"Well Vittled" Your weekly Vegetable CSA box companion!
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       "Well Vittled" CSA Newsletter
Sleepy G Farm
RR#1 Pass Lake, ON
HARVESTED THIS WEEK:  Red Cabbage, Arugula, Carrots, Potatoes, Red & Yellow Onions, Beets, Celery, Leeks, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, *Cucumbers, Peppers, *Zucchini, *Fresh Herbs
Number of items to choose:  9
* Free choice items
Volume 9 Issue 8
September 19th, 2018

Whenever I travel (which is not that often), I make a point of doing two things:  drink the local beer, and taste the local milk.  As fun as trying new beer is, a lot more can actually be learned by sampling a country’s milk.  Milk after all tells a story about a region’s agriculture from livestock breeds, to cropping systems, to production methods, to local ecology.  Dairy is a complex and living food that is influenced greatly by subtle changes in the cow’s diet, and it is actually quite difficult to produce milk with consistent qualities.  Milk is measured by its components (butterfat & protein), and these components will differ not only from region to region, but also from herd to herd and even cow to cow.  Like you and I, each dairy cow is an individual and as such metabolizes their feed and produces milk differently than each other.
I have long noticed a big difference between Canadian dairy products and those produced in the United States.  But it wasn’t until we travelled to Cuba that I really started to see how certain factors in a region impact the taste of milk.  While in Cuba we had the opportunity to visit some farms and saw many crossbred dairy cows.  In Cuba, they don’t feed their dairy cows grain as a feed concentrate like we do here in Canada.  Instead, they feed what they have lots of – coconut!  Coconut is high in fat and protein, which is precisely what a cow needs to produce milk.  While in Cuba I enjoyed many glasses of rich milk that had a faint taste of coconut.  What a wonderful eating experience and one that spoke volumes about the local agriculture.
Recently the dairy industry in Canada has been in the forefront of our political scene as Canada continues NAFTA negotiations with the United States.  The major sticking point in these negotiations is the supply management system that is in place to regulate the dairy industry in Canada.
While the media has put Canada’s supply management at the forefront in our news recently, I have yet to hear a simple distillation of what supply management is all about and what it means for Canadian farmers and consumers.  For that reason, I thought it would be appropriate to use this edition of Well Vittled to give a quick overview.
Supply management (or the quota system as it is sometimes called), came into effect in 1970 and was the federal government’s response to a call for help from Canadian dairy farmers who were struggling greatly with the volatility of the market at the time.  Specifically, they were struggling to keep their farms viable as the price of milk dropped while the cost of production increased.  At the grocery store the price of milk was in constant flux due to supply and demand.  In a nutshell, both the farmer and the consumer were suffering from the inconsistency that was created by unregulated production.
To remedy the problem, the “quota system” was instituted.  This meant that farmers had to purchase quota, or a share in the market, in order to produce the commodity.  At the time supply management came into effect quota was automatically awarded to dairy farmers who were currently producing milk.  They were given a quota relative to the amount of milk they were producing in their region, or pool.  Additional quota could be purchased at a modest cost thereby giving a farmer the “right” to produce more milk should the farm wish to expand.  By stabilizing the production of milk the quota system lessened the volatility of price for the consumer while providing a guaranteed return for the farmer.
With supply management the milk is purchased and distributed by the provincial milk marketing board (Dairy Farmers of Ontario, in this province).  The marketing board picks up the milk from the farm, sells it to processors, pays farmers a fixed rate per liter, and runs advertising campaigns to grow the industry.  When a farmer retires, his/her quota is sold back to the marketing board, which then re-distributes it to other farmers who purchase the quota as they wish to expand.  The overall effect is that the amount of milk produced remains constant even if there are fewer farms producing it.   Controlling the production of milk means that the consumer can count on a stable price at the grocery store because supply and demand is always balanced.
In an unregulated dairy industry (as seen in the United States), the stage is set for monopolies to proliferate.  Large farms are able to achieve an economy of scale that allows them to sell the product at a lower price than smaller farms can.  In the end, processors purchase at the lowest price possible and the small dairy farm eventually goes out of business because it cannot compete.  By contrast, in the supply-managed system, a small dairy (less than 50 cows) is paid the EXACT same price per liter as the farm that milks 500 cows.  This means that small, medium, and large producers can co-exist in the industry and are able to benefit equally from the marketing and distribution of a central buyer (the milk marketing board).  Supply management is the only thing keeping many Canadian dairy farms in business.
In summary, here are the key pros and cons of supply management, from my perspective:
  • Producers at all scales have equal opportunity to participate in the industry
  • Farmers are guaranteed a cheque every month based on the volume of milk they produce
  • Farmers can focus on production rather than marketing and distribution
  • Consumers can rely on stable pricing at the grocery stores
  • Quality of the product is consistent across the country because the milk marketing board tests every sample from every farm to ensure there is no antibiotics or prohibited substances in the milk
  • The Canadian Quality Milk Program ensures that cow health and facility sanitation are a key focus on farms
  • Farmers can continually invest in their farm businesses by borrowing against the equity they have in the quota they hold
  • While quota was free in the beginning, it is currently valued at nearly $25,000 per cow in Ontario, making it nearly impossible to get into dairy farming
  • Farmers are penalized for both over-producing and under-producing, which means that dairy cow feeding programs typically do not involve grazing - rather the animals are fed a formulated ration that is consistent from day to day
  • Chronic failure to fill quota amount will result in quota being clawed back from the farmer.   The risk of losing quota is an impediment to alternative production methods
  • Seasonal dairy operations, or grazing-based dairy operations, cannot exist in this system.  This means that a farmer cannot choose to produce dairy only during the summer months.  For the consumer, this means we do not see any real variety in our favourite dairy products.  For example, grass-fed butter or milk is not something Canadian dairy farmers can produce under this system
  • Small farms like Sleepy G Farm (which does not hold quota) are unable to participate in dairy production despite having a herd of cows, an adequate barn and facilities, and 175 members who would potentially like to purchase organic milk and butter
Supply management has evolved a lot since its inception and has largely been a great success.   However, this is a big topic, and one which I’ve only scratched the surface.  Additionally, I know that there are people among us who view their food choices as a constitutional right that should not be subject to government regulation.  Perhaps the best example of this involves the growing demand for raw (unpasteurized) milk, which is strictly prohibited in Canada and absolutely illegal to distribute in any fashion.  This is a sad reality because well, humans have been drinking raw milk for as long as they’ve been milking cows.  We drink the raw milk from our own cows and boy is it delicious!  But, thanks to supply management and Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Sarah pointing across the beet field on another cool & misty fall morning
You can't "beet" these great harvesters!
Recipe of the Week

