I love flowers, have always loved flowers. They may seem frivolous when compared to the necessity of growing food, but flowers have a very real place on a farm, in our forests, our yards, and our homes. Flowers encourage biodiversity and help balance an ecosystem. Flowers play important roles in the success of farms, particularly when farming organically. We are excited about the prospect of growing and providing affordable and local flowers on a regular, yet limited basis.
This year, TapRoot Farms is offering a 16 week flower share to a limit of 20 members. It begins the week of July 1st, ending October 20th. Members will receive a weekly bouquet of naturally grown, farm fresh flowers for only $5.00 per week. Bouquets will include a wide assortment of seasonal flowers.
Sign up here!
Greenhouse space will be at a premium in spring, and flowers tend to be labour intensive, but we hope to have flowers available as add-ons for Mother’s Day.
Flower bouquets will be included as an add-on this spring and throughout the growing season as they become available.
Blog Posting #1from Kenya By Patricia Bishop February 6th 2013.
After spending a week and a half observing, asking a lot of questions and contemplating, I see that the woman of the Ruuju Womans Group and the Muchui Womans Group are some of the most resilient woman I have ever met. Many of the woman in these two womans groups live a subsistence existence, where they are working hard each day to provide the basic nutrition and health to their families. Many of them do not have anything extra to speak of, a knife, a pen, paper are all luxuries that do not make it into their lives unless they are a gift. Some of the woman in these groups have jobs outside of their daily tasks on their farms. They wake at 4:30 AM to prepare for the children, the farm and then get themselves off to work. The food is basic, not processed and packaged. They eat what is grown on their shamba (farm) or vegetables or cereals from a shamba next door. They walk everywhere, or if they have the shillings they pay to hire a motorcyle to drive them they will go out of the rural area where they live to do their business in town. For some this happens once every couple of months or only when the children need shoes or someone needs medical attention. Most of the homes I have visited do not have power.
I have been conducting focus groups with the woman in the two womans groups. The purpose of these focus groups has been to learn from them what is of benefit to them in their womans groups, what challenges they face in the groups, what changes they would like to see and the real point has been how they envision carrying on with the iniatives of their groups once the CIDA Funded FHF project is complete in 2014. The woman for the most part are all saying the same thing in the four different groups – that being a part of the group has provided them with great benefits of tanks to hold water, screen houses, stoves that reduce smoke and fire wood use, and farming skills that increase the vegetables grown on their farms (shambas). They also value greatly the community in their groups. The major challenge identified by all groups is having a market for their products. If they can make more shillings then they can fund more of the work that their womans groups have started. For reference, the price of a green cabbage is 5 -20 shillings – that is less than one cent in Canadian Dollars.
In a region where so many people are just surviving, it is difficult to see where or how the market price can improve. The culture of very cheap food is borne out of necessity for the most part, but just like everywhere else I have visited, it is still on the backs of the small scale farmers. There are much larger farms here in Kenya. Farms that have 100's of acres of tunnel houses growing crops for export. Those farms appear to be doing well (and are not owned my Kenyans). I question as we travel past the large acrage of tunnels if those farms have difficulty accessing water year round like the woman in the villages do. I don’t know the answer.
In Nova Scotia we have many citizens who are aware of the issues facing the family farm and who are willing to pay fair prices for their food from farmers. Many people are making choices in their daily lives that support farmers directly both in Nova Scotia or in other places by choosing fair trade products. More than ever before I can see how critical these choices are to the lives of others. I have not found this same population here in Kenya yet (that want to pay a bit more to support the health of small farmers). Some say there isn’t such a group, but I believe there must be. Now that many young professionals have moved away from their family farms into the city to work for higher pay, they may see or feel the disconnect, we just need to start talking with them and find out more.
Four observations so far that I suggest require action are:
1) the woman farmers having a consistent variety of vegetables to sell every day of the year
2) more one on one hands-on skills development in the areas of farm management, crops, composting, pest control - non chemical interventions (because they are expensive), and problem solving
3) collaboration between groups and between woman to have a large enough volume of product available for sale
4) marketing and sales person for both Ruuju and Muchui womans groups
The woman I have talked with have indicated that they wish they could sell more vegetables for more money because they are selling at a loss many times. Today, Wednesday February 6 2013 I have spent the day talking with two groups of woman who are members of the Muchui Womans Group. We have started the discussion of business planning.
(Disclaimer: I am constantly grapling with a concern with my observations and ideas impose my ideas or values from where I come in my life. I suppose there is not much I can do about that except be aware of it.)
Thinking of you all in Nova Scotia.
Happy New Year. Welcome to 2013. I have a good feeling about this one. It's time to put winter tires on my bike and get back on the streets delivering bread & things, starting on January 16th.
If you've already been a member and would like to sign-up again, this will be your last chance before fall to do so! I'll be delivering until mid-March this time around. Click here to sign-up!
If you have never been a part of the home delivery membership, it's quite simple. When you sign-up, I will start bringing bread to your doorstep each Wednesday for two months. You always have the option to add special, hand-crafted food items along with it. I import very special cheeses from a couple of cheese makers in Northern New Brunswick and Cape Breton - these include goat and sheep milk products. I make seasonal and delicious gluten-free, dairy-free soups with farmers' market vegetables. I sell preserves made with low quantities of organic sugars and unsprayed, often organic fruit and also baked snacks such as scones, muffins, cookies and pies. Signing up guarantees you a fresh loaf of organic sourdough each week and gives you and your household the option to order extra high quality foodstuffs that you can only get through my home delivery service or from my table at the Historic Farmers' Market (at the Keith's Brewery) on Saturdays.
Other perks: Home delivery means you don't have to go to the store. You are supporting an alternative economic model and fossil fuel-free commercial delivery and many small businesses committed to providing their customers with high quality foods that keep you healthy and energized. Some businesses involved in the service: Speerville Flour Mill, Au Fond Des Bois Fromagerie, Bergerie aux 4 Vents Fromagerie, Hutten Family Farms and Just Us!
If you have been a part of the Gold Island Bread Membership then you know how it works. Think about signing up again! This will be my last delivery season until the second part of the year. I'll be moving out to my farm come April to keep working on my wood-fired oven and my own bakery. It should be up and running come May.
This delivery season starts on January 16th and ends on March 13th. Please sign-up by January 13th.
Take a look at my website to see all of the different kinds of breads, cheeses and preserves available. Here is the link: http://goldisland.ca/products/ .
Finally, sign-up is very simple. There is a short registration form on the website which, once completed, means you are set-up to receive Gold Island Bakery goods, come January 16th. Please email me with questions.