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Archive for the ‘Farmers, Farms and Markets’ Category

Today is day 2 of converting the blog (you’ll see no changes here, yet) so it’s busy times here.  The conversion kept me up until 2:00AM (because I was having so much fun, in truth) and I was out of bed at 7:00.  The dog and I went for a walk and then I took a quick spin to the farmers market to get some leeks and to help inspire/ remind me why we work on this project.  I’m getting excited to geek out!

The Brickworks is a reclaimed industrial area that time forgot and has been converted into this amazing community space that hosts, amongst other things, a year-round market.

The market has a new website that’s just launched today.  It includes information on different food regions in Ontario, their vendors, principles and more.  It’s awfully neat, check it out here.

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Part of the mission of this blog has been, since it’s conception, to share news about people and projects that we value.  Our food system needs to change and we want to share our excitement for people and products that we meet as we discover more about our food, where it’s from and the people who help bring it to us.  We also promise to only share about those we genuinely adore and will always tell you if we were paid or gifted anything in return.

Cubit’s Organic Living is an online retailer of Organic Seeds.  Laura is the driving force behind it but her entire family all roll up their sleeves as needed.  We’ve gotten to know her family over the last year or two and are always delighted to run into them at the local markets, seed swaps or, more often than not, in the various online communities that we share.

Cubit’s exists through selling seeds but it doesn’t end there.  It’s also a tireless blog and Laura’s posts are always filled with fabulous photos, how-to’s and the occasional awesome video like this stop motion video showing 8 hours of cider pressing in 3 minutes of real-time.  Cubit’s doesn’t merely sell ‘into’ the community; it is a vibrant part of it.

The seeds are 100% organic and every aspect of the business is deeply considered – from its use of recycled or re-used packaging where possible through their supply chains.  Laura’s commitment to her vision of affordable and sustainable food is uncompromising.

You can check out their website above, find them at Seedy Saturday at the Evergreen Brickworks tomorrow or find their awesome seeds (which I’ve purchased in the past and will again this weekend) on their Etsy store as well.

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I woke up this morning and went up to the Evergreen Farmer`s Market at the Brickworks.  It`s an amazing indoor-outdoor space that is essentially converted industrial wastelands.

This is the same space that we preserved 1,000 tasting samples for the SlowFood Toronto picnic last year (that`s the last post in a 10-day series that showed what we were doing).  We`ve comitted to cooking again this year and I can`t wait to find out who are farmed will be and what ingredients we`ll get to work with.

There are all sorts of things to discover at the Brickworks – a farmer`s market on Saturday, art installations, nature trails, garden center, events, kitchen studio, and so much more.  It`s just a fantastic place to walk and get lost in.

Rather than just spewing about the market and this amazing place, I thought today should be a photo post.  If you have the chance to go, head early – it`s an amazing place that gets busy fast… 🙂

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the availability of winter produce in our fair region.  I am excited to report that our CSA (from Kawartha Ecological Growers) continues to be exceptional.

Our $70 order last night included:

  • a dozen government inspected eggs from a small farm.
  • Dried celery leaves (an awesome herb)
  • Giant Yukon potatoes
  • Ontario Garlic
  • Celeriac (6 sizable roots that I will dehydrate and turn to powder for BBQ rubs and sauces although we could make a soup with or roast it)
  • 1 large squash (we’re not overrun by squash as people often claim local winter eating can be)
  • Carrots
  • 2 small lamb shanks (optional)
  • A small beef roast (optional)
  • A bag of greenhouse greens
  • A jar of radish sprouts
  • A big ‘ol parsnip
  • I am sure there was more.

Of course there were other options as always – preserves, honey, maple syrup, duck, pork, other veggies (including pop corn) and more.

The bounty will be enough for 8-10 meals when combined with staples from our pantry (such as cornmeal, rice, sauces and preserves from our own stock).  8-10 is about the most we’ll at home eat in a two-week period and we’ll be ready for more.

The best thing about the food is the quality is just so much higher than what I can buy at the grocery store at the same (or lower) price when you consider the entire bill.  Individual items (such as garlic) are certainly more pricey than what you can buy from China but picking and choosing where we choose to be “decadent” allows us to keep the budget for 2 people very reasonable.  I am confident that buying food for the two of us for 2 weeks would easily run $70 or more at a large grocery store.

Other than the occasional quick visit to specialty stores (mostly ‘bulk’ , cheese, beer or other such shops) when I am out or the odd vegetable), we haven’t shopped at a large grocery store in months.  The only major exception to this was a very odd experience for both of us and rather than simply ranting about what we experienced (which could have just been a ‘bad’ night and not the regular grocery store experience) it certainly pales in comparison to the warm smile and hug that often greets me and the fact that I pick up my groceries in minutes (there are always 30-60 options on two tables as opposed to 100,000 square feet) and the location allows me to sip a beer should I choose to do so.

The CSA is not as convenient as a location that’s waiting for you 15-hours a day, 7-days a week but the quality of the food in my fridge is notably higher than the alternative.  Last nights pickup was in a bit of a tent and the dreary rain falling around us made the experience less than romantic but just as efficient.

