It's happening.

I'm not going to lie. I was worried. We both were.

Perhaps you could sense it in our last blog post. Or perhaps you ascertained our anxiety from the conversations we've had over the last few months - the ones in which Jon and I laughed uneasily as we tried to explain what it's like to build a successful small farm and then pick it up and move it an hour away to a new location - without ready access to electricity or water, in a completely new town, and with a limited budget.

Perhaps you thought - much like us - how are they going to do it?

Well, it's April and I am happy to say:

It's happening.

It's actually really coming together.

While the To Do list remains long and planting season is just around the corner, we are on schedule. The well has been dug. The tractors and implements are geared up and ready to go. We have a full planting and field maintenance plan that means we'll be able to work smarter and leaner on the field. The shipping container that we'll turn into a wash station and refrigerator is on track to be completed by mid-May. And CSA sign-up is underway.

About a year ago, this didn't feel possible. But the last four seasons have taught me that there is rarely a clear path when you're doing Big Scary Exciting Things. Instead of hoping that the road will show itself, it's best to rely on your own skills to navigate.

In starting a farm with my best friend and partner, I've not only learned to believe in my skills but that of my husband too. It's not easy growing up and growing a business together - there have been some ugly moments (like Kim Khardashian cry-face moments) but watching Jon grow and excel at a meaningful job has been one of the most surprising and rewarding parts. Together, we get to co-create a community-based business and grow alongside it. Also, we get to eat some really spectacular food and bring our dog to work.

While the building on the new farm is hardly done and there are many many busy days ahead, I am looking forward to it. We'll continue to share updates as we continue with The Big Move (and pray to the gods of construction that we stay sane, healthy and on schedule). So stay tuned (and remember, we can use all of the support we can get so sign up for the CSA program if you're intending to and haven't already)!

 Rosie approves.

Rosie approves.

We're hiring!

This season, we're looking to hire two team members who are hard working, passionate about sustainable agriculture, and looking to grow along with our business. If you're interested,  applications are due by email by April 8, 2016.


Organic Farm Production Team Members
Seasonal, Full Time (40 hours/week), Salary Based on Experience

Anticipated Start/End Dates: May 2, 2016 – October 21, 2016
We’re seeking a Production Supervisor and Production Assistant to work with our Farm Manager, Operations Manager, interns and volunteers for the 2016 season. Working closely as part of a small team, our production team will be involved in a variety of tasks needed for daily farm operations. This includes seeding, transplanting, weed control, field maintenance and harvesting, as well as quality control and customer service.


These are primarily field positions intended for folks with sound knowledge of sustainable/organic farming practices. We welcome candidates who are enthusiastic team players, hard workers, dedicated to quality, and passionate about sustainable agriculture. We’re a small but fast-growing organization and we welcome candidates who are interested in growing into managerial roles as the farm grows over the coming seasons.
Qualifications:

  • Experience: Some previous farming, market gardening and/or urban agriculture experience.
  • Flexible and adaptive: Able to adjust quickly to changing priorities and conditions while maintaining effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Can-do attitude: Hard-working, enthusiastic self-starter who can work well independently and as part of a team.
  • Customer service oriented: Dedicated to quality assurance and exceptional customer service, personable and friendly.
  • Manage up: Clarifies expectations, keeps managers abreast of activities, seeks guidance from managers when necessary, communicates needs for job performance/evaluation, is open to feedback.
  • Great communication: Communicates effectively with the manager, volunteers and customers to ensure safety and efficiency.
  • Strong organizational skills: Able to prioritize important tasks, time manage, and problem-solve effectively.

Assets:

  • Customer service experience
  • Driver’s license
  • Food safety training
  • Interested in growing with the business, working with Honest Field Farms for multiple seasons with the potential to become a farm manager

Working conditions:

  • Location: Working outdoors, occasionally in inclement weather
  • Risks: Working with tools, heavy lifting and working around machinery (tractors, etc.)

