Mutual Aid Saves the Day!
On June 12th, we experienced a hail storm that effected all of the fruit and veggies that weren't in our greenhouses or under mesh hoop houses. So, pretty much everything. We ended up needing to call on our organic farmer friends to fill out our CSA boxes this week instead of having a partial box or skipping a week. The organic community in the North Okanagan - Shuswap region is pretty tight knit and several farms offered up support when they heard of the hail damage here.
In the end, Wild Flight Farm in Mara, Fresh Valley Farms and Pilgrims' Produce (where I started farming 10 years ago!) in Armstrong provided the kale, lettuce mix, salad turnips, and rhubarb. Even though I was fully aware of the generous nature of the local organic community, this still deeply impacted me (read, tears of gratitude) to experience this mutual aid from friends and family.
Kat & Dan (with Little Liam) and Kathryn (Rob is missing) from Pilgrims' Produce.
Hah! The Matrix 'farm truck' does it again. Just got everything in there :-)
With strawberries just starting to ripen, we were stoked to include small baskets in each of our CSA boxes this week, as well as some rhubarb. The perfect combination for sour cream rhubarb cookies! Here is the recipe that I modified to match our sugar tolerance (which is so much lower than most recipes) and including strawberries:
Sour Cream Rhubarb Cookies (more of a breakfast biscuit, well, I'm not sure -- the texture is different, that's for sure)
(Modified from www.today.com)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla, making sure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and repeat until all the ingredients are combined. Stir in the rhubarb.
- Drop rough tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies start to brown and the tops of the cookies get a little color. Let cool slightly, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Let's start with the good news! Although it was overcast early in the week, we were able to rescue our carrots, get through weeding the newest salad greens, and quite a few of our onion beds (you can see kohlrabi at one end of them in the photo above). As the thunderstorm was rolling in on Friday afternoon, Amanda and I were able to weed the long greenhouse, prune and train tomatoes, and replace basil plants that were felled by cutworms (it's looking good in there!). Unfortunately....
The thunderstorm turned into a couple of minutes of marble-sized hail. It was intense! With a heaviness in my gut, I went out to survey the damage when the worst of it had passed. It was bad. It is bad. Buuut, plants are incredibly resilient, so most will recover -- they've just been set back a bit.
On my way back to the packing shed, I ran into Tristan just coming back from picking up our daughter from Grandpa Don's. Tristan was laughing. You can tell he grew up farming and these kinds of setbacks don't seem to phase him. I eventually came around to laugh with him, but, geesh, tomato transplant spaces shouldn't be brimming with hail pellets.
Update from June 19: The flattened brassicas above have bounced back for the most part. Tomatoes and zucchini also seem to be doing fine, however our greens are thrashed, wow. Our very gracious CSA members accepted beet greens and spinach that looked raggedy, however tasted as delicious as ever! It was the first box this week and what a memorable one it was.
Since our last blog, we've completed the transplanting into the greenhouses (supervised by Moonbeam, as you can see). Our short greenhouse has eggplant and cucumbers in it. The longer greenhouse has tomatoes, peppers, basil, and the leftover eggplants. Now we just need the heat units to see their growth.
The cauliflower and cabbage have also been covered with mesh (to prevent cabbage moth and cabbage worms), thanks to Amanda's patience in working out the prototype. We've been sitting on the mesh for two seasons, so it's exciting to see it up. Isn't it beautiful?
A life changer this season is the landscaping fabric that we're using for the long season crops, such as the brassicas, celeriac, and what's in our greenhouses. It is often these crops that get lost to the weeds as the season progresses, so we can rest a bit easier knowing we have these laid out and planted. We are grateful to our CSA members, and their early season subscriptions, that helped us to get the landscaping fabric this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
2020 Farm Crew
Before I introduce our crew for the season, I wanted to provide an overview of what Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) means to us. There are many variations of the weekly food box model, however, for us, CSA means getting to know our members. Over the years, our CSA members have come and gone (life has a way of doing this) and we are always thrilled when they return. We are so grateful for the many CSA members who have become good friends and we look forward to getting to know our new members this year.
