Endings and Beginnings of the Market Season

Nov 28, 2022

Better late than never.  Finally this week we were able to move inside for our Saturday market.  It honestly was a nicer day to be outside than the previous Saturday, but still it was nice to be in out of the weather with no concern of the produce freezing before it could sell.  And so marks the end of this year’s outdoor market season.  This is also the last week for deliveries that we have been doing while the Montgomery’s Inn market has been closed for parking lot renovations.  We are looking forward to seeing the nearly finished result a week from Wednesday when we are able to start back there for their indoor market season.  Even more so, we are looking forward to next summer being able to enjoy the new space, which we understand features some custom features for hosting the farmer’s market!

Moving inside for the winter always presents some challenges when we are used to taking up roughly three times the space we are now allotted.  Something about growing so much diversity presents its challenges for condensing the space.  But with a little extra creativity and a few hours with scale paper cutouts we got most of it in.  There are still improvements that could be made, but it’s a good start.

In CSA this week we have Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Cabbage, Delicata Squash, Green Sweet Snack Peppers, Garlic, and Dill.

The warmer weather this week had us back out in the field.  We got a few more fence posts in, and also managed to harvest some last surviving lettuce, cilantro, and dill.    We also installed an additional conduit between two greenhouses to run control wiring so we can extend the use of the new controller we installed earlier this fall.  At this point it won’t be running any vents, but it will run the heat, and keep additional statistics on temperature and furnace run times to help us better understand our production systems.  Also, for peace of mind, it should allow us to run wires from the alarm function back to the shop where we can use a call out feature to alert us when the temperature is outside the acceptable range.  

Continuing work from last weeks breakdowns, we got the manure spreader into the shop and did a bit of tear down on the broken parts.  We have parts ordered in for the main drive unit, and are working on assessing the best approach for replacing the rusted out floor supports.  Just some of the joys of working with older equipment.

For this coming week we hope sometime between the rain to continue putting in fence posts, and maybe install an insulated water bowl on the second side of the sheep barn.  We got the manure cleaned out this past week so it’s a good time to do the work before the bedding gets too deep again.  And it just might be the perfect job for a week that is above freezing, but raining.  

Well that’s about all the news for this week.

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Winter Weather and Van Shopping

Nov 21, 2022

Well it’s been a week.  This is our first week with Dufferin Grove inside after two weeks without market on Thursdays.  That combined with larger deliveries than we’ve had in a little while on Wednesday made it not really the best week for the van to be giving us problems.  Naturally, given all that, the check engine light came on last Saturday.  Given a series of other unreliabilities over the last few years where we still haven’t been happy with it after repairs, we’ve already been seriously looking at replacements, but this helped further motivate the process.

CSA this week we have Baby Kale, Cabbage, Daikon Radish, Carrots, Parsnips, and Garlic.

This Saturday we will be upstairs at the Kitchener market for the Christmas Artisan Market selling yarn, hand made knitted and crocheted items, and sheep skins.  If you are in the area, check it out!  If not, we still have a selection of these items on the online store if you are in the mood to do your Christmas or winter craft shopping from home. 

We are also excited that this Saturday we will be moving inside at the Stop’s Market.  For the first two weeks of November the weather wasn’t too bad, but this last Saturday the temperature dipped to the minus side which while somewhat unpleasant to work in was even more concern for produce that prefers not to be frozen.  But with some lessons previously learned in winter outdoor markets during past few years we made it through without too much freeze damage.  We’ll still be glad to be going inside.

This week there isn’t much to report directly from the farm, mostly because we haven’t been here as much as usual.  Between Monday trying to help a friend spread their manure for next year’s garden and the spreader breaking in the process, and being out at least part of the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Van shopping, between all the normal livestock chores, packing orders and markets, and being out for markets and deliveries, we just haven’t gotten anything interesting done here.

The weather has definitely shifted to winter this week.  Most of the fresh greens we harvested before freeze are gone now, so unless it warms up we won’t have any lettuce this week.  And even it it does, who knows if the row covers will have been enough for it to survive.  Fortunately we have fresh Arugula and Baby Kale from the greenhouse, but lettuce and spinach were still coming from the field so they are on pause for now.

It was good to be back at market with the Dufferin Grove community.  Being in a much less obvious location than the summer setup in the park it was attended by mostly the hardcore market faithfuls, so much lighter attendance than summer, but on the other hand, we were expecting that, and there were fewer vendors as well.  So it went better than expected.  The biggest drawback is hauling everything in and down the stairs.

So, after all that, what are we doing about the van situation?  Well after spending the week considering many options new and used, and learning which models of van we couldn’t drive comfortably, we put a down payment on a new van that came available from a canceled order.  We’re expecting it to be ready mid May next year.  And for now, our van is back on the road and running better than it has in months, after having a dirty sensor cleaned (thanks to Aleta’s Dad for fixing it up again).  Hopefully it hangs on a little longer.  And hopefully markets keep doing well so we can afford the payments when the new van does arrive. We appreciate all the support from our faithful customers!

