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Monthly blog - December, 2015

Posted on by Rhea Hamlin

I hope you had a lovely holiday spent with family and friends. Even though we slowed down over the holiday, a lot happened over the month of December, and I am excited to share it with you. 

I contacted a local spinner who was keen to try his hand at spinning linen, so I sent him a sample of our long line flax fibres and some short line flax roving. (Roving is made from the short fibres (2-4") that remain in the hackles after processing the long line fibres. It is easy to spin and commonly used in knitting and weaving.) When he was finished spinning the sample fibres, I met with him to discuss how the fibres were to work with. (Good!) It is exciting to see interest in linen fibres growing. 
 
We have heard back from several businesses and organizations that we contacted in the fall about the TapRoot Fibre Lab. The folks who responded were excited to hear from us and to learn what we are working toward. Also in December, we were contacted by Trusted Clothes--a group of volunteers who are linking people, organizations, and brands who are ethically and environmentally friendly. They have asked us to guest write a series of blogs for their website. We will write three blogs for them, discussing our ongoing process of designing and biulding our machinery, why we have chosen to work with flax and linen, and where we want to see the TapRoot Fibre Lab in the future. We're really looking forward working with an organization like Trusted Clothes. Check them out: http://www.trustedclothes.com/ 
 
We are making good progress on the machinery. Testing of the breaking machine continues and the results are looking promising. Mike anticipates that the scutching machine prototype will be ready for testing by the middle of this month. The design is complete for the fourth machine--the hackler. This machine will remove any last bits of straw remaining and comb the scutched flax into long, clean fibres that are ready to spin.  I took some of the flax straw that Mike put through the breaker to the lab and I finished processing the fibres by hand. (These were the samples that we sent to our spinner.) It is a little chilly in the lab right now! Luckily, we have a space heater to keep things warm. 
 
From the whole TapRoot Fibre Lab team, we wish you all the best in 2016

 



Week 38 Meat shares

Posted on by Justine Mentink

Meat share:

Whole chicken $25 value

Monty Meat Share:

1 pack boneless rabbit pieces $12 value

1 pack chicken thighs 1.48lbs average @ $6/lb $8.88 value

Tails from the barnyard:

It was a wonderful Christmas for all. Of course daily animal chores continued as normal, however there was still time in between chores to spend time with friends and family throughout the holidays.

Last week there were several new arrivals to the farm. A guilt farrowed. A guilt is a female pig before she has babies, farrowing is the term used for the parturition of swine. The guilt previously mentioned is now called a sow. This new sow has seven cute piglets, who are all absolutely adorable and doing well. They have a heat lamb in a corner of their stall to snuggle up under if they get chilly.

   

On New Years Eve two pigs and a buck rabbit decided to have a little party of their own. When Tim came to the barn early on the 1st of January he discovered that two pigs had escaped from their pen, and were helping themselves to a bucket of eggs that they has knocked over. There was also an escaped buck rabbit who was scampering about the barn freely. Soon enough they were all back in their pens, no worse for the wear. 

After the pea shoots have been harvested we bring the trays of soil, roots, and shoot ends to the pigs to eat. I asked why the pigs weren't eating them right now and Nathan told me it was because it was the pigs nap time. We went inside and sure enough there were the pigs all nestled down together having a nap.

Recipes:

This roasted chicken looks delicious and easy. 

Dutch Oven Grecian Chicken

Chimichurri Chicken Thighs 

Chimichurri sauce is so fresh and so flavourful. We will be making this fur sure this week. I froze a lot of parsley this fall and it worked really great. I just washed the herbs, took them off their stocks and put them into plastic bags. It has kept its flavour really well. I also froze basil, dill, and cilantro with great success. 

I haven't been able to find any recipes using boneless rabbit pieces, I suppose it's not something traditionally done with rabbit. Let us know how you are using your rabbit pieces, send along a picture too, and we will share it with the other members.

 

Have a great week,

Justine and all the Animal Team



Meat share week 36 and week 37

Posted on by Justine Mentink

TapRoot Meat shares

Week 36 December 7 - 13

Meat Shares:

Chicken wings - 1.98lbs @ $6/lb ($11.88 value)

Sausages - 1lb @ $8.50/lb ($8.50 value)

Monty meat shares:

Chicken wings - 1.98lbs @ $6/lb ($11.88 value)

Sausages - 1lb @ $8.50/lb ($8.50 value)

Week 37 December 14 - 20

Meat Shares:

Bone-in Chicken breast (2/pack) - 2.46lbs @ $9/lb ($22.14 value)

Monty meat shares:

Bone-in Chicken breast (2/pack) - 2.46lbs @ $9/lb ($22.14 value) 

or a Turkey if you had made earlier arrangements.

