Blog

getting warmer now...

April 2, 2017

Well the sun was out for a while yesterday and it actually felt quite warm-ish. Then rained hard all night. Again. There is a lot of water on the fields. All the drainage is working hard but lots of it will sit there until the frost comes out of the ground.

If you are looking for some tasty Helmer potatoes in April, head to Alta Bistro in Whistler or 200 degrees bakery in Function.

We are making our summer market plans. We will be at Trout Lake and Kits markets on the following dates:

July 22,23

Aug. 5,6

Aug. 26,27

Sept. 9,10

Sept. 23,24

Sept. 30, Oct. 1

Oct. 7,8

Oct. 14,15

Oct. 21,22

We'll be at the Friday afternoon Pemberton market as soon as we have something to sell in mid-July.

Also, very excited to announce our Open Farm Wednesdays! Starting mid-July, come on up to have a look at the place! We'll have other near-by farms there as well as The Food Lovers cooking up some lovely Sieglinde. Plan on potatoes for dinner Wednesday evenings all summer and fall. Plus some late afternoon full-on farm yoga with Kathy Wallace. Lots of bike parking. Takes just about 25-45 minutes to spin up to the farm gate from town. Flat and paved the whole way. A little bit of car parking too.

Slow Food Cycle Sunday is August 20. Note that the Pemberton Meadows Road will be closed to non-farm vehicle traffic that day from 10-2 to make room for thousands of bikes! Details Click here


Very early spring 2017

March 6, 2017

It snowed this morning. March 4. So maybe winter is not finished yet. Stay tuned.

We do have some seed available. Contact us for the latest availability. We are planning a run into the interior late March/early April and would be happy to meet you along the way for delivery at no charge.

Here we have the 2017 potato field. We are some ways off from planting just yet.
Here we have the 2017 potato field. We are some ways off from planting just yet.


Seed Update

March 23, 2016

dryfield

We are sold out of seed now. This field looks drier than it is.


Seed Potato latest!

March 10, 2016

We will be at the March 19th Winter Market in Vancouver at Nat Bailey stadium with the following varieties of seed potatoes: La Ratte Fingerling, pill Cal White, more about Russian Blue, and maybe the odd bit of a few others...including some eating potatoes!

All varieties are $125 per 50lb box, and $4/lb for smaller amounts.

email annahelmer@hotmail.com to reserve

Happy (wet) spring everyone.


Seed Potatoes

January 25, 2016

January 2016
We have the following planting stock still available:
La Ratte Fingerling
French Fingerling
Chieftain
Cal White
Russian Blue
Gemstar Russet
Ulla (Rinegold)

$125 per 50lb box. Price does not include shipping.
We will be doing a run to Vancouver Island in the early spring and can arrange pick-up there.
Pick-up is also available at the Vancouver Winter market on Saturdays at Nat Bailey Stadium. Smaller amounts available for pick-up there as well. Email us to make sure we are there before making a special trip! We are there for certain Jan 30, prostate Feb 6 and Feb 13. We will commit to March dates later on.
Certain varieties are available for shipping to the US. Please contact us directly for more information. helmer@direct.ca.


November 12, 2015

We read this blurb about potatoes in the Urban Digs newsletter:

All About Potatoes

The potato is probably one of the most universally used vegetables. Originating in Peru, the potato is now the world's fourth largest food crop, and it's easy to see why. You can bake them, fry them, add them to soups, stews and curries, put them in a salad, and pair them with nearly any flavour. Eating potatoes is not only enjoyable, but entirely good for you contrary to many unfounded claims. A serving of potatoes will provide you with 45% of your daily vitamin C intake, and more potassium than a banana, spinach or broccoli. Potatoes are also very good natural sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber, one of the richest vegetables sources of B-complex vitamins, and contain essential minerals like Iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and copper. All under 110 calories, with very little fat (just 0.1 g per 100 g) and no cholesterol!

So basically, potatoes are great.

 


Come on up! Wear shoes that can take a little mud...

October 28, 2015

open farm poster finaljpeg


Helmer Farm Open House

October 6, 2015

COME VISIT THE FARM!!!!!
Sunday November 1st 10am-2pm rain or shine. 8358 Pemberton Meadows Road
Have a look at the place and stock up for winter.
Also featuring Plenty Wild (storage onions, this remedy squash), sick Smallfarm Hazelnuts, Pemberton Distillery, Urban Digs and more!
Anticipate mud, rain, and a fun time on the farm.


