Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Early morning wanderings and reflections...

While out doing chores this morning, I started to think about our season and our fourth year at the farm. These are some of the things that come to mind while the sun comes up and you are lugging water buckets up to the pigs and turkeys on a still but cold
-13 morning!

With such an early spring this year, which initially got everyone excited! who would have thought that after the first 6 weeks of the CSA we were doubting if we would even get to the end of it.  It was not a wonderful growing year, harvest was low and some of our members did find this challenging. Others who have been with us from the start appreciated what was happening and knew this was one of the risks you have to roll with and it really was out of our control.

From a distance the field did look green and lush but it was not until closer inspection that you started to note the lack of fruit on the crops, cabbage had not formed solid heads, cauliflower only grew so much and then just stopped, crops stunted in growth, lettuce bolting before they had even formed and insects and pests had the most fun of all eating all our veggies and reducing yeilds.  Watching huge cracks appear in the dried out soil and while watering you would watch the water neatly fall down through these cracks and not even touch the roots of the plants.
We did make it to the end of the season but we really had to take it week by week and all the planning we do before the season starts and the succession planting we do during the season seemed to go out the window as we really had to leave it in mother natures hands to see what would grow with minimal water.
By the end of the season we had fed 37 families through our 18 week CSA, raised 300 chickens, 50 Turkeys and 4 Berkshire pigs on pasture.  Our Chickens have laid well over 6000 eggs this year, and our bees some how managed to produce some of the best honey we have ever tasted.

The middle of our year was made harder when we lost one of our long term companions, our gorgeous Spinone boy Zampa in August.  Zampa was our first Spinone, a true gent in every sense of the word and his passing has been a huge wrench for Michael and I.  Jorja seems to have coped a lot better than us but our farm seems  empty without him.  My rat hunter and protector has gone. Working in the greenhouse will never be the same without my boy sitting glued to the spot staring at seed trays to let me know I either have a mouse or a rat under one.  Or digging a hole so large under the seeding tables you wondered where he was actually heading.

Water does continue to be an issue this winter as our well has run dry again and we have more animals this year to water than we ever had before.  So we are hoping for more rain before we really freeze up and then lots and lots of snow to help the water table come spring next year.  I am actually looking forward to saying goodbye to our Christmas Turkeys this year as it will be one group less to water.

With all that has happened and tested us this year we have also had a lot of days that has brought laughter and fun to our farm.  Both our mums visited this year and at a respective 67 and 70 years of age they both worked like troopers on our farm, some days it was a challenge to get them off the field!

To our friends, neighbours and CSA members who came out and helped clear sections of our field as crops died back, to help water or brought water to the farm, who arrived with iced coffees or snacks on the hottest of days to keep us going, for the e-mails and phone calls that kept our spirits up.  We can only say THANK YOU for being who you are and making a huge difference to our farm this year.

May and Lily's mum's visited and we had the best two days ever! Discing and cultivating the growing area with two teams and two generations of Suffolk's on our field was an amazing sight for all.  Reuniting mothers and daughters also seemed to give a sense of closure that all was well.
With a horse trailer parked at the farm for two days it did send rumours flying around the local sale barn that our team was leaving, which made Michael and I laugh even more!   Most people think we are slightly crazy to do this all with a team of horses a walk behind tiller and a lawn tractor and trailer! 
Garlic is in and mulched and we have planted more than ever this year.  We have added two new varieties along with Music and Fish Lake II in the field for next year.  So here's looking to a bumper crop of scapes and garlic in 2013.

Our gorgeous Berskhire pigs are growing and doing an amazing job of clearing part of next years garden.  Once the Christmas turkeys leave they will move onto their paddock and turn it over.  They make light work of it all and are doing an amazing job of not only getting rid of all the weeds but also turning all the rocks up.  We also welcomed Bertie the Boar to our herd so we are able to start breeding our own Berks next year.

Breeding, Pregnancy and Birth will head line early 2013 as Elly is looking on the large side already and I am guessing that is not from eating hay! So fingers and toes crossed we will be welcoming our first kids and piglets to the farm next year.

