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Seeing Green

Greetings, friends of the farm! I hope I was not the only one out on a walk to celebrate the glorious warmth of yesterday evening. Here in our cute little town people are placing teddy bears in their windows to give the kids something fun to do (count bears) and to give a sense of community togetherness, while being apart. Are they doing the same in your community? Our community has a little facebook page where we share such things- hopefully yours does too, or maybe now is the time to start one. In our greater town of Uxbridge, we have an amazing house displaying hearts made of Christmas lights, and also an incredible saxophone player livening up the sidewalk. There are some beautiful things happening as people get creative to keep our connections alive (and even build them). Our own church has been meeting via facebook live and zoom, which is a pretty easy to use but great video platform where you can interact with a whole bunch of people at once, while remaining safely distanced.

I thought you could use some serious pictures of things growing to lighten up your day! The greenhouses are very much alive right now, producing all sorts of varieties of veggies, fruits and herbs. The first set of cucumbers we planted are growing quickly after about a week, the mint is looking ready for harvest and the strawberries are starting to form. We just have a few plants in the greenhouse but have ordered lots more, in hopes of a good year for strawberries! Baby bokchoy seedlings have been planted from their seedling trays into the ground, and should be just weeks away from harvest. Winterized leeks and green onions will be ready soon too.

The hustle is on here as we are pretty lean on staff this time of year, but I am feeling ready for a busy week of packing and delivering vegetable and fruit boxes, and just in time. I injured my eye pretty badly 11 days ago and I’ve never been more grateful to be seeing well again without the pain and without the sunlight stabbing me in the eye! This week our winter veggie shares have doubled and our fruit shares have over tripled! I had to close down registration for this week but will see what I can open up again for the next delivery day.

This week’s baskets:

Vegetables:

  • 3lbs Manitoba or Zephyr organic potatoes, yellow flesh or russet
  • 2lbs Ontario organic sweet potatoes
  • 2lbs Ontario organic carrots
  • 2lbs Zephyr Organics red beets
  • 1lbs Zephyr Organics watermelon radish
  • 1/2lb Zephyr Organics loose leaf spinach (not factory washed- please soak in clean water 2 x and drain before use)
  • 1 Ontario organic cucumber
  • 1 head organic celery (US)- please note was stored in our farm warehouse for a few weeks for safety

Fruits

  • 2.5lbs organic bananas
  • 3lbs organic Canadian apples
  • 1lb organic kiwi
  • 1 organic watermelon or 2lbs d’anjou pears
  • 6 organic oranges or orange/grapfruit mix

Now for the Recipes!

I always like to tackle the items that I know I’ll have the most people asking to switch: the first one is beets.

Beets: Why bother with beets? First of all, we have an amazing year round supply of them from our farm, local and organic. This is because they have an amazing shelf life and can wait happily in your fridge for weeks or months in the right conditions. Please make sure they are in a ziplock bag or container so they don’t dry out (a couple air holes is best). Finally, for their nutrition: fibre, folate (not just for pregnant women…useful for all people with cells ;), manganese, potassium and iron. Get more nutrition facts here. If you want to keep your blood pressure healthy or even improve it or even improve your fitness, they are your ally.

Roasting is the best way to bring out the sweet and rich flavour. Try this simple roasted beet recipe. If you are shorter on time, I simply peel and boil them, often in combo with carrots. The kids have fun seeing how they turn the outside of the carrots pink, while the insides stay orange. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to convince the kids to try beets- now they are a fave. Preschoolers can be tough customers but at 4 plus years old you can encourage them with the healthy things beets do for their bodies or their is always offering a healthy dessert for giving it a try 🙂

I personally adore beets on salad. Just roast the beets as above and once cool, make sure they are peeled and slice them up to add to salad. I love them with the fresh spinach & goat cheese. Citrus fruits are a great addition, or try adding nuts, meat (like ham or chicken), or eggs to make this salad into a solid meal. Try this easy Spinach, Beet & Goat Cheese Salad, and enjoy with your favourite vinaigrette! No recipe needed, just wash the spinach thoroughly by soaking it in water in your sink or a large bowl, letting the grit/dirt fall to the bottom. Give it a swish in the water as you take it out into a colander. Then, rinse out your bowl, fill with water and repeat. Dry in a salad spinner and top with roasted beets, crumbled goat cheese (I just break up the goat cheese log with a fork) and top with orange slices with peels removed, and your favourite vinaigrette.

Option 3: Smoothie: Can’t Beet Pink Smoothie: This smoothie combines 2 cups frozen mango, 1 cup roasted beets, peeled, 1 1/4 cups vanilla yogurt, and juice of 3 oranges, blended smoothly. Lots of nutrients and and beautiful colour to take on the day 🙂

Option 4: If you really want to mask the taste of the beets, try Heartbeet Chocolate Cake, which also happens to be gluten-free!

Next Up: Watermelon Radish. You might not have even heard of it before, but it sure is a pretty and spicy addition to your table. I have a few simple ways to enjoy the fibre and Vitamin C boost with next to no sugar or carbs.

Option 1: Live for a little spicy kick? Peel and slice your watermelon radish and lightly salt for a colourful, nutritious snack or side. Zingy!

Option 2: Grate and add to tacos or taco salad. It adds beautiful colour, and we managed to get some into the kids this way 😉

Option 3: For those who don’t dig the zingy taste, cook it! In soups and stews, watermelon radish turns a pink as gentle as it’s newfound mild flavour. We enjoyed ours in chicken noodle soup, which has been often on our menu lately, not because we’re sick but because it’s the perfect follow-up to a roasted chicken dinner.

From our greenhouses to your table, stay well!

