What Do Farmers Do In The Winter – reblog

January 24, 2018

Guest written by Elaina from Wicklow Way

Winter at Wicklow Way is more quiet than during the eight to ten months of twelve to fourteen hour days. This we generally accept as our ‘break’ though time is advancing much too quickly. Already the days are getting longer and our time is running out.

The greenhouse heats up at the end of February. We try to leave it ready to go at the end of December so we can move right in when the time comes. So lots of cleaning, organizing, and making sure the heat is ready to turn on happen in December. We have learned over the years that those cute little mice like to nest in the propane heater, the germination chamber, between the flats under the hot table…anywhere they can stay warm and safe. It drives our dogs bananas.

We start reviewing seed catalogues prior to Christmas. All seed from the current year is counted and weighed and determined if it is usable for a second year. This involves germination testing, research and discarding some. Did you know that it’s best to get new parsley, lettuces and onion seed, including leeks, shallots, etc. each year as the seed loses germination ability in its’ second season?

In the workshop all the tools get sharpened, tractors get an oil-change, carburetors cleaned and adjustments made, new cultivating tools are imagined and created, and repairs to hoop-houses are in the works. These structures settle during the season so the doors may no longer seal, the windows often won’t shut. Care must be taken during the changing weather conditions, clearing snow from hoop-houses so they don’t collapse with the weight.

In the house the organic certification application is under way. This must be submitted by the end of March. This involves reviewing the past 7-8 years of field diagrams and rotating crops to the best possible locations. You don’t want to keep planting crops of the same families in the same area otherwise an increase in pest and soil bacterias can occur. Since we don’t use any herbicides or pesticides we must ensure our crop rotation is adequate. I keep charts showing everything that we ever planted in every field. Because we grow such a wide variety of crops this process takes quite a long time to complete.

We are planting pretty much the same amount – 6 acres – of vegetables, though minor adjustments will be made with items such as kale (downsizing) due to the change in customer purchases. Believe it or not, tomatoes no longer sell as well as they used to and red tomatoes are in higher demand. We used to grow upwards of 1,400 tomato plants and now we grow about 200 plants.

In the meantime we are enjoying some extra personal time with our two dogs, taking them for walks through the forest on our cross-country skiis and participating in and enjoying this lovely winter weather. And of course, we live in hope and optimism that 2018 will be our best year yet. We are looking forward to May when our farmers markets start up and we get to catch up with our fabulous customers again for another season.

Hugs, Elaina

And what about Ontario Farmers? Share your thoughts


January 21, 2018

We started a fresh new year with plenty on ideas and events. Stay tuned.

Disco Soup Toronto @ the Wychwood Barns, April 30th, 2017

April 2, 2017

Revised Disco Soup TO Poster (1)

Join Slow Food Toronto, the Stop Community Food Centre, Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s West) and the Wychwood Barns Community Association for the first ever DISCO SOUP TORONTO!

The event is FREE and open to the public! RSVP here.

You can take part in two ways:

Join us on Saturday, April 29th from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Wychwood Barns to help us wash, chop, peel and plan out how we will make the soups on the following day.

Or join us the day of on Sunday, April 30th from 11 am to 2 pm to eat soup, have fun and learn about food waste, or help us serve the soup!! Please bring your own mug/ spoon to this event.

If you would like to volunteer to help us prepare the soups on either Saturday, April 29th or Sunday, April 30th, please email [email protected].



Lori Nikkel (Second Harvest) will speak about Second Harvest and the organization’s widespread efforts to reduce food waste across the GTA.

Jenn Pfenning (Pfennings Organic Farms) will speak about her farm and produce, and what consumers can do with spent food to reduce food waste.

Chef Dario Tomaselli (George Brown College) will speak about his experience with Chef Massimo Bottura and his Food Waste Reduction Initiative at the 2015 Expo Milano and the importance of culinary education in terms of rescuing food and making it into delicious food.

Paul DeCampo (Slow Food Toronto):  Paul will speak about Slow Food Toronto and how the slow food philosophy/ movement addresses food waste and works to create sustainable food systems.

Disco Soup is a Slow Food Youth Network project. 2017 marks the first year that this event is going global, with the point being to bring attention to food waste.

While parts of the world population suffer from hunger, one third of the food intended for human consumption is being thrown away every year. 1.3 billion of tons of food is being fed to bins. At the same time, according to FAO, we only produce enough food to supply the world’s growing population until 2050. It’s clear we have a huge challenge in front of us.

No tickets are required for this event, but we do ask you to RSVP here.

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Farmer & Chef Taste and Talk @ Montgomery’s Restaurant – February 7th, 2017

January 23, 2017

Taste and Talk with Chef Guy Rawlings of Montgomery’s Restaurant and Farmers Mark Trealout and Laura Boyd of Grassroots Organics 

Join Slow Food Toronto, Chef Guy Rawlings of Montgomery’s and Mark Trealout and Laura Boyd of Grassroots Organics in the Kawartha Lakes area for a discussion and unique tasting focused on the culinary values practiced at Montgomery’s restaurant on February 7th, 2017, from 6 – 7:30 pm.

