Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Workshop: Building Healthy Soil for Better Crops

We're happy to announce that after so many requests, we're finally holding a workshop on Building Healthy Soil for Better Crops! 



Topics covered include: 
     - Basic Soil Food Web Biology (and how it applies to your farm or garden)
     - Soil Building Techniques
                - Composting
                - Mulches
                - Compost Teas
     - Practical hands on experience in the field
     - Cover Crops & Green Manures
     - Braking new ground and how to build healthy soil for better crops
     - Practical exercises to help you figure out what type of soil you have, and where your Soil Food Web is at
     - How to submit, decipher, and use Soil Tests to aid you in amending your soil 
     - AND MORE!

Instructors: 
     - Nevin & Shauna Gavigan, Owners & Operators of Your Local Farmacy, an organic farm located in beautiful Lumby BC. 
     - We have 7 years experience building healthy soils, and growing a wide diversity of crops. We've researched this topic extensively, and have applied and experimented with these techniques throughout our farming career. We've started 3 farms in the past 7 years, all in different regions, on a range of soils. We have practical, useful, extensive knowledge on these subjects that we'd like to pass on to you! 

Workshop Details: 
When: 
     - We'll be holding two, 1 day workshops. Saturday May 28th, OR Saturday June 4 from 9am - 5pm. MAXIMUM 15 participants per workshop.

Where: 
     - Right here at Your Local Farmacy, located at 714 Mabel Lake Road in Lumby BC (MAP). We're located 7 minutes outside of Lumby, up Mabel Lake Road.

Price:
     - $100 per person, includes vegetarian lunch. All fees must be paid before the workshop date. We accept cheque (made out to Your Local Farmacy Inc.) or Credit Card (through PayPal). Those that choose the credit card option will receive a PayPal invoice via email.

What to Bring: 
     - Bring a notebook and pen to take notes (we'll also make available our presentation notes and amendment recipes. So you can spend your time learning, not taking notes the whole day). 
     - We'll be out in the fields for part of the day, so bring a hat, weather appropriate clothing and good footwear. As well as a water bottle (hydration is important out on the farm!).

How to sign up: 
     
     - Send us an email via our Contact Page, to let us know that you would like to sign up. Please include which date you would like to attend, how many people will be participating, and how you would like to pay. Please let us know if you require a receipt.  

     - We'll promptly email you back to welcome you to the workshop, and impart any further details (how to get here, local overnight accommodation options if required, payment details, etc). 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Happy Holidays Everyone! Thanks for making 2015 our best year yet!



Warm, happy holiday wishes to all our friends and supporters! And thank you for making this year our best yet! We ran a successful 50 member CSA Harvest Box program this year, attended the Vernon Farmer's Market every Thursday from June to Nov, stocked our fancy new coolers at the Monashee Community Co-op and Lumbys' Community Market every week from June to Dec, as well as managing 2 acres of garlic this year. We also attended 2 major Garlic Festivals this fall (in Grindrod & New Denver), as well we attended the Vernon Indoor Market this winter. Wow... What a year! Definitely our MOST ambitious yet :)


On top of everything this year, we had some pretty steep learning curves to go through. This was our first year hiring staff to work on the farm. Hosting 3 full-timers, 2 part-timers, and several other temporary workers throughout the season. This has got to be one of the most challenging things to manage on the farm (now I know why every time we bring up "employees", every business/farm owner rolls their eyes and sighs exhaustively lol). It's not the payroll, or the scheduling that's tough to handle. But the conflicting attitudes/personalities and physical & mental capabilities of your employees that is the most trying to manage. We learned many lessons from our staff this year, that will definitely make things easier in the years ahead. And we thank them immensely for their patience and understanding. We can't do what we do without them, and we appreciate their dedication and hard work this season. Farming is by no means an "easy" job, but you gotta love it to do it!


Our second curve ball was learning how to efficiently process 2 acres of garlic (that's equivalent to approx 2 elephants in weight!!!!). We've always done a large portion of garlic on our farms throughout the years. But we went from growing a 1/4 of an acre to 2 acres. That's a HUGE jump. The growing part we find the easiest; garlic is minimal in its needs. A little fertilization, weeding and water go a long way. But it's the sorting, hanging, drying, cutting, cleaning, sizing, counting and packing on such a large scale where we were really thrown for a loop (which, we knew would be the case). At the beginning of processing we were very inefficient, processing maybe 400-800 bulbs a day. But, we just kept on it, kept trying new methods & setups. And by the end of the season we were rocking it. Processing 3000 - 5000 bulbs a day. We've now developed some very efficient methods of processing that yield a beautiful, high-quality product. Which will make next year's processing seem like a breeze :) 


All in all it was the most fun-filled, hectic, action-packed, learning curve of a year we've had yet! Thank you to all our staff & volunteers, all our farming friends and mentors, and to all our CSA members, supporters and customers. We couldn't have done it without you! We received so much positive feedback this year, and demand for our products was HUGE. We love what we do, and it shows in the produce we grow :) Happy Holidays everyone! And a very Happy New Year to all! See you in 2016 :) 


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Garlic, Garlic....GARLIC!

We definitely have garlic on the brain lately. Our 2 acres of high-quality seed & table garlic (across 16 different cultivars) is looking amazing! We finished the last of the weeding in the garlic last week, and the bulbs are sizing up nicely. Our EXTRA early Asiatic variety is just about ready (sooooo early!). We'll be pulling it out of the ground and hanging it to dry this week. 

We've re-vamped our website to include our garlic operation. Adding information about the different cultivars we carry, our growing methods, and how to buy. Check it out at www.yourlocalfarmacy.ca

We are selling many of our cultivars through Rasa Creek Farm (Lumby, BC), one of the largest seed garlic distributors in Western Canada. Check out their website for info & pricing: Rasacreekfarm.com. We also sell several of our special/rare cultivars through our shopping cart website: Garlicfarmacy.ca. Check it out for information on how to purchase, and what varieties we have available. 

We are so excited to get the garlic harvest underway. Its going to be quite the undertaking. But, we are confident we can manage. Our 2000sqft "Great Hall" in our farm centre has been converted into a drying room. We've built trellises in there to hang all the garlic on (similar to how Rasa Creek Farm hangs their garlic to dry). Fans and dehumidifiers have been purchased and are waiting to be used. Everything is ready to go! We've also got several staff waiting in the wings, who will be arriving in early July to help with the harvest & processing of all that amazing garlic.

Happy harvesting to all the garlic growers out there! 

More updates to come so stay tuned :)


Left to Right: Deep Purple Asiatic, Red Russian, Purple Italian
Spring! It's so exciting to see these little guys pop through the snow in the early season.
Garlic!!!
Our Red Russian is looking beautiful, as it always does
Our largest field of garlic, at a smidge under an acre
Mid spring garlic growth
Scapes! Scapes are the flower stalk of the garlic plant. Let these go to flower to get bulbils (little tiny cloves), or break it off to induce larger bulb production.
Our Red Russian garlic cultivar
Our coveted, EXTRA early Asiatic cultivar - Deep Purple (look at that colour!)

Friday, 15 May 2015

Onions, Shallots & Leeks, Oh My!

YAY! The much awaited Allium (onion family) exodus into the field is complete! It's a big project that we undertake every year, around late spring. We transplanted thousands of little baby onion, shallot and leek transplants over 1/8 of an acre (that's a butt load of onions!). Double the production we had last year. Which is good because we couldn't keep the onions on the table, people were buying them up so fast.

We did a few different varieties of onions this year; a white storage, a red storage, and a white fresh onion. As well as our coveted shallots (always a favourite at markets). Onions do really well in our climate, which is what prompted us to plant more of them this year.

It was a full days worth of work, with Mom and several volunteers helping out (thanks for your help guys n gals!!!!). But, to get it all transplanted in one day is a great accomplishment (as it normally takes us several days). Hip, hip, hooray!!!

Look for these tasty treats to be ready starting late July, early Aug. And then we'll have them right on through into January :)


Shauna preparing the baby onions for transplanting
Look at all those healthy roots!
A tray of bundled transplants ready to go into the field

Couldnt have asked for a better day! Cloudy and cool :)

One of our happy helpers, Laura, digs in and gets started transplanting

Go go gadget arms! Once you get the rhythm of transplanting onions, it goes quickly!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Wow, what a spring!

Hi Everyone,

Well, its been one heck of a spring out here on the farm (busy, busy!). We've got 31 beds of vegetables in the field already (transplants and direct seedings), and the 2 acres of garlic is looking superb! We've also got thousands of little transplants in the greenhouse, waiting their turn to be transplanted into the field.

We've had a warm dry spring so far (lots of irrigation required!), which has been great for our early direct seeding's in the field. With carrots, beets, peas, spinach, salad mix and greens well on their way already (earliest germination ever!).

We've been plugging away, getting mountains of work done over the past month and a bit. Its been a lot easier for us this year, with the help of our full-time worker Nicole (she's definitely been rocking it!). We've installed a filter system and tank for our greenhouse, as the water from our farm well is quite high in iron (but not as high as others in the area, so our water guy tells us). We've done some upgrades to our Farm Centre; paint, plumbing, appliances, etc. Getting ready for temporary workers this summer. And we've hauled 250 tonnes (yes, you read that right!) of some of the most beautiful composted horse manure from our friends at the Okanagan Show Jumping Stables, right up the road.

Our CSA Harvest Box program is full (with 45 excited members!). And only one month left to go before the start of the program. We've got a wide array of super fresh, tasty vegetables planned for our members this year :)
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Bok Choi
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Fennel Bulb
  • Greens
  • Herb: Basil
  • Herb: Cilantro
  • Herb: Fernleaf Dill
  • Herb: Parsley
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce, Romaine
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins, Pie
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Salad Mix
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Squash, Summer
  • Squash, Winter
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes, Heirloom
  • Watermelons, Mini
 We're super excited about this year, and hope you all are too! More updates to come soon, so stay tuned! :)


The garlic is looking great!

Mmmmm, look at all that beautiful composted manure!

Our Red Russian garlic is looking particularly gorgeous :)

Look at all those beds already planted!

A beautiful Orb Weaver Spider on the farm :)

Nev's excited about trying our new sprayer to spray compost tea on the garlic and field crops.

First, put a lotof organic worm castings in a large sock, and fill the tank 1/2 full of water...

Next, put in a couple of Air Stones (just like in your fish tank, only bigger)...

Then stir in some organic Molasses, till dissolved...

Add more water, and let brew for a couple of days. Once it's frothy, its alive. You want to spray when its at its frothiest, for best concentration. And voila, Compost Tea :)

Yay! Salad Mix is here again :)

Shauna & Nicole transplanting crops into the field.

Shauna rocking the transplants :) Did I mention we're in love with these soil blocks? SOOO much easier to transplant with compared to cell trays. We'll never go back :)

Monday, 13 April 2015

Spring on the Farm

Spring is a magical season on the farm. The land starts to wake from its winter slumber, birds return to sing their songs, the garlic starts growing, the greenhouse becomes a hub of activity. The promise and potential of a new season is intoxicating! Filling us lazy, winter rested farmers with a burst of energy. Time to get to work :)

We've enjoyed utilizing our greenhouse this spring. As last year, we were without a greenhouse at this time (having not completed the structure until mid May). The propagation tables, where we germinate our seeds, are already overflowing with early season transplants; cabbages, kales, kohlrabi, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, salad mix, romaine, onions, shallots and leeks, (to name a few!). And the bed in the greenhouse is looking fuller and fuller every day. We've seeded spinach, salad mix, carrots and other greens for early season sales. (YAY, carrots are on the way!).

We've been trying out our new Soil Blocking equipment, and so far we're impressed! Soil Blockers compress soil into dense blocks which are then seeded just like you would cell trays. With this system it's important to mix your own soil to get the consistency & moisture content just right. Once the blocks have been compressed, they are tough little buggers. Holding their shape nicely, even after many waterings. Keeping them moist has proven to be easy as well. We lay the soil blocks in 10x20 trays with no holes, in order to hold the excess water in the bottom of the tray. The block will then take up the excess water throughout the day as needed. Easy Peasy!

We're excited to see the garlic growing so nicely! With over 14 different varieties of garlic on our farm it's a gorgeous array of colours, heights, thicknesses and growing habits. The mid season vegetable beds have all been seeded with green manures, in anticipation of transplants starting next month. We're also ploughing up some new fields this spring. Which will get cover cropped several times this season, and next, in preparation for garlic planting fall of next year.

Also, we've hired our first ever full-time farm worker. And boy are we impressed! Nicole has several years experience working on farms in the Central Okanagan, and is an aspiring young agrarian who wants to start her own farm in the next couple of years. She has been a huge asset to us already. Its amazing what you can accomplish on the farm with an extra set of competent hands :) Welcome Nicole!

More updates to come so stay tuned!

Welcome Nicole! She's potting up some baby pepper plants with our new, easy to use Soil Blocker System.


A sea of Onion, Leek & Shallot transplants!
The prop tables are bursting with baby plants :)
With the heavy snows this winter, and all the spring wind we've been getting, there are a lot of wind fallen trees around the property. Which we then gather up, and chip, to use as a soil amendment in our future orchard site.
Tilling, seeding, & row cover. And so the dance begins :)


The garlic is looking lovely this spring!
The greens, salad mix and carrots in the Greenhouse are coming along nicely :)
Shauna making soil blocks. It's a bit of a technique, but once you get it it's easy :)
Ploughing up several new fields this spring!
The main garlic field looking gorgeous!
Yay! The fancy new farm sign is up :)
Nicole rocking the walk behind tiller, tilling the paths between the garlic beds
Garlic Mulch! Sweet, fluffy, composted horse manure :)