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Living Under a Greenhouse and a Prayer

Farm Update

What a busy week it was last week, cleaning and painting to welcome our first worker from Jamaica, the one who’s known my husband for longer than I have! He’s going to be floored when he is all done with his quarantine and is able to come work in the new greenhouse. Some of the things he did by hand, like watering and filling seed trays with dirt, will be automated this year. Don’t you worry, there will be plenty else for him and the family and all the workers this year- there is a never-ending supply of work on the farm. You just have to call it quits at the end of the day and hope you have prioritized what most needed doing, and come back at it the next day.

The kids spent a lot of time helping dad drain the water out of the greenhouse this week. All that snow = a lot of water and mud! We had some muddy clothes but happy kids.

A Look Back

Tuning in to my brother-in-law Thomas’ sermon (he is a pastor in Kemptville, ON), I had a chance to look back a little at the birth of these greenhouses that define much of the landscape on our farm. He recalled spending an entire summer taking apart the greenhouses at the former White Rose property nearby, piece by piece. When I first met the Eng family I could have easily counted on one hand the amount of greenhouses on the property. Everything was done in the field, mostly with the most basic of tools- our hands. Washing the orders happened in a tiny shed. I can once even recall when there was a problem with the water, washing radishes in my tiny backyard right in the town of Zephyr. We’ve given it our all- that’s for sure. We’ve built now over 40 greenhouses (really, hoophouses) and this newest, largest and most sophisticated of the lot so far is just getting to work for the first time this week seeding the first crops of 2021! (Well after spinach, that has already been seeded directly in the ground in the fall). But back to Thomas’ sermon, we’ve done our part to control the conditions in the greenhouses- to protect plants from hail and damaging rains, to keep them warm and thriving- but there is so much beyond our control in farming and that’s where our faith in God has come in. He has protected us, and blessed us. He has taken what we could do and multiplied it and helped us to keep moving forward together- and for that I am so grateful.

So build your greenhouses- be wise, and know that things will happen that you cannot control in this life, but there is someone higher that will help and guide you if you trust in him.

Your Items this Week

This week I find myself incredibly grateful for our greenhouse growers! Our winter storage veggies and those of other organic farmers in the area are just about gone. Never have people cared more about local this year which is amazing. I wondered what the boxes would look like this week but I am excited for them now, mostly because of how our local greenhouses have been able to supply us with a great variety of fresh items despite it still being winter. We have cucumbers this week and tomatoes (still very expensive so just expect 1 this week), but I am most excited for the living lettuces from Slegers Living Organic Greens grown in Strathburn, Ontario. When I ordered them I expected 1 maybe 2 wee little lettuces but was surprised to find 6 or so large seedlings in a nice pot! You can pull the outer leaves off your lettuces and enjoy for salad, while letting the lettuce continue to grow. Transplant these babies into larger containers so they have more space and see how big you can get them! It may be tempting to eat all of it right away, but if you are patient you can end up with a lot of lettuce here! Just keep the soil moist by regular watering (but don’t let the water pool), place them in the sunniest spot INSIDE your house you can (Southern windows are ideal), and watch them grow. Hope you enjoy the process- I know we will at home!

Can you even handle the beauty of these living lettuces from Slegers Living Organic Greens?!

We did borrow some goodies from our US organic friends (sweet potatoes, broccoli and brussels sprouts), and will enjoy the last of the watermelon radish this week! They are really gorgeous thinly sliced or grated in a salad. We have Jerusalem artichokes from our farm this week, which remember make a beautiful Jerusalem artichoke creamy soup, pan fry easily when sliced, and roast up well with other root veggies. Don’t bother peeling- it’s way too much work and the skin is very thin and not bothersome.

Regular Organic Vegetable Shares

  • 4lbs yellow potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 3lbs yellow onions (Manitoba organic)
  • 1lb jerusalem artichokes (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb watermelon radish (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 english cucumber (Ontario organic)
  • 1 green leaf/red leaf living lettuce pot (Slegers Living Organic Greens in Ontario)
  • 1.5lbs sweet potatoes (US organic)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (US organic)

Large Organic Vegetable Shares

  • 6lbs yellow potatoes (Ontario organic)
  • 3lbs yellow onions (Manitoba organic)
  • 1lb jerusalem artichokes (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1lb watermelon radish (Zephyr Organics)
  • 1 english cucumber (Ontario organic)
  • 1 green leaf/red leaf living lettuce pot (Slegers Living Organic Greens in Ontario)
  • 1.5lbs sweet potatoes (US organic)
  • 1 bunch broccoli (US organic)
  • 1 large tomato (Canada organic)
  • 1lb brussels sprouts (US organic)

Organic Fruit Shares

  • 6-7 organic fuji or gala apples (BC organic)
  • 5 organic lemons
  • 1.5-2lbs mandarin oranges
  • 2 large organic mangoes
  • 1/2 pint organic blueberries

Recipes

This week was not all filled with victories in the cooking department- I had a little fiasco making chili with my instant pot giving me that dreaded “burn” message, probably because I had not “deglazed” or added some liquid and carefully cleaned out the bottom after browning the ground beef. After an emergency throw-whatever-is-in-the-freezer-in-the-oven moment, and by golly, we had such wonderful chili the next day. I love making chili with the raw beans from Fresh Acres farms but do make sure you deglaze the instant pot and add enough liquid if you use your instant pot! I also learned those little knobs on the lid come off (who knew), and need to be cleaned regularly.

This Sunday dinner had all the Southern comfort cooking vibes! Plus, it was really easy. Roasting does bring out the flavour in most roots, and these yellow potatoes were tha bomb, even with no toppings at all (though a little butter never hurt anything). I made this Broccoli Casserole pretty loosely following this recipe, with a modified version for my son who is dairy free, using goat, cheese, plain goat yogurt and dairy shreds, and he was one happy customer! For the chicken drumsticks I just used Epicure’s Gluten Free Southern Baked Chicken Mix which made things easy to put together. I baked the small ish potatoes in tin foil pierced with a fork and the chicken drums for about 45 mins, and added the broccoli casseroles in the last 15-20 mins. I also lightly steamed the broccoli before adding the cheese sauce to it and baking it.

Have a Sunny Week! Who else is ready to feel some POSITIVE temperatures!?