Chef Guy Rawlings uses local urban & rural, farmed — from farms like Grassroots Organics — and foraged products that are harvested during the summer & fall months. He then applies timeless preservation techniques & methodologies, which makes these foods evolve to last through the winter months into new levels of deliciousness — and with added health benefits.

We will highlight how businesses can promote seasonality along various stages of the food chain … from the grower/harvester, through to distribution, to the restaurant and onto the diner’s plate.

Sample and taste some of the quirky culinary projects that Guy uses everyday to enhance the flavour & shelf-life of the foods we use. Listen to Mark Trealout and Laura Boyd speak about how they work with chefs to enable us to eat locally during the winter.


  • Crispy sunchokes with preserved green apricots
  • Cabbage with malt syrup and salted wild grapes
  • Sourdough cultured butter
  • Fermented cabbage



Ticket cost: $30 for Slow Food Toronto Members/ $35 non-members.

In addition to the Taste and Talk, Guy and Kim of Montgomery’s will also be hosting a full dinner after the Taste and Talk from 7:30 – 9pm for $45/ person + tax/tip. To reserve a seat call 647-748-4416.

Cook for Syria TO Photos

December 23, 2016

On December 10th, 2016, we hosted “Cook for Syria T.O.” at The Depanneur with The Newcomer Kitchen. Here are some photos from the event. Thanks to all who made this special evening a big success! [Photos by Ed Rek]

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Cook For Syria – December 10th, 2016

November 21, 2016


Slow Food Toronto is proud to announce that we are partnering with The Depanneur and the Newcomer Kitchen to host an event in celebration of Syrian food and the Newcomer Kitchen. December 10th is Terra Madre Day – Slow Food International’s day to promote the diversity of food traditions around the world. It’s also a day in celebration of how the Slow Food movement uses its creativity and knowledge to express love for the planet and defend the future for the next generations.

Join us on Saturday December 10th at 6:30 pm at The Depanneur.

A very special thank you to 100 KM Foods and The Big Carrot for sponsoring this event!

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Starter ~ Fattoush Salad فتوش & Fattayer Jibneh فطاير جبنة

This popular Levantine salad (Fattoush Salad) is made using toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens, fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber and radish, but varies according to season and region. Mint and parsley lend a freshness and fragrance, and dried sumac (the same staghorn sumac that grows here in Ontario) gives the olive oil-based dressing a distinctive tangy flavour.

Fatayer are a whole category delicious small baked treats that range from open-face, pizza-like flatbreads to cute little baked turnovers, with countless different shapes and fillings. Two cheese Fatayer will be served – muhamarra (spicy red pepper) or zataar (thyme and sesame).

The Main ~ El Maldoum  ملضوم & Khyar Belaban 

Maldoum can be found in kitchens from Turkey to Lebanon; this is a more rustic, countryside version of of the dish, that adds green peppers, tomatoes and potatoes, which are traditionally arranged in attractive layered patterns in a large shallow round pan before baking. A meat and vegetarian version will be served alongside a combination of short-grain rice and fried vermicelli noodles. This dish will be served with Khyar Belaban. Much like tzatziki, it’s well-known Greek cousin, this combines cool yogurt with garlic and cucumbers, but the addition of mint makes for an especially cool and refreshing salad.

Dessert ~ Harissa هريسة & Figs // Dates with Tahini and Grape Molasses 

A relative of Namoura or Babousa, Harissa is one of the region’s many delicious syrup-soaked semolina cakes. This one doesn’t use yogurt, but rather tahini, giving an extra rich and nutty flavour. Figs with walnuts, and dates with almonds, with tahini & grape molasses for dipping will also be served.

Tea and Coffee 

Tickets are $60 for Slow Food Toronto Members and $70 for non-members. We are encouraging people to purchase tickets soon if they are interested in attending this unique event.

Slow Food Toronto’s 2016 AGM – October 13th, 2016

October 3, 2016


Continue reading Slow Food Toronto’s 2016 AGM – October 13th, 2016

K2 Milling Tour – September 17th, 2016


*** Please note: this event is now taking place on Saturday, September 17th from 2 – 4 pm. Hope to see you there!

Have you ever wondered how your pasta is made or where the flour comes from to make your favourite pastries and bread? Or what the life of a miller is like? If so, this event is just for you! Join us for a tour of K2 Milling, one of Canada’s first certified organic flour mills, on Saturday, September 17th from 2 – 4 pm. Mark Hayhoe, the owner and a third generation Ontario miller has an array of knowledge about local grains (barley, rye, buckwheat, different kinds of wheat and more), and he’ll lead us on a tour through his unique mill to tell the story of how grains are milled and turned into flours before they are sent off to be processed into so many products we all consider staples. K2 Milling is focused on ensuring that Ontario’s local grain market flourishes — it is surely not your run-of-the-mill enterprise. This informative, fun afternoon is meant for anyone interested in learning more about the food they eat, about our local food system and for (aspiring) home bakers/ foodies who’d like to discover how flours are made. All ages are welcome. We will also be serving a light meal consisting of heritage grain organic bread made from K2 Milling flour.

