These summer days are long, and full, and seem to go on forever. Our sense of time gets muddled into an endless, hot, sunny experience of days and days on end. We work and play and work and rest and work and repeat, until the number of the day doesn’t matter anymore and suddenly it’s August 4th.
We’re in the heat of summer and each day we cherish a little bit more than the last one, because we feel like August is the month to savour. Savour the crazy abundant mid-summer harvest, savour the warm nights and hot hot days, savour our freedom of time together with the business. To savour means to slow down and reflect on where we were, where we are, and where we’re going.
In this spirit, here’s an update of what E&C has been up to lately.
Oh boy. The roof-top-turned-front-deck garden has become quite a sight. First, the neighbourhood squirrels and racoons decided to munch on our baby kale and collards to the point of extinction. We tryed cayenne pepper spray but should have opted to a wire of some sort. The zucchini seems to be bearing no fruit, only flowers, and the basil only yielded enough to make one batch of pesto (yum). On the plus side, the tomatoes, although smallish, are turning red in colour and bearing some good-looking fruit. The peppers are taking their time growing, but we can see them slowly take on good form.
Our St. Clair garden is another funny sight. Our tomatoes are **spectacular** (wish we had a picture!) They’re still green, but big and full and healthy. The chives, basil, mint, cilantro and sage are growing nicely, and make for delicious additions to our flatbreads, pizzas, pestos and tarts. The zucchini plant is huge, but the actual zucchini hasn’t made an appearance yet. Hmmmmm. Tiny kale are making headway, but in all honesty, we are a bit puzzled at the nonexistent greens we planted a few months ago. Perhaps we planted too close? The seeds weren’t good? The soil not mineralized properly? It’s all a learning process. We’ve come to learn that gardening is a trial and error process, a mysterious, magical thing that has a true life of it’s own.
I’ve recently joined another community garden near Trinity Bellwoods park. This garden looks like a little professional farm compared to the other two! I share it with a community of young awesome women, who already taught me some essential dos and don’ts of urban gardening. Who knew we could transplant a whole mature chard plant to a more breathable destination? And green beans planted throughout the garden could hydrate the soil with much-appreciated nitrogen? And we can still plant seeds that will bear fall crops, at the beginning of August? Things I didn’t know and now I do. Being in the garden with these ladies is like taking a crash course in gardening 101. It’s community and relationship-building, education and learning, connection to each other and the land, and pure pleasure, all at once.
Oh the peaches and cherries and apricots and plums and raspberries! We’ve been making stellar fruit tarts to sell at the markets. Our latest is a peach-raspberry combo, with almond and vanilla extract, lemon juice and agave. The crust is simple: almonds, oats and dates. The outcome is incredibly delicious and satisfying.
The vegetables in season are inspiring an array of new treats for the markets. We’ve been making falafals (dehydrated), with fresh local parsley, cucumbers and hemp seeds from Peterborough. Our nut burgers have a vine-ripe tomato spread and Ontario lettuce leaf as the base. The sprouted buckwheat pizzas have in-season toppings like zucchini and basil and tomatoes.
Right now, we’re freezing local peaches, sweet and sour cherries for off-season food preparation. Next week we’ll be canning some peaches, and hopefully soon preserving salsa and tomato sauce, and dehydrating kale and collard chips. It’s so important to savour the local produce, while also preserve for the off-season months when the abundance of fruit and vegetables is few.
We’re selling our dehydrated flatbreads in bundles of 5 for $10. Made with onion, herbs, flaxseed and wheat-free tamari, the flatbreads are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and totally delicious on their own, as a sandwich, as crackers, or paired with beer (yes with beer we’re told!). Our macaroons are 3 for $5 in mini recyclable containers. We still encourge our customers to bring their own packaging, but also have our own to supply if not the case.
Last weekend was Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market, and we had a blast. We love the festive, lively, colourful and eclectic vibe going on, our food fits in quite nicely! We’re at Wychwood every Saturday mornings from 8-12:30, and Sorauren every Monday afternoons from 3-7pm. We’ll be vending strong into the fall and early winter season. We’ll keep posting our where-a-bouts, with new venues popping up for the rest of the summer and into the fall.
We’ve been reading some great books this summer. Some of my favourites include Trauma Farm by Brian Brett, Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, and Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram. The first is a beautifully written memoir of the life of a rural small scale farmer. He talks about everything from the landscape, to breakfasts, to animals, to the history of farming, his political and financial struggles, the weather, the chickens, the soil, and his relationship to his wife and children. The second book is an advocacy for community-building and local economies. One of the chapters is about the author’s year long journey of eating entirely local foods, and living in northeast New England, we can only imagine the sparse days in March when there is only storage crops and pickled beans to eat for dinner. The third is a gorgeous story of how humans connect, and disconnect, with the animate world and earth we inhabit. It’s poetic, descriptive, and imaginative. All three books embody themes of food, argiculture, earth and community.
For us, mid-summer is like the centre point. The centre of the growing season. We’ve come to savour this time, soak up the incredible early August sunshine, and make sure we go through this month with as much wakefulness and appreciation and determination and playfulness as we can.