March 20, 2023

It’s been a busy week, but we survived.  Even got a few things done we weren’t counting on.  But as busy weeks tend to go, some tasks have been pushed on to the following week.  The front of the house is a bit torn up right now with the accessibility upgrades, but it seems that customers have mostly been able to find their way through to the garage for eggs and order pickups.  At least chores are going faster with fewer hens since Wednesday, but we still haven’t finished manure clean out or moved the new hens into the main henhouse.  But we got started on the spring manure clean out for the sheep, so at least there is some progress.  

Don’t let the recent string of snowstorms fool you, spring is on the way!  And since the greenhouses allow us to get a jump on the season, we planted the first tomatoes out between rows of lettuce in the production house on Saturday!  It will be a few months yet, but we are looking forward to early cherry tomatoes this summer!

This week in CSA we have Bok Choi, Baby Kale, Spring Radish, Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, and Parsley

Rainy days late last week pushed more work inside.  But there are always projects there too.  Nathan has been working on rebuilding a cultivator to hopefully improve weed management in the summer.  At this point it is torn down into about a hundred pieces for repairs and painting.  Hopefully with a few more weeks of on and off work it will be ready for the summer to do a good job and look good doing it!  It sure is a lot of pieces!  And now when we work late there are nice lights in the shop!

After a slow start on Saturday market picked up and it turned out to be a really good day.  After a few slower weeks with lower availability on some products and Saturday snowstorms it felt good to be busy again with more greens and to move through some of our backlog of egg inventory from the previous few weeks.  So we just wanted to say thank you for your continued support for us at market and through your orders.  It is what makes this all possible.

For the past several weeks we have enjoyed having our seedling house venting on computer control.  Not only is it one job we don’t have to worry about, but hearing the motor adjusting the vent throughout the day is a reminder of how much better job it can do than we ever could.  But there are more zones that still keep us on our toes.  So our Sunday plans were thwarted for a few hours because vents needed to be managed.  It seems like a lot to manage this spring getting more zones automated, but managing them by hand is stressful, and expensive when we fail.  So it’s still a goal we are working toward.  And with each improvement we are freed up to work toward the next.  

We started on the driveway upgrades by the fuel pumps, but only got half way while the equipment was available.  So we are still at the point where things are worse before they get better.  Some of the area has gravel, but there is work still to do.  We think we have a plan for equipment, but when exactly this week hasn’t been fully decided.  It is possible to get fuel by parking on a funny angle, which I suppose is an improvement to the mud we had before, but we’re looking forward to the project being finished.

Well if the weather hasn’t scared them off we’re expecting the guys for the renovations to be here anytime, and the crew is already here for the greenhouse.  Lots to do so we’d best get back to it.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

March 13th 2023

It’s been a busy week here so we’ll dive right in with what’s new!

This week we have a few product updates.  First, lettuce should be back this week at market.  If we have a lot of cloud cover this week it might not be much, but we are hoping to have enough growth that a decent amount should be available.  The first Bok Choi should also be available this week!  We still have dandelion available this week, and possibly next before we are headed for another gap between plantings.  And the parsley is doing nicely so we should have good availability on that for a while now.  

This is our delivery week for the Dufferin area which means pickup only this Wednesday at Montgomery’s Inn.  So get those orders in by tonight!

This week we finally upgraded the lighting in the packing house.  We are now using high efficiency LED lighting, but the efficiency wasn’t even the main point of the upgrade.  Until now the lights have been Metal Halide which while far more efficient than incandescent, have the significant downside of taking about five minutes to warm up to full brightness.  So if we need to make a quick trip in to get something at night it isn’t even worth turning them on because they take too long.  Anyway, as an example, a few weeks ago I went to get something from the cooler (where we already have LED lighting) and figured I could make it the thirty or so feet from the door in the dark to get there.  But people move things, and I walked straight into a plant cart and bruised my hand.  It’s just the sort of thing that happens more often than it should because the lights are slow.  Well not anymore!  It is nice and bright at the flick of a switch!  No more stumbling around in the dark or backing the van into a dark building after an evening market!  And all this at 30% of the energy usage of the old lights.

CSA this week we have Baby Kale, Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, Garlic, and Delicata Squash.

