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These Healing Plants we call Weeds

I can still hear the voice of my good friend and mentor, Bernhard Hack, in his thick German accent saying “These healing plants… we call weeds.” For a young conventional farmer, which I was back in 1982 when I first met Bernhard, this was a revolutionary concept. Weeds were simply a nuisance, something to get rid of with sprays. He introduced me to the notion that weeds had a purpose – a role in the agricultural ecosystem. As I stopped spraying and started observing weeds my thinking changed and I began to see the truth in his statement. Today,...

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May 2018 Newsletter

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Life in the Soil – A Thumbnail Sketch

What many of us don’t know, or don’t think about, is that all of this diverse life that we see, and some, like farm animals that we have to manage, is entirely dependent on a community of living things that we don’t see – the life in the soil. A single tablespoon of healthy soil is home to millions of living organisms; bacteria, fungi, microscopic insects and larger species like the earthworm. Together they form an intricate and fascinating web of life that is indivisible from plant life. In fact, scientists who study in detail the interchange of nutrients...

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A Brief History of Organic Farming at ZFF

A Brief History of Organic Farming (at Zettel Family Farms) By Ted Zettel Part One: Beginnings In 1982, on the day of my first contact with a real organic farmer,  I was a progressive young dairy farmer working in partnership with my Dad, who had taken over the family farm from his Dad. I got into farming for what are now called “lifestyle aspirations”.  When my girlfriend Christine and I were planning our post-secondary studies, my Dad announced that he would be getting out of cows when I left to go to the city. That threw a monkey wrench...

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March 2018 Newsletter

Cold night to be born for this little girlie! Nothing more beautiful to see than a brand new baby calf nursing and bonding with her mother. #grassfed #organic #beef #cattle #winter #babycalf As you can see, Sam’s hoop house was a casualty of the unusually heavy snow load. Some thoughts on “Pigliness” One of the most satisfying experiences of a farmer’s daily routine is watching the animals wake up in the morning. Our pigs live...

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CSA 2017: End of Season Letter from Mark

  CSA 2017: End of Season Dear CSA members, It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we have finally come to the end of the second year of our vegetable CSA. Sadness because we will miss the beautiful summer days spent outdoors in the garden, and joy because we are moving on to another season of meaningful work with a sense of accomplishment from the summer’s endeavors. The second season brought with it unique challenges so different from the first one. Instead of a lack of rain we had lots and lots of rain! This was...

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Why Ted Loves Potatoes

Why I Love Potatoes By Ted Zettel Sr. The potato is perhaps the best plant on the planet!  I may be slightly biased toward love of the “pomme de terre”, having grown up on a farm in Southwestern Ontario, within a community descended from German and Irish immigrants.  Throughout my childhood, we ate potatoes every day.  Twice a day!  We had them boiled for supper and fried the next day for lunch.  Potatoes for us were like rice to the Chinese or pasta to the Italians. I never thought there could be any other way to eat them until...

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September 2017 Newsletter

September 2017 Newsletter “The White Stuff” The labour day long weekend is upon us – ushered in with a touch of frost as the temperature dips to 4 degrees Celsius overnight.  This has been one of the wettest coolest summers on record for Ontario, perfect for growing pasture, potatoes and leafy greens.  The tomato crop, which likes hotter, drier conditions will be slow in ripening.  Luckily, Mark and Emily invested in a “caterpillar tunnel”, which will allow them to continue harvesting well after the outside crops are frozen off. Root Crops Zettel Family Farms is, for the first time,...

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