Dear Local Food Box Program members, supporters, and friends.
It is time.
We are happy to announce that we are ready to accept your registrations for the 2013 Local Food Box Program. Please read below for an update from your box program managers at Wind Whipped Farm and for information about some changes to the program this year. Or if you just want to skip straight to reserving your spot click here to sign up. General information on the program is also available in the How it works and the FAQ’s sections.
Our apologies for not getting in touch with you sooner, it is has been a busy winter and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind at Wind Whipped Farm! We have renovated and are now moved back into our farm house (cabin) in Metchosin, our first seedlings have sprouted in the greenhouse and we are getting to work on cultivating our garden. There is a long list of work to be done before harvesting for the box program begins but we are on our way; every year is a bit smoother than the last.
In the last few weeks we have also been reviewing our financial outcomes from last year and working out some of the details for the box program this year. As you likely know this is still a relatively new program and we are constantly learning and trying to improve. This year we are making the following changes to our “in town” drop off locations and to our meat box option and eggs option. If any of these changes affects your decision about whether to participate or what options you choose we would appreciate if you could let us know.
Changes to Box Pick Up Locations
We will continue to offer box pick-ups at Wind Whipped Farm in Metchosin on Fridays from 4-5 pm.
Our Wednesday pick-up will be changing from our location outside La Piola to a new location at the Victoria West Community Centre (521 Craigflower Rd), which is conveniently located next to our friend Byron’s great bakery, Fry’s Red Wheat Bread. Same time, 5 to 6pm.
Our Monday pickup will be changing from 1221 Oscar Street to the Cook Street Activity Centre (380 Cook Street, about 400 m from our previous Oscar Street location). This will offer box members easier parking and give us some more room to expand our operation while continuing to bring the box program to the Fairfield/Cook Street neighborhood.
Changes to Meat Box Option
After meeting with the farmers at Stillmeadow and Parry Bay Sheep Farm who produce the excellent meats in the meat box option, we have decided to adjust the cost of this option as well as the delivery.
This year we will be offering the meat box option as a bi-weekly $50 value box instead of the weekly $25 value. The reason for making this change is that the two farms found coordinating and packing the boxes to be too labour intensive last year. By packaging the boxes once every two weeks and having a higher value in each box it will save them some time and make it easier to balance out the value of the contents.
We will also be adding a 10% markup to the cost of the meat box. Each bi-weekly box will be $50 + $5, which corresponds to $400+$40 for the whole season. Last year, as agreed with the farmers, we kept 10% of the sales of the meat box to compensate us for our costs and time involved. We tried to do it this way, instead of adding a markup for the customer, because we wanted to keep the costs for the members as low as possible. Unfortunately we have determined that this is not sustainable for the farmers so have decided to switch to a 10% markup instead. We do not take raising the cost for our members lightly but it is paramount to us that farmers are adequately compensated. We have chosen to be transparent about this, as with all aspects of the program, because we value the trust of our customers. We also encourage you to go their retail farmstore where you can get their meats without the markup or to contact them about ordering wholesale.
Changes to Egg Option
We are tentatively offering the option of a dozen eggs per week this year. We are currently in the process of trying to secure another egg producer. Melinda from Elysian Fields, who supplied members with the colorful farm fresh eggs last year, has decided to scale back her flock and will no longer be selling eggs with us. While our friend and neighbour Marie will still be supplying eggs, we will likely need one or two more suppliers in order to meet anticipated demand. For now we are taking orders to gauge interest but will confirm later. We are switching to only the weekly option (no bi-weekly) in order to streamline the system. We encourage members interested in a half dozen weekly or dozen bi-weekly to split it with a friend or other member.
We hope you will be joining us for another season of local foods. If you have family or friends who you think might be interested in the program please pass along our information. The box program also makes a great gift for someone special.There has been growing interest in the program, we have received several new inquiries over the winter so we encourage you to sign up right away to ensure you get in.
We look forward to seeing you again and meeting new members. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Dear box program members,
Its finally started raining. Time to get caught up on some indoor tasks like writing an end of season update!
First and foremost: Thank you to everyone who participated in the Local Food Box Program this year, we really appreciate your appetite for and commitment to local food. When we started out this season with the goal of doubling our veggie and meat box memberships it felt like a long shot. Many of you played a big part in getting the word out to family, friends and co-workers about the program. We did reach our membership goal but we couldn’t have done it without you.
Several new members joined the program, some a bit unsure of what they were getting themselves into, thank you for giving us a shot and for sticking with it through the season. We will be doing our planning for next year this winter and will let you know as soon as we are ready to take registrations.