We got the sheep sheered!  Everyone looks ok, and it is nice being able to see the actual baby shape to know how everyone is doing.  We normally trim hooves as well at sheering, but after doing a bit of reading on pre lambing sheering decided it was better to keep them on their backs for as little time as possible.  Our sheerer is great for that – three minutes for a full haircut, but adding hoof trimming would double that.  So they will have to wait until after lambing for their mani pedi.  But for now, if anyone wants a whole bunch of dirty wool, we have fleeces for sale.

We have Eggs!  The new flock is laying a significant amount and we are starting to see more medium and even a few large and fewer peewee day by day.  So it is time for the old flock to leave and the new hens to move into the main henhouse.  So this Saturday we will have fresh soup hens available!  And lots of eggs of most sizes and duck eggs available too so start dreaming egg recipes and soup!

The onions we planted last week have germinated and the seedling house is getting full.  Before too long we will be moving the first tomatoes to the production houses, but before that happens seedlings will be overflowing into the second greenhouse as the big spring seedling push gears up.  From now until May we will be filling space faster than we can empty it.  

It’s looking like another busy week this week again.  We are having some renovations done for accessibility on the house and that is supposed to start today.  And while we have equipment on site we are hoping to add gravel a few places by the front of the greenhouse and by the fuel pumps.  Getting the van stuck in the mud in front of the pumps a few weeks ago helped remind us that is still a project that needs completing.  And then Wednesday we have egg grading and deliveries as usual plus this week chicken processing so between the two of us that will be a lot of driving for one day and an early morning for both of us.  And somewhere between that we somehow need to keep up on all the other daily and weekly tasks so it should be a full week.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

March 6, 2023

For a change this week, it is easy to forget that we are in fact one week closer to spring than we were last week.  It surely doesn’t feel like it.  But time marches on, and the calendar reminds us that it is now time to start seeding onions to be transplanted to the field late April if conditions allow.  Our seedling house is currently in transition from lettuce seedlings bound for the greenhouse to flats of onions waiting to germinate along side tomato and pepper seedlings bound for the greenhouse in a few more week’s time.  But for now winter persists, and on Saturday we had some serious winter driving conditions to contend with.

This Wednesday we are back in person at Montgomery’s Inn, so there will be no delivery route.

CSA this week we have Carrots, Potatoes, Parsnips, Garlic, Arugula, Rutabagas, and Parsley.

The manure spreader is finally finished and out of the shop.  Well mostly finished anyway.  We still need to bolt the floor to the new support bar, but it is for now out of the shop anyway.  And one project out means space for another project in the shop.  So now we are working on upgrading an old cultivator to better suit our current needs.  And we’re painting at least some of it while we are at it so it looks better and lasts longer.  It might still be old equipment, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t look ok again!    For those of you more interested in the how and the why of these upgrades, the old unit (modified from an auction find five years ago) was set up to cultivate two rows in one bed, mounted on the back of a tractor.  The nice thing about this unit is that each row has independent float from the toolbar riding on gauge wheel allowing much better depth control than any of our other cultivators.  But I wanted to cultivate three rows in a bed, and it just isn’t set up for that and there isn’t enough space to add the extra row unit.  The basic idea is to make a centre unit that can do both sides of the centre row out to the edges of the outside rows.  So we’re taking it apart for parts, painting, modifying, planning on welding, and putting it all back together for it’s new purpose.  It will be just another tool in our evolving cultivation toolbox, but getting that right in a variety of crop and field conditions makes a huge difference in weeding labour and the final crop.  

Other than that we basically got through the normal daily work and dug out from two snow storms.  Well after repairing the blade for the tractor that we use for pushing snow.  Twice.  Different parts each time, so it’s not that the first repair didn’t work.  We are expecting a feed truck tomorrow, so we had extra reason to dig out well in spite of the difficult packing snow conditions on soft gravel.  Hopefully we did a good enough job.

This week is sheep shearing time.  This is a change from past years to get before lambing.  It should keep the sheep cleaner for lambing and not as shaggy by the time it gets hot out.  If we waited any later we would be into lambing season, and by the time that is done it is already hot, and shearers are too busy elsewhere and hard to schedule.  Plus summer shearing puts the sheep at risk for sunburn so shearing early while they are still inside allows them time to grow back a bit of wool before they are out in the summer sun.

