A few weekends ago, my friend Cherry, her boyfriend and I went to Wheelbarrow Farm. She had researched a bunch of farms for us to go visit and take a farm tour. We decided on this one because it was organic and had both produce and animals.
When we arrived, it sort of felt like we were driving up to someone’s cottage. The first odour that hit our nostrils was manure. Cherry said “OOOH OOH! I smell manure” excitedly. “It provides nutrients for the soil.” hahaha She makes me laugh all the time. I love her enthousiasm. We found out later this manure was duck manure. There was a HUGE pile of it. I wondered how many ducks were responsible for that pile. We learned it needs to dry out first and will be used next year.
After a long car ride, we stepped into the house to use the restrooms before beginning our tour. In the house, we chatted with one of the farmers who was making pulled pork in the kitchen. She told us that it is for sale at the Leslieville Farmer’s Market on Sunday and at the Roncesvailles Farmer’s Market on Monday. It smelled amazing. So, if you are a pulled pork lover, now you have an incentive to go to either of those Farmer’s Market’s. While you’re there might as well pick up some of their lovely produce, pork and eggs.
Also, are you loving the veggies as much as me? The red romaine above? Soo fresh and gorgeous! The below green romaines look delicious!
Jake, one of the interns, was our tour guide that day. He told us that Wheelbarrow is an organic farm that is currently run by 6 farmers. It is unique because it follows ecological growing practices. They don’t use any herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilizers. He showed us the hand tools they used and explained how they remove weeds, what methods are used to minimize weeds and how they plant seeds/seedlings.
He showed us how one tool helps them get out small weeds easily and how cover crops (a technique where plants are used to minimize weeds) are used to take up space that might otherwise be taken up by weeds. These plants are usually easier to remove than weeds.
He explained some of the pests that they have to deal with and how they handle them. We watched the zucchini beetles running around the plant and saw how they devastated some of the crops so they can’t sell them. 😦 Luckily, they had another batch of zucchini that was in another area that they could sell.Do you see the little white specks on the plant? Those are the beetles, they were running all over like crazy.
How they deal with the potato beetle is gross. They have to squeeze each of the eggs by hand before they can hatch and turn into larvae. Puke! I hate bugs. Farmers are so brave! lol! That’s probably why I don’t think I can handle working on a farm. Organic farmers put A LOT of work into growing our produce on top of dealing with the unpredictable weather. When you aren’t using pesticides, you gotta put in more effort to make sure your crops don’t get eaten up by the pests or else you have nothing to sell to consumers. There’s so much thought that goes into WHEN & WHAT to plant, WHEN to harvest, and WHERE to plant. All the while dealing with mother nature and trying to sell your produce. I really appreciate all the hard work that goes into running organic farms. 🙂
He explained the process of how some produce starts off as seedlings in pots inside of a greenhouse then move from the greenhouse to outside and covered (like you see below) before it is transplanted into the soil.
I was surprised to learn that after initially planting asparagus, it takes 3 years before you can harvest it. Yeah… did your jaw just drop? Well mine did when I heard that. Talk about planning ahead and patience.
We brought lunch and snacks to the farm because we had a feeling that there might not be any restaurants in the area. Luckily, we did because after the 2 hour tour (it was suppose to only be 1 hour but I guess we had a lot to ask and chat about .^^). We were POOPED. I had gotten up early that morning and made a salad, packed a couple of boiled eggs and some watermelon. Sitting down for a meal in the shade felt very satisfying.
I left that day with chard, garlic, bacon, sausages, carrots and eggs. It was a really fun filled and educational day.
If you can, pay Wheelbarrow Farm a visit on a Saturday to take advantage of the free tour at 12PM and get a feel for what organic farming is all about. While you are at it, pack some snacks/lunch and make a day of it. Finish off with picking up some goodies at the farm store. Otherwise, you can find their produce, eggs and pork at the following farmer’s markets. Their eggs are delicious! Their bacon was melt in your mouth yummy. And the veggies were equally delicious. I encourage you to seek them out at the farmer’s market to get a pack and taste for yourself. I’ve been picking up their eggs at the Junction Market ever since.
[Currently, Wheelbarrow is at the Junction Market every other week]
This was a very picture heavy post. Hope you LOVED it as much as I loved this experience. One of my favourite days this summer!
Have you visited an organic farm before? What are your thoughts? Please share! 🙂
Wishing you an awesome Tuesday!