Last week, on Wednesday I traveled to PEI with Lily to visit Doug Boyd at Belfast Mini Mills in the early part of the day (flax/linen project research) and then to attend the Farmers Helping Farmers AGM in the evening. We had a wonderful day traveling on the ferry
Gikundi and Salome, from Kenya, both work with Farmers Helping Farmers and are here in PEI and NS for 6 weeks (Gikundi) and 6 months (Salome) to learn, share and take home with them what they can to the woman's groups in Kenya.
Wednesday night we arrived home to a family lobster meal that we have once a year with my mom and her husband. It was the first time Gikundi and Salome have ever eaten lobster.
On Thursday they joined in the TapRoot activities preparing the orders and doing the deliveries with Jem. I was thinking it would be interesting for them to experience the back doors of some of the stores here in NS. Jem also took them downtown to see a bit of the city.
On Friday we visited Noggins Corner Farm and then went to see Av Singh at the Centre for Small Scale Agriculture Just US Farm in Grande Pre. We had an informative tour looking at crops and talking about pests.
Saturday we had our TapRoot Pop-up Lunch in support of Farmers Helping Farmers and we raised $700.00 (net). Thank you everyone. We had so much fun surrounded by great people and great food!!
And on Monday after working most of the day, we headed to our friends house on a lake. Gikundi jumped right into the fresh water for the first time ever. It is hard for me to wrap my thoughts around how it must feel to have so little water all of your life and then to travel to a place where there is this big fresh water lake to jump into, and whereever you go the tap will turn on and water will come out. Water usage here is gross in comparison. The bath tub and the shower are both very different than how washing is done at their homes in Kenya. Anyway, he seemed to have a lot of fun in the water and stayed in for a very long time. (I was worried about him getting too cold....but I am told I worry too much)
Today and tomorrow Salome and Gikundi are working with John Lohr (Farmer Johns Herbs) learning about his business model and farm activities.
Thursday and Friday they will be back here with us for the days on the farm at TapRoot where we will work together to create some materials that will hopefully be useful for them back home. We have been talking about some marketing materials that are mostly graphic with very little text so they can tell the story of the womans groups for people who purchase at the markets as a way to possibly connect with customers.
I am feeling so happy to host Gikundi and Salome here at TapRoot. The house if full right now with staff and interns and guests, and kids.....and it feels so alive and enriched with such amazing people and experiences and diversity.
Hey CSA Members, we (we, being all of us) have an amazing farm. We had a few members and friends tour it yesterday during the CSA farm tour day....but please come to the farm before the snow flies....to see and hear and feel and smell the farm where your food is coming from.
From time to time, we like to let our customers know whats happening, here on the farm. I've been doing a lot of weed management this summer, and am using some techniques that I thought some might find interesting.
A new tool we got this year, is a tractor mounted flame weeder. This has four propane jets, that floats a couple of inches above the ground and cooks the weeds as we drive over them. Backpack flame weeders have been popular on organic farms for a while, but not many farms have a flamer that goes on a tractor. We use it in a number of ways. The main way is flaming a bed, after its been seeded, but before the seeds emerge. That way we can cook all those little weeds, that have already come up before the crop. We've also used it on our potatoes. Because the potato plants are big and juicy, the damage to the crop is minimal, while the damage to the weeds is detrimental.
We also have an antique Alice Chambers 'G', cultivating tractor. It uses a tool bar underneath the belly of the tractor, with cultivating teeth on it. Because its mounted under the belly, your able to see where the teeth are, and can weed between rows, four at a time.
Of course, no farm can get away without weeding by hand. This is very labour intensive, but thanks to our team, we are usually able to keep it under control. We've also had one of our CSA members, Sylvia, doing a work share, where she pays for her share through farm labour. She's spent a lot of time weeding this spring and has made a huge difference in the field this spring.
<< Sylvia weeding carrots this past Saturday. She comes prepared with the necessary gear to avoid the rampant no-see-ums we are currently being harrassed by!
There is the 'many little hammers' method of weed control, where a number of tools, each with a different purpose, all play a part in managing weeds on the farm. Until they come up with one tool that can weed all of our different crops, we will always need many little hammers.
Hello out there, TapRooters! Today Justine, Chris and I had a pretty neat experience: making our very first sausages out of TapRoot pigs! For months now Justine has been on a quest for the perfect sausages for the meat shares. While all have been delicious, her dream has been to find a sausages without fillers—often bread crumbs, soy or milk products—just meat and spices. We got to make that dream come true this summery Monday afternoon under the tutelage of the beautiful, talented, and fun Jessi Gillis, the owner of Highland Drive Storehouse in Halifax.
Jessi started out by trimming down the pork legs and shoulders we'd brought from the farm, removing bones and chopping up the meat, while we prepared the other ingredients and such for the sausages. We decided on a general herb sausage and an apple sage sausage for our two flavours.
After the meat was cut into hunks we put it through a meat grinder twice: once on its own, and once with the fresh herbs, onions, salt and pepper, apples, and white wine. Jessi uses only fresh ingredients at her sausages (and her burgers, bacon, skewers, steaks, and other meaty delights), which accounts for some amazing flavours.
Next came the tricky part: passing the ground sausage meat through a device (I forgot to ask what it was called... a "Sausage Stuffer", perhaps?) and into the natural casing used at Highland Dr, twisting it into sausages as we went. This is a tough process to do gracefully, and as you can imagine there was plenty of giggling and frustration over air bubbles, overstuffed and occasionally bursting sausages, and well, you know... sausage jokes.
Overall, we transformed twenty pounds of pork into two coolers of sausages that you will likely be seeing in the meat shares in the coming weeks. Even for someone who is not always perfectly comfortable around meat (I was a vegetarian for seven years), it was really exciting to be in such a lovely workspace, transforming well-loved animals into well-loved creations for the dinner table. Thanks so much to Jessi for taking time out of her day off to talk to us, teach us, and show us around her wonderful shop and kitchen.
It's been a while since I've given an update on project Mush-Mush so here we go. It seemed to have worked :p. The bags produced a couple pounds of mushrooms which is what I expected. The Pink Oyster mushrooms are growing well and I'm close to my second flush being harvested, their first being on Friday. Originally I had them indoors but the regular Oysters where not developing caps so I moved them outside and they did well. The warm weather over the weekend really boosted their growth.
I'm looking into taking this experiment into full production. I'm a little worried however because my spawn making is not going as well as planned. Out of 20 quarts 17 got infected. So I'm going to have to do something about that. Ideally I'd have a laminar flow hood but that's not feasible here at the farm and I cannot afford to keep buying spawn so we will see how this whole project unfolds.