More About “My” Farm

Perhaps a little more about the farm is in order. Brakstad Gård [pronounce Brack-stah goar] belongs to Hilde and Peder, a couple in their thirties. They bought it from Hilde’s parents three years ago. The farm has been in the family since 1910 (when it was sold by the previous childless owner) and has been organic since 1980. Brakstad Farm lies 500 meters from the sea, with only one neighbor to disturb the peace of the surrounding fields, birch woods and mossy mountains.

In addition to the humans, Brakstad population counts 120 sheep and 160 lambs—meat being the main production—, three cows and two calves, two pigs, two horses, two sheepdogs, twenty-or-so hens and one solitary peacock.
The two calves are new arrivals since my last visit, as are the ponies, Jasmin and Jasper. The sheepdogs, both still in training, differ strongly in character. Jappi is crazy and excitable while Freia, bearing the burden of extra years and wisdom, is of a more serious, melancholy and yet stubborn disposition. As to the pigs, they have coarse, very curly hair—a far cry from the likes of Piglet. They’ve moved to a larger field since March, so that now, when I walk up bearing their breakfast Continue reading

Lambing Season

April 29, 2016

Gamboling, bouncing lambs!
Lambing season is well underway. Two thirds of the 120 ewes have already given birth. The lambs dash and spring and leap sideways. They frisk and cuddle and bleat. Some even nestle on their mother’s back. In the evening, the barn is a scene of cosy bliss. Curly white forms lie snuggled down in the straw — sometimes all in a jumble —, eyes closed, mouth half-smiling. How cute!

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Farming in Norway

April 25, 2016

Intrepid explorer, I find myself presently in the airport of Trondheim Vaernes, Norway, awaiting my next mode of transportation.

I’ve been absent from this blog for quite some time, so a little catching-up is in order. In February and March, I spent three weeks Wwoofing on an organic sheep farm on the Norwegian island of Jøa. I am now headed back for an extra month. Continue reading

Organic Tales + Important News

NEWS !!!!! Last week, I passed my driving test !!!
That was something I had to mention. It’s very momentous, and I’m so happy and relieved!

It was rainy, but I successfully worked the windshield wipers without pressing all sorts of other buttons. I parallel parked. I completed an un-illegal U-Turn (hehe to all Andy Griffith fans). I conquered the stick shift. HA! Elation!

Now for some Organic Tales…

Work at the organic grocery store — henceforth Organic Place — is full of quiet moments and hectic moments, missing tomatoes and moldy lemons, helpful clients and hurried people, spilled beet juice and free seed bombs.
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The Oddities of Culinary Wording

Hello, world!

Toward the end of March, I’ll leave to study abroad in Bremen (Germany) until the end of July. Therefore I don’t have any more classes to attend, and as exams are over, I have a good bit of free time before my departure. I’m working three days a week in an organic grocery store just down the road from home. Though the work is quite arduous, I really enjoy it. I like the environment, the store is only a five minute bike ride from home, and overall customers are very friendly.

A few days ago, I got into a very interesting conversation with one elderly customer at the cash register. He told me that when he was growing up on a Belgian farm in the 1930’s, they didn’t even own a trashcan. It just wasn’t necessary, because nothing was made out of plastic, and most “trash” was composted. He also recounted how when World War II came along, the whole family had to evacuate, as they lived really near the Front — at this point in the story, another customer arrived at the cash register, thereby interrupting the tale (the nerve of him!).

A wintery scene. It reminds me of Brueghel!

A wintery scene. It reminds me of Brueghel!

Recently, I’ve also baked a couple new desserts. I would like to highlight an interesting vocabulary phenomenon : have you ever noticed how sometimes recipes seem to get their wording wrong? The following relates the study case of The Enticing Pumpkin Maple Coffee Cake (*).

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Marie’s Garden : Self-Picking

One of my fondest childhood memories is of blueberry-picking with my grandmother and my brother. We’d drive out to a farm outside of Atlanta and return with our buckets and bellies full of berries.

Therefore I was thrilled to discover that a self-picking farm had sprouted up near Brussels. Without further delay — well, I heard about it in spring and waited until September — Mum and I headed out there last weekend.

A glowing pumpkin field.

A glowing pumpkin field.

Though only fifteen minutes out of the European capital, Marie’s Garden lies nestled in the countryside. The rural air makes people cheerful; they debate about how many onions to buy, and show their children how to pick leeks.

In addition to leeks, the Garden grows all manner of things : kale, yellow squash, Brussels sprouts, green beans, pumpkins, raspberries, mint, and even teetering sunflowers. Mum and I picked green beans for dinner, along with squash, a few kale leaves, and the odd raspberry.

Posing with the season's last raspberry — and some grass, after I spilled all our raspberries on the ground.

Posing with the season’s last raspberries — and some grass, after I spilled all our raspberries on the ground and had to pick them up.

It felt great to be crouched under the sun, plucking our dinner from the warm dirt. I’ve often found nature has this restorative power. I guess something deep down inside of us needs that connection to the earth, to greenness and growing.

I would highly recommend visiting Marie’s Garden. Though Brussels has its fair share of local markets where you can purchase great produce, there’s something so unique about harvesting it yourself. And they sell ice cream. I need say no more.

Marie’s Garden
Valkenweg 116
3090 Overijse
Tue-Fri : 13:30-17:00 (cashier closes at 16:50)
Sat : 10:30-17:00
Sun : 10:30-16:00