November on Honey Grove~

On the first day of November the sun was shining and there were still nasturtiums blooming in the garden.

And Gus and I were working there, among the orange and yellow blooms, and it was a beautiful short-sleeve and hatless kind of day.

We were enjoying the warmth of the winter sun among the brussel-sprouts and the cabbages and delighting in the sweetness of such a blessed afternoon.

I was digging up dahlia tubers.

And gladiola bulbs, with the knowledge that the weather was going to change, for there were whisperings throughout the town, about the changing forecast.

And then, change it did, for on the second day of November, it snowed and everything froze, and although we had heard it was going to get cold, we were not quite expecting winter to arrive overnight.

And for 5 strange days we had extreme winter weather, snow and ice and terrifying roads, and then as quickly as it arrived, it left, and the sky went back to raining, and we have gone back to harvesting beets and turnips from the garden.

And when the days were gentle again, Cohen rescued thirty, ten year old grape vines, of the pinot-gris variety, from a local vineyard (where they were making room for new vines) and he brought them home to Honey Grove, where he planted Honey Grove’s very own mini vineyard. And he worked hard (backbreaking-stone digging- hard) for two long days to get those vines into the ground with everything they needed to be strong and well and laden with grapes in future years. I must admit, we are all very excited about this new addition to Honey Grove, for it has been a dream of ours for some years.

And once the grapes were all in (and what a job that was!) Cohen got straight to work with Katie, and together they planned Honey Grove’s first Pop-Up for dear friends, which took place last night at Mark’s new bakery space in town, and what an incredible success it was! The evening began with a twenty-four month old prosciutto leg.

And I wish you could have seen the expressions and heard the sounds of the people when they tasted it, for they could not believe what they were experiencing. I think some of them wondered if they had somehow been transported to the warmth of the Italian countryside, and faraway from the rainy wet, of the Pacific North West, in November.

And for one night, the bakery was transformed into a warm and glowing dining hall, complete with the hum and chatter of happy guests.

And we all buzzed around, like a hive of Honey Grove bees, taking good care of our guests and serving up a wintery feast to warm and restore and satisfy, all created and cooked of course, by Cohen and Katie. ( Who by-the-way are really quite something to witness in a kitchen. What a remarkable pair of people they are when they are combining their creative food talents. I mean just take a look at the menu…)

And while they cooked, I attended to the flower arrangements, which featured crabapples and winter herbs of rosemary and English thyme.

And our visiting friend David (who came all the way from Montreal) prepared his arty arboreal jelly dish, which he served near the end of the meal, on beach stones no less.

And Mark served his beautiful, fresh-out-of-the-oven-baguettes.

And before we knew it, seven courses had gone by and it was time to serve the dessert, which was a gorgeous inspiration of Katie’s: yogurt cotto con un biscotti d’oro (yogurt, cream, honey, pistachios, apricots, almond and cranberry biscotti.

And so it was that the guests left happy and glowing, their bellies full and their hearts content. We then cleaned up into the wee hours before falling into our beds for long and deep sleeps, all of us aching-tired but satisfied. And outside the door, the November rains continued to pour down.

Now, I must be off, for the others are still cleaning up the remnants of last night’s gathering, and I am in charge of keeping the home fires here at Honey Grove burning bright, and while I have been typing here this morning, they have nearly all gone out.

Blessings from the Honey Grove Hearth~

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove

 

October has come.

And just like that October has arrived. And she has strewn the alder leaves across the woodland path and made the mornings crisp and the afternoons more golden. She has cast her light upon the garden in such a way that one cannot simply walk by without noticing, without being struck by the luminosity there, without turning ones face toward the light, just like every late autumn bloom is doing, with palpable delight.

And the crispness and the goldenness of these autumn days seems to seal itself inside of every apple, and suddenly what you can see with your eyes and feel on your skin, you can now taste on your tongue.
And the harvest, well it just goes on and on, providing us with the perfect food for every season. This week I harvested the squash, and I stored them away with the glee of a squirrel with a secret stash of nuts. For me, there is nothing like an abundant store of squash ready and waiting to become hearty stews and soups and sweet spiced pies. Just seeing them there, lined up on the counter, makes my heart sing. The truth is, I feel nourished just gazing upon them. No really, I do, this is true.

But before I harvested the squash, Gus and I gathered all the cabbage for sauerkraut, and since then our cabbage has been shredded and salted and is now sitting in an old German crock, steeping in the alchemy of fermentation.

Of course, as the squash and the cabbage came out of the garden, next years garlic went straight in.

And once I tucked the garlic into the earth, I began tucking the bees into their hives and insulating the hives for the winter weather (although you would not think they needed any kind of insulation just yet, seeing the hives illumined in the late afternoon sun).