That’s all for this week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Nov 14, 2022

Well fall storage harvest is basically wrapped up now.  We harvested everything that was ready in the fall cabbage planting as well as the few golden beets that had actually sized up.  And getting that in while it was 17ºC on Thursday before getting snow on the weekend felt really good as well.  And the cooler is a bit full, but we were able to get everything in that we needed to so that felt really good too.  Now to just get the last of the greenhouses filled up with winter salad crops.  Hopefully the lettuce in the field survives under the row covers long enough that we have some ready in the greenhouses by the time they are done, but no guarantees.

This week in CSA we have Arugula, Lettuce, Delicata Squash, Rutabagas, Carrots, Onions and Garlic.

We have a new product this week!  We now have Lamb Summer Sausage!  Two flavours available; Regular and Maple.

On Saturday we had the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario regional gathering.  It was a great chance to connect with other farmers in the area and take in a few sessions.  Still looking forward to the online portion of the conference coming in December, but it was nice being part of the first in person conference event since 2019.    

This week in addition to finishing up a few more fall projects we have some office work and planning we need to do for next year.  We need our records in order from this year and our season plans submitted for next year for our chicken production.  

This week we are starting back in person at the Dufferin Grove market at it’s temporary winter location at St. Annes Church.  Looking forward to being back on Thursday, and hope to see lots of you there.  We will also be continuing Wednesday deliveries for the remainder of November. 

That’s about all the news for this week.

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Nov 7, 2022

This week has been a week of change.  Certainly most of that is the season, or at least relates to it.  Most of the fall crops are now harvested – there are still cabbage and golden beets that are maturing late, and the arugula and spinach for fresh harvest as well as the last of the lettuce, dill, and cilantro protected under row covers, but nothing that we are putting in a big push for harvest anymore.  The garlic is all planted and mulched, and the last of the tomatoes are now out of the greenhouses.  And with that all finished up, Friday was the last day for our summer field crew.  

Another significant change this week was the ending of the Summer market season at Montgomery’s Inn and Dufferin Grove markets.  Both will be moving inside, but this year they both have gaps before we have indoor space available.  So after doing often three markets per week throughout October, taking last week Saturday off market to work on the greenhouse meant Nathan was on the farm for nine days between markets.  And apart form a light delivery run on Wednesdays, our sales for the week are squeezed into one day.  Speaking of deliveries though, if you are in the area of the Montgomery’s Inn or Dufferin Markets, we are offering home delivery for the month of November on Wednesdays, get your orders in by Monday night for Wednesday delivery.

Our other big change this week is that we welcome back a past employee, Dylan, now in a new role as field manager as we look forward to the 2023 growing season.  We are still looking to fill the pack house manager position in the new year, but that is more January February timeframe now.

CSA this week we have Parsnips, Beets, Turnips, Garlic, Lettuce, Green Peppers, and Dill.

Well that’s the news for this week.

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Garlic Planting and Greenhouse upgrades

Oct 31, 2022

We have been blessed with some beautiful and unseasonably warm weather this last week.  It has been good for what we’ve had to accomplish.  On Wednesday we tried to dodge the rain showers to get some garlic planted.  The end result was we got the planter on the tractor, got 30 feet of garlic planted, and got wet.  On Thursday morning before market we managed to fight through the rest of that bed and one more so it’s a start anyway.  There are too many weed stems leftover from the previous potato crop in the field we chose so it kept hanging up on the fronts of the planter shoes.  Friday we sent a crew to gather the surface layer of weeds and haul them to the compost pile so hopefully today when we get back at planting it should go a little easier.

Between all that on Thursday and Friday, Aleta picked up the rest of our greenhouse parts and we got ready for Saturday’s greenhouse upgrade work day.  Friday we got the new end arch wiggle channel installed and the old plastic re fastened for overnight.  Saturday mid day, after waiting for the weather to warm up and doing a lot of pre assembly, we pulled off the six year old plastic and pulled on the new plastic.  We still have a major project ahead, but the plastic is installed and one end trimmed, the new rollups also attached to the plastic. And the one side now runs on a motor and controller automatically.  We are all exhausted, but it feels like amazing progress.

This week in CSA we have Arugula, Carrots, Onions, Lettuce, Potatoes, Cabbage, and Delicata Squash.

