My favourite thing about farming
I love plants. I love food and vegetables and dirt and birds and nature and bugs. I love that I get to work outside doing physical labour. But I have to say, my very favourite thing about farming is the relationships I build with people.
When I think about the circle of people who surround me, I feel pretty privileged. To mark the halfway point of our CSA season, I want to acknowledge some of the people who make our farms hum along.
As we wish Arzeena a happy birthday this week, I am reflecting on how lucky I am to have met her and to have a chance to work with her! Arzeena and her family are helping to bring more people and connection into agriculture in our community, and I think many of us have been touched by her work and inspired by her since she arrived two years ago. Happy Birthday Garlic Queen!
And then, there are our interns, families, volunteers, and WOOFERs. Wow. These folks are amazing. Dedicating a whole summer to learning and growing with us, they make life richer with their enthusiasm, humour, sweetness and mad skills!
The Second Annual Comox Valley Garlic Festival was an amazing success! About 400 people visited Amara Farm to try garlic treats and stock up on their winter garlic supply. Many thanks to all of the vendors and garlic growers who came to make the event a success. We have some GREAT farmers in this community. And food makers. Let’s keep supporting these folks and building our reputation as a strong agricultural and food-focused region!
Your part in agriculture
It takes a community of people to keep agriculture a farm strong. As CSA members, YOU are directly supporting two farms to keep farming. Investing in the lean months so we can produce abundance to share with you and the wider community.
But as a farmer, I continue to be concerned about policy decisions in this province around farm land protection. I invite you all to read (or skim read!) the provincial government’s new discussion paper on the recent changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) which is a revolutionary farm land protection system unique to BC that was crafted in the 1970’s.
You may have noticed that Merville Organics folks were very active in April and May leading up to the passing of Bill 24. This bill was passed without consulting farmers, or heeding the voices of farming organizations such as the BC Farmers’ Association, the Certified Organic Associations of BC and the BC Cattlemen’s Association, who all came out strongly against the two-zone ALR system.
Some of the salient points in changes that have been made to the Agricultural Land Reserve include:
- a new two-zone system where applications for non-farm use of ALR land in BC’s Northern and Interior regions are more likely to be approved – these include uses such as oil & gas and/or mineral extraction;
- devolution of power from a centralized, more objective decision-making body of the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to smaller, regional panels, meaning decisions about farm land preservation will be less consistent and less objective;
Though many of the changes will most affect “Zone 2” (Northern and Interior regions of BC), “Zone 1” which includes Vancouver Island, lower mainland and Okanagan are now more vulnerable to similar pressures. Overall, the weakening of the ALR in some regions means that farm land across BC is now at risk of being lost forever.
The next step in the BC government’s process with Bill 24 is to consult with the public, and logically, they are doing this after they’ve already passed the bill (yes, that is sarcasm dripping from my voice!) If you care to have your say, please do take a moment to read the discussion paper and fill out the attached survey. You can find it here: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/
Thanks for taking the time to read!
What’s in the Share this week?
- Green Beans
- Bok Choi
Last week, we made zucchini pizza. It was awesome!
Recipe: The Best Zucchini Recipe Ever – Zucchini Pizza Crust
Merville Organics test kitchen note: I did not use a pizza stone for this recipe, AND, our oven was broken, so we used cast iron frying pans on the BBQ. The crust turned out less than crusty but it was very delicious!
- 8 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2/3 cup flour (sub almond flour)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 3 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 550F with a pizza stone pre baking in it.
- In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Squeeze the excess moisture out of the squash by wrapping it up in a clean tea towel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing it out, discarding the water. Once all of the excess moisture has been wrung out and discarded, place the shredded zucchini back into the bowl and add the cheddar cheese, flour, garlic, oregano, basil, eggs, and salt.
- With your hands, incorporate all of the ingredients together. Place the zucchini mixture onto a piece of parchment paper at least 15” in diameter, set on something solid that will make it easy to transfer into the oven.
- Using your fingers, spread the zucchini crust mixture to form a circle about 14” in diameter, 1/2″ thick. Pinch the edges up so that it forms a nice crust.
- Once the pizza crust has been shaped, transfer the crust on the parchment paper onto the heated pizza stone in the oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.
- Once the zucchini crust has baked for 8 minutes, transfer the pizza on the parchment paper out of the oven, onto the solid surface you used before.
- Top the pizza with sauce and any additional toppings that you’d like.
- Once the toppings are on, transfer the pizza on the parchment paper back onto the heated pizza stone in the oven and bake for an additional 4 minutes.