Welcome to the 2015 Growing Season

As we finish cleaning our seeds for this coming year, we are getting a rather deep snow cover finally here at the New Year. As the white flakes fall from the sky, I ponder briefly how many of the H20 molecules will end up being flushed through the gills of the migrating Sockeye salmon as they fin their way up the Columbia River then the Okanagan system to our beautiful valley.
Thanks to the Okanagan Nation Alliance and a collaboration of government and community groups, the salmon have returned to our valley.
In the economic downturn of the 1930’s, the Columbia river was dammed for hydro electricity, with little or no thought given to the plight of migrating fish or the cultures depending upon this traditional food supply.
The bullying of ecosystems by humans continues with the use of dangerous pesticides and genetic engineering. Is it folly to think we can continue to abuse our planet. DDT, Alar, agent orange, reckless use of nuclear energy and genetic engineering are all taking their toll in the name of greed.
Recently, the UN Food and Agriculture organization declared that the only sustainable method of feeding the world is the small scale organic farm.
We have known this for years but it is nice to have the reaffirmation.
Our growing season in 2014 was probably one of our best in the 27 years we have been farming. With a massive tomato crop we decided to have a ‘Tomato Festival’ which sold out and will be repeated with more tickets made available this year. We fired up our wood fired oven, made pizzas, made 14 tomato inspired tasters including chocolate dipped, tomato jam and ice cream.
Over 30 tomato varieties were judged for taste and the winner was Violet Jasper, a small saladette with deep rich sweet, tart, acid balance and an extremely pretty appearance.
Our seed production was helped by an extended autumn with beautiful warm dry weather as the seeds ripened on their stalks, in their fruits and pods.
Some of our ‘new’ heritage varieties this year include the Whangaparaoa Crown pumpkin, a sweet orange fleshed variety from New Zealand renowned for its keeping qualities. (We are still eating them in January and they look like they’ll last for months more). Some of our tomato trials included the New Zealand Pear, the Afghani, Furry Red Boar, Cassidy’s Folly, Yellow Zapotec, Giallo a Grappoli, and the Mikado White, some from the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa California. These have been selected for their overall flavour, productivity and general performance.
The Golden Zucchini performed well, it is an open pollinated varietal with good productivity and standard zucchini flavour, from the Sandhill Preservation Center in the US. Most Golden Zucchini are hybrids, so this one you can save the seeds from (like all our seeds) if you are growing no other Cucurbita pepo. Look for the* which indicates new for this season.
Good luck with the 2015 growing season from the gang here at Sunshine Farm.

Jon Alcock