Friday, October 8, 2010
Down on the farm
Maybe you read in an earlier post that I've been volunteering at the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays this summer? Well I decided to take a vacation from the city to go work for a week on Klippers Organic Farm and see for myself where all these lovely fruits and vegetables are grown.
Klippers is located in tiny Cawston, BC. If you've driven through the Okanagan on the old Crowsnest highway (#3), you've driven though Cawston and probably not even known it. It's just past Keremeos and if you blink, you'll miss the Cawston sign and think it's just an extension of Keremeos. With a population of just under 1000, who could blame you? It's nestled in a valley between high mountains on either side and the Similikameen river flows through the flats. Local legend claims the name Keremeos means "the meeting of the winds" and the wind can sure kick up at times.
It was quite a change from my usual leisurely jewelry designer's pace; we were up at 6am and in the field by 7am. But I totally loved the time I spent there. Fresh clean air, still and quiet mornings, hard work all day long and early to bed. Lovely. The farm has several apprentices who live there all summer and into fall, and they really took me under their wing(s) and were happy to show this tourist the proper way to pick a tomato, pepper, eggplant or apple. The amount and diversity of food grown on the farm is truly impressive. It's a hot, dry and near desert-like climate so there's enough heat to even grow watermelons!
It is getting close to the end of the growing season, so many of the fields looked bare - but in those bare field lurked thousands of sweet onions, and I spent a few afternoons pulling up onions and laying them out to dry in the hot sun for a few days so they will be good to store all winter.
Monday is Anna-Marie's "day off" - which means she doesn't work in the fields, but rather in the kitchen! I was recruited to help with the canning that day; classic dill pickles in the morning, and salsa in the afternoon.
They grown over 100 varieties of heirloom organic tomatoes on the farm (as well as both sweet and hot peppers), and whatever is ripe and ready goes into the salsa mix. By the end of the afternoon, we had close to 10 cases (x12) of 500ml jars of salsa. And yes, it is delicious! You can pick some up at any of the weekly winter markets.
I never had to clean out the chicken coop, thank goodness!
And here's the sun setting behind the mountains with the organic apple orchard in the foreground. Sigh.