Well that’s the news for this week.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

February 27, 2023

Well we’ve done it.  For the last twelve years we have been managing greenhouse vents manually, and now we have the seedling house vents automated.  This will save us some time in the long run, but saving time is only the third and least important reason we are making this change.  The first and most important reason is for our lifestyle.  Managing vents manually means never being far from home and always available, 7 days a week, for months at a time over the winter and spring.  Yesterday was mostly sunny with a bit of cloud which means we would have had to stay home to manage vents, but because we now have the vent controlled by computer we were able to go to church.  Over the years we have missed family Easter celebrations, and even been late for Christmas once not to mention countless other events because of the greenhouse.  This won’t solve all of that since there are three more greenhouses that we still haven’t automated, but this zone always has had the fastest temperature swings, so it had the tightest hold on our schedules.  The second reason for automation is because it can do a better job than we ever could without it.  At very best, if we were working full time in the greenhouses we could open and close the vents as we noticed the temperature changing.  And sometimes that is the case.  But even then, we don’t consistently notice at set temperature thresholds.  Temperatures change, and we adapt before changing the conditions.  And that would be if we were always in the greenhouse.  The rest of the time we try to notice conditions changing and open or shut vents as needed, but sometimes it gets missed.  Just in the last week before installing the vent motor there was at least once that we missed opening on time and it was 39ºC inside before it got opened, and several times where it got cloudy and the furnace was on to keep it warm before we noticed and closed the vent.  So that will be a change as well.  Hopefully the plants appreciate their new computer controlled environment.

This week in CSA we have Lettuce Mix, Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Garlic, and winter sweet squash.

This is our delivery week for Dufferin area folks and pickup only at the Montgomery’s Inn so get those orders in by tonight!

In addition to progress on greenhouse automation (can you tell we’re excited?) we were able to make some progress on the manure spreader again.  We picked up the new piece of steel from the welding shop to replace the rusty parts I took there a few weeks ago.  We must have done our measurements right because it fit perfectly and is now bolted in place.  Now just a bit of final reassembly and a bit of welding and it should be ready to go for hopefully another five years.  We’re really looking forward to having this rather bulky piece of equipment back out of the shop so we can work on other things!

More eggs are coming!  Well not quite yet.  But the new flock is starting to lay a few eggs per day, right about on schedule.  So far those eggs are not only few, but very small so they won’t be appearing at market this week or next.  In the mean time, duck egg production is really starting to take off, so if you’ve wanted to try duck eggs this would be a good opportunity. They are richer and eggier than chicken eggs so if you enjoy eggs that have flavour they are a treat!  The old flock of hens is not keeping up with the level of production we are used to, so egg supply will continue to be tight the next few weeks.  We’ve been wondering if the change in diet from how many greens and weeds we were giving them might be a factor so we are trying to ration greenhouse weeds to one bin per day to see if that is a better balance, but there are so many other factors of time of year, temperature in the coop, and age of the birds that it is hard to say anything for sure.  For now we’ll just be thankful for the eggs we get and eat more duck eggs.

Customers are always asking for greens forecasts, so here is what we are expecting for the next little while.  Greens are growing, but never fast enough.  This week we have a bit of second cut from a late planting of lettuce that we plan to be harvesting.  It’s hard to predict actual yield from that, but safe to say it will probably be less than we had last week.  Hopefully by the following week the new second planting of lettuce has reached a respectable size for harvest so we don’t have a gap.  Arugula continues to hold out in small quantities for now, and the new planting is making slow progress.  And the planting after that is germinating so there will be more at some point at least.  Baby Kale is producing consistently as it should, but demand has far exceeded what we had the nerve to plant based on previous year’s sales experience.  We’ll take it as a win anyway.  Dandelions are coming.  Not this week, but possibly next.  The first Bok Choi are also coming along nicely.  We’re forecasting two to three weeks for those to be ready, but they are coming!  Spinach continues to be disappointing at the time of year it should be in it’s prime.  We’ll have a few, but not much.  Well that’s about it for what we have growing.  We’re trying some Swiss Chard for early spring harvest as well, but those are still in the trays so it will be a while.

Well that’s most of the news for this week anyway and as always there is lots to get done.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

February 20, 2023

Some days it is easy to forget it is still February.  Such was the case the middle of last week when it warmed up so much that all the frost was out of the ground, and not for the first time this winter.  This time we took advantage of this fact to accomplish the earliest harvest of “spring” dug parsnips.  It was for sure the earliest in the year I have ever had the tractor out in the field pulling something through the ground.  Between that and spending so much time in the greenhouse looking at green and growing things I’d be about ready to take the winter tires off if I didn’t have a calendar to remind me which month it is.  But then already now we are back to more seasonal temperatures.  Larger fluctuations seem to be the new normal.