Since the final weeks of the box program we have been busy gearing down, cleaning up and getting ready for the winter. At Wind Whipped Farm the garden is almost all planted to a mix of winter wheat, vetch and peas in order to protect the soil overwinter, add nitrogen and incorporate organic matter in the spring. We have planted around 1000 garlic cloves for next year. We have purchased a larger used greenhouse from Ragley farm and are in the process of dismantling and relocating it to our farm, this will greatly increase our capacity for growing heat loving crops. We sill have some fall pruning to do and winterizing but are overall in good shape.
Still meadow and Parry Bay had a good harvest of wheat in September, their ewes and rams have begun the process of making lambs for next spring, and their barns are prepared for the winter. The two farms purchased 40 tonnes of oats from a peninsula farm this year in order to provide their animals with more local feed, to add to the feed they already grow themselves, as well as to help guard against rising feed costs (http://www.goldstreamgazette.com/news/172354341.html).
On a more personal note, Virginie is currently in Europe as part of her research for her Master’s degree. She is participating in three conferences: “Villes jardinées et initiatives citoyennes” (Gardened Cities and Citizens Initiatives) in Strasbourg, the Cittaslow (Slow Cities) general assembly and the annual Slow Food gathering, Terra Madre, in Italy. She will spend most of the winter in Montreal finishing her degree at Concordia. Alex is going to visit Virginie in Montreal for November, take a timber-framing course in Vermont and attend the National Farmer’s Union annual convention in Saskatoon. In December he will move out to The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve to work as EcoGuardian until the end of March. For blog updates from the rock check out: http://www.racerocks.ca/wp/
Though the box program is done for the season there are still many opportunities to access local food including local meats from Stillmeadow and Parry Bay Sheep Farm and eggs from Elysian Fields. We encourage everyone to continue to support local farmers as much as possible, here are a few suggestions:
Elysian Fields (eggs): 250-382-0818 ElysianFields@telus.net
Ragley Farm (vegetables, dairy, baked goods, cut flowers, soup): Saturday on-farm market in East Sooke, April to Dec. 11:00 am-2:00 pm (coffee at 10:30) 5717 East Sooke Rd. 250-642-7349
Sea Bluff (vegetables): At Moss street market and a box program
Saanich Organics (vegetables): At Moss Street Market and a box program
Umi Nami (vegetables): At Moss Street Market and a box program, 250-391-0763
Eisenhower Organics (vegetables): At Moss Street Market
Its been a busy month for us. So busy that we have skipped 4 weeks of our “weekly” updates. Harvest days have been particularly long this month (beans, peas, tomatoes, etc.) but we have also been having fun with our fellow years from Pearson College, several of which convened on the campus and Wind Whipped Farm for our 10-year reunion. We took the time to enjoy everyone’s presence and the reunion activities and got lots of work done thanks to our hard working guests. Jill (from Berlin) harvested potatoes, Brandon (from Hay River, NWT) and Andres (from New Mexico) pulled out the pea plants, Taarini (from Dehli) harvested carrots, Jacolien (from Holland) weeded the rhubarb patch and Carolina (from Chile) and Marieta (from Spain) cleaned the garlic. Throughout the month of August, many more visited and pitched in. Thanks to their help and that of Molly Buchanan who did the town drop-offs, we had a great time and managed to keep those veggie boxes nice and full.
Thank you to those who completed the survey. We were thrilled that 46 box members participated and happy to get overall positive feedback. Several great ideas on how to improve the program were also submitted, we look forward to exploring how to incorporate as many as possible to next year’s operations.
We are now into the second half of the box program. For those of you paying by instalment we will let you know your remaining balance at the pickup or by email. If you have given us a cheque lately or a post dated cheque previously we will be depositing it this week.
Also, we would like to get some feedback from members about the program so far. This week instead of featuring a veggie item we have put together a short survey designed to give us a better sense of what is working well and what needs improvement. Box members will be receiving this survey by email this week, it would be greatly appreciated if members could complete it by next Friday (August 10th).
On the veggie production end, we think the first 8 weeks of the program have gone fairly smoothly. We are enjoying getting to know new box members and reconnecting with last year’s members. We also think our new Wednesday drop-off location at La Piola restaurant is working out well (and we sure enjoy having the perfect excuse to feast on their home-made pasta and delicious pizzas on a weekly basis).
The weather has posed certain challenges. Because the month of June was particularly cold several plants have matured later than planned, resulting in the first few boxes being smaller than intended. This also means we have found ourselves with bumper crops of kohlrabi, lettuce heads and peas, amongst others. The weekly value of the boxes received has varied between $13 (in early June) and $32 (late July), but so far the average is approximately $25 so we are on track.
