Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Get fresh Strawberry Festival

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

We’re a little late on the notice here, but there are 18 different strawberries festivals taking place in Ontario this weekend! Check out this website for more details - you can still make it on Sunday.


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Time to think about seeds again

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Even though we’re still in the middle of winter, last week’s (almost) spring-like weather is a gentle reminder that spring is coming. It’s time to head to your local Seedy Saturday/Sunday to swap and buy seeds, attend workshops and get inspired to grow your own food.  I am obsessed with the heirloom tomato varieties and can’t wait to buy more unusual tomato seeds.  After eating only Ontario garlic this past year (it tastes so much better, a milder taste, not pungent at all), I’m inspired to try growing my own. 

The Seedy Saturday in Toronto is on February 28 this year, at a new location – the Wychwood Barn. The theme this year is potatoes.

Here’s a list of Seedy events in the next month in Canada. 

Ontario

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 21

Port Burwell, ON

Trinity Church

 

Hamilton, ON

Royal Botanical Gardens

Saturday Feb 28

Mississauga, ON

Unitarian Congregation, S Service Rd

 

Sault Ste Marie, ON

Sault College-Native Centre-G Wing

 

Toronto, ON

Artscape Wychwood Barns

Saturday March 7

London, ON

Siloam United Church

 

Ottawa, ON

Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre

 

Peterborough, ON

St. James United Church, Romaine St

Sunday March 8

Pembroke, ON

Fellowes High School, 420 Bell Street

Saturday March 14

Kingston, ON

Kingston’s Central Branch Library

BC

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 21

Victoria, BC

Victoria Conference Centre

 

Prince George, BC

Exploration Place

Saturday Feb 28

Vancouver, BC

VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Sunday March 1

Nanaimo, BC

Bowen Park Auditorium

Saturday March 7

Courtenay, BC

Filberg Centre

 

Fernie, BC

Fernie Community Centre

 

Enderby, BC

A.L.Fortune Secondary School

 

Robert’s Creek, BC

Robert’s Creek Hall

 

Richmond, BC

Terra Nova Barn, 2631 Westminster Hwy

Saturday March 14

Kelowna, BC

Rutland Centennial Hall

 

Cobble Hill, BC

Cobble Hill Hall

 

Powell River, BC

Community Living Place, Artaban St

Manitoba

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 21

Garson, MB

 

Quebec

Date

City

Location

Sunday Feb 22

St. Appollinaire , QC

83 rue Boucher

Saturday Feb 28

St. Vallier de Bellechase, QC

école La Ruche de Lanaudière

Sunday March 8

Lanaudière, QC

Centre communautaire Le Rodriguais à Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez

Nova Scotia/New Brunswick

Date

City

Location

Saturday Feb 28

Truro, NS

Holiday Inn on Prince St.

Saturday March 7

Cocagne, NB

Ecole Blanche Bourgeouis

Saskatchewan

Date

City

Location

Saturday March 14

Saskatoon, SK

Princess Alexandra School


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Blueberries, Peaches and Plums. Oh my!

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Blueberries

Blueberry season is almost over in Ontario, but we certainly enjoyed it while it was here. Tanny, Ella and I went blueberry picking last weekend at Andrew’s Scenic Acres . We went again this weekend. Ella cannot get enough blueberries!! It was hard to get her to focus on putting the berries into the basket and not in her mouth. She got remarkable adept at distinguishing ripe blueberries from unripe.

One thing we learned this year is that the powdery-white coating on blueberries is called the “bloom” and is not pesticide (thank goodness).

During my high school years, my family and I would always pick blueberries in Thamesville at Park’s Blueberries . If you’re ever passing through the area they have excellent pick your own and home-baked goods. They usually have three different types of blueberries.

While we were at Andrew’s Scenic Acres we also picked some Damas plums. Personally I prefer yellow plums but these were good too. Their pears and apples looked just about ready to pick.

Damas Plums

Tomorrow we’re going to be in Grimsby and hope to stop at Two Century Farm to pick up some peaches and possibly some grapes. We haven’t been there before but my parents said it’s good.

Tanny and I have a running joke about #1 peaches. When we were in the Niagara area a few years ago we stopped at a roadside peach stand. He had two types of peaches with labels: “peaches” and “#1 peaches”. Curious, we asked him what the difference was and he remarked, pointing to one basket, “Those are #1 peaches.” Now whenever we get an obvious answer that contains no value it’s “#1 peaches!”. Anyway, for the curious here is the precise definition of #1 peaches in Canada.

Blueberry farms listed in our database (as of August 31, 2008):

Peach farms listed in our database (as of August 31, 2008):

I know there are many stands and farms with blueberries across the country. Please add them to our list so that others may feast on fresh blueberries.

Keep eating local!


