When August Comes

When August comes, gathering inspiration for dinner means a gentle walk down to the garden with a big sturdy basket.

A basket that can withstand the weight of potatoes and carrots and cucumbers, tomatoes and beans and beets. A basket wide enough that it can be gently topped with kale leaves and salad greens and flower petals.

Yes, summer dinners on Honey Grove are not complete without an array of edible flowers, which make it into nearly every course, including desserts. One of which was a raspberry lemon cake topped with lemon curd, nasturtium flowers, dahlia and cornflower petals.

Because, 0h-my-goodness the flowers are blooming, and we gather them daily, for markets and custom orders, for friends and cottage guests, and to adorn the top of every table and sill in our little Honey Grove house.

We even put them in the honeybee drinking water, which I am convinced they appreciate.

But, I am not the only one gathering flowers for bees, our beautiful niece Senay came to spend two weeks with us here on Honey Grove, and together we gathered flowers and went to markets and had more fun than any of us can possibly describe by way of words.

And are we ever grateful for her help.

For August is a busy time here on the farm, and when there are not markets to attend, there are 20 pounds of blueberries to jam and freeze.

And herbs to harvest and dry.

And gardens to water, and a cottage to clean.

And honey to collect from hard working bees.

And still, despite the fullness of this season, it is not only work, for there are also morning yoga classes with Gus to attend, as he reminds us to pause and stretch out on the grass beneath the summer sun.

And there are dinners with dear friends, who have traveled a long way to come and sit round the Honey Grove table.

And wonderful times spent with family, and especially my dear Mom, who came and stayed for a week and cooked beautiful meals for us, while we bustled around in our summer way. Thank you Mom!

Oh, and there is a little tree frog in the Honey Grove garden who spends his time between the soft pink petals of a giant dahlia encouraging us all to take breaks.

And while our little frog friend is resting in the dahlia petals, Katie can occasionally be found in her hammock ( although not nearly often enough!).

As for Mark and Cohen, they both move too quickly for photographs, but they are here among us, working hard and pausing to rest when they can, mostly down by the river or the sea.

And now I must sign off, for another day has begun and there are some things that need doing. Gardens to water, bees to look in on and a river to swim in.

Summery Blessings to All,

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh June~ How beautiful you are.

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These are the golden days, they are long and abundant and sun infused. There are strawberries, lots of strawberries, and there are salads with flower petals, for dinner.

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And bouquets on every table and windowsill.

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There are roses rambling along the fence line and growing up the wall of the old wooden shed near the garden gate.

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There are bees flying and flowers blooming and the whole of Honey Grove hums from dusk to dawn. Bees on phacelia, bees on clover, bees on blackberry.

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And sometimes the only thing to do is to pause there in your busy day, and to go and watch them gathering the sweetness of the season, to sit there amidst the hum and the honey smells, under the solstice sun.

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And while the bees are flying, the garden is growing.

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And Mark’s Mum and Dad have once again come all the way from England for their annual June visit, and as usual, they have wasted no time in getting straight to work; helping us in countless ways. With their help we have net the blueberries and the currents, and perhaps this year we will get a few berries before the robins eat them all!

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And Marks Mum and I have worked together to tie a wild tangle of garden peas.

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And Marks Dad (a retired horticulturist and my exceptional gardening teacher) continues to teach me about the secret life of green and growing things as we walk through the garden every evening after supper.

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And oh the things I learn about leaf miners and mulching and carrot-root-fly!

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And while I am having my evening lessons, Mark and his Mum are going around the lower field on”slug patrol,” gathering the garden slugs with bucket and trowel and offering them to the ducks, who eagerly await their return each evening.

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And we all have a lot of fun too!

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And when they are not helping us in the garden, you will find them helping Mark in his new bakery, which is coming along beautifully.

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Yes, Mark has rather fallen in love with his new work-space and the inspiration is flowing once again. He has even started making pain d’epi, and look how beautiful they are. I mean just look.

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And here you can see his shiny Italian oven in action.

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And at last he is able to make it out to some of the markets, which his Mum and Dad have been helping him with, when I am too busy at the farm.

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Meanwhile, Cohen and Katie are as busy as the bees working at the local vineyard and preparing wonderful things to eat for all of their summer visitors. And when they are not running to and fro, they are down by the river, trying out their superpowers.

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As for Gus, he is spending his days meditating in the daises.

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And swimming through ponds of lilies.

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And reminding all of us to savour these sweet days of summer.

With Gratitude for your Company~

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

Here we go, it’s summer!

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And so it is that we have at last found ourselves on the border of another summer (although comparatively speaking all things are later this year by about two weeks). We are only just beginning to eat salads from the garden now and the raspberries are still another week or more away. I know because I assess them daily, counting the days before we can gather them in large ceramic bowls to pour fresh cream over them. Oh I can hardly wait.

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Yes, the sun has finally come out to bless us with her warmth, and for many days and weeks in a row. I am back to barefoot gardening and spending sweet afternoons with the bees down in the orchard, who are as pleased as I am to have the sun back.

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Of course not all days are spent in a cloud of honeybee fragrance or wandering barefoot through the garden in the mornings. Some have been spent sawing, splitting and stacking 7 cords of firewood, which is more wood than any of us have ever processed at one time before. ( And yes, that’s Katie using a chainsaw! Don’t worry, she has been using one since she was a teenager, and she knows how to sharpen and fix them too, this among her many astonishing talents).

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And while she and Mark sawed the logs into rounds, Cohen and I got to work splitting them.

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And it was loud and hot and dusty work, and after two solid days the back of our property looked like a lumber yard. I am not sure how it is that we all look so cheerful or upright in this photo, for as I recall, we could hardly stand at the time it was taken.

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Even Gus was impressed with our efforts, for he, more than anyone appreciates the warmth of a blazing wood-stove on a cold winters day.

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And when the wood was finally processed and left to dry in the sun, we got to the business of organizing a party to celebrate the grand opening of Mark’s new bakery, which was a tremendous success, and people came out from all across the valley to cheer him on. Cohen and Katie created the most marvellous bread centric menu and we all raised a glass to Mark and his beautiful bread.

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Speaking of Mark’s bread, we are now able to bring even more of his gorgeous loaves to the farmers market, and although we are still selling out, the bread is lasting for an hour longer each week. We are working hard to find ways to meet the demand without compromising the quality, and without Mark having to work around the clock (which currently he is). Oh and he has started making baguettes now too! True french baguettes, crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, just delicious. They remind me of picnics in the french countryside ( or at least as I imagine picnics in the french countryside, for I have only ever had one there, and it was a very long time ago).

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And the really good news is, you can now find us at two Farmers Markets, the Saturday Market in Courtenay, as well as the Monday market in Merville (called Gumboot Market) and in two weeks time we will also be at the Wednesday morning market in Courtenay.

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Meanwhile, back on the farm, the strawberries are almost ready to eat and I have netted them with the fabulous help of Daniel, who is our wonderful new farm helper, botany student and friend. I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I am for his support as the bakery gets busier and busier and the others are spending most of their days off the farm. Goodness knows what I would do without him. Thank You Daniel!

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Yes, it’s a full time of year here at Honey Grove. We are up with the birds at the crack of dawn (Mark well before that even). This is the season of long light when all things are green and growing and there is always something to do, to water, to weed, to plant. The cottage is full of guests, the bread is rising in the proofer, and we are simply riding the wave of summer. Still though, despite all the things that need doing, one must always find the time to pick a bouquet of daisies.

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With Gratitude for your Company,

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