In addition, we will also sample Toronto Distillery Co. spirits made with grains milled at K2 Milling.

Tickets: $30 for Slow Food Toronto members/ $35 for non-members.

Note: K2 Milling is about an hour outside of Toronto. We are coordinating carpooling options for those who need it. If you’d like to be involved (if you have a spot or need a ride, email [email protected]).

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Summer Potluck and Wood-Oven Pizza at the Wychwood Barns – August 13th, 2016

July 23, 2016

pizza-Slow Food Toronto is happy to announce our next event: a summer potluck at the Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street, Toronto) on Saturday August 13th (5 – 7 pm)!! We’ll be firing up the outdoor oven for some wood-oven pizza. The dough will be made with “Einkorn”, the original wheat, and “Marquis”, a heritage Canadian wheat supplied by Paul and Sara Spence of the Culinary Farm and Roger Rivest Marketing.

We are asking people to bring just their toppings for the pizza. Think local ingredients and summer flavours — the possibilities are almost endless.

Dawn Woodward of Evelyn’s Crackers will also talk about heritage grains and their importance in today’s cuisine. As the co-founder and owner of a small-batch cracker company, Dawn and her partner Ed Rek, leaders and pioneers in the heritage grains movement, have truly mastered their baking craft while focusing on using local, sustainably-produced and organic heritage grains. This will be great opportunity to learn about grains — a food that is often overlooked even though it’s been a staple throughout the ages.

Organic VQA wine by the glass will also be available (thank you to Southbrook Winery, Frog Pond Farm Winery and Tawse Winery).

 We hope to see you there out in the sun for some summer fun! Proceeds from the event will go to The Stop.

Meet Toronto’s 2016 Terra Madre Delegates

July 12, 2016

Slow Food Toronto is pleased to be sending two delegates to the 2016 Terra Madre gathering in Turin, Italy this September. Terra Madre is an international gathering that brings together thousands of farmers and food producers from 150 countries in Turin to celebrate and learn about good, clean and fair food, as well as slow food movements happening around the world. The event features presentations, networking opportunities, a food fair and more. Slow Food Canada chose the Canadian delegates from across Canada.

Two delegates were chosen from Toronto: Nicole Pisarenko and Mina Bani. Slow Food Toronto is very happy to send these two individuals off to Italy, and we hope that what they learn and experience at this important international gathering will have a positive impact on their lives and careers. Here are Nicole’s and Mani’s bios, as well as whatt they hope to learn at the 2016 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto.

nicole-terra-madreNicole Pisarenko: My name is Nicole Pisarenko and I am a recent graduate of the George Brown College Italian Post Graduate Culinary Arts program. This program is designed for the students to learn everything involving Italian cuisine and then do a three-and-a-half-month Externship in a restaurant that is usually a Michelin -Star level. There I had my eyes opened to how easy it is to get good food. They don’t even have to think twice about checking labels and wondering what is inside their food or where it came from. Local, organic, heirloom, clean, good and fair: Italy truly does have the best food culture in the world. They preserve their heritage along with their species of food and traditional ways of farming/ processing. Living in Canada most of my life, it made me sad that we too, a country with more land and a smaller population then Italy, battle food sovereignty and cannot get it together with our food system!  With abundances of natural resources and native foods that grow on our land, most of us wouldn’t even be able to name half, not to mention know how to cook it. I strongly believe that changes are on their way in the new world, but we must fight for it. How do we do that? We inform ourselves and others. I would like to try and create a system in our schools, where children learn valuable life skills beginning with food. How to grow their own food, how to cook and even raise awareness about what it means to have good quality food. It begins with the children and ends with them too. This is why Terra Madre is exciting to me. I am a chef and a restaurant manager who is craving change in this wonderful country of ours. Terra Madre can help me lead the way.

Mina Bani: My name is Mina and this is my first year as a member of Slow Food Canada. I studied literature and Cultural studies in University, and after writing my thesis about the role of food in culture, I decided I needed some practical experience to supplement my theoretical notions about food. Two years of culinary school, several years cooking in kitchens in Toronto, and a year cooking in Italy have brought me to this point today. My passion for the preparation of food and for feeding people is a major creative force in my life; one which has brought me to some of the most distinguished kitchens in Canada and Italy. Yet my understanding of the problematic state of our food systems informs my desire to do more than prepare exciting plates of food in restaurants. Over the last year I have read extensively to educate myself on responsible approaches to food in the urban landscape and hope to bring my unique combination of skills and insights to a place where they can help achieve collective goals of food security and justice in the future. Knowing that Terra Madre is one of the largest gathering of like-minded people who share many of my passions and concerns, I am thrilled to be representing Canada in 2016, and to meet and network with the amazing food growers and workers from around the world. My writing can be found at an online project I have recently launched at thefilling.org, and I currently live, cook, and write in Toronto.

You can also read a write up Mina wrote about a recent Slow Fish event (hosted by Slow Food Toronto) here.