We are ready to start taking sign ups for this coming summer season. We are also offering eggs and meat in the Fredericton and Woodstock areas during the spring months until our veggies start up again. Here is a summary of we are offering but there is much more information under the Our Box Options tab of our website.
Strawberry Hill Farm Veggie Box: We plan this box to be similar to what we have sent over the last three seasons. This will be available at all our pick up locations.
Pasture Raised Organic Eggs: These are sold by the dozen or half dozen weekly. The quota system in NB limits the number of hens we can keep so we always sell out of eggs early for delivery during our summer fall season. Since we sell out, for this season we reserve the eggs for only those who purchase veggies. Eggs are available to all our pick up locations.
Spring Eggs: We are offering eggs every two weeks through the spring season. Anyone who is ordering eggs can also add on meats to come with their eggs. This option is only available for pick up from the Canadian Tire on Smythe Street in Fredericton.
Spring Custom Meat Orders: We are offering that those of you who would like to order meats from our website during the spring season can continue to do so even if you don't want to order eggs. There is no money down for this option, but it puts you on the list so you get the bi-weekly reminders and can order from our website. This is available for pick up from the Canadian Tire on Smythe Street in Fredericton.
Chicken Box: We are offering a monthly or bi-weekly chicken box for those who eat chicken often. This gives a substantial discount over buying by the individual chicken. This is available for pick up from the Canadian Tire on Smythe Street in Fredericton. We would like to offer it in Moncton but don't have a pick up location yet. We will let you know if a Moncton location becomes available.
Pork/Chicken Box: We are offering a monthly or bi-weekly combo pork/chicken box. This box option contains chicken, sausage, and one of a variety of other pork cuts. This gives a substantial discount over buying by the individual piece and is available for pick up from the Canadian Tire on Smythe Street in Fredericton. We will let you know if a Moncton location becomes available.
Our box customers always get first priority and get the best diversity and overall prices for our products.
If you would like to sign up for one of our box options simply click on this link or go to the "Sign Up" tab from our website.
We also supply our products to the following Retail outlets. They order as they see demand so if they don't have something you want, simply ask them. The more you ask and buy the better you will be served!
Woodstock - Our roadside stand just outside town where all products are available every Friday afternoon.
Woodstock - Simply for Life has a limited number of our vegetables available in season
Moncton - Corn Crib on Mountain Road has our pasture raised organic chicken and pork
Moncton - Dolma Foods is carrying our organic sweet potatoes
Moncton - Sequoia Natural and Organic has a small amount of our pork and possibly some chicken.
Fredericton - True Food Organics has our organic pork, chicken, eggs, and a few vegetables including our delicious carrots.
Fredericton - Aura Whole Foods has our organic pork, and chicken and sometimes our eggs.
Saint John - We are working on a location here and will keep you updated.
We are busy making plans, ordering seeds, and lining up the help we need so that this can be our best season yet. We look forward to continuing to serve all our valued customers and constantly improving the quality of our food products and our customer service. If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvement, we would love to hear from you. Just email me at email@example.com or contact us by using one of the other methods posted on our website under the Contact Us page.
We have been working with the Centreville Community School to supply healthy alternatives along with their regular menu. Kirsten has put together quite a few recipes for them including squash soup, hamburger vegetable soup, leek and potato soup, potato wedges with bacon, and also planned on a sweet potato sausage bake. We got quite a surprise last week to learn from the school nutritionists that our locally cured bacon from organic pasture raised pigs is of low nutritional value and cannot be served in a school cafeteria. We were shocked that a small amount of bacon was unacceptable and yet pizza, hamburger, and cookies are apparently no problem.
Well, Kirsten made a really special meal tonight for us including the bacon/potato wedges, marinated pork tenderloin, and a fresh spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette. It was really special and I feel very privileged to be able to enjoy such a treat.
Still can't understand why our kids can't have a little bacon on their potato wedges at school but I guess that is why we have professionals to make those decisions....
I promised to send some recipes for delicata squash (what came in last week's boxes). Anitra Parks is one of our box customers in Fredericton and offered this recipe idea that was inspired by Nelly Clarke - another box customer.
The squash is sliced leaving the skin on. It is brushed with olive oil and baked then served along side roast beef or other meat. The skin is quite tender this way and can be eaten or you can peel it off if you prefer. Kirsten caramelized some onions on the middle row for an added touch. Bacon bits would also go very well with this - but shhhh - don't tell the school nutritionist....
Here is another of our favorite Delicata recipes. Kirsten makes a rice sausage stuffing to fill the seed cavity. It is then served as you see here and eaten directly out of the squash "bowl".
