Those whose life does is not heavily impacted by weather might not remember, but this year began with a hot, dry May, followed by a mostly cool, wet summer. July and August seemed like they never came. We had some heat in September, and then a (slightly) early frost, followed by an extended Indian Summer.
We normally think of tomatoes as our biggest crop, followed by lettuce and spinach, and then carrots and beets. After these come potatoes, winter squash and sweet peppers. The summer was pretty awful for growing tomatoes and peppers - they both need heat, and they are susceptible to diseases when they spend extended times cool and wet. Fortunately for us, we were able to sell as many tomatoes as we had labour to harvest - many to Mama Earth Organics. So, while it was by no means a good summer to be growing tomatoes, it hurt us much less than it might have. We generally plant more than we'll be able to harvest, in order to have enough to meet early season demand. Peppers, on the other hand, did more poorly. We do many of them in greenhouse space, and they did about as expected; the ones in the field were delayed several weeks by the cold, and then just as they were finally getting going we had the killer frost.
A cold, wet year, while bad for nightshades, is good for leafy greens. In a normal year we would not plan to harvest spinach through the hottest 4-6 weeks of summer. Germination is poor, and the plants that do come up don't do as well as in cooler weather. This year, we did extra plantings during the gap, whenever there was a forecast for a few days of cool weather. For us this has meant a record spinach crop. Again, much of it went to Mama Earth.
Carrots and beets were inconsistent this year, but the last plantings did well enough that we should be well supplied for the winter with storage root vegetables. The inconsistent yield of the earlier planting was a mixture of not keeping up with irrigation (when it dried out enough to need it) and weeding (all summer long).
We finally seem to have a reliable supply of manure, which means we can catch up on our fertility deficit. This has already provided dividends in the sizes of cabbages we grow, and yields of crops from beans to winter squash.
And speaking of winter squash, we got to try out a new seeder for our squash seeds, and got a little carried away with the pie pumpkins. We wound up harvesting about twice as many as we intended to grow, selling more at farmers' markets than ever before, and shipping some wholesale. Yields on the other varieties were quite satisfactory, although the numbers aren't in yet. They will definitely be going both to market and wholesale.
Enough about production. On the retail end, three of our four markets saw an increase in sales, not just from having more produce regularly available. We sold more of some produce than demand in the prior years would have supported. Part of it is the product mix, part is being able to have them consistently over a longer season, part of it may be the years of consistently building a customer base. And part of it we just don't understand. The increases in sales at the Brampton farmers' market and the market at the Stop at Wychwood Barns were enough to more than make up for the decrease at Uptown Waterloo, a market that we're continuing to attend through the end of this season, despite it being officially dead. Another casualty to the LRT (and other) construction.
For more information about the farm, read the About Us page.
Join us for our seventh season as a CSA! We offer several share options — choose between two sizes of boxed share for pickup on-farm (with the option of ordering eggs, as well), or at selected neighbourhood locations. For more information visit our CSA page. For more information on CSAs, please visit the Oxford County local CSA page.
During the summer, we attend three markets each week. We are at Montgomery’s Inn in Etobicoke Wednesday afternoons from 2–6, and at the Brampton Farmers Market and Stop's Farmer's market on Saturday mornings from 7–1. In the winter we sell at both the Montgomery’s Inn market, and the Stop's Farmers' market at Wychwood barns, and our products are also available year-round at the farm.
See our Calendar for market dates, and CSA pickup dates.