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The Beauty of New Life in a World at War

Hello from all of us at Zephyr Organics! It’s mostly just family at the moment working to get the greenhouses growing to make this season abundant with delicious local veggies. We were slapped with some grim news when all flights became cancelled: most of our labourers come from Jamaica, the same capable, hard-working crew we have hired for season after season. I know many people think, “why not fill the labourer vacancies with all the people out of work in Canada right now?” It sounds perfect, really, but in all honesty these experienced workers from Jamaica are almost impossible to replace in Canada. They have the knowledge of how to work safely & efficiently, the skill to produce quality results, and the work-ethic and stamina to work through those long summer days, planting and watering and weeding and harvesting and packing. They have families they have been supporting on this wage that bests many of the opportunities back home and they make a big sacrifice travelling to Canada to provide that income to help their families thrive. Recently we heard that agriculture workers will indeed be allowed into the country (as producers in horticulture) big and small let out an outcry and a warning of how this will affect the supply of fresh produce on Canadian shelves. They will be doing a 2-week quarantine to make sure they are healthy and ready to work. It takes time to train a skilled agriculture worker, and in our experience, not many Canadians are willing to stick it through the learning curve (and the sore muscles) it takes to get there. Do we hire Canadians? Of course! I am looking for someone to help me harvest and pack for your farm share boxes and we have some driving and office positions already filled, but please- if you have a hearty soul up for a physical challenge, that can transport themselves to the farm, send them our way! (send resumes to jobs@zephyrorganics.com please)

Never underestimate the skill & work ethic of an agriculture worker!

As we are an essential business (thankful for it!), we are continuing to work hard in the midst of this pandemic. I am getting lots of calls and emails from folks looking to try our winter Farm Shares for the first time or add fruit to their existing deliveries. We are doing our best to accommodate the new wave of people hoping to avoid the grocery store or protect their loved ones. I am very thankful to be in a position to help. It makes me feel I am able to help in a situation that is well beyond my control. You can check out what we have available for delivery right now. We are also stocking up on honey, maple syrup and still have mango preserves and dry beans available to stock your pantries that you can add on to your produce orders. In our efforts to serve you better, we are taking precautions on the farm to keep ourselves and your food safe, including regular disinfecting, wearing gloves and hand washing often, and minimizing our exposure in our own personal lives. The good news is the Covid-19 does not thrive on organic surfaces and food delivery services are safe to use. We are still using extra precautions, as should you! I am quarantining our farm share bins for 2 weeks after collection (the virus is said to be able to survive on plastic for 5 days) and then after this I am using bleach to carefully disinfect them. Your vegetables go through very few hands that are carefully washed and never open to be touched by the public. To be on the safe side, you can gently clean your veggies with a little soap and water . Don’t forget to rinse out the soap! This video is from a whole week ago so the later advise given about social distancing sounds to be more lax than we are now being advised so look for more current advise on this. Your summer shares will go ahead as planned- we will continue to work hard to provide you with safe food close to home, delivered right to your door. While we are a business with expenses of our own, rest assured if your financial situation changes and you are in need of a refund, please reach out to us and we will refund you. You can place your summer Farm Share order with confidence. You have just over a week to enjoy the best pricing (already applied on the website). After that the prices will go up, but new payment options will also be made available for your convenience.

Now to the fun stuff: growing things! I hope you take some time to observe the signs of spring outside. We have spotted many birds like robins returning home. My tulips at home are breaking through the ground. I can’t wait to see them, as they were my keepsake from visiting Holland (don’t worry, this was over a year ago!) :). We started our sweet potato slips in our home, some under the grow lamp and some just in the window sill. Do you want an experiment to keep you busy at home? Ok- it’s a very slow process, but so cool! Check out this video for how to, just remember to use an organic sweet potato because it has not been sprayed with a sprout-retardant. Mine are finally growing some half-decent roots after being starting on Mar 16. The second photo of the sweet potato with roots was taken on Mar 22. Not every sweet potato has rooted at this point but I apparently put them upside down (pointy end down) so I will try a new batch with the pointy end up and see if they sprout faster.

We are already harvesting our first crop of spinach, which will be available for a while. We have many greenhouses planted from the fall. We are simply taking the top leaves off and letting the roots stay and re-grow. When we do bunched spinach later, it takes a lot less time to harvest, wash and pack but the plant will not regrow after that. We had so much fun with the kids showing them how to harvest and teaching them about condensation on the greenhouse walls and how to make it “rain”. Who says the kids aren’t learning while not in school?! I encourage you to get some outdoor education in during our time of social distancing- just keep a good 6 ft space between yourself and others (except your immediate family). Our abundant local trails have been popular of late, but a simple walk down the road in a subdivision will give you the chance to look for new flowers and birds. Some people are even leaving scavenger hunt items like teddy bears in the windows. How cool!

Next up for crops we will have baby bok choy (to be planted by April 1 and ready that same month), followed by radish. They have been sown directly into the ground in the greenhouse and can grow as quickly as 40 days in ideal conditions. Both the radish and bokchoy will tolerate a little frost, which is prefect because most of our greenhouses are not heated, and the temperatures can still get quite chilly at night. All our plant babies (seedlings) are kept in the heated greenhouses as they are more tender.

One of our more shy farm kitties models social distancing! I wonder if she’d be up for a video chat?

Other things we are up to- finishing up the pruning of the apple trees. I have learned the hard way that you should always use safety glasses- I am writing this with seriously swollen, sore and light-sensitive eyes, just thankful that my vision is still intact. We are busy doing lots of seeding and ordering new ever-bearing strawberry plants and lots of ’em! With the new plants and some special attention, we are hoping for a great strawberry year.

