May 26, 2022
When farmers work with farmers everybody wins!
Our greens are still growing sluggishly due to the cold weather ☹️ Luckily, Heather and Chris from Wild Valley Farms in Passmore (right down the road from us in fact!) and Kate from Hoe Down CSA in Pass Creek had an overabundance of spinach, dill, scallions and bok choy. 👩🌾👩🌾
They reached out to us to see if we needed any, and of course we did. We collaborated and bought what they had.
Heather (left) and Chris (right) an Kate (bottom) are very talented farmers who grow incredible food We’re very grateful to be able to collaborate with them and to share their amazing food this week!
By the way, you can find Kate at the Castlegar Farmers Market on Saturdays, so be sure to check it out if you're in the area!
More experiments in sustainable agriculture 👨🔬
This week we made our first batch of what is known as fermented plant juice, or FPJ. FPJ is made by taking a plant (in this case dandelions) and fermenting it for about a week with brown sugar. As the plant ferments and breaks down, all of the minerals in the plant get extracted and what you are left with is a natural, very potent, balanced mineral amendment. We then diluted it with water and sprayed most of our crops with it using a backpack sprayer.
You can make FPJ with just about any plant, but one with some of the highest amounts of minerals is dandelions believe it or not! The reason dandelions are so pervasive is because they are extremely good at mining minerals from the soil and drawing those minerals up into their foliage. Once the dandelions die, they then release those minerals onto the surface of the soil, creating a more fertile top soil for other plants.
That’s right, those dandelion “weeds” are actually creating healthier soils! When you make a FPJ with dandelions you are just accelerating the process of re-mineralizing the soil. Apparently plants absolutely love this stuff because it contains so many plant nutrients in their most bioavailable form for the plants, making it extremely effective. I will never look at a dandelion the same way again!
Dandelions have gotten a bad reputation. They have been branded as unsightly “weeds” by chemical companies such as Monsanto, who then convince us that we need to kill them with chemicals such as Round Up. Not only are dandelions beneficial to our soil, they’re also one of the first food sources for pollinators in the early spring. By killing them we actually end up throwing off a very complex natural cycle that in the end, hurts all of us.
For these pickled beets we harvested purple beets from our garden, made a balanced apple cider vinegar and brown sugar brine and added whole organic allspice berries, black peppercorn, star anise and a stick or true cinnamon in each jar. We then let the flavours slowly meld together for several weeks.
The result is a lively pickled beet with a wonderful blend of spices that perfectly compliments the natural sweetness of the beet!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Why we don’t buy California or Mexico grown food 🚫
This is a short documentary by Vice News called “The Fruit of Mexico’s Cheap Labour” that we felt needed to be shared.
Farm workers in California and Mexico, almost all of them immigrants or poor people of colour, have some of the worst working conditions- low pay, no overtime, no healthcare, no vacation pay and overall some of the worst worker protection rights out of any industry.
Imagine being an immigrant farmer, working a certified organic strawberry field in the blazing hot Californian sun, all day long, battling heat stroke and exhaustion, having to endure breathing in thick wildfire smoke and getting paid the national minimum wage of $7 per hour. And that’s if you’re on the books. If you’re working under the table, which a lot of these immigrant farm workers are, you could be getting paid far less. If you think that’s inhumane, farm workers in Mexico can be paid as little as $7 PER DAY.
This is how the vast majority of the food we see in grocery stores is being produced, certified organic or not. It’s not technically slave labour, but if your options are between working the field or eating, it might as well be.
Supermarkets have done an excellent job at severing the connection between us and the people who grow our food. Because we’ve been trained to no longer ask questions abut where our food comes from, corporations have been able to slowly erode farm workers rights, benefits, pay and dignity. Why? because it’s more profitable. And they know they can get away with it because consumers like us no longer ask questions about our food.
As farmers, we know how much skill and hard work it takes to grow food. These immigrant farmers are no different than us. We grow food for our community, they grow food for the global community. The only difference is that corporations have taken away their dignity and decided that profits were more important than giving these people a living wage and healthy working conditions.
This is why we no longer buy produce imported from California, Mexico or anywhere in the global south. We eat what we and our local farmers grow instead. We eat locally and seasonally because that way, we know how our food is being grown and the people who grew it.