It’s an exciting time around the farm as we move further into the harvest season. Strenuous days of digging and sowing have made way for the more leisurely-paced work of tending to the plants and collecting their offerings to us. “In some Native languages, the term for plants translates to ‘those who take care of us'”, writes Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the book Braiding Sweetgrass. Indeed, there is much to be said and pondered about the reciprocal nature of garden work. As for your baskets – you may notice them becoming much more colourful during this time!

A few weeks ago I took the opportunity to introduce myself (Julia). Today I wanted to shine a light on the two other gardening gals who I am lucky enough to be working alongside this summer – Shayna and Megan.

Shayna (on the left) is something of a veteran worker around here, as this is her fourth summer working on the farm. Shayna lives off Scotch Bush Road on her family’s farm, and will be starting school at Northern College this fall in their veterinary tech program. She loves animals, art, and vegetarian cooking, which makes her well suited for the garden. Her favourite part of the job is harvesting vegetables and preparing your baskets.

Megan is a more recent addition to the team, having started about a month ago. Like Shayna, Megan also lives with her family in the Scotch Bush area, where she has several horses and has also been raising a pair of ducks since the spring! Megan grew up spending a fair bit of time on her grandpa’s farm and so the garden feels like a natural place for her to be. She will be starting high school at Opeongo this fall.

I’ve learned so much about plants since I started working here – knowledge that, in my book, is more valuable than almost anything. The best part is that the learning hasn’t been limited only to what grows within the confines of the gardens, but also extended to the many species that dwell in their fringes and create one seamless ecosystem.

Common Milkweed is one of those plants that I am grateful to now have in my repertoire of plant knowledge – particularly since it is so commonly mistaken for a nuisance plant to have near the garden! Far from being a useless weed, Milkweed is actually Nature’s mega market for insects, a food source for over 450 species. Did you know the Monarch butterfly owes its entire survival to this unique plant? Milkweed is the only food source for Monarch caterpillars (pictured below), and its sap contains cardiac glycosides which, when ingested, lend the caterpillars a toxic character that protects them against predators. Monarchs are currently teetering on the edge of an extinction tipping point, so one of the best ways to support their recovery is by planting milkweed in your yard – and of course, not removing the plants that spring up on their own!

 Recipe of the Week: Lemon Dill Salmon with Roasted Veggies & Yogurt Sauce

Our dill has found its way to your veggie baskets at last! Before you get straight to pickling your carrots and beans, you may want to try this delicious and incredibly easy salmon recipe. The lemon-dill marinade packs so much flavour, and you can toss your veggies in it too! I used baby potatoes this time and roasted them alongside the salmon, but carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or any other roast-able veggie you can think of would work great too. A fresh and mild yogurt sauce flavoured with leftover ingredients pulls everything together. I served mine on a bed of fresh kale, just because!

What you’ll need:

For the salmon & veggies:
2 lbs salmon, thawed
2 c. vegetables of choice, washed & cut
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

For the yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

How you’ll do it:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Prepare the marinade by whisking together butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, dill, salt and pepper.
Place salmon onto prepared baking sheet and fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Spoon the butter mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon, covering completely and sealing the packet closed.
Toss vegetables in remaining sauce and place on baking sheet with salmon.
Place into oven and bake until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove tray and open foil so salmon is exposed. Place back into the oven on broil, about 10 minutes.
For the yogurt sauce, mix all ingredients together and serve on side.


The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

by Mary Oliver