CSA this week we have Lettuce, Parsnips, Beets, Carrots, Garlic, and Potatoes.

Part of normal for this time of year is watching the weather and adjusting greenhouse venting as necessary.  It’s not that hard a job, or even that time consuming, but you have to be there to do it at the right time, and it is never far from mind.  It is worst from February through May, but requires some thought all year.  And it makes it hard to leave home anytime between 9am and 4pm because you are always watching for changes in cloud cover or wind or temperature that could change venting needs.  This has been our normal for the last 12 years, but change is on the way.  Last fall we installed a controller and vent motors in one greenhouse.  We are now working on the seedling house which has always been the most sensitive to change, and therefore seemed like our shortest leash.  Now most of the wiring has been done, but not connecting to the main power, or to the motor itself.  Hopefully by the end of the week it will be running and we can leave on Sunday morning for church without as much thought to the weather.  There are a few more to go, but it is more progress since last fall than we had made in over a decade before that.

Pork Available!

Recently a friend of ours got out of the pastured pork business after getting a job offer elsewhere that was too good to miss.  As part of her winding down the pork business we were able to purchase two pigs that we now have in the freezer available for sale.  This means we have new stock of Organic Fed Pastured Pork.  Products include Sausage, Bacon, Chops, Roasts, Ribs, and Smoked Pork Hocks, if you want a bulk order let us know.  All quantities are while they last.  These products will mostly only be available for pre order.

Fresh parsnips this week inspired me to roast some.  They are always sweeter when they have been in the ground over winter, so I was excited to try them.  And this time I found a new recipe which turned out fantastic!

Roasted Parsnips

Parsnips 2lbs

Olive Oil 1Tbsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Pepper 1/4 tsp

Chicken Stock 1 cup

Butter 4 Tbsp

Garlic 2 cloves

Cut parsnips into sticks.  Toss to coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place in casserole dish and add chicken stock.  Cover and bake at 400F for 25 minutes.  Make garlic butter by combining butter with minced garlic.  Add garlic butter to parsnips and return to oven uncovered for 10 minutes.

We served them with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

This week’s winter project progress report includes assembling the new transplanter minus a few parts that need modification for our needs, and starting re assembly on the manure spreader.  The one piece is still at the welding shop so we are held up on that (it was supposed to be ready a week ago) but we’ve made what progress we could.  As already mentioned we also made progress on the greenhouse controller install and we got the sheep water bowl installed and operating!  Always more to do but it’s progress.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

Feb. 13th, 2023

We are finally far enough into February that we are really starting to notice the increased day length.  And stuff is growing again a little better than it has the last months.  Not yet enough to make a huge difference in supply at market, but it is coming at least!

This week we are back to our delivery route for our Dufferin area customers and pickup only at Montgomery’s Inn.  Market was better than we’d had recently at the Inn, so that is encouraging anyway, but it is so much easier to make progress at home when we aren’t trying to do a second market at the same time.

Last Monday was the second day for our Environmental Farm Plan update.  At least it’s done now.  Learned a few things we hadn’t thought about before that could use improving, but overall not the most intellectually stimulating activity overall.  But now we’re at least up to date for the next five years.  

Tomatoes are coming!  Well not for a while, but we have the first seedlings growing.  So now in the next few weeks we will be potting them into individual pots to let them grow for a while in the seedling house before they get transplanted into the ground in the production houses.  Then they just need to grow a couple feet taller and make some fruit, but hay at least they are started, right?  We’re excited anyhow about this reminder that spring is coming!  Looking forward to early cherry tomatoes this summer.

Duck Eggs are here!  The new flock started laying late last week.  Well so far it was one for a few days and now two yesterday.  But we take it as a sign that more will be starting soon.  So soon they will be a regular part of our egg options at market.  For those of you not familiar with duck eggs, I like to think of them as like a really good pastured chicken egg, but even more, and richer.    

CSA this week we have Baby Kale, Delicata Squash, Carrots, Watermelon Radish, Onions, and Huckleberry Gold Potatoes.