2013 is nearly here and the planning has started.  We will look at the new season slightly differently, taking into account the drought this year when we plan for next.  One of the biggest things the drought has shown us is this farm at this location would never be able to run a drip irrigation through our growing area while we still raise livestock.  We enjoy being a mix diversified farm and we will continue to do this.  What we will be doing is looking at different ways to hold the water in the ground, looking for more affordable water storage containers and hoping for regular rain during the growing season.

So there we have it a mornings wanderings and reflections while doing chores.  

From Michael and I a huge thank you to all who choose to support our small farm.  We love what we do and we love feeding all our customers with healthy and nutritionally rich food.  Without your continued support we could not do this.  
We look forward to feeding you all again in 2013!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cooking with a Stew Hen....

There comes a time when we have to retire some of our older eggs layers and this fall was that time.   We had a lot of interest from our customers who wanted them for stock birds as the flavour from these older birds is delicious.  They have spent over two years running around a paddock eating grass, grubs, excess vegetables and scratch.  

These birds are slightly lighter in size but are darker in meat.
Rather than just making stock we decided to have a go at making a chicken ragu.  I am not going to lie it is a lengthy process but well worth it.

Michael jointed the chicken and then I marinated the chicken in half a bottle of red wine, fresh rosemary and garlic.  This stage can be done for an hour or over night, all depends on your time and patience.

Once marinated the chicken pieces were removed and browned in oil in a dutch oven.  Once the chicken was browned I used the excess fat in the pot to brown three cloves of sliced garlic and to cook a tin of anchovies.

The chicken was returned to the pot along with the remainder of the marinade and two jars of home canned tomatoes.   All of this was brought to the boil on the stove top. Then the lid was popped on the pot and placed into the wood stove oven on 350F and left to cook for 3.5 hours.

Once cooked the chicken was falling away from the bone but we left it with the pot lid on and placed it on the counter top over night so all the juices could soak into the meat even more.
Next morning I pulled all the meat away from the bones.  We were pleasantly surprised how much meat we got and also how tender it was.

All the skin and bones can go into another pot and stock can be made with this if you wish.  I added the meat back to the sauce and cooked on a gentle simmer for another hour. Finally it was ready to serve for dinner on a bed of spaghetti squash.   Other sides could be Spaghetti or mashed potato or what ever takes your fancy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

5 Days Left....

Only five days left for everyone to take advantage of our early bird discount for the 2013 CSA Vegetable box programme.  

Sign up between now and December 1st 2012 and save $25.00.

Why Join a CSA?: 

  • Keeps your food source local rather than it being picked unripe, then being gassed in a storage container to ripen, losing it's flavour and nutritional value while it travels thousands of kilometers to get to your table.
  • Stopping the large corporations taking over the food system.  
  • Guaranteeing that none of your dollar spent will end up in Monsanto's pocket. 
  • Keeping an open mind trying new or different vegetables and eating seasonally. 
  • Share some of the rewards and risks of the farm, by benefiting from the abundance  or making do should crop yields be low due to weather, disease or pests.
  • Supporting a local farm helps to stimulate the local economy
  • It gives you the security of knowing where your food has been grown and that is has been grown in a environmentally sustainable way using as little fossil fuels as possible and no herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
  • Having a relationship with the farmer that grows your food, rather than heading into a food store picking up food that has been handled by many hands,  that has already been cleaned and prepared for you and may have already spent several weeks sitting on a shelf wrapped in plastic.

The Season:
 18 weeks from mid June and will finish mid October 2013. 

What can you expect in your basket over the season: 7-12 seasonal vegetables each week.  

The size and variety of a share may vary slightly throughout the year due to the season, weather and other variables. 

Examples of a seasonally weekly share:
Early Season - Spring turnips, bunching onions, asian greens, herbs, lettuce, garlic scapes, peas, swiss chard, radish and mizuna.Mid Season - Lettuce, zucchini, fennel, garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, beans, onions, sweet peppers, beets and carrots.Late Season - Kale, pac choy, onions, cabbage, rutabaga, winter squash, leeks, potatoes, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes. 