I mentioned earlier my desire to start a children’s garden and maybe program. I’m sure you can all appreciate with me that this is not the year for that! Who knows when social distancing will end? I am hopeful, but also taking each day and week as it comes. Even our May 30th Open House may go virtual to keep everyone safe. Stay tuned- that decision will be made when we see the state of things in May. What I am going to do is order some chicks this year! I have been wanting chickens for years now and I think this is good timing for it. I am going to be offering -some eggs and whole chickens for sale. Stay tuned and check the website for chicken eggs and later chickens to go on sale!

Stay safe, stay well, and stay home! But don’t forget to connect with others through phone calls, cards, and technology 🙂 We all need some extra love today.

-Jenny & the Zephyr Organics Team

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Feed Your Body, Not your Fears

It feels like the whole world has changed since the last Farm Shares I delivered (2 weeks ago- not even!): Covid-19 has gone from being a concern in Asia to a concern all over the world. Now the vast majority of people who are at low risk for carrying the virus in Canada I know are in some sort of a self-quarantine. It’s heartening to see healthy, younger people considering the good of the elderly and more vulnerable. I hope that next time I send out another Farm Share we’ll be seeing numbers going down, not up, but I know that this may not be the case.

At Zephyr Organics we are Canada Gap food safety certified, which means that we take great pains to make sure your food is produced and prepared in a sanitary, healthy environment and that our workers practice good Heine. With this virus as an additional concern, I will be doing some extra disinfecting of our Farm Share bins and making sure that we are eliminating germs from the farm to your door. The great news is that your food is produced locally and handled by only one or 2 people along the way, including delivery.

Sometimes after a long day of farming, we play the Farming Game! Bring on the family games nights as we stay healthy by staying home 🙂

In the mean time if you are receiving a Farm Share basket from us, you are patting yourself on the back, knowing that there is one less thing to leave the house for, not to mention that organic vegetables do wonders for your immune system. I have a feeling that a lot of us will be getting creative and raiding the backs of our cupboards to keep out of the crowds another day.

One such recipe that you may already have the stuff for in your cabinet is Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Lentil Stew. This is super comforting, delightful, was enjoyed by my whole family, and made for some fantastic leftovers too. The Moroccan spices make something that could be a little dull, really delightful. I served it over couscous for us gluten-eaters (one of those random things that has been stashed in my cupboards forever), but you could serve it over rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or nothing at all. The only change I made to the recipe was to add that bag of peeled tomatoes still hanging out in my freezer from the summer harvest (about 4 cups worth) instead of the crushed tomatoes. This was the only liquid I added and the texture was hearty but there was enough liquid to cook this up in my instant pot, for a big whopping 10 minutes! If you have already finished eating your butternut squash, sweet potato cut into cubes would be equally great. One more plus- this is very budget friendly and jam packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre.

A satisfying, cheap and easy recipe you likely already have the ingredients for!

This week we have our first spring item from the farm-spinach! I can. not. wait. to sink my teeth into it. Seriously, spinach is so good, especially in the cool weather as the frost makes it sweeter.

Your whole Farm Share list: 3lbs organic Sweet potatoes (Ontario), 2lbs organic carrots (Ontario), 2lbs organic red beets (Zephyr), 2lbs red yukon potatoes (Zephyr), 6oz organic spinach (Zephyr), 1 romaine head(US organic), 1 organic cucumber (Ontario), 1lb organic watermelon radish (Zephyr), 5oz organic cremini mushrooms (Ontario)

Fruit Shares: 3lbs Canadian organic gala apples, 6 organic oranges, 4 organic grapefruit, 3 organic mangoes, 10oz organic blackberries

It’s worth braving the cold to harvest the first spring treasure!

Everyone, stay healthy, take good care of yourself this week, and let love guide your choices in these troubled times, not fear. Enjoy!

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A Week of Meals My Kids Will Actually Eat

Having my kids help in the kitchen often results in healthy snacking as they wait for the finished product 🙂

Have you seen the social media meme that says, “Who knew the hardest part of being an adult was deciding what to cook every night for the next 30 years?”. There is some real truth to that, not to mention the added challenge of cooking for toddlers, preschoolers and children that can judge whether they like something from across the room! Those are some powerful taste-buds, people! Like a lot of families, one of us has food sensitivities and making 2 of every meal gets exhausting fast, so I cook the same thing for us all most of the time. While my kids aren’t willing to eat every veggie in every form, there are a good number of meals I know they will eat, complaint-free, and the best part is, they don’t come from a box and they do feature veggies! Here are a few of those ideas, featuring red potatoes, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, butternut squash, salad greens, onions, tomatoes and cucumber.

In the winter shares this week: 4lbs red potatoes (Ontario organic), 2lbs carrots (Ontario organic), 1 butternut squash (Ontario organic), 3/4 lb field tomatoes (Quebec organic), 1 cucumber (Ontario organic), 2lbs red onions (Ontario organic), 1 spring mix (U.S. organic), 1.5lbs Jerusalem artichokes (Zephyr Organics).

In the fruit shares this week: 3lbs organic gala apples (Canada organic), 2lbs D’Angou pears (organic), 1 pineapple (organic), 3 grapefruits (organic) & 1lb strawberries (organic).

Here are some of the Meals I am Making this Week:

Monday: Butternut Squash & Chicken (optional) Curry with Rice

I’ll make mine with chicken but chickpeas are also delish with curry. Tip: Use a yellow curry powder (milder) and use lots of coconut milk to make it kid-friendly, or even yogurt or plain sour cream if your kids (or you!) are not into the coconut taste.

Tuesday: Instant Pot/Slow Cooker Potato, Carrot & Beef Stew

Tuesdays I am busy at the farm washing and packing your winter share boxes. It is so nice to come home to a meal already prepped with amazing flavour.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. flour of choice, 1.5-2lbs beef sirloin tip roast, 1.5-2lbs red potatoes, 1.5lb carrots, 1 small onion, 1 carton mushroom or beef broth, 2-3 bay leaves, 3/4 tsp thyme, salt & pepper to taste. Optional: turnip, rutabaga, beets (will turn stew purple-y but taste great), green beans or peas.

