Corn Is Here!

Our first planting of our early variety, Solstice, is in full production right now.  A smaller bi-colour variety (think peaches and cream), it has a nice delicate sweet flavour.  As the season continues, we should have 5 more varieties, Natural Sweet, Natural Bright, Allure, Enchanted, and Mirage.  We love the names…

We have been eating it grilled, boiled, in tacos, risotto, pasta salad, you name it.  In the case of Fiona, our daughter, even raw off the cob! (We don’t recommend this as too much can upset the stomach…)

Corn will be available Wednesday through Sunday at the farm as supplies last.  If we run out, we will post on facebook.com/fairfieldsorganics/ and voicemail.  Call 519-665-7982 or email devanpenney@gmail.com, ahead of time for bulk orders.

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Strawberries are done, corn is just around the corner

STRAWBERRIES

Our strawberry season was a little early this year, which caught us completely by surprise.  With the cold winter and late spring, we expected to not be picking till the third week of June, but we started doing our first major picking by June 9th.  The weather was fairly good to us, with no late frosts or prolonged heat waves and lots of dry picking conditions.  We had many happy u-pickers through the patch, more than ever before.

Our one challenge this year was pest and disease pressure.  Our mid-season varieties got hit fairly hard by verticillium wilt, a fungal disease that becomes obvious the week before the berries are ready…  It was a little heartbreaking to see large parts of the patch wither and die, just before we were starting to pick them.  We will be changing some of our practices to try to avoid this wilt in the future, however, a big contributing factor was the damp cool weather we had last summer through till Christmas, not something we could have done anything about.  Our late-season varieties had a lot of insect pressure, leading to scarring on the fruits that deform them and make them leathery and bitter.  Thankfully our earliest variety was a powerhouse and carried on producing for 2.5 weeks!

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SWEET CORN

The next crop we will have available is sweet corn, hopefully by the last week of July.  It is looking very nice and our first variety, Solstice, has small cobs fattening up as we speak!  As with our strawberries, we will be open for sales to the public from Wednesday through Sunday 9:30 am till 7:30 pm, as supplies last.  If we are out, we will update on Facebook and voicemail.

Our price is $7 for 6, $12 for a dozen, or $10.50 per dozen if you buy 5 dozen or more.
We take cash, cheque (made out to Devan Penney) or eTransfer (send to devanpenney@gmail.com).  The price may seem high to some, but growing sweet corn at this latitude organically is challenging.  When you buy certified organic sweet corn from us, you know you are not getting any GMOs, insecticides, seed treatments, or chemical fertilizers, used heavily on most conventional corn on the market.  It is also picked fresh, so it is sweet and tender whenever you come by.

Thanks for a great season thus far, we hope to see you out for sweet corn shortly,

Devan and the team at Fair Fields

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U-pick and Pre-picked strawberries ready for the season

Out with the old… in with the new!

Our asparagus season was short and sweet.  We harvested for about 4 weeks and enjoyed some lovely spears.  Now it is time to leave our young patch to store up energy and grow for future years.  Asparagus is a hearty perennial that takes about 4-5 years to start producing fully.  Our patch is 1-2 years old, depending on the row, so it has a little while to go before it is mature and pumping it out.  We expect next year we will have a season closer to 6 weeks long and 7-8 weeks the year after that.

Just in time, the strawberries are rushing to take the asparagus’ place!  We have started pulling out a few quarts for the family this week but expect them to start producing in earnest next week.  We have moved ahead our official opening day for U-pick and Pre-picked strawberries, Saturday, June 11.  Starting on June 15, we will be open Wednesday through Sunday 9:30 am – 7:30 pm, as production lasts.  We expect production should continue through the first full week of July.

Please check ahead for availability and picking conditions.  If you would like to get on our pre-picked order list, call 519-665-7982 or email me at devanpenney@gmail.com

For more information on u-pick, go to our u-pick page (Link here)

Hope to see you in the patch!

Devan

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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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