Why do we offer a CSA? We love growing delicious, fresh, and organic food for our family and the community that we are a part of.
How does it all work? Many food box programs have shifted to sourcing items from multiple places. Our CSA is traditional in the sense that all of the core items are grown right here at Golden Ears Farm. If we lose a crop, which can definitely happen, we do our best to source that from another organic grower so that we maintain a good variety from week to week.
Now, on to our crew!
Nana Anne is the guardian of our strawberry patch--collecting slips for the Chase Hamper Society this spring and diligently weeding the strawberry plants since they were planted last spring. She is also the master egg collector and washer when she isn't visiting Tristan's sister in Armstrong (at Fresh Valley Farms). Since the pandemic started, Anne has been here pretty much 100% of the time and we are very grateful for her hours of egg care, as well as her farm loops with our two dogs, Nina and Lily. And, of course, she is our daughter's #1 choice for bedtime stories and songs.
We welcomed back Amanda for her second season and appreciate her focus and perseverance. She has tucked into many big jobs, such as composting the strawberries, weeding onions, sanitizing our bins, and transplanting thousands of plants! Not to mention her calm, yet playful, nature with our daughter. Off the farm, she's into soccer, helping to facilitate a youth group, and taking a course on herbalism. So grateful to have Amanda back this season!
On the right is Tristan. His energy for farming this year has been off the charts. It's been great to see and also a bit hard to reign in, lol. One small example: there are more people who would like to get eggs from us than we have eggs to provide. Tristan's solution? Get 100 or more birds. Ummm, no. We don't have the time to build more coops/nesting space, so that isn't possible. Outside of farming, Tristan has gotten into weights (kettle bells) and loves jiu jitsu.
After a year away from the fields, I'm enjoying being back out there (and being physically able to do so after some nasty chronic pain). I'm the main newsletter writer and curator of social media posts (hint, hint, you can find us on Insta and Facebook). Alongside farming, I'm completing a Master of Arts in Professional Communications through Royal Roads University--and am loving it! I just completed a research course in which I was able to focus on crisis management/communications in nonprofits. It's also been exciting to have a Research Assistant position shift from data collection to co-authoring a book chapter in a volume titled, Pandemic Rhetoric. Fingers crossed that it all works out! PS - thank you to my cousin, Jim, for this fun headshot in the garden behind the Mount Paul Community Food Centre in Kamloops, Michelle
This is our 6-year-old daughter. She's our primo snail caretaker, worm finder, and chicken catcher, so the farm is a great place for her!
We're Hiring for 2019!
Join us at Golden Ears Farm, Chase, BC, to see what happens on an organic farm over the course of a full season cycle.
We grow a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. We attend farmers' markets in Chase and Kamloops, run a CSA Food Box, and sometimes host events such as seminars and concerts.
We are deeply involved with the farm/food community, so there are lots of opportunities to attend farm tours & potlucks and get involved at an organizational level with local food groups.
Start Date: March 15-April 1st, 2019 (part-time hours to begin with)
End Date: October 31, 2019 (part-time hours as the season tapers off)
Full-Time Farm Position:
Working with us mainly involves propagation, (trans)planting, weeding, harvesting, selling organic vegetables and fruit, as well as learning-through-doing while working alongside the farm manager, casual employees and berry pickers. Care of our laying hens is also part of the day-to-day goings-on here. Once confident, the employee is expected to be able to complete jobs without constant supervision. Time will be made regularly for focused learning on topics such as: crop planning, soil basics, weed ID, greenhouse management, and planting schedules.
