Asparagus in its Golden Spears…

We started planting aspagus several years ago and it is starting to really come into its own! Young asparagus takes a while to expand into a bed and build up a large healthy crown. First years of harvesting are light, as you let the plants keep a lot of their energy to grow and invest in future years. Our patch is just reaching full maturity this year and will soon be entering its golden years. That means we will have 7+ weeks of harvesting and heavier yields than we have had to date. It also means the patch is peaking over the next several years, after which we will slowly see some of it start to decline in areas that have heavy weed pressure. Hopefully the golden years last a good long time!

Asparagus Fronds in the Summer

We love asparagus, as it is one of the first green vegetables available in the spring and has a sweet and earthy flavour that is unique among vegetables. Some of our favourite ways to use it are grilled or sauted with a bit of garlic and oil or butter. It goes particularily well with toasted sesame seed oil. Wrapped in bacon and grilled, it is divine… It is also yummy pickled, in omlettes and frittatas, in pastas and pureed in soup. We make sure to put away a few pounds every year to make into rich creamy soups over winter.

Bunching the Harvest

Come on out to the farm to grab some asparagus during open hours or purchase our products through Eat Local Grey Bruce, Glencolton Farm Store, and Side Road Farm Store. If you are looking for a bulk order, reach out ahead of time to make sure we have supply and to check on wholesale pricing.

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The Season Has Begun!

Our asparagus is coming up, the rhubarb is growing fast, and we are planting strawberries; spring has sprung at Fair Fields.  Despite that wacky warm week at the beginning of April, the last couple of weeks have been wet and cool, so we are a little bit behind in our first offerings.  Nonetheless, we expect to have both asparagus and rhubarb for sale at the farm starting Wednesday, May 17th and strawberries by mid-June.
Like last year, we will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 am – 7:30 pm.
We will post on facebook.com/fairfieldsorganics and update voicemail at (519) 665-7982, if we have a lull in production and are running out of produce.

 

We hope to have a more consistent supply of corn this year.  Our ground preparation is better, and we are starting more seedlings in the greenhouse to try and start with a bang!  We have also learned our lesson on using old seeds, don’t do it!  Corn germination is a little more finicky, especially in organic production, so it is good to have new seeds and plant lots of it…

 

We are slowly expanding our tree fruit offerings this year.  Last year was our first successful tree fruit year, with apples and some pears surprising us in their abundance.  Our first trees are old enough, and my dad, Donald, has been caring for them well, so the trees are starting to bear fruit!  We have also planted plums, cherries and smattering of others that will hopefully produce fruit in the next few years.  Check-in with us closer to late summer to see how this year’s crop is shaping up.

 

This spring, we will also plant a few short rows of July raspberries and haskaps, as a trial to see if there is enough demand to add those to our list of fruit.   For those who haven’t heard of them, haskaps are a great northern fruit, native to Canada and very productive and winter hearty.  They are packed with antioxidants and have a flavour somewhere between a blueberry and a mild currant.

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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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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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