Directions: 1. Cut roast into bite-sized chunks. Dice onion and put both beef and onion into instant pot or a frying pan with 2 tbsp. oil. Sprinkle beef with flour ( I use rice flour as we need gluten free and I always have it on hand but cornstarch or wheat flour will also work great.) This will help the meat stay tender and in shape, as well as thicken up the broth. If you cooked your meat and onion in the pan, transfer to slow cooker.

2. Wash and cut red potato into bite-sized chunks. The instant pot/slow cooking method means even my skin-hating son will eat them without me bothering with peeling. Put the potato in the instant pot or slow cooker. Next, peel the carrots (tougher winter carrots I peel but fresh, summer carrots I would just scrub and chop again into rounds). Place them in the Instant Pot or slow cooker. Add your broth, bay leaves thyme, salt and pepper to the pot, along with any other root veggies you wish to add. Note: if you want to add green beans or green peas, save adding them until the last few minutes of cooking so you don’t end up with brown mush.

3. Set it and forget it with your slow cooker (feel with your hand a few mins later to see if it is actually heating up because boy, does it bum you out to come home expecting a delicious and ready meal, and to find it is still raw- not that that has ever happened to me ;). If using instant pot, put the lid on, set to “sealing” and set to pressure cook for 35 mins. You can either put your prepared food in the fridge with a lid and put it on about an hour before you’d like to eat, or set it to pressure cook 30 mins and let it stay warm until you get home. Remember, the stew will keep cooking and could get mushy if you take too long. So a slow cooker might be ideal if you are away all day until dinner. You can serve this with warm dinner rolls, naan bread, or nothing at all! Leftovers also rock of this one.

Wednesday: Stir Fry Day!

The possibilities are endless: choose a protein- chicken & steak are some of our faves and we normally start cooking these first. Then raid your fridge: carrots, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, sweet peppers, mushrooms, greens like spinach or kale, onions, radishes, even Jerusalem artichokes. Sauté in a pan with some oil and season with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pepper or Italian spices. Add a little flavour with vinegar or a little sweetness with honey. My mom is boss at getting my kids to eat stir fries by cutting up the veggies quite small. Serve with rice, quinoa, or rice noodles. We also like to discuss the ingredients of our meals and how they help our bodies.

Thursday: Ground Turkey Tacos with Tomato, salad greens & Avocado

Tacos are like gold for my food-sensitive family. Since each taco is made up separately, I can customize the ingredients with dairy-free & gluten-free alternatives. The meat mix is a perfect place to add grated or cubed zucchini, celery root or carrot. If your children are not big veggie eaters, I recommend grated! If you have any family members needing low-carb, make theirs a salad instead.

Friday: Chicken, spinach & goat Cheese Pizza (or any type you like!) with side salad & veggies

My family relishes the tradition of pizza on a Friday. While this stuff is not necessarily the healthiest choice, I still feel confident as I often home-make the crust using whole grains and serve it with salad and raw veggies like cucumbers. I love spinach, arugula, broccoli & red peppers on my pizza, but my kids would rather eat their veggies on the side. Normally they eat a slice of pizza first and have some salad before taking seconds. If you are looking for a side dish, a movie and some family togetherness goes well 😉

Saturday: Homemade fish sticks, rutabaga fries & mixed veggies

Rutabaga make delicious fries! I always start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees, peeling the rutabaga, chopping it into larger fry shapes, tossing them in olive oil, sprinkling on paprika & salt and baking them for about 30 mins. Meanwhile, add some flour and spices to a plastic bag, shake it up with some cod or other white fish and bake on another rack. Boil some carrots, beets, cabbage or a combination thereof until tender. Also of course homemade coleslaw pairs beautifully.

Sunday: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup: I am all about soups on the weekends. Truth be told my kids are more familiar with and love Butternut Squash Soup, but with the creamy, smooth texture and some added potatoes, I plan to win them over to this one, too! I love serving creamy soups with grilled cheese sandwiches. Reluctant kids will often try dipping their sandwich in the soup and discover it’s not so scary after all! lol. In our house I ask kids to eat least try a few bites of something and I’m not above bribing them with dessert ;). Bonus points if you dessert is actually healthy like fruit or a healthier homemade goody. Psychology teaches us that exposure=preference so if you want your kids to learn to like new stuff, they need to try it multiple times (can be at least 12!) Yikes! Be strong, parents. I know it can be exhausting, but it will make your life easier later when you are able to feed them more than just chicken nuggets and fries. This is a learning process, and there are a lot of missteps and blunders along the way. We keep trying because we care!

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies? What are your go to meals that are healthy and (mostly) complaint-free? God speed, parents! Now it’s your turn to get creating!

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Have a Sweet Family Day!

Happy Family Day! 

The sun is shining brightly in Zephyr today and beckoning us outside for some sledding fun! While the farm is mostly flat (ideal for growing veggies), the nearby town of Uxbridge has a couple great sledding hills on public lands, and we are eager for some winter fun! We were blessed this week with the opportunity to have a mini vacation at Great Wolf Lodge. Spending all day in the pools and on water slides almost makes you forget that it’s still winter, and having those few days to just enjoy each other was marvellous! Here’s hoping you get a chance to enjoy some fun today with someone you call family!

Enjoying some family time at Great Wolf Lodge

This week we are highlighting sweet potatoes. You’ve probably heard that sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative to white potatoes, and while I think organic white potatoes can be a healthy part of most diets, sweet potatoes do have an awesome nutrient profile. First of all, they are a great source of fibre which gives you that feeling of being full as well as keeping your digestive system humming along. Add to that vitamins C, a variety of B vitamins and beta-carotene (which your body makes into Vitamin A), iron and calcium, and I hope you are motivated to learn to love this root if you don’t already.