Aphids!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Despite our slow start to the garden this year, everything has been growing really well. We’ve been eating fresh peas almost everyday for about a month now, the tomatoes are looking really promising, the carrots are just about ready, we’ve been harvesting the basil and even our one cornstalk has defied all odds and is producing one corn! Yesterday, while I was checking the tomatoes, I found aphids on the flowering branches!!! The aphids nearly destroyed our snowball trees earlier this year and they are not getting my heirloom tomatoes. Luckily there were only a few clusters of them and I began picking them off with my hands. Then I felt weird squishing the bugs and so I blasted them off with the garden hose. When I checked today, there were a few left on the branches still so I blasted them again with the water. Hopefully that’s enough to keep them off. Does anyone know of any other organic ways to keep them off my tomatoes?

Aside from that, our local eating has been going really well in the summer. We go to Fresh from the Farm to stock up on meats every few weeks and we have our CSA from Plan B . We only got a half share and we find it challenging to finish all the veggies each week. We’re not salad people and we just can’t keep up with all the lettuce we’re getting! We tried purple beans for the first time last week. Did you know that they’re green inside and that they turn green when cooked?They taste similar to green beans with a stronger bean taste.

Since we were away for a few weeks in July, we traded those weeks for fruit shares. I decided to get the fruit shares in August thinking of all the peaches and plums that are in season. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I didn’t get any local fruits in the fruit share. There were bananas, oranges, grapes and plums, mostly from California. Apparently, it’s risky to grow peaches and plums organically in Southern Ontario, due the high risk of fungal disease in the fruit. Most farmers can’t afford a crop failure. Here’s an except from an email from Melanie ofPlan B Organics explaining the situation:

Why is there so little fruit being grown organically in Ontario?

While the climate in Southern Ontario is warm enough to grow tender fruit crops, the high humidity in summer leads to a high incidence and spreading of fungal diseases on tender fruit crops. To combat these fungal diseases on conventional farms tender fruit crops are sprayed with chemical fungicides as many as 15 times or more each season to keep these diseases at bay and ensure a crop for the farmer. These sprays are why we at Plan B feel the need to provide an organic alternative, but for that alternative to also be local is a bigger challenge. Most of the certified organic tender fruits you have been getting in your fruit share are grown in arid, semi-desert zones in California where disease pressures are much lower and it is more conducive to organic growing. The cooler and drier weather in more northern parts of the province where we get our organic apples from is also helps lower disease and pest pressures for the farmers there. We also feel that very few local growers are in the position to risk losing their crops as there is little or no financial security in making significant changes to the food system, unless people are guaranteeing their costs and a a living wage. Things most of us take for granted, but that’s not how it is for farmers in our society.

Why can’t we get more farmers in Ontario to grow their fruit organically?

We at Plan B Organic Farm began offering the fruit share with hopes that having a good market for local organic fruit would help convince some local growers to convert to organic production. So far we have only been able to find a few farmers who have taken this step, we hope to find more in the future. Our goal is to have everything we handle be local and organic, but this is a goal for us when it comes to fruit, not the reality of where organic agriculture is at right now in Ontario. We want to build this system for the future, if you know of anyone with a fruit farm that’s not being used or is retiring please let us know and we will contact them with info about organic production.

So, if you know of anyone interested in organic fruit production, drop them a line at info@planborganicfarms.ca.

p.s. We’ve been getting some local organic melons in our fruit shares in the past two weeks.  Yay for melons!

Sweet Corn Sweet Peas Carrot tops Black Cherry Tomatoes Blanche Beaute Tomatoes McMullen Tomatoes Red Zebra Tomatoes

 


Rhubarb!

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Rhubarb on the stove

Tonight I cooked up a little rhubarb sauce for Tanny and I. Delicious! My Mom used to make it for us when I was a kid and I haven’t eaten it for a long time. I called her up for the "recipe". Based on what I made tonight, here it is:

  • five stalks rhubarb, chopped
  • 3 tbsp sugar

Heat the rhubarb in a saucepan on low heat with a tiny bit of water. Stir as the rhubarb cooks until the rhubarb gets to a stringy, saucy consistency (see picture). Stir in sugar. That’s it.

We eat it on toast.

Tanny made rhubarb-apple muffins with our first load of rhubarb and they were also excellent. Anyone have a good strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe they’d like to share?


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Our First CSA Share

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Last Thursday we received our first CSA share of the season from Plan B Organics.  Ella and I walked over and picked up our veggies for the week.  It had started to rain but I was determined to walk there, besides, it was just spitting a bit and the pick up depot is only 5 minutes away. Luckily, we hadn’t bought the wagon yet (we have a new one for this week!) and I was able to shield Ella from the rain with the cover on the stroller. Ella didn’t mind the rain one bit. She stuck out her hand and was singing away. Yep, she was singing in the rain. In our half share this week: asparagus, rhubarb, baby spinach, basil, green onions, English cucumber, parsnip, and bok choy. 

So far, we’ve made steamed asparagus, baby spinach salad, pesto, and rhubarb loaf.  I need new ways to make asparagus, I’ve roasted them and steamed them so far.  I think I have a recipe for asparagus risotto somewhere.  Any easy & simple asparagus recipes out there?


