All posts by Neena Jordan

VIP Alert!

We have a very special guest visiting the farm tomorrow… Mr. Wayne Roberts, Canadian food policy analyst and writer. Wayne was the manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council (2000-2010), which is composed of 30 food activists who are responsible for developing a food policy for the City of Toronto.

robertsw05-213x300Wayne, a leading member of the City of Toronto’s Environmental Task Force, aided in developing numerous official plans for the city, which included the Environmental Plan and the Food Charter, both of which were adopted by the City of Toronto Council (2000 and 2001).

If you want to learn more about Wayne, check out his website at http://wayneroberts.ca/

We look forward to meeting you Wayne!

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Photo Tour of the Farm

Some of you may be curious as to what the farm actually looks like and how things are run, so this blog is dedicated just to that!

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The farm is located just past Canada Olympic Park on West Valley Road, just off of the Transcanada Highway. The farm is entirely volunteer run, with no funding whatsoever. Everything that is grown is harvested and sent to the Calgary Interfaith Foodbank.
With it being the beginning of May, things are just getting started, preparing the land to be seeded, and getting the seeds germinated early so they are ready for planting when the time is right.
IMG_0020 While I was there, we had some volunteers working on a strip of land that was going to be planted with potatoes soon. To prevent erosion of the soil, we use mulch on top of the land after we have planted the seeds. The mulch usually contains straw/hay, as well as woodchips and dark brown soil. This is then added on top of the seeds, thus preventing wind erosion.
But, before being planted, seeds must be germinated in the greenhouses. Below are some photos of that germination process.
IMG_0206IMG_0212
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IMG_0021 germination2There are a few greenhouses on site, with 2 or 3 still being built. One greenhouse houses the majority of germinating plants (shown below).
The farm also has its own assembly line for its designated soil for pots (it was under a tarp, so I couldn’t snap a picture). Below are some of the pots awaiting seeds.
 In addition, there is on-site composting that is being cultivated to add nutrients to the soil.
The farm currently is not hooked up to power, but that will be changing in the next few weeks! There is no running water either on the farm, but by using solar panels, we are able to pump water from a near-by creek to supplement the rain-barrel water collected for irrigation.
Here are some of the hoses and irrigation hoses that are just waiting to be used!
 Just recently, we have added a hive to the farm!! Below are some photos of the wind wall that protects them.
We also can’t forget our handy-dandy scarecrow that deters birds from eating our crops!
I hope this gives some insight into how the farm is run, and what’s going on around. Send us a message on Facebook or send a message through our website to volunteer with us soon. Hope to see you guys soon!!

Vegetable of the Week – Peas

This week’s vegetable is green peas! Peas are technically a fruit, but we usually classify them as vegetables. Green peas are an annual plant that provide us with essential nutrition. Peas can be eaten immature, when they are green, or they can be picked at full maturity and are essentially dried, which then can be used in soups, curries, and other dishes.

Fun fact: Peas aren’t just healthy vegetables, they are scientifically important. In 1822, Gregor Mendel used pea plants to study genetics and inheritance. This lead to the principles of Mendelian genetics, which is the basis for genetics today!

Peas are an excellent addition to any garden due to their nitrogen fixing bacteria on their roots. Gardens can become nitrogen deficient if nutrients aren’t replaced, so planting peas and other legumes can alleviate this problem.

Peas are quite sugary and starchy, however, they provide dietary fiber, and essential nutrients, like vitamin k, vitamin c, manganese, copper, vitamin B1 and B6, as well as folate, among other nutrients.

This week’s recipe is garlic snap peas! An easy and delicious way of preparing green peas (if you haven’t already ate all of them picking them from your garden).


Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil/canola oil
  • 3 cups sugar snap peas/snow peas
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt

Directions:

  1. Heat a wok or large skillet on the stove. 
  2. Add the oil and swirl around the pan. 
  3. Add the peas once the oil has had some time to heat up a bit. 
  4. Stir for 3-4 minutes, until the peas have started to soften, but retain their crispness.
  5. Add the garlic and stir for one minutes
  6. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!




References:

http://www.taste.com.au/how+to/articles/551/green+peas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pea#Nutritional_value

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=55

http://www.thewickednoodle.com/garlic-snap-peas-recipe/

 

Vegetable of the Week – Parsnips

This weeks vegetable is Parsnips! The parsnip is a root vegetable that is closely related to the carrot and parsley. The root is a cream colour skin, and it becomes sweeter in flavor after a winter frost. Interestingly enough, in sunlight, handling the stems and foliage can cause a skin rash in some people, so make sure you wear your gardening gloves!

Unfortunately, parsnips contain more sugar than carrots, radishes, and turnips. However, it only contains 75 calories per 100g. Parsnips are sweet and juicy and rich in many health-benefiting phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

Parsnips are an excellent source of dietary fibre, containing 13% of your daily fibre intake in only 100g! This reduces cholesterol levels, as well as can reduce the risk of obesity. 

Parsnips contain many antioxidants, and these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer benefits. Parsnips also contain vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and vitamin E.

For this week’s recipe, we have chosen to share with you parsnip fries, with horseradish rosemary mayo.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary

For the horseradish mayo:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary 
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit 
  • In a bowl, sprinkle the parsnips with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary and toss gently.
  • Spread the parsnips on a baking sheet and place into the oven
  • Bake the parsnips on one side for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and flip over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. 
  • While the parsnips are baking, you can prepare the horseradish mayo buy mixing all of the ingredients together. 
  • Enjoy!

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsnip

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-parsnips

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/parsnips.html

http://shrinkingkitchen.com/parsnip-fries-horseradish-rosemary-mayo/

 

Vegetable of the Week – Zucchini

This week’s vegetable is zucchini! Zucchini is also known as courgette, and its a summer squash. It can be dark or light green, or a golden colour, which is hybrid zucchini. Technically speaking, zucchini is a fruit (its the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower), but its usually treated as a vegetable. 

Zucchini is low in calories and contains useful amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin A. It also is an important food source of carotenoids/antioxidants.

Zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of vitamin C. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin present in zucchini are helpful in protection of the eye, with respect to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. 

Zucchini also aids in healthy blood sugar amounts, as well as anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

For this weeks zucchini recipe, we decided to share with you two of our favorites. One that is healthy, zucchini pizza sticks, and one that is not so much, chocolate zucchini cake. How could you not want delicious chocolate cake that secretly has vegetables in in! 

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Ingredients: 

6 small zucchini

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Salt and Pepper

1 cup marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 mini pepperoni slices

2 tbsp oregano (dried or fresh)


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cut each zucchini lengthwise into halves. If they do not lie flat, trim a bit off the bottoms so they will mostly lie flat. Pat the insides of the zucchini dry with paper towels and align on the baking sheet. If you want more toppings, scoop out some of the insides of the zucchini. Stir together the olive oil and garlic, and brush lightly over the tops of the zucchini. Sprinkle the salt and pepper to taste and add 1 tbsp of marinara sauce, evenly coating each zucchini stick. Sprinkle the sticks evenly with the shredded mozzarella cheese, then parmesan cheese. Top with the pepperoni slices. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-18 minutes. Remove from oven and add the oregano on top.  

*You can add or remove any toppings you want depending on your taste and what you like on the zucchini pizza!



Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2/3 cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with a knife
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (from 1-2 zucchini), gently packed
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place the butter in a large microwave-safe mixing bowl and microwave for one minute, or until just melted. Stir in the brown sugar until completely smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until incorporated. (Be sure to add the eggs after the brown sugar is mixed in, as the hot butter alone could cook the eggs.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and instant coffee (if using) in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture and stir until well combined. It will be very thick.
  4. Stir in the shredded zucchini and chocolate chips. (It will still be thick — that’s okay.)
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (save for perhaps a smear from the melted chocolate chips). Let the loaf cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

*Theres only 231 calories, 10 g of fat, 33 g of carbohydrates and 21 g of sugar per one slice, so they are THAT bad for you. Just don’t eat it all at once!  

 

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You can also find us on Twitter @GrowCalgary and on Instagram @growcalgary as well as pinterest at:  https://www.pinterest.com/phfoodjustice/

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zucchini

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=62

http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/06/zucchini-pizza-boats/

http://www.onceuponachef.com/2013/07/double-chocolate-zucchini-bread.html#tabrecipe

Vegetable of the Week – Swiss Chard

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This week’s vegetable is Swiss Chard! Chard is a leafy green vegetable that is a subspecies of beetroot. The leaf itself is usually green or reddish in colour. The stalks vary in colour, usually its red, yellow, or white. Chard has highly nutritious leaves, having high amounts of vitamin A, K, and C. It is also rich in dietary fibre, protein, and minerals.

Swiss Chard contains 13 antioxidant properties, regulates blood sugar levels, and has anti inflammatory properties. Chard ranks second to spinach with respect of total nutrient-richness. However, Chard has a large concentration of oxalic acid, and is one of only 3 vegetables that are recommended to boil before eating. It is not recommended to eat the stems due to its toughness.

Chard belongs to the same taxonomic family as beets, spinach, and quinoa. The red and yellow pigmentations found in this family contain unique carotenoids, which is linked to our nervous system health.

The featured recipe this week is Chickpea and Swiss Chard Curry. This is a nutritious and delicious way to eat Swiss Chard.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely minced gingerroot
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely minced garlic
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) garam masala, (optional)
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) tumeric
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped whole canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups (1 L) chopped Swiss chard leaves
  • 1 Lemon for garnish

Directions:

In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat; cook cumin seeds until beginning to pop, about 1 minute. Add onion and chilies; cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add ginger and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add ground cumin and coriander; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add garam masala (if using); cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, cayenne pepper and turmeric; cook for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and salt; cook, stirring, until softened. Stir in 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) water; bring to boil. Add chickpeas; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in Swiss chard; simmer until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top, and serve over rice and enjoy!

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References

http://www.canadianliving.com/food/quick_and_easy/chickpea_and_swiss_chard_curry.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chard

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16

Grow Calgary’s Vegetable of the Week – Carrots

This week’s vegetable is carrots! As a kid, your parents probably told you to eat your carrots because they are good for your eyes, well its true! Carrots are a root vegetable that are usually orange in colour, however, purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist.

Although carrots can be found year-round, locally grown carrots that are in season are the freshest and most flavorful. 

Carrots are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. They are an exceptional source of carotenes and vitamin A, which protect from skin, lung, and oral cancers. Beta carotene is one of the powerful antioxidants in carrots that promotes eye health, reproduction, and growth and development. Some compounds found in carrots may help fight against cancers by destroying pre-cancerous cells in the tumor.

Carrots also have cardiovascular benefits, improve vision health, among other benefits.

Carrots are one of the most commonly consumed vegetable in North America, and are so easy to incorporate into your daily diet.

Although steaming carrots is the healthiest method for cooking, roasting them brings out the sweet and earthy nature of carrots. Here is a quick and easy way to roast your carrots and use as a side for a meal.

Balsamic Roasted Carrots 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds baby carrots, tops removed (peel if desired)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt
  • Pepper 
  • Dried or fresh parsley 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Rinse carrots and pat dry
  4. Place carrots in a large bowl 
  5. In a smaller bowl, add the vinegar and slowly add the olive oil while whisking
  6. Add the oil and vinegar mixture to the carrots and toss until well coated
  7. Place in the oven and roast them for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through
  8. After they are done roasting, remove from the oven and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and parsley
  9. Enjoy!

References:

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/carrots.html 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21

http://www.cravingsofalunatic.com/2014/03/balsamic-roasted-baby-carrots.html