably winding my way along the darkened road on my way to deliver eggs to the last customer before heading home. 

The girls are quiet, it's been a long day but now we are enjoying the peaceful evening and thinking thoughts of home and a comfy bed.  

I see something fall out of the corner of my eye. 

A soft, warm whisper of a touch on my arm which makes my heart skip a beat. 

Panic! Is it a moth? Bat? Panic! 

Breathe. Think. 

It's probably just a moth I tell myself. 

I really do not like moths, how do I get it out without looking like a complete idiot? Irrational fear or not, I do not want a moth inside my car. 

My mind is racing, my body tense despite knowing a moth cannot hurt me. Irrational or not, I do not like moths and I must find and remove this one. 

We pull up to our customers house and bag up her boxes of eggs. The air is cooling in the way an early Autumn evening does and the smell of the apples on the nearby tree reminds me of pie making with my children. 

I am pulled from my short reverie by the reality that I cannot find the change I need for this customer. I know I tucked $15, a ten and a five right there in my visor. I know I did!

And then I see it. The two bills of soft warm paper, lying beside the gear shift in the middle of my car. 

My $15 moth. 

And with a self deprecating chuckle and a deep but still unsteady breath I realize this whole panic has been for nothing.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Super Duck aka. The Feed Bag Bandit. Best Of 2016!

One of the best posts from summer, 2016. 

Pulling into the yard this afternoon after picking up the girls from their first day of school we were greeted by our ducks who came running over to show us that our drake had been snooping through a bag of old feed bags and somehow got one thread over his head and across his chest. It wasn't tight, just loosely hanging there and it took literally 2 seconds of holding the bag while he backed out of his new outfit, but it was hilarious in the meantime. Great advertising for Annavale Co-Op, a feed bag pulled by a fat duck. 

Things quickly returned to normal but I appreciated the chuckle that's for sure. 



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