Early in October Trish invited me to come on board the Taproot team to work on the farm's latest endeavor. Producing linen from flax is a practice we humans have done for thousands of years, but in the last 100 years cotton and synthetic fibers have taken up most of market share and techniques in textile production. We are lucky to have a climate in Nova Scotia that is very suitable to flax growing; long cool spring days allow for tall plants to develop before they start to head up into flower in early July. Our history shows that we have great growing conditions for quality linen flax; 100 years ago counties in NS rivaled Ireland in terms of flax yield and most every farm had their own plot of flax for home use.
By producing fiber and textiles locally, with locally grown materials suitable to this climate we are responding to the harsh impact that fast fashion and disposable synthetic-based clothing have, and that they have become a total norm in mainstream apparel. I know that when I buy a hand made item my inner accountant nods approval despite the higher price because a) I'm buying something that directly contributes to a better quality of life for the folks that produced it and b) because I take better care of things that have a unique story and I paid a little more for.
Down on the farm all of this talk looks like a big pile of flax in various stages of being processed.
We are drying freshly harvest flax, and undertaking the age old practices of separating the fibers from the plant material. I've begun a series of trials for the processing and will be posting updates on our facebook site. Keep your eyes peeled! Send us a picture of your grandma's old linen hanky! Shop local!
I hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween. As I am sure everyone at Taproot Farms could tell you, I truly love holidays; even the ones that are not really classed as holidays, such as Halloween.
The farm is slowly starting to decline in staff members as the harvesting progressing, though the office is as busy as ever. There are so many conferences and training sessions lately. The next large conference is the ACORN conference in late November taking place in New Brunswick. Last year I was not able to attend and to be honest I figured other Taproot staff would benefit far more than I would from a gathering of farmers and sharing of farm knowledge, but this year there are actually sessions about efficient office work and record keeping. Everyone at Taproot is working together to make sure we all get to take part in this great experience; even I get to go! I am very excited to be part of it as this will enable me to be better at my job; always room for improvement.
I have always really enjoyed working at Taproot Farms. I have been part of the Taproot team for two years now (wow!). Over the past couple months we have all been working on a new business plan for the farm. This whole process has made me realize that I want to be part of Taproot Farm for quite a while. It was so nice to be able to, as a group, look into the future and see what we want Taproot Farms to look like.
Here's to another five great years and hopefully many more after that.
Have a wonderful day and try to stay toasty in this frosty weather!
I am not often at the grocery store but I often wonder how our CSA Share boxes compare in price, quality, food miles, packaging, etc....to what is available at the grocery store. Today for some unknown reason I decided to pull up the share list on my phone and purchase each item for the appetizer share. I rang it through at the till separately so I wouldn't mix anything up. I chose organic when it was an option and the smallest packaged size that best reflects how much I think you will get in the appetizer share veggie box. Here is what I got.
Swiss Chard (non organic) Trudeau Farm, Quebec. (I divided the bunch in 1/2 because it was bigger than the app share would get ($3.49)) $1.74
3 pk Sweet Corn (non organic) no farm name or produced location $3.49
Grape Tomatoes (organic) no farm name, produced in Mexico $3.49
Baby Aruglua (non organic) no farm name, produced in USA (I divided this up by 3 assuming you'd be getting about two cups in share ($3.99)) $1.33
Red Leaf Lettuce (non organic) Tanimura and Antle, USA (I divided this in 1/2 because it was bigger than you might get in app share ($2.99)) $1.49
Carrots (organic) Red Soil Organics, PEI (I divided this bag to be 1 lb ($2.99)) $1.49
Turnip (non organic) no farm name so no idea where it is from but highly likely it is NS or Atlantic Canada $1.48
The total before I divided it: $21.92
The total as I think it reflects in terms of the volume you would get in the share: $14.51
In terms of food miles - it appears that possibly two items could be from Nova SCotia - the corn and turnip (unlabelled so possibly)...the rest.....PEI, Quebec, USA, Mexico.
In terms of packaging - more than you'd get in the share...but we still have grape tomatoes in those plastic clam shells (:(()
In terms of quality - it all looked good. I have not cooked anything yet so unsure how the flavours compare.
In terms of price - within reason I could argue, this time around 50 cents more than the app share price (average of $14/week)
In term of values - i don't know the values of these farmers, but I do know that because of your CSA membership you have made it possible for people to be employed. You are boosting the economy. Putting $ into products that we produce here makes a big difference to how many jobs we can create here.
So, it is now Sunday afternoon.....as I type this up, Lily and Frank are making their own books about life on the farm, inspired from a story in Frank's home reading.
Well Ladies and gents don't expect my farewell to be as heart warming or touching as G-units (a.k.a. Greta). The time has come to hang up our TapRoot hats. Actually I traded my TapRoot hat for a deer steak but we wont get into that. The season is over for G-unit and I as our rein of terror on TapRoot farms has come to an end. Today while bagging Arugula it felt like just yesterday we were baggin' pea-shoots.. "what?".. PEA SHOOTS!
I'm glad Trish and Josh gave me the opportunity to apprentice on their farm. I've learned lots. For one that I never want a farm anywhere the size of this one. WAY TOO BIG for my scale. I also was given the opportunity to experiment growing Oyster mushrooms which was rewarding and I look forward to practising what I have learned here in the future. You know what they say about a guy who grows mushrooms, he's a Fun guy.
I have to agree with G-unit in that the best part of the apprenticeship was the team here at TapRoot minus Jon of course, just kidding he's alright. Teri is awesome and has the organizational skills of a Mongolian Ninja while Justine works with the ferocity and speed of an arctic cheetah. Tim R gave me a warm place to sleep when the temperature dipped below 5 degrees centigrade and we engaged in some thought provoking conversation while harvesting beets. Tim C knows where them girls are at. Without Jem we'd have to wake up two hours earlier on Tuesday not to mention he's the nicest old man I've ever met. Louise will one day realize her true love and leave Gerald to marry me. Not much is known about Calvin as he is a quiet man who woke up at 3am probably because his mattress was so uncomfortable, I would know I slept on it. Falicia probably has to be the hardest of anyone to get along with (aside from Josh) at TapRoot but she knows her numbers I guess that's why they keep her around. I must say I am a little bit disappointed that Josh didn't follow through on the the morning hugs he promised. Even though I didn't receive morning hugs from Josh I think he's a decent bloke and he'll make a great organic farmer one day! Trish has raised some wonderful organic free-range/pastured children and I am ever grateful for her ability to get us inside the inner workings of Valley Mushrooms. In all seriousness though everyone at TapRoot is great and I had a wonderful time this season working on the farm. Thanks for letting me come on board.
Happiness is to hold flowers in both hands” Japanese Proverb
A big thank you to everyone who participated in the farm’s first Flower Share, or purchased flowers as an add-on. It was always nice to hear comments about the flowers at our delivery locations. I like to think of the past 16 weeks as an experiment with positive results. The plan is to continue to offer flowers to members next year. We will keep you posted on possibilities for the coming season. First, though, winter.
We have managed to stash some everlasting flowers away to use in gift baskets, as add-ons, or for Valentine’s Day. They will be available soon.
Again, we sincerely want to thank you for your interest and willingness to invest in flowers.
A few pictures from warmer times…