Vancouver Island may be deep in winter, but now is the perfect time for 10 Acres Restaurants and Farm to plan its summer harvest and menu.
The twice-weekly harvest from the 10 Acres farm is the foundation of its menus—season by season. Restaurant and cafe guests enjoy the most nutrient-dense fresh foods, grown right on the island, but that requires significant advance planning.
The winter months form the base of the year’s menu. Here’s what goes into preparing fresh-grown, organic local food:
Getting the ground ready
Since they farm using natural products, soil structure is at the heart of any conversation regarding plant fertilization.
While some people focus on fertilizing the plant itself, 10 Acres focuses on fertilizing the soil itself through composting, light-tilling, and growing cover crops throughout the year that are mixed into the soil, or simply left as green mulch.
The month of March is dedicated to the house-made compost. Throughout the year, all of the restaurant and cafe kitchen scraps are transported back to the farm, where it’s turned into compost.
Right now they’re sifting the soil, which means sorting the compost and applying it to the field.
March is also for “green manure”—tilling in ground cover crops.
Bare soil is bad, so it’s important that the soil has something growing in it to protect it. Even growing weeds is better than nothing.
10 Acres intentionally grows crops such as fava beans in the off-season. Before they flower, they get mixed into the soil to help prepare it for seeding.
Fava beans fix nitrogen. They are able to pull Nitrogen from the soil but also from the air, storing it in Nodules on their roots. Nitrogen makes plants grow big and green. You can even see the nitrogen nodules along the roots, if you pull the plants from the ground.
Using Nitrogen fixers like Fava beans helps build soil structure and fertilize the plants. Relying on chemical fertilizers might make plants grow big, but it does nothing to encourage the soil microbiome, or build soil structure and, it can lead to breaking down your soil over time.
Seeding and transplanting
In March and April, everything is seeded.
Artichokes, peppers, kale and some of our early flower varieties have already been seeded and soon, they’ll be transplanted to make room in the nursery for later seedings.
While 10 acres of land is a significant size, the farm is also responsible for providing food for three different restaurants. That means the tilling, seeding and transplanting must happen on a set schedule. Everything is very tightly organized to maximize food production.
This year, the farm is also planting more flowers. The tulips will bloom soon and bouquets of fresh flowers will be available for purchase at either Market location.
So many ways to enjoy farm-fresh food
In addition to its three Victoria restaurants, 10 Acres also opened a Cafe location in Sidney that serves local Umbria coffee and freshly made baked goods, as well as soups, salads, sandwiches and cocktails with a gorgeous outdoor patio right on the waterfront.
Most items are made in-house from ingredients grown on the farm.
Want restaurant quality food-to-go? 10 Acres online market offers ready-made entrees, homemade grocery items, freshly baked bread and bakery items, sommelier-selected B.C. wine, custom meal kits and local cheeses.
Available in the market are many of the products used in the restaurants themselves including pickles, hot sauces, salad dressings. Wines selected by 10 Acres’ award-winning sommelier, Adriano Cartuliares, are available at liquor store prices with the purchase of a meal or groceries.
All items are available for pick up either in Sidney or downtown Victoria, or for local delivery at no extra charge. All market items are also available for purchase from either the Bistro or Cafe locations.
To learn more and to order online today, visit 10acres.ca.