As I write this, my forsythia has burst into flower and the hummingbird feeder is a busy place.
My bulbs are all up and the floral show is in full swing.
I do love spring. Besides the proliferation of buds and flowers, also means that the variety at market is getting bigger and better, both in vendors and offerings. As we wind down the Port Moody Winter Market and gear up for the Coquitlam Summer Market, I can tell you it’s a busy time for all of us.
The farmers are prepping soil, cleaning cold frames and transplanting seedlings. Many are planning their CSA programs and actively searching for staff. It takes many, many hands to make a farm work.
Let’s have a look at a couple of our farmers: one from the Lower Mainland and one from the Interior.
Red Barn has relocated from Maple Ridge to Cawston (and rebranded as the Cawston Market Farmer) so the timeline for its business has definitely changed. I met with Ken in mid-March to talk about this and the snow was still on the fields. As a result, all the seedlings were in trays in the greenhouses.
Let’s have a look at what the next steps are:
The first thing that gets done is the planting of the spring cover crop. This is a type of mustard plant that acts as a natural bio-fumigant. It gets plowed into the soil to add both biomass and a deterrent to wireworm (the creature responsible for the little holes you see in sweet potatoes). Once that is down, plastic sheets that contain irrigation tape are laid out, then mulched over. This is a much more effective way to irrigate as there is very little evaporation.
Finally, the planting begins. The beginning of April sees onions going in, everything else follows by mid-May. The first harvest takes place around the end of June.
It sure seems like a long wait. Thankfully, we have all the Lower Mainland farmers to fill in the gaps. The growing season down here begins sooner than the Okanagan.
Here is a snapshot from Nikolaus Forstbauer, grower of the very best carrots:
Spring is a busy time on the farm. The weeding has started in the cold-frame house. Carrots and beets were direct seeded in the soil using a seeder and zucchini was started in trays in the starter house and transplanted several weeks later into the soil. (Zucchini was transplanted about four weeks ago and the first carrots and beets were seeded about five weeks ago).
They have also seeded some kale, Swiss chard, cabbage and tomatoes in starter trays, and many of these will be transplanted outside soon.
Most field work at this time of year is being done in hoop houses as the soil in the open field is still wet from winter.
That said, once we get a little more sunshine and the soil livens up a little more (in about two or three weeks, barring torrential rainfall), you will find them out in the field sowing some of early crops and transplanting.
You will find them in the field applying rich compost, compost tea and biodynamic preparations. This is done to build up the soil structure and microorganisms to ensure a healthy ecosystem for food to grow.
The blueberry fields need a lot of work, too. Each year, pruning the blueberry plants is a big undertaking that takes a lot of hard work. They usually get pruned in the late winter and early spring, after the plants have gone dormant for the winter.
You can see just how much work goes into providing us with the best food. We are so fortunate to be able to access it.
The Port Moody Winter Market comes to a close April 28 and the Coquitlam Market opens May 5 in the parking lot at Dogwood Pavilion. And don’t forget Mother’s Day at the Market — there’s something special for moms.
Leek Neufchatel galette
1 package President’s Choice all-butter puff pastry
1 cup Neufchatel cheese (Golden Ears Cheesecrafters)
2 tbsp milk or cream
1 tsp dried thyme (Cawston Market Farmer)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp herbs d’Provence (Cawston Market Farmer)
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (Amazing Foods)
1 tbsp KICS Lemonade Syrup (or lemon juice)
3 cups leeks, thinly sliced (Forstbauer or Crisp Organics)
Preheat oven to 450 F. Roll out puff pastry onto a cookie sheet. Crimp the edge of the pastry to make a slight edge all the way around. Set aside.
In a frying pan, heat olive oil. Add leeks and sauté until soft, stirring periodically. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together Neufchatel, thyme, salt, herbs d’Provence, nutmeg and lemonade syrup. Spread over prepared puff pastry. Top with leeks and bake 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes then cut into squares to serve.
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer, four to six as a light meal.