The Homestead Organic Farm

Certified Organic Produce and Hay

Farming in Peachland, British Columbia, we grow organic veggies and hay. 

 

The Homestead Organic Journal

July 20: Sunday: time to email some chef customers with a Fresh Sheet. Tricky business if I'm to maximize sales. I have 60 lb of cabbage, 40 lb of salad greens, and 30 lb of baby zucchini to sell this week, for instance. None of our five chefs will take all of any of these items. I could offer each a fifth of what's available, but there's no way they'll all be interested. If I offer each the total of what I have, I'm likely to be oversold. The key is to stagger my offers, but that strategy depends on the chefs giving me timely replies. I'll take my chances. I start with my longest-standing customers, to whom I give first kick at the can.

Chef A is offered 10 lb greens (he told me not to expect more than 5 lb per order this year), 20 lb cabbage, and 20lb zucchini. One reason I have as much as I do is that, last winter, chef A told me I could expect 20-30 lb of zucchini ordered per week. So far he has been ordering 5-10 lb.  Chefs' winter eyes are often bigger than their summer stomachs. Chef B: 10 lb greens, 20 lb zucchini (already over-offering, but it should work out), 20 lb cabbage. I could easily offer 40 but I know he won't take it, and that he knows I know that, and I don't want to look desperate.

July 20, later: Chef B replies with an order: fifteen greens (five more than offered, which I'll strive to give him). Zero cabbage. Five zukes. If Chef A writes back by bed time, I can send out the next offers, and I'll be in good shape.

July 20, later: He doesn't.

July 21, Monday morning: Chef A hasn't replied. I send out orders to Chefs C, D, and E anyway. Sending to E is wishful thinking. He never responds to email. I usually have to try and catch him by phone. If I don't, he doesn't order.

Later: Chef D orders. No zukes. No Cabbage. Five salad. Chef A's order comes in. Ten zukes. Zero cabbage. Twenty five salad. I call A to tell him that twenty five is impossible. I promise to send him ten.

Later: I catch Chef E on the phone. Ten Salad, ten cabbage, five zucchini. Chef C sends me a text message. Ten salad. Ten cabbage. No zucchini.

Final tally: I've sold fifty pounds of salad, ten more than I have. I can either short each chef (never popular), or cut into next week's immature supply, and screw over Future Jordan. Sorry, FJ. Twenty zucchini. Not bad; might be able to sell the rest at a market. Only 20 lb cabbage sold. Rats.

July 22: Cabbage soup for dinner.

July 23: Sauerkraut for dinner.

July 24: Cole slaw for dinner. Next week I hope I undersell my eggplants. I like them better.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Homestead Organic Photos

Above:  1. Calendula for salad greens. 2. Tomatoes and cukes! 3. Prepping beds for planting carrots. 4. Wind-whipped corn. 5. Zucchini! 6.Sunlowers 7. The real Mr. Muscles. Ian and Vanessa took the photos.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Homestead Organic Photos

Above, a still and a GIF of Ryan working the BCS--mowing and soil working. Below that are a few of Vanessa's farm life close-ups from our Instagram feed.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

The Homestead Organic Journal

July 2: Semi-monthly self-reminders: I need to stop complaining about the heat. We're probably not into the worst of it yet. I'm keeping a farm journal for my readers this year that may contain some exaggerations for readers' pleasure. Pants first, then shoes. I stole that last one from Gary Larson.

July 3: Lately I've been thinking about how lucky I am to have the kind of support around the farm that I do. I should really write some of these gratitudes down in this journal. Good help, like good health, is easily taken for granted. 

July 8: We discovered a new hornet's nest, in early stages of construction, on a piece of rafter above our outdoor coffee-break space. We recognized the species: Bull Hornets. Coincidentally, Joe had just told us about Bull Hornets. That they're one of North America's most aggressive species. That he once watched one leave a hive dozens of feet away and head straight for his face, stinger first. Despite this, we marvelled and laughed and took photos, to no apparent irritation of the wasps.  It appears we can live and let live. We congratulated each other for our compassion and empathy.

July 9: The hornets stung Ryan, on the face, three times. Twice more on the arms. Our truce was short-lived. Later on Ryan torched the nest. Threat neutralized. Magnanimity be damned.

July 13: I'm happy for all the beach revellers, I really am. But gardening in this kind of heat is awful. Theoretically, the solution is to get up early, stop when it gets hot, and pick it up the hoe again in the evening. But managing a farm this time of year is like playing Whack-a-Mole. You finally finish one task, and two more have popped up to tackle. One of which includes trapping moles. Well, gophers. But you get the point-it's hard to just lay down your tools and head for the lake. The Extended Siesta Plan also assumes you don't live in a sauna and sleep between bed sheets you thought were made of linen but upon closer inspection reveal themselves to be made of 100% Gladwrap. Falling asleep sufficiently early to manage an early rise has proved impossible, so that I don't start any of these hell-cyon Okanagan summer days until 7 and so the whole cycle begins again. 