We finally traded in our old transplanter and picked up the new one this week.  A slight amount of final assembly will be required to turn it into a functional machine, but at least it is here.  And much the same as I had done with the previous transplanter, I will have to make an adaptor to run water to the three wheels we intend to use rather than the two that come stock.  Nothing that a few hours of work can’t accomplish, but it’s another thing to do before April when we want to be planting onions.

Another little project this winter has been a bit of reorganizing in the packing house.  For the last several years we have had a Wearhouse rack next to where we park the van.  It seemed like a good idea as a way to use the vertical space better, but we haven’t found it as accessible as we hoped.  Additionally, when we get the new van we will need more space for accessing the side door for loading.  As things sometimes go, after using the space one way for several years new ideas emerge for how we could perhaps use it better.  So the racking has moved to a new home to transform a different part of the packing house.  Hopefully we like it!

Less progress to report on the greenhouse controller and manure spreader projects this week, but we made it through, and at least I got some rusty parts to a welding shop so progress should be happening on replacements.  And we survived another week of two markets, and  continuing transplanting in the greenhouses as space is available.  And so far we at least have some greens to take every week to market.  Good thing there is more sunlight coming because they can’t grow fast enough at this point!

Hopefully this week being home on Monday and not having market on Wednesday will help make project progress more possible.  My Wishlist would be to finish the manure spreader, finish control wires to greenhouse 2, and start on controls for the seedling house.  But that may be too ambitious.  We’ll see.  But at any rate we’d better get at it!  

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

Feb 6, 2023

According to the general principal that stuff doesn’t usually break when you aren’t using it, it makes sense that when temperatures plunged in the later part of last week would naturally be the time the geothermal heat in the shop would fail.  Quite a bit of sense really, but inconvenient regardless.  As it turned out, the two circulating pumps for the ground loop were a bit weak, so a cold few days was all it took for the system to run just long enough to trigger a low temperature cutout.  And also, naturally, as it would go, we got it fixed just in time for the cold snap to break and return to hovering just below the freezing mark.  Oh well.  Such is the nature of things.

This Wednesday we are planning to be back in person at Montgomery’s Inn.  Conversely, to make this possible, we are taking this Wednesday off of the delivery route we have been running the last few weeks for our Dufferin people.  The delivery route will be back on the following week.

This week in CSA we have Parsnips, Lettuce, Beets, Garlic, Carrots, Cabbage and Rutabaga.

So far this year we’d had enough mild days for washing storage vegetables outside, but this week that wasn’t going to be popular with whoever was washing.  So we chipped the root washer out of the frozen mud and hauled it inside.  It’s been part of the long term vision ever since we took over the space, but this was the first time we brought that machine inside.  It worked fairly well so we will probably be doing that again.  With some modifications, but what would farming be without things to fix.

Slowly but surely we are making progress on hooking up the new greenhouse controller to a second greenhouse.  Most of the wire has been pulled, and some connected at one end or the other.  Next step is to get another box connector to fit the extra wires through.  And we have finished and hooked up the longest wire all the way through two greenhouses and back to the shop to the alarm so if the temperature strays too far the controller can call me about it.  It is a project a long time in the making, and we are thankful for our previous foresight to instal an extra conduit for future communication wire needs.  It made this project possible.

We are also steady making progress on the manure spreader repair.  Currently about done the taking apart phase, and not yet putting anything back together, but it all has to happen in its appointed order.  Hopefully this week I can at least take some rusty bits to the local welding shop and see if he can make me some new parts.

Well it’s a busy day again.  Day two of the Environmental Farm Plan today, and we have some lambs at the butcher today as well so I’d best be going.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

January 30, 2023

(Psst its Nathan’s Birthday today, feel free to send him a Happy Birthday Wish!)

Just as January comes to a close the weather seems to have caught up with the season.  So far this winter we’ve been absolutely spoiled by having warm days when we wanted to wash storage crops, so it’s about time reality caught up with us.  We’re thinking either we dress up in lots of layers, or maybe get creative to figure out how we can bring the root washer inside.  Moving more of what we do inside has been a long term goal, but we aren’t sure about the equipment we have, or the space we currently use for making that work, so there may be some creativity required.  But that’s a job for tomorrow.

Today is a bit of a change of pace for us.  We are working on our five year renewal on our Environmental Farm Plan.  Doing this allows us access to some government funding to improve our farms environmental footprint, but at the same time is a time for reflection on the last five years of where we have been, and the next five years of where we hope to be.  So today, and next Monday, we will be learning and planning, and finding out what help is available for doing what we do better.

