happy hens, monster soup and planting

End of April greetings from Abundant Acre Family Farm!

We had a good break this past winter and now we are working with the rhythms of dry and wet spring weather.

A handful of crops survived our very mild winter and we were able to bring them to the Abbotsford Farm and Country market for two market dates in March and April. Leeks, parsnips, collards, thyme, sage, kale and kale sprouts were snapped up in a hurry.

Our small flock of hens started laying in January and we are very happy with the taste of their eggs. Our hens enjoyed feasting on leftover crops and flowering kale plants earlier this spring. The hens have access to an area of pasture adjacent to their spacious hoophouse. We look forward to building them an egg-mobile so we can move them to new pasture regularly. We’ll be bringing our eggs to the Abbotsford Farm & Country market along with our vegetables.

This winter I’ve enjoyed cooking in-season.  I found great contentment looking at the dinner table to see that often almost everything had been raised or grown on our farm.

Our family has really enjoyed a recipe for Green Monster Soup that we discovered in the “Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook.”  Using our own frozen broccoli, cauliflower and turkey broth for the recipe made it that much more delicious and satisfying. I’ve put the recipe up on our ‘eating’ page. We also enjoyed a bunch of winter salads including over-wintered greens like kale, collards and even some Mizuna and Komatsuna that had enough shelter to stay alive. As these plants grew and put their energy into flowering and making seed, we enjoyed eating their sprouts (or buds).

We are super-thankful to not be moving the farm this spring. Last March we moved our family to Sardis and our farm from Abbotsford to Greendale so it feels simple to just be here and not busy unpacking or constructing greenhouses. That said, every winter we pass through reminds us that there could be more things done during the winter before the spring and summer push arrives.

In more recent news, we made a big push transplanting some 3000 onion seedlings before the forecasted rain a few weeks ago. We have potatoes in the ground under low tunnels and carrots too, under cover in the greenhouse. Other seedlings, like kale, cabbage and fennel have been transplanted and our tomatoes were potted-on a few weeks ago as well. With the plunge into spring farm work I have thought lately that going for a run seems like a treat. My (Cara) body is getting used to the twisting and crawling and reaching that spring work brings.

We are expanding our CSA Vegetable Boxes beyond Abbotsford into Chilliwack this year with a weekly pick-up at the farm. We will be at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market on Saturdays from 9am-1pm once our season starts as well. Look for us in a new spot this year, on the east side of the road, towards the north end. We have requested a shadier spot to keep our vegetables as fresh as possible for you.

We are excited to be diving into our 5th year of farming full-flavour vegetables grown with care. We appreciate your interest and support of our farm and thank you for keeping in touch with us, spreading the word about our CSA and for your encouragement. We look forward to seeing you when our crops are ready!

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looking back in december

savoy cabbage at season's end

December greetings from Abundant Acre Family Farm!

We are thick into December and can almost count the number of crates of winter squash that are left on two hands. This year’s farming season is coming to a close.

It’s been a busy season, that’s for sure. Most of our crops did well this year and we had a great crop of tomatoes and peppers that extended into mid-November. Our summer potatoes, on the other hand, struggled with blight and our green pole beans had a short but enjoyed season after having the blossoms blown off in a strong afternoon wind. The soil we are on here in Greendale is very forgiving – it is rich and well-drained.

The fall potato crop was more successful than the summer potatoes and our winter squash also produced very well again.  We also enjoyed a crop of large-size carrots this fall and winter. We didn’t get to irrigating a particular crop of summer carrots which rendered them difficult to pull out from the hard, dry earth. Come late fall, we harvested them and they had developed a wonderfully sweet flavor – a bit of wire worm damage but lots of good carrot to enjoy still.  The record dryness this summer and early fall kept Andy busy moving sprinklers and enabled a small crop of melons to ripen and be available to our CSA customers.

Our family appreciated the favourable weather too, as we were commuting from Sardis to our farm in Greendale all summer. We packed and ate a great number of picnics.

We were involved in two farmer’s markets this year (Abbotsford Farm & Country Market and the Chilliwack Eco Market), and provided two restaurants and about 60 families with seasonal vegetables through our Summer and Autumn CSA Garden Box program.

At the end of September our family moved to the farm and we are finding it very convenient and peaceful.

