At Heartwood, we've been blessed by the support of our community and our customers, so "Food, Folks & Farms" is a program we're launching to share the love. Food, Folks & Farms is a celebration and promotion of Community Food Resilience - the re-thinking of food systems toward ones that are more local, ecological, nutritious, and accessible.
The program has four aspirations: 1) to support local growers and food producers; 2) to help get that food to your table; 3) to financially support efforts to strengthen local food systems; 4) to host an ongoing conversation about why Community Food Resilience is important, both during the pandemic, and afterwards.
As part of our commitment to Regenerative Agriculture, our livestock are all grass-fed. But when the needs of our community exceed our small pasture, we turn to other like-minded farmers to help meet that need. Enter: Rob Swackhammer, of Sunnyview Farm. Rob is a neighbour who runs a large animal veterinary practice, which is how we met him. But our friendship over the years has grown way beyond the pigs and cows he helps care for.
A member of the Erin Soil Health Coalition, he is a passionate regenerative farmer who is committed to building healthy soil - trying, as we are, to live into the rich relationships between people, plants, animals, and soil.
And so it felt fitting to launch Food, Folks & Farms this week by introducing you to Rob; on occasion, you'll find the conscientiously-raised beef from his farm for sale on our grass-fed meat page.
This week, we want to introduce you to Pia Marquardt-Salathe, a beekeeper from Guelph with over 35 bee hives - four of which live at Heartwood. This is the second season in which we've been blessed by the company of both Pia and her bees.
And of course, one of the beautiful bi-products of her healthy, sustainable beehives is "Three Sisters Honey", a reference both to her three daughters, as well as to the worker bees which are often referred to as sisters. As part of our partnership, you can head over to our honey page if you wish to taste the delicious marriage of Pia's bees and Heartwood's flowers.
This week, we want to introduce you to Doug Hodgson of Uphill Farm, north of Acton. Doug left his practice as a lawyer to take up farming out of a conviction that organic agriculture holds a singular power to curb climate change.
In Doug's own words:
It's good any way you do it. Most folks steam or boil it. If you are decorating with hollandaise or bearnaise, its probably best steamed. But we had it roasted with bernaise a few days ago and it was…heavenly.
Roasting or barbecuing drives out moisture and concentrates the flavours. We throw it on a cookie sheet, drizzle olive oil and sea salt on it and roast at, say 400F for 11 or so minutes. Any temperature above 350 will do and as for time: keep an eye on it, thicker takes longer. It's fine charred but it’s also good al dente.
Thickness. Thick or thin, all asparagus is good. We like it thicker, say the diameter of a thumb. Asparagus does not grow thicker as it ages. Whatever thickness it is coming out of the ground is its thickness for life. So thicker does not mean tougher, contrary to popular belief. Chefs ask for the thickest we can supply but any thicker than a thumb usually ends up on our table.
Untrimmed, asparagus will keep in your refrigerator for at least a week. But fresher is… always better.
As for trimming, try roasting it untrimmed but well washed in case there is any grit on the stem. Then eat it with your fingers toward the stem end. You will be surprised how much flavour can be extracted from the cut end. Or, toss the trimmed off bits into water and boil for an hour. Strained, you will have a vegetable broth to use as a soup base.
We've been friends with Jay & Clare of Willow Creek Farm for many years, and have participated in Willow Creek's maple syrup co-op. Jay and Clare have been making maple syrup for 30+ years. Starting with 100 buckets and a pot over an open fire on a property north of Owen Sound, they have progressed over the years to a full commercial setup that makes up to 1400 litres of syrup per year. But since they don't have many trees on their property, they formed an informal co-op of local farmers who tap their trees and bring Jay the sap. Jay boils it down to syrup and shares the yield with the members.
We've really valued our partnership with Willow Creek over the years. It's a place to send our own sap when we collect more than we can process at Heartwood; and it's also a place we can go when our own supply of maple syrup runs low. Thanks Jay & Clare for the many ways in which you support this community!