April 22, 2021
The Lettuce Rejoice
Firmly Rooted Farm's Newsletter for their Veggie Loving Farm-ily
*Please note that Square Brew will now be closing at 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays, not 7:00, please be sure to get your veggies before 6:00 p.m.*
On the Farm: Local Food for People and the Planet
The most recent predictably unpredictable April weather has me dreaming of warmer days and feeling very thankful for working at a job where I have the pleasure of watching life burst in the cozy comfort of a greenhouse and high tunnel.
If you’ve ever made the trip out to the farm, you’ve likely noticed the tall greenhouses, high tunnels, and rows of fabric gracing the fields. Each serves the function of extending the growing season; they protect plants from frost and snow, making use of solar energy while temperatures outdoors will not support their growth. Whether it be stretching the season into the dark winter months or getting a jump on the spring growing season, extending the growing season provides numerous benefits for both people and the planet.
Plants rely on sunlight to grow, the longer the days, the more growth occurs. But in Canada, although we get plenty of light in our calendar year, we can’t grow food until temperatures outside rise consistently above freezing. However, we can grow veggies inside. At Firmly Rooted, during the winter vegetable growing season the focus is put on growing cold-tolerant crops. This means the greenhouses are typically not heated, and the carbon footprint to produce food is lighter. Instead, the greenhouses enhance the solar capture and insulate from the harsher and changing climate. For the extra cold nights, the green are tucked away under sheets of fabric that allow light to infiltrate and moderate the temperature. High tunnels provide similar benefits to greenhouses but are moveable and have less insulation making them more suited to the coldest tolerant crops. Often greens such as spinach are harvested for several months; we harvest a bed and allow it to regrow, then harvest it again. As the spring days get longer the period for regrowth gets shorter. This practice extends the time that soil has living plant material with roots feeding biology and maintaining the carbon and nutrient cycle and enhancing our soils.
This extended growing period is good for the planet, but how is it good for people? Increasing Firmly Rooted’s offerings during the winter months diversifies local food capacity. Not only is the farm supporting the local food system for soil biology, but it is also supporting the local food system for people. Strong local food systems build community resiliency; we’ve seen how COVID-19 can disrupt our global food systems, but how wonderful is it to know we can rely on local food to diversify our diets and nourish our bodies during as many months as possible.
Indeed, spring has sprung, and that means all kinds of little critters are crawling in and on the soil. In the feature photo for this newsletter, you’ll find me happily hanging out with a frog friend I very nearly sentenced to the mercy of my salad knife while I was harvesting lettuce. Thankfully, he was discovered in time and safely relocated. Jack spent most of the same day gleefully dispersing spider babies in all the greenhouses, knowingly enhancing our integrated pest management system. An inquisitive kid, he had endless questions for me about the centipedes, termites, and the countless insects crawling about the soil. His curiosity is inspiring. I hope this kid never stops asking the most important question; ‘but why?’. I’m so curious about where Jack’s curiosity will take him in the future.
This week we are up to our ears in kale and encourage you to get creative in the kitchen once again! A favourite of the farm family is Eggs in a Nest. Find an easy recipe here.
Our friends at Weth's Mushrooms wondered if we'd like to try their maitake mushrooms. We've ordered a small amount to add into the extra's this week. You can find more about maitakes here.
Just a note, we will be short on spinach for a week or two as our growing greens catch up to demand, but it shouldn’t be too long before we’re back in abundance.
That’s all for now folks, happy eating until next time!