Growing chemical-free food 0
All hands in the garden for weeding and keeping our plants happy in mid summer. This is where checking for weed infestation, bugs and watering is the most important for the success of a good crop. Photo by Lea Kitler
I remember growing up in the city of Toronto and going into the cold cellar to get a jar of peaches that Mom and I had preserved the year before. We would pack the family in the old wood paneled station wagon and head off to Niagara every fall and bring back bushels of pears and peaches. We were a family of seven back in the day and to grow up working for our food was not a chore, it was our reality. During my time there, I always wondered about what it would be like to live on a farm.
A lot for me has changed since then and my love for the “fruits of my labour” has grown deeper. I have been on the farm for 10 years learning how to grow chemical-free food. We plant in order to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and to preserve whatever we can for the long winter ahead.
We now have enough for our guests and our Community Supported Agriculture program, which is in full swing from July to September. Customers arrive weekly for 12 weeks to collect their share of the bounty. New this year is open farm gate every Saturday where many arrive by the car full to explore the farm, meet the animals and pick up fresh veggies.
It’s far too hot these days to continue to grow product in the greenhouse and it would take too much energy to cool the room. So, we have decided to use the space as a drying room. With many of the herbs ready to use we will set them on racks and allow the moisture to naturally come out of them. They will be packaged and stored for use through out the next year. We will also use this space to sun dry peppers and tomatoes then put them in jars of oil to be used in stir-fries. We are learning how to dry carrots, peas and beans that will be added to soup mixes for the winter.
For the past two years we’ve had bees on the farm and we are learning more and more about how big of a role they play in our ecosystem. Endless hours they work to keep their queen happy and in return they keep us alive by pollinating our plants. In August we harvest the sweet wild flower honey, leaving more than enough in their hives to sustain the colony for the winter. We are taking a bit of pollen from each of the five hives and adding it to our diet.
All too soon the cool August nights will come upon us, and for those vegetables that haven’t fully matured yet, we will make the nightly trip to put row covers over them so they have a chance to ripen before the frost kills them.
It is interesting how the circle and cycle of sustainably continue to grow for us, as we experience first hand and taste of the fruits of our labour.
We challenge ourselves to see what we can add to our plate next as we desire new tastes.
Lea Kitler is one half of the Magnificent Hill farming duo which includes Diane Doiron. The farm is located at 1258 Magnificent Road in Highland Grove.