i can dig it
Today I’m sitting outside on our rickety old picnic table, shaded by one of the many gigantic black walnut trees. It’s a beautiful day here, even though lately it’s cooled off a bit and the light has changed – our shadows are getting longer. Fall is on its way!
In the last little while we’ve started to look at our fall crops. Early carrots have been harvested the last couple of weeks, and we pulled up all of our garlic recently (it looks beautiful!) There are winter squash plants with fruit all over them, ripening up for the fall, and we’ve just had our first apples and pears.
We had 2 open house days recently. Our CSA members were invited to stay around during pick ups for wagon rides, a picnic and some samples from the retreat centre kitchen. I was in charge of the kids’ area. I met lots of awesome people there and we made some vegetable art using beet stamps, carving summer squash, and just painting and colouring.
This coming week will mark the half way point in our CSA season, which has 20 weeks of pick ups. While things are much more hectic now that we have 2 pickups a week, and are down a couple of interns since the spring, I really love harvest days. It can be stressful since we’re always on a timeline but it’s so rewarding to reap what we’ve sown (literally!) It’s still amazing to me that those tiny seedlings we planted way back when have turned into (monstrous, in some cases) plants covered in fruit, or exploded out of the earth with tender green leaves for us to eat. Looking back at the weather extremes that have occurred this season inspires even more awe that we have such an abundance.
When working in the farm store we often get asked a multitude of questions about the different items available that week. CSA members have asked me how they can use things like kohlrabi, and whether the stalks on chard are edible (they are! in fact, almost all green tops are edible, like beets, radishes, turnip and kohlrabi). Lately we’ve had a surge in melons, and people are wondering what treats the different coloured skins encase. My favourite so far have been Yellow Doll watermelon, and the canteloupes. And so many things, like the melons and the tomatoes, taste so much better when they’re still warm from the sun.
We have had some interesting field trips and education days in the last while. Our most recent trip took us in the direction of Niagara to visit 2 wineries and 2 other CSA farms. It’s always interesting to see how others are doing things on their own farms, and talking with them about their experiences. Folks are always so open to showing us around and sharing their knowledge. I can hardly imagine this would be the case on industrial farms. One gracious couple even had pies, cookies and coffee waiting for us in their home after we toured their little farm.
Us interns also get to lead workshops here for one another. Mine is coming up later this month; the subject is fermenting. I have no experience fermenting alcoholic drinks aside from Jake’s workshop about mead, but a couple years ago started experimenting with fermentation as a preserving technique. This was largely inspired by the delicious brined carrots my roommate Sarah had made – they were so tasty that I couldn’t resist chowing down, but I didn’t want to eat them all on her, so I made my own that winter. I also tried out sauerkraut and some pickled beets, and later acquired some sour dough starter. Most of these are made using lactic acid fermentation, which, like the growth of the plants out in our fields, is something magical that seems to just occur on its own when given the right cirucmstances to produce something healthful and yummy. This weekend I’ll be fermenting a few more things to prepare for the upcoming workshop. In the meantime I’ll be perusing websites like this one to get some information together – take a look!