It is that time of year again, and thankfully we do not have 3 feet of snow to hinder our efforts to host a seed saving hands-on workshop on the farm November 11 (after 11) until 4:30 and Saturday November 12 from 12 to 5. I welcome you to participate as we will learn about seed saving and storage, with real life examples of all the things saved and dried this year and how to harvest them. This course is part of the Organic Master Gardeners series I teach in Stony Plain every year and worth about $150. So I am offering it free of charge as you will be helping me with the work and in return gaining valuable knowledge and life skills. I would suggest you register with me anyway so I know who to expect.
Send an email to Denise – smileyo at xplornet dot ca
Make sure and spell that correctly and put seed workshop in the title.
If you only have part of the day to offer that is fine, I just need to know. We will meet at the farm and divide into work stations and rotate around so everyone learns about the different aspects of seed harvest, cleaning, storage and so on.
Hope to see you here. We will potluck a late lunch each day at about 1. Bring your favorite snacks or whatever. Thanks everyone!
As you know, these events are integral to the support of local seed movements in Canada. We and other growers look forward to this time of year to meet you all face to face and get your feedback on our products and services, not to mention just greet you all. However, as you can imagine, these events (hopefully, with your help) attract a lot of people and we do not have as much time as we would like to help each and every one of you. If you have specific questions about the varieties that we offer that are not clear in the catalogue please email me ahead as I can better give your questions the time and attention they need.
Our staff at events are friends and family that come out to help with the volume of sales we do during these events. They are not as involved with the day to day growing as I am and so that is also something you should be aware of. We are a small business, and everyone is busy. I encourage you to get ahold of us ahead of these shows with questions or orders, so we can bring them with us already organized. It will save you a lot of time and hassle. Potato orders are a must, as I have limited space in the car to bring spuds and keep them safe from freezing temperatures. They are also heavy and so I do not bring them if I don’t have to.
As always, Comfrey, horseradish, and asparagus roots, as well as Jerusalem Artichokes are available only after the ground thaws. I may or may not be able to have them in March at the shows. You are welcome to ask ahead, but expect to have them shipped if spring is slow. We also will have gladiolas bulbs this year in some great colors, see our catalogue for details (if we do not sell out before the shows).
We are offering on farm courses as always in the summer of 2020 if we are not super busy with the u-Pick, so stay tuned or visit the Hill and Dale farm site on wordpress for further details.
In 2020 we will add a strawberry and Vegetable U-Pick. Being our first year, we are not sure about the volume of berries that might come by June. I have a deep concern not to disappoint anyone, especially if travelers are coming from farther away. I would ask everyone to follow along the Hill and Dale Farm site for postings, as we might have to set up picking the first year on an appointment basis. We will keep you posted on the site https://hillanddalefarm.wordpress.com
2019 Wraps up as a year to remember in many ways. The weather was gloomy and raining mostly, low temperatures for much of the long days of summer. Not much for growing things, but then, we take what we get and always with a mind to the future. Many things grew abundantly and well. It was well loved by spinach, being planted in June and harvested all the way through to September without ever bolting (a first in my years of gardening here), and the brassicas in general loved the cool damp weather. And yet, some things happened that should not have, such as still having ample grasshoppers to devour whatever tender plants they could wrap their mandibles around. Usually the damp weather gives them a fatal fungal infection, but not this year! Weird.
We enjoyed the warm days when they came and grew the majority of our garden under row covers throughout the year and into the fall. Many things did well, but none of the hot weather crops faired well. Cucumbers, or any other squashes, tomatoes and peppers, basil, etc. suffered at the hand of mother nature or human intervention in the weather (yet to be determined). But we took what we could get and here we are. Thankful, joyful and looking forward to another growing season!!
We hope you will stay tuned as we update the page further, adding in the new additions and the catalogue. We will as always be referring you to our sister site Hill and Dale Farms, where in 2020 we will be expanding our farm fresh delivery options and farm workshops and events. We are hoping to become a destination of peace and tranquility for those wishing for a little more of that in the life of hectic pace and roiling progress. In the meantime, love and laughter to you and yours in the holidays to come, and in 2020 and beyond.