Notes from the barn yard: 

Ethical meat workshop -Last week Nathan and Josh attended a two day workshop put on by ACORN (Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network). One day focused on beef and the other on pork. The speaker was Meredith Leigh, author of The Ethical Meat Handbook, as well as a butcher, farmer, and educator. Meredith's key point was that: ethical meat must be from an animal that has had a good life, a good death, a good butcher, and a good cook. The responsibility of ethical meat extends beyond the farmer, and all the way through the supply chain, ending on the consumers plate. 

We are expecting baby pigs from two sows in the next two to three weeks. They will be pure bred Berkshires.

Recipes:

Mary Berry's absolutely favorites: Sausages and potato supper. Easy and filling, serve with a cabbage salad and you've got a meal, and depending on how many are eating, leftovers too!

Simple sear roasted bone-in breasts with shallot herb pan sauce!

One-pot cheesy turkey (or chicken) Tamale Pie....YUM!

 

Have a great holiday and we will catch up with you in the new year!!

 

If you have any question, comments, or concerns about your meat share please don't hesitate to e-mail me at justine@taprootfarms.ca.



Monthly blog - November 2015

Posted on by Rhea Hamlin

With the cooler weather, we have moved indoors. 

On November 1st, we held a 'Flaxy Sunday Harvest Mob' event at TapRoot Farms. Our goal was to have 100 people in the flax field harvesting the remaining flax. Unfortunately, the weather did not corporate with us and we were harvesting in the rain. We had a great group of people show up to help us despite the weather and after harvesting, Patricia invited everyone in to warm up by a fire with a delicious bowl of soup.  There is still some flax in the field. We are testing to determine how the flax will handle the winter months. 

Our flax straw from this year's harvest has been moved indoors for storage over the winter months. 

We held a meeting with some professors from both Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design and Acadia University. They, together with a few other key supporters,  helped us to develop a research strategy for developing flax/linen-related products. We are excited to move forward with the action plans we came up with.


I have completed TapRoot Fibre Lab’s content marketing plan and have started implementing our action plans. 

We are working on sharing our journey with as many individuals, businesses, and organizations as possible. A letter was sent out to inform and encourage conversation. 


We are excited to announce that things are coming along nicely with our equipment. Testing has started on our second piece of equipment--the breaker--and Timbertec has started work on the third piece of equipment--the scutcher. 

I wish you a happy and safe holiday and all the best in the new yea
r.

 
 


travels in Nepal

Posted on

Hello from Denise :)

I arrived home Tuesday night from a three-week vacation in Nepal, where my eyes and heart were both opened wide. The first week of our trip was spent on a "Hidden Journey" with Change Fusion Nepal, where Andy and I were introduced to people who are tackling some of Nepal's greatest challenges—poverty, women’s rights, fair wages, working conditions, sanitation, and clean drinking water; to name just a few. ChangeFusion Nepal is an organisation that supports and empowers social entrepreneurs who are making real and long-lasting change in this developing country. The next part of our trip was spent climbing up to Annapurna Base Camp, where we were surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world.

The changemakers we met in that first week had a profound impact on me. Experiencing what these people are doing, often with very little, was nothing short of amazing.

Early in the week, we travelled to Dhulikhel and enjoyed a tour of an organic farm in the making. Farms in Nepal are all terraced, making use of every available bit of space. Our guide, Jason, showed us his plan for vegetables, fruit trees, animal grazing, and water collection. The farmhouse had been rendered unlivable by the earthquake so Jason had it torn down and was re-using the wood and clay roof tiles for the new home he is building—an innovative rammed earth design with 24-inch walls, a rocket stove for heat and cooking, a beehive incorporated into the outer wall, a full solar panel for electricity and hot water, a biofuel catchment system in the animal shelter to provide cooking gas, and a rain water collection system. His plan is to offer a home stay for other young farmers who want to learn to farm sustainably.

