Tag Archives: localfoodontario

Living. Certified Organic. Innovative. Local.

Slegers Greenhouses

In 1987, shortly after graduating agricultural college, Jo Slegers built a greenhouse and began growing just one product – Boston Lettuce. Fast forward 30 years, and Slegers Greenhouses now grows over 47(!) different products that fall within four categories – lettuces, herbs, micro greens and greens.

For the final Sow and Tell of 2017, some of the most popular microgreens are on sale: Basil, Beets, Daikon Radish, Sunflower and Mixed Micros!! Find these by clicking the red ‘Sale’ tag on the website! The promotion applies to all deliveries made between December 5th – 8th 2017.

We are also pleased to announce a wide range of Microgreen Living Flats are also available from Slegers. You can find all of these products in the Slegers Microgreen category on the website.

The World of Microgreens

greens, microgreens, living, organic

Nowadays Jo, and his wife Pauline, live on the farm and manage the greenhouse operation. In 2004, after many years of trialling organic methods, Jo and Pauline got their organic certification. Jo is very passionate about growing organically and maintaining a high standard of operations that is better for our environment.

If you’ve tasted their micro greens, you know yourself the potency of flavour and texture they embody. Part of this is because Jo and Pauline offer their greens as ‘living’ greens – which means they’re grown and shipped out as living root balls. The difference in freshness, taste and longevity of products grown and delivered living is noticeable. The ease of just snipping, rinsing and serving right away makes it seamless to serve your customers the freshest and most flavourful greens, micros and herbs.

Microgreens themselves are the young, tender green shoots of vegetables, greens and herbs. They are delicate, vibrant, packed with flavour and are nutritionally dense. It’s a stellar combination all round!

Check out this short video to hear from Jo & Pauline themselves about Slegers and get a glimpse of their greenhouses – shot and produced by our digital media specialist, Sara May!

Relationship With 100km Foods

Slegers was one of the first five producers to ever work with 100km Foods, and has been one of the most collaborative farm partnerships we’ve made! In the early days, Paul said their small orders would be piggy backed on FoodShare orders. Those orders consisted mainly of arugula, basil, watercress, boston lettuce and pea shoots for Il Fornello restaurants.

At that time, Owen Steinberg was executive chef of the Il Fornello restaurants. Owen, Paul, Grace, Jo and Pauline worked together to grow and package their exceptional products in a way that made the price point friendly for the wholesale market. In fact, it was Owen’s suggestion that Slegers be packed as a root ball instead of plastic clam/tray packaging to reduce costs – and as you may realize – that’s still how Slegers product is packaged today, This kind of collaborative effort between farm, distributor and chef is truly what can transform what the local food system is capable of! Since those early days things have only continued to evolve. Slegers products are one of our mainstay offerings, with a consistency of high quality that makes them an absolute chef favourite.

microgreens, peatenders, organic, slegers

Chef Amy Mastrofini from Caffe Demetre had this to say about Slegers products: “We have started using the red veined sorrel from Slegers and its presence on the plate really elevates the dish to the next level. The taste is mild enough that it can be used on sweet dishes – a huge factor for us, because so many micro greens can have a very strong flavour that doesn’t always work with sweet dishes. The shelf life blew me away. The plants were still vibrant, fresh (and growing!) after 17 days in the fridge. At room temperature, they lasted about a week.”

Below is a picture of the red veined sorrel featured in a dish – looks beautiful, doesn’t it? We’re certain it tastes even better!

For this Sow & Tell, the final one of 2017, we want you to explore the vast range of products Slegers has to offer! Their Basil, Daikon Radish, Beet, Mixed and Sunflower Microgreens are on sale for the week of December 5th – 8th 2017.

A big thank you to Jo, Pauline, Sara & Connor for their help with this post!

By: Genrys Goodchild

Hail, storms, rainbows and sunshine. All in the same afternoon. What does this mean for the 2017 growing season?

Last summer in Southern Ontario, we had a drought. The yields from that year were affected – some of our farms lost thousands of pounds of potatoes because of it.