This is the first week of the winter/spring CSA season.  Welcome to our new and returning members.  We look forward to providing you with veggies in the coming months!  This week will have Carrots, Delicata Squash, Huckleberry Gold Potatoes, Arugula, Parsnips, and Onions.

Again this week we are planning a pickup and delivery only Wednesday.  Get those orders in for tonight if you want something!   

For those of you following the ongoing saga of our manure spreader, we actually made some progress this week!  Well, we managed to take more of it apart anyway.  Still a few more parts to torch off of it before we can start putting it back together.  Still enough work, but progress is progress.  But since there is always something that needs fixing, on Thursday when we went to clear snow, the tractor wouldn’t start.  It has been off and on problems for years, especially when it is cold, but this time it just wouldn’t go.  An hour of diagnostics and fixing later, we had the plugged fuel line cleared out and the air back out of the fuel system.  It runs way better now with no trouble starting to clear the snow again on Saturday.  It still needs some work so this doesn’t happen again, but for now it is at least better progress than the last few times we have sent it off for repairs.

Last fall we installed a new controller for venting one of our greenhouses.  While we have the venting turned off for the cold season, the controller still runs the heat, and collects more statistics on the recent temperatures of the greenhouse as well as daily furnace run time than we have ever seen.  Not that we have figured out how to use all this data yet, but even just having a look every now and again gives us more to work with for management decisions than we have had before.  But that’s just one greenhouse, and this controller has capabilities for two.  So we’ve started pulling control wires to a second greenhouse for the temperature probe, furnace and alarm.  There is lots of work to go, and more greenhouses to do another year, but after 11 years of manual venting and mechanical thermostats it is way more than we’ve had.

We finally have an applicant for one of the jobs we’ve had posted.  Still looking forward to meeting him, but it is somewhat encouraging anyway.

Well that’s about all the time I have today.  We need to get chores done before heading off for a day of learning.  

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

Jan 23, 2023

It’s been another unseasonably warm week, but just cold enough to keep the mud situation semi under control.  And there have at least been a few sunny breaks between the generally cloudy conditions.  Enough to produce a little bit of growth in the greenhouse anyway.

We’ve changed our Wednesday plans this week to be order pickup delivery only again this week.  We decided based on the snow forecast late Wednesday, and a back injury Nathan is trying to recover from that it didn’t make sense to try for a full market this Wednesday.  The extra time at home is helpful too.  On last Wednesday afternoon getting home earlier allowed us to pour cement for a second automatic water bowl for the sheep to save us hand watering the one pen twice a day, so a bit of available time really has ripple effects.  Our Saturday market at Wychwood Barns has been getting increasingly busy, which is good since we have upcoming van expenses, but at the same point means we aren’t really looking for more work.  On a related note, we may be interested in another helper for our Saturday market since it is getting busy for three people, and also in the summer could use one person helping at the Dufferin Grove market on Thursdays.  We’re still amazed we have enough salad greens to keep up with market, but the greenhouses keep producing, and we have more space than we had two years ago when we last had a good winter growing season so that is probably helping too.

This is the last week of the fall/winter CSA season, so if you were planning on signing up for the winter/spring season but hadn’t yet, this would is the last week for signups.  Not sure if you signed up?  Send us an email and we can let you know.  This week’s box will be Lettuce Mix, Baby Kale, Carrots, Beets, Daikon radish, and Garlic.  We figured since the greens are doing so well we might as well all be enjoying them.  

We are still looking for a few new team members here.  We’re getting a little tired of saying it for so long, but we just aren’t seeing applicants so it’s taking longer than normal.  So if you or someone you know is looking for an organic farm job, let us know!  We’d love to hear from you!

Partially related to our hiring difficulties, we’ve been spending some time thinking about how we can simplify some of the more management intensive aspects of what we do.  We’d rather not give up too much of the crop diversity we love (and already ordered seeds for), but there are still things we can do to make what we do easier.  For starts, the big item is the new van we have ordered.  More room should mean less time trying to wedge two more boxes onto an already over stuffed van.  And getting it refrigerated should save a step loading in and out of the cooler.  Another thing we are looking at is upgrading our transplanter.  The one we have absolutely revolutionized how we grow when we got it.  But then two years ago we got a (new to us) five row seeder and for a variety of reasons we have the outside rows set to 30 inches.  That is great for our overall bed spacing, but leaves us with one little problem.  The transplanter has a max row spacing of 28 inches.  That doesn’t sound that different until you try setting up a cultivator on the tractor to go between those rows.  So now with everything seeded direct in the field being at 30 inches, the transplanted crops tend not to get cultivated very often because we are normally trying to get it done in about an hour before dashing off to market on a Thursday, so there is no time for fiddling with cultivators.  So we are looking at upgrading the transplanter.  The whole machine should be nicer, but mostly we are shopping for two more inches.