I’m not saying that you should switch nor am I trying to be a food-elitist (something that local food often gets criticized for).  I am simply trying to say that you can eat locally, seasonally and affordably in our city.  At $35 a week for two it’s not an option for everyone but it’s a far cry from buying organic peaches for $4 a piece as was reported in New York City last year (their city also has some very approachable and affordable local food markets that we had the privilege to visit as well).

The most pleasant surprise came last night when I asked about the “end” of the CSA season.  This is our winter share and I figured that we must surely be coming to a near end.  I bounced with excitement to find out that last night was just the half-way mark and that it continues until mid-late May.

Here’s a few related links:

Looking back at those articles, the most important aspect of choosing a CSA specifically for winter is determining if they are intentionally growing for winter or if it’s a collection of ‘leftover’s’ from the summer.  Proper storage, variety and care are all massive features of intentionality that may be lacking with the ‘leftover’ variety.  Related to this is a diverse farm or co-op so that your variety can be significant.

Click Kawartha Ecological Growers to find out it they have any remaining shares (they sell them pro-rated and we are not advertising for them – simply raving fans).  If you have a similar CSA that you adore (regardless of where you live), feel free to shout about it in the comments!

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There`s not a whole lot to this post this morning – then again I`ve just gotten back to Toronto from California and it`s the equivalent of 2AM in my inner clock so we`ll just have to all agree that simple may be better.  Besides, the definition of `not a whole lot` is likely dependant on interpretation because I was super excited to see this in our CSA bin from Kawartha Ecological Growers 2 weeks ago:

Beans, glorious beans.

I don`t recall ever seeing beans dried in the shell – which says more about me and our food system than it does about the little legumes.  I realized that I`ve had blinders on when buying them – they just sort of come in bags or in bulk and never in a shell.

The shells were also…dirty.  As so many organics or near organics are, these came with dirt in tact.  The first step was to pull them apart and find the little prizes hidden on the inside.  It was a dirty process and one that proved to be a lot of fun.  It was the first time in a long time that my hands felt dirty like I had been in the garden and it was a great feeling.

THe end result was far cleaner:

It is a good reminder that not all dehydrating and preserving has to be done in a machine in a house.  The process to air dry (an assumption that these were done with by this technique on my behalf that could be totally wrong but I`m in love with the idea so you`ll have to let me have my fantasy).  My appreciation for the simplest preserves and techniques continues to increase – there`s something inherently romantic about the simplicity of technique and purity of the results compared to the original produce.

We`ve really eaten and cooked a lot more beans than ever this year.  Our friend Massimo Bruno opened my eyes that there were many more uses for beans (including blending them in to a sauce) than I was aware.  Finding these in our CSA bin was an exciting discovery!

What do you like to make with dried beans (feel free to link to your recipes or blogs if you`d like)?

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I was so excited to be heading back to the Ceili Cottage last night.  The cozy Irish pub in the East end of Toronto is also the dropoff for our CSA.  And, yes, that means we can have a beer (including a rotating selection of local taps) while we do our grocery shopping.

There are many things about Kawartha Ecological Growers that make them the right choice for us.  We adore them, love their farming practices, their selection is awesome, we adore them, the drop-off is close, they offer food from a network of more than 20 farms (and are farmers themselves), they provide food to some of the best restaurants in the city, we adore them and more.

The winter program is picked up every second week for 10 weeks.  $35 of food is chosen for you and you receive an additional $25 of credit to mix and match from other items.  You are also welcome to add additional items as you would at a grocery store.

I also appreciate that the winter market was planned for through the growing season.  This means there is a lot of choice.

Here`s a partial list of things they had last night:

  • garlic
  • multiple types of onions
  • squash
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • kale
  • multiple types of squash
  • leeks
  • beets
  • multiple jams
  • honey
  • popcorn
  • maple syrup
  • goat
  • beef
  • duck
  • duck stock
  • bok choy
  • sunchokes
  • celeriac

I am sure there was more and I`m simply forgetting.  I didn`t notice flour, pasta or dried beans last night though these things often make an appearance with KEG – and in our home.

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The singular use of `farmer`in the title is both intentional and applicable.  Sort of.

When we wrote about How to Choose the Right CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) for You, we mentioned that we were signing up with Kawartha Ecological Growers (who we introduced here).

Kawartha Egological Growers is a farmer-run co-op of more than 20 farms who pool their resources to offer their product to the public.  The diversity of the farms allow for great options – standard food offerings are complimented by meats, preserves, flour and pasta.  We`ve known Mark and company for the last few years and we`re thrilled to support them and think a great deal of the team.  We also got to join them in Burning a Piano so we may be a little biased.

The CSA drop off in Leslieville occurs every Tuesday from 4-7PM and is at the Ceili Cottage (Queen and Leslie).  They set up their CSA booth in the corner and offer all of their products for sale to general public as well.  We are seeing more and more people week after week.  My Tuesday tradition is rapidly becoming groceries chased down with a cask-condtioned ale from the friendly crew at the cottage (which is well deserving of it`s own post).

We`ll add some pictures on the next good weather day that we`re there.  In the meantime, pop bye for groceries and a beer and I`ll hopefully see you there!

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