Physical requirements:

  • Standing for extended periods of time
  • Lifting heavy objects on a regular basis
  • Doing repetitive tasks with few breaks, etc.

Typically, work hours will be Mondays through Fridays but some weekends and evenings may be required.

Applicants are asked to provide a cover letter and resume to: honestfieldfarms (at) gmail.com

We sincerely thank all candidates for their interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be notified. No phone calls please.

Make Better Kale Chips.

Kale chips are the holy grail of health foods. They're chips. Made from kale. Yes, chips - which are delicious but hands down one of the worst foods for you (also on the list: the Cronut and the KFC Double Down) - and they're made from kale, which is probably one of the best foods for you. 

Too good to be true? Well, many of us are stuck paying upwards of $8/bag at Whole Foods or Costco to enjoy a handful of these delicious, healthy treats. For those of us who want to dodge the hefty price tag and make our own, we're often sorely disappointed after we follow a simple recipe (like this one) and end up with a baking pan full of charred, shriveled-looking things. 

So here is my personal recipe.  After many experiments in our kitchen, I think I've finally found a method that works. It is not full proof, but I find it works so much better. Using lower heat and less oil, they seem to cook better and get crispier without burning. And I'm happy to say that they rarely make it off the pan before they're gobbled up.

Try it and let me know what you think. (Apologies in advance for the horrible food photography; I am no food stylist, just a girl with a terrible camera and a mission to make kale chips better for everyone.)


kalechips1

Ingredients: 

1 tsb coarse sea salt

1 tsb olive oil

1 bunch kale - I find flat-leaf kale, like Tuscan or Dwarf Siberian, works best

1 tsp chipotle or smoked paprika (optional)

STEP 1:

kalechips2

Set the oven to 275F. Wash, dry and de-rib the kale, removing the stem from the kale so that you only have the leafy bits left. Tear or cut the kale into 2 inch pieces.

STEP 2:

kalechips3

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the kale on the sheet and then dizzle a small amount of olive oil onto the kale (use less oil than you think - you can always add more as you go). Toss the kale in the olive oil, just making sure that the kale is evenly covered with a thin layer of olive oil.

Tip: I generally toss the kale with my hands to make sure that it's done evenly. The kale chips should only have a slight, even sheen from the oil - they shouldn't be drenched in it.

STEP 3:

kalechips4

Sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt evenly on the chips, as well as the paprika or chipotle. Toss the chips again. Then stick them in the oven for about 10 minutes.

STEP 4:

kalechips4

Flip the kale chips once they start to get crispy at the edges. Put them back in the oven for another 8 minutes or so, checking on them frequently to make sure they're not overcooking.

STEP 5: 

Pull them out of the oven when they are crispy but still green. Enjoy!

kalechips5

Write here...

#DiscoverHamOnt Podcast

A few weeks ago I sat down the lovely Brian Hogg of the #DiscoverHamOnt podcast to discuss the joys and challenges of running a farm in the wonderful city of Hamilton. It was a lot of fun and the result is an intimate look at the journey into our second season at Honest Field Farms.

Highlights include: 

  • A candid look at what it takes to run a farm 365 days a year
  • Our plans and dreams for the future (what if a local farm could provide your whole diet?)
  • Kate gushing about our amazing customers, CSA members, supporters, and the great city of Hamilton

Click here to listen!

We're Hiring!

We're looking for a field worker to join our growing team! If you are passionate about sustainable agriculture, love working as part of a small team and have some previous growing experience, this could be the job for you!

Position: Field Worker

Type: Contract, Seasonal, Part-time (20-37 hours/week), $11/hour

Organization: Honest Field Farms, www.honestfieldfarms.ca

Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Start date/terms of position: May 25th, 2015 – October 23rd, 2015

Application Deadline: May 4, 2015


Overview: Honest Field Farms is a small organic farm based in Millgrove, Ontario - just outside the city of Hamilton. We grow unique and heirloom varieties of vegetables as well as timeless favourites on two acres of land. We run a 40-50 member CSA and participate in two local farmers’ markets.