There will also be plenty of opportunities to help out with the parts of our farm you're most interested in -- food preservation, slaughter and butchering, selling at local farmers’ markets, learning about composting, helping with our growing CSA program, construction and carpentry. There will be some shared meals, however most meals will be the employee's own responsibility -- with free access to the 'farmer' corner in our cooler to choose fresh fruit & veg for your meals. Private on-farm accommodation is available with shared laundry and shower. We have a beautiful multi-purpose studio, sauna, fire-pit, and extensive library, which the employee is welcome to use.
We ask that the employee commit to 35 to 40 hours per week with 1.5 - 2 days off a week from mid-March to mid-or late October. Part-time hours are the norm for the beginning and end of the season. A visit beforehand definitely seems like a good idea for all of us, if it's possible! A wage of $15/hour will be paid, with the possibility of earning additional income through fruit picking.
Our Ideal Farm Worker:
We're looking for someone who:
* is interested in learning the basics of farming
* enjoys working in all weather conditions
* is hard-working, physically fit (able to engage in tasks that involve bending, squatting and lifting up to 50lbs, sometime for hours at a time), enthusiastic about sustainable organic farming, self-sufficiency, and highly motivated to help out!
* can take direction and is self-motivated to complete a task
* our skill set wish list includes the following (although willingness to learn these things is just fine, as well): experience operating tractors and power tools/chain saws; equipment maintenance; tree pruning/care; irrigation; construction and fencing.
Email a short cover letter and resume to Tristan Cavers (firstname.lastname@example.org) that includes:
- Why you would like to work at Golden Ears Farm
- Other farming experience you have
- What areas of farming you have specific interest in learning
Applications should be submitted by March 1st, 2019 for consideration and interviews will take place on a rolling basis until a suitable candidate is hired.
2018 Is Off To a great Start!
It's been a long, cold spring and last night was hopefully the last night with a hard frost. We can roll up the remay for good (well, the ones we've been using for frost protection -- still need them for the flea beetles). Pictured above is Clem, who snuck in there while we were rearranging our greenhouse space. She looks pretty cozy tucked in there.
Morten and Anand are keeping things flowing nicely here. We've got tons of plants started that will be able to be transplanted this week, we can catch up on direct seeding, our second greenhouse was lengthened and covered, our hens have been moved to an even more spacious new pasture, the bins have been sanitized, packing shed thoroughly cleaned out and organized, and our first market was fantastic! Today, our new asparagus crowns arrive from our friends at Tasty Acres on 30th in Salmon Arm and we're excited to get them planted to double our crop for next year. Here's our early spring photo album...
It's incredible to think that it's already been three weeks since Emily started! She is settling in nicely, helped us with the farm purge weekend, and has furthered Avé's baking and painting pursuits. It's been great having Emily here -- being from Vernon, she is already familiar with quite a few people in our social world and was even a CSA member of the farm where Tristan's sister is at; such a small world! Her grounded and easy-going nature means she is able to roll with what farming (and the weather) has to offer, not always a linear process.
Not only did she form almost 2,000 soil blocks for our early corn transplants, she has pruned and tied the raspberry patch, dug up the over-wintered parsnips, took the plastic off the greenhouse, finished dismantling our tomato zone, started weeding the new strawberry patch and garlic, designed our summer CSA poster, and is working on new egg signs for market. Amazing contributions so far.
In addition to her work on the farm, she is finishing off her Industrial Design program at Emily Carr (including a soil biology practicum here) and heading out to rock climbing spots with her partner, Duncan, any chance she can.
Emerging From Hibernation
It feels great to be getting things going on the farm this season, although it has been a slow start due to the long, cold winter that we had. The low temperatures and wet weather has delayed moving our greenhouse to a new location. We've actually decided to split it back into two separate cold tunnels and we'll rotate our laying hens through them in the winter months.
We welcomed two heifers onto the farm on April 7. They perk up when we call to them, "cowwweeeee!", and appreciate the apples and carrots we bring to them. We're looking forward to start rotational grazing with them -- as soon as the pasture is ready!
