Follow this link to the Spring Newsletter from our farm Near River.
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Follow this link to the Spring Newsletter from our farm Near River.
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Every now and then, something comes along that brings a smile to your face, adds a glint to your eye, and a spring in your step for the rest of the day.
That’s what happened to me when I watched Birke Baehr on TEDx Next Generation recently.
This 11 year old has a real plan for sorting out the ills of our complex industrial food system, and deals with pesticides and GMO’s into the bargain.
And all in a little over 5 minutes.
Check it out.
With people like this guy around, the future might just be in good hands.
Oh and I can relate to Birke – I was 12 when I declared to my assembled family that I was going to be a farmer when I grew up!
It’s been sometime since I last posted on this blog – almost 18 months – and I could go on and explain why, blaming extra work on the farm for keeping me away from the blog. I guess the reality is that it lost it’s attraction. But now that has passed, and I have quite a few things to tell you a;; about – goings on here at the farm, and matters throughout the world that are important, or important to me!.
Over the coming weeks and months you’ll see how matters have progressed at Near River.
And to restart proceedings, here’s what we’ve been having for brunch the last few mornings.
Fresh field grown asparagus drizzled with spring garlic sautéed in butter
with poached organic free range chook eggs
Doesn’t that just make your mouth water?
We planted this asparagus 3 years ago and it’s so good now to be able to wander out to the market garden and grab it fresh. You can read about our first asparagus planting at Who is Mary Washington anyway?
The spring (or green) garlic are the ‘thinning's’ from the garlic plantings, plants that are too small to form decent bulbs, and they have a wonderful garlic aroma but lack the intensity of the fully grown and dried variety. A very subtle flavour indeed.
And our poached eggs – what can I say? I never grow tired of our eggs, with the yolks so bright and golden and the whites with that creamy texture in your mouth – so delicious.
Obviously our superb eggs are available with our vegetables in the weekly CSA boxes that will start again next week.
However, If you just want possibly the best eggs you’ll ever taste, in Port Macquarie you’ll find them at Essential Ingredients in Short Street and Organic Belly in Murray Street. Sydney ciders can venture into Cafe 169 on Alison Road in Randwick.
That’s all for now.
Rain Rain Go Away ...
Once again I find myself writing with rain falling from the sky in vast quantities, and we're told the end is not in sight.
For the third time in two months, we have a low pressure system sitting almost stationary off the northern NSW coast that is driving moist air onto the coastline and adjoining ranges, and moist air is an understatement! Huey's really throwing it down.
For us, the frustrating thing is not the day or two (or three) of inclement weather that means wearing raincoats and overpants, it's the following three or four days that we need to wait before we can move vehicles and trailers around the property, collecting piles of green waste, moving compost materials into place, spreading our made compost and leaf mulch around, and even working the soil in the plots.
At least the ducks and geese get to have some fun!
Our New Team Member
The most recent recruit, actually our first, young Angus Hawkens, started with us last Monday and has keenly jumped in to tasks that we've set for him. So far Angus has been shown first hand the finer points of garden bed clearing, compost heap building, and seedling planting. His first bed of planting was some leek seedlings, and whilst his effort was grand his execution was a little crooked!! He will deal with the error of his ways when it comes time to weed the rows with his hoe.
Angus will also be caring for our poultry whilst we're away from the farm delivering the produce down the coast and in Sydney.
We look forward to watching Angus develop his skills and interests through his studies and practical work with us.
One aspect of what we are doing here at 'Near River' is to build up a collection of seeds from plants that we've grown here. We are doing this for a number of reasons. Firstly, by collecting seeds over a number of seasons from plants with desirable traits (large fruit, early fruit, slow to bolt to seed, etc) we can produce a strain that is specifically suited to this property. Secondly, it means we can vouch for the authenticity of the seeds organic origin; and lastly, it is a way of us participating in the preservation of heirloom varieties of vegetable species.
So far we've selected a good strain of silverbeet, coriander and pumpkin. Over time these and other varieties that we save seed from will develop attributes or even an affinity with the precise microclimate that exists here a 'Near River' that will enable them to perform really well.
