We’re feeling pretty pleased with the new logo…
We’re feeling pretty pleased with the new logo…
Did you know, the freezing and thawing of the land during winter plays an important role in soil tilth?
The freeze-thaw cycle helps break up compacted soils. Soils in the Red River Valley often have a higher clay content that eastern or western Manitoba, making them more prone to compaction. So the freezing in winter and thawing in spring are important to help our soils get into better shape for the growing season. Winter’s not all bad for a veggie farmer!
Also exciting about winter, we get to spend time reflecting on the previous season and looking forward to the next. For 2016 we’re working on a bunch of things: additional farm-gate sales, a new logo and website (coming soon!), land agreements in Neubergthal, anticipating production from our new orchard, drawing up by-laws for our Co-op to name a few.
We now have 2016 shares for sale on our website. Click over to the Purchase a Share page to find out more.
Stay warm, friends.
We are long overdue to give you an update of the happenings at the CMU Farm this summer. It seems that the season is just flying by! Another update will be coming soon, but first we would like to introduce you to two people. We are fortunate, this year, to have two students from CMU doing their practicum at the CMU Farm! It has been great so far to have their help and their questions and to see them taking on many different tasks at the farm. So, without further ado, please (belatedly) welcome Britany and Karla to the CMU Farm!
Britany Marsolais is a karaoke superstar, but on the side she is finishing up her IDS degree at CMU with a practicum at the CMU Farm. She enjoys long walks in the vegetable patch, moonlit wheelbarrow rides, and never forgets to stop and smell the basil. Some of her favourite books include the Herbology scenes in Harry Potter, the passages in Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard where the barn is referenced, various mentions of assorted and interplanetary vegetations in The Illustrated Man, and The Bell Jar. Britany is interested in farms with firm and fresh produce, musky soil, sustainable seeding practices, and well-chiseled beds. Her ultimate goal is to become the first Prime Minister who is also a farmer.
Karla was born in Winnipeg but spent the majority of her formative years in Morden, Manitoba. This move was partially due to a dream of Karla’s mother to open a small-scale, organic bakery. From a young age, Karla was shown the importance of growing, making and buying food local, both through the bakery as well as through her parents’ large garden, her mother’s farmer’s market community and her father’s hobby honeybees. Through her education at CMU her interest in sustainable agriculture and food justice have grown. Karla has enjoyed her time at the CMU Farm thus far. It has been a chance to take knowledge that she has cultivated in the classroom and pair it with practical, hands-on skills. She has also had the opportunity to participate in the farm’s seed-saving work by growing out heritage seeds. Karla will graduate from CMU in April 2016 with a BA, Majoring in Social Science – Intercultural Studies.
Come by sometime and say hi to Karla and Britany and maybe stay for a while to pull some weeds with them!
It’s May long weekend and there is snow on the ground. May long weekend has always been unpredictable weather wise, and yet it marks the beginning of the gardening season – as traditional wisdom has it. It’s the first weekend you can start to think about putting your bedding plants in the ground, with truly frost sensitive things waiting until the first or second week of June.
May long weekend is fairly early this year. Our average last frost date is actually next weekend – the 25th or 26th of May. So our bedding plants are safe and sound at Room to Grow greenhouse, or in the windows of our homes.
Seeds, on the other hand, are in. We planted out our first round of beets, radishes, turnips, tatsoi, arugula, lettuces, peas, carrots, and parsnips over the last two weeks. Seed potatoes and onion sets are also in the soil. And so far, most of those things have germinated. They’re all plants that can handle a bit of cold weather. But a dusting of snow – we’ll have to see. All but the peas, potatoes and onions are tucked in under a blanket of row cover to hold in the heat. But was there enough wind to throw it off? Is the blanket of snow heavy enough to turn the cover into a giant crushing machine? These are the things we have to worry about in weather like this. We have been at more than just planting this spring.
On Friday we played host to a high school group on choir retreat at CMU. The sun was shining, but the soil was soggy from the Wednesday/Thursday rain. So instead of helping us with planting, we spent the time learning about food systems with an activity from USC Canada. If you’re looking for resources for teaching your family about food and seed security check out their website, they have some really great activities, printouts and suggestions for all ages.
We are also planting an orchard this year! We have about 20 apple trees of various varieties to plant out around the farm. It really does make us feel more established planting trees. With a vegetable farm you know if everyone suddenly walks away, within one year you can sew it all back to grass. But with trees you really begin making a more permanent connection to the land. We started to feel that a bit last year when we put in a new fence, so our levels of commitment to this place continue to increase. It feels good, it feels…settled. And we’re so excited to add them to shares, maybe press some into cider – oh the options. Big thanks to Canadian Mennonite University and Friends of Gardens Manitoba for helping out with the trees, through donation and super affordable pricing.
We do still have shares for sale – if you or someone you know are still looking for your CSA hook-up for this year. Find out more here.
