We are Certified Organic Farm now!!!

Garlic (5 varieties, and 36 total strains) Three years of hard work, sweat, blisters, and tears.  Enormous support from our customers, appreciation, encouragement and kind words made it all possible.  Finally on November 15th, 2011, we received Certified Organic status by Ecocert Canada.  The timing of certification could have not come on a better time.  

At this time we are working on our growing/planting plans.  We have started placing orders for seeds of few hard to find and heirlooms vegetable varieties.  Once our plans are completed we would be able to price our "2012 CSA Share" for 20 weeks main season.  As usual you can pick your share 2 places in Brampton, one in Bolton, and two in Toronto.  Plus we can deliver for 10 shares at same place.  This would help our customers to have their share delivered at their work place, or neighborhood.

Stay tuned, update for 2012 CSA Shares coming soon.

Peas

Peas (shelling, Snow and sugar snap) This year we are growing 5 different kind of peas.  Sweet shelling peas of 3 kinds, snow peas for your stir fries, and sugar snaps to just eat raw or add to your salads.  You can boil, steam or eat peas raw, they are sweet, crunchy, tasty, and kids would enjoy them raw.  Peas contains Vitamins (A, B1 Thiamine, B2 Riboflavin, B3 Niacin, B6 Pyridoxine, C, K), Copper, Fiber, Folic acid, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Tryptophan, and Zinc.  Best of all peas are low in fats and easy to digest.

I never liked cooked peas until we started growing our own, they taste better freshly picked.  Some times my wife add them to the steamed or boiled rice with little bit of cummin seeds, clove and some whole black peppers.  Served with chicken curry, fresh cilantro for garnish.  I will ask her for recipe and add here for your enjoyment.

2011 CSA Membership

Spring Salad MixWe're proud to announce that we're accepting CSA memberships (weekly vegetable basket) for our upcoming 2011 growing seasons. Beginning June 11th, 2011 (earlier if possible), we'll have ready for pick-up a weekly supply of fresh, local produce. We're in the 2nd year program, we've limited memberships to 100 for the second CSA season. You can pay by credit card or debit card using PayPal. You will be able to pick your fresh produce right at the farm or four additional location throught GTA. We have limited memberships available, book your spot now. Visit our CSA details page by clicking here.

Quest for extending cash flow

Cold House:  An unheated greenhouse for extending the season. When I started farming business, I have great idea that I will grow vegetables, small fruits, and then sell them. I have wrote a business plan and tried to follow it as much I could. The vegetables on other hand have their own mind set. I have a lot of crops, I tried all sources to sell them and I did. Then came September and I started running out of produce to sell. At the end of year 2009, I wrote software "Market Garden Planner" to overcome challenges of planning crops for staggered planting that will enable me to continuously harvest. In this software I had added a cash flow projection report based on planned sales. 2010 was a better year as I was able to sell produce from the field plus stored crops until mid to late November. While looking at Cash Flow Report, I realized that December to April, for five months no cash was coming in. Expanses on other hand for these five months are accruing and still needed to pay for. While farm except for Garlic for 2011 crop and Strawberries is empty.

At this realization of beautiful farm land, is waiting for spring to be planted. My quest for extending the cash flow or extending my harvest season started. I consulted other organic farmers, as Jeff and Leslie of "Cedar Down Farm", Saulis who is McVean Farm's Manager and their experiences with extending season. I started to think how to extend harvest season 2 months in the fall and start planting 2 to 3 months early in spring. This would give me a good cash flow for 11 months of the year. The strategies about extending season in winter with cold hardy greens, storage crops and value added products all made sense. Same time starting 2 to 3 months early in spring can help us with crops started, matured and sold early.

Three things are needed to extending seasons. First being Cold Frame or Hoop House to grow winter hardy greens, second a Cold Storage or Root Cellar to store crops (i.e. Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Garlic, Onions, Potatoes, Rutabaga, Winter Squashes) and third being a public health department certified kitchen to make Jams, Pickles, Sauces and canned vegetables. Since we did not have any extra crop to store or made into value added product, stored extra crop or value added product made no sense at the end of 2010. However for 2011 year we will grow as much storage crop as we can, and extra crops from summer to fall can be turned into value added products. We can rent a certified kitchen from a restaurant, school or church for reasonable price. On other hand we have farm and it is sitting doing nothing from December to April. Adding an unheated Hoop House or as Eliot Coleman calls it Cold House can help us to have cold hardy crops growing during these months.