Yes, all things are beautiful under the gentle warmth of the October sun, especially beehives and dahlias and wild swaths of nasturtiums, rambling over the garden fence.

And while I have been here at the farm getting the homestead ready for winter, Mark has been busy at the bakery and his beautiful bread has officially gone out into the world. It can now be found in three local health food stores: Healthy Way in Campbell River, Edible Island in Courtenay, and Seeds in Cumberland. Below you can see a photo of it, lined up on a shelf in Healthy Way, it’s all very exciting and our island community has been so incredibly supportive.

And you can still find us every Saturday morning at the Comox Valley Farmers Market, as well as at our very own Bakery, in Courtenay. Take a look here for more details regarding Honey Grove Bakery location and hours.

Yes, it has been an extraordinarily busy year for us, and we can hardly believe the changes that have occurred, or that it is already October, but despite the fullness of things, there is still so much gratitude for this good life, and however much there is to do, we still find time to take long walks in the mountains, with a thermos of tea, and our beloved Dog Friend.

And there we can sit, beside alpine lakes for some hours.

And those days are joyous days. (This next photo was snapped at the end of a long walk in the mountains, by a lovely friend who we bumped into at the end or our walk).

As for Cohen and Katie, they have been away for over three weeks visiting Katie’s beloved family in Ireland (as well as the local Irish pubs).

They also spent some glorious time in Italy with their dear friends (some of whom make exceptional biodynamic wine from their biodynamic vin yards, and you can see just how delighted Katie was about that!).

And as far as I can tell, they had a very fine time indeed (and well deserved rest after an astonishingly busy summer).

Well, I must be off now, for there is a rooster crowing reminding me that another day, has indeed, begun.

May you know of our gratitude for your company,

Nao,  Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove

 

 

 

September on Honey Grove

And so it is that September is already upon us and the light on the garden is already changing.

As the days shorten and the harvest rolls in there is a deep sense of gratitude for the astonishing abundance of our little Honey Grove. Three hundred pounds of potatoes are now stored away in the cellar.

I dug them up one very hot day while listening to a podcast about loving kindness, and all the while thinking to myself, how easy it is to cultivate an open heart in relationship to a garden.

 

And when the potatoes were all dug, I harvested over 70 pounds of onions.

And when my back got sore, which it did, I just kept thinking about how nice it would be to make soup this winter from our own blessed harvest, and how good it will taste on a cold winters day, and on I went, looking a wee bit like a bent over old woman, but a happy one at that. Meanwhile, as I was busy storing away the onions and potatoes, Cohen got to processing tomatoes, for we had no shortage of tomatoes this hot dry summer, and oh my stars, they were extra good this year. There is nothing like a hot dry summer to bring tomatoes into sweet ripe perfection.

Of course Cohen was not slaving away over a hot stove all summer, he did mange to go fishing too, and one can hardly say that was terribly taxing for him. I believe he even caught a few fish.

As for Katie, between her steady work at the local winery and her extraordinary hosting of out of town guests (who she seats around long tables of bountiful harvest feasts) she is a very busy woman. And still, despite how much she manages, you can always find her at the local Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, where she is making me laugh hysterically and selling her famous muffins.

 

And what about Mark you might ask? Well good question, he is currently working 7 days a week in his new bakery as he prepares to take his bread into the local health food stores. Yes, starting the first week of October you will find Mark’s beautiful bread in 3 local health food stores, more details coming soon. He will also continue to bake for the Farmers Market on Saturdays.

 

I must admit I am incredibly proud of  Mark as he so passionately dedicates himself to his craft. I am also looking ever so forward to a time when he will have days off again and we can go for leisurely walks in the forest with our beloved dog friend.

Something, we still manage to do even despite the busyness of it all. These days we walk in the evenings after supper and before bed.

And when we come home from our evening woodland walks we share a pot of fresh mint tea with cinnamon and honey in the living-room beneath a canopy of drying herbs.

Speaking of honey, the bees, like us, are also getting ready for winter now. They are bringing home the last of the pollen as the nectar flow has virtually stopped everywhere but in our garden. In fact the garden is kind of beehive in itself these days. There are bees on every nasturtium and rose and calendula petal and the garden hums with the sound of their gathering.

For when it comes to flowers, there are many, and I continue to make bouquets for the Saturday Farmers Market.

And some rather special ones for custom order.

 

And alongside the flowers the bounty continues, we still have beets and kale and carrots and beans and turnips, and splendid cabbages (Peter Rabbit Story book cabbages).

And did I mention kale?

Yes, the garden keeps providing even as summer slips in to autumn and the light changes in the sky. As for Gus, he is fine with the light changing, so long as he can find a patch of it to stretch out in.

And now I must be off, for the days are getting shorter and the list of things to do is not.

Bright Harvest Blessings to All,

Nao, Mark, Cohen, Katie, Gus and All at Honey Grove~