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Farm Share Week 1 (June 2-6, 2020)

Farm Share Begins! We’ve gone from winter to summer and then back to spring this May, and I am ready for a month of steady warm growing weather, please! I did my first even facebook live on Saturday, which you can check out here (there are 2 videos to see the whole tour)

Virtual Open House tour

Posted by Zephyr Organics- FarmShare on Saturday, May 30, 2020

Posted by Zephyr Organics- FarmShare on Saturday, May 30, 2020

As you can see by the tour, we have just recently planted most items. We lost the first 2 greenhouses of cucumbers due to the extreme cold (even in a greenhouse, cucumbers do not tolerate heavy frosts). Thankfully, the third one survived and is already flowering. Once they get going, they will be producing new cucumbers every day! There is thankfully always good ‘ol asparagus. The first spears came up a little early and were quickly frozen, but when the weather heated up again they got back to work and now there is plenty! Don’t fear the thicker stalks of our asparagus- they are actually quite tender. I don’t want to waste any of the goodness by breaking off the ends, I just trim the ends, and if it is easy to cut, it is tender. If it feels a little woody, cut off a little more. I think my favourite way to enjoy asparagus is simply tossed in olive oil, salted and roasted at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until tender. The roasted spears make an amazing appetizer on a cracker with creamy goat cheese and fresh herbs (like your chives).

I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking here:

Simply 6 Shares

Bunch of asparagus, bunch of radish, bunch of spinach, bunch of rhubarb, bunch of turnip greens (light green leafy green), potted grape tomato plant (perfect for growing in a container)

Half Shares:

2 bunches asparagus, bunch of radish, bunch of spinach, bunch of rhubarb, bunch of turnip greens, 1lb baby bokchoy, bunch of parsley, potted grape tomato plant, 1.5lbs red potatoes (Ontario Organic)

Whole Shares:

2 bunches asparagus, bunch of radish, 2 bunches of spinach, bunch of rhubarb, bunch of turnip greens, 1lb baby bokchoy, bunch of parsley, potted grape tomato plant, bunch dandelion greens, bunch onion chives, 1lb bok choy, 1.5lbs red potatoes (Ontario Organic), 1 cucumber (Ontario organic greenhouse)

Fruit Shares:

1 cantaloupe, 8 oranges, 3 mangos, 6 peaches, 1/2 pint blueberries

All are certified organic of course! We had to buy in potatoes and cucumbers with the limited options with this cold spring. I can’t remember a time when we had to do that before but these are extraordinary times. Rest assured they are still Ontario and organic.

*The leafy greens and herbs are best kept washed and then dried in Ziploc bags (or put a paper towel in with it if it’s still too wet)

*Radishes should be separated from their greens (also very tasty with a mildly spicy flavour) and kept washed and in a container in the fridge. Asparagus also should be kept in a Ziploc or container. Veggies get wilty as they dry out or get too warm. If you can trap the moisture in with them and keep them in the crisper drawer, they will last you much longer.

*Since it’s planting season, and your potatoes have not been sprayed with anything to prevent sprouting, they are best kept in the fridge

*You do not need a yard or garden to grow your grape tomato plant. They can be transplanted to a larger container with potting soil and grown indoors in a sunny spot. Don’t forget to keep the soil moist, but not sopping wet. Happy growing! If you and plants don’t have a good track record, it could also make a great gift to cheer up a neighbour.

Recipe Ideas:

Turnip Greens Salad with Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

After a looong first day harvesting and packing your Farm Shares, my cooking ambitions were limited. We love having a nice light salad with burgers but alas the lettuce has just recently been planted and I am not even tempted to harvest it yet (way too tiny!). Turnip greens, despite their spicy sounding name, are actually quite a nice, mild and crunchy leafy green that make a lovely salad. I just called it “salad” and the kids ate it readily with their favourite salad dressing (raspberry vinaigrette- store bought sugar junk)…but hey, they are eating turnip greens here so I’ll call that a win. I went for a more sophisticated and much healthier Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing. I sliced up some radishes and cut up a mango for some extra texture, colour and flavour.

Need a new idea for spinach? My whole family loves Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast . You can modify the type of cheese to your dietary needs and taste preference, or add mushroom or fresh herbs. Enjoy!