For more information about our CSA please see our CSA page, e-mail or call the farm, and we will send you a brochure and application form. If you have any questions on the CSA programme please do not hesitate to contact us, or read one of our earlier posts about the CSA.  

Also see our Facebook page for pictures of the last three years growing seasons.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Welcome King George VI

This really has been one long adventure and it all started September 2011! We were trying to get a registered Berkshire boar from Nova Scotia.  We wanted a different blood line and finally found a farm that would be able to help.  The deal was done and we needed to get a flying crate to the owner and book flights but by the time the crate arrived the pig was too big for it and by the time we managed to find another one West Jet had stopped flying pigs due to the temperature.  There really is nothing more funnier than trying to book a flight for a 10 week old pig.
Bertie in his travel crate

So we laid it to rest over Christmas and started again this year.  We missed one litter, called someone else and he had just castrated all his boars but he did tell us he had another litter due, so we kept in contact and finally a rather handsome boar was born.  Our boy has lead a wonderful life so far at Ross Farm Museum in Nova Scotia, Once he had grown big enough and had been weaned it was time to move him to Strattons Farm.  
His journey to us would not have been possible if it where not for Barry.  His expertise in breeding and raising such wonderful Berks, for keeping in contact, helping to arrange the transport and building his travel crate.  Also to Caitlin who took up the challenge of driving our little guy all the way from Nova Scotia to a gas station in Belleville! 
We hear that he kept them on their toes during the journey and it "did get smelly" a couple of times!
We thank you both very much.
Our Berkshire herd is complete and we are excited to announce the arrival of King George VI or "Bertie" to his friends.
Bertie has green ears as he had to be tattooed as he is a registered Berkshire Boar.  He has a lot of growing to do before he fulfills his roll at the farm!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

and so it continues....

I have come to learn after four years of farming full time that people seem to think that farmers do nothing but complain.  So Michael and I have always tried to be on the happy side and keep our woes and worries to ourselves but this year has been the one when if someone has asked how we are the response has generally not been with a smile!

Fall comes early!
We have not seen much relief from the high heats and lack of rain since our last update.  Since July we have had about an 1" of rain.  That was until the fourth of September when the rain started at 4.45am stopped for an hour so our farrier could trim our horses feet and then the rain continued to fall through until about 10pm at night.  Sadly the rain yesterday was too little too late for most of our garden.  It will help with the well and also our cistern.  However it won't help any of the farmers growing any type of crops as it really has come too late in the season.

For some it is hard to believe that they may have had rain 5km away from the farm and we have seen nothing.  We have spent many a day seeing the rain and storm clouds roll in and over the farm and not leave a single drop on our soil.  Then friends would call to ask if we got any rain and they would let us know that they had had an 1" of rain in 30 minutes.  Some days it felt very frustrating.

A huge thank-you does go out to some of our CSA members, good friends and our newest neighbours who pulled on their wellies (rubber boots) and came out to the farm to help water and weed, to both our Mums who got onto planes and headed over form Alberta and England to help and also to one of our CSA members who loaded up his car and trailer with additional water for our garden. Your help was greatly appreciated by both Michael and I. The letters of support have also kept moral up when it started to hit rock bottom.
Sadly, how ever much we watered and mulched it really did not make that much of a difference to some crops.  We have lost watermelons, pumpkins, fall squash, broccoli, cabbage, kale and the list does go on.
The help we received did help save our second planting of beans, some of the zucchini, eggplants and hot peppers, kohlrabi and kept the beets going.
Our spring has been our only water source for well over a month for the whole farm and it is starting to feel the strain.  Last week the humidity spiked again and we had sprinklers on our chickens out on pasture, making wallows for 10 pigs, keeping turkeys, egg laying chickens, horses, three humans hydrated and trying to keep transplants alive.  We have managed on several occasions to run the spring below the height of the filter and it takes 24 hours for the height to recover.  So we are having to prioritise our usage and where it goes and pump for only just an hour before the head height drops.  We have six weeks remaining till the end of the CSA and we are doing everything we can to get to the end, but it is going to be a challenge.  It is heartbreaking to see all the planning, planting  just disappear in front of our eyes, all we needed this year was a little help from Mother Nature and she did not want to play ball.
It is not only us that is feeling the strain, farmers who grow cash crops are also suffering. We have heard of farmers who are selling their farms, others are on suicide watch as they are losing their livelihoods due to this drought.  There are going to be tough times ahead for farmers this winter and into next year.  For many of us who purchase feed for animals we have already seen the price of animal feed rise over the last few months and this will be a continuing trend over the next year, this increase and the drought in America and even Russia will see food prices rise again next year.
All we can do is hope and pray that our CSA members have still enjoyed the experience and are happy to take the risk again next year and come back and support the farm for another season.

