For many years I have been personally engaged in speaking up for the protection of agricultural land in Kings County, Nova Scotia.
It all started for me when land in Greenwich was under treat of rezoning for the purposes of developing cluster housing. The land that we farm in Kings County has been farmed since the Acadians arrived. In my opinion it is priceless and a resource to be greatly valued for what it has the capacity to do, grow amazing crops.
My involvement in speaking up for the land led me to running in the municipal elections and I sat as a municipal councillor for 5 and a bit years. The 5 + years I was a councillor, the council of the day,CAO and staff could not get it sorted out to get the municipal planning strategy (MPS) updated. It has been years and years of effort and a continuous struggle. The struggle in my opinion is this: Any good planner realizes the need for prime agricultural land to be protected. Everyone in planning knows that the best way to protect anything is to have strong language of protection written into an excellent municipal planning strategy. Zoning is by far the best way to protect land. BUT, protecting anything is not how people like to roll. People want to be allowed to do what they want, when they want. AND so, we have a conundrum.
The time is here again. Kings County is now moving forward (a good thing) to get new policies in place and they need feedback on the draft policies.
It is time for everyone who eats to engage in this process. It doesn't matter where you live. It doesn't matter if your house was built on farm land. It doesn't matter if you life in Halifax. What matters is what is before us right now, and how we want to see things unfold into the future. We can't take it back, we are where we are, so now what?
Kings County is the hot spot for two important things. One) we have a lot of very good agricultural land here and we have conditions here that are found in only a few places on the planet because of our proximity to the Minas Basin. Two) we have a municipal planning strategy (not all municipalities have one) and everyone is watching what will happen here. If we protect land here, then a message is sent to the province to hurry up and enforce protection of land elsewhere in the province. If we weaken our policies here in Kings County, then it sends a sure message to the province that people don't care much about agricultural land.
I have not been involved in NF2 for many years. I stepped away when I became a Councillor and I haven't been able to get back involved since my term ended because of two reasons. 1) I get really anxious now when I talk about land policy, I/we/many people worked so hard to bring about good sound options for provincal policy of which the gov't has done basically nothing, lip service and lip service is incredible insulting and 2) it has been full on busy at the farm.
NF2 is alive and well and reaching out to share the news of the what is going on and what you can do. Please read below. Many thanks in advance. One thing that I know for sure is that each of our voices matter so so much! Every single comment matters. Every single person in the room matters. Every person who can't be in the room that you speak for, matters. Please come to the meetings. Please speak up.
IT TAKES LAND TO FARM
This simple fact is absent in the proposed Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) for Kings County. The protections the new MPS provide to farmland are grossly inadequate and flawed.
The proposed MPS starts off well. It recognizes the vital importance of farmland: it is necessary to preserve a way of life; it is a crucial engine to the region’s economy; it provides a steady supply of local foods; and it is a key reason why people decide to make their homes here and why so people come to visit.
And yet the actual policies setout in the MPS do not provide the protection this vital resource warrants.
The MPS’s Settlement vision is to “[c]oncentrate new commercial and residential development, including mixed uses, the Growth Centres . . .” However, with no explanation or justification, the MPS contains a number of exceptions that would allow residential development to take place on farmland.
The proposed MPS will allow non-farm dwellings on A1 farmland. Non-farm dwelling could be located on farmland if the lot has a minimum of 1000 feet road frontage and on infill lots. The MPS provides no reasons for these exceptions. Also troubling is the fact that the MPS provides information about the amount might be lost or made useless due to nearby residential development.
Without justification, the new MPS has increased the number of designated Grown Centres (GCs) in the County and contains a provision that would allow expansion of GC boundaries. There is no evidence that there are not enough potential building lots in the GCs and the Towns of Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville to accommodate the anemic population growth.
Equally questionable is the failure of the MPS to provide any protection to farmland located within GC boundaries. There is no information in the MPS about the amount of farmland in the designated GCs which will be unprotected and could disappear due to residential and commercial development.
FUZZY TERMS AND CROSS PURPOSES
The portions of the proposed MPS affecting agricultural land are full of contradictory policies and imprecise language.
For example, the MPS contains strong support for requiring residential development and other non-agricultural development to take place in Growth Centres where infrastructure and needed amenities are located. Yet one of the Settlement priorities is to "[e]nable and encourage a diversity of housing throughout the region." (Our emphasis.) And more damaging to the cause of protection of farmland and the goal of channeling residential and commercial development to Growth Centres are the numerous polices that will allow non-agricultural development to occur either on agricultural land or near agricultural land which will adversely impact the use of farmland for farming.