Thank you to those who helped out with our farming efforts this year. We truly appreciate and are grateful for our new field lease situation, encouragement from family and friends, and enthusiasm and interest from customers who have bought our vegetables this season.

We wish you a restful and meaningful Christmas and a safe and healthy winter ahead.

~Andy & Cara Abrahams & children

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fantastic florence fennel

I’m still fairly new at cooking with Florence Fennel, but really enjoy this licorice flavored bulb.  The main way I have prepared it is in a Greek Fennel Skillet from the Simply in Season cookbook. One of our customers said it is great roasted and another tried it in a salad. Our daughter likes to munch on it raw too.

A bit of reading and I find it is quite versatile and is used in French and Italian cooking. Here are a few websites worth checking out.

http://vegbox-recipes.co.uk/ingredients/fennel.php (includes a Fennel and Potato Bake & Carrot I’d like to try and Fennel Coleslaw that I have made and enjoyed very much)

http://www.easy-french-food.com/fennel-recipes.html (scroll down for good storing and preparing tips and more recipes)

I’d love to hear what you have made with your fennel. Please leave a comment and let us know. Have a great day!

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first crops coming in from Greendale

It’s been a busy spring and a bit of a wet early summer again. This spring, we successfully moved our farm from the 3 pieces of land in Abbotsford to the 1.5 acres we are now leasing in Greendale. This included setting up the total of 5 greenhouses this spring.

We had some trouble with crane fly larvae eating seedlings and baby strawberry plants.

We are pleased with the good drainage this soil has and how Greendale seems to have a bit of a micro-climate. Rain  showers are often intermittent when it is pouring elsewhere. That said, we have had our fair share of rain this past month.

We are happy to have started our season at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market and the Eco Market in Sardis Park.  We will start the CSA Garden Box program the second week in July.

We are excited about the delicious season ahead of us.  It is good to see the sun again.

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moving the abundant acre

As I said in the last post, “We have been thankful for the relatives we’ve been leasing land from these last two seasons. Thank you for your support, encouragement and generosity in having us farm a portion of your land.”

We have taken hold of an opportunity to consolidate and move our farm and family to Greendale. We will be in another lease arrangement and be able to live on the farm, in time.  We’ve actually already begun to move our farm tools and equipment over this winter.

We will be fully moved by early March and are thankful for the chance to have all of our farmland in one location. We’ve heard and seen already that our field has great drainage (something we’ve had trouble with in the past). We are also excited to be a part of the new Eco Market in Sardis this year (see our Markets page).

Andy was able to do some tilling during the dry days of this month so far, and he’s been seeding leeks and artichokes these last few days. He has placed his order for seed potatoes and we are making plans for crop rotations.

On the horizon are taking down, moving and reconstructing greenhouses, more tilling and starting many more seedlings. We are excited about the renewed activity of spring, as we head toward another delicious season of local and ethically grown vegetables.

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welcoming winter and a new year

We have already come through the shortest day of the year and look forward to the longer ones ahead. This fall we were encouraged by the great turn-out of people seeking local food at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market’s pre-Christmas winter markets. People were excited about many of our winter crops including leeks, lettuce, cabbage, kale, carrots, pie pumpkins and winter squash (particularly Festival and Delicata).
Thank you to all who came out to the winter markets in search of organic food grown very close to where you live.

Our Autumn CSA Garden Box just wrapped up before Christmas and we are thankful for all our Summer and Autumn CSA Garden Box customers. Thank you for your enthusiasm and interest in what we are growing.

We are already enjoying the slower pace winter brings. Different work is around the bend – planning and looking back at our past growing season. It seems the seed catalogues get sent out earlier and earlier every year.

Winter squash took ‘first prize’ in crops that did really well this year. We also enjoyed a good crop of fall lettuce thanks to the low tunnels Andy put up for them to stay protected from the frost. Some of our crops were affected by lack of sun because of positioning in the garden (too much shade from trees) and the garden has turned to muck again in many places.

We have been thankful for the relatives we’ve been leasing land from these last two seasons. Thank you for your support, encouragement and generosity in having us farm a portion of your land.

Andy has been pricing parts for a new greenhouse and has already placed his first order for seed for next year.