Seed Potatoes

July 30, 2015

Certified Organic and Biodynamic Elite seed varieties available this year (for 2016 planting season):
Yukon Gold
Sieglinde
Russet
Cal White
Russian Blue
Cheiftan

Pre-orders available now email annahelmer@hotmail.com or call 604-966-8460
Pricing:
50lb box $125
5+ boxes $100
plus shipping


Seed sold out

April 16, 2015

All sold out now for the spring. Seed orders for next year will be open in the fall of 2015. We'll be at the Vancouver markets (East Van and Kits) starting mid-late July with eating potatoes, carrots, honey and things.

Interesting and tasty varieties will include White Rose, Sieglinde, Warba, La Ratte, French Fingerling and more.

We've got 18 varieties going into the ground in the next month or so.

Stay tuned for Open Farm announcements.

Don't forget about the Women's Institute Plant Sale being held in Pemberton May 2 at 9am in the Legion parking lot. This will be a great chance to get seed as many of the seed growers (including us) in Pemberton donate to the sale. Also available, lots of starts, perennials, shrubs and berries.

 


First day of spring!

March 20, 2015

Squamish-Lillooet C-20150320-02133

All done markets now. Looking out on the rain and feeling very grateful for all the support from Vancouver all year.

We'll be back mid-late July. Lots of activity between now and then.

If you want to have a look at the farm, watch this space for Open Farm dates.

We do have some seed potatoes available still. Email annahelmer@hotmail.com for the up to date product list.


COABC conference 2015

January 29, 2015

IMG_0117

Helmer's will be presenting at the COABC cconference in Chilliwack Feb. 28. We'll talk about how we are managing to produce virus-free seed potatoes and table potatoes using a 5 year green manure cover crop rotation program. Somehow, we'll make that topic entertaining.


Jeanette Helmer's latest dinner suggestion

January 8, 2015

French Fingerling potatoes. Boiled, information pills smashed and buttered. And sea salt.

Baked wild salmon (Coho, buy more about Sockeye)- Place fillets in a greased casserole dish, cover with a mixture of 2 tbsp ginger, 2 tsp maple syrup, 2 cloves garlic,  and 1 cup soy sauce. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until done.

Yummy cabbage side dish:

Cut red cabbage into pot with sauteed butter and onion, add 3 tbs apple cider vinegar, cook slowly for 20 min with the lid on. Remove lid and add 2 cut up apples, cover, stirring occasionally, for 20 min more. Add this to the plate with the potatoes and salmon.


October 13, 2014

Kits Oct12_14

Almost at the opening bell at Kits market. Takes 2.5 hours to get the stall ready! This includes getting coffee, see Rustica from Rise, and a visit with colleagues.


2014 season underway and even almost over!

September 17, 2014

It's been a hot one, folks. Great for the potatoes and carrots, as we watered them carefully. Not great for the farmers, most of whom have been consistently overheated for pretty much the last 4 months. Certainly, the blog updating melted away. Cooler nights are here, however, and even the first frost which has sparked a little action at the keyboard!

Squamish-Lillooet C-20140827-01593

Here's a picture of our lunch. We have the same thing every day. Rise Bakery potato bread (available at the Vancouver markets), toasted with mayo, topped with cheese du jour, tomatoes and cucumbers grown especially for this purpose. On the side, work gloves and extra cukes. And coffee, and a nice big cookie from Simply Delicious. We take turns making the sandwiches: one of us is the fastest, one is only chosen occasionally, and one is the best.

This market season, we've been taking our bikes to Vancouver to check out the famous bike routes. We use them to ride to restaurants/retailers that buy our potatoes at market. Whole Foods Cambie, Burdock and Co., The Fish Counter, Merchant's Oyster Bar on Commercial, Farmer's Apprentice, The Pear Tree, Urban Digs...totally awesome.

We are deep into the seed potato harvest now. Contact us anytime at helmer@direct.ca to place your order. The on-line ordering will be up Nov.1 with shipments and pick-ups commencing in Feb/Mar 2015. We'll have the following varieties available:

French Fingerling, La Ratte Fingerling, Irish Cobbler, All Red, Bintje, Sieglinde, Ulla and Desiree.

 


Summer 2013 (January 2014 re-visit)

January 19, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Simone and TJ of Rootdown Farm- sometimes they come work for us and that is a good day.
Simone and TJ of Rootdown Farm- sometimes they come work for us and that is a good day.
The boss is in the back
The boss is in the back
potato flowers are found in the crowns of royalty
potato flowers are found in the crowns of royalty
tractor pulling harvester selfie
tractor pulling harvester selfie


Jan 2014

January 18, 2014

Not exactly summer right now, <a href=
help on the farm. Missing this a little bit." src="http://sitestorming.com/helmerblog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IMG_0034-300x224.jpg" width="300" height="224" /> Not exactly summer right now, on the farm. Missing this a little bit.


October 2013

October 31, 2013

We'll also have Pemberton Valley Coffee Company there with brew and beans.