Captain Virgil Hilts
While we have been dealing with the lack of rain we are being kept on our toes by one of our young piglets called "Virgil Hilts" after Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape.  For some reason Virgil has decided that his huge paddock that he shares with his four brothers and one sister is just not big enough and he has started to escape on a regular basis and likes to go for a little romp and root up around the rest of the field! For some reason Virgil is impervious to the electric fencing unlike his siblings! He is causing quite the stir around the farm at present.

Evening check to make sure Virgil is still in the paddock!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Water is the driver of nature" - Leonardo da Vinci

You never really want to write a blog update that is doom and gloom and we have held off as long as we can but the realization that we are not going to get any rain is hitting hard at the farm.

As of the 12th of July the following link by the National Farmers Union was released to the public about the drought conditions we are having and it is being labeled as the 50 year drought.

There really is nothing to be cheery about at the moment.  We really need rain on the farm.  In the last  six weeks we have seen two very short rain showers that initially you are getting excited about but the problem is the high heat/humidity and the hair drying winds which then are sucking out the moisture in the soil.  It really does not matter how much Michael and I water in the evenings it is barely enough to keep the plants holding on.

Also being a mixed diverse farm we have to spread our water requirement between the market garden and the animals.  Our house well which we also use for animal water and washing vegetables has been dry for the last two weeks.  As most know we do have our solar pump on our spring but we can only charge batteries for so long and it is being pushed to it's capacity as we had to spend four weeks running sprinklers on our meat chickens on pasture to keep them cool through the heat of the day.

We have lost a whole crop of summer turnips, kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage is not heading up and the transplants are just asking for water and are struggling to stay alive, the celery is growing and even with all the water we give it the ground struggles to hold it in.  We continue to seed but our direct seeding is struggling to germinate as it lays in a bed of dust, we keep holding off on the next lot of transplants but in order to keep a supply of vegetables we really need to get them in the ground.

Honey flow is also being effected this year.  Flowers are not growing or plants are just dying which means no nectar for the bees. Normally the zucchini crop is just bumper but because of the heat and lack of rain the plants are very slow in producing new flowers.

Our priority is always to our CSA members and this is why we have not attended a farmers market this year.  Each week we put the vegetable baskets together we have a little cheer that we have made it another week but we really are not sure how long it will keep going for.  We hope everyone enjoys their veggies and try not to let anything go to waste.  This years vegetable production has had a lot more sweat equity, and care in them than ever before and we do really care for your veggies.  

At the moment to get a good recovery and help the crops we need a good three to five days of steady gentle rain. But this rain is needed sooner rather than later.

It's not only small farms like us that are suffering, so too are the cash crops and hay crops.  Pasture is so dry and not re-growing that farmers are already feeding cattle hay, in southern Ontario the soy beans have died and are being ploughed back into the ground.  With the drought this will increase food prices again next year to the consumer and to those who keep animals.  Hay and feed cost with increase because of the bad season this year.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

April blur or April blaahh!!!...

Time really seems to fly by when you are having fun.... or just too busy to notice the days rolling over.  The other day I was in the library and got asked "how my weekend was?' I have to say my response was stolen from an episode of Downton Abby "What's a weekend?"  As Michael always says one day just rolls into the next here at the farm.

As another farmer said to me this week we had April's weather in March and March's weather in April. 
Greenhouse fleeced
The greenhouse held it's own during this cold snap. In the evenings we placed extra layers of fleece over the seedlings to keep as much heat in as possible.
The greenhouse is officially about to burst at the seams with plants.  

