2020 CSA – Farmer Tam’s Garden Report

Prairie Gardens blog

Hello everyone! Just a Note to say how much we appreciate your support this year!  We have planted over 25 acres of vegetable gardens this spring!  It has been an exceptionally busy spring, as we work within COVID protocols, with reduced staff and lots of rain! We are very proud to say that almost everything is in the ground and growing!  Perennial crops are up and moving – the onions, garlic, rhubarb and strawberries are doing their thing! The greenhouses are full of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and eggplants. The transplanting is 80% complete.  We have started seeding in successions now – with peas, beans and lettuce seeded for the 2nd round. We are a bit early on some crops, and behind on others (Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower are yet to be planted) as the fields have become too muddy to work in for a few days – we’ve had a record breaking May and June so far for ample rains!  Tam

Your VEGETABLE HARVEST BASKET Details:

You will receive from the farm, one vegetable basket in April, May and June.  June’s basket will be ready the week of June 25 at the distribution point you have registered for.

COVID Protocols: We ask that you maintain physical distancing (6 feet). Please stay home if you are feeling sick!  You are welcome to send a friend, neighbour, or family member on your behalf. We welcome the use of gloves and masks – as it suits your comfort level, and have the option of Curbside Pick-up at the Farm on Saturday Mornings if you are uncomfortable coming in to the farm.

Distribution Points – Times & Locations

  • Thursday, June 25 at the ARTISTIC BAKE SHOP at 2:30pm or by appointment
  • Thursday June 25 at GET COOKING EDMONTON PATIO from 4pm – 6pm or
  • Saturday Curbside at the PRAIRIE GARDENS’ FARM from 10am – 12pm.
  • Prairie Gardens Farm Market throughout the day until 7pm if you’d like to come and volunteer for a while (Pruning Tomatoes, Planting or Weeding) and see what’s growing!
  • COVID Protocols: We ask that you maintain physical distancing (6feet). Please stay home if you are feeling sick! We can make other arrangements for you.

Starting the first week of July, your veggie harvests will be available every week!

WEEKLY BASKETS

Thursday, July 2 until September 19th  Artistic Bake Shop at 2:30pm or by Appointment

Thursday July 2 until September 19th at GET COOKING EDMONTON PATIO from 4pm – 6pm

Saturday Curbside at the Prairie Gardens Farm from 10am – 12pm. 

Saturday Farm Visit – 1pm – 7pm at Prairie Gardens Farm Market. Come Saturdays throughout the day to enjoy the farm, or volunteer anytime from 10am – 7pm for a while (Pruning Tomatoes, Planting or Weeding, or just going for a walk around the fields to see what’s growing!): Pick up your basket on the way home!

VOLUNTEERING & TIME ON THE FARM:

You can Volunteer Anytime – just schedule your visit with us!  Our goal is to share our knowledge with you – come learn from us this summer in the great outdoors! There is always something to do!

What Happens if you Can’t Make it to Pick up my Weekly Basket?

If you cannot pick up your vegetables, PLEASE let us know by Tuesday, BEFORE we pick that week, so we can plan our picking so there is no waste!  Otherwise, you are welcome to send a friend, neighbour, or family member on your behalf. If your basket is languishing at the market at the end of the day, it will be donated to someone in need.

More Information about Your CSA membership:

I would like to personally welcome you to Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm’s 10th Community Supported Agriculture Season!  If you are new to a CSA farm, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for families to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief:

Advantages for CSA Members:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits.
  • Try new vegetables and new ways of cooking.
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat.
  • Develop a connection to the land and the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.
  • Our farm is your farm – you’ll be able to visit the farm as many times as you like from June to September.
  • Support a local farm and support local food security

Advantages for the Farmers:

  • We are able to focus on growing and providing farm fresh produce as it becomes ready through the season, rather that how we’re going to find markets for it.
  • I thank you for your payment early in the season, which helps us with the farm’s cash flow.
  • Have an opportunity to share our farm and get to know the people who eat the food we grow.
  • Shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members and we as the farmers. Weather is our greatest challenge. If a hailstorm takes out all the peas, everyone is disappointed together, and together – we celebrate the tomatoes and potatoes.
  • CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, We manage the risks of weather by growing in 3 different areas across our farms, and by growing in the greenhouses. We are sure to have successes and failures – as growing food is an inexact science and a artisanal collaboration with Mother Nature. Too much rain, or not enough, early snow, or summer hail storms are beyond our control. But we do our best to grow food for your tables in a thoughtful sustainable way.

