The short dark days of early winter are challenging for many of us, but take courage from the knowledge that we are coming to the shortest day of the year, and then to the return of the light.
Our last market of 2021 is December 23rd, and by then, although it’s early winter, we will be into lengthening days! Happy Solstice Everyone! (The first market of 2022 will be January 6th.)
So what are our farmers up to as we approach the solstice?
From Ayse’s Marvellous Edibles newsletter:
“This past 2 weeks, I have been receiving the 2022 seed catalogues. I am still like a kid in a candy store when it comes to buying new seeds. I am sure you already guessed my weakness because of the crazy array of unusual veggies you sometimes find at our stand. Today, the first batch of seeds arrived. I discovered an Asian Seed company last year and hopefully starting next spring, there will be new varieties of bok choy, gai lan, choy sum, bitter melon, cucumbers and winter squash. We may grow just a few plants of the really hot peppers, but still grow the milder ones in large quantities. Lately, the seed catalogs are full of heirloom look-alike tomato seeds. I tried a couple last season; I was not impressed with the flavours. I think I will keep on growing the old heirlooms and deal with the cracks and soft ripe varieties by preserving them.”
Aren’t you glad about that? There is no replacement for big, messy, cracked, luscious, juicy, delicious heirloom tomatoes! You’ll see many heirloom varieties of seeds available from Urban Harvest early in the new year.
Cheyenne from Sundance Harvest always has news and musings about her farming journey to share. She posted this from the North Pole a few days ago:
“Today I stared at the sky for a while. I had a big magical thought while doing that. I do not believe that growing greens is worth the effort in winter farming. Hear me out. I first don’t believe most of the public, not everyone, understands what eating locally means and how hard it is actually growing living things when it gets dark by 4pm and most of the days are full overcast. This isn’t their own fault. It’s the globalization of the food system and people (in cities but also rurally sometimes) being so disconnected from the land they don’t understand how farming actually happens. The price of producing a head of lettuce in the winter is actually double what it is in the summer if not more. Things grow twice as slow but they take up the same real estate, more pest pressure growing indoors so I need to buy predator insects, more powdery mildew pressure, having to heat our cooler outdoors to prevent freezing as lettuce is super tender and a few other variables. But nobody is gonna pay $9 for that lettuce in the dead of winter.”
Ain’t it the truth? By the way, this will be Cheyenne’s last market of 2021.
Here’s a note from growers we only see during the outdoor season. It’s fun to keep in touch with what the Sosnickis are up to even in their absence:
“This time of year no one has to drag us into the office! We go willingly and with gusto to plan the 2022 growing season ahead! These few days we get to put our heads together and go over what worked, what didn’t, switch things up, (like – grow a mass ton of tomatoes in the greenhouses for 2022 because most of the field tomatoes drowned during 2021 …but then 2022 will be hot/dry and tomatoes will be too hot in the greenhouses and we will wish we did mostly field plantings.) …..Ultimately learning is best for us if we do a little here and a little there, hope for the best and plan for mother nature to bring her worst!”
One of the great things about working with the farmers who come to Dufferin is getting to hear about all of their farming journeys! Whether young or not so young, they are constantly trying new things and gaining wisdom from observation, key aspects of organic farming!
One more inspiring bulletin, this time about a project you can help with.
From Jennifer and Tim at All Sorts Acres:
“We’re at the point now where we need to redo our original rotational grazing fencing to something more permanent. In true permaculture style, we didn’t want to commit to altering the landscape permanently before learning more about what it needed and wanted. After 5 years here we feel that our fencing is well placed for weather, sheep, land, and soil. It’s now time to upgrade. Our choices are to install conventional fence posts and wire, or grow a living fence. A living fence takes longer, and of course more work, but we truly believe that the benefits of living fences are greater than just installing regular fencing.”
Jennifer is selling some of her original prints to raise funds for this project! Read all about it on the All Sorts page of our website, and think about a gift of support for sustainable methods to give to someone who would love to help steward biodiversity on a farm!
“Each print sold helps purchase a sapling and goes towards protecting the sapling from animals while growing. Protecting the saplings means building wooden barriers around them. These wooden barriers are then used as sheep pens during the winter, so no materials are wasted. Our goal is to fence the entire farm this way as it was done for hundreds of years across the world.”
On to the shop now….
Don’t panic when you can’t find MotherDough products on our site! Carole is away but returning next week to bake up a storm for the last market of the year.
Aldergrove is bringing us more of their exquisitely mild Dandelion greens and anything but mild Fire Cider. The temperatures are forecast to be warmer, so Fraser should be able to harvest fully thawed spinach that was frozen solid last week.
You can keep on enjoying market flavours when we’re closed for the holidays, or introduce someone new to a selection of our best-sellers with Christmas Cranberry Holiday Special from Chocosol or a Nature’s Way Gift Bags, and a reminder that we’ve also got all kinds of Dufferin Holiday Market Baskets overflowing with good things. Don’t wait too long!.
Anne & the Market Crew
Much gratitude to Lhundup for making us a feast last week!