While I gobble up anything sweet potato, my family is sadly unenthusiastic. Yes, even those healthy farm kids have their likes and dislikes. I have tried sweet potato mash & sweet potato fries, but their favourite way to enjoy sweet potatoes is normally in their chili or in a curry. Sweet potatoes and spice go together beautifully. Today I thought I’d try a couple new recipes to get all those awesome health benefits into my crew.

Still in my pjs (it is family day after all and that means all the kids are at home with me), I peeled and boiled up about 2lbs of sweet potatoes in a pot of water, along with 1/4 of the washed skins (a tip from the recipe to add an earthy flavour). 1 cup went to my muffin recipe (drained and mashed), and the rest I transferred into my blender. I added a half medium sized red onion that I sauteed in vegan butter, along with a tsp of dried chives, 2 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp dried thyme, and 3-4 cups water. I blended on high till smooth, then I transferred it all back in the pot to heat up for lunch (it was about 9am after all). See the full recipe here.

Meanwhile I did a little baking. Putting veggies in muffin form, especially with chocolate chips is a great way to get my kids’ interest piqued in new things. I tried making these Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins using quinoa oats as my ds can’t have regular oats. They were quite tasty but not amazing. Now, I am dying to try them using regular oats to compare. Let me know what you think!

Winter Farm Shares This Week

We are always striving to reduce unnecessary waste at the farm, and felt that we could do without a couple bags. You can expect more naked veggies in your future! However, most veggies will shrivel up prematurely if left open in your fridge. For example, carrots, celery, rutabaga and beets need to be in a bag or container, preferably in your crisper drawer to stay fresh and beautiful. Hopefully you can some old Zephyr Organics bags or containers saved up that you can use. Any veggies that like it dry like sweet potatoes, white/red potatoes, onions and garlic are happy to be able to breathe and also don’t need to be in the fridge at all. However, sometimes I keep these items in my fridge if it will be a while until I eat them and don’t want them to sprout. I hope that you see the value in our reducing our use of bags, however some of the items I buy in are only available prepackaged.

Your veggie basket this week:

  • 3lbs russet potatoes (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1.5 sweet potatoes (U.S. organic)
  • 2lbs red beets (Zephyr Organics)
  • 2lbs carrots (Ontario organic)
  • 1 pack cremini mushrooms (Ontario organic)
  • 2lbs rutabaga (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 head celery (U.S. organic)
  • 3 romaine hearts (U.S. organic)
  • 1 cucumber (Canada organic)

Your fruit basket this week

  • 3lbs fuji apples (Canada organic)
  • 7 organic navel oranges
  • 1 organic watermelon
  • organic avocados
  • 3 organic mangos

Summer Farm Shares. Winter has been a great time for lots of beautiful roots, alliums and crucifers but nothing can compare to the beautiful, colourful cornucopia of taste in our summer shares! Find the box that is right for your family at an affordable price today and make your summer and fall a party of taste and nutrition! We ask for your support as we steward the land well by building the soil naturally and keeping chemicals out of our environment and off your table. While our summer shares will contain fruits like watermelon, apples and strawberries when available, we offer organic fruit shares so you can keep the organic fruit coming in plenty all season long. 

Can’t wait till Spring!
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Valentine-My Heart “beets” for you!

So I am feeling inspired- must be the fact that I finally was able to exit my house for reasons other than seeking medical care and supplies (my little guy has been quite ill but is finally on the mend). Being cooped up doesn’t do much for my inspiration…but feeling the bright sun on my face today and enjoying the sparkle of the snow, I felt suddenly inspired to do some fun Valentine’s-themed veggies. Enter chicogga, or candy-striped beets. I know traditionally we think of chocolate as being a Valentine treat, and I’m all for that, but why not make dinner a little special too? And why not pack your Valentine with fibre, folate, manganese, potassium, iron and other nutrients while having some fun? I washed them, roasted them at 400 degrees for an hour in a ceramic dish with the glass lid on and a little drizzle of oil inside. I chose 3 large beets to make them easier to create my masterpieces.

Now if you have young kids like me, your play dough collection probably consists of more shape cutters than a small day care could hope to use along with very little actual workable play dough. It puts my cookie cutter selection to shame, so I borrowed some cutters for this purpose. Now, before you think I have no standards at all, I did wash them well first! Then I got to work cutting out the shapes. Boy was it fun! My only regret- I should have done this with the kids, not while they were in school (totally hogging all the fun here). Best of all, roasted and sliced, they were very easy to cut with just plastic shape cutters. So there you have it- make your valentine some heart beets- or sharks, or dinosaurs!- whatever they would most love.

At the same time the beets were roasting, I was also roasting some of those nice big yummy red potatoes from this week’s winter shares (I did 5 as it’s just me and my 3 kids eating tonight). Again I shunned the tin foil in favour of a casserole dish with lid and a drizzle of olive oil and they were nice and tender when the beets were (400 degrees for 1 hours). Please check your potatoes before then as the size of potatoes and awesomeness of your oven will determine how long they take (hint- my oven is not very awesome lol).

Meanwhile, I boiled some water in a smaller saucepan and cooked 2 cups of broccoli until tender but not still a lively green colour. I sliced the top of the potatoes off and carefully scooped out most of the flesh, adding it in with the broccoli. For flavour, I added 2 tbsp vegan butter, 2 tbsp. italian herb goat cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 cup coconut milk (carton). I mashed the ingredients together. Then I drained the broccoli and added it to the potato mixture, mashing in the broccoli but still leaving some chunks (you decide how small to go for your family). Then I reloaded the potato skins with the mixture and sprinkled with cheese (goat cheese for my son with a dairy sensitivity and regular cheddar cheese for the rest of us). We all love his goat cheese but not the price so much 🙂 Finally bake for 10 mins at 400 or until hot and the cheese is melted and looks delish!

My original plan was to pair it with beef steak but my husband would be too sad to miss it, so I’ll use the pemeal bacon I have waiting to be cooked in the fridge. If looking for vegetarian, why not pair with a portobello steak?

Finally, I am sure you need some cat pictures in your life. You are welcome 🙂

That’s all folks! And remember, summer is just around the corner. No, really! Check out our Summer Farm Shares and start dreaming today!

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Week 22 (Final!) Week of 2019 Farm Share

Here we are, on the final week of our 2019 Farm Shares! Have you learned something? A new recipe, a new veggie altogether? A new adventure? I can always say I did. Even after 10 years of running Farm Share I am astounded with the knowledge and skill it takes to grow the variety of veggies we do. I am forever learning new recipes to feed my ever-changing family well, and I am learning about you as customers and people, and how to make a great year of Farm Share happen for you.

Taste the Rainbow!

So thanks for joining me on the journey! I hope it has been a rewarding one. Your support of our farm this season, from beginning to end has been such a blessing. Thanks a million! I am thankful now for a time of keeping a slower pace and doing those little things again like trips to our library, or an afternoon at the park. Time to do something with all that wonderful produce and fix up our century home. But, not time to quit farming altogether. While many of the fields are looking empty, which makes me rather happy instead of sad- relieved we got most things in before the ground freezes. Last year we did not have all of the potatoes dug before winter came seemingly overnight! Just a little more beets and Jerusalem artichokes and we are on to the last of the greenhouse crops: baby bokchoy and a gorgeous late crop of radish. We hope you enjoy they since it’s been a while. Remember you can also roast them for a delicious mild and low card alternative to potatoes.

Move over skittles- this week we get to truly taste the rainbow! From our staple green veggies like green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and baby bokchoy, to the punchy red peppers, the bright pink radishes, the deep purple beets, the oranges and buttery tones, I think the “red” kale in a rich royal purple, takes the cake for colour power. I heard recently that nature has colour coded our food to help us stay healthy. So, taste the rainbow with us this week!

Simply 6 Shares

  • Green cabbage: great in coleslaw, cabbage rolls or simply boiled with carrots for a side
  • Red Beets: Try Maria’s Potato salad. Boil equal amounts peeled beets and peeled potatoes. Cool, finely slice small dill pickles and toss in some of the pickle juice. Add salt, pepper and other spices to taste. Healthier than traditional potato salad, pretty and satisfying.
Pink potato salad? You betcha!
  • Sweet potatoes: Try sweet potato fries, add to chili, or mash and dress like you would white potatoes.
  • Brussels sprouts: simply trim and roast with a little garlic powder. See recipe here. You can even throw them in your rice cooker with your rice if you like them soft.
  • Red Peppers: Try Roasted Red Pepper soup if the peppers are piling up! Or stuffed peppers.
  • Yellow Onions: Perfect in the Red Pepper soup above or in almost any savoury dish to add flavour.
Brussels sprouts in the rice cooker, pan-fried, garlic & basil spiced potatoes & a freezer stash of cauliflower.

Half Shares

  • Baby bokchoy, red kale: Try Greens and beans for a simple complete meal. Thanks for the suggestion Gloria!
  • Red radish: You either love that spicy kick or you don’t. Luckily, they roast beautifully for a mild taste. The leaves are good too in salad or cooked.
  • Butternut squash: I found a treasure trove of ideas for you here.

Whole Shares

  • Celery, potatoes, leeks, rutabaga, & parsley: Sounds like the perfect ingredients for chicken pot pie or soup!

Fruit Shares:

  • 3lbs bananas or 5 oranges, 9 kiwis, 1/2 pint blueberries, 3 grapefruits and 3lbs Bartlett pears or apples

Just can’t wait all the way till June to enjoy more veggies? Sign up for our winter share program or stock up on some bulk winter veggies to keep you going. Winter share deliveries occur weekly and bulk veggie deliveries will be available monthly starting Nov 27, 2019.

Thank you from all of us at Zephyr Organics. It’s been a slice!

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Farm Share 2019 Week 21

Hello from the farm! I hope you all voted yesterday in the federal election. Even though the electoral system we have here leaves me wondering if there is a better way to represent Canada’s choice than electing by seats, I am thankful that in this country, elections are scrutinized, democratic and free of violence. In other nations, there is threat of violence during elections or fraudulent systems that keep powerful dictators in charge. It is my hope that in our current minority government, opposing parties can actually listen to each other for the betterment of Canada (am I dreaming?). No one party had the perfect platform in my opinion. It would also be neat to vote policy by policy, but I guess that would take an awful lot of time and truth be told, not all of our opinions on each matter may be educated. Now let’s hope our leaders have taken time to truly educate themselves!

Well, enough with the political talk, though food can be political too. I have definitely heard many people or organizations try to discredit organic foods as some sort of a sham. While I can’t speak for the entire globe of organically labelled products, I can tell you that we stringently follow the organic guidelines, avoiding chemicals and using the slow, soil health building methods that yield long-term, environmentally sound and healthful results. But, of course I am a little biased, so here is a great article I found highlighting some of the studies that have found much higher nutrient levels in organic foods, even leading to a reduction in cancer.