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Dreaming of Sunny Days in a Snowy May

Can you believe that I was hoping for some asparagus in this week’s farm share? Spoiler alert…asparagus prefers above zero temperatures -lol. Honestly though, all it takes is a few nice sunny days so we’ll get out there harvesting and have some ready for online ordering/pick up for our virtual open house on May 30th. But those greenhouses are saving us this week and we have some beautiful baby bokchoy ready, along with more tender spring leeks, spinach and garlic chives from the farm! Ontario organic vine tomatoes are now here, so you can bet I snapped those up, along with doubling your cucumbers since I keep getting requests for extra cucumbers anyways 🙂

Farm kids livin’ the life! My 2 youngest kiddos and beautiful niece

We’ve planted the strawberries in the field now and are again just waiting for some heat to get those growing. The chickens are settling in and feathering out. My neighbor described their current status as an awkward phase, but they will be fluffy-feathered beauties soon. They are gradually laying more eggs and I know they too would be encouraged with a little more heat and sun. They are trying out their feathers for flying and one especially daring hen managed to work her way to the very top of the chains supporting the nesting box. I offered to help her down but she was content to fly :). They are amusing me with their antics. Their pasture is nice and grassy but one chicken decided she needed a dust bath so she did an impressive job of digging down to some dirt and rolled around in it like she was in chicken heaven. Of course her sister hens wanted a turn too since she made it look so enjoyable!

Here’s Your LAST winter share of the season. You can order on our website from May 27-29 for PICK UP ONLY on May 30th. When you order we will give you a time to pick up so that we can minimize your wait times and limit how many people are on the farm at once. Only one customer will be permitted in the farm store at a time. If you text us when you arrive, we can even bring your order right over to your car! After that it is summer farm share time…which in my humble opinion, is the best! Best freshness, variety and value, since we grow it all and have some more cooperative weather to work with! https://zephyrorganics.com/what-is-farmshare/products/ Get your order in soon as our delivery routes are quickly filling up.

Veggie Shares:

-1 bunch or 1/2lb organic spinach (Zephyr Organics)

-1lbs organic baby bokchoy (Zephyr Organics)

-1 bunch leeks (Zephyr Organics)

-1 bunch garlic chives (Zephyr Organics)

-3lbs yellow potatoes (ON Organic)

-1.5lbs sweet potatoes (US Organic)

-2 english cucumbers (ON Organic)

-1lbs vine tomatoes (ON organic)

Fruit Shares

-7 organic oranges

-1 organic watermelon

-1lb organic strawberries

-1/2 pint organic blueberries

-3lbs organic granny smith apples

Do you know of any hard-working people looking for a low-risk job where they can stay fit and take home healthy veggies? We are looking for physically fit folks who are able to lift & bend to harvest, wash and pack vegetables and that have their own transportation to the farm in Zephyr. Interested candidates can send their resumes to [email protected]

Recipes

Baby bokchoy Salad with Asian sesame dressing

You probably have seen baby bokchoy somewhere in a stir fry, and yes, it rocks in a stir fry. One of the best plant-sources of iron and one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, baby bok choy is worth getting to love if you don’t already! Some people don’t dig bok choy on the first try. If that’s you, don’t give up on this powerhouse so beautifully. It also makes great salads! I often add mine to caesar salad (where even the bok choy haters will eat it), or in this simple salad of baby bok choy, radish and cashews. I made a simple dressing of soya sauce, rice vinegar, local honey, sesame oil/olive oil and a little pepper. Your garlic chives would also be a stellar addition! If you would like a proper recipe, try this one. I love to wing it in the kitchen!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Leeks, spinach and chicken bacon

Not planning to make a big batch of soup with your leeks? Though that would be tasty, one other idea is to add some savoury and mild flavour to pizza, with spinach too. Add in more garlic chives for the win! I finally tried my hand at a simple cauliflower crust . This recipe appealed to the lazy (or busy) girl in me and was inspired by a sad-looking cauliflower in my fridge I had forgottem about, as well as running out of yeast (like everyone lol)! https://www.wholesomeyum.com/easy-low-carb-cauliflower-pizza-crust-recipe/ Since I was so not feeling like squeezing out cauliflower and wanted to make a nice big pizza that would stay together, I actually added whole wheat flour until I liked to texture better. I didn’t have Parmesan so I simply used mozzarella. Still a win for me, since I used up a forgotten head of cauliflower and we got a heck of a lot more vitamins in our pizza. I sauteed chicken bacon lightly, then added washed chopped leek, and finally the spinach and cooked until everything was lightly wilted. Then I smothered my pre-cooked crust with tomato paste, covered it in cheese and generously covered it with my sauteed toppings. I cooked for about 12 mins at 425 degrees. Home made pizza is a highlight of my week, even if I am the one who makes it. It’s kinda therapeutic working with the dough and serving something my kids get excited about 🙂

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Hello Chickens!