Now same question or challenge as we have started with, how to bring cash in to buy the cold house so we can grow more crops and bring more cash in. Are you confuse yet, let me put it simply, by October of 2010 we had barely paid our bills and no more money is coming in to pay for expanses or buy Cold House.

Fortunately "Carrot Cache" is there to help ecological, sustainable farmers to grow their business to next level. I wrote a funding request to buy one new or two used hoop houses, which would help me some of my cash flow issues, and expand my growing season. I received 3/4 funding of amount I asked for or half of what I needed. It is more than enough or not enough as you can look at it from two different angles. To buy a new hoop house I needed twice the amount I received or I can buy 2 used hoop houses. Finding a used hoop house for reasonable price is finding a needle in hay stack. As I was looking to increase my cash flow, maximising my dollars (in hand) value was a natural course. When luck is looking for you, it will find you, no matter where you are. A fellow farmer came to farm on one cold late November Saturday afternoon, while I was harvesting Bok Choy, Carrots, Green Onions, Mustard Greens, Radishes, Salad Mix, and Spinach. List of crop is intentional to show possibilities of November without hoop house. Oh, sorry you are in rush to get to conclusion, you know farmers, we just start bragging and ... Where was I going, no a fellow farmer came by and said "Bob, did you placed order for your new hoop house". I replied "No not yet, I will do it in day or two. He said, "I know a fellow in Hamilton, selling 6 hoop house 20 feet by 150 feet, frame and plastic included". So we talked to this gentleman and I bought 3 hoop houses with the funding from Carrot Cache and fourth one I gave him deposit that I will take it from him in April. The fellow farmer bought 2 of them.

I bought 4 hoop houses with total 12000 square feet growing space. I was ready to buy 4500 square feet spaced hoop house for twice the money I spend on used ones with 3 times the space. Yes it would take time to disassemble them; it will cost to move them etc. In end it is all about using scarce financial resources wisely. During winter months farmers like I have lot of time on hand. Disassembling first hoop houses took about 45 men hours, second hoop house took 31 men hour, and we used manual tools. As we learned the process, I think the rest would take anywhere from 20 to 25 men hours or better with using power tools.

2011 CSA Membership Started

Spring Salad MixWe're proud to announce that we're now accepting CSA memberships for our upcoming 2011 growing seasons. Beginning May 22nd, 2011 (earlier if possible), we'll have ready for pick-up a weekly supply of fresh, local produce. We're in the 2nd year program, we've limited memberships to 100 for the second CSA season. You can pay by credit card or debit card using PayPal. You will be able to pick your fresh produce right at the farm or four additional location throught GTA. We have limited memberships available, book your spot now. Visit our CSA details page by clicking here.

Winter Squashes

Ambercup SquashThis growing season has been great for late summer crops and Winter Squashes are just right for harvest. Even though Fall is still 2 weeks away, we have started selling our winter squashes here in Toronto yesterday. Weather was ideal for a cup of warm soup, with 18 degrees Celsius, wind gust of 70 KM per hours, cloudy skies and light rain. Weather will improve during the week, as we still need few more warm days. This week we will be harvesting our last of Tomatoes crop for year 2010. We still need to harvest 2 more beds of Potatoes, 1 bed of Sweet Potatoes, a lot of winter squashes, pumpkins, beets and turnips for fall. Then fall cleanup and planting of Garlic for next year.

Summer Vegetables

OkraThis summer heat is great for our beautiful, tasty summer vegetables. Beans, Eggplant, Okra, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Zucchinis. We are enjoying abundance, great taste and beautiful colors. Most fascinating vegetable I grow is Okra, great taste, shape, texture. Okra loves heat above 30 C, and dry weather, a perfect weather in GTA this year. Cooking Okra is simple and takes any where from 17 to 20 minutes. Wash Okra in water and then dry with paper towel or regular kitchen towel. Cut heads and tails ends of Okra, then cut them in 1 inch long pieces. Cut an Onion and cook in hot oil, when Onions are translucent add a Tomato, Salt, red crushed Peppers, little bit of Garlic and Ginger. Cook until Tomato is soft paste, add Okra and cook for 5 to 7 more minutes on medium heat. Okra will become slimi as sugars are cooking. Once sliminess is caramelized, serve hot with Naan or Pita bread.