This week is a huge transition for our schedule.  A few weeks ago Nathan was trying to personally attend all three of our weekly markets, leaving very little time at home for actually farming.  Now for the next two weeks we only have one market, Saturday mornings.  And this week, Hayley took the lead on that market so Nathan could be on farm for the greenhouse work bee.  So for the first time since at least July (probably longer) Nathan has ten days in a row without going to a market.  But never fear, we still have options for you to get our lovely vegetables, meats, and eggs.  For November you can now order online for home delivery in the areas of our usual Wednesday and Thursday markets, follow the link below for our online store, select your items and then choose delivery to see what options are available in your area, then follow the prompts to complete your order.  Other than that we hope to get lots done here at the farm with this slightly more manageable schedule.

Well that’s about all for this week.  Remember to get those orders in Today for Wednesday deliveries.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

It Never Rains, but it Pours

Oct 24, 2022

We could use a little time at home on the farm to get things done.  Over the past month, Nathan has been doing often three markets per week, which on it’s own is about 36 hours per week, making it difficult to get anything done on the farm.  For example, greenhouse upgrades, fall field work, and planting garlic.  But the next few weeks will be a bit of a change.  This week Dylan has offered to do Wednesday market, and we had already scheduled Hayley for this Saturday so Nathan could have the day on the farm to work with a friend on the greenhouse.  Then last Wednesday we learned there would be no Montgomery’s Inn market for the month of November due to construction delays, and Dufferin we already knew was off the first two weeks of November because of space availability.  So that’s three weeks of only one weekly market for Nathan.

Since we are off from our weekday markets for a bit, we will be doing deliveries in the area of our Montgomery’s Inn and Dufferin Grove markets on Wednesdays in November.  So if you normally shop with us at those locations, this is the last week for in person market, but you will still have an option to get some of our stuff through the online store.

CSA this week we have Carrots, Garlic, Red Potatoes, Salad Turnips, Onions, Lettuce, and Delicata Squash

We have new Yarn inventory and hand made knitted goods on the online store!  We have more colours this year, and also new this year we have sock yarn blended with mohair for a harder wearing natural fibre sock.  This last Saturday we had a booth at a knitting retreat with our yarn.  It was a fun way to make connections and meet other fibre artists.

We are hiring again!  We have two openings, but hoping to fill one soon, and the other in the February timeframe.  One is for a Pack house Manager and the other is Assistant Field Manager.  If you know someone who might be interested, send them over to our website for more details.

Potato harvest is now finished and we are on to getting the field ready for garlic.  We also finished harvesting turnips, and are working through the winter radishes.  We harvested the cabbage that are ready and are still waiting on the late cabbage to see if they mature in time.  The nice weather this week should help, but time will tell if it is enough.  Until then there are carrots and parsnips enough to keep us busy for a while.

It’s a full week so we’d better get at it.  Now let’s hope my greenhouse parts are ready soon so plans can go smoothly.

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Oct 17, 2022

Fall colours are close to their peak here at the farm as we slowly progress through fall storage harvest.  We’re still waiting on some things to mature – cabbages that should have been ready weeks ago are hardly heading.  It’s been a strange year and some crops seem delayed.  So we’re hoping we have a longer warm fall for that to mature, but may end up with a much lighter storage crop than we had hoped for.  The storage carrots won’t be enormous, but we’ll at least have something from them.

CSA this week we have Lettuce, Rutabaga, Tomatoes, Carrots, Delicata Squash, Beans, Cabbage, and Cilantro.

This week was the first since July that Nathan had a Saturday off of market and since even longer that we took one mostly off of work.  We were thankful for our team pulling together to make it possible for us to have the day to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary.  So much has changed over the past six years, and we are thankful to be able to farm together.

Also this week we managed to make some good progress on the greenhouse endwall upgrades.  There are still the sliding doors and top trim on the one end to finish, but most of it is done, and we got rid of most of the holes.  It feels really good to see progress.  We still need to replace the top plastic and the rollup side vents, but that’s a job for another day.

This week we will have fresh lamb.  I forgot last week to say preorder, but if anyone wants a whole lamb cut to your specifications, let me know today (Monday).  $9 per lb hanging weight.

Well that’s the news for this week.  We’re thankful for the rain we have received this past week.

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Oct 10, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!  Lots to be thankful for this week, starting with the fact we survived last week.  On Saturday we were very thankful for friends coming out to help with market.  After a long week, it actually made market enjoyable again.  Also thankful for the changing of seasons and finally making progress on fall improvements.  We are making headway on changing over the greenhouses to winter salad production.  Still two greenhouses full of tomatoes yet to go, but it’s nice to see a few new seedlings sprouting up for the new season.  And speaking of new beginnings, we also had two lambs born this week.  We are thankful for the season we have had, but most of all right now, thankful that we can look back at the busiest part of the season in retrospect rather than still living it.  

This week in CSA we have Lettuce, Onions, Beets, Watermelon Radish, Cherry Tomatoes, Huckleberry Gold potatoes, English Cucumber, and Dill.

