Archive for September, 2013

Best of Ottawa’s fall harvest: agricultural fairs, Beau’s Oktoberfest, Organic Week workshops & Just Food Farm events

Friday, September 20th, 2013


Learn how to preserve your tomato bounty at a Just Food workshop this fall.
(Photo: Susy Morris, Chiot’s Run via Flickr)

Shorter days and sharper air signal the last weeks of another growing season. It’s time to celebrate and preserve the bounty, and to save seeds for the spring.  Ottawa offers many fall harvest events to participate in, from agricultural fairs to food and farming workshops.

Agricultural fairs

The Richmond, Carp and Metcalfe fairs continue a long tradition that blends farm and livestock exhibits, local produce, and preserves and crafts with live music, contests and midway rides.

  • Richmond Fair, Sept 19 -22, Richmond Fairgrounds, 6121 Perth Street
  • Carp Fair, Sept 26-29, Carp Fairgrounds, 3790 Carp Road

Beau’s Oktoberfest, Oct 4-5, Vankleek Hill

Beau’s All-Natural Brewing raises money for United Way Ottawa, Just Food, Rethink Breast Cancer and other organizations at their annual signature bash.

Beau’s Oktoberfest 2013 will showcase well-known musicians (Kathleen Edwards, Sloan, The Sadies), highlight local organic food and drink, and feature activities such as a malt sack race, a sausage-eating competition and even a spouse-carrying contest.

Note:  Just Food is looking for volunteers for its Just Food Midway at Beau’s Oktoberfest.  Register at and receive a Beau’s Volunbeer Package that includes: admission to the festival for the weekend, a ticket to the exclusive volunbeer party, a drink token, transportation to and from Ottawa, and more. Contact Heather at for details.

Organic Week workshops from Canadian Organic Growers

September 21-28 is Organic Week in Canada. It’s your chance to find out more about this chemical-free approach to farming that supports a cleaner environment, better treatment for animals, improved conditions for farm workers, and healthier food for consumers.

Here are just two of the events the Ottawa chapter of Canadian Organic Growers (COG) is putting on:

  • Winterizing your Organic Garden & Extending your Growing Season, Sept 24, 7 – 9 p.m.
  • Growing Garlic Organically, Oct 17, 7 – 9 p.m.

Where: Heartwood House, 400 McArthur Avenue (near St. Laurent Blvd.)

Cost: $15 for one workshop, $25 if you register for both. Discounts for students and seniors.

To register:

Just Food Start-Up Farm Program

Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program supports new farmers in the Ottawa region by offering access to land, shared equipment and training.  This gives new farmers a low-risk way to test their business ideas and develop skills, experience, markets and networks before committing to a larger, longer-term farm operation.  In the coming weeks, Just Food is holding several events in connection with the program:

  • Just Food Farm Tour, Sept 25, 6:30 – 8 p.m. 

Of interest to anyone who follows urban agriculture, community food programming, conservation in the Greenbelt, farmer training, community gardening or education, this free tour is your chance to find out what’s happening at the Just Food Farm.

  • Open House & info session l Sept 18, 7 p.m.

The Start-Up Farm Program will accept applications for 2014 starting this fall. The open house provides a chance to tour the Just Food Farm, meet with program staff and participants, and learn more about the application process. Everyone is welcome, and pre-registration is required.

  • Exploring the New Farm Dream – Is Starting an Agricultural Business Right for You?

Sign up for this three-session workshop if you’d like to apply to the Start-Up Farm Program, or are considering other farming options in the region. The sessions are held Sept 28, Oct 8 and Oct 22 and cost $225, including manual and farm tour.

To sign up for any of these Just Food Start-Up Farm events, register online or call Leela at 613-699-6850 (x15). The farm is located at 2389 Pepin Court.

Tomato preservation workshops 

Learn to preserve your tomato harvest at one of these workshops. Space is limited, so register soon.

  • October 3, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m:  Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, 88 Main Street; $5 or pay what you can

To register: Call 613-699-6850 x12 or email

  • October 21, 5 – 7 p.m.: Centretown Community Health Centre, 420 Cooper Street; Free

To register: Contact Julie at 613-233-4443 (x2108)

Seed saving training

Learn how to save seeds with this two-day session from Tucker House and the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

  • Basics of Seed Saving: October 6, 9 a.m. –  5 p.m.  l $80 (includes lunch; reduced cost if you register for both days); Tucker House 1731 Tucker Road, Rockland
  • Seed Cleaning: October 20, 12 – 5 p.m.
    $40 (reduced cost if you register both days); Greta’s Organic Gardens, 399 River Road, Gloucester

To register: Contact Nathalie Mathieu at 613-446-2117 (x8) or


Markets and farm stands

  • Farmers markets

Many markets remain open until October/November so this is your opportunity to stock up on fresh local food!  Here’s a full list of the Ottawa region’s urban and village markets.