Cut the squash in half the long way and scoop out seeds. If needed, you can slice a little skin off the bottom side of the squash halves to make them sit upright. Lay the squash in a pan with a little water in the bottom of the pan. Rice is cooked; sausage and a little finely chopped onion are cooked separately. Then, mix the rice and meat mixture, add a little salt and pepper, and pack it in the squash cavities. Cover and bake squash at 375F for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover for about the last 10 minutes to lightly brown the top.
I have been growing vegetables for veggie boxes for 6 years now and Kirsten and I have just completed our third year in business farming from our own farm. While there is a strong demand for what we offer and our output has doubled, we have also experienced some real challenges. Kirsten and I decided we needed to get some outside advice and help as we plan ahead for the new year.
In order to do this, Kirsten and I spent three days with a friend and mentor who started and runs his own business in Ontario. We established our personal goals, set farm goals, and worked on what actions we need to start with to realize these goals. We also set 5 year goals for the farm and wrote a mission statement. A big thank you to Andrew Hordyk of Arborwood Tree Service in Ontario for his help and for making this one of the most enjoyable and memorable times of our lives.
Our farm mission statement is:
Strawberry Hill Farm is a family farm with the mission to provide fresh, local, and organic foods with sustainability and profitability in a way that provides a healthy work-life balance for us, our family, and our employees.
Our first action required is to hire a full time office manager to do the bookkeeping, sales, and other administrative work along with some order packing and other farm jobs. We also need to hire a production supervisor though it may be 2016 before a person can fully step into the role. You can see full job descriptions by going to the Job Opportunities tab of our website or clicking one of the links below.
Every year we have foreign workers who have asked to come work on our farm. I have been very resistant to the idea in part because our emphasis is on supporting our local community. While this is a worthy goal, we have found that there are few Canadians in this area that are familiar with field scale vegetable production and few Canadians are willing and productive working all day in the hot sun doing field work. Last year we lost crops in the field due to not being able to care for or pick them on time. There is nothing more discouraging for a farmer than to see a crop get smothered by weeds or vegetables rot in the field because there is no-one who can pick them correctly.
I like to learn new things and I also like to teach. It has been a long term dream of mine to be able to help farmers in poorer countries to raise crops and livestock without chemicals and help them be more sustainable freeing them from the control of large corporations.
In light of these factors, we believe that a combination of Canadian and foreign workers will help the farm succeed and help us realize these goals. It will allow us to support our local community while providing a way for outreach. Workers will get to experience working on an organic farm where crops and livestock are raised in harmony and help the farm be profitable while protecting and enhancing the surrounding environment. These are skills and experiences all workers will be able to take home with them no matter where they live.
We will also be offering a couple of meat box options in addition to the veggie boxes. We are introducing a chicken box and a pork/chicken combo box. These will provide a substantial cost savings for people who would like a consistent supply of meat from month to month.
This is probably one of the longest blog posts I've written and is not full of interesting pictures but I hope it gives a flavour of another important side of owning and running a farm - planning!
We welcome comments on this or any other blog post. You can leave a comment here or send comments to my email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciated the chance to slow down over the holidays and spend time with family and friends. We did do some work as well because work is never done on the farm.
The snow melted enough that we were able to get about 100 more pounds of kale before this cold snap this week. Kirsten and I went down in an afternoon and picked through to get the last good kale that was there.
Our squash got cold damage in the field in September. As a result it is not storing well. We have the last of the spaghetti squash coming this week and we hope to have one shipment of Delicata squash later on. We also have a shipment of frozen cut up chunks of butternut squash for later on but we will have to send more sweet potatoes and more spinach and salad mix than in the past due to the reduced amount of squash. We hope no one minds the adjustments and we are making plans to bring squash in sooner and change our curing methods to hopefully prolong its winter storage next year.
The pigs and cows have gotten used to each other now. We have a small pen aside from the cows where the pigs can make a hay nest to keep warm. They had trouble making their nest in the cow pen because the cows would eat the hay. Having their own pen while still being able to exercise in the much larger cow pen seems to be working well.
3 years ago we got a six month old colt from our neighbor. He was away for a couple of months getting trained but over the holiday break Nollie and I were able to bring him back. He still needs quite a bit of training which Nollie will continue here on our farm but he can be ridden and I'm hoping he will be able to help us herd cows next summer.
Here he is getting acquainted with one of the pigs. Surprisingly he has accepted them much better than the cows did.
When it is cold out, what a better way to keep warm then to have your own private naturally heated bed.....