A New Chapter for Whole Circle Farm

Change is the one thing we can rely on and we write to share the end of an era for Whole Circle Farm. Influenced heavily by biodynamic principles, Whole Circle Farm has been a diverse mixed farm since coming into the world in 2002. As part of that rich diversity, this land has seen vegetables growing for the last 15 seasons. Over the years, Whole Circle Farm has offered a loving home, employment and an education to many hopeful young farmers, and provided high quality, nutritious food to thousands of families through the CSA program and farmers’ markets across southern Ontario. This has been a truly amazing journey. Whole Circle Farm could not have done this without the passionate and dedicated volunteers, interns, and employees who tirelessly worked these fields year after year. And, of course, the farm could not have accomplished these many seasons without the commitment and support of countless cherished customers, as well as the generous support of the landowners, David and Elyse Chapman. Maggie and Johann offer their infinite gratitude to the entire extended Whole Circle Farm community for walking this path with them all these years.

The time has come to shift the farm’s focus away from vegetable growing. While highly rewarding, market gardening is enormously labour intensive and physically demanding. Vegetable growing has taken up the majority of the farm’s (human and financial) resources for many seasons. Maggie and Johann find themselves at a place where they are no longer able to shoulder the financial burden, and are ready to be less busy, to focus on their health, and to put energy into other areas of the farm. To this end, the 2017 season will be the last season Whole Circle Farm will grow vegetables at the market garden scale.

Maggie and Johann have been farming their whole lives. In fact, they fell in love while farming together, when their love blossomed over a shared passion for seed saving. While the future remains uncertain, as the landowners consider the sale of the farm, Maggie and Johann are excited to return to their truest passions. They hope to focus on taking care of themselves, raising beautiful pastured animals, saving seeds, growing grains, creating value-added products, and selling through the farm store. All this will be underpinned with a renewed focus on soil building and land stewardship through regenerative agricultural practices.

For our vegetable customers, this means the 2017 summer CSA will be the last summer CSA. The final winter CSA will run for 8 weeks from November through December, 2017. As well, Whole Circle Farm will end our long-standing tenure at The Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns at the end of November, 2017. Valued customers, it is an understatement to say we will miss you dearly – your dedication and gratitude has given us a sense of purpose all these years. In our absence, please continue to support local farms and ecological agriculture in any way you can – sign up for a CSA, buy from local producers at farmers’ markets, volunteer on farms, and consider supporting the invaluable work of organizations such as the EFAO, NFU and Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. Every effort makes a difference.

Finally, please know, this decision was not taken lightly. It was an extraordinarily difficult choice but one that in the end feels like the right path to take. Though deeply sad about the end of a great chapter in the life of Whole Circle Farm, Maggie and Johann feel a sense of relief and hope as they turn the page to continue writing their story together on the land.

Maggie and Johann are very open to talking about their decision and, welcome your support in any way you choose to express it.

Fresh Tomato Soup

Fresh Tomato Soup
Adapted from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert

A fast and delicious meal!

8 medium tomatoes of your favourite varieties (peeled and seeded if desired, chopped)
4 or more garlic cloves (minced)
3 cups water or vegetable juice
1 tsp honey
2 sprigs of fresh basil (chopped)
Combine tomatoes and garlic in saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are
soft. Add liquids, bring to boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, and serve.
Enjoy with fresh whole grain bread and cheese or hummus!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver
Try these in a school lunch box!
(Makes about two dozen)

Combine in small bowl:
1 egg, beaten
½ cup butter (softened)
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Combine in large bowl:
2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

Blend into liquid mixture:
1 cup finely shredded zucchini (or any summer squash)
12 oz chocolate chips (preferably Fairly Traded and organic)

Stir dry and liquid ingredients together. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and
flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes. Let sit for a couple
of minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Susan’s Baked Eggplant

Susan’s Baked Eggplant

Thanks to CSA member Susan for this delicious recipe!

4 small long eggplants

1garlic clove, crushed

1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

½ cup bread crumbs (toasted – optional)

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

6 oz. buffalo mozzarella, or goat cheese, in 2-inch slices

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.    2. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise.  Score the flesh deeply, but do not cut the skin.  Arrange in a shallow pan, skin side down.  3.  Mix together the garlic, parsley, bread crumbs and half the olive oil.  Season with pepper to taste, and press the mixture into the scored eggplants.  4. Drizzle with the rest of the oil and bake in the oven until golden.  Remove from the oven, arrange the cheese slices on top, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted/softened. 5. To serve, scatter with the basil. OR Prepare as above but bake the eggplants on the Barbeque.  Place prepared eggplants directly on the grill for about 15-20 minutes.  Add the mozzarella/goat cheese and after about 5 minutes remove and enjoy!

Rebecca’s Tomato Pie

Rebecca’s Southern Style Tomato Pie

4-6 large tomatoes

1 onion, finely sliced

½ cup basil, chopped

½ cup mayonnaise

1 ¼ cup extra old cheddar cheese, grated (or any of your favourite cheeses)

One pie crust (I adapted The Joy of Cooking’s “Flaky Pastry Dough” with Spelt flour):

2 1/2 -2 3/4 cups spelt flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter

1/3 cup plus 1Tbsp ice water

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients by chopping vigorously with two knives. When the mixture is dry and powdery, add ice water, and mix together, and form two balls. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle spelt flour on clean surface and on rolling pin, and roll dough with rolling pin. Fit into pie pan. Use any extra dough to form cut-outs for decoration, or save for another pie.

Peel and slice tomatoes. Place in a colander with a sprinkle of salt so juice can drain.

Pre-bake pastry crust for 10 minutes in 350 oven.

Combine mayonnaise and cheese.

Place a layer of basil, a layer of onions, and a layer of tomatoes in the pie crust. Top with half the cheese mixture. Repeat layers and top with remaining cheese mixture. Decorate with a few basil leaves and any pastry cutouts as desired. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

I also made a great cheese-free version with only tomatoes, onions and basil. Let us know if you try this recipe with any other alternatives – nuts? tahini? eggs?