Everything is looking fantastic and the hot beds have been amazing at creating that additional heat we needed at night for some of the more cold sensitive plants and also seeds that needed greater heat to germinate. We are already thinking about next year and how to redesign the layout of the hotbeds to give us more room for seed trays.  We also learnt that you have to run fly tape under the plastic sheeting as manure does generate a lot of flies!

I think we can officially say that Elly Belly is just all belly! Her due date has been and gone and still nothing.  We will try again in November but it might mean having a buck here at the farm rather than a drive by quicky! 
We have had several births already at the farm though, not sure how excited we can get over this but the red wigglers are multiplying.
Chicks have already started to arrive, our first batch of meat chickens are nestled very happily in the brood house and they will be out on pasture in a couple of weeks.  We will also see the arrival of our day old egg layers.  This year we are going to be raising Wyndottes.  Turkeys arrive in June and along with the garden I think we can officially say the madness has started at the farm!

Michael has been busy marking out new beds, constructing our new wash stand and base, digging trenches at the east end of the greenhouse and placing insulation into the ground against the base to prevent the frost and drafts going into the greenhouse to help with winter growing, we will eventually do all sides. Our solar pump is now installed and Michael has been dealing with cracked water lines and running new lines as well.  New bee hives have been built and painted and the new pig house is being constructed.  The pigs will be moving to their summer home shortly, to allow us to rest and sow their winter paddock.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring has sprung....

Spring has officially arrived and seeding has already started in the greenhouse.
This year we are experimenting with hot beds. Our greenhouse is solar passive.  We rely on the sun to heat it during the day and we use low tunnels, straw or insulation sheets and floating row covers to keep the heat in the beds during the night. This year we thought we would try using hotbeds to provide a little more warmth for the seeds and seedlings during the colder nights.
Onions & Celery 
Michael has salvaged some old wood and has built a 2ft high by 8ft long raised bed, we have stacked some of our low raised beds on top of one another, but by far my favourite construction is the straw bale beds. All the beds have  been filled with a mixture of rotting and fresh manure thanks to the assistance of May & Lily!  We have been monitoring the temperature in the beds to make sure it does not get too hot and also to make sure it does not get too cold. 
Once the manure has decomposed it will be cultivated into the market garden.  The straw we have been using will also be recycled into the garden as mulch to suppress our weeds and help keep the moisture in the ground, especially if we have another summer like last year where we reached drought conditions on the farm!

Onions in a straw hot bed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Farm Wish List...

We have been told by many of our customers and friends that we should add a wish list for the farm. Some of these items you may find in your garage and might be contemplating taking them to the tip! Rather than dumping paint into a landfill we thought it would be a great idea to up cycle or recycle what you may not want or use.  
So with Spring fast approaching and the to do list getting longer and check list of things to repair starts to grow we thought we would add our wish list to our blog this year.  I have added a few that are on the ultimate dream wish list just for entertainment factor.  
Over the last few years we have met some incredible people (You all know who you are), who have already donated wood, steel roofing, piping, paint and more and we can not thank you enough for that. 

Strattons Farm wish list.

Latex exterior paint - this is not for the house but for the bee hives.  Any colours are fine!

Towels - old towels we need for kidding time at the farm - Thank you Marj for our first bundle of towels.

Plastic, stainless steel, rubber pales

Old barn boards are recycled onto our animal housing
Wood Wood and more wood!!! (I personally think this is just a man thing when it comes to having piles of wood!)
We need everything from:
old barn boards, to recycle onto the goat house and chicken house
OSB, marine ply for new outdoor pig housing
cedar, hemlock for raised beds, building new washstands, and more stands for Michael's bee hives to sit on.
Planks of wood for building hot beds in the greenhouse.  Not to sound too fussy, if you have short lengths or small off cuts we will not be able to recycle them as we do need longer lengths.

Our cultivator needs new shims.
A homesteader from pioneer (dream list) - Our cultivator is looking a little lopsided at the moment!

Pink insulation bats or the Eco friendly insulation - this is to insulate part of the goat house for when the kids arrive to create a kid box to keep them warm

Greenhouse grade plastic - for repair, or for creating new ones (another one is also on the dream list)!