We are seeking a Field Worker to work with our Farm Manager and Operations Manager for the 2015 season. Working closely as part of a small team, the field worker will be involved in a variety of tasks needed for daily farm operations. This includes seeding, transplanting, weed control, field maintenance and harvesting, as well as some customer service.

This is primarily a field position intended for someone with sound knowledge of sustainable/organic farming practices. This would be a great opportunity for someone who has previous farming experience and is passionate about sustainable agriculture; who is a dedicated and enthusiastic team player; and is interested learning what it takes to run a small but fast-growing farm business.

Working conditions:

  • Location: Working outdoors, occasionally in inclement weather

  • Risks: Working with tools, heavy lifting and working around machinery (tractors, etc.)

Physical requirements:

  • Standing for extended periods of time

  • Lifting heavy objects on a regular basis

  • Doing repetitive tasks with few breaks, etc.

Qualifications:

  • Experience: At least 1-2 years previous farming, market gardening and/or urban agriculture experience.

  • Flexible and adaptive: Able to adjust quickly to changing priorities and conditions while maintaining effectiveness and efficiency.

  • Can-do attitude: Hard-working, enthusiastic self-starter who can work well independently and as part of a team.

  • Customer service oriented: Dedicated to quality assurance and exceptional customer service, personable and friendly.

  • Manage up: Clarifies expectations, keeps managers abreast of activities, seeks guidance from managers when necessary, communicates needs for job performance/evaluation, is open to feedback.

  • Great communication: Communicates effectively with the manager, volunteers and customers to ensure safety and efficiency.

  • Strong organizational skills: Able to prioritize important tasks, time manage, and problem solve effectively.

Assets:

  • Customer service experience (CSA, Farmers’ Markets or otherwise)

  • Current driver’s license

  • Small tractor and farm equipment experience

  • Food safety training

  • Interested in growing with the business - working with Honest Field Farms for multiple seasons with the potential to become a farm manager

The Field Worker will work for an estimated 37 hours/week from late-May through mid-September and then move to 20 hours/week for mid-September to October. Some variation will occur for weather and harvest needs. Longer days may be required on peak harvest days. Typically, work hours will be Mondays through Fridays but some weekends and evenings may be required.

Please note: Accommodation as well as transportation to/from the farm will be not be provided. Please be certain that you can commute to the farm as needed.

Applicants are asked to provide a cover letter and resume to: honestfieldfarms (at) gmail.com

We sincerely thank all candidates for their interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be notified. No phone calls please.

They're up!

Jon has been farming for six seasons now. That by no means makes him a veteran but it should at least inspire confidence. But at the beginning of every season, our seedling trays filled with potting soil feel like blank canvasses. And we ask each other as we start to fill the trays with seeds,

"What if nothing comes up?"

On nights when we awake to a howling thunderstorm and driving rain, on the hottest day of the year, or when gale-force winds drive across our fields, I try to remember that the most fundamental instinct of any life (plant or otherwise), is that it wants to live. Our plants want to live and they will try their hardest not only to survive, but to thrive. 

When we plant, the little seeds often take anywhere from 3 - 12 days to germinate (depending on the plant) and the worrywart in me always wonders what will come up. Okay, yes they want to survive but is the soil the optimal temperature? Is there enough light? Did we add enough organic fertilizer? What if we watered too much? 

Seedlings on March 11

This year, on March 9, we got our answer. We now have thousands of tiny onion, leek, celery, parsley, eggplant, dahlia and eucalyptus seedlings. This picture was taken on March 11. Since then, some of the seedlings are already twice the height. By the end of the week, we'll plant several hundred more and this pattern will continue each week through late August.

That shock of bright green tells me that yes, we can worry all we want and try to make sure the conditions are just right, but in the end, life wants to live and I am happy to be shepherding some renewal and growth into this world.