Sunday, November 14, 2010

Markets and Neoprene

So I have decided that neoprene gloves are one of the greatest inventions ever, when applied to vegetable cleaning/prep in the winter. After a day and a half of reducing my hands to useless clumps, submerging them in very cold water scrubbing the beets, carrots and parsnips, I remembered that I had once owned a pair of neoprene paddling gloves. Of course, I have no idea where my original pair ended up, so I had to buy a new pair, for $18 at MEC. The best under $20 purchase I have made all year, I think. Since then, I can gleefully wash anything, rain or shine, for as long as it takes, with absolutely warm and dextrous hands. So very good! I would say it has also drastically increased my prepping efficiency.

So the gloves were good, cause it's let me get stuff prepped more comfortably, for the winter farmers markets I have been attending the last couple of weekends! I am thankful for the opportunity to get into the market cycle, as it is extremely difficult in the summer, with limited space, and lot's of people trying to hawk their wares. But, thankfully, I was able to get a stall at the Vancouver winter market and the New Westminster winter market, which should hopefully make it easier to get into the summer markets. The markets are fun, especially when we bring strange and wonderful plants, like scorzonera, and sunchokes, and whole dandelion, root and frizzed out tops, and aloe vera. It is like an immediate question/conversation starter, which inevitably leads to me regaling people with great tales of the nutritional wonder, and delicacy of these rare and underrepresented veggies. I suppose I might be a bit of a champion for the neglected crops of our supermarket era. If a market is so super, why can't you find sunchokes in them? Sunchokes are super nutritious, extremely versatile in terms of preparation (I am making sunchoke Kraut right now), and very suitable starch for people with diabetes. Furthermore, they are a dependable/hardy crop, native to north america. People get so excited over sunchokes at the market, yet I defy you to find them in 99% of grocery stores.

And the "lowly" dandelion, how it is abused! Dug and poisoned out of peoples worthless lawns, when they could be making a curative tea or soup with the roots and leaves. Or they could dry the roots, grind them into a powder and store the powder, to be added to smoothies as a strengthener of one's constitution.

So while some might think I am just trying to hawk weeds on them, they would do well to rethink what it is they are eating, and what they are wasting their money on. The bounty of the earth's free medicine is great, regardless of where you live, all you need to do is google it!!

Here are a few pics, of some of the quinoa by the rising of a full moon, the resident barn owl, some of our very tasty and sustaining squash, and tim threshing the quinoa, and the finished product.

More pics and posts soon... now that the thick grey mist and drizzle has settled in, I have a bit more time for contemplation and composition.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

tomato time!

We ate our first tomato yesterday, a one pound black krim, and it was delicious. Olive oil, salt, and basil. The month of outstanding warm dry weather has pushed everything into high gear, including our irrigation regime, but it is a glorious and welcome change from the cool wet spring that set everything back a little.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's wet...

Kinda wet out here! A few soggy pics...

Tomatoes first flower,

land reclamation with fava cover crop and wood chip mulch, some sweet perfume, and tiny baby beets..

DeMorges Braun heirloom romaine...

Baby Star romaine...

and manitoba peas.

Monday, May 31, 2010

We are offering some of our tomato seedlings for sale at the Tama Organic store in north vancouver.
They are all heirloom open pollinated varieties, so you can save your own seeds from these plants.
Some of the varieties available:

Costoluto Genovese
Italian paste tomato from the 19th Century. Heavily lobed, deep-red, 8 ounce fruit. Stellar flavour is intense and acidic. Fantastic for sauces and pastes. Continues to produce in cool weather.

8-12 ounce tomatoes that ripen to dark red with blackish overtones. Deep red interior. Fruits are flattened round and smooth, without cracking or blemishing. Rich, sweet, complex flavour. Excellent for salads and sandwiches.

German Lunchbox
Deep pink colour, oval shape. Semi-determinate plants produce well and start to ripen early. Exotic rich flavour, starts out acid, then sweet. Grows well in the greenhouse and keeps for weeks once picked. Rated 10 for flavour. Rare.

Another addition to the Brandywine family, this fruit is a pink oval shape, about 2 inches long, on semi determinate plants. Nice producer, has thick walls with a meaty, and juicy texture and a medium flavour. Keeps well after picking and would be a good variety for drying. Rare.

Black Krim
Originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union. This rare, and outstanding tomato yields 3-4" slightly flattened dark-red (mahogany-colored) slightly maroon, beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. Green gel around seeds. Fantastic, intense, slightly salty taste (which is great for those not wanting to add salt to their tomatoes).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A few pics. Arugula interplanted with jerusalem artichokes. We also have spinach and mustard greens interplanted in the same bed. Overwintered kale, which we leave to flower not only for our own enjoyment, but also for that of the bees. It is a good source of food for all of us before much else is flowering. And some delicious stinging nettle and alfalfa tea. It is nutritious for the people and the plants. I suppose it is a good sign when you can drink your fertilizer, instead of having to wear protective gear while applying it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Welcome to the farm!

We are a small scale farm in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, testing out various veganic growing methods, using biochar (which could potentially help a farm become carbon negative!), comfrey and nettle compost teas, alfalfa meal, interplanting nitrogen fixing cover crops in field beds and pathways, and experimenting with chipped branch wood to increase microbial and mycorrhizae activity in the soil, for the benefit of all! We are growing mostly rare and heirloom varieties of salad greens, kale, swiss chard, beans, grains, peas, squash, beets, tomatoes, culinary and medicinal (shouldn't that be one and the same?!) herbs, and more.

By way of introduction to the idea of veganic or livestock-free agriculture, the following gives you an idea in what is permitted as part of "organic" vegetable production in Canada:

"5.5.1 Manure Sources - The operator shall first use all available animal manure produced on the organic operation (on-farm) and then may use manure from other organic operations (off-farm). When manure from organic operations is not available in sufficient quantities, the operator may use manure from non-organic farm operations provided that:

a. the non-organic operation is not a fully caged system where livestock are not able to turn 360 degrees;

b. livestock are not permanently kept in the dark;

c. the source of manure, type of livestock, evaluation of the criteria mentioned in par. 5.5.1 a. and b., and quantity shall be recorded."

(emphasis added)

-from the Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards

So now that we are aware that all those "organic" veggies we buy in the grocery store are permitted to be fertilized with non-organic cow poo from cattle that need only have enough room to do a pirouette, and only enough light (not even sunlight, any light will do!) so as to not be "permanently kept in the dark" what are we to do?!!

Many organic farmers around the world are turning to a new form of organic agriculture in an effort to regain the credibility of sustainable, healing agriculture that "organic" was once meant to represent.

Veganic, or Stock Free agriculture takes farming to a level beyond the basic principles of organic. It involves growing your own fertility on your land through careful crop rotations involving "green manure" cover crops that replenish and nurture the soil without relying on animal inputs such as manures, blood and bone meal, etc. And of course it means absolutely no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.

Vital Greens is about growing the cleanest, greenest, greens possible. There is no place for factory livestock waste in sustainable agriculture!!

Well, hopefully this is not too much of a rant for an introductory posting, but I believe it is crucial to learn about how our food is produced, and to take organic production to the next level of lightness and healing on this planet.

So welcome to the Vital Greens farm blog, and stay tuned...

Some early season pics! Good stuff is growing, and the warm days and sweet sun rays of last week have given young plants a boost!