For anyone who follows our blog, I guess you can tell we've been busy. This is one of our earliest fields where we have rapini, beet greens, radish, Chinese cabbage, broccoli cauliflower and more. We are happy with how things are doing overall. Even though we had a slow start to the spring, we are pretty much caught up now and it looks like we will have lots of yummy veggies for our first boxes. First boxes start between June 24 and 26.
We do still have a little room in our box program for anyone who has yet to sign up.
I'll try to post pictures soon of our broiler chickens on pasture and of our new hen houses. Our new flock has started laying but we are a little apprehensive because our eggs are sold out based on full production and they are nowhere near that yet. They have two weeks to go so we are hoping their production will come up in that time.
Last week was a very busy week planting and preparing the soil for seeding. We were grateful for the good dry weather. This rain has stopped ground work, but the transplants have appreciated the water and are looking good.
This picture shows our first lettuce planting which planted on biodegradable mulch film. The film warms the soil, keeps the dirt off the lettuce plants, keeps weeds down, and will decompose into the ground when the harvest is over.
The crew spent much of the week planting around 60,000 onions, shallots, and leeks. By the end they were seeing onions in their sleep....
We are using the rainy weather to prepare and plant the cherry tomato houses, cut seed potatoes, and finish up some projects such as the building of our mobile chicken coops.
The newly cleaned out section of the cattle barn makes a great dry workspace for building. We are eager to get them finished and the chickens can't wait to get out to the pasture.
While spring has been a bit late, we are coming along well getting crops in and really appreciated the few dry warmer days last week. Our first 5 employees have started work as well. It is a challenge to train a new crew each year, but it looks likes we have some really good help again this year.
The greenhouse is overflowing with transplants. We are increasing our production to try to fill the demand for local organic products. Not only have our box sales increased, but we also have had more requests for wholesale including a senior's residence.
We have also been approved to partner with a local school to supply their salad bar next school year. This is being modelled along the same idea as the veggie box. We supply the salad bar with veggies that are in season and partner with the school to help the kids learn where their food comes from. This is a pilot project that will be expanded if it goes well so we are excited to be a part of this and see how it develops..
After a lot of work we have decided to start with Royal Bank only for the online banking option. If this goes well, we will set up with the other banks. Here is an explanation of our payment options.
1.) If you are a Royal Bank Customer, our preferred payment is through your online banking or telephone banking where you can pay us as a Payee. Just search for Strawberry Hill Farm and enter your customer number. Your customer number is displayed on our website after you log in. For later sign ups, the email invoice also has your customer number on it.
2.) Cheque works well for us. Just mail it to the address in the Contact Us portion of the website.
3.) Cash is great if you are an installment customer paying during the season and picking up from our bus or at the stand. We do ask, that all the first box payments are complete before the first box pickup so cash does not typically work as well for the first payment.
4.) We accept Interac e-Transfers.
5.) We also accept Paypal which allows you to use a credit card to pay for your box, however we do lose at least 2.5% of all payments due to fees that go to Paypal and the credit card companies. This is not our first choice but feel free to use it if these other options don't work well for you.
We look forward to supplying your needs and appreciate your support.
Well as of last night when I wrote this it looked like spring was going to come at last but this morning I'm not so sure. We are still a long way from working fields. The frost is usually out of the ground by the 18th of April and we normally can work our drier ground by the 25th. There have been years when we have even seeded our first crops the last week of April. I've driven a few fence posts the last couple of days and there is only a thin layer of frost but there is still snow in the fields and water is running everywhere. It looks like it will be a while before we can do any field work.
Our cows are getting a bit impatient too. I had to chase calves back into the fence three times today...
The greenhouse on the other hand is looking really good. We've done lots of seeding and transplanting.
I took a short video of Bruce and I planting tomatoes on the greenhouse but can't figure out how to post it here. For those of you who use Facebook, I'm going to post the video there at least until I can figure out how to get it posted here...
About a month ago we asked you all to help with a survey about payment options. About 60% of you said you would definitely pay through online banking and another 20% said you might if the option was there. We thought we were all set for April 10 only to find out that there was a deadline we were told nothing about so we missed it. Needless to say we are unhappy with Royal Bank's service and as a result, are working with another bank to get this set up as soon as possible. We hope the option will be available later this month or early May at the latest. In the mean time, feel free to use Paypal. Even though we lose 2.5% of all payments, that is better than not getting paid. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
We are officially into spring now, but sure doesn't look like it outside. We've had another big dump of snow and with it come lots of plowing and clean up. Somedays I wonder if it is smart to keep seeding and planting when the fields are still buried in feet of snow, but we have faith that spring will come at last.
In the greenhouse it is another matter. Spring has arrived in earnest. Temperatures get well up into the 20s each day and some days we even have to cool it down by opening the doors. Leeks, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and ground cherries are all coming up and doing well.
We are also harvesting lots of salad mix and spinach that we planted last fall and kept over the winter. They are growing well and will be available to those who want to order online next week. If you are not on the list and want to be, just send us an email and we can add your name so you can order.
This morning I met with a local school working on a project proposal to partner with us to provide a fresh salad bar menu for their students. Wouldn't it be amazing if our kids could all get organic local salad bar items at school? We would also provide eduction and possibly host field trips to the farm so kids could learn more about where their food comes from. We'd buy into it for our kids! I just hope it goes through and enough parents like the idea to make it worth while doing.
Our sign ups are still very strong at almost three times the number we had at this time the previous two years and with a good return rate so far. I'm not sure if this is because we are meeting people's needs better or if it is simply that everyone is getting more aware of the benefits of eating fresh local food. In either case, we are grateful for the orders and have planned a significant increase for this season.