July 15: Any intention I had of keeping my birthday low-key was dashed by a visit from Nicole, who showed up at coffee time bearing gifts: a pound of good coffee, a Rubik's Cube keychain, and a plate of (chocolate peanut butter!) cookies. Nicole entered our picture when she contacted us out of the blue a year ago to ask if she could help out once a week around the farm. The initial email was earnest and polite. So was Nicole, in those early visits. It took some doing to get her to knock that off. I knew we'd succeeded, that she had become one of us, when she showed up one day while I was on the phone, and returned my quick wave with a quicker flip of the bird. At that moment, I felt like I imagine a mother bird must after seeing its chick soar for the first time. Meanwhile, she showed up week after week to weed that bed, harvest that kale, plant those seeds, burn that pile of old tires. If I'm honest, I was a bit leery about welcoming her here. What if she messed up the farm's feng shui? Plus, it was one less day I had the option of farming in my underpants. But now I'd be bummed if she stopped coming. I'd probably be skinnier, though. 

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Homestead Organic Photos

Above: White-Faced, AKA Bull, AKA The-Worst-Kind-Of Hornets. Built a nest right over our break area, they did. Stung Ryan twice around the eye and three times on the arm, they did. Dispatch with them tonight, we will. Thanks, re-purposed creme brulee torch. 

Grasshoppers like lettuce, too. Ian's photo.

Cabbage this week! Some of you will get this one (caraflex), others will get a round purple (red express). Ian's photo.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Farm Journal Update

June 16: Periodically I write things in this farm journal I'm keeping for my readers this year that cause my pants to spontaneously combust. Weirdest thing.

June 17: I graze on fruit and vegetables all day as I work. Due to sheer garden abundance, I'm shamefully wasteful about it. Lettuces are picked, the blanched, succulent centres knawed out, the remainder tossed aside to feed the soil, My version of  lighting his cigar with a hundred dollar bill. But, due to time constraints, I'm pretty rough 'n' hasty about it, so I often end up with unintended snacks in my belly. I've ingested a lot of soil this way. And today I ate half a ladybug, which has to be, I don't know, like 5 years bad gardening luck. I hadn't noticed it on the kale leaf I was munching on until its top half was in my belly. Incidentally, the ladybug's presence on the kale leaf was likely a strong indicator that the aphids have arrived for the season. A single ladybug can consume 400 aphids a week. The aphids don't actually ruin my kale crop, but decrease its profitability due to the extra time required to wash them off. Incidentally, did you know that certain species of ants manage aphids in a similar vein to our management of dairy herds? Google 'aphid-ranching ants'. It's fascinating. 

June 22: Colleague Jennay Oliver, owner-farmer of Paynter's Fruit Market, gave me a Paynter's Market t-shirt to wear out and about. I asked for a medium. This was a tad ambitious. I put it on and it looks like someone threw grey saran wrap over a jello mold. I don't think this will create the positive assocations with her business she intended, so for her sake it's now a pajama top. 

June 30:  A cringeworthy email from a new chef customer. I cooperate with a local thespian/fishmonger to save him some delivery time by carrying his seafood on my delivery route. This is how I met the chef in question. I found out from the monger that one of his staff inquired if I was married. So, when the chef yelled out "It's Mr. Muscles!" when I arrived for my next delivery, naturally I thought he had been teasing his employee about her apparent attraction. In a subsequent email-offer of veggies to the chef, I added: "And FYI, my girlfriend laughed at the Mr. Muscles designation. She calls me T-Rex because she says I have small arms and shoulders."

His reply came a few hours later. "Funny.  I'll take 1 Kale, 1 Arugula, 1 Salad. Sorry for the delay. Awkward story though. You know I was referring to the "Mussels" you were delivering right! See you Sat. The ladies in the kitchen will be excited. And I look forward to seeing you too T-Rex."

Same: Vanessa is home from her hospital placement in Uganda, safe, sound, and glad to be back after a pretty intense experience. Some of you had been asking about that...now you know!

 

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Recent Farm Photos

Above: 1. Self-explanatory. 2. Vanessa is home. She went straight to the cherry tree. 3. People ask how I get away with not wearing sunscreen. It's the dirt and sweat. 3. Ian's photo: Happy Horse.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Recent Farm Photos

Below: drying spinach in our high tech salad spinner, and then a view of the garden. Both Ryan's photos. Then: bear visit, winnowing last year's dry beans (finally), happy farm day, building the walk-in cooler. All Ian's photos.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Cooking ideas: early season veggies

Here's a cool blog post from an eater and subscriber to a veggie box program who was facing the kind of early-season veggies that my customers are right now. Some good ideas in there.

http://www.thekitchn.com/greens-greens-parsley-and-a-quart-of-strawberries-keeping-up-with-my-csa-box-204767

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Weekly Cooking Tip: Cooking with Chard and Bok Choy

What do I do with Swiss Chard?

