This year we were able to open pre-registration for our current members 2 weeks ahead of public registration. That means even though public registration doesn't open until Monday, that meat and egg shares have sold out!
So... Why do we limit the number of these shares, when the demand is clearly so high?
We are limited by regulations as to how many birds we are allowed to have without purchasing quota (which is not an easy or cost-effective solution for us). The limit has just been increased to 200 birds (last year was 100), and so we had twice as many eggs on offer this year than last. Even at that, they sold out! The increase to 200 hens means that we have invested in a small-scale egg washing machine, to help out our wonderful egg-washers Betty and Evelyn (the machine still needs someone to load and pack the eggs).
We apologize if you didn't get eggs this year, but next year all of the 2014-15 members will get first dibs again prior to public registration opening next year!
We are downsizing our meat shares this year from 150 shares to 100, in the hopes that we can raise all of the animals at TapRoot and limit the amount of meat that we buy in from other producers. We have also streamlined the meat share to one size, which should make a huge difference in the amount of time spent administering this share.
We're not there yet, but with your support our goal in the next few years is:
To produce healthy, happy animals
To grow or source all GMO-free grain for all the animals on the farm
To use as much of the animal as possible
To provide the highest quality meats and cuts for you to enjoy
Symbiotic Relationship of animals on the farm
The animals we grow on the farm provide us with the nutrients and fertility to grow healthy vegetables. We are able to use the pigs to cultivate the fields for us, as the natural instinct of pigs is to dig up the earth with their powerful noses in search of nutritious roots. The sheep and beef will be on a rotational grazing routine, on land that is at rest from growing vegetables. Vegetables that don't meet our standards of marketability are recycled back into the farm as food for the pigs and chickens.
If you did not get in on the meat share this year, here are some other meat sources that we highly recommend:
I hope to explain how we make your vegetable shares at TapRoot Farms. In some ways a box of various vegetables can seem like a simple thing, but it is not. Before I describe our share making process I first need to acknowledge the planning, seed purchasing, land preparation, seeding, transplanting, weeding, watering, harvesting and overall general effort it takes to grow vegetables (particularly on such a large scale). Your boxes of vegetables are not just quietly assembled. A tremendous amount of planning and work began years ago and continues to evolve.
We make vegetable shares three days a week. Our goal is to give you the freshest possible box. When I say “we” I am referring to a whole team of people who harvest and prepare all the items for your box. Farm staff prepare and assemble enough produce to make shares, with fresh items from both farm locations. Sometimes mornings are a bit of a panic but we always seem to get everything prepared. Tubs, trays, pallets and bins of vegetables are carried by hand or brought by forklift to our assembly area. It is indeed, an assembly line, but super effective.
Another critical element of the “we” I mentioned earlier is our amazing team from Applewicks. They join us on Mondays and Wednesdays for our busiest share making days. There are a lot of things I enjoy about the farm, but the hours we spend together making shares is my favourite. The task is large each day, but the teamwork and constant conversation always make it feel less like work. I tend to talk a lot, but my chatter always takes a backseat when Trish joins us from Applewicks.
For a year we have been flirting with the idea of listening to a radio while we all work, but always forget about it once we start talking. We talk about food, a lot. Many of the people involved in making shares receive a box as part of the CSA. We share your experience of receiving and opening the weekly box of mixed vegetables. We often comment on how great the boxes look when full. I have said, “This is the best box so far” as least six times this year.
I usually prepare the empty boxes in advance. This gives the team a bit of time to choose our tasks for the day. We chat and work steadily as boxes follow the line and have things added. Shares are stacked on pallets for immediate delivery or immediate refrigeration.
Monday morning and afternoon we assemble about 260 shares, 240 on Wednesday, and I assemble about 65 more at the end of the week for our Saturday members. While this is happening, fruit shares are being picked up from Noggins Corner Farm, eggs are being washed, meat shares are being assembled, and staple shares and flowers are prepared and added to a list of purchased add-ons we collect and manage to fit into a vehicle.
Mistakes are made despite our vigilance. I figure there are three possible explanations for why something in your box might be deemed a “Bad Apple.” See our policy!
A judgement error. Things good enough for one person may not be acceptable for another. We all look at the value in a vegetable differently.
An issue with the produce itself (my turnip from a couple of weeks ago also went off pretty quickly). Luckily this rarely happens.
A regrettable mistake.
Sometimes knowing some of the math involved in share making helps put things in perspective. Things are counted by the hundreds and even thousands. For example, this past week included about 560 heads of lettuce, bunches of cilantro, kohlrabi, green peppers, squash, pints and quarts of tomatoes, bags of basil, 1500 roma tomatoes, 1500 green onions, and over 2000 ears of corn and jalapeno peppers. Next week will be completely different, but still impressive.
I receive my veggie share on Wednesdays. And even though I have seen everything in almost every box and have lifted thousands of pounds of them, I still come home and dig into mine immediately. I hope many of you look forward to receiving your share as much as I do.
It's that time of year again, folks! Every year, Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) puts out a survey for CSA members in the Maritime region. By filling out this survey, you will be providing ACORN with invaluable info about CSA farms in the region, and we will get to see the results also for our specific farm. Last year's report is available here: http://acornorganic.org/pdf/ACORN_CSA_Report_2013.pdf
Here's the link to the survey, please fill it out before November 1:
In order to supply eggs year-round, our certified organic layer flock has to be in peak form, meaning that older birds whose egg laying abilities have decreased are replaced by younger ones, who are just starting to lay. We are currently between flocks, meaning that our older gals have decided to retire earlier than we planned for, and the new gals aren't quite laying up to our needs yet.
So, what this means for egg share holders is that we are going to distribute the shortage amongst all of you. If you have a half egg share, you will receive less than 6 eggs this week, and a full egg share will be less than a dozen (I don't want to count our eggs before the hens lay them, but I'm guessing 5 and 10 instead of 6 and 12). Thanks for your understanding: we are still feeding all these birds (incurring the costs), but just not producing enough to fill all of our egg orders. So, bad news is a few less eggs for everyone, but the good news is we have an extra-abundant veggie box for you this week!
It's still a number of weeks away, but we are already thinking about Thanksgiving here in the meat share world at TapRoot!
Last year we gave everyone a turkey at a value of $50.00 (one meat share for entree shares or two meat shares for appetizer shareholders), with the option to opt out of getting a turkey and just receiving a regular meat share (items TBA) instead.
The turkeys are from Oulton's Meats (Martock Glen) in Windsor.
We are planning how many turkeys to order, so if you are wanting to OPT OUT of getting a turkey from us as part of your meat share, please let us know as soon as possible and we'll make sure you get a regular meat share instead (email@example.com).
Those of you without a meat share that are interested in purchasing a turkey can contact Oulton's Meats in Windsor at 798-4734.