Hello everyone! This was a crazy week due to some new additions- laying hens! I have been dreaming of chickens for years now as I feel they are a great addition to an organic farm for their pest-eating and fertilizer-giving powers, along with of course being able to provide a nutritious protein source. We have the girls in what’s called a chicken tractor, which is a large hooped structure that lets them peck around the grass and look for bugs like chickens love to do, while protecting them from predators and contamination from wild birds. This girls are living the outdoor life and loving it so far. They came to us in the midst of their first hard moult (a normal part of a bird’s life cycle where they lose and replace all of their feathers), so they aren’t they prettiest yet, but everyday their feathers are looking more full and beautiful. They get moved to new pastures daily, along with being fed organic feed, so I am confident they will supply us with the most nutrient-dense eggs that money can buy. You can purchase them on our website starting Friday, when I finish packing and delivering all your veggies 🙂

Still getting everything organized and getting some feathers in, but they are here!

Here Are Your Veggie and Fruit Baskets this Week:

Vegetables

3lbs organic sweet potatoes (US)

1/2lbs organic spinach (Zephyr)

2lbs organic beets (Zephyr)

1 bunch organic cilantro or onion chives (Zephyr)

1 bunch organic radish (Zephyr)

1 head cauliflower (US organic)

1 organic cucumber (Ontario)

1lbs organic tomatoes (Ontario)

1 bunch organic leeks (Zephyr)

Fruits

3lbs organic bananas

5 red organic Bartlett pears

1/2 pint organic raspberries

1 organic watermelon

3 organic mangoes

Tomato Cucumber Salad…easiest side dish ever!

Today’s Recipe theme is Easy-Peasy. With long and physically taxing days at the farm, I cannot say I have been reaching new culinary heights…but still we are eating home-made, organic and local 🙂 I guess I’m one of those people who would rather get way behind on laundry than skimp on good food.

Tomato Cucumber Salad:

I confess that I just chopped up my tomatoes and cucumbers and tossed them in some olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Your fresh herbs, whether cilantro or chives would be awesome in this! Here’s an actual recipe if you want it to turn out just right https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/cucumber-tomato-salad/

Need a quick lunch soup without using the canned variety? Few canned soups are even options for us as we have a member with many food sensitivities, but when you read about the sodium, sugar and preservatives in canned soup, it makes home made seem all the more appealing.

15 minute Soup Recipe!

For this soup I did use a carton of vegetable broth and brought it to boil with about 3/4 cup of leftover spaghetti sauce (could also use tomato paste in smaller amount). I added leftover organic carrots that were already cooked, gluten-free rotini and washed and chopped Zephyr spinach. By the time the pasta was cooked (about 8 minutes), everything else was flavoured and ready to go. I added some salt, basil and oregano from my spice drawer to add some flavour. I topped it with grated mozzarella (dairy free for my son, of course) Again, I’m wishing I took home some fresh herbs from the farm!

I haven’t got my leeks home yet so here is some inspiration for leek recipes: https://www.olivemagazine.com/guides/best-ever/best-ever-leek-recipes/

They are a much milder, sweeter onion, and please do not throw away the green part- they are super yummy too. Really, you can add them anywhere you want a nice savoury flavour. Hope you enjoy!

Are you a fan of radishes? Their spicy flavour may have you loving or hating them. Did you know they can be cooked? Roasted they have a nice mild flavour and can add some welcome colour and variety to many dishes. Why not try roasting them? https://therealfoodrds.com/garlic-roasted-radishes/

I swear every time I look at this sweet potato slip it is taller than before!

Hope you enjoy all the new flavours of spring!

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Blessed Passover and Happy Easter to All!

It sure looked different this year thanks to the lockdown, but I hope you found creative ways to connect with others. Easter for me represents new life which makes it truly beautiful. Our family had lots of unorthodox Easter fun like making a paper mache octopus pinata (why not?!), but acting out our favourite Bible stories with our church family over zoom was the highlight for me! God has truly been my rock through these strange times. All the feelings like loneliness, sadness, gratitude, frustration, fear and joy crop up often unexpectedly, but I have my Rock, my centre to return to. If you are struggling in these times, please reach out- the person at the receiving end of your reaching will likely be just as grateful you did.

On the farm it has still been a family affair, with one of our migrant workers (and the most experienced one!) joining in the long list of tasks to do including daily seeding, planting/transplanting, weeding, harvesting (mostly spinach), washing, packing, preparing the land, and preparing the soil mix for seeding. And of course there is always fixing and maintaining the machines that help us get the work done.

This week I ordered chickens (both laying hens and broilers) which we are making chicken tractors for. Our plan is for them to live a happy life pasturing and eating organic feed and plant to be offering their eggs and meat to you starting in July (eggs) and August (meat). Stay tuned! I am so excited to have our own flocks here, and can’t wait for them to also start eating the bugs that want to feast on our veggies! Of course food safety is top of mind here and they will not be in with the crops of veggies directly. They will be busy fertilizing fallow land and cover crops for future production.