Simpler Thyme Organic

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

This past weekend Tanny, Ella and I went to visit my family in Waterdown. We got to town a little early and decided to pay a visit to Simpler Thyme Organic Farm . We passed it the first time, seeing the brightly painted sign a little too late (crying baby in the back seat!) but when we turned around and drove into the farm we were happy to find a lovely little store and a very friendly and enthusiastic host Ann.

Ann and her husband play host to many visitors to Canada, letting them exchange their time in the “gardens” for room and board. Their gardens are expansive and very well organised from what we could see. The day we were there a young man from Japan, one from Korea and a young women from Waterdown had just returned from picking asparagus. We readily picked some from their baskets and ate it the next night - delicious! We also bought some mixed salad greens and spinach. Excellent taste and very crisp - even after a few days in our fridge they are still fresher than grocery store produce. Makes me think we should have planted some lettuce in our garden.

Simpler Thyme also carries produce from other farms, organic milk, grains and meats. They raise chickens for meat and eggs (about 200 and 100 respectively).

Anne publishes a weekly email newsletter detailing the activities on the farm and what produce is currently available. We received our first one on Tuesday.

If you’re in Waterdown be sure to check them out.


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Sprouts update - Week 5

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

McMullen tomatoes - over 3 inches tall

Sweet Basil

Golden Midget Watermelon brown leaves

With the exception of the watermelon, my seedlings are doing quite well.  Most have at least one set of “true” leaves.  The McMullen tomatoes are over 3 inches tall! I’m supposed to pinch back the weaker seedling in each pot, but I can’t bring myself to do it just yet. One more week.

This weekend (Victoria Day Weekend) marks the beginning of the growing season for us in the Toronto area.  I didn’t start my seedling early enough to transplant this weekend, but I will be sowing some carrots, parsnips and peas directly in the garden.

 

 


Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) - Local Eating Made Simple

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

In my research to find local food resources I learned of a system called Community Shared Agriculture (CSA). CSA is a food distribution system where the growers are directly connected to the consumer. The consumer subscribes to a share of the year’s harvest (i.e. pays a flat fee up front) from a local farm in early spring, and in return, the shareholder receives a box of fresh produce weekly during the growing season. The share subscription provides the farmers with the capital to purchase seeds and farming supplies, and the shareholder gets an amazing supply of farm fresh produce weekly.

The size and variety of the shares depend on the farm you purchase from. Generally speaking, the farms offer at least a large and small size share. Some farms also offer a fruit box in addition to the veggie option. At Everdale Organic Farm , shareholders also have free access to the culinary herb garden, the flower garden for fresh cut flowers, and all the beans and peas you can pick when they are in season.

I think this is a fantastic idea - it really is what local eating is all about - supporting and connecting with the people who grow my food. I do have one reservation though - I LOVE going to farmers’ markets and checking out the different vendors each week. By signing up to be a shareholder, it eliminates the need to go to the markets, hmmm….I guess I can still go for the fish and local cheeses and all sorts of other goodies. On the other hand, I’ll get to try new veggies I normally wouldn’t buy and learn new recipes. Now the next question is: who should I sign up with? There’re quite a few close to the Toronto area. To minimize the environmental impact, I should pick one that is close to home.

Here are the CSAs I’ve found in Ontario so far; they are all in our database:

Everdale Organic Farm - near Guelph

Plan b Organic Farm - near Hamilton

rare Organic Farm - Cambridge

Simpler Thyme Organic Farm - Hamilton

Thurston Organic Farm - near Lindsay

Whole Circle Farm - Acton

Click here for an in-depth article on CSA from Green Living Ideas.

To find a CSA near you, go to our Find Local Food page and choose "CSA" as the supplier type.


To Market, To Market

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Going to the Dufferin Grove market has become a  regular outing around here. On Thursdays, Ella and I pick up Lina and we head to the market together.  We usually share a delicious cinnamon bun from the café and walk around to check out what’s available that week. After reading an article on Andrew Akiwenzie in edible Toronto - he sells the fish he caught himself from Georgian Bay the day before the market - I was looking to buy some fresh fish from him at the market. I also wanted to buy some flour to make crackers this weekend, and some sweet potatoes. I ended up with all that and some sprouts and a loaf of lemon rosemary sourdough.

I abandoned my original dinner plan of leftover Sheppard’s pie and made supper with my market purchases.  For dinner, we had mixed green salad with broccoli sprouts, baked whitefish, steamed broccoli and bread.  Pretty good for a last minute meal.

We’re not on a strict local diet yet - the main ingredients from our dinners are usually locally sourced and I’m making a conscious choice to buy local when I’m at the grocery store.  At times it is difficult to resist buying the strawberries and blueberries, but I’m holding out for the good stuff in the summer.  Other than that, it hasn’t been too difficult and we’re eating better than ever.  I’m definitely looking forward to spring more now that it represents a new growing season - I can’t wait to start my garden this year!