  • Just Food Farm Gate Vegetable Stand, 2389 Pepin Court, Blackburn Hamlet

Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program includes a farm stand where farmers who belong to the program can sell their organic vegetables, fruit, wild foods and herbs.  Stop by on Sundays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., until October 6.  There will be a special Thanksgiving sale on the farm stand’s last day, Saturday, October 12. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

What do you like best about the fall harvest?

Seasonal Eats: Basil & parmesan gâteau on oven-dried plum tomatoes

Saturday, September 7th, 2013



Photo: Courtesy Restaurant Les Fougères

In my last post, I wrote about the benefits of fresh, seasonal tomatoes. They’re showcased in this recipe from Charles Part, chef and co-owner of Restaurant Les Fougères in Chelsea, Québec. (Check out another recipe from Charles — summer fruits in lemon verbena and mint tea — here).

Preparation time: 10-15 min

Yield:  one 8-inch gateau, 12 appetizer portions

Basil & parmesan gateau

1 cup (250 mL) fresh ricotta cheese

1 cup (250 mL) fresh cream cheese

1 cup (250 mL) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

4 whole eggs

2 cloves garlic

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp melted butter

3 cups (750 mL) fresh basil leaves, cleaned and dried

1 cup (250 mL) sour cream

Grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)

In a food processor, mix the cream cheese, ricotta and parmesan until smooth. Add eggs, garlic, lemon juice, flour, butter and seasoning. Process. Add basic and process until smooth. Add sour cream and mix until just blended.

Pour mixture into 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan lined with plastic wrap.

Bake 50 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 6 hours.

To serve, use two spoons to make a quenelle (i.e., a small, oval-shaped dumpling) and place on oven-dried tomatoes (see below) drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with pine nuts. As an alternative, you could also serve with fine crackers, rice crackers or croutes, or on a bed of fresh, sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pine nuts.

Oven-dried plum tomatoes

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Yield: 20 tomato cups

 10 plum tomatoes

¼ cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp sugar

freshly ground black pepper

Slice plum tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out interior flesh and seeds. Toss tomato cups with oil. Place tomatoes skin side down on a baking tray. Sprinkle with sugar and pepper. Place in a very low oven (200°C) for 2-3 hours, or in a turned-off oven overnight. Turn over occasionally during drying time.

Seasonal eats: 10 reasons to stock up on fresh local tomatoes

Saturday, September 7th, 2013


(Photo by V. Ward)

This is the best time of year for tomato-lovers. The fruit is available in abundance at farmers markets and in CSA baskets, and there’s a wealth of types to choose from: beefsteak and plum, cherry and grape, not to mention the explosion of heirloom varieties — green, yellow, burgundy, black, striped and ridged, oval and oblong, heart- or pear-shaped.

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family as do potatoes, eggplant, and sweet and hot peppers. Treated as a vegetable for cooking purposes, they’re actually a fruit that originated in Mexico and spread to other parts of the world after Spain colonized the Americas.

Whether you eat them immediately, or can them for later use (try for tips on preserving and preparing), there are lots of good reasons to stock up on delicious, super-healthy local tomatoes.

  1. Flavour, flavour, flavour.  Nothing compares with the taste of freshly picked tomatoes, as anyone who’s eaten store-bought varieties can attest. Most supermarket tomatoes are picked green and ripen in storage with the help of a hydrocarbon gas called ethylene. The fruit lasts longer but tends to be flavourless, with a mealy texture.
  2. Tomatoes are an extremely versatile ingredient, widely used in Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian and other cuisines. Add them raw to sandwiches, salads and salsas; make tomato butters, preserves and chutneys; cook them with herbs to make pasta sauce and tomato paste; or simmer them in casseroles and stews.
  3. When you buy tomatoes from a local farmer, you’re getting a more ethically produced fruit. Industrial tomato production has a dismal track record on workers’ rights: crops are typically harvested by migrant workers, some of whom live and work in conditions that have been described as modern-day slavery.
  4. Tomatoes are good for you – low in sodium, for example, and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  5. They’re a very good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and K, along with potassium, manganese and dietary fibre. They’re also a good source of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phospohorus and copper.
  6. They’re high in carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of heart disease by supporting the cardiovascular system and regulating fats in the bloodstream. (By the way, red cherry tomatoes have up to 12 times more lycopene than red beefsteak tomatoes.)
  7. Tomatoes are loaded with other antioxidants that play a part in protecting the bones and kidneys, some studies show.
  8. The tomato’s antioxidant profile and anti-inflammatory properties provide anti-cancer benefits.
  9. Some studies have linked diets that include tomatoes with lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
  10. Fresh tomatoes are higher in vitamin C, but processed (i.e., thermally processed as part of canning) tomatoes have higher levels of bio-available lycopene as well as total antioxidant strength.


Do you preserve the season’s fresh tomatoes? Why and how?