Another exciting bit of mail was strawberry plants. I ordered a whole 2,000 everbearing plants which came via courier all the way from Nova Scotia. Our more local suppliers were sold out this year. Now for the planting! We already re-used 366 pots we already had with hopes to be able to bring them in and out of the greenhouses with the changing weather, but the rest are going to have to go in the ground. Seriously, I hope you are around to help me eat them, as if I keep them well-fed, should be a good year for strawberries :).

Onto the winter shares: we are sold out again for this week and the rest of the spring season. To accommodate the extra spring share members we will be moving some of your deliveries to the Thursday (see email). It’s only possible to fit so many boxes in the vans and make so many stops in one day :). Thanks to all of you who shared with your friends about us and helped you friends enjoy a safe way to get healthy foods. We still have summer shares available and will be updating our website to make payment plans available by next week. This week we will be busy picking & preparing your veggies and fruits.

In your shares this week:

Veggies: 4lbs red potatoes (Canadian organic), 2lbs carrots (Ontario organic), 1.5lbs Jerusalem artichokes (Zephyr Organics), 1lbs tomatoes (QC Organic), 1 cucumber (Ontario organic), 1 bunch spinach (Zephyr Organics), 1 bunch green onions (Zephyr Organics), 1 pack romaine hearts (US organic)

Fruits: 2-3lbs Ambrosia apples (BC organic), 5 organic pears, 1lbs organic strawberries, 6 organic oranges, and 3+ organic avocados

A note on safety: All of the folks at the farm are feeling well and washing their hands frequently. The plastic veggie share bins are quarantined for 2 weeks and then bleached. The items not directly from our farm have been in our warehouse for a couple days before your delivery and not accessible to anyone but the person packing them. Covid-19 is not known to be transmitted through food but can last on porous surfaces up to 24 hours. So, to be on the safe side, you can quarantine your food for a couple days, remove leafy greens from their bags and place in a ziploc from home, and wash/scrub items with water and of course, wash your hands often with soap. Cooking also kills the bacteria. Here is some more info.

Recipes & Ideas

Instant Pot Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Want to feel like a chef with minimal effort? This lesser known tuber is actually from the sunflower family, and the edible part is the root. It is loaded with iron (almost half your daily value in 100g!), and also contains lots of other trace minerals like copper and potassium with a nice complement of fibre.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 9 Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and halved
  • 1 large or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cups veggie, chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash, peel and chop carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, onions and garlic as directed above. Toss in instant pot. Add vegetable broth, apple cider vinegar, water, bay leaf, parsley flakes and salt & pepper.
  2. Put instant pot nozzle in “sealing” position. Pressure cook for 7 minutes. I did a combo of gradual release and manually released it the rest of the way. *always use instant pot directions and do not try to open a sealed instant pot!!
  3. Remove bay leaf and transfer to blender (or use immersion blender). My recipe just fit in my 9 cup blender. Be careful blending hot stuff. I make sure the lid is secure and I start by pulsing slowly to make sure the soup won’t splash out. When I felt like it was going ok, I switched to low and then medium power and pureed a couple minutes. I garnished with a sprinkle of parsley flakes and full fat coconut milk, but heavy cream would also be great, by letting drips fall down from my spoon (it started out accidental and then I thought I’d go with it 🙂

You can also peel and julienne the sun chokes to add to salads or slaws, or slice thinly and sautee in olive oil and garlic until tender crisp. Hope you enjoy!

Spinach Ideas:

In case you haven’t discovered, lasagna just ain’t lasagna without some spinach. You can start with this basic recipe and tweak it to your needs by using gluten free oven ready noodles or even pre-baked zucchini or eggplant noodles and it can be made dairy and egg free by using creamy goat cheese and goat cheese or vegan mozzarella in the filling. The kids gobble this, spinach and all!

Spinach is also amazing as a salad. I’m dreaming a dream of leftover turkey over a bed of fresh spinach with strawberries and a little goat cheese. Top with your favourite vinaigrette or lemon poppy seed dressing. Delish and meal-worthy!

Tip: I like to keep the spinach in the bunch to trim the stems/roots off with a large knife all together. Then I remove from the bunch and soak in water in the sink or a large bowl 2-3 times or until all the grit is removed (it will fall to the bottom of the sink or bowl). I gently shake the leaves out of the water and they are ready to eat or cook 🙂

Enjoy-and I hope you have time to create some wonderful dishes with your organic veggies and fruits at home 🙂

-Jenny from the farm

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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 [email protected] 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!