Many of you have been enjoying our fresh garlic, and yes garlic is meant to be juicy, not the dried, chlorine-bleached, methyl bromide fumigated imported Chinese stuff that the supermarkets pass off.
Given the success we've had with our initial planting last season, we intend to make this one of our core crops, and so have planted 3600 cloves in the last few weeks. They've jumped out of the ground, as the shot at right shows, so for now, this seasons crop is off to a good start.
2/3 of the planting (2400 bulbs) will be used as seed stock for the acre or two we intend to plant out next season, with the remainder being stored and distributed through the CSA.
This week's CSA Box
Oranges Navel 6
Lemon Meyer 1
Lettuce Cos 1
Rocket Cultivated Bag
Pumpkin Jap 400 gm
Garlic Bulb 1
Chili Med 2
Radish French 3
Parsley / Dill Pak
To close this week, a shot of an egg from one of our Rhode Island Red bantams. (It's the one on the right). They have been off the lay for some time now, and this appeared yesterday. When you haven't seen something for awhile, you often forget the marvel that Mother Nature is.
Till next week, cheers.
The boxes of vegetables that our CSA delivers each week go to the Port Macquarie and Wauchope region on Thursday afternoon and evening, and then Sydney's far north late on Thursday night. The rest of the Sydney deliveries are made on Friday.
We were up before the sun to harvest today, and here is this week's bounty.
We supply boxes of chemical-free, wholesome and nutritious vegetables each week to families in the Hastings Valley here on the Mid North Coast, and to families in Sydney, four and a half hours down the highway. This will continue through to the end of this year’s season in late June 2009, before the next season starts in September.
The produce is grown by us here on our 22 acre property, ‘Near River’, and by joining our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture, you’ll have a direct connection with who is growing your food, where it’s being grown, and how it’s being grown. And for some of us in this day of global food and beverage conglomerates, supply chains and over processed foodstuffs, this is very important.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is very popular in Japan, where it started in the mid-70’s, in Europe, and in America, where it continues to grow apace with over 2,000 CSA’s listed on various directories.For more information about US based CSA’s and the concept, Local Harvest is packed with details and links.
Here in Australia, CSA’s are yet to bloom, but we think their time has come, and we are looking to lead the way.
You can join our CSA, Near River Produce, by downloading and filling out either the Sydney brochure for people in Sydney’s northern, eastern and inner western suburbs, or the Hastings Valley brochure for people in the Port Macquarie and Wauchope region.
Further information can be found on this site by viewing earlier posts here, here and here, and by visiting the Near River Produce page. Readers from other Australian states who are interested in contacting CSA’s in their local area, can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll forward you contacts that exist in each state.
And remember, you are what you eat! (Do you want pesticides with that?).
Earlier this month we started our first deliveries for our Community Supported Agriculture project from our 22 acre property, ‘Near River’, in the Hastings Valley on the Mid North Coast of Australia’s eastern seaboard.
I need to say that it has been a very anxious time!
Not too dissimilar to being expectant parents, but in this instance people had put their trust in us, and parted with money, and now we had to deliver what we promised – fresh, wholesome and nutritious vegetables to their door each week.
So many questions and variables came up; would the produce still be fresh and un-wilted by the time we delivered the boxes to our Sydney clients 12 – 24 hours later? Would the handful of hares and wallabies that have yet to discover our crops suddenly realize what they are passing up? Would our customers perceive the amount in each week’s box to be of value to them? And why are the chooks going broody so often and messing with the egg laying schedule we’d been expecting?
The first Thursday in December arrived, and the harvest began. Up early with the sun to pick the leafy greens first - rocket, baby beetroot leaves, and stands of silverbeet and rainbow chard; rinse, and bunch them and then into the fridge to remove the field heat. Then some onions and leeks, move through the zucchini beds,and lastly some beetroot. Later in the day, the herbs and flowers were picked, and similarly, they were washed and packed before storage in the fridge too.
The night before had been filled with activity, taping boxes into shape, stamping our logo on each side, placing a clean sheet of butchers paper in the base, and then the sourcing of recipes and other material to include in the first of our fortnightly newsletters.
