A photo of some of the team and I (second to left) bagging nettles on my very first day at TapRoot.
Hello TapRoot blog readers!
As this week marks one month of being an employee at TapRoot Farms, I thought I'd check in and share my first impressions of the farm, as well as a little bit more about myself.
As some of you know, I joined the TapRoot team in May to shadow Justine and learn the ropes of the wholesale and meat CSA side of the TapRoot business, so that when she has her baby in July, I can seamlessly take over her role. Working at TapRoot is the first time I've worked on a large, working farm, so what an awesome whirlwind of new learning experiences this first month has been! I couldn't be happier about spending my days on the farm, learning the ins and outs of wholesale management and the CSA process.
Before coming to TapRoot, I managed a small farm project in southwest B.C. with my partner Chris. That project was my first hands-on experience with farming and for the most part, everything I learned and did was self-taught. When our lease on the B.C. land was up, Chris and I decided to head east and explore the maritime provinces. We'd never spent any time out here, but we were curious about Nova Scotia, it's community of support for local food initiatives, and the potential for more affordable land. So, six months ago, we packed up our car, along with our two cats and two rabbits, and drove across the country to land in Kentville. One of my first goals upon arrival was to find work for local farmers whose philosophies aligned with my own, so that I could learn from others who had more farming experience than I had myself. TapRoot was the first farm I connected with and I'm thrilled that a position opened up for me!
Stepping into the TapRoot world has been rewarding already. Working for a large farm and seeing how everything comes together every day to get things planted, cared for, harvested, packaged up, and shipped out is pretty darn impressive. Working alongside Justine is fantastic. She's impressively cool, calm and collected when it comes to juggling her workload. Hopefully I can embody that same calmness when she's away on maternity leave!
My favourite things about being at TapRoot so far: building relationships with the rest of the team, seeing the gorgeousness of east coast spring unfold on the farm, and feeling a sense of accomplishment when CSA shares and wholesale orders come together successfully every week. Oh, and of course seeing new produce ready for harvest! Just wait until you get your bok choy in your share this week... amazing!
All in all, a GREAT first month on the farm. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future and hopefully meeting many of you at upcoming CSA member events.
Last night Nathan and I were both were home later than usual, then we still had to do the chicken and sheep chores (we have 300 free range chickens and 40 sheep, including lambs). After, we both didn't feel like making supper, or we didn't have the inspiration. I had brought home my share and so we had asparagus and beet greens and decided to make the quickest of meals, a veggie stir fry with noodles.
Super quick stir fry with noodles:
I started with garlic and an onion, chopped them both up and added them to a pan with some olive oil. When those were sautéed, I added a bunch of sliced mushrooms, the beet parts of the beet greens, a whole leek sliced thin and a sliced carrot. You could pretty much put anything in here that needs a few minutes to cook. After those were almost cooked through, I added the asparagus (cut into inch long pieces), and after a few more minutes added the greens part of the beet greens, as well as some left over chopped Asian greens. I added Tamari and a little hot sauce. While this was going on I had made some wild rice noodles (I would have made rice, if I didn't have noodles).
To make it extra delicious I put the noodles in the bowls and added butter and grated cheddar before the cooked veggies. Cheese seems like kind of a strange addition, but it's really good, trust me.
We had enough for lunches the next day and went to bed with some fresh veggies in our bellies.
Fresh herbs are best incorporated at the end of preparing a meal, unlike their dried counterparts, their bright flavors don't withstand the cooking process. When I'm looking for new ideas for cooking I go to Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (River Cottage), I really like their approach to cooking veggies and they incorporate fresh herbs into many dishes.
Store fresh herbs in a ziplock bag in the fridge and they should keep for 10 days. If you aren't sure if you'll use the herbs soon enough put them in a paper bag and hang them high in the rafters in a non humid room. Within 2 weeks you should a have a nice crumbly mess of dried herb for winter meals. Keep them in a closed glass jar in a cupboard.
As you can see, total value for this week's meat share is a little under, but we've been over for the last few shares, so everything is balancing out.
Quick meat ideas:
Rabbit pieces can be used in the same way you use chicken pieces. They're great on the bbq, roasted, and cut into strips for stirfries. Rabbit has a mild taste and goes great with everything. For some recipe ideas, check out this previous blog post on cooking with rabbit here.
You will either get a 2 pack of forequarters, belly (aka loin), or hindquarters. Here is what those pieces of meat look like.
Belly (or loin):
We're still waiting for our piglets to arrive! Every time Tim goes to feed the pigs, we expect to hear that the piglets have been born, but they're apparently not ready to meet the world yet. We'll keep you posted.
New ducks arrived on the farm last week. They're settling in nicely.
And here's Nathan with the TapRoot beef herd. They're slowly getting friendlier and enjoying their pasture up on Ross Creek Road. They love their salt block!
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about your meat shares you can e-mail me at Justine@taprootfarms.ca
Have a fantastic few weeks and talk to you next time!
I am learning that no amount of optimism will make the sun shine.
Many of you are patiently awaiting your Flower Shares. Hopefully this update will shed some light on progress so far this year.
The farm's perennials are doing well, although like most things this year, they seem behind. Our tulips were a dud and have caused a re-think on how to guarantee a good harvest in future years.
Thousands of transplants are ready for the ground and the space has been mostly prepared for them. Direct seeding of a few things is also planned for this week.
This year's Flower Share will involve approximately 60 members. Our goal is to send out shares when there are enough flowers to ensure you all receive shares of excellent value and quality. Last year we had fewer members and were able to “scrounge” from the farm to fill the first few weeks with beautiful and varied bouquets. Last year's bouquets were also smaller.
We began cutting and delivering flowers in June of last year. The hope is to do the same this year, although it is difficult to pinpoint a specific week. Things still have a lot of growing to do.
Until then, I will include a short list of some of the things we have prepared for your shares. The list would be too long to include here, but here are a few of our larger flower crops with a few of my favourites thrown in;
Asters, Sweet William, Snapdragons, Strawflowers, Zinnias, Gomphrena, Celosia, Statice, Carthamus, Peruvian Cherries, Ageratum, Carnations, Nigella, Yarrow, Cleome, Amni, Lisianthus (fingers crossed), Flowering Kale, Sunflowers, Glads, Dahlias, Delphinium, Craspedia, Foxglove, Sunflowers, a variety of herbs, woody ornamentals and existing perennials. And of course, numerous varieties of most of the flowers listed here.
If you have any questions about your upcoming flower share, would like to sign up, or have other flower needs throughout the growing season, please email me email@example.com
Sweet William rows with Jocelyn in background for perspective.