Last of the carrots

A nice surprise when I dug the garden. The carrots never really got thinned and pretty much got lost under the tomatoes and arugula.

Late September harvest

Cam at the gate to his garden.

Was over at my neighbour Cam’s place yesterday picking up some vegetables from him. He’s been growing organic vegetables and grains for several years now and I’ve been buying from him for about 3-4 years. His gardens total a couple of acres with much of it put into grains and beans that he dries for winter use. It’s so great to have him, and fresh organic food, just 3km down the road!

So Cam’s a funny guy. A city transplant like me, and many others up here in Grey County, he made the choice to lead the hard-toiling life of a gentleman farmer. A value-driven Marxist Buddhist, it is hard to get out of his yard without getting embroiled in a long-winded conversation about local politics, people that drop cats off at his laneway, films, local education systems, organic growing standards, theories of farming, information on esoteric imported european ploughs, soil ecologies, and the turmoils of the dating scene once you’re past the age of 40. He also stops by when I’m away to feed the wee Malone, the stray cat someone dropped off at my laneway last June, and who’s moved in to stay.

So here’s the other funny thing about buying vegetables from Cam. We mostly communicate through Facebook. As I mentioned, we’re just 3km apart on the same road and we both have phones. I told him once I could never get through to him on the phone and he explained that, being on dialup, getting online and into facebook was so time consuming that he just stayed online all day, which means his phone is tied up all day. So, we use facebook chat or messaging – Cam sends me a list of what he has, and I reply with what I want and when I’ll drop by for it.  Easy! I love it!

Late September harvest from Cam's garden.

Yesterday’s harvest included potatoes, beets, three kinds of carrots, chard, green peppers, scallions and a baby watermelon. Everything has amazing taste! Another good thing about Cam is he’ll often give you hints on how to cook the food he gives you. Take patty pan. Who knew it was a small squash that could be eaten raw, sauteed or baked? Thanks Julia-Cam-Child!

When I left, he was back at it with his specially imported european plough that, as it tills, he explained, doesn’t upend the soil out of its proper layering and so disturb the order of things in the universe of soil.

Cam ploughing his garden.

Lorraine Johnson: City Farmer

Author Lorraine Johnson, "City Farmer"

I’ve got to get this new book by Toronto urban-farmer-guerilla-author Lorraine Johnson titled City Farmer. Lorraine is an old friend who has written a ton of great books on sustainabable gardening, care for the environment, native plantings such as The Ontario Naturalized Garden: The Complete Guide to Using Native Plants; Tending the Earth: A Gardener’s Manifesto; The Natural Treasures of Carolinian Canada to name a few.

I met Lorraine for lunch about a year ago and learned from her then that she had a chicken coop in her backyard, which is in the Annex, a very urban part of Toronto. She had four laying hens in the coop and she presented me with four lovely blue, edible eggs. At that time her adventure in backyard chicken raising was relatively new, she had the support of her neighbours and she was agitating city hall to make it legal. In an interview on CBC radio this morning she mentioned that the City of Toronto has still not okayed it for folks to raise chickens in their backyards.

Publishers Greystone Books describe City Farmer:

City Farmer celebrates the new ways that urban dwellers are getting closer to their food. Not only are backyard vegetable plots popping up in places long reserved for lawns, but some renegades are even planting their front yards with food. People in apartments are filling their balconies with pots of tomatoes, beans, and basil, while others are gazing skyward and “greening” their rooftops with food plants. Still others are colonizing public spaces, staking out territory in parks for community gardens and orchards, or convincing school boards to turn asphalt school grounds into “growing” grounds.
Continue reading Lorraine Johnson: City Farmer

First cherry tomatoes from the garden

First cherry tomatoes from the garden

Today I picked the first ripe cherry tomatoes from my garden. They’re from seedlings I planted May 24, purchased from Cory Eichman who runs the Saugeen River CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) ( 314399 Highway 6, Durham, Ontario (519) 369-3567). They’re organic and named Peace Vine Cherry. I bought these last year from Cory and they are delicious and sweet and tender. I’m waiting for the larger tomatoes to ripen, named the Saugeen Slicer, also purchased from Cory’s farm. Anyway, there are about a thousand small ripening cherry tomatoes on the vines now so in a week to two I’ll be inundated with them!

New cherry tomatoes in pasta sauce

Tonight I cooked them up into a pasta sauce along with patty pan squash and garlic from my organic farmer neighbour Cam Pyper, onion (not local), chirizo (from a local sausage maker) and basil, cilantro, fennel leaf, thyme and arugula from my garden. Along with a glass of Italian Pinot Noir and it was heaven on earth.