As I mentioned back in May, we’re trying something new this year. We’ve bought a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share from Manotick’s own Roots and Shoots organic farm. I’m really excited about this! It means that every two weeks through the summer and fall, we get an assortment of freshly picked and locally grown vegetables.
Aside from being organic and strongly community-minded, Roots and Shoots also invites shareholders to visit the farm and even help out if you’re so inclined. On Saturday, we paid our first visit to the farm for an orientation tour. It was, I think you’ll see, a beautiful afternoon out.
This is Robin. He doesn’t look like a stereotypical farmer, does he?
He and his girlfriend Jess have been renting farmland from the Bakker family since 2010. You may have noticed the Bakker General Store on Mitch Owens Drive. The farm occupies the land beside the store, and around the barn that hosts the Third World Bazaar every year. They started with one field in 2010, and now they’re up to (I think he said) 25 acres.
This was about half of the crowd that turned out for the farm visit. (We had to leave, sadly, before the potluck dinner that followed. I can only ask so much of the attention span of the boys, I suppose.) I was so impressed by everything Robin had to say about how they are operating their farm and why they have made those decisions. They’re organic, they donate a good plot of food to the Ottawa food bank, and they seem to genuinely welcome the people who have bought shares to the farm.
I was a little worried when we first signed on for the CSA that we’d be getting week after week of kale, but that’s absolutely not the case. They grow cukes, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, potatoes and onions, among many others.
And a huge greenhouse filled with tomatoes.
I was trying to listen to the really interesting information Robin was sharing during the farm tour, but I was also trying to make sure the tomatoes didn’t suffer from a seasonal case of Lucas blight. He was pretty excited about the idea of the tomatoes, though. I think Robin said they have more than half a dozen varieties, including some heirlooms, in the green house.
Lucas is something like 1/16 Irish, and so eminently qualified to inspect the potato fields. By the end of our tour, he was very, very dirty.
It was pretty darn hot by late afternoon, and the tour lasted about an hour. The boys discovered the farm’s irrigation system at a critical moment, which may have saved the day.
And how gorgeous are these old tractors? The one in the foreground is a Farmall, circa 1979, and the one in behind is a Massey Ferguson. Farm + vintage = RGB delight!
Thank you to Robin and Jess for inviting us out for a visit to the farm. I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach the boys about how food grows and what it means to eat local and support local business. I am also very glad that I no longer feel the need to build and maintain and (let’s be honest) eventually neglect and kill my own veggie plot. Thank you, thank you, for absolving all of us of that misadventure.
If you’d like to buy a share, from the website it looks like there are still shares available for Manotick or farm pick-up — and it looks to my expert eye like a bountiful harvest this year! Stand by for the next post, when we receive our first share. I can hardly wait!
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