From Farm To Plate

As I’ve mentioned many times already, this is my first year signing up for a Community Shared Agriculture program. At the start of the summer, I paid into the program from a nearby farm, then every Wednesday I pick up a box of vegetables that’s brought into town from that farm. It’s the best way to get farm-fresh goods without going to a market or the farm itself. It has been a HUGE benefit to have throughout this whole chemotherapy experience. For one, it saves me from going to the crowded and germ-infested market. But most of all, the vegetable box has forced me to eat vegetables when I want to eat them the least, but need them the most.

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And on Sunday, my sister and I got to tour the farm!

In about half the time it took me to commute to work in Toronto, my sister and I arrived at Amarosia farm in the small French town of Grande-Digue, New Brunswick. I like that math.

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We arrived to 26 different kinds of tomatoes on display for those of us participating in the “open house.”

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I thought this was so cool! I tried tastes of all of them, my favourite being the black cherry tomatoes. Super sweet and the perfect size for popping in your mouth.

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Then we walked all over the farm learning about the crops, how they’re harvested, and the ins and outs of organic farming.

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A lot of people were surprised by how many weeds there were between the crops. Best quote of the day came from the farm owner who said “Weeds are only a problem if you make them a problem.” Touche.

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Carrot eaten straight from the ground – so good!

I’m actually not that interested in farming and gardening myself, but the whole thing fascinated me because I love food so much. I liked seeing first hand where the vegetables I’m eating are coming from and what they look like before they make it to my weekly vegetable box. It makes me feel that much better about putting them into my healing body.

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Apart from being interesting, it was just a gorgeous day to be outside in the countryside. Once the tour was over, I wanted to check out the water off in the distance!

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The Northumberland Straight, same body of water my cottage is on.

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Sister Sara!

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What is happening in this photo? I love ridiculous candid shots like this.

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Also a good example of how I still can’t straighten my broken left arm. I always look like a tool.

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Some extra goodies brought home from the farm! That giant german striped tomato is destined for toasted tomato sandwich glory.

Some other things I’ve been doing with the CSA goodies…

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Double Tomato Bruschetta using this recipe as a guide. What makes it special is there are sundried tomatoes added to the mix. It was killer.

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Toasted on multigrain baguette, topped with CSA green onions and goat’s milk feta cheese.

We’ve also been getting a ton of cabbage, which I love. Instead of making the same ole coleslaw, this week I cooked the red cabbage.

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My family has been eating at a lot of German restaurants lately (we are part German after all). So I wanted to go the cooked route when I saw it in this week’s box. I opted for this Martha Stewart recipe over a more traditional German recipe though. Just because I like the idea of apples in it too.

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Served with my dad’s bbq pork chops, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

Overall, I’m really happy my sister and I decided to go despite the chemo fatigue that day. If the farms outside your community host “open house” days, I highly suggest you check it out! I’m always so interested in the preparation process of food, it was neat to see just how important the growing process is too.

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Posted on September 12, 2011, in Fun, Recipes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. Your pictures are all so lovely! How is your arm, is it on the back burner while you deal with cancer ickyness?

    • Yup! I was scheduled to get my follow-up surgery in July, but now they can’t touch it until the cancer is gone. I’ll still need to get it operated on, either to remove the surgical screws in there, or remove the bone altogether. On the bright side, I am getting more mobility as the days pass! Straightening it and putting weight on it are the only things I still can’t really do.

  2. What an awesome experience! I’d love to join a CSA – I’m just worried that because it’s just me and the share would eat up most of my grocery budget, it wouldn’t be prudent. One day, though! It’s so cool that you are able to support the local Canadian farmers (and get awesome foods that aren’t available conventionally, like those delish looking grape tomatoes!)