We hope you had a relaxing and meaningful Christmas and have a good winter. We look forward to serving you again next growing season. Happy New Year!

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Autumn greetings from the farm!

Things have finally been slowing down a bit for us here at Abundant Acre Family Farm. This provides a bit of time for letting you know what we are up to.

This was a challenging summer again – weather wise – which resulted in a poorer variety of vegetables than we had hoped to offer. That said, we’ve made a good dent into the squash harvest, which seems to have done really well this year! Andy finished planting the last of our winter crops a week ago. He has made some vole traps recently and we hope that will keep their population under control and out of our root crops.

Lately, in the kitchen, I’ve been enjoying our toscano kale, fall lettuce and collards. I’ve also enjoyed baking with our winter squash – in muffins and pancakes, and baked with chicken so far. Autumn brings so many great flavors and colors.

Our Autumn CSA Garden Box has started up this past week and we are now selling vegetables 2 times a week (CSA box and Abb. Farmer’s Market) rather than 3.

We have secured a spot at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market for some of their winter market dates. We will be there Oct.29, Nov.5, Dec.3 and 17th so far. If you’d like to sign up for an email reminder for the Abbotsford winter market, please visit www.mymarketsnews.com. The market reminder includes a helpful date specific list of vendors that will there.

Today we are gearing up for our pre-Thanksgiving booth at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market tomorrow. We are bringing lots of pie pumpkins and winter squash and greens as well.

I’ve uploaded a few new pictures on our photostream as well. Enjoy.

We wish for you a meaningful Thanksgiving this weekend.

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weeding and seeding – high summer action

There is a lot going on at the farm right now. We are thankful for all the recent heat. It feels like summer has finally arrived. Our tomatoes are in full production and that feels very good – and tastes delicious.

This is the time of year that we are still very busy seeding fall and winter crops in addition to weeding, stringing green bean plants, transplanting fall broccoli and building trellises for the outdoor cucumbers, to name a few things.

We are harvesting three times per week between our CSA Garden Boxes and Saturday at the Abbotsford Farm and Country market.

We’ve bought a trailer which enables our family to be more involved at the farm. There is room for us in the car, and farm stuff in the trailer. We’ve started going down to the farm on Mondays to harvest together for our Monday CSA Garden Box.

Saturday was a wrap up event for Farmer’s Appreciation Week and I (Cara) shared a bit about our farm there and what we do and why we do it. That went well and maybe part of the speech will end up here sometime. It’s great to still meet people who are interested in our CSA Garden Box program…which we do almost every Saturday.

Our Summer and Autumn CSA Garden boxes are both now full, but feel free to contact us and we’ll put you on our interested-for-when-there-is-space list for the future (probably next year).

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garlic scapes! (updated*)

Garlic scape season is here! The season is short, but brings a welcomed mild garlic flavor.

Garlic scapes are the curly shoots of the garlic plant, picked before it blooms. Harvested in full curl, they are ‘tender and delicious.’

Last year my experimenting with scapes had me tossing them in the blender raw for hummus, roasting them with potatoes, sautéing them as a base for pasta sauce and really enjoying them minced in a garlic potato salad (see eating tab for recipe).

I found I just use the tender part of the scape – from the base up until it gets a little bulbus where the flower would start.

*Another use for scapes I tried this year includes just steaming them and eating as a side dish. Fresh lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper made a great topping. They aren’t as strong as the garlic bulb, so it wasn’t a problem to have a nice healthy helping of them:)

*I chopped them fine and added them to baking powder biscuits. Very nice.

*A great article about scapes can be found here. At the end of the article is a terrific recipe for pesto that I tried.

More reading here and I found more pesto recipes, suggestions for use in stir-fry and as a fresh bracelet (at the market perhaps?).


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anticipation continues for CSA Garden Box start

To all of our CSA Garden Box Customers:

Just wanted to put the official word out there for those who’ve signed up for the Summer CSA Garden Box, that we are hoping to be starting with the boxes at the end of June or early July. Our wet, cold spring has set us back by 3-4 weeks with some crops.

In the meantime you can find us on Saturdays between 9am-1pm at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market.

Thank you for your patience and we will contact those who are signed up when we are ready to start this season’s local eating adventure.

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