Monday, July 30, 2012

No Lily Festival This Year

Why No Lily Festival?

We have always tried to grow our flowers and vegetables in our U-pick without chemicals. It was 5 years that we sprayed our last herbicide in the U-pick Gardens. As a result the perennial weeds were beginning to take over the gardens in the past few years and especially thrived in last years cool wet spring.

To combat the perennial weeds we fallowed a new patch of ground last summer and this spring dug up and moved 90% of our perennial flowers, which included all but one tunnel of lilies a row of iris and 4 rows of monkshood. The lilies that we moved grew very short this year and bloomed much earlier than we had expected.

As a result of all this we just will not have enough lilies to run the festival as we had in the past. There are still many flowers and vegetables to pick in the gardens, so we will still be open for U-pick 7 days a week once we open August 4th. We will have a limited number of lilies, lots of sunflowers & other annuals and perennials for picking. There will also be a great selection of potatoes, carrots, beets, beans, peas and a few summer squash.

Our goal long term goal on the farm is, in 2014, to have Canada's only Certified Organic U-pick Flower, Vegetable, Strawberry Patch & Sunflower + Corn Maze all in one farm. The road to reach this goal has not been easy, but we believe it is important to ensure a sustainable farm for future years to come.

We appreciate your patience and understanding, and believe that we still have a fantastic experience awaiting your family at the farm this year.  After this year of re-building our plants plans are to start the lily festival again next summer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Opening day coming soon!
Our projected date for the opening of the farm is August 1. As we work toward that date, I'm happy to report that the flowers and veggies are all progressing well. On any given day, members of our farm crew are either out in the strawberry fields, weeding the planters or hoeing the perennial flowers. We've been hand-pulling weeds out of the potato patches, too. 

Speaking of strawberries . . .
This is the first year that we're offering u-pick strawberries on the farm. We've got over 23,000 plants growing in 30 elevated trays, which are similar to raised beds. This innovative method of planting will make it so easy for you to just pluck off the strawberries from the plants. Our farm crew has noticed a proliferation of strawberry blossoms on the plants this week, and we estimate that within a month, strawberries will start ripening. We use no sprays on the berry plants.

Bouquet building!
We've created our first bouquets of the season, with monkshood, lady's mantle and iris grasses. It's fantastic to see the vibrant summer blooms. 

A-maze-ing growth in the sunflower and corn maze.
Sunflower and corn plants are growing well. This is the first year that we're not spraying the mazes for weed control. Instead, I'm out in my tractor, cultivating, which is working well to control the weeds. 

Baby chicks on the farm.

Last week, we had 70 baby chicks hatch on the farm. Our adult flock consists of seven different heritage breeds, which historically have a strong constitution, as well as being extremely hardy. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Straw Bale Chicken Coop

A small flock of laying hens has lived on the farm for the past 3 years.  They were just a typical Leghorn that comes in the mail or to the local store each spring.  It has been a fantastic addition to the farm.  I hardly remember what a store bought egg tastes like any more. 

It was decided last year that it was time to expand our little chicken operation and start selling free range eggs.  So instead of Leghorns, our flock consists of 7 different heritage breeds of laying hens.  Also instead of building a regular old barn style chicken coop. Straw bales became the means of construction. 

The outside dimensions of the new coop are 50 feet x 20 feet and there is about 900ft2 of space on the inside.  We built the coop on on old concrete pad that had access to the farm water supply.  The one thing I didn't like about our last coop was hauling water each and every day to the animals.  This was an exceptionally miserable job on the -30 C days we get in the winter.
Chickens checking out progress
In addition to a new chicken coop we also needed a new set up for our greenhouse.  So if you are wondering why the rafters are so high, later picture will show why we built the coop this way.

Probably the one part of the job that I underestimated the most, on how much time it would take, was the plaster.  We used over 5 yards of sand in mixing up the concrete mixture that was spread on the walls.  The job was started in September, and we only just finished the inside last week..  

Here are some of the birds we have in the coop and the fun colored eggs they lay. We have a couple birds that lay a chocolate brown egg.

