Friday, October 15, 2010

The Beginning/The End

Tomorrow marks the last Farmers' Market for Skeeter Farm this season! We will be at the Vancouver West End market from 9-2 tomorrow (in case you're around and want to say hi). Which means that tonight was the last big market harvest (which we completed by headlamp just after the sun went down).

Fall is a strange time at the farm. Stuff is dying out in the field and we are all feeling a lot of burnout. The last crop to come off the farm will be the pumpkins (we’ve got massive jack-o-lanterns and nice sugar pumpkins this year), which really do seem to indicate the end of the season.

At the same time that 2010 is wrapping up, we are already beginning the next season, planning for our 2011 CSA program, preparing the fields for planting in the early spring...and even planting some seed now. Amanda and I took advantage of the fantastic weather this October has been serving up and got our first crop of 2011 in the ground this week - Garlic. We chose to plant two varieties: Northern Quebec and Chesnok Red. Both have received rave reviews in terms of flavour. 

Amanda getting down with garlic (its important to plant straight, right?)

 Northern Quebec variety (massive cloves of deliciousness!)

Although this week marks the end of our 2010 markets, we still do have one CSA delivery coming your way, which will be on October 31st. In between now and then we have come exciting stuff happening in our lives...

Hannah and her long time partner Dutch, (official photographer/tech support for Skeeter Farm), are tying the knot in a rather unconventional manner. How Hannah managed to pull off planning a "wedding" while farming and working a full time job is beyond me...but it's all set for next weekend (wedding in is quotations because I know I'm not supposed to call it that). So congratulations to a fantastic couple on their upcoming union!

I am actually pretty bummed that I don't get to attend their event...but will probably not feel too sad on the day because I will be in Turin, Italy at the Terra Madre conference put on by Slow Food International. I feel pretty honored to be one of 12 or so people who are representing BC at the meetings - there is a good contingent of young farmers  and other foodie folks who are going over and I would imagine that a great deal of collaboration could result from our time there together. I will be sure to take lots of pictures of the fabulous food and farmers that will be showcased from around the world and give you folks a good update when I am back!

Although its the end of the season and we might not have any exciting posts about vegetables we will still try to maintain the blog sporadically throughout the winter (usually with fluff that comes up here and there, recipes and whatnot). As always, if you have any suggestions for this blog (for example, a cool event that you want to advertise) please let us know! We also welcome any feedback about our food, CSA program, market booth etc - if you have any ideas, now is a great time to share them as we move into planning mode. 

with Love, 
Amy and the rest of Skeeter Farm

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Flavor Makers

Hi everyone, I guess this blog is not a surprise. Herbs. But one would think that I would rave about these little beauties in the height of summer when fresh lovely basil or oregano would be ready, but these flavor makers come up all year round. Especially since the indoor planters or adorned balconies are covered these days in herbs. That is great. Everyone can take a stab at growing, not matter how big or small, or even if only limited to a few sprigs of thyme or tarragon.
Now, I know that we here at Skeeter Farm have been filling precious CSA bags weekly with an herb selection, but that just boasts the fact that we can grow herbs. And we are proud. Basil, oregano, thyme, lavender (next year!), rosemary, cilantro, lovage, mint, sage, yum.
Above is just an example of the herbs we are even having for sale at our lovely farmer's markets. I love it when people come searching for cilantro to go with their homemade salsa, mint to add to their tabbouleh, basil for their caprese. Herbs add an incredible flavor to dishes of meats, grains, or seafood. An uplifter to salads, soups, or risottos. That little something, something to even a sandwich. I love it just because I don't have to add extra salt to my pasta sauces!
Sage is the one in demand now. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and creative stuffings for turkeys are being planned. Can I make a suggestion though? Add a little lovage to your stuffing if you can as well. That old fashioned herb will add that great celery flavor, and the scent is awesome. Again, visit your local farmers markets (especially the one in Coquitlam this Sunday as Skeeter Farm will be there!) to see what the herb selection is this week and try something new!
Jamie Oliver once said that 'once you start eating herbs, you become instant healthly'. I can't remember if it was in one of his shows or in one of his books, but he did say that. Can you just hear him? Anyway, he was right. Herbs have those great phytonutrients and can help prevent damage to blood vessels. High in minerals of iron, potassium and magnesium, those dark leaves even contain small traces of omega 3 fats! And a little herb fact, oregano is even claimed to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the 27 fresh herbs.
What great flavor makers they are, hey? What a great addition these herbs have to our flavor palates. Oh dear, I have got to get on with making my pesto. Let's if I can switch up the combo and maybe add some unusuals this time....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Beans !

I woke up this morning and felt a little pang of guilt, and a slight bit of panic about all of the little things I have left undone in my life lately. Weeds are engulfing certain crops on the farm, squash that needs curing, serious logistics to be worked out about the wrap up of the season (and yes parents!). Part time farming/full time student-ing does have its drawbacks....

Blog posting would be one of those little things that has fallen a bit by the wayside and for that we apologize. Despite not writing much lately, there has still been some exciting developments at Skeeter Farm. We have some serious pumpkin growth/ripening happening, lovely little ears of popcorn forming, and my newest most favorite crop - dry beans - are hanging up in the hoop house to dry. 

A little preview of 2 of the varieties we grew (Candy and Orca)...and clean hands (i.e. very little farm work accomplished lately)

For those unfamiliar, dry beans would be those that you soak and cook before eating, such as black beans, navy beans, kidney beans etc. We planted 5 varieties of dry beans this year, which we procured from Salt Spring Seeds, as a small experiment. The idea with dry beans is that you grow them just as you would a regular bush bean plant, but instead of harvesting the pods when they are green, you let them dry on the plant and then remove the bean seeds from the pod. 

Due to the wet weather in September I made the call to pull all of the plants out and let them finish drying upside down in the hoop house (to try to avoid rotting). Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to give a little update on our dry bean experiment (and perhaps the results of a taste test) and let you know if we will have some for purchase this year. I have yet to decide whether or not to save all the seed from this year to expand the crop for next season, or to try to sell some of them to test out market prices. Whether they are available this year or next year, the idea of providing a more local protein source and further increasing the diversity of our products is exciting.