Earth Day From a Farming Lens

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Hello Market Friends:

It’s exciting (and slightly daunting) that there are just 3 online markets before we move back to the park! In case you’re in need of more details:


In-person Market hours will be 3pm to 7pm every Thursday, at the SOUTH end of Dufferin Grove Park, at Gladstone Avenue, from May 19th to October 27th, rain or shine!


We encourage you to come on foot or by bicycle, both for environmental reasons, and because parking is limited. If you need to come by car, there is parking on Havelock as well as a pleasant stroll away at the north end of Dufferin Grove.


Get ready to welcome back your familiar favourites as well as welcoming new vendors!


The survey we did a little while ago told us that many people rely on or want the convenience of ordering ahead for delivery to continue after the in-person market begins, so we are planning to keep the shop open! Same hours and process, but orders will arrive slightly later on Thursdays. At first, we will offer delivery only, and once we get that running smoothly, we will evaluate whether we are able to offer a pickup option. 


We’ll share more details about what’s ahead each week. In the meantime, keep those orders coming! 

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I began writing this newsletter on Earth Day, feeling a little low because there is so much bad news about the climate crisis. I had just learned from Ionel/John that there were record losses of honey bees in Ontario over the winter. No bees to pollinate blueberries, cucumbers, and other crops which depend on hives that beekeepers bring to work the fields. Hard times for people like John and Irina whose families depend on honey sales to earn their living. 


Much as I want to spread the word that we must make changes ourselves, and demand more from our elected leaders, I couldn’t bring myself to send out an all-gloomy newsletter. 


So I turned to our farmers, and asked them to tell me one good thing they have done for the environment on their farms recently. I wasn’t disappointed. Uplifting news on many topics came rolling in! Here is a partial list of good things happening on farms that feed us:


Cheyenne Sundance wrote: So we noticed on our garlic beds lots of worms! We think it’s because of the high levels of organic matter such as straw that’s added on in the fall. So we are now placing lots of straw and organic matter like cardboard onto the fields in fall for the worms.

From Fraser at Aldergrove: We grow on less than two acres. The other 25 acres of marginal workable land on our farm, we used to rent out to a neighbor but decided a few years ago to let it re-wild. The ecological response has been very positive. A big highlight for me is the ever increasing number of mating pairs of bobolinks and eastern meadowlarks, both of which are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and disturbance.

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Jenny is looking out for wild creatures too: At Knuckle Down Farm we have spotted at least two species of threatened ground nesting birds, Bobolinks and Eatern Meadowlarks. In an attempt to provide a small oasis for them here, we ignore the funny looks of our neighbours and don’t cut our hayfield until after July 15th when the young birds have safely fledged. This year we will also be adding a bat house and a bird house, as I am quite certain I spotted a pair of Eastern blue birds this Spring! Every year we add new native tree and shrub species to our shelterbelt and pollinator gardens too!

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Holly and Ed from Nature’s Way wrote, We save 98% of our own seeds from year to year, giving us the satisfaction of sharing our selected genetics in seedlings started in our nursery.

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From Audrey McDonald of The Greenhouse Eatery. Our farm is slowly moving away from plastic seedling pots to more friendly biodegradable fabric pouches. Plant the pouches. No transplant shock.

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Jessie Sosnicki sends this news about the contribution of animals on the farm and gives a shout out to organic certification: I’m happy to report that we are getting into animals this year.  We are running chicken tractors with foraging chickens on grass! We are fencing off our first pasture portion ever for beef cattle! We use cow manure and now acti-sol hen compost pellets that we bring in for soil fertility along with our cover crops. So the idea is to incorporate our own animals now to use in rotation on the veggie fields. We had to wait until the kids got a bit bigger to add yet another job to the farm here, but we have willing helpers now, so the time has come! And I still feel the need to recognize that we remain certified organic and do the paperwork for YOU, our customers! I’m very used to the process as it’s our 20 year anniversary being certified this year! It is more paperwork and does take some time away from my kids which is not funny considering how fast they grow! We don’t even really have to certify anymore as the mass majority of our customers do not require the certification – but we remain vigilant and are very proud to adhere to certified organic standards and do that extra work for YOU, our customers!


Ayse from Marvellous Edibles writes about carbon sequestration: Our beef is 100% grass fed and finished, which means as soon as the fields are dry enough they roam about 50-60 acres of field and eat grass all summer and fall and part of the spring. In winter they eat hay which is dried grass.There is a lot of literature and research out there that finds pasturing cattle (and other livestock) sequesters greenhouse gasses, improves soil and contributes to a more balanced ecosystem. In addition it is nutritionally superior. Just saying…:) 


From Jennifer and Tim at All Sorts Acres: Following the wise permaculture mantra, don’t just do something sit there, this year we are beginning to focus on the land. We are planting the first stage of living fences for our rotational grazing pastures. Instead of installing traditional fencing, planting dense rows of willow to create habitat, food for pollinators, future sheep fodder, and biomass fuel as well as art materials seemed like a better choice. So the first 400 feet of willow is being planted. In total 400 individual willow plants will be planted over the farm in a variety that can grow up to 10+ feet a year! 


Another 25+ trees are all potted up, ready to be planted. These include elderberry,  hazel, heart nut, black walnut, and more to start an edible plant nursery. It’s all very exciting!


And this note came from Nathan at Nith Valley about soil, interconnections, and the time it takes to see the results of your actions: One thing is hard, since so much of what I am working on lately is systems integration – chickens improving the soil in our sheep pasture, sheep managing crop residues and cover crops in the vegetables, longer rotations including hay and pasture for veggie ground. Recent is also a difficult one. I think so much about soil that honestly anything I have ever done here is recent from the soils perspective. Almost anything in the last few years is too recent to see the difference. So something we have been experimenting with for four years now, if I had to pick one thing to stand alone I would say using wood chip mulch for our garlic and winter squash. The chips are available to us from a tree service company and help him manage a waste product, while for us they help reduce our water usage (now growing squash without irrigation) and build up the organic matter in the soil for future crops. It also happens to be many tons of additional carbon that our soils are keeping out of the atmosphere.  For our sandy ground this additional organic matter is important for holding water and nutrients from the following crops and continues to make us more efficient for years.

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I hope you enjoyed reading all this positive news as much as I did!


Don’t forget that the deadline for applications to join the market board is Monday April 25th. You could do a good thing for the market by volunteering!

Anne & Our Farmers 


Don’t miss out on Sosnickis beautiful bunches of Swiss Chard this week, as well as their delicious overwintered Kale.


If you have already placed an order for this week, you may want to go back and place another. Reye’s Farms is coming in, but their inventory was updated Saturday afternoon. They’ve got apples and cider aplenty! Write COMBO in the postal code box at checkout and we will pack your orders together.

Vasile Florin has returned from Moldova and he is bringing the first wild leek greens of the season! Note that these early pickings are the leaves only! To protect this rare species, foragers only pick the tops early in the season, waiting until the bulbs are larger before digging any.