Category Archives: Reference Material

Identifying Diseases & Pests

A lot of things try to chomp, munch, consume, and destroy our crops. Before you can figure out what to do, it’s good to know what the problem is!

My favorite reference on the subject is Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada, which is available as a print book. But it is also now available online for free! You can find it here.

Even though Canada is in the title, most of these diseases and pests do not respect the borders! This book is great for all veggie growers.

I hope your summers are going well, and that you don’t need this kind of book too much.

Talking about running a Cooperative Farm

2014 Tourne-Sol team

The 2014 Tourne-Sol team

We’ve been running our farm as a workers cooperative for 10 years now. You can find out a little bit more about our experience in the podcast and guidebook mentioned below.

Interview about coops on The Ruminant

Last week I spoke to Jordan Marr of The Ruminant podcast about the cooperative aspects of Tourne-Sol farm. You can listen to the whole episode here: e.51: Building a Farm Cooperative to Thrive .

We spoke about the early Tourne-Sol years & how our systems have evolved to manage conflict, build a diversified businesses, and meet our quality of life goals.

 

Greenhorns  Guidebook on Cooperative Farming

In 2014, the Greenhorns  published a guidebook called Cooperative Farming: Frameworks for Farming Together. It is all farming as a coop and covers different coop models and management systems. The book features a number of actual coop farms including Tourne-Sol.

You can download the book from the Greenhorns or from SARE.

 

Video About Large-Scale Garlic Scape Processing

I just watched this report on la Semaine Verte about garlic scapes.

The video showacses Le Petit Mas and their garlic scape harvest. They harvest 1000s of pound at a time and shuffle them around in bulk bins. They then process the scapes and lacto ferment them.

If you are interested in garlic, you should watch it even if you don’t understand French!

Below is a picture of our high-tech garlic scape storage system: garlic scapesI

Seed Connetions 2014 Conference!

One month from today we will be in the middle of Seed Connections 2014.

If you work with seed or want to know anything about seeds, you should not miss this event. If you participated in the 2012 edition, you know what I’m talking about. If you missed the last Seed Connections, well you can read my blog post about the 2012 event.

Seed exchange 2

WHEN: Friday Nov. 7 to Sunday Nov. 9, 2014

WHERE: MacDonald Campus of McGill University in St.-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

WHAT: ECOSGN Seed Connections is a fully bilingual event bringing together farmers, seed-savers, seed companies, community gardeners, researchers, and experts on organic seed production to share knowledge, skills, and experience over a packed, 3-day agenda!Whether you are a beginner gardener or an expert seed producer, if you are interested in ecological seed production in Canada, this is the conference to attend.

HOW: Click on the following links:

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please e-mail ecosgn2014@gmail.com.Looking forward to seeing you there!

Planning Seed Crops Webinar – Wed. Feb 19, 2014

You are invited to join us for a webinar on Planning Vegetable Seed Crops. 
The first in our series “Growing for Seed: The Fundamentals” this webinar will feature presentations from Patrick Steiner (Stellar Seeds, BC), Daniel Brisebois (Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, QC), and Michelle Smith (Northwind Farm, NS). Together they’ll cover a range of topics to get you started in your seed garden this year, including:
–Knowing seed crops & lifecycle patterns, isolation distances, and population sizes;
–Sourcing appropriate seed stock and integrating seed production onto your farm; and
–Using and marketing seed crops: intended use and prospective buyers.
DATE: Wednesday February 19th, 2014
TIME: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
 
TO JOIN THE MEETING, simply click here, or copy and paste this link into your browser:
Once the meeting is started you should be able to see and hear everything directly on/from your computer. If you can see the meeting, but you can’t hear us, you can dial-in (toll-free) to get the audio.
The phone number is 1-866-811-9555, the conference code you will be prompted to enter is 9730133156. Please use your phone only if you can’t use your computer.
In order to participate in the webinar you’ll need:
–A computer with Flash. If you can watch (and hear) a YouTube video, you’re probably all good. If you can’t try downloading Flash Player here.
–If you’re in a shared space, you’ll want headphones to plug into your computer to hear the audio without disturbing others.
If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before you can get a quick overview here: http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html
If you have questions about how to join this webinar, please contact Steph at seed@acornorganic.org 
If you can’t join us on Wednesday, but are interested in this content, we will be posting it online at www.seedsecurity.ca. Please be patient with us, we’ll post the content as quickly as we can.
 