Braised Cabbage in Balsamic Vinegar

This recipe is a warm and comforting side dish to enjoy on a chilly fall day


  • 1 red cabbage , outer leaves removed, quartered, cored and sliced thinly
  • 2 tart apples , peeled, cored and sliced thickly
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 150 ml balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves


  • In a casserole dish over medium heat, stir together the butter, sugar and vinegar until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Add the cinnamon and cloves and remove from heat.
  • Add cabbage and apple and toss to coat.
  • Cover the surface with a sheet of wet, crumpled parchment paper and bake in the oven for 1-1.5 hours or until the cabbage is tender but with a slight bite and the liquid has reduced to a slightly syrup consistency.
  • Give it a stir every 30 minutes or so but be sure to re-wet the baking paper each time you do to prevent it from burning.
Matheson bringing in the first pick of red cabbage 
Garden Feature
If there is one single crop that our farm is known for, it is carrots!  Over the years we come to specialize in this wonderful root vegetable.  We grow more carrots than any other crop on the farm and though it isn't necessarily the most profitable crop we grow, it is one that is a reliable producer and easy to sell.

I always tell people that growing carrots is easy, but growing GOOD carrots takes experience.  There are a lot of factors that determine the difference between a good crop of carrots and a mediocre crop.  These factors include:  seed variety, soil type, soil preparation, weed pressure, irrigation, time of harvest, and post harvest handling.

Of the factors mentioned above, the factors that make the biggest impact on flavour are variety, soil type, and time of harvest.  We grow about 10 different carrot varieties each year and though we have our staple favourites, we always trial 1 or 2 new varieties each season.  That way we can continue to search for the perfect carrot!

The type of soil we have here on the farm is pretty much ideal for root crops.  If properly worked, our soil will reliably produce long carrots that are neither too large nor too stumpy.  The light textured soil along with a thoughtful crop rotation and fertilization plan helps to produce carrots that have a pure carrot taste with no off-putting flavours.

Finally, the time of harvest plays a very important role in developing flavour.  The very best tasting carrots are those that have been harvested after several frosty nights.  During these nights the carrot will take starch from their root and convert it into sugar.  The sugar is then pumped through the plant in order to lower the freezing point of the vegetable.  After several nights of below zero temperatures the sugar levels in the carrot are elevated which results in the best tasting carrot money can buy!

Our aim is to have our main carrot crop reach maturity at this time of year so that we can take advantage of the cold nights to produce the flavour we want in our carrots.  In order to do this, we actually do not plant our carrot crop until around June 25th, which by most gardener's standards is very late.  That said, we can typically look forward to harvesting this delicious vegetable right into the month of November!
These days we harvest carrots literally by the wagon-load!  This photo features our dog Sibley, who turned 9 on Monday.  Happy Birthday Sibley!

Thanks for visiting

Our last Open Farm Day of the season was a lot of fun.  The adults were almost out-numbered by very small children! We enjoyed a carrot taste test, and had a chance to pick a pie pumpkin and flower bouquet!

We used the farm tour as an opportunity to check how our crop of coloured carrots are ripening
Partners in good food!

This week's coffee from
Rose N Crantz Roasting Co


Papua New Guinea
Wahgi Valley, Ulya


Ulya coffees come from a combination of lots tendered by the 178-hectare Ulya Plantation as well as several hundred local smallholder farmers.  The Ulya Estate itself was established in the 1930s by the Lay family, Australians who had relocated to Papua New Guinea and were part of the colonial efforts to introduce coffee as a cash crop to the country.  High altitude and cool temperatures make this an ideal location for high-quality coffee.


Tasting notes:  Mild and clean with big tart acidity and a smooth mouthfeel; grapefruit flavour with a herbal aftertaste.
Roasted to Full City

This week's bread from
Both Hands Bread


Peasant Bread

Brule Creek sifted whole wheat flour, water, unrefined sea salt, yeast

Vegetable Storage Info
ON THE COUNTER:  potatoes, onions, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes
IN THE FRIDGE:   cabbage, leeks, beets, swiss chard, potatoes, carrots
We had a fantastic day of work with our volunteers last Sunday with 10 of us working hard to harvest carrots and winter squash!
NEXT WEEK'S GUESS:  Lettuce Mix, Jalapeno Peppers, Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, Beets, Kale, Arugula, Winter Squash, Fennel, Tomatoes
Copyright © 2018 Sleepy G Farm, All rights reserved.

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