Another possible labour saving investment we are considering is improved fencing for the sheep.  There is government cost share funding through the federal On Farm Climate Action Program for increasing rotational grazing acres, so last week we spent some late nights on our application.  So for now we wait and see if we get approved.  And if and when we are, we’ll start looking harder at the budget for where that money is supposed to come from.

At market many of you ask about how our chickens are managed, and basically what makes our eggs special.  Obviously in the winter there isn’t much pasture available, so we try to make them as comfortable as possible inside.  As part of that, this year we have been trying something new with their bedding.  In years past we have always just added more shavings or peat moss to try to keep them clean.  This year we have been trying something new.  Every day we break up the surface of the bedding pack to promote composting, adding bedding somewhat less frequently, as needed.  For a few months the improvements were marginal.  The bedding would go a bit further, but it still smelled like a chicken house, and the compost wasn’t very active.  Then in the last few weeks something magical happened.  The compost got a bit warmer helping battle the winter cold, it got less sticky, and started to smell nicer.  So for now anyway, we are managing a successful compost pack.  The other thing that is special about our eggs in the winter is that some days the chickens get fresh weeds and greens from the greenhouse.  This is just one of the things I love about having crops and livestock.  The waste product from the vegetables can help feed the livestock, and then in good time the manure they produce can help feed the crops.

Well I think I’ve rambled on more than long enough.  Time to get back out there with the crew and start harvesting this week’s salad, and then hopefully get some more seedlings transplanted into some gaps where arugula already came out.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected] 

January 16, 2023

First off, sorry for the technical difficulties on the online store this morning.  It is being worked on, but in the mean time at least it should be mostly functional.  Not the best timing, but such is the nature of life.

Well it finally feels like January.  At least it isn’t as windy as it was a few weeks ago.  We’ve had a little extra ice to deal with in the barns, and we got the row covers back on in the greenhouses so the salad doesn’t have to experience the worst of the overnight lows, but it hasn’t at least added as much to our workload as the windy deep freeze in December.  And so far it hasn’t impacted greenhouse production too badly, so that’s nice anyway.

We finally have some news for our Dufferin customers.  We will be doing Deliveries this Wednesday in the Dufferin area!  We need orders in through our online store by Monday night.  We are planning a biweekly schedule for deliveries, so make sure to order enough for two weeks!  We are also partnering with Lev Bakery to offer their bread as part of our deliveries to offer more diversity.  

On slightly less happy news, we will now be attending Montgomery’s Inn on a bi weekly schedule.  This has been a decision a long time coming as we have gotten increasingly busier everywhere else, while getting increasingly less busy there, but the final push was losing another staff member over Christmas leading us to the realization that we couldn’t expect to run market and deliveries on the same week.  The good news is the Inn has graciously offered to serve as a pickup point for online orders on the off weeks, so if you pre order you can still get our veggies every week.  As I said, it was a difficult decision.  We’ve been there longer than we’ve been at any other market, for almost every market during the years we’ve attended.  But for now at least we’ll be there every other week at least.

Speaking of being busy, we are already bringing back an extra crew two days a week to help us get through the workload.  It’s great having more people here to get through the bigger jobs a few days per week, but also nice having quieter days between.  

CSA this week we have Lettuce Mix, Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, Beets, and Delicata Squash.

After weeks of work the main season plan is done enough to get on to actually ordering seeds.  So far two are called in, and some substitutions already made for varieties that were not available.  Hoping we can actually get seed for the Kuri squash this year.  It’s been a problem for a few years and the company we planned to order them from didn’t have them (catalogs don’t mean everything).  Two more to go, and hopefully not too many more problems.  

Well the crew should be arriving about now so I’d better get some more onions ready for them to clean.

Until next week,

Happy ordering!

Nathan and Aleta Klassen

[email protected]