Please note that this is an English webinar. We are planning 2 French webinars and will keep you updated on that as details are confirmed.
THANKS!

Seedy Reading and Listening For The Holiday Season

I’ve been a bit slow on posts over the last 15 months. (Coincidentally about the same amount of time that Stella has been in our lives!) Nonetheless I’ve been busy with seeds and have thought of many fantastic blog posts I could write. And maybe in 2014, I will write some of those posts.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some of the seedy stuff I’ve been listening and reading.

Recently awaytogarden.com started a podcast series called Seed Smarts in which Margaret Roach interviews some big seed names. There have been 3 interviews to date:

  1. John Navasio of the Organic Seed Alliance on plant breeding and hybriditis – the tendency “where the predominant number of varieties available for any particular crop, like cabbage, or broccoli, or carrots, are hybrids”
  2. Lia Babitch of Turtle Tree Seed on running a seed company that grows a large amount of the seed they sell.
  3. Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds on, amongst other topics, why they offer hybrids though they are big proponents of OP seeds.

I’ve also been reading Joseph Lofthouse’s series on Landrace Gardening at motherearthnews.com. Joseph is based in Utah and has been letting varieties of the same species cross up and selecting what does best for his location. In this way he’s developing new landraces full of potential.

Do you have any suggestions of great seedy listening or reading? If you do, please share!

Book Review: Le Jardinier-Maraîcher

This is a book review I wrote for Canadian Organic Growers new website for their magazine  (http://magazine.cog.ca) and to help promote translate Le Jardinier-Maraîcher.

Last fall, Jean-Martin Fortier published Le Jardinier-Maraîcher (French for The Market Gardener) about growing organic vegetable profitably on a small acreage.

This is a thorough farming manual that lays out a human-scale farming system centered on good growing practices and appropriate technology. It is based on Jean-Martin and his wife Maude-Hélène’s farm experience at Les Jardins de La Grelinette. Le Jardinier-Maraîcher presents a similar growing philosophy to The New Organic Grower – Elliot Coleman’s seminal work that fueled a new generation of small vegetable farms (including Jean-Martin and Maude-Hélène). But Jean-Martin goes further. Le Jardinier-Maraîcher provides much more detailed information on crop yields, harvest periods, and pricing approaches. It brings more practical perspectives on a number of topics including crop rotation. This is a complete modern small-scale farming handbook.

For years, Jean-Martin had been telling me about this book he was writing to inspire and teach new farmers. I thought it was a fantastic ambition but for the longest time I doubted this book would see fruition. After all, though la Grelinette is a small farm in size, Jean-Martin and Maude-Helène do feed 140 families through their CSA, run two market stands, and supply their signature mesclun salad mix to a number of restaurants and stores; in addition to raising two kids and a dairy goat. Yeah, I didn’t think this book would be published. Yet, here it is.

That Jean-Martin wrote and published this book is a testament to the power of les Jardins de la Grelinette’s farming approach. Jean-Martin dedicated both a number of winters to this writing project and the large part of two growing seasons while Maude-Hélène managed the farm and maintained the same scale of operations. Not every farm can relieve half of its management force and thrive as effectively. But the farming system Jean-Martin and Maude-Hélène built has been able to provide both a profitable livelihood and a great quality of life.

Had I read this book when I was a starting farmer, I would now be farming with a BCS walking tractor on an acre and hailing Jean-Martin as my market gardening guru! This book is going to inspire new farmers to stay small and farm profitably. I encourage you all to go out and learn French to read this book, or you can go and support FarmStart’s campaign to get this book translated into English!