This year, we have the opposite problem: weeks of unrelenting torrential downpours and hail storms.

Risks are inherent in any industry, particularly in agriculture. But these extreme weather patterns are predicted to become much more common. In this way, farmers are on the front lines of our changing climate. They know better than most that climate change is not a faraway future – it’s affecting us here and now.

What does it mean we can expect for this growing season? What does it mean long term for chefs and consumers committed to buying locally?

berries, ontario, barriehillfarms, blueberries

How Heavy Rains Affect Growth and Yield

First, lets address what this means for the 2017 growing season. Many of you use the Seasonality Calendar to get a sense of when products should come into season, and how long they’ll be around. We love that you use this tool, by the way!

This year, however, I’ve noticed lots of inquiries because products aren’t coming on as early as they have in seasons past.

When I spoke to farms about it, I noticed a pattern in their answers: the weather has affected growth and yield dramatically. Fields are flooded, hail has partially destroyed field crops, greenhouses are struggling to adjust to the lack of sunlight. Many of the products we’re eagerly awaiting have simply not had the conditions they need to be ready when expected.

I approached a few of our farms to get their perspective on what challenges they’ve been facing.

The New Farm told us that “this has been the most challenging spring weather we’ve experienced in 11 seasons of farming. The cold, wet weather has slowed down the growth of our vegetables and interfered with all the things we need to do to grow and deliver our produce — planting, weeding and harvesting. On rainy days we sometimes can’t work at all, and in the rare dry spells, we have had to work up to 15 hours a day.”

Sovereign Farms let us know that their “fields have had standing water at times but because we have very sandy soil, they aren’t completely waterlogged like some neighbours to the east of us who have more clay soil and are pumping their fields out.

Because its sandy on our farm, we have more erosion and get washed out in places. The soft wet soil prevents us from being able to drive the tractor over the area to rake weeds or plant on time and increased rain has been washing the nutrients down the soil profile much faster.

Lack of sunshine and cooler temperatures has delayed planting, growth and production in our fields, but lately the dark cool weather last week drastically reduced the picking quantities in our greenhouse.

The fluctuations in temperature and higher humidity make it hard to estimate settings and to keep optimum climate in the greenhouse to prevent mold and disease. The gusty winds with these storms has made it very difficult to properly vent our greenhouse as the wind at times has caught our roof vents and caused damage before the sensors can detect and react to the wind speed. This has forced us to limit or lock the vents closed in gusty winds even though it’s a hot day and the sun is shining. We end up babysitting the settings until a storm passes.”

The short answer is: we can expect that certain products may be delayed in when they come on, and that overall, yields might be lower.  Also, farming is really hard.

So what is in store for the rest of the growing season?

We all know predicting weather is a tricky business, and having an accurate forecast each DAY seems to be a tall order. But over all, it’s estimated to be a summer of ‘changeable weather patterns.’ It is unlikely to be as hot and dry for the rest of the summer as last season, and though rainfall is expected to be nearer to normal, it is highly variable region to region. That’s why some of our farms have been more affected than others!

peas, lennoxfarms, localfood, ontario, farmer, dirt, hands

Buying locally long term

Now that you know how 2017 has been and may continue to be affected by the weather, what are the broader implications for purchasing local food?

  • It means that we need to stay connected to how weather patterns are changing over time, to understand what this means for the types of food we can grow and how long those seasons will be.
  • It means that we all need to push ourselves – farmers, distributors, chefs, and consumers alike – to be innovative, to be creative, to be flexible, and to adapt.
  • It means that buying from farms that grow a diversity of crops makes them more resilient to the risks associated with highly variable weather patterns.
  • It means that we must make an impact with our dollars – buy from farms where you know they are caretakers of the land, doing their utmost to regenerate the soil, rather than deplete it.
  • In the end, it means it’s more important than ever to commit to buying locally so that together, we can build a robust, resilient, local food system.

 

By: Genrys Goodchild