Big news around here, which you probably already knew… it rained this weekend!

Though Saturday’s storm put a little bit of a damper on my weekend activities, I felt joyful at the thought of our vegetable gardens getting the shower they so desperately needed. We do all our watering by hand, and it was proving a challenging task these last few weeks as as temperatures soared into the high 30s and the harvestable water in the creek bed ran dry.

Here in Renfrew County we are facing our third drought in less than a decade, and regardless of what any politician may say — it isn’t normal! These ever-intensifying extreme weather events pose an increasingly daunting threat to organic farmers. Droughts like the one we are currently dealing with affect not only the success of the crops themselves, but the complex ecosystems that support their life, and the hardworking humans who tend to their growth! Working the land in thirty-degree heat for weeks on end can test the resilience of even the most devoted organic farmer …

All that said, we are still celebrating the victories where we find them. Fortunately they aren’t too hard to come by, since in spite of it all, the gardens are still growing strong. Below is a side-by-side comparison showing just how far we’ve come already this season — on the left, the back garden, pictured in late May. And on the right, the same garden, just last week! Notice how you can hardly make out the soil? That isn’t a trick of the eye, and it’s no mistake — we planted fairly dense beds with mixed crops, so as to keep weeds down, maximize our garden space and support symbiosis between different types of plants.


Our sugar snap peas: another huge success!

Barbecue season is fully upon us! With your vegetable baskets, you’re already well set up to make a fantastic side salad — but h ave you considered trying our beef?

Believe it or not, the delicious veggies you’ve been enjoying this season are brought to you in part by our lovingly raised, 100% grass-fed Scottish Highland cattle! Our cattle make up an important part of our vegetable growing technique. Where other organic vegetable farms may use fertilizers sourced from outside locations, all the “food” for our plants comes from right here on our farm. By fertilizing our vegetables with biomass generated by our cattle, we’ve created a closed loop agricultural system that supports soil regeneration, minimizes nutrient waste, and altogether eliminates the energy input needed for fertilizer manufacturing.

As more and more herbs find themselves in your baskets, you may find yourself wondering how to make their fridge life as long as possible. Well, I have a tip for you!

After one too many bags of cilantro turned to mush, I found the secret to waste-free herb storage, and it’s incredibly easy and convenient! Just fill a glass jar half full of water, stick the herb bunch in the jar and toss a plastic bag over the whole thing (those flimsy produce bags are perfect for this). Voila!

I picked the mint in this photo at the farm nearly a month ago. It’s still making regular appearances in my smoothies and salads. How great is that?

Recipe of the Week: Rice Noodle Salad with Snap Peas & Lemongrass Mint Dressing

These days, my favourite thing to eat is anything that doesn’t involve an oven… and anything that includes sugar snap peas, since I went home last week with a huge bag of them!

In case your supply hasn’t already dwindled (don’t worry, it will soon be replenished) here is a delicious recipe adapted from one of my favourite recipe blogs, Pinch of Yum that combines rice noodles, fresh veggies and a tangy herb dressing. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and add any protein that suits your fancy (I added avocado and fried up some tofu, but chicken or shrimp would be delicious!). The dressing calls for lemongrass and fish sauce, two ingredients I had never prepared before. If you’re in the same boat, don’t be intimated! They turned out delicious.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 package rice noodles
  • 1 cup sweet peas, stemmed and halved
  • 1 large carrot, julienned (I use a vegetable peeler to get long, noodle-like pieces)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienned
  • Protein of choice
  • Handful chopped peanuts or sesame seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Handful mint
  • Handful cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated lemongrass
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • Salt to taste

How you’ll do it:

  1. Prepare the sauce by blending in a food processor or blender.
  2. Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Rinse well with cold water to cool & remove starchiness. Drain well. Toss noodles with about half of the sauce.
  3. Plate individual servings of noodles in a bowl and top with the veggies and protein. Spoon extra sauce over the top. Enjoy!

Here’s hoping for more rain.

Until next time,

Ottawa Valley Farm to Fork