I am very pleased to say that we have 40 families that we will enjoy spending our summer with!  I truly hope you enjoy the fresh produce from our farm as we grow together to develop this program.  Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions or feedback as we launch into your CSA season.  My mobile: 780-909-6601

You will be taking on some of the rewards and risks of farming – just like me – your farmer.  Farming is a seasonal and unpredictable undertaking, and that the exact selections and quantities included in the weekly distribution will change as the season progresses.  You can rejoice in bountiful harvest when weather is in your favour, and may have to come to terms with low crop yields and crop failures due to weather, weeds or pests.

The Farm’s Investment: We have invested in land, equipment, seeds, plants and a team of dedicated people to help us plant, weed, and harvest the crops. You have my word, that as your farmer, I will do my very best to make sure you will have interesting and varied items to try every week.

Your Investment: Is one of money, creativity and time.  Thank you for supporting our very local farm with your purchase of a harvest share!

Enjoy your summer trying new vegetables & planning meals with seasonal harvests in mind.  We have partnered with Get Cooking Edmonton this season, and Chef Kathryn Joel will be offering “From the Farm” Virtual cooking classes to sign up for.  Some are free. Some are for a small fee- to help support her family business in these times.  Get creative with new cooking skills! Visit her at www.GetCookingEdmonton.com for an everchanging schedule of cooking classes.

And as for time – you will grow to love your weekly visits with us – either at the farm or at the distribution site in the city to  pick up your veggies each week during the harvest season. It’s a commitment – we know and appreciate your efforts!

What to Bring: Due to COVID protocols, we will be bagging items individually this summer.  Please remember to bring your own re-usable carrying Bags, Cooler or Box to transport your food.

FRESH: Your farm produce will be so fresh this summer! It is just picked on the day of or the day before your CSA pick-up.  And it only travelled 30 food miles to make it to your table!  Thank you for your decision to localize your diet!

FOOD MILES: Did you know that vegetables from the box store travel – on average – 1500 food miles? This is a time of global food chains;  we’ve become accustomed to global summertime.  Fruits are vegetables are always in season somewhere.  You’ll find snap peas in January from China, Apples from New Zealand or Tomatoes from Mexico.  In our program you’ll get snap peas and heirloom tomatoes when they are ready – in season- during the summer and apples in the fall.  This will be a wonderful way to discover what is in-season in the Edmonton climate – there will be many choices – just different from the box stores!

HEIRLOOMS: I must say that the modern grocery offers an illusion of choice.  We’ve become used to cooking the same-old 5 types of veggies!  For example – of the hundreds of types and shapes of tomatoes, we are accustomed to just finding just a few kinds in the grocery store.  Produce managers only carry the ones tough enough to survive the industrial food trek.  Those tomatoes that can be picked green, forced to ripen, and are woody enough to withstand the 1500 truck trip.  But nature’s inventory is soooo much bigger!  Our CSA will open a world of genetic diversity to your diet.  You’ll find we grow all kinds of different things to try – actually we have over 150 varieties of seed this season!  From the tomatoes our grandparents knew to weird and wonderful things that I’ve found seed for from across the globe!

SUPPLY CHAINS: Did you know we are just 9 meals away from food anarchy!  I’m told that Edmonton has just three days of food in storage.  In a year of borders closing, there are going to be disruptions in the global food chain. Local food from local farms can make and will make a huge difference to our planet. And we need to nurture local food growing skills!

FARMING: As a farmer, I see change all around me.  We are facing a huge loss of farming skills – how to grow our own food. We are in the midst of a mass extinction of small family farms.  As costs are ever increasing – we are faced with scale –up or get out business models.  The bankruptcy rate for small farms reached an epidemic of 50,000 farm across Canada and the US in these past years.  The world is losing its farmers faster than any of its natural resources.  Farmers in Canada now represent only 2% of the population.

The Good News?  You don’t have to become a homesteader to get back to the land!  You are already here!  By joining our CSA, you’ve taken an important step to help support a local farm.  We want to share our land, our knowledge with you.  You are welcome to come to the farm to learn!  Help us sow, help us plant, help us hoe!  Help us prune tomatoes.  Help us harvest.  Bring the kids – we want them to know where their food comes from!

My daughters have grown up on our farm.  They care, as I care, about our planet, climate change and making a difference. It’s a time to be concerned about the 12 year critical window we now face on climate change.  It’s time for action.

In the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Think global. Act local.  One small act of change at a time. You are on the right road!  Thank you for joining our CSA.