Here is just one example of sloppy language.
Proposed Policy 3.4.1 states that Council shall
designate as Agricultural portions of the Valley floor, North Mountain and South Mountain. The Agricultural Designation is intended to encompass the rural parts of the Municipality where agriculture is a dominant land use;
In order to make sense of this policy and implement it you need to know the meaning of “portions”, “rural parts” and “dominant”. But these terms are left undefined and imprecise.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
To get more information go to NoFarmsNoFood Facebook page at
In 2008 the average Canadian was producing 777 kg (1712 lbs) of waste per year. That's the size of a Holstein cow! Although Nova Scotian's are well under the national average, we are still producing roughly 378 kg (833 lbs) of waste per person a year. That works out to be about 1.03 kg or 2.2 lbs of waste a day, and people working on farms are no exception to that rule.Many of you may or may not know that Nova Scotia currently has one of the best waste management programs in the country. Why not use our curbside pick up and recycling and refundable programs? It's a great way for us here at Taproots to keep our waste disposal in line with our lifestyle and farming practices to limit or eliminate damaging practices to the environment.
If you think about items that would create waste in almost any job, they are likely to happen here as well. Coffee cups, water bottles, candy wrappers, ziploc bags, we have it all! This is where I come in! My name is Alyson, and I'm one of the newer additions to Taproot Farms. I was hired on as the Resource Management Intern in early August, and I'm very excited to be here! I am from Nova Scotia originally, but have lived in various cities all over the country. I'm happy to be putting my education and experience to the test in developing a successful Waste Management Program (WMP) for Taproots! I'm going to tell you a little bit more about the program, and will be giving everyone updates from time to time!
So let's talk about the program! Our initial goals for this project are identify, educate, and encourage. First thing was identifying our major waste items, and how they were currently being sorted. This could be different for every farm, as it is with many work places. Some major examples are paper towels, coffee cups, label liners, etc. Next was developing a system that was easily shown and taught to others. We have now set up several work stations across the farm that are colour coded and labelled. With the help of a Valley Waste Resource Management employee, we are going to be holding an education and demonstration seminar for all of our farm employees in the upcoming weeks. Finally, we are encouraging a recycling-minded atmosphere.
All painted and ready to go!
Sample of the stations around the farm.
Having stations easily accessible and well labelled will help encourage people to think before they simply toss what is in their hands in the trash. Many people that work here believe in a commitment to the environment and to having better, more sustainable practices. Within hours of having the bins painted, we had employees using them and asking questions on how to sort! In the coming months we are developing a system to take advantage of the curb-side pick up, and to start weighing how much waste we are diverting from the landfills. These are some of the initial tasks for the project, but there are tons more in the pipeline! I will be updating news from this project as it goes along, so stay tuned!
This year we are including both a recipe for vinegar canned dill pickles as well as a lacto ferments pickle. Lacto ferments pickles are packed with probiotics and are easy to make, but the process takes some time to get used to! My mother makes ferments so I've never had to make them, as I have a steady supply whenever I want, but this year we did try our hand at it. Our pickles are about a week in, and although we have already been taken them out to try and use in sandwiches they aren't done yet. It's less of an exact science and more of an art form, with practice making you more comfortable with the process I would imagine. My brother, who gets a full monty, always has at least one batch of ferments on the go. Last time we were over we have fermented garlic scapes with our meal. Getting used to this process will serve you well when we get into storage vegetables, as cabbage and carrots ferment beautifully.
A note that our dill pickles this year aren't as green as they usually are. Josh says because of the rain that we had the nitrogen get washed away, and this makes the pickles more yellow. They are still fresh and crunchy, but aesthetically they look a bit different.
Lacto Fermented Dill Pickles
Lacto Fermented pickles are a great way to make dill pickles, as a bonus these pickles will be packed with healthy probiotics.
You can use a glass jar or food grade plastic bucket.
To make a gallon jar of pickles you will need:
A gallon Jar
A gallon of non chlorinated water
97 g sea salt
Grape leaves (optional, but makes a more crunchy pickle)
Wash the pickles, and place in the jar along with the garlic and dill flowers. Add the brine so that it covers the pickles. To keep the pickles from floating to the top, you can fill a ziplock with brine and put it on top. Cover the jar with a tea towel and place the jar in a room temperature location for 3 day to 2 weeks, trying the pickles every few days until they are to the tangy-ness you want. A white yeasty foam will form on top and is perfectly normal and not something to worry about. When the pickles are 'done' you can skim off the white foam (optional), and put into the fridge. Eat right away, or store in a fridge or root cellar for months and enjoy them all winter long.