We’re already starting to plan for next season.  The first of next year’s crops to be planted is garlic which will be happening soon.  But wherever we put one thing impacts everything else, se we are talking about next year’s crop plan, and irrigation blocks.  And it is also important for fall field work, manure planning, and what cover crops we plant where.   So we’re starting now for at least a rough outline of next year’s field plan.

Hopefully today we can make some more progress on the greenhouse endwall upgrade.  So far Nathan has managed to finish the doors on one end by getting up early to get a few hours in before our afternoon markets.  It is at least a start, but there is a lot to go.  We’re just looking forward to the result when it is all done.

Well that’s all for this week.  I can’t believe I’m still saying this in October, but send rain.  We’re still dry.

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Thanksgiving, Fresh Chicken, and Fall Harvest

Oct 3, 2022

It’s funny the difference a degree of temperature can make.  Last week we had a light frost – forecast low of 2ºC but dry, which experience shows is usually frost.  Even so, about half of the tomato plants made it through.  Then a week later, with a forecast low of 0ºC but just after a rain, and no frost.  It makes planning work difficult, but we were still back at picking tomatoes in the field on Saturday after they were spared freezing a second time.  So for this week at least we still have plum tomatoes available.  From how frosty things looked overnight, I think this will be the last.  That’s ok. To every thing there is a season.

Fall harvest for storage continues.  This week the rain finally knocked the dust down enough that we were able to get most of the remaining potatoes dug.  We also harvested the rutabagas and some of the winter radishes are ready to harvest this week.  But the rain only lasted a few days, and on Saturday we were right back to irrigating.  Hard to know what to do when it’s time to get things winterized but we still need irrigation.

Today we are getting our last batch of chickens processed so if you want some fresh chicken, this is the week!  

CSA this week Carrots, Parsnips, Pie Pumpkin, White Potatoes, Spinach, and Butternut Squash.

This week other than getting a few more storage crops harvested, we are mostly going to be focusing on getting enough stuff ready for markets.  With Thanksgiving this weekend we’re expecting busy markets and we’ll be packing extra of your Thanksgiving essentials like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, squash and pumpkins.  We’d also love to pack an extra market helper, but are running short on crew to call on, so if you know someone who enjoys a fast pace and wants something to do this Saturday, maybe have them contact us.  Otherwise, please be patient as we try our best to serve everyone. 

Well I think that’s all for now.  Lots to do just to make it through the week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen 

Fall and Frost.  

September 25, 2022                                                                                                      This last Thursday marked the first official day of fall, and rarely does the weather so perfectly match the calendar transition of the seasons.  After a chillier than anticipated Thursday market, we woke up Friday morning to frost on the ground.  It didn’t catch us completely unawares.  The forecast of overnight 2ºC was enough to get us scrambling to get the squash in and greenhouse windows closed up.  Nathan also spent a bit of time to test all the greenhouse furnaces and make minor repairs.  There wasn’t time to get the tomatoes picked so we had to take our chances on them.  Well the frost was light enough that we mostly won on that gamble.  The plants are mostly dead, but the fruit survived well enough that we were still able to get them picked on Saturday.  

On the one hand we’ll miss the income that the tomato plants could have represented, but on the other hand we are so ready for this transition in the season.  Time to move on to squash and rutabagas and start planning for bringing in the storage crops.

This week in CSA we have Galexy Cherry, Plum Tomatoes, Buttercup Squash, Carrots, Beets, Rutabegas, and Cilantro.

If you are looking for a Turkey for Thanksgiving, we just found out our friends at Little Fields farm still have some available.  Raised on Pasture, Non GMO feed.  If you are local to the Kitchener or London areas you can contact them directly, or if it is more convenient for you to pick up through us, get in touch with us and we can bring them to the Stop’s market on Saturday the 8th.  Fresh, $7 per pound.  Expecting weights between 14 and 22 lbs if there is a specific size you would like to aim for.

Somewhere between all the harvesting we are trying to make time for some of our fall projects.  The most important this year is making some upgrades to one greenhouse.  This year the plastic needs to be replaced.  If we went by the book, it should have been done last year, but one extra year seems to be reasonable before it tends to develop holes faster than we can patch them.  Six years ago when we built this greenhouse we planned to upgrade the end-walls to ridged polycarbonate when we replaced the top plastic.  Funny how those far off deadlines sneak up on you before you know it.  Over the last six years we’ve also learned a few things about how we like doing greenhouse ends so there will be a few upgrades from how we would have done them when we built the greenhouse.  Anyway, today we are picking up supplies for that project.  Then we just need to find time to chip away at the installation 

Our summer CSA season is almost at a close so if you are interested in continuing for the winter this would be a good time to start thinking about that.  This week is the last pickup of the season for our bi weekly shares, and second last for weekly shares.  The next block is now live on the online store and runs until the end of January.                Well that’s all for this week                                                                                                 

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen