What’s On at the Saturday Farmers Market in January
It's all about roots this month at the Brick Works' Saturday Farmers Market!
Published on January 09, 2019
Peter Finch goes back to his maritime roots
Come see Peter Finch before his move to Nova Scotia!
As of April, one of our farmers, Peter Finch of Rolling Hills Organics, will no longer be a vendor at the Brick Works. Finding that Southern Ontario land is increasingly too expensive, he has decided to sell the farm and move to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where he and his partner, Gundi, will be trading small-scale land farming for small-scale ocean fishing.
Picture from Rolling Hill Organics
As an Englishman who lived by the seaside in Kent, transplanted thirty seven years ago to central Canada, I am going back to my maritime roots, answering the calling of the ocean. Fish, lobster, mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, sea salt, seaweeds will all be a walk or a boat-ride away oceanside in Cape Breton.
We chatted with Peter on December 19th, 2018, about organic farming, Ontario farming, and his upcoming move. Below are some excerpts from that enlightening conversation.
Farming 101 with Peter Finch
Peter is an author, organic farmer, and perhaps the most interesting man in the world. Every winter, he travels to the Guatemalan Highland plateau, learning from local indigenous farmers who still practice traditional farming methods. “Mayans here plant their ancient varieties of corn, beans, and squash (the three sisters), as well as hearty beets, carrots, onions, coffee, cacao which grow well in volcanic soils.” He has written a sustainable living manifesto disguised as a memoir on these journeys, High Up in the Rolling Hills.
One of the main reasons he goes to Central America is because he feels that “in southern Ontario and across Canada, we would be wise to follow the organic practices of small-scale indigenous farmers in Guatemala and around the world, working with the ever-challenging demands of a changing climate. After all, they know best how to adapt to fast-changing conditions that are already upon us all, as farmers and consumers, to profound effect.”
Organic farming is a unique method of growing and livestock production that entails more than simply deciding to abstain from the use of fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs, and antibiotics. Organic farming is continually being developed and improved, and Peter is on the cutting edge.
In his own words, Peter “is an old-school (certified) organic farmer.” He chooses these farming practices because he “believe[s] true organic produce is grown in mineral-rich soils replete with bacteria, fungi, microbes, mycorrhizi et al and built up with vegetable compost and/or animal manure over time.” For him, this represents a time-honored way of working with mother nature, without the use of manufactured, synthetic chemicals. “Organic farming utilizes the natural sunlight, wind, rain, snow, and morning dew as basic inputs (full-on nature) and eschews the use of processed additives.”
Saturday, January 12 | Rutabaga
If you like potatoes, chances are good you will love rutabagas! While far from the most attractive vegetable, they contain lots of vitamin C, and are rich in fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium.
Recipe: Rutabaga Gratin
- 2 pounds rutabaga (peeled, sliced thinly)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups gruyere (grated)
- Heat the sliced rutabaga in boiling water for 3 minutes and set aside.
- Bring the cream, garlic, thyme, salt and paper to a boil, reduce the heat, simmer for 3 minutes, and then remove from the heat.
- Pour a bit of the cream into the bottom of a casserole dish.
- Place a layer of rutabaga on top, followed by some cream and some cheese. Continue to layer ending with a layer of cheese.
- Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.
Saturday, January 19 | Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a tasty and delightful source of vitamin A, manganese, copper, vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fiber, and phosphorous. At the Brick Works, you can purchase your sweet potatoes from Round Plains Plantation & Ontario Sweet Potatoes.
Recipe: Braised Pork, Sweet Potato, and Fennel Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs, plus leaves for serving
- 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 ¼ pounds), cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 small fennel bulbs, quartered, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, for serving
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the pork with the fennel seeds and 1¼ teaspoons each salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Add the broth and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the pork can be pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Add the sweet potatoes and fennel bulbs. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender and the vegetables are soft, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove the thyme sprigs.
- Serve the stew sprinkled with the thyme leaves and fennel fronds and with the bread on the side.
Saturday, January 26 | Garlic
Ontario garlic is a ‘winter annual’, right now many of our farmers have a crop of garlic planted, awaiting warmer temperatures. Garlic requires a cold period to initiate growth, so it is planted in the fall, and is harvested in the summer. It might seem odd to include garlic as a January ingredient, since right now it is slumbering under the ground. However, properly stored, fresh Ontario garlic from your local growers will taste much better than grocery store garlic, which is sometimes years old by the time you buy it!
Recipe: Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels & Chili Oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 4 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 bulbs roasted garlic
- 1/3 cup cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- chili oil, for serving
- crispy Brussel sprouts
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- ½ pound Brussel sprouts, stems and leaves removed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Once melted, stir in the onion with a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and enough stock to cover the potatoes – starting with 4 cups and using more if needed. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender and falling apart, about 20 to 30 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Carefully add the mixture to a blender. Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves and add them to the blender too. Puree the soup until totally creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture back into the pot and heat over low heat. Add the cream, salt and pepper. Taste and season additionally with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve the soup and drizzle the chili oil on top. Add the brussels as garnish and eat!
- While the potatoes are simmering, heat a pot over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Attach a candy thermometer if you have one – you want the temperature to be around 325 to 350 degrees – no higher! Add the brussels sprouts leaves a few handfuls at a time and fry until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain, covering with salt and pepper.
Recipe and picture from How Sweet Eats.