Good Food Box is moving on up!

Our popular Good Food Box program has been steadily growing and it's popularity increasing as more folks are spending $15 once a month and receiving a big bag full of fresh produce, shipped to community pick-up sites in bins of two.  The number of pickup sites, where people pre-pay for their box and pick up is also increasing.   We are also introducing a "local only" box that features Ontario produce, called the Hamilton Eat Local Box (aka The HELo Box).

Today, was a day of and "hellos" and "see you soons" at the end of the volunteer-driven Good Food Box packing day.

We said a gentle farewell (only temporarily) to our beloved Crystle, who has been in charge of communication for the Good Food Box as well as being our Pack-site Coordinator Extraordinaire.  Crystle is leaving us for a brief time to go on maternity leave.

And we said hello to our brand new-to-us conveyor to make packing and shipping our boxes easier!  Well, perhaps this second update is more thrilling for us and our team of volunteers but we are so happy that we wanted to share the news.

We had this system, seen above, we would line up large plastic totes with wheels and place bins (that held Good Food Boxes) on top.  We would then wheel the large gray totes up the line where volunteers would add items to each Good Food Box.  It worked, up to a point -- but then wheels started to come off and we began to dream of a conveyor belt.

This month, for our pack in October, we finally used our new conveyor for the first time.  And we are delighted.  This helps us move  the boxes much more efficiently and means there is less bending for our volunteers too.

So a special thank yous to our supporters: Councillor McHattie and his team.  As well as
Hamilton Community Foundation and the Healthy Community Fund  These funders are key to our growing success.

And of course, our volunteers.  We have a whole team of dedicated volunteers that help us and we cannot thank them enough!

Speaking of volunteers....

We pack boxes on the 3rd and 4th Wednesday of every month, which keeps us busy, so we're looking for volunteers of all kinds as well as volunteers who can use their vans or trucks to deliver the boxes to various sites across Hamilton.  If you can help, contact Juby at jlee@environmenthamilton(dot)org

Simpler Thyme Organic Farm is keeping it simple!

Thanks to funding from the Hamilton Community Foundation, we boarded a school bus with folks from the Riverdale and Westdale area and headed to Simpler Thyme Organic Farm.  We met farmers, Ann, Bill and Charles and they took the time to give us a hands-on tour - talking about growing our own food, showing us the leafy greens from their cold houses and their the veggie garden complete with fruit trees.

We came just in time as they experienced the first frost of the season and the first freezing, so it was the last market day for them.

This is an amazing farm, as they farm very small scale, giving them the freedom to try anything.  Alongside their established cold houses, maple syrup bush, 3 acre veggie garden, fruit trees, they also talked about the challenges, for example, they had to let go of their cattle, as the dry summer caused the price of straw bales to increase, when the cost rose from $2 / each last year up to $8, meant that it was too expensive to keep their cows.

As farmers, they have decided to focus on growing food for themselves and for their on-farm market that, when open during the growing season, will allow buyers access to 100 different varieties of fresh produce.  They are keeping it simple in order for their farm to stay dynamic :)

Left photo: Farmer Bill shows us what leaf matter turns into after one year.Right photo: Farmer Charles and one of their ducks meets a couple of our younger participants.  

They treated us to hot soup (two kinds!) and fresh corn bread - a treat that we welcomed.
Thanks to Ann, Bill and Charles for taking the time to tour us around - they always welcome our groups and give us so much of their time.  Thanks to Shahira for connecting us all to the participants and of course, thanks to all the participants who joined us!  Special thanks to Hamilton Community Foundation for their support!

Here is a little more about the farm:

Simpler Thyme Organic Farm
Ann Lanigan
1749 Hwy 6 North, RR 2
Hamilton, ON  L8N 2Z7 (near Freelton)

Offer seasonal Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) as well as workshops on our farm.  They grow a great variety of organic vegetables and small fruits, as well as eggs, herbs and maple syrup (seasonal).  The farm market is open on Thursdays from May to November 1st, from sun-up to sundown.