No, we don’t suddenly own cows. Right across from the apples I was drinking in this colourful fall vista, complete with sound effects!
Simply 6 Share this week: yukon potatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, red beets, celery and leeks.
Half shares this week: carrots, leeks, beets, celery, black kale, sweet peppers, brussels sprouts, bok choy, yukon potatoes & butternut squash

Whole Shares:

  • carrots (super sweet!)
  • celery
  • leeks
  • yukon potatoes
  • red beets
  • brussels sprouts
  • bok choy
  • black kale
  • butternut squash: try this comfort food mac and cheese recipe from One Hungry Monkey‘s blog
  • sweet peppers
  • savoy cabbage
  • mint
  • assorted apples (gala, granny smith & northern spy)
  • pie pumpkin
  • green leaf lettuce (last of the season)

Fruit Shares

  • 3lbs bananas
  • 2lbs kiwis
  • 5 oranges
  • 2lbs grapes
  • 3lbs bartlett pears
Is anyone in a packed lunch rut yet? Some of my ideas lately are salsa made with my september tomatoes with tortilla chips, homemade dehydrated apple slices made in the dehydrator, sliced apples (with a dash of lemon juice to keep fresh), and sweet pepper slices. Happy lunch-making!

Two of the items I am most inspired by this week are celery and leeks. While I will be for sure enjoying (but not sending to school!) celery slices with peanut butter, I am eager to make some homemade chicken noodle soup. Nothing like celery to bring on that amazing flavour! I like to wing it, making sure to add onions and garlic for their immune boosting properties, as well as carrot for colour and flavour. Try this simple recipe for chicken noodle soup. Add some of that bokchoy to get some greens. It really is awesome in soup. Chop it up finely if you have some pickier eaters on your hands and be ready to share with the latest person in your circle to catch a cold! 🙂

Now leeks also forever make me think of potato leek soup. This one is super comforting and a classic for a reason! Another option is this amazing dip shared by a fellow farm share member back in the spring:

Spring Leek Dip with Lemon and Mint

Serve this creamy dip with assorted vegetable dippers, such as carrot sticks, radishes, sliced fennel and cucumber.

Makes one cup (250 mL)

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

1 bunch spring leeks, (about 6 to 7) – NOTE: could do with a few less since the leeks are larger now

½ tsp (2 mL) sea salt

½ cup (125 mL) sour cream

1/3 cup (75 mL) plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest

2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh mint or cilantro

Whole share member take note: the mint in the dip is pure magic!

Well, that’s all for now folks. Just one week left after this one of our summer share, but thank goodness we have winter shares too! Check out our “Farm Share Boxes” page if you want to know more.

Soak up all the sun you can now!

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Farm Share 2019 Week 20 (Oct 16-19)

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving! We just finished up the last of the festivities yesterday and it was back to work today. There’s still lots to be harvested outside, and today I was blessed with a little extra help with my visiting nieces and nephew. They were more than a little enthusiastic picking apples, harvesting celery, and wrestling rutabagas from the ground! Just having them there made me deliriously happy. I think I’ve got the equation figured out: Veggies+children (especially extra special ones) = happiness for me. We even discovered some delicious peas that were extra sweet from the frost, and of course, there was abundant taste-testing along the way. What we have to show for all our efforts is a fall bounty, with a few new items like celery, new varieties of apples, black kale and sweet potatoes.

My lovely niece had no problem harvesting this big rutabaga herself!
Farm Share bins are all full and ready for “lidding and skidding”
Whole Shares Week 20

Instead of doing all pictures, I thought I’d tell you what’s in each share with some ideas:

Simply 6 Share

  • red beets (I just remove the tops, peel, boil until tender, and serve with a touch of butter as a side. The kids love! Save the tops for stir fries or pastas as a healthy green)
  • carrots (scrub clean and chop for carrot sticks, boil or roast, or add to stir fries).
  • butternut squash (make this classic butternut squash soup recipe, or even use your leftover squash from thanksgiving like I did- easy and resourceful 😉
  • black kale (massage leaves with olive oil, chop, and add lemon juice, nutritional yeast & salt and pepper for a surprisingly good salad, or chop and add anywhere you would use spinach. Add to a smoothie and tell your kids this is also called “dinosaur kale” because the leaves have the texture like dinosaur skin. Look really cool and knowledgeable.
  • red cabbage (looks great grated up and added to coleslaw with green cabbage, or try German Style Red Cabbage
  • Lettuce (red, green or romaine). It’s a surprise what lettuce you will get when we carefully select the best last of the lettuces
Leftover squash from Thanksgiving? Re imagine it as a nice creamy soup.

Half Share (as above, adding…)

  • sweet potatoes or sweet peppers (I love sweet potatoes cut into cubes and cooked in my chili or in a curry)
  • baby bok choy (always awesome in a stir fry or in soup, or even as a salad green)
  • apples (some fuji and I am not sure of the other variety. Awesome sliced and served with nut butter/yogurt mixed as dip. Add honey if desired). These apples aren’t perfect but I think you will find they taste amazing!
  • celery (great chopped into snack sized lengths and topped with nut butter, or add to flavour to just about any soup or stir fry).

Whole Share (as 2 lists above and add)

  • sweet peppers (core and slice for a yummy snacking veggie, stuff, or add to stir fries, chili, protein bowls)
  • russet potatoes (great potatoes for french fries. I peel (leaving some skins), cut into fry shaped pieces, toss in olive oil and place on a baking sheet, and cook for about 35 minutes at 450 degrees.
  • rutabaga (also make great fries, prepared the same as above, mash and add butter and/or sugar or mash and mix in with mashed potatoes. Also great in soups and stews).
  • pepper squash (cut around it’s middle, scoop out seeds, put a little butter and brown sugar if desired and bake cut side up in oven at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork). Serve as a side.
  • sugar snap or snow peas (eat raw as a snack or add to a stir fry)
My mother’s stir fry of the week: she used zucchini, tomatoes, and baby bok choy that needed to be cooked with some chicken and rice. My kids, who claim not to like zucchini and baby bokchoy, ate this happily. Her secret: chopping up the veggies finely and adding lots of spices for flavour. Don’t forget the garlic 😉

I hope I’ve been able to offer you some useful ideas this week. Now it’s your turn to get creating! 3 more weeks of farm share (including this one!) to go. Savour each flavour!

