The response from last year’s Flower Share was overwhelmingly positive! It was a learning year for us in terms of time dedication, quantity, variety, quality, and transport. People told us the shares lasted well in vases, or they really came in handy for expected or unexpected occasions. There were also lots of fun conversations about the flowers themselves. The flower gardens became popular spots while visitors were exploring the farm.
Last year we grew flowers for about 35 weekly flower shares, sold a few additional add-ons each week, did mini bouquets for all CSA members, and helped out with four weddings. Seeding started in February and March to establish early annuals. We leaned heavily on existing perennials, biennials, woody ornamentals, and herbs, but the bulk of the flowers were grown from seed. The flowers were harvested the morning of the deliveries or in some cases the evening before. They were cooled and conditioned before being sent off in the delivery van.
Plans are afoot for the coming year. This year’s Flower Share will run for 20 non-consecutive weeks. Things will likely begin with tulips and spring bouquets, hopefully to mark Mother’s Day. After a minor gap, they will arrive with regularity at your CSA pick-up location.
Flower Shares are my favourite thing about my job, albeit a small part. It has always been my goal that growing flowers on the farm be able to justify the time and effort it takes. Your vegetables, meat, eggs and fruit are always the top priority for everyone at Taproot. And, while flowers play critical roles in maintaining biodiversity at the farm, they will not stock your freezer, or be your family meal at the end of the day. Flowers are for other reasons.
Thank you to everyone who has signed up for this year’s Flower Share! We anticipate a great season. And if there are any other CSA members with a reason of your own, there are still shares available.
This morning we decided to start trouble shooting what it would be like to spin flax with wool. Many yarn products marketed as linen are in fact blended with a high percentage of wool, a product that is much easier to incorporate into wool spinning systems than straight linen.
A much-loved local weaver and spinner, Pia Skaarer worked with Justine and I, taking us through the ropes (so to speak) of different wool/linen blends.
The wool we used is Justine’s Icelandic sheep wool, a breed favored for its versatile fleece -- a long topcoat and a very fine undercoat. Here is a pic of one of her beautiful female yearlings in the barn this morning.
The process today involved blending the fibers by hand, with a carder and then finally by spinning.You can see Pia working the wheel to twist the loose fiber into a yarn.
In the end we wound (haha) up with a handful of skeins of different blends, using industrially processed flax as a comparison product to our evolving flax fibre.
You can see the greeny plantiness of this batch of our flax, twisted throughout the base wool.
One take-away from today's process was to try pre-boiling the unspun fibre in order to degum it, making it smoother to handle and see what effect it has on the color.
Stay connected as we continue to untangle the mysteries of flax and linen production.
Here is a recipe that was shared by a member, found at eathalifax.ca, which is actually a pretty neat website to look around on.
I will be making these latkes tonight along with a parsnip mutton soup from left over from last night, a great warm meal on a cold wintery evening.
celeriac latkes & yogurt remoulade
1 medium celeriac, shredded
3 green onions, finely chopped (or yellow onion)
3 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying
2/3 cup yogurt
1 shallot, finely diced
6 gerkins, finely diced
1 tablespoon gerkin brine
1 tablespoon capers, finely diced
1 teaspoon Dijon
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon zest
For remoulade, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until use.
Heat about 1-2 inches of oil in a large skillet or pot over medium high heat.
Combine grated celeriac, green onions, flour and egg. Season with salt and pepper. My advice is to season, fry a test latke then adjust accordingly. Form into thin patties. Working in batches, fry the latkes until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Remove latkes to a paper towel lined baking sheet and keep warm. Serve immediately with remoulade.
Celeriac vary in size. The batter may need more flour or an extra egg depending on the size you choose.
Serves 2-4 though I could have easily eaten all of these myself.
Don’t know what celery root (a.k.a. celeriac) is? It’s that really ugly, knobby looking white ball in
your CSA box. You can also find it in the grocery store right now. If you’re looking to clean out
your farm share box or just want to try something new, here’s an easy, tasty, healthy soup recipe to
try this weekend. It works equally well with kohlrabi, another ugly veggie no one seems to know
what to do with! This is a “veganized” version of a basic bisque recipe. When “veganizing”, I swap out the higher-fat
animal ingredients like whipped cream & butter for healthier vegetarian ingredients, liked almond
milk & coconut oil. My kids & husband all loved this soup, and it was gone by the end of the day!
Ingredients for soup:
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots or white onion
2 pounds of celery root (about 1.5 bulbs), peeled and cubed in 1 inch pieces (or same amount of
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed into one inch pieces
5 cups low-sodium veggie broth
1.5 tsp fresh minced thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried)
1/4 cup almond milk (more if you like a thinner pureed soup)
salt and pepper to taste ( I used about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)
For croutons: 2 pieces of “oldish” whole grain bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
olive oil (preferably in a spray bottle or mister)
To prepare: In a large soup pot, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add celery and cook until
softened (about 3 minutes). Add shallots or onion, and cook about 3 more minutes. Then add
cubed potato and celery root, broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 30
minutes, or until veggies are very soft.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and spray lightly with
olive oil. You can sprinkle them with garlic powder or toss in a crushed garlic clove and a little olive
oil if you don’t have a spray bottle. Toast in the oven until brown (it doesn’t take long so keep
Once veggies are soft, add almond milk and puree soup with a hand blender in pot or in batches in
a countertop blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This week in the meat share many of you got stewing hens. Stewing hens are the farms old organic egg laying hens, they only lay productively for so long and after that we bring on new hens to replace them, so as to keep up with the egg demand.
Stewing hens aren't like roasting or broiler chickens, who are sold when they reach the desired weight for market. These hens have been around for a while and so need a little longer cooking time, and a liquid for cooking them in, hence the name stewing hen.
They make delicious stocks, just put them in a pot with water covering them, add whole peppercorns, and any other spice or vegetable you like to put in stocks. Turn it on high heat and let to come to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for a few hours, or until the meat is falling of the bones of the chicken. Strain out the chicken and other herbs. Making sure you're not pouring this nutritious stock down the drain by accident! When the chicken meat is cool, pick it apart and add back to the stock if your making a soup right away, or freeze for later use.
If I'm not going to use all the stock right away, I'll usually freeze it in ice cube trays in batches, then store them in a plastic bag. That way when I need a little stock for adding to rice or sauces I have just the right amount.