EMT galvanised tubing/ metal tubing for hoop houses, low tunnels and also for the new markII version of our movable chickens pens we hope to build this year.

Plexiglass for barn windows

Wire - 2"x4" welded wire 48" high, 1"x1" Washstand tables


scythe (dream list)


water lines 3/4"-1",Elbows, T's and joints

Old utility sinks - for our vegetable wash stands  Thank you to Marj at Amazing Graze Alpacas for the utility sinks.  Even though I have crossed this of our list we can still use another one.

A huge thank you goes out to Heidi and Gary for all the EMT, plastic sheeting, buckets and hoses that the have donated and up-cycled to the farm. 

The list could go on, but if you have something you think we might make use of then please do contact us and let us know.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Take Action to Stop GM Alfalfa!

The information for this blog entry has come from CBAN the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.   To see all links and to see how you can help please click this link to visit their site.  Please watch the short video below.  It is only 3 minutes and it explains why it is so important for us NOT to have GM Alfalfa in Canada.


Summary: Alfalfa growers do not need or want GM alfalfa and have been trying to stop it for at least five years. Organic food and farming in the U.S. and Canada is under immediate threat from GM alfalfa. Conventional farmers will also lose their markets. The introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) alfalfa would have serious negative impacts on many different types of farmers and farming systems, both conventional and organic. Because alfalfa is a perennial crop pollinated by bees, GM contamination is inevitable. GM alfalfa was actually approved in Canada in 2005 but still needs to go through one more step before it can be legally sold as seed in Canada.
leafcutter bee on alfalfa flowers
Why is Alfalfa Important? Alfalfa (harvested as hay) is used as high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs and is also used to build up nutrients in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. If introduced, GM alfalfa would ruin export markets for alfalfa products and threaten the future organic food and farming in the North America.

What are Farmers Saying about GM Alfalfa?

Conventional and organic farmers agree that GM alfalfa is not wanted or needed: What conventional alfalfa producers told the House of Commons Agriculture Committee, June 7, 2010


Before the U.S. decided to allow GM alfalfa plantings in early 2011, groups in Canada sent their comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on alfalfa. Read the about on the predicted impacts of GM alfalfa and the experience of GM contamination in Canada:

The Campaign So Far

Stop Monsanto button
Before the Federal election in Canada, May 2011: Conservative Members of Parliament purposefully delayed a vote (twice) on a motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa at Agriculture Committee meetings. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Members all supported the moratorium so if the Conservatives had allowed the vote, the motion would have been approved and the motion would have passed to the House of Commons for a vote. The motion was proposed by the Liberal members of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee after huge public pressure to support Bill C-474 which would have required an assessment of export market harm before any new GM seed was permitted.
In 2007 a judge ruled that the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of GM alfalfa was illegal and ordered the Department to conduct an environmental risk assessment to look into farmer concerns about contamination. In December 2009, the USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for comment (this is the first time it has conducted this type of analysis for any GM crop). Canadian groups sent in their comments (see above) but in January 2011, the U.S. approved plantings of GM alfalfa. Resistance continues in the U.S.

Call to Join the Campaign

Invitation from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate:
The commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa -- GM Alfalfa -- planned by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International, would have a severe, negative impact on Canadian agriculture, markets, and our environment. A united effort by agriculture producer groups, consumer and environmental organizations, as well as concerned individuals, will prevent this from happening. A similar campaign stopped GM wheat in 2004.
This is your invitation to join together to put the brakes on GM Alfalfa.
We invite all organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to endorse the "No to GM Alfalfa" campaign by signing on to the following statement (Your group’s name will be used in a list of groups that state opposition to GM Alfalfa):
  • We oppose the sale, trade and production of GMO Alfalfa in Canada.
  • We ask the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to reassess its approval for environmental release of GMO Alfalfa.
  • We want the public to understand the hazards, costs and market losses that would result if GMO Alfalfa were released into our environment.
Sign the statement here! or email for more info.
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) is a Member of CBAN. SOD is the umbrella group for the organic sector in Saskatchewan. In 2001 the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund Committeewas established by SOD in order to protect organic farms and food from contamination by GMOs. The OAPF Committee provided support to the legal action against Monsanto and Bayer to bring about an injunction to stop the commercialization of GMO wheat, and to make the biotech companies liable for losses to organic farmers due to contamination of certified organic crops and fields by GMO canola. In 2004 Monsanto withdrew its application to have GMO wheat approved in Canada.
For more information contact:
OAPF Chairperson, Arnold Taylor at (306) 252-2075, or Lucy Sharratt at the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) (613) 241-2267 ext.25, or