    • Yes, I didn’t include it in the post, but my particular share cost around $36 a week. It fed three people, which is more than worth it. But I can understand it would be a bit much for one person. My sister Sara was part of a CSA once all by herself and froze a lot of the veggies which she ate into the winter – saving her money on groceries in the off months :)

  3. We DO add apples to it too in Germany! So you did it perfectly german ;-)
    Gorgeous pictures!

  4. I really wish I was home enough to justify a CSA! Someday…

  5. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Halifax after so many supervisor meetings the few days before and I burst out laughing when you wrote that you always look like a tool. I don’t kow why I found that to be so hilarious but I did. Thanks for the chuckles. Also, I am around this weekend! We can finally get our bake on, if you’re still interested!

  6. Ahhhh, where were you when I was living in Monkeytown last year???? Ha, my hubs went to ABU for his B ED and I hated living there because we lived by a Tims just off Mountain Rd. and it was torture to get around, urgh, and because I hated Moncton, I never really explored it. Ever since I moved back to the ‘Chi, I have discovered so much awesomeness about that city that I wish I knew about when I was living there, ie. I need more Calactus in my life.

    Your adventures have opened my eyes to some of the greatness that’s in our little province and stuff I need to explore. Being a Maritime girl isn’t so bad :)

    • One of my goals when I moved back home was get to know the Maritimes better. So many people think it’s a hole, but I know it’s gorgeous with tons of neat places sprinkled throughout, we just gotta look a little harder ;) My sister and I were talking about taking a trip to Miramichi when the leaves change colour! I’ve never spent any time there…

      • Two weeks ago I thought the Hopewell Rocks only existed on my Medicare card, haha, I think I was the only person in NB that had never been :P There are definitely some beautiful places to see here, but the Maritime “hole” is probably the Miramichi – there is nothing here, I can’t think of one thing worth seeing, at least not now – Pow Wow season is about over. Our only historical land mark burned down to the ground last summer – the Opera House, lol.

      • I can think iof a few Maritime “holes” but I wouldn’t say Miramichi was one of them. I grew up there and while there may not much in the way of tourist attractions inside the city, the surrounding areas are actually quite beautiful when the leaves change. For a pretty, nice short walk, go to French Fort Cove (it’s between Newcastle and Douglastown). If you drive over the bridge from the Douglastown side to the Chatham side and keep on going, you’ll come to Bay du Vin…a small fishing town along the bay and it’s absolutely georgeous there. Just the act of driving from one town to the next is a treat since there are so many colorful trees to admire.

  7. I am picking my jaw up off the floor. 26 types of tomato?! Glad you had a great day.

    • I know, right!? The owner said he had more kind too, just didn’t have the time to pick them all for us. They were delicious after sitting in the sun too. I don’t know how I’m ever going to eat the grocery store hot house tomatoes again :P

  8. I love my CSA! I just got a pint of black cherry tomatoes! I think I may try to make that bruschetta with them!!

  9. Haha, you do not look like a tool ;-) Though I laughed at that. I love the word tool!! And I LOVE all sorts of colored tomatoes too, they are so tasty. Nothing like picking one right off the vine, right? Wish I had the talent and patience to farm or garden as well, but alas I do not, I just enjoy eating the fruits of others’ labor!

  10. Our CSA comes from Northern California and we’re in Southern so it’s about an eight hour drive! I really want to tour some of the farms/gardens that our produce comes from though. Their produce is the best and I want to snag more of the pluots we’ve been getting.

    Our produce box is $20 a week for organics. It’s such a deal. I used to spend $40 a week on organic produce!

    P.S. you do not look like a tool.

  11. My mom just signed up for a mini 5 week CSA and she loves it! She’s considering signing up for a year now.

    I’m so into local food, it’s ridiculous. I love just being in touch with what I’m eating. It gives me the warm and fuzzies, no lie. I’m lucky that where I go to college there are so many great farms that grow gorgeous produce and raise happy cows and chickens.

    I’m glad you and your sister had a great day!

  12. That’s so interesting to see the farm up close & personal :) I also love the thought of “healing your body” <3 you're in my prayers girly.

  13. I honestly had NO CLUE there were 26 types of tomatoes!?!?! How did they grow the Black Cherry ones? (meaning, was there any sort of cross pollination?)

    • Apparently there are HUNDREDS! And also apparently pretty easy to find. Not sure how the black cherry ones came out. Man obviously really loved his tomatoes.