Step 1: Sanitize the jars. I don't have any fancy equipment, and just put my jars open side down in a big roasting pan filled with a little water with the oven on about 350 degrees. A jar lifter is a huge help getting the jars back out and avoiding burns while doing so! See photo>>
Step 2: Make the brine. Mix4 cups vinegar (I use regular vinegar, if you're using the pickling vinegar it is stronger and will require less vinegar and more water for this recipe), 12 cups water, and 1 cup salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and maintain heat so that it is just below a simmer (not boiling, still hot and steaming).
Step 3: Place the lid flats in another small pot of almost boiling water (This sanitizes them as well and softens the rubber so you get a good seal. Always use new flats, it's just a good practice, and saves the disappointment of seals not holding)
Step 4: Prepare the cucumbers, garlic, and dill while everything is heating up. The dill should be washed and divided into the amount you want in each jar (I use a stem or two and 1 flower head per jar). The garlic should be removed from it's paper wrapper (I put one clove per jar, some people like more, so depending on your taste). Both the stem end and the end of the cucumber should be trimmed off, and then they should be washed in cold water. Depending on how dirty they are, sometimes I scrub each one. Poke through any larger cucumbers with a sharp knife to help them pickle uniformly. All this trimming and scrubbing may seem like a lot of work, but it goes fast and is totally worth it in the final product.
Step 5: Start packing the jars. Remove the hot jar with a jar lifter, and continuing to hold the jar with the lifter, put in dill and garlic . Start with larger cucumbers, lining them up along the bottom layer, and the smaller ones are great for packing in the top.
Step 6: Fill jar as much as you can with cucumbers, and then fill to the bottom of the jar rim with brine. Wipe the rim to ensure no excess brine is between the seal and the glass. Take out a flat from the hot water, place on top, and tighten screw lid to finger tight (you'll regret it if you tighten it too much at this point).
Step 7: Place jars in a water bath, and fill the canner (or a large pot with a lid) with water to top of jar lids. Put lid on water bath canner and bring water to a boil. Just as the water begins to boil, tuen off heat and remove jars. Place jars on a clean towel and let set for 24 hours. So long as everything has been hot along the way, you shouldn't have any problems with seals. The flat will suck inwards and sometimes even make a "POP!" when they seal.
You can eat these right away as young dills, or store for a later time and more intense pickle flavour!
The TapRoot Pickle Pack was awesome. The perfect amount of everything for this recipe, the cucumbers are a great size, and there's the variety you need in sizing for making dills (some big ones, some small ones, and everything in between).
Sunchokes aka. Jerusalem Artichokes, are a relative of the sunflower, and are not an artichoke at all. They do have a mild artichoke heart taste to them, and are starchy, but have no starch in them. They store their carboyhydrates as inulin, a great source of fiber and a prebiotic! They don't take being boiled very well, becoming mushy, but roasted or steamed they keep their shape beautifully.
Sunchokes can be eaten raw, but because of the inulin (that isn't digestible) for some they cause stomach upsets. Start small eating raw, or steam, roast, add to mashed potatoes, or shave thinly and fry to make crisp sunchoke chips.
We dig our sunchokes in the spring and as we are harvesting them we leave all the small tubers in the ground, taking only what we need for the CSA and our wholesale customers. What is left in the ground will grow up this summer and multiply underground. Next spring we will then go through the same process. We have three different sunchoke patches on the farm.
Storage: Store your sunchokes out of the bag in a cool, dry place, or in the crisper wrapped in a tea towel or paper towel to absorb excess moisture. As they were dug on the weekend, they can be stored for 3 weeks in this manner.
Try one of the recipes below, or let us know how you ate your sunchokes and we will share with the rest of the CSA members.
This recipe from Viktoria's Table is one that she makes with either potatoes or sunchokes. Ours are not as large as the one in the picture (ours must be a different variety), but by slicing then length ways you should be able to get large pieces to make this recipe with.
We have made available the weekly values of your first 25 weeks of shares. The original spread sheets were made in the winter by Patricia and Josh to have a weekly plan for the shares. The items were not valued, and in the course of doing that each week we would usually have to omit an item or two. We tried to keep the shares with as much variety as possible but at the same time wanted to make sure you were getting enough staples each week to actually make a meal with. The x's are items that we didn't have enough room for in that weeks share. We are sharing this in hopes that some of you are interested in how and what we valued the shares for each week.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!