  

 

We spent a day with B.P. Shrestha, the former mayor of Dhulikhel, who truly transformed the town in the 30+ years he was at the helm. He installed water and sanitation (sewers and indoor plumbing), started a hospital, a medical and dental school, started a well-recognized university, and started a girls school—giving girls an equal opportunity education.

  

 

Sunita Nhemaphuki connects and provides resources to some of the poorest farmers in her community. Five years ago, she started a magazine (http://www.agrinepal.com.np/) that shares information about the agri-market, technology, seeds, fertilizers, and more to farmers across Nepal. The magazine now has over 5000 subscribers. Sunita organizes a monthly “Friday for Agriculture” meeting, bringing together farmers and others in the industry to discuss issues and ideas; she writes bank and business proposals for other (illiterate) farmers to help them secure loans; she runs ten “green shops” in and around Kathmandu where she and her fellow farmers (a co-operative of 300) sell their vegetables; she has partnered with three schools (so far) to provide fresh, healthy organic veggies for school lunches; and she runs an education/internship program for schoolchildren to come to the farm and learn about organic and sustainable farming. Farm education is mandated for children in grades six and seven in Nepal. How cool is that?? Oh, and she runs an organic farm that employs a number of local women at a fair working wage. Just an incredibly inspiring story. You can read more about Sunita here and here.

  

 

We also met Sabita Maharjan, a domestic abuse survivor who runs a knitting co-operative that employs 300 women—full-and part-time—in the Kathmandu Valley. Andy and I bought two of the most beautiful, warm sweaters from her during our visit. You can read more about Sabita here

  

Friends Shanti and Nirjala Shrestha run Friends Handicraft, a business producing beautiful (beautiful!) things (hats, slippers, mobiles, flowers, purses…) from felt. Shanti and Nirjala employ 125 women from low income households, giving them a living wage and good and safe working conditions.

Check out this YouTube video to meet these two wonderful ladies.

  

What really struck us about each of these folks (and the dozen or so others that we met) is the passion and commitment they have to making things better—not just for themselves but for their whole community. There is a deep connection to place in Nepal. We met a young architect, Rabindra Puri, who has been (very successfully) rebuilding traditional Newari-style homes using earthquake-proof methods. At 40, he gave away half of his wealth and started a foundation, saying: “How I can I be a rich man in Nepal when so many others are needing?” He has started a trade school, training young men and women in the work needed for his restoration company, guaranteeing all of them jobs when they graduate. He employs over 500 local people. There is a profound sense of wanting others to do well; to help others.

 

Every day I collapsed into bed marveling at the vision, tenacity, and generosity of the people we were meeting. And every day, I would shoot Patricia messages about our experience and about what we were learning, and the connections I was making between what is happening in Nepal and what is happening here at home.

§  Organic farmers in Nepal face the same challenges as we do here—chemically-grown veggies are easier to produce to a more uniform size and shape, and are therefore easier to sell to supermarkets.

§  Children in Nepal wear uniforms to school, which I really liked because in a caste-system country, it puts every child on equal footing with their peers.

§  We complain about our roads here in Canada but in Nepal it can take 20 hours to travel 100km. A new highway between Kathmandu and the Sindhuli region (135 km away) has created a 4-hour distribution channel for Junar (a type of orange) farmers to market and sell their fruit into the city.

§  We are so very lucky to have access to clean drinking water. In Nepal, only 27% of the population has access to a toilet and while 80% of the population has access to some form of water, it is not clean. We visited the Smart Paani offices (smartpaani.com) in Kathmandu. These folks make rainwater harvesting and filtration systems and have installed them in schools, providing schoolchildren access to clean and safe drinking water.

§  People with vision are changing the world!

 

Above left: SmartPaani is bringing safe, drinking water to the Kathmandu Valley.
Above right: terraced farmland

  

Above left: radish drying in the sun 
Above centre: delicious lunch at the women's co-operative in Kurtipur
Above right: a ubiquitous meal of daal bhat--it was different (and delicious!) everywhere we went.

That just scratches the surface of our experience with Hidden Journeys in Nepal. I am so inspired by the work being done there and feel grateful for the life I have here at home that allows me to travel and immerse myself in another culture so vastly different than my own. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to work for folks like Patricia and Josh, whose vision and values were a common thread in the social entrepreneurs I met while away. We have our very own changemakers here at home. 

And finally, a few photos of the mountains :)