Above all, the people are what stand out of my apprenticeship at TapRoot Farms. The vegetables were delicious, the piglets were adorable, the Annapolis Valley is still stunningly and rolling hill-ingly beautiful, but... it's individuals I've met who have made the biggest impact on me throughout these 193 days of my Grow a Farmer apprenticeship.
The most amazing thing I've found, in any of my apprenticeships or agricultural research jobs over the years, is the way that organic farmers encourage, support, and educate each other. The experiences I've had working for people like Josh and Trish are only made possible by the effort farmers make to welcome and to teach youngsters like me about what they do, and why they do it. The way that the TapRoot team has brought Chris and me into this community and eagerly shown us what they know and love, and what they question and struggle with, has been an amazing half a year in the interconnected world of Nova Scotia agriculture, with the people who keep it going.
That also extends to you, the members! It's been lovely meeting some of you between here and Halifax, learning about why you're interested in your food and the people who bring it to you. Even those of you I haven't met, whose names I only recognize from getting your add-ons, or sorting your meat shares, or just because you have interesting or unpronounceable names (no offense, of course), I feel like I've gotten to know you too. I've gotten a glimpse into what you like and don't like and the things you think are important, and imagined what kinds of things you're cooking with your friends and families.
Working and eating in a local, organic agricultural system is a surprisingly intimate way to engage with our food and each other. Many thanks to all of you out there, inspiring me by paying attention, by affecting socio-economic and environmental changes through what you eat. Thanks to all of the large and lovely team at TapRoot, being patient and kind, knowledgeable and fun. And thanks, of course, to Chris, my new friend and fellow explorer in these agricultural escapades.
Just a quick note here from the meat shares. Last share and this one coming up, some members will be getting whats marked as ham steaks, up till now you've been getting pork shoulder steaks and fresh ham steaks. We were not getting the hams smoked so we would have enough of the same, or very similar, steaks to give to all the members. But, it's always good to keep things fresh and different and so I've started to get the hams smoked then cut into steaks. These are fully cooked and good to just thaw and cut for sandwiches or whatever else you would to do with ham. They are also excellent thawed then put into a baking dish and roasted in the oven. I usually make a mixture of grainy mustard, maple syrup, a little cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and pour that over top. Like I said it's already cooked so you really just need to heat it through and let the sauce cook down a bit.
I hope you are enjoy the pork, the pigs are doing very well here at the farm, and we are so delighted to provide you with farm fresh meats!
Project mush mush hasn't been as active as I would like it to be. Mostly because I procrastinate when I can. I have been making cardboard spawn and have quite a few pounds of it, maybe 50lbs or more so really all I have to do is pasteurize some straw and inoculate it with the cardboard spawn. Simple right, however I still don't like the idea of using so much fossil fuel to heat up and pasteurize the straw plus I'm likely to burn myself and it costs more money for propane and I'm poor. Therefore I was excited when I heard about cold pastuerization. Takes longer but doesn't require heat. You simply submerge straw in water for 4-12 days drain and inoculate. Pretty sweet eh. The combination of cardboard spawn and cold pasteurization puts mushroom cultivation into the hands of anyone. So next week on my vacation I'm going to inoculate some cold pasteurized straw with carboard spawn. I'm almost more than confident this low tech sustainable method will work because guess who had some mushrooms fruit off cardboard in buckets over monsoon Tuesday? That's right, this guy. 0.34 lbs. I got mushrooms to fruit off of old cardboard. Pretty neat eh!!
Please forgive any spelling or grammar mistakes. I'm using my phone to make this blog post and can't spell check :p
This is an update from the friendly interns, Greta and Chris! We had a technical difficultly today as a pallet of fruit apps exploded onto the ground (tipped over). Although this thing does not happen often it does happen and we will be running a few minutes late. Big thanks goes out to the TapRoot team (Tim, Justine, Jon and Greta) for helping salvage the boxes.
Check out this full-body balancing box return yesterday (love how the fruit container is balanced against her face!).
I am endlessly amazed at how many boxes members can carry. Often I see mothers with babies carrying veggie entrees, fruit entrees, along with a baby or two tucked in somewhere! Now that's Mom Power!!
<--This is my favourite CSA moment from last week. I dropped off this box for home delivery, and all the kids clustered around to find out what exciting veggies were in it. Thanks for letting me take your photo! That yellow zucchini sure stumped everyone! Check out the cutie peering into the box at the bottom left :)
Some of the fantastic gals at Flowercart finishing up 1600 jars of dilly beans last week. Flowercart has commercial kitchen services, so we bring them beans, dill, garlic, salt, vinegar, and jars, and return with beautiful, delicious dilly beans! This year they are also making dill pickles and possibly dilled carrots for us. Right now it seems like summer's abundance will never fade, but these dilly beans will be very welcome in the winter when the root vegetables take over! Thanks to the great crew at Flowercart for their partnership in this project!
Jon harvesting tomatoes in a tunnel. Looks like a bumper crop of tomatoes this year!
Just in from the fields: the first harvest of butternut! Lots of these sweet delicious squash to come in the winter months. Keep your muscle tone up for those winter shares, these babies are hefty!