Cranberries at the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market

This week’s Haliburton County Farmers’ Market focuses on the wonderful qualities, characteristics and taste of the mighty cranberry.

The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the early New England colonists may have coined the word cranberry from the German “kranebere” – literally, “crane berry.” Some say this is because the flower was considered to like a crane, while others think it’s because cranes were seen to feed on the plant.

The first known use of the word “cranberries” in English occurred in a letter written by the missionary John Eliot in 1647. (Source: Cranberry Harvest: A History of Cranberry Growing in Massachusetts. Joseph D. Thomas, ed. New Bedford, Mass.: Spinner Publications, 1990.)

The cranberry is a Native American wetland fruit which grows on trailing vines like a strawberry. The vines thrive on the special combination of soils and water properties found in wetlands. Wetlands are nature’s sponges; they store and purify water and help to maintain the water table. Cranberries grow in beds layered with sand, peat and gravel. These beds are commonly known as bogs or marshes and were originally formed as a result of glacial deposits.

Cranberries, for the most part, are grown through the northern part of the United States. The major production areas are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Other regions grow cranberries as well, to varying extent, and these include Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, as well as the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

To learn more about cranberries, please visit our ‘Weekly Events Guide” and these other very informative links:
Global Gourmet
Cranberries at Wikipedia
– Cranberry Recipes at Canadian Living

Learn to Save Seeds – Join Us at the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market

When plants are allowed to reproduce naturally, they develop the ability to adapt to their local conditions which means they’re a reliable crop to grow year after year. Unfortunately, corporate agriculture relies on hybridized, and in many cases, genetically modified, or gmo plants.

This type of monoculture is bred for traveling long distances and not for their taste, and even worse, what they produce are more than likely swathed in poisonous chemicals.

A growing number of informed consumers are realizing that this negates the natural evolutionary process and is depleting the world’s biodiversity.
Thousands of vegetable and flower varieties have already been lost, some say as much as 80%, due to this reliance on commercial hybrid seeds that are eroding the gene pool, resulting in less hardy, more vulnerable plants.

We’ve all heard about the potato famine in Ireland. We should learn from this historical mistake they made of only growing one type of crop and be very careful to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself in the present time or the future.

If you raise and save your seeds, you are producing seed from and for your garden. By personal and careful selection anyone can produce plants best suited to their climate and gardening conditions.
By growing heirloom vegetables, ones that are adaptable to local conditions, the benefits are many. Many characteristics include better flavour, no chemicals, and they become pest and disease resistance, and many can be enhanced by careful selection over a period of years.

Seeds saved from open pollinated plants are the only kind that will produce again true to type. This means they will reproduce exactly the same as their parent plant the following year. Some do require space between one another, melons are a good example of this because they can be cross pollinated if two similar varieties are planted too close together, meaning next year, those seeds may turn into something completely different than what one expected!

Tomatoes are the exception. If you avoid hybrid varieties you’ll be able to grow the same tomato from seed saved from each plant next year, even if different varieties were grown close together.

Pepper and eggplant flowers can be cross-pollinated by insects, so different varieties of these have to be separated in the garden by about 500-feet to retain the purity of those seeds.

Saving tomato seeds take a little more time. Harvest nicely ripe tomatoes from several different vines of the same variety, cut each across the middle and gently squeeze the juice and seeds into a bowl. You will note that each tomato seed is encased in a gelatinous coating. (this prevents the seed from sprouting inside the tomato.) Remove this coating by fermenting it. This mimics the natural rotting of the fruit and has the added bonus of killing seed borne tomato disease.

Join us at the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market this week as we learn all about saving seeds.
We’re thrilled to have Kaarina Blackie at the market. She’ll be demonstrating how to save seeds from heirloom vegetables, discussing the difference between heirloom and hybrid, and encouraging the use of heirloom seeds in your garden!

Kaarina’s focus is mainly on heirloom tomatoes. This year she grew 54 different varieties! Much of her demo focuses on tomato seeds but she’ll discuss many other varieties as well. She will also have some seeds on hand that are already fermenting and will explain the best drying and storage methods to maintain the good health and viability of the seeds.

Look for Kaarina to share info about the many other easy vegetable varieties to propagate such as: squashes, zucchinis, cucumbers, melons, watermelons, peppers, beans, lettuces, rapini, amaranth and radishes.
Kaarina will offer some free heirloom tomato seeds to those who are interested, as well as the many books and photographs she had to help people decide which tomatoes they would like to grow.
Come early and learn the basics of seed saving, and why it’s a beneficial gardening activity on so many levels.

For more information, consider a visit to these links:
Seeds of Diversity (Canada)
Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook
Seed Savers (USA)

Grains – The Staple Crop

The first cereal grains were domesticated about 12,000 years ago by ancient farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region. Emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, and barley were three of the so-called Neolithic founder crops in the development of agriculture.

Cereals are cultivated for the edible components of their grain composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop, therefore they are considered staple crops.

In their natural whole grain form they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. However, when refined by the removal of the bran and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate and lacks the majority of the other nutrients. In some developing nations, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance.

Grains have been a pillar of the human diet since the dawn of agriculture some 12,000 years ago. Whole grains are one of the four key essential food groups according to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine and even the government food guide recommends eating at least 50 % of grain products in their whole form.
Some grains are deficient in the essential amino acid lysine and that is why many vegetarian cultures, in order to get a balanced diet, combine their diet of grains with legumes. Many legumes, on the other hand, are deficient in the essential amino acid methionine, which grains contain. Thus a combination of legumes with grains forms a well-balanced diet for vegetarians.

Maize (corn) A staple food of people in America, Africa, and of livestock worldwide. A large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption.
Rice is the primary cereal of tropical and some temperate regions
Wheat is the primary cereal of temperate regions. It has a worldwide consumption but it is a staple food of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Barley is grown for malting and livestock on land too poor or too cold for wheat
Sorghum is an important staple food in Asia and Africa and popular worldwide for livestock
Millet is a group of similar but distinct cereals that form an important staple food in Asia and Africa.
Oats are formerly the staple food of Scotland and popular worldwide as a winter breakfast food and livestock feed
Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye, grown similarly to rye
Rye is an important crop in cold climates
Buckwheat is a pseudocereal. Its major use is for various pancake and groats
Fonio is grown as a food crop in Africa
Quinoa is a pseudocereal grown in the Andes

Join us on July 6th from 1-5 pm at the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market where our weekly theme is all about “Great Grains”.
Don’t forget to visit our Weekly Events Guide for more information!
Thank you!