Plans are to sell most of our eggs through our CSA Eagle Creek Farms Community Shared Agriculutre.  Share families can purchase a dozen eggs every second week.  Any extra eggs will be sold in our farm store during the summer or possibly farmers markets.

As I mentioned above, we also were in need of a new greenhouse.  Not new in the sense of bran new.  Instead a re-modified greenhouse in a better location.  We also had to haul water to our previous greenhouse.  The new greenhouse will be built off the high south wall of the chicken coop.  It will be about 13 high at the peak and extend out 25 feet.  We have only moved our small header house into the location at the moment, but I will post pictures of the greenhouse in construction when we are done.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seed Potato Season

No, we are not in the fields just yet, although plenty of warm weather this winter sure has me thinking that we may have an early spring, but we will have to wait to see how the next few month unfold.

It is Seed Potato Season because we have finalized our 2012 Seed Potato Catalogue and are now taking orders.  This year we are proud to offer our largest selection in our history of growing potatoes.  You will find 38 varieties in our Catalogue this season.  2012 Seed Potato Catalogue

If the selection is a little overwhelming, here is our 2011 best sellers list.
On the left is German Butterball, Purple Viking & Lindzer Deleketess.
On the right is French Fingerling & Norland

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter is Closing In...

For the first time EVER, we are going to sell vegetables throughout the winter, both at a farmers market and with CSA vegetable Share Deliveries. We have about 5 tones of veggies in the shed, which should be enough for about 100 Families in our CSA program and 8 weeks of markets, hopefully we still have product in February.  For more information on our CSA or markets check out our website.

As usual there are plenty of projects lined up for the winter months.  First is to take down our old greenhouse.  It was a great temporary solution to serve our greenhouse needs over the past 2 years, but we now need a to step up.  Plans are to build it off the North side of our chicken coop.  We will install a better ventilation system along with an enhanced heating system.  A set of solar thermal panels have been in a shed unused for the past couple years, but will soon be placed on the roof of the chicken coop.  Between utilizing Passive Solar heat retention in the greenhouse, we will be able to warm water with the stove & solar thermal panels that can be used to heat the building at night.  If all goes to plan we should be able to start germinating plants in February, then take our last harvest the end of November...

I took a stroll through the Christmas Trees this past week. Next summer it will be time to learn how to prune a christmas tree, some of the trees in our first planting are nearly 2 feet tall.   It has taken them 3 years to get to this point, so I don't expect any will be ready for cutting for another until 2016 at the earliest.  Each year we are planting more trees, so once we do open, I am hoping for a fairly consistent supply of christmas trees every year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Octover Events

Summer has come to an end, although this past weekend of 30 degree weather made us think otherwise...  But it has, however, that doesn't mean it is the end of the season here at the farm.  October is a great time to visit the farm in Fall Harvest Fashion.  Our U-pick will be closing this week, however, we will have a great selection of vegetables in our farm store.

Pumpkin Festival - Weekends in October 

Until the 16th of October we will be hosting our fall harvest activities.  Of course the highlight is always our corn and sunflower maze.  Without a hard frost the corn is still green and the sunflowers have just finished their bloom.  Sunflowers are great this time of year because you can snack on the seeds as you navigate the maze.In addition to the mazes your families can enjoy wagon rides, our farm animals and face painting.  Don't forget we will have tones of pumpkins for you.

Harvesttime Country Drive

Also this coming weekend 7 Country Drive operations will be open for our fall Showcase weekend.  The  Country Drive is a collection of over 25 rural operations who open their doors to the public through out the year.  The harvest drive will showcase fall farm activities & harvest along with shopping at our unique rural stores.  The Drive runs from 11-5 October 1st & 2nd.

We look forward to seeing you all out this fall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preparing for winter

We have had our first couple frosts on the farm, which calls the end for many veggies, but not everything.  Now before the snow starts falling it is now time to get a few things in the freezer.  Last night we blanched and froze a bunch of swiss chard.  Really easy, we boiled the chard for
1-2 min, then cooled it freezing water for 5min.  We then froze it in round picks to be used over the next few months... Plans are to use it in soups, meat loafs and what ever else we may have traditionally used frozen spinach.