In these first 8 weeks, veggie box members have received the following items: Arugula, Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Mint, Thai basil (pot), Chives, Lovage, Chard, Cilantro, Collards, Cucumbers, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Garlic Scapes, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce heads, Lettuce Mix, Mâche, Mizuna, Scallions, Di Maggio and/or Purplette Onions, Pac Choi, Parsley, Radishes, Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Strawberries, Zucchini/Summer Squash.
For recipes this week we have added a Happy Soup recipe and are sharing a link to a Pesto Cubes Recipes site (over 15 types of pesto, some using cilantro, basil, dill and more) sent to us by box members. Also, another box member recently found this New York Times article titled Raw Panic: Coping With Summer’s Bounty of Vegetables, which may be useful to anyone feeling a bit overwhelmed by the more bountiful veggie boxes.
This is the week that our 10 foot tall pea plants have finally started producing; let the peas begin! It has been an exceptional year for peas. Due to the cold weather our peas have grown much taller than usual, but this has also meant that they are ready for harvest much later than planned for. The peas you will find in your veggie box this week are called “sugar snaps”. This is a variety with an edible pod, so the best way to use them is eaten raw as a snack (with or without a nice dip) or lightly cooked (as in stir-fries).
This week we are also including a chive and lovage herb bunch. While chives are fairly well-known and widely available, lovage is seldom found in grocery stores so we thought we would include a few tips and recipes for preparing it. Lovage looks and tastes a bit like a cross between a celery and a parsley plant. The hollow, somewhat fibrous stems are great in dishes that are meant to simmer for a while and they make a fine straw for a home-made bloody-mary. The leaves make wonderful marinades and can also be used in soups or stews. We particularly enjoy using lovage to season lamb in a stew or a roast.
We are adding recipes for a Lovage Simple Syrup from Joe Yonan , Food and Travel editor of The Washington Post, as well as a Lovage, Lettuce, Pea and Cucumber Soup from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall , a food and cookery writer and broadcaster who writes for the Guardian. This is part of what he has to say about lovage:
“You can toss its lively young leaves in salads or tuck them into the cavity of a chicken or fish before roasting; finely shredded, they are a great addition to soups, stews, mash or scrambled eggs; you can steam the stems, braise the roots and use the seeds in biscuits and bread – what’s not to love about lovage?(…)The flavour is like parsley and celery combined with a hint of aniseed and curry(…)Lovage has sturdy, hollow stems, leaves that look like large Italian flat-leaf parsley and greenish-yellow flowers that are followed by golden-brown seed pods. It’s a member of the Umbelliferae family, which includes carrots, parsnips, parsley and celery. As suggested above, you can use the leaves as a punchy substitute for parsley or celery (the French call it céleri bâtard) – go easy at first because it’s stronger than both, though the flavour mellows a bit in cooking.
Lovage is native to western Asia and the Mediterranean, and was admired by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its medicinal as well as for its culinary properties – it was believed to cure everything from rheumatism to sore throats and indigestion. Medieval travellers tucked the leaves into their shoes because of their antiseptic and deodorising properties. Charlemagne was so smitten, he ordered it to be grown in all of his gardens. As the name suggests, it was also thought to be an aphrodisiac (we also used to call it “love parsley”).(…) The green leaves, cut into fine ribbons, are very good with lightly cooked summer veg. Or add them, chopped, to salads or stuffings for pork or chicken, or to fish chowder, or to just-boiled new potatoes in a mustardy vinaigrette. Lovage is delicious with eggs, too – stir leaves into omelettes, scrambled egg or frittata. Tender young stems (from the centre of the plant) can be steamed and served as a side vegetable – lovely with a summer roast chicken.”
Its week 7 of the box program and the pea flowers are quickly turning into pea pods, our tomatoes are (exponentially) ripening, and summer squashes are reaching their peak production.
A few people have asked us how to store vegetables so as to maintain maximum freshness. We are no expert on the matter (we typically pick and eat our veggies in a 24 hour window) but we did do a bit of online research and found a piece on How to Store Vegetables & Fruits Without Plastic we thought some of you might be interested in.
We have added a Roasted Beets with Chiles, Ginger, Yogurt and Indian Spices recipe as well as the following recipes for zucchini and summer squash:
It has been a busy weekend in Metchosin, with the warm weather haying has finally gotten in full swing. Stillmeadow Farm and Parry Bay sheep farm have been putting in long days of cutting, raking, bailing, loading, trucking, and stacking hay bales from all over Metchosin.
At Wind Whipped Farm the dry weather has finally had us put our new and improved overhead irrigation system to use. Our pea plants are currently about head high and flowering and it looks like our first harvest of beets will be in the box this week. We have added the following beet recipes:
- Beetroot with Leek, Green Apple and Green Tea
- Raw Beet Salads
- Beet Tartare
- Wheat Berry and Roasted Beet Salad with Ginger Curry Vinaigrette