This suggestion came in from veggie box subscriber Candace. Timing was perfect because I've been pretty busy all week:

I don't know if you're looking for more ideas to suggest to customers for using Swiss chard (or any other leafy green) or not, but if you are: Any recipe that someone would use cooked spinach in, Swiss chard is a great substitute. I also think it tastes great when chopped up and added to tomato sauce for pasta. Just make sure that any stems, or sturdier greens like kale, cook for a bit longer so they are tender. Just a thought, if it fits, great, if not, totally fine.

What about Bok Choy?

Your'e getting some Bok Choy (same as Pac Choi) in your bags this week. I love treating the stalks like celery--chop them up and put them in a salad. The leaves too. If you search through the farm's blog, there's an audio clip from about a month ago in which a local chef gives you one or two other tips.


The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Recent Farm Photos

Sometimes we play softball. All work and no play and all that. Apprentice Ryan even came down to a league game as a sub last Sunday and was awesome. Ian was on hand to catch this photo of me connecting way too low on the bat.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Farm Journal Update

June 3: I'm keeping a journal for my readers this year that is fiction-enhanced for their enjoyment.

Same: Today we headed out to gather up our square bales with stormclouds overhead. We had one more wagon load to pick up--56 bales--when the rain poured down. A haying in the Okanagan takes a minimum of three days, and up to seven, and you need the weather to be fair for all of it. We needed 30 more minutes to get ours in. But that's haying in the spring.

June 9: Called by an aggrieved reader who objected to the treatment I gave Superstore in last journal update, in suggesting I probably wouldn't get good fishing advice there like I did from Harry at the local IGA. Reader/caller became even unhappier upon finding out that aspects of this journal are fabricated. Attempted to explain that the made-up parts are usually meant to add humour to the real parts. Reader/caller called me dishonest. I pointed out that I start every column with a suggestion that aspects within might be untrue. Reader/caller called me dishonest. The rest of this date-entry contains only true things. 

I shop at Superstore regularly. I rarely encounter its employees, but they seem nice. Many have smiled at me. I appreciate Superstore's organic selection and its self-checkouts.

Outwardly gregarious, inwardly I suffer from social anxiety. I spent a conversation at a recent Chamber of Commerce event terrified that I might somehow suddenly and involuntarily spill my glass of wine all over my fellow attendee. It's why I like self-checkouts.

I think little Peachland is lucky to have a grocery store in town. And that, if we want it to be there those times we don't feel like humping it to Westbank, we have to make a special effort to shop there semi-regularly. 

Peachland IGA buys my salad greens, in small quantities, without a lot of bureaucracy. I think there's a snowball's chance in hell Superstore would do that. The latter doesn't offend me. I'm grateful for the former.

In 2006 I was paid a total of $10 for twenty-one hours of graveyard shift-work for the Superstore in Whitehorse. Both the store's management and the Teamsters Union were dishonest with me about the deductions I would face as a super-short-term, unionized worker, probably because they were desperate for labour. The economy was booming then. I was angry at Superstore for a while. Those graveyard shifts were a drag.

Okay. Back to the regular, deceptive journal. 

June 11: We are building a walk-in cooler here at the farm. This is a big deal. My business' growth has been challenged by the lack of cold storage here. It is a used cooler. It is ugly as all sin. It looks less like a place to cool veggies than a terrible, foreboding prison cell. When we hold our annual Halloween event for customers' kids this fall I'll likely use it to scare the bajeezes out of them. All of that is true, actually.

June 14: Explained to Ryan, our farm apprentice and a chef by training, that each of our veggie subscription customers is allowed one veggie they don't want to see in each week's delivery, and that some choose awesome veggies like beets and zucchini, which seems a shame to me. "They probably don't like them because their moms were bad cooks," he said. "Most people hate Brussels Sprouts because their moms ruined them every Thanksgiving." That's definitely not universally true, but I laughed, because I think it's probably true for some people. So, some people:  consider giving beets and zucchini another try. They want so badly to please you.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Recent Farm Photos

In the slideshow: Ryan and Ian move a panel into place for the farm's new-to-us walk-in cooler. A cylinder of salad greens; Jordan weeding; and some shots from the recent haying. Ian Stewart took the latter three photos.

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.

Stuff for sale: cert organic hay, garden mulch, and that chicken I talked about already

Hay and Mulch

Here on the farm, we've just completed a beautiful first cut of hay. Bales are around 90 lb of a grass/alfalfa mix. 

We've also got some bales of a pretty good garden mulch for sale. This was pasture grass that was chopped up with a brush mower and beat up enough that seeds should not be a problem.

For either, contact Joe at 767 6636 for more details.

Whole Frozen Chickens

In a previous email I mentioned that I am willing to bring in whole frozen cert organic chicken once per week from a colleague at Penticton market. I'll put them in my freezer until you pick them up. No home-delivery available. You can purchase them here. They're 4lb birds and cost $20. This is a good price for cert organic whole chicken. I roasted one a few weeks ago and my tongue and belly enjoyed it immensely.

 

 

 

 

The Homestead Organic farm produces certified organic produce, berries, and hay in Peachland, BC. We deliver veggies via our CSA type box program to homes in the Okanagan towns of Westbank, Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton. Click here for more info.