Open for Asparagus and Rhubarb!

Hello fellow farmers and eaters,

Our asparagus and rhubarb decided to come out of hiding in a big way this week… The old winter to summer in 6 days or less trick!

We currently have a lot of asparagus for sale and more and more rhubarb as the days go by. Both the asparagus and rhubarb are available pre-picked Wednesday through Sunday 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, or by appointment. The rhubarb is also available for u-pick (by appointment only). We expect to have them both for 4 weeks or more.

The pricing is as follows:

Pricing

Asparagus

$7.50 for 1 bunch (1 lb.) $30.00 for 5 bunches

Rhubarb

$3.50 u-pick
$7 per bunch (about 1.6 lbs.)

Please inquire about wholesale pricing for large orders. Yeah warm dry weather!
Devan

Contact:
devanpenney@gmail.com

(519) 665-7982

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Is it Spring yet?

Asparagus and rhubarb will be available by the second week of May

As I set up to write a spring post for the website, I can’t help but ask myself, is it spring yet?  Last year this time, we were about 3 weeks ahead of where we are now.  We had started working the soil, had finished planting our strawberries and asparagus and had even started harvesting asparagus and rhubarb.  This year, we have barely been able to get into the fields and there isn’t a single asparagus spear to be found!

 

In the past we have lamented about mild winters and how they have allowed pests to overwinter and become a real problem.  While we always wish for a long cold winter, to kill pests and replenish ground water, we are happy for it to be over.  We are hoping the weather turns soon, as we have strawberry crowns to get in the ground, field work to do and weeds to take care of (they don’t seem to mind the cold as much…).

We are excited for our asparagus this spring.  With last year’s planting, we are up to a little under an acre of production, enough for us for the foreseeable future.  Though still young, our crowns should produce a lot more this year, allowing us to offer 3 weeks of sales and hopefully enjoy some more ourselves… mmm…  We expect to have asparagus by the second week of May.

Our rhubarb will also be available by the second week of May.  Like asparagus, rhubarb is an early season perennial and we always find it to be a treat.  Nicole makes great drinks with rhubarb, from iced tea, juice and cordial, to some truly wonderful cocktails!  I love to use it in baking, oatmeal and brewing beer, I make a refreshing rhubarb saison.  One thing we would like to try this year is roasting it.  We had it at a restaurant last season and it was special.  Interest in rhubarb has grown in recent years, enough so that we are thinking of doing a large second planting for next spring.  Let us know if you need more rhubarb in your life.

Our strawberry patch is looking good this year.  One variety didn’t do as well, however, we have more than doubled the size of our patch, so we should have enough sweet berries to meet demand this year.  We also have a little farm celebrity here at Fair Fields.  Our youngest, Fiona, is being featured, along with the strawberries, in the June edition of Chirp, an educational magazine geared at 3–6 year-olds. We hope the fame doesn’t get to her as she is not yet in Kindergarden!

We have two wonderful staff members joining us again this year.  Daniel Parrish and my uncle Jim Penney are both back for the season.  Daniel worked part time with us last season and has stepped up to the full-time full season position.  He has an incredible attitude, positive, keen and eager, and is a real pleasure to have around.  Jim brings his many years of agricultural experience as well as his knowledge of this land and our operation.  We are lucky to have a great team again for 2022!

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Last year we successfully completed our organic certification process.  We are now certified organic with Ecocert Canada.  All of our crops, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, sweet corn, pumpkins and hay are all now certified and will be moving ahead.  We see certification as a minimum standard, one which leaves plenty of room to go further, and we will continue to do just that, as we try to make our operation and the food we grow more and more sustainable.

 

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Hope to see you in the patch,

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Winter, real winter, is finally upon us

Cold weather helps kill pests

Winter, real winter, is finally upon us. We hope it is a good one with cold temperatures and lots of snow. I know this won’t make us popular with everyone, but it is important for a good growing season! Cold weather helps kill pests, breaking their reproductive cycles and setting them back for the start of the coming season. A good snowpack, especially one that melts slowly and sticks around for a while, helps with spring and early summer soil moisture, really important with the drought conditions we seem to have most years nowadays.