  14. What an awesome day! I love tomatoes soooooo much! So jealous of your tasting experience by the way! :)

  15. wow tomatoes, i haven’t really seen a lot of varieties of this. :) it’s nice that you have access to a beautiful peaceful place like that farm :)

    these past few days, I’ve been into tomatoes maybe because I’m not feeling well because of my inflamed throat

    have a nice day :)

  16. Thanks for clearing up what ‘CSA’ stands for – having been raised in the South, the only think I knew of that it could stand for was ‘Confederate States of America’ and I figured, what with you being Canadian, that this probably wasn’t what you meant! ;-)

  17. That bruschetta looks amazing.

  18. What a wonderful time & amazing pictures! Beautiful! We don’t have a CSA near me but my sis in Ohio is part of one & loves it! We do have a lot of local farm stands though…

  19. Susan,

    First, know that you are in my prayers. My husband has fought cancer twice & beat it and I know you will too!

    Second, I wasn’t a reader when your broke your arm, but wanted to know more about it. My daughter, Hannah, is 9 and broke her left are at the end of June and still can straighten hers either. She broke it in 2 places, at the growth plate right above the elbow. She is in PT now, and making slow progress.

    Kim

    • Hey Kim! To save my from rambling on and on, a lot of my “arm saga” posts can be found here: http://thegreatbalancingact.com/top-posts/

      The short story however is that I shattered the radial head at the end of my left forearm (bottom part of elbow) and underwent a 5-hour surgery to reassemble the teeny tiny pieces with three screws and surgical glue. It never healed, and x-rays actually showed that the bone was deteriorated. My surgeon said it was because the bones were cut off from oxygen for too long, but now we wonder if it was because of the cancer.

      In terms of progress, it is just SLOW with elbows. They are notoriously stiff. I did physio three times a week and wouldn’t see any progress for weeks, then suddenly would gain a few degrees in just a few days. Seven months from my surgery I’m almost normal in bending my elbow, and rotating my wrist. But I still struggle with straightening it and bearing any weight with it. I’ve been told my a lot of people that I probably won’t get it fully straight again. I’m so sorry for your little girl! Way too young to be going through this!!

  20. Andrew van Geest

    That bruschetta definitley looks tasty. You have so many amazing things you whip up in the kitchen.

    This Sunday is Open Farm Day. My parents farm in Elgin is one of them. Come check it out:)

    All the best
    Andrew

  21. Emily Ann Morelli

    Okay, SO, I am probably the worst of your readers when it comes to responding or giving feedback of any sort. That is NOT to say however, I love your blog any less, I read it daily and am thankful for the daily inspiration your words bring into my life. With that said, I am sure you probably posted something that answers my question, I just do not have the luxury of time to look and see. Your camera, it does the job on simple things like lettuce or the produce you saw in this trip. What model is it? How long have you had it? Do you love it? Hate it? Any suggestions? Thank you SO SO much if you are able to respond, it will mean the world to me.

    xoxo

    Emily

    • Hey Emily! I love my camera! It’s a Canon EOS Rebel XS and I always use the 50mm/f1.8 lens on it. A very base DSLR model, but given my budget and needs, it’s perfect. A lot of room to play around with manual settings, but not so confusing that I don’t understand it, or with a bunch of extra settings I don’t need. The lens is great too, very cheap (under $100) and makes things like food photos and portraits really stand out :)

  22. YAY FARMING! All your CSA produce-inspired creations look fantastic, especially the bruschetta.

  23. What a gorgeous weekend!! I don’t understand farming/gardening as much as I would like, but I love the results :)

  24. Amazing looking food and pictures. Makes me wish I had someone to split a CSA share with. Maybe I can teach my cats to eat black cherry tomatoes…

  25. Ok, WOW! I had no idea 26 varieties of tomatoes even existed. And that carrot you’re biting into looks like it has a lot of character ;) Thanks for the tweet earlier today, Susan!

  26. Oh nice! I’m obsessed with my little veggie patches and seeing big farms is always inspiring. So glad you’re having a good time with your CSA.

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