Join us as we showcase Local Farmers and Food Artisans at the George Pegg Botanic Gardens in Glenevis Alberta, August 17 from 9 to 4 at our Rural Roots Farmer Showcase event as part of Alberta Open Farm Days. We are super excited about finally pulling this all together. Imagine, a beautiful garden outdoor market where you can come and meet the people who grow the food and get to know them, see how they operate and what they are about, learning about Agriculture in Alberta, it’s challenges and rewards, and the dedicated individuals who make it work. Learn about one of our pioneer plant botanists, and visit the local vendors market, where you will want to pick up all kinds of goodies. Rain or shine we will offer local food, frozen meat items and products, fresh garden grown produce and sourdough breads. We have an artisan baker who will bring her mobile cobb oven for some incredible fresh baked pizzas and other delights. We have a coffee efficianado, who blends and roasts coffees in her home in Edmonton, and you can experience all the other wonders of farming history at George Pegg Gardens. Stay tuned, as we will regularly update you on what we are offering and who is coming.
Also that weekend is the local fair at Darwell, just a hop skip away from us and they have their annual tractor pull happening as well. If you are interested, you can find more details on our Facebook page, under Rural Roots Farmer Showcase. We are also having a culinary event that you will not want to miss in the evening. We have managed to snag the enthusiastic brother sister duo of Brad and Cindy Lazarenko of Culina To Go and formerly at the Muttart Conservatory. They are super excited about having this local farmer long table dinner event, but you have to have a ticket. We are offering this event through Eventbrite soon, so stay tuned. The dinner will feature cocktails and a cash bar featuring the Bent Stick Distillery and Black Diamond Brewing.
To those who have gotten hold of us about starter plants, thank you. We will have your plants ready to pick up after the long weekend is May. We may have extras at that time, so call if you are interested or email. We will also have some at the markets early. Hope all of you are enjoying the spring weather, and looking forward to another whirlwind summer. Have fun and be safe,
Just finalizing details on workshops for the upcoming season;
Some of you expressed interest in coming out and helping with the greenhouse and planting or taking care of the garden this summer. I am opening it up to all helpers. We will have a help in the greenhouse day, and several planting and gardening days. This year we are growing organic vegetables that are on offer for pickup in Edmonton weekly. You can buy a share and pay week to week. See Birch Island Foods at gmail dot com for details. Website: birchislandfoods dot ca
Greenhouse helpers day – bring a bag lunch and come help transplant in the greenhouse for the morning, afternoon or all day. Limited space, contact me via email if you are interested. This will happen Starting April 28, May 4, May 11, and then we will see. We will also be building some temporary greenhouses, hoop houses and preparing garden beds.
Planting workshops will be May 18, May 25 and June 1, 8, and 15. We will be teaching about planting transplants, care and maintenance of the garden, mulching beds, and planting the fields, which you might be able to glimpse and partake of also. We will be putting on the floating row covers, and tending the garlic and potato beds. Participants will be able to take home fresh veggies and possibly plants for their own gardens.
We will also host participants through the summer on Saturday afternoons for help with garden maintenance in exchange for fresh produce or beef. Give us a call or email smileyo at xplornet dot ca if you are interested in any of these dates, and I will put your name in. We have limited space and it is for a few hours so we would like to know who is coming so all our weekends are not tied up and no one shows up. Thanks to all who are passionate about gardening and want to know more about organic growing of large scale produce, heirloom seed production or farming.
We also have one position open for a summer helper. It is not paid but we could do an exchange for a garden spot if you are interested. I have one who is, but if you are interested, please email me anyway.
We are also planning a mushroom hunt and walk for June 1 in the morning, just to have a quick look around and see if anything is showing up yet. Email if you want to combine that with the afternoon in the garden. Fee is $20.
Our fall mushroom hunts will be August 24 and 31. They will be here in Cherhill. Some of you emailed about getting me out to your location. Just send me a quick reminder and we will figure out dates for that. Fall hunts are $20 per person.
Our herb walk and tincture day will be August 10. Fee is $50 and it is all day education about wild plants and medicinal uses. You must register in advance. It is a potluck and we will do it weather be darned.
OUR SUPERFANTASTIC Alberta Open Farm Days event called the Rural Roots Farmer Showcase is happening August 17, at the George Pegg Botanic Garden!! We are so excited to be part of this first Annual Local food event in the County of Lac Ste Anne and we will be showcasing local food and farmers during the hours of 9 AM to 4 PM. All local farmers with products, food, anything wonderful will be there for you to meet, and learn about where your food is coming from and what their philosophy is on their farms. We will have local beer and or wine, crafts, art and musicians, and it will be a wonderful time to experience local delicacies. In the evening from 5-9 we close the garden as it is a ticketed LOCAL FOOD EXTRAVAGANZA CULINARY EXPERIENCE!! Local chefs with extensive experience will work with local farmers fresh items to prepare the meal of the century! It will be a dining experience to remember under the open skies and fantastic surroundings of one of the oldest, most unique gardens in Alberta. A best kept secret. Tickets are limited to 50 and are $100 each. If you are interested, you must get a hold of us early. Call 780 seven eight five, 2622.