And along the way, take a few photos to share here on the blog!
And the response has been most favourable. It seems we’ll become known for our extra tasty beetroot, and a few clients have suggested that we need a warning label on our extra zesty rocket. The recipes have gone over a treat, and the hares and wallabies are still happy with their grasses and weeds. The situation with wilting silverbeet will be addressed in the New Year with the purchase of a small refrigerated van, and an additional flock of chickens is due to arrive in the next couple of weeks.
But it’s not all plain sailing by any means – will the weather stay relatively cool and moist for this time of the year? Will a seasonal hailstorm set us back a few weeks by wiping out the lettuce and other soft leaf veggies out in the open garden? Will the schedule we are using (‘imported’ from the US) work here in Australia?
So yes, it’s a huge learning curve. Are we enjoying it? You bet. Is it fun and exciting? Oh yeah. Do we want to shut up ‘shop’ and head back to the ‘rat race’? I DON”T THINK SO!
We are very pleased to announce that we will be bringing our boxes of nourishing, chemical-free, hand grown vegetables to your door in Sydney from December 1st!
Each week a box of approximately seven vegetables will be personally delivered to you, containing produce that will have been harvested, field washed and packed the day before, ensuring that the nutrients and goodness are at their peak. And you'll be surprised how long the goods will retain their freshness.
Based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model that has proved so popular in Europe, America and Japan, when you join our CSA, you'll be purchasing a share in the harvest that comes from our market garden here in the Hastings Valley on the New South Wales Mid North Coast.
Further details can be found in our brochure, but in short you can sign up for the full 30 week season, or take out a month by month share. The box will contain enough for two adults and then some, so maybe you'd like to split your share with a friend or neighbour. Initially the quantity will be modest, quickly rising as the summer vegetables come on line, and maintain that quantity and variety through to the end of autumn with this year's season finishing at the end of June 2009.
Note that this is different to box systems that have existed for sometime now - through Community Supported Agriculture you will have a direct connection with the people who are growing your food, and know how it is grown and where it is coming from. Visits to the farm at 'Near River' will be welcomed, and annual subscriber 'harvest' events will be held.
Our predicted range of vegetables and herbs are listed in the brochure, and will expand over time.
Our December boxes are expected to contain:
Tomatoes (4 types) Zucchini Lettuce Rocket Beetroot Onion/Leek Carrots Fennel
and a range of herbs - Parsley Coriander Dill Basil
We anticipate delivering either late on Thursdays or throughout Friday, so you'll need a cool place for us to leave the goodies!
There are up to 25 'shares' available, so jump in quickly, and if this is not for you, pass this onto anyone you know who may be interested in having fresh, nutritious, chemical-free vegetables delivered to their door. Heck, it would even make a great Christmas gift!
We are sure that you'll have some questions, so please contact us after you've read our brochure, either by phone - 02 6587 6004 or 0412 995 256 - or by email email@example.com and we'll answer your concerns.
And remember, you are what you eat!
At the end of last week we received a big dump of rain, 100 mm (4 inches) in around 12 hours, which had us worried that we'd lose some of the crops and beds that we've been tending. Thankfully that wasn't the case, and this morning I went out to harvest our first bag of spinach. Cutting the plants at ground level, and then bringing them in to quickly rinse before loosely bagging them and placing in the fridge. I can't wait to cook them up tonight for dinner - hmmm, yum.
I will have been away from the farm (and this blog) for a few days by the time you read this, as I've headed interstate to attend a weekend seminar and catch up with some friends along the way.
Little plump asparagus spears poking their heads up through the mulch!
This is very exciting!
What seems like only last week, I posted about planting out our asparagus crowns in Who Is Mary Washington Anyway?, so to see these little beauties reaching for the sky already is surprising, but great none the less.
And now for the hardest part - not picking any of this year's spears so the crowns can develop strongly for the years ahead.
Looks as though all the effort we put in to ensure the crowns had a great bed to start from will pay dividends.
Okay, that's all for this post. I'm off on a roadtrip.
image credit organic maven