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 email@example.com. Thanks!
CSA Member Gathering and Field Walk - April 8th, 2017
What a lovely afternoon at the farm!
Patricia & Justine provided a tasty lunch of soups prepared with ingredients from the Farm, plus bread from Boulangerie la Vendeene, and Taproots own apple cider mmmmmm.
We gathered around the living room at the new property next door to the farm on Canard st. It's a beautiful home with a toasty wood-burning fireplace and open kitchen. Josh & Patricia took our questions about what it's really like running the farm, and many interesting conversations ensued.
They explained the requirements for Organic Certification; that there is in annual certification cost PLUS a lot of record keeping that requires significant time and resources.
Did you know that it takes 3 years of using organic approved practices before the land & products can be certified organic?
And they must use a list of approved products for all farming supplies, right down to containers & hand soap!?
It's quite a commitment to follow organic practices - Josh & Patricia believe firmly in the environmental, ethical, and sustainable reasons to do so. I am ever so grateful to support a farm & family that are committed to doing it the right way.
(Plus the perks of receiving weekly boxes of tasty, farm-fresh, nutritious food!!)
We also chatted about the changes they have gone through since they started, the upcoming CSA season, feedback form us members, and upcoming events. (Check out the EVENTS link for the great line-up they have planned for this year - including Taproot Days Friday, August 4th-7th!)
I wasn't able to stay for the field walk, but I did manage to see the work they've done on the packaging warehouse since I last visited in March - it looks great! They've done a lot of work cleaning, fixing it up and painting. Patricia filled us on in some of their plans to improve the space for efficiency and reduce waste, based on some learnings from reading & workshops her and Josh have recently done.
Some of my major take-aways from this visit:
- They are always working on improvements
- Patricia & Josh really appreciate members input & feedback
- Taproot CSA members are lovely people and make great company!
I'm really excited to spend more time at the farm, and am incredibly excited to connect with other members at all of the events they are planning for this year. I've been dreaming about how fantastic the new shared space at 441 Canardwould be for cooking classes and good ol' fashioned Kitchen Parties!
What cooking skills/recipes do you want to learn?
Would you come out to a kitchen party at the farm?
Would you join in on a jam session?
Would you like to hear a performer? Which performers would you love to hear?