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Farm Share 2019 Thanksgiving Week!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thanksgiving week to me in Farm Share is a big deal! I picture how each item will contribute to your weeks, and especially, your Thanksgiving gathering. How do you celebrate? Both of my family celebrations (one for my side of the family, one for my husband’s) are looking a little different and bigger this year, and I love it! My cousin is hosting all of her family together in one gathering, so I’ll get to spend Thanksgiving with both the familiar family members and some new faces. We’ll play lots of games and do a big, traditional feast. On my husband’s (the farm) side, we have some special relatives visiting from Holland and so all the extended family is getting together. We might even have a few people join from our church family. On this side there will be lots and lots of kids, so there is never a dull moment and along with another turkey dinner, we’ll be treated to the handiwork of some truly awesome bakers! Whether large or small, I hope you have someone to celebrate with this Thanksgiving.

So of course Thanksgiving is not all about the food- but the soul food of gratitude. I honestly attribute learning to practice more gratitude for pulling me out of a mild depression. It has a powerful effect on our brain and helps lead our emotions to a better place.

So here goes…today there was an accident in someone’s home in my little town. Terrible, I know. It was quite the scene with police, ambulances and fire trucks everywhere. Not the sort of thing that at all looks in place in our sleepy little town. What struck me was all the neighbours lining the road- yes, to see what was going on…but not to gawk. These same neighbours were out handing out practical help when a local family was forced out of their home when a fire broke out. I have neighbours that pass along hand-me-downs, or weed whack my mess of a yard, or let me know if someone suspicious had been around, and of course, I’m looking for ways to bless them too. In this community, people really do care, and that means the world! This is the neighbourhood my kids get to grow up in. I’m thankful for my neighbours.

She was so proud to help mom and find such a gorgeous red delicious apple!

I’m thankful for the opportunity to raise 3 kids. Some people think it’s crazy to have 3- really, just 3! Yes, they can be demanding, yes, they are noisy and sometimes drive me right to the edge of my sanity, but they are truly beautiful. They take in the world with a fresh sense of wonder that awakens me too. They make me laugh often. They offer hugs and cuddles galore and think the world of me. They are creative and sweet- thoughtful and also energetic. Sharing the farm with them often involves very dirty kids, or kids who have lost their patience with a task, but also involves those magical moments where we are working side by side, drinking in the beauty of nature and the simple joy of spending time together. It’s also where I see my kids blossom in independence, competence and knowledge, moving their bodies and filling their mouths how it was meant to be. I’m so thankful to be their mama.

One more I have to mention is the people who help me raise them! First of all, my husband, working hard for us, teaching them new skills, having my back, and showering us all with love, not to mention making life a whole lot more fun. My mom and dad, and Doug’s mom and dad, for caring, guiding, helping and a little bit of spoiling our kids, and setting examples that my kids can learn from. Even my friends and other family members help me in that role with their encouragement, love, and helping me to get out without the kids now and then.

We are so thankful for you as Farm Share members and customers! People who truly care about supporting us, eating well, and healthy, organic foods. One way we want to say thank you is by sending you with a decorative pumpkin for free!. Just visit the store Friday or Saturday and tell Lyan you are a farm share member,and take your pic. Non-members can also purchase these pretty large orange pumpkins to decorate their homes or carve.

Farm Share members can pick up their free large pumpkin while they last!

I could go on and on…but then there are the vegetables!

Carrots, savoy cabbage, red potatoes, pumpkin, pepper (acorn) squash) and green leaf lettuce in the Simply 6 shares this Thanksgiving week.
For the half shares we added yellow onions, red beets, red and green peppers, rutabaga & a mini bunch of sage.
The whole shares are a real cornucopia of colour and taste! Cucumber, green kale, sweet potatoes, delicata squash (the yellow and green striped ones), garlic chives and 1 more item.

Now for some ideas of what to do with all of this good stuff! Of course that pie pumpkin is just begging to be made into pumpkin pie. This recipe was a game-changer for me as my son has so many food sensitivities that make just about all conventional baking a no-go for him. Here’s his beloved recipe for Gluten Free & Vegan Pumpkin Pie. Or why not try making pumpkin muffins? It’s so much tastier and healthier to use fresh rather than canned pumpkin puree. Just cut your pumpkin in half down it’s belt line, scoop out the seeds (wash and save for roasting if you like!), and bake cut side down on a baking pan at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tender. Scoop flesh out of skin and into a blender, and blend until smooth. No water needs to be added. Then use in your favorite recipes.

As the veggie farmer, I was asked to bring veggies to one of my family dinners. I plan to roast my carrots and beets, as it brings out the natural sweetness. I don’t think the sugar in this recipe will be needed with how sweet the carrots are now tasting after the frost! The carrots have been smaller this year due to the drought for much of the growing season. I find the skins on the smaller ones are softer, and I simply scrub them clean with a norwex veggie cloth or a kitchen scrub brush and roast with the skins on.

Wondering what to do with your rutabagas? This classic Mashed Rutabaga recipe couldn’t be easier!

Now you know what a rutabaga looks like in the field! We don’t have the mammoth-sized ones we did last year, but they are looking lovely!
Sweet potatoes are here!

In the farm side of the family, this Sweet Potato Casserole is always a fan favourite! This can also be topped with marshmallows if you are feeling indulgent.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a beautiful feast and find lots of blessings to dwell on.