Friday, January 20, 2012

Registration is now open for the 2012 CSA Vegetable Baskets

This is our fourth year at Strattons Farm and our third year running the CSA, we are excited to announce that we will be expanding our CSA Vegetable box programme for the 2012 growing season.  The boxes will once again run for 18 weeks from Mid June to Mid October and we will be offering whole or half shares.

What is a CSA?
The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm on an annual basis where the grower and shareholders share the risk and benefits of food production.  This then connects the shareholder to fresh, local, sustainably grown, herbicide, pesticide free food in their area.

Why join a CSA?

Keeps food local rather than it being picked unripe, then being gassed in a storage container to ripen while it travels thousands of kilometers to get to your table.

Stopping the large corporations taking over the food system. 

Learning to explore the delights of eating seasonally. 

Supporting a local farm helps to stimulate the local economy.

Giving you the security of knowing where your food has been grown and it has been grown in an environmentally sustainable way using as little fossil fuels as possible.

Having a relationship with the farmer that grows your food, rather than heading into a food store picking up food that has been handled by many hands, wrapped in plastic, that has already been cleaned and prepared for you and may have already spent several weeks sitting on a shelf.

New for 2012:  This year we will have an exchange basket if there is a vegetable that you don't particularly enjoy or you need some extra garlic you will be able to exchange one of your weekly items out with something else in the basket.  For example: For the kale lovers you could have more kale and for the  kale loathers you could exchange it for extra carrots or cabbage.

If you are interested in joining our garden, then please see the following link to read more about the programme and some of the feedback we have received from our members.  

Boxes are limited as our aim is to be able to manage everything here at the farm between Michael and I (with a lot of help from May & Lily) and also to produce high quality  naturally grown vegetables for you all.

If you would like more information or are interested in joining this years CSA then please either contact us at the farm and we can e-mail or post your brochure and application form to you.

Friday, January 6, 2012


The farm has slowed down over the last month as we just have the horses, pigs, goats and our egg laying chickens to care for.

With winter being here it allows us to catch up with all the paperwork, accounts and start planning for our fourth season here at Strattons.

Seed catalogues have arrived and the planning for the CSA Vegetable boxes has begun.  This is our third year running the CSA and we are excited about the vegetables we are growing and to see the garden expand.  
Planning the CSA does take a little bit of time.  We start by reviewing last years season and then we start by choosing what vegetables we want in the baskets each week, what type of vegetables we are able to get a head start on in the solar passive greenhouse, and then all the calculations start on the amount of seed we need to purchase, the bed lengths required for each crop we grow as well as creating a planting schedule to follow.    
This year Strattons Farm joined a CSA! We joined a seed CSA which is offered by High Mowing Organic Seeds.  As our customers support us through the CSA and receive 15-20% more vegetables than you would if you brought them at the farmers market we follow the same principle in purchasing our Organic seeds.

2012 is not only the year of the Dragon but is also the year for birth here at the farm!
In spring we are hoping for our first kids, as Elly,(standing in the background in the photo) is showing all the signs of being pregnant. We will also be breeding Ina and Nigella our Berkshire gilts and we hope to start the search for a suitable Suffolk Stallion for May and Lily.

Michael will also be enlarging our Apiary this year by making his own splits as well as purchasing a few more nucs.  Our aim is to have 10 hives at the farm but this will also mean making changes to our farm, by re-introducing the hedgerows that were removed before we came here and starting to grow more specific plants on our farm to feed the bees.  Of course this will mean that we will remain the lunatic farmers in our neighbourhood as other farmers remove their hedgerows.

I think it is easy to say that we are in for another exciting and busy year at the farm filled with new challenges!