I am thinking of hosting a preservation workshop for canning and freezing and drying of fresh produce for long term storage. This will be informal but at a commercial kitchen in the local hall. So there will be a full day workshop, and you will have to bring a canner, jars and whatever you want to preserve. We will cover pickles, jam, jelly, fresh fruit, vegetables in season and kale chips probably. We might even do relish. I would bring in a seasoned professional with me and it will be limited space, only 15 participants. The fee for the day is $50 to cover hall rental and educational materials and recipes. Please email me early as this always fills up. We will host this in July on the 20th if the hall is available.
Also on July 24 in the afternoon of the mushroom walk, we will have a workshop on beginner seed saving, so people can take a walk in the garden and learn about pollinating by hand (melons and squashes), see the plants in various stages of seed development and help with some harvest of early things (lettuce). It is an awesome time to be in the garden and in the world. Space limited to 10. This course will be $25. We will host another in September on the 7th and 14th when there are more hands on things to do. Again, these are $25.
We may host some final gardening workshops in late August and early September where helpers can take home fresh produce in exchange for help with the harvesting and clean up of the gardens. If you are interested, call or email.
We will do a final seed harvesting workshop in October. TBA.
I hope everyone has a great season, and makes this the year to learn about all those things that are important to you and that you actually take the time for you!!
Thanks to all of you who came out and spoke with us at the seedy events. It is our busiest but favorite time of year as we connect with you all face to face and help you find what you are looking for (or try to). Thank you for all your support.
We wanted to remind those close by that we are starting bedding plants and have them available on preorder. Now is a good time to email us your order for started plants if you are interested. We start celery, parsley, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and even corn. We have a large variety of herbs also. The 4″ pots with herbs are $4 and the tomatoes and peppers if they are in a 6″ pot are $6. We are fully certified organic and use only certified seed and ingredients for the soil mixes your plants are grown in.
But you have to order this week, so I can start the varieties of tomatoes and peppers you are interested in. email smileyo at xplornet dot ca if you want or call 780-785-2622. they will be available for pickup here on the farm after the long weekend in May or you can get us to bring them in to the farmers market at St. Albert or City Center. We have made application to attend so reach our and we will let you know dates.
We will also have fresh, certified organic produce for sale at these markets (if our application is accepted) under the name of Birch Island Foods at alternating weekends at these markets, so call or email birchislandfoods at gmail dot com for that information or to me and I will pass it on to my daughter as that is her endeavor.
There will also be weekly shares available for lucky customers, as they are only accepting 10 spots in their shares program. You can pay weekly or up front and contact them for a spot if interested.
We are entertaining the thought of doing an early season course on greenhouse growing and garden planning, so if you are interested email me with that in the headline, and I will add you to the list and provide dates and cost. We are also doing a gardening workshop in early June to plant and learn about growing from seed. Cost will be $25 for that one. No experience necessary. Contact us at the above number or email.
It looks like the year might start off slow and wet, in April and May, with heat to follow. Plants will be very abundant this year. Looking forward, I welcome all garden questions and inquiries. Thanks everyone and happy growing in 2019.
Oh, I should mention that we will be involved in the Rural Routes Farmer Showcase held August 17, 2019 at George Pegg Botanic Gardens in Gunn Alberta during Alberta Open Farm Days. We are helping to bring all the local producers and farmers together to showcase their wares, which they will have for sale all in one convenient location this summer instead of running around. We are aiming for 20-25 farms with all kinds of protein products, cheese, grains, garden produce, garlic, fresh sourdough, berries, you name it. If it is produced locally by farmers, we aim to showcase their operations so you can ask them questions and get to know them personally. That will run from 9-4 PM.
This will be followed by a limited ticket long table chef prepared dinner at the gardens from 5-9 PM, with the chef picking out food directly from the farms involved in the showcase, and prepared right there for your enjoyment. Tickets will be $50 for the dinner, the day admission to George Pegg Gardens is by donation. This is a very special historic garden in Alberta, and is non-profit. Some varieties of plants and trees are not found anywhere else in Alberta, so it in itself is unique. Come and enjoy and see the farmers or enjoy the evening event instead. All for the dinner must be 18 years and older.
Watch for more news to come on our feature farmers and special Chef.
The owner reached out to me as she is building a listing of heirloom seed growers for Canada and her website already contains a listing of all the other food growers. Check it out. And if you know someone with a great local product, get them in touch with her also through the website. Let’s network this so everyone is involved, growers and consumers alike.