Through the cold weather, we are enjoying frozen strawberries, corn and rhubarb as well as cider pressed from apples on our and surrounding farms.  We hope to have enough asparagus production this coming year to pickle and freeze some of it as well.  In the coming season we would be happy to share our tips for putting these delicious foods away and ideas for using them throughout the winter.

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Besides eating, we are busy getting our plant and seed orders ready.  We are taking a pause on planting more asparagus, as we feel the plot we have (just under 1 acre) will be plenty to keep up with this coming season.  Strawberries we plant every year and like the asparagus, we will not be growing the size of our patch (also just under 1 acre). 

We will be reducing the number of corn varieties we grow this coming season, as we have identified our favourites and want to make it easier to manage pollination.  Normally you are supposed to separate different varieties by 500’ and we found this to be a challenge when growing 7-8 varieties!

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In addition to our crop plants and seeds, we have been busy ordering trees and shrubs to plant in hedgerows and our home orchard.  Some of these are food for us, some are food for animals, as well as windbreaks, habitat, nitrogen-fixing, and a host of other ecosystem services.  We are hoping that eventually some of these will produce enough that we can sell them fresh and as value-added products like jams, juice, and dried fruit, to our local community.

Like many others during the pandemic, we have been juggling off-farm work, farm planning, childcare, and online schooling.  This has added stress, but also provide some opportunities, like hanging out with my daughter Lillian and building a treehouse with her.

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We hope this note finds you well!  Please check in with us in early May, when we will start to harvest asparagus.   Mmmmm… can’t wait!

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Jack-o-lantern ~ all different shapes and sizes

Jack-O-Lanterns Certified Organic

We have Jack O’Lantern pumpkins available for sale at the farm. This year was hard on some crops, but it was very good to squash and pumpkins. There are many and some are very large!!!
Like all of our produce, our pumpkins are certified organic by EcoCert.

Pricing

They are $6 each or $10 for 2.
Let us know if you want to buy in bulk and we can sort out a wholesale price for you.

Contact:
devanpenney@gmail.com

(519) 665-7982

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Sweet & delicious corn harvest

2021 Sweet corn harvest season

Wonderful bountiful sweet harvest!!

This year’s varieties included:
Fisher’s Earliest and Xtra Tender. They are both a little smaller than the main season varieties, Fisher’s is all yellow and Xtra Tender is bicolour.

Natural Bright:  a white variety that is super sweet.

Alure: succulent
Honey Select: delicate sweetness
Mirage

As our corn season is in the final stages place your order before we run out or come by the farmgate on weekends to pick your favourites.

Corn Pricing

Our farmgate price this year is $11/dozen or $6/ ½ dozen. For 5 dozen, the price falls to $50. We have separate pricing for wholesale, so please be in touch if you are looking for large quantities regularly. We hope to have it available 7 days a week from 11 am onward, but we will update our Facebook page and voicemail if we have any gaps in availability.

Farmgate prices:
½ dozen for $6.00
1 dozen for $11.00
5 dozen for $50.00
Wholesale prices
$10.50/dozen for first 4 dozen
$10/dozen for 5 or more dozen

Alure

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Honey Select

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Natural Bright

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Our Sweet Corn is Ready

Our sweet corn is finally coming ready!

The late frosts and unseasonable cool weather stunted our early plantings and generally held them back. Now they are coming all at once… Our later plantings are looking great.

This coming week we will have two varieties, Fisher’s Earliest and Xtra Tender. They are both a little smaller than the main season varieties, Fisher’s is all yellow and Xtra Tender is bicolour. Next week we will start to get Natural Bright, a white variety that is super sweet. After that Alure, Honey Select and Mirage.

Our farmgate price this year is $11/dozen or $6/ ½ dozen. For 5 dozen, the price falls to $50. We have separate pricing for wholesale, so please be in touch if you are looking for large quantities regularly. We hope to have it available 7 days a week from 11 am onward, but we will update our Facebook page and voicemail if we have any gaps in availability.

Corn Pricing

Farmgate prices:
½ dozen for $6.00
1 dozen for $11.00
5 dozen for $50.00

Wholesale prices
$10.50/dozen for first 4 dozen
$10/dozen for 5 or more dozen

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U-Pick and Pre-picked Strawberries

UP-PICK STRAWBERRIES IS NOW CLOSED FOR THE SEASON

Thanks to all new and returning customers for this year's sweet harvest!

The plants are loaded with berries, slowly turning red! Our berry patch is now in full swing and ready for u-picking and pre-picked orders.

For pre-picked orders email devanpenney@gmail.com or call 519-665-7982 (landline). We anticipate having a waiting list, so please confirm with us before coming. Our price this year is $37.50 per 6 quart flat (this includes a 50 cent deposit on the flat box, refunded upon return).

 

Our price for u-pick berries this year is $4/lb., if using your own containers or $5.25/quart, if using the quart baskets provided.

 

WE ARE CLOSED FOR THE SEASON

U-Pick times:
Thursdays 4 pm – 8 pm
Fridays 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday 9 am – 6 pm

 

We will also have limited picking opportunities on other days, by appointment only.

COVID-19 UPDATE:

“We encourage you to bring your own appropriate picking containers, no bags please!  If using your own containers, make sure we weigh them before starting to pick.
For those without containers, we can provide quart baskets and flat boxes (there is a 50 cent deposit on the flat boxes) to carry them in.  We try to reuse quart baskets to reduce waste and Grey Bruce Public Health has assured us that by washing them and leaving them in the sun for several days (UV light) they will be covid-safe!”

Last year we had a huge surge in demand and sold out quickly for both u-pick and pre-picked. We have more than doubled the production this year, so hopefully, we will be able to meet demand a little better. Nevertheless, if coming from a distance for u-pick, please call or email ahead of time, or plan on showing up as soon as we open.

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Rhubarb for picking

Our rhubarb is finally coming ready for picking. The cool weather we have had, slowed it down to a glacial pace…, however, it is finally shooting upward. We should have rhubarb from this Thursday, May 13 till the end of June. We love to eat it fresh and put some away for stewing and baking in the winter. It is especially good with the first strawberries, a celestial match if there ever was one!

 

We are open for u-pick and pre-picked by appointment. We also wholesale (orders of 10 lbs. or more). Our price is $3/lb. for u-pick, $4/lb. for pre-picked and $2-3 for wholesale (depending on size of order, pickup or delivery, etc.)
Please call ahead at (519) 665-7982
(landline so no texts please), or email devanpenney@gmail.com.

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Asparagus and Rhubarb Emerging

Here we go!

Asparagus and rhubarb are two of the earliest food plants available for harvest and we look forward to both of them. Like many other early crops in this climate, they are both cold hearty perennials that have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years. Though the stems and leaves of both plants are sensitive to frost, the crowns remain safely protected in the soil and new shoots emerge and grow quickly.

 

We have just doubled our asparagus planting to between ½ and 2/3 of an acre. It takes several years (and a lot of work!) to get established, so production will be fairly light over the next couple years. After that we should have lots, and plan on selling it at the farm and to wholesale customers. Please be in touch if you would like more information on wholesale opportunities ­­­>>>>

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Cutting FireWood

The Start of the Season

We provide the majority of our heat for our home and greenhouse with firewood. Greenhouses are most commonly heated with propane, natural gas, or oil, all fossil fuels that we are trying to avoid. We have a propane furnace, but try to use it only as a back-up, for un-expected cloudy or cold weather and for those cold nights in March and April, when we struggle to get up in the late night and early morning to stoke the fireplace… It’s hard to start the season as tired!

Lucky for us, we have about 35-40 acres of woodlot, so we are able to sustainably harvest firewood. The theory goes, if you are planting trees and managing your woodlot to increase its size, age, complexity and maturity, the amount of carbon sequestered back into the trees and soil is the same as, or more, than the carbon released through burning. This way we can have a ‘carbon neutral’ heating system for our greenhouse, as long as we don’t use our propane furnace too much…

Having a greenhouse is important for our sweetcorn production. The climate in our area is challenging for sweet corn, especially organic sweet corn production. Corn does not like cold toes, waiting till the soil temperature is quite warm before germinating. One of the ways we get around this is by starting seedlings in our greenhouse and transplanting them to the field once warm enough.

 

So, these photos are in a way the beginning of sweet corn production for the season… mmm… sweet corn!

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