That same weekend, we undertook a huge farm cleanup with the help of 10 people. It was incredible to see equipment moved to where it needed to be, freezers moved to a space that is more energy efficient for them, and a large trailer load of items taken to the dump.
A friend also took a camper off the farm to salvage the fridge and heater for his van. After some pondering, though, he has decided to refinish the camper for his family to use. We're so happy it's found a new home.
With a bit of a break from the rain, we're weeding the garlic before mulching and hopefully we can get seeding in the field soon!
Long Time No Blog! by Chelsea Tims
Hello from the farm crew! It's Chelsea writing to you this week after a brief lapse in our blog updates. With summer upon us, things are busier and more bountiful than ever at the farm. As the heat starts building from 6 am onward, our window for certain tasks gets smaller and smaller, and with double harvest days (market & CSA), our weeks are full to the brim. Fortunately, we've managed to find some time in between to go on off-farm adventures like the 2016 Wild Salmon Caravan which happened this year at the Adams Lake Band Community Hall. It was an amazing celebration of Secwepemc culture and the sacredness of the wild salmon that they and many other First Nations people have relied upon for generations. We were lucky to experience the songs, stories and dances created to honour the salmon and to remind us of why we must work hard to protect them. Like the fish, we also rely on the cold Shuswap waters of the Thompson river to bring nutrients and life to the valley and to keep us from melting on 30 degree days like today. The photo above is the view of Little Shuswap Lake from the Chase bridge just before it turns into the river.
Colour is currently bursting from every corner of the farm and our harvests get more exciting by the week. The top photo is a shot of our first CSA share -- radish, beets, strawberries, Freckles romaine lettuce, snow peas and kale galore! Having new items to put in the share is always exciting as we send our veggies out into the world. This week we pulled our first carrots, purple kohlrabi and golden beets, all of whose colours draw marvel at the market -- especially when paired with our new home made market signs.
Witness the heavens above shining down on our freshly dug carrots!
Beauty is not only found in the vegetables, however! The flowers all over the place have been helping our newly settled bees thrive (see Hollyhox below!). After just two weeks, they had already started a honey flow, and most recently broke off into a new swarm! This occurs when the colony reaches a certain size and splits off to start a new hive, which requires a quick catch and a new home from the beekeepers who want to grow their flock. Props to Tristan who assisted Michelle in guiding the swarm from the buzzing apple tree branch to their new home. We're so happy to have these incredible creatures here and to witness the hard work they do for us and for nature.
That's all for this week! I'll leave you with a couple of my favourite photos of the farm crew this season- cats and babies included :)
When it Rains, It Pours...
Where to begin? In addition to the strawberries peaking this week, we've had to mobilize in a major way to deal with both Tristan's and my absence from the farm this week (unplanned, unintentional, and definitely not for great reasons). The interns have really stepped up and have been running things very well. Much gratitude for their eagerness to help out in this time of need, as well as for the offer of support from so many others. With the events of this week, we came to the conclusion that the farm needs to be simplified. In so doing, we are selling our pigs and some laying hens, in case you know of anyone who is looking for a boar, a sow, and weaners.
Before things took a sideways turn this week, here is what we were all working on.
Tuesday was a busy morning! We had 8 pickers in the strawberry patch. A small dot in the back left is Yaniv direct seeding lettuce, mustard greens, and hakurei (that we missed last week because it was too wet). Out of the frame is Tristan on the tractor, preparing the field for our new strawberries -- 6,000 of them that were transplanted Wednesday morning!
We also got the rest of our tomatoes in the ground and are hoping that the paper mulch will reduce our weeding time down the road. How nice that David could have a bit of a break with Clem. It was such a hot day!!
Here's a better shot of the pea trellis system that went in this year. Picking them will be a dream. And there should be snow peas at market this week -- yippee!
This is from last week, when the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes went into the greenhouse. This little guy was so lucky that he didn't get hit with the shovel!
Photo credit: Martín Bustamante