One thing we can count on is that summer is coming, and we still have plants to put in. So stay tuned for opportunities to plant with us. Coming soon.
Last month the snow melted. Since that first melt, we’ve had a number of smaller snow falls. None of them stuck around longer than around 48 hours, but each one of them has served as a cooling off of our spring fever. Even five years into working around the seasons, your body – like a plant – seems to respond to the hours of daylight and strength of the sun. And so in March, when we had a few days of t-shirt weather, preparing for planting seemed merely weeks away. We had to remind ourselves that our last frost date comes around the May long weekend, and not many things can be put out in the unprotected field before that date.
And so spring fever is alive and well in folks long out of middle school. What has helped cool the fever has been seed starting. This year we have the time and capacity to start a few varieties of our plants without the help of a greenhouse. So far we have started Indigo Rose tomatoes, Purple Beauty sweet peppers, Red Express cabbage, Golden Acres cabbage, La Guardia eggplant, and Lacinato kale, Hilde lettuce and Rouge d’Hiver lettuce, and we’re not finished yet!
This year we decided to expand the number of shares we sell by about half. This is really exciting for us as we expand our business, do less “volunteer” work, and support more emerging farmers. It’s an exciting challenge for us, and we look forward to engaging more people in fresh, local, organically grown produce. Our CSA family is expanding!
We’re also bringing back our Wolseley delivery, which – due to location – is more of a Wolseley/West Broadway delivery. Last year we encouraged all our sharers to pick up on farm, but we’re spending some money this spring on building a CMU Farm bike trailer, so once again you can have your veggies pedal powered downtown for a one time $75 payment for the season.
At the end of last season, Canadian Mennonite University donated 5 Prairie Sensation apple trees to the CMU Farm. Those will be planted this spring along our northern fence line. This is a great fresh eating apple well suited for our harsh prairie temperatures. Look forward to apples in your share boxes in years to come!
Our final piece of newness this spring is that the CMU Farmers Collective has formalized into the Metanoia Farmers Worker Cooperative Ltd.! We’ll post more about this coming up, but the changes from the outside are minimal. The land at the CMU Farm has always been stewarded by the CMU Farmers Collective, and so the name “CMU Farm” will remain, and it will continue to be the name you see most often. However the CMU Farmers Collective has formalized into a Workers Co-op, and it is us who run the CSA.
Spring is here! Summer is close behind! The Metanoia Farmers will be at the CMU Farm on a regular basis starting Monday, April 27. Come out to say hello, and maybe even get your hands dirty.
The days seem to be warming up here in Winnipeg and the CMU Farmers Collective is already thinking about spring, warming soil, and seeds! Part of our order has been placed and we’re just finalizing the rest. We’re grateful for this chance we have to think about spring during the colder months of the year because of the hope it gives us during winter. With that in mind, you should know that we are finally selling shares for the 2015 season at the CMU Farm! Send us an email if you would like to reserve a share or have any questions about our CSA. We’re looking forward to the spring!
So what does a vegetable CSA Farmer do during the winter? Some of us focus on other jobs, some fall into the rhythm of school with teaching or kids, attention is turned to pet projects, travel plans and the holidays. And while we wait on the seasons to change, leading us in to a new year, there is also work being done behind the scenes. Season evaluation, planning for the new year, and lots of small (and sometimes not so small) projects get done during the off-season to help the CSA run better next year.
This winter we set some goals for the CSA:
1. Firm up greenhouse arraignments with Canadian Mennonite University and Friends of Gardens Manitoba. Friends of Gardens has been instrumental in bringing bright and vigorous energy to this proposal, and it has been wonderful to work with them. Following into 2015 we hope to finalize the agreement between Canadian Mennonite University, the CMU Farm, and Friends of Gardens to move forward with the greenhouse build this season.
2. Enhance our business savvy and organizational structure. Certainly less flashy than a greenhouse, but no less important. As we continue to welcome more and more households into share agreements during the growing season, work with new farmers, and partner on building projects this is imperative.
3. Welcome new farmers into the fold. One of our guiding principles and reasons for being a CSA so close to a university has been the desire to be a place where people can come and learn about our work in whatever capacity. This year we are excited to welcome two new farmers into the fold and look forward to this sharing of the work and knowledge. Watch for Jonah and Maria’s bios coming soon!
Along with off-season work, we’ve also participated in some exciting events this fall already.
In November, Jeanette headed to the Food Secure Canada Assembly in Halifax as part of her farmer organizing work with Sharing the Table Manitoba. Here she was able to connect with new and young farmers from across the country as part of the New Farmer Roundtable.
The Farm also played host to a Seed Saving Harvest Party. Caroline Chartrand invited special guest Winona LaDuke to join us for an evening of seed saving, story telling and volunteer appreciation.
Finally, Megan and Jeanette attended the Small Farms Manitoba conference and CSA Manitoba meetings for a day of learning and networking.
But the winter is almost over and we do always look forward to the spring.