2010 Garlic Crop growing well

GarlicWeather was pretty warm for most of March and early April. Last 2 days we got over 30 mm of rain, that will help to increase moisture in soil. As soon surface of soil is dry enough to plow, we will start planting 30 vegetable crops as planned. Our Garlic crop planted last October, is growing well and by July end we will be harvesting well over 20 varieties of Garlic. This week we planted 4 varieties of Onion sets (Red, Spanish, White and Yellow Onions). Later we will plant 3 more varieties of Onions for Winter storage crop. Our 2010 CSA membership is almost full, if you are interested book your spot now. Visit our CSA details page by clicking here.

2010 CSA Membership Started

Tomatoes, EggplantWe're proud to announce that we're now accepting CSA memberships for our upcoming 2010 growing seasons. Beginning May 31st, 2010 (earlier if possible), we'll have ready for pick-up a weekly supply of fresh, local produce. We're still in the pilot program, of course, so we've limited memberships to 25 for the first CSA season. You can pay by credit card or debit card using PayPal. You will be able to pick your fresh produce right at the farm or four additional location throught GTA. We have limited memberships available, book your spot now. Visit our CSA details page by clicking here.

2010 Season almost here

Cabbage seedlingOur growing season for 2009 just ended November 5th. Before we have time to take an easy breath and rest, the 2010 season is almost here. We have completed 2010 planning for our crops, seed orders will be placed soon, once we complete an audit. An inventory audit needs to be completed for existing supply of seeds, compost, row covers, mulch, irrigation equipments, drip tape and small hand tools. Seed companies on other hand, are busy contacting farmers, sending catalogs and special offers.
We will be running a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, and a detailed list of items available will be posted by January 2010. If you are interested in buying fresh veggies every week during 2010 growing season and want to become one of our CSA member, please send us an email using feedback form.
Link to feedback form

2009 Season is Over

Hay on Garlic PlantingOur growing season for 2009 was started around last week of February and finally after a long busy and productive season it ended on November 5th. Before farm was closed, we did planted Garlic for next year. Garlic is one of the long season crop, it takes about 10 months from planting to harvest. We planted well over 20 varities of Garlic, with hopes to start harvesting in mid July 2010. We are already in process of planning our crops for next year, seed orders will be placed starting next few days.
We will be running a CSA (community suported agriculture) program, and a detailed list of items available will be posted by January 2010. If you are interested in purchasing fresh veggies every week, please send us an email using feedback form.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower

BraoccoliOur cole crops Broccoli, Cabbage, Nappa Cabbage and Cauliflower is ready for harvest with good quality, color and taste, even your kids will eat these veggies when they are fresh from our gardens! We have set up a farm gate stall to sell these produce right at farm. We are open to public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Spinach, Baby Lettuce, Radishes

Baby LettuceWe have started harvesting Baby Lettuce, Green Garlic, Radishes and Spinach - absolutely a mouthwatering delicate and sweet salad. The weather has been excellent for May helping us produce a bumper early spring crop including 5 varieties of Spinach, 3 varieties of Radishes, Salad Greens, Leafy lettuce, Romaine Lettuce and Green Garlic - all ready for harvest. In a few days we will be harvesting Swiss Chard, Green Onions and Peas. Our Broccoli, Cabbage, Nappa Cabbage and Cauliflower will be ready in 2 weeks time. Watch for our farm gate stall coming soon so you can purchase our produce at it freshest, right from the farm. Opening to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Ask us for recipes.

Field Planting Started

Nappa Cabbage PlantingLast week of February we started seeds in greenhouse and as of yesterday we have started transplanting Broccoli, Cabbage, Nappa Cabbage and Cauliflower) in the field. We are hoping for a good weather from April 11th to 17th, 2009, so we can plant Beets, Carrots, Spring Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard, Pak Choi, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Turnips.