What happened to September I wonder? We dug carrots, washed and sorted potatoes, went to market, did field work, tended the veggie gardens etc etc.


August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013

August 28, 2013

It has been a very busy month: Slow Food Cycle Sunday, IronMan competition (we were supporters), sweltering heat, drought etc etc. Today was lovely, however: a perfect cool day to dig carrots for a few hours.

Here's an photo of the farmyard during Slow Food Cycle Sunday. You can see some dry patches in the fields, although it happened to have rained the day before. Finally.

This photo was taken by RC Aerial Photography rcheliphotos@gmail.com


August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013

August 15, malady 2013

All we are doing this week is getting ready. Barn is now unaturally clean.


July 2013

July 31, 2013

July 2013

Getting the potato harvester out and ready to start digging this week.


June 2013

June 25, 2013

June 2013: starting to think about getting a harvesting crew together, more about web and getting ready for market.


Spring 2013

May 16, 2013

Working in the Fall Rye cover crop growing on last year's potato field to be planted back to the grass/clover cover crop. Potatoes will be planted in this field again in 2017.

We had a heat wave in May.


October 18, 2012: Happy Birthday sister Jennie.

October 18, 2012

The bulk of a good season is behind us now. The rain is here, order information pills the mud is getting cold, medical and the cows have their first hay. Welcome to late fall.

the carrot washing: bins are dumped onto the elevator, and sent into the drum washer, the into the brush washer, then binned and put in the cooler.

Potato harvester ready for action

watering the potatoes

Cows at the greenhouse.


July 2012

July 16, 2012

Our Vancouver market assistant Daphne visited the farm for a training session! She's seen it all now.

Above: Tissue Culture seed potatoes planted in plug trays (picture taken in May). Now they are out in the field.

Firewood crew. Secret location.


May 2012

May 30, 2012

May 2012

Toby is the latest addition to the team at Helmer's Organics. He is not too helpful yet.


April 2012

April 28, 2012

April 2012

The big white bag contains our Russian Blue seed from the Kuurne farm and the sacks on the right are Hellevang Yukon Gold. We are still a week or two away from planting. Our own lab varieties (Irish Cobbler, Ulla, Desiree, La Ratte, French Fingerling, All Red, and Bintje) are going to be ready to plant into plug trays in 2 weeks. The Irish Cobbler are still at least a year away from markets, but we'll have the All Red on the table this year.

The orange implement on the back of the tractor is the "spader", which we use for the first pass on the fields.


March 2012

March 31, 2012

Spring is around the corner! Might be an early one. Winter might have one last whallop, mind price though.

Anna went to Cuba to hang with some farmers there...read more on the Whistler Question website: www.whistlerquestion.com and then search for Anna Helmer.


December 2011

December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Bella and Mae are thrilled with their shed, diagnosis which Andrew built for them. Each rafter is notched into the log beams. Very wet and warm right now. More rain than snow. When it freezes, the whole farm is going to be an ice rink.


October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011

Fall has arrived. Lots of rain lately. More mud. Luckily, most of our tractor work is finished, although we still need to get the garlic patch sorted out. Can't decide where to put it this year...

2011 potato field on the right. 2012 on the left. Both seeded to fall rye. 2011 field (now to be called the 2016 field), will be worked up and re-seeded with the regular cover crop in spring 2012.

Carrot washing operation. Plastic bag allows this two be a one person job and worker can switch out bins without turning off any equipment. Keep everything moving- important rule when trying to get lots of work done.

We want to thank the following people for helping us put on a fabulous show for Slow Food Cycle Sunday (over 4,000 bike riders!):

Kathy Wallace

Hazel Birchall

April Lachals

Jess Heiberg

Steph and Mark Owen

Tina Fineza

Annette Rawlinson

Grant Cousar

...and thanks to all our Vancouver customers who made the trek.

Check out dbsteers on Flikr for lots of great pictures.

We will be at our regular markets starting this weekend.

Come visit the farm Sunday August 21st for Slow Food Cycle Sunday. We are located about 1/2 way up the Pemberton Meadows Road. We would love to see you there and show you the tractors, equipment, fields, and potaoes.

Join Evelyn Coggins, registered clinical herbalist, on a walk through Jeanette Helmer’s organic herb garden. Tours begin at 9:30, 11:30 and 2pm.

Enjoy Lucia Gelato, Nidhi Raina Indian Cuisine, Raw Planet Foods.

Art by Anete Jeffe.

The potato flower.

The harvester is finally in the field. The darker plants are the Norland, which will be at markets first. To the left are the Sieglinde and to the right, Bintje.

Mom asking Anna's advice about something. Anna advertising the upcoming Slow Food Cycle Sunday. Which will be held August 21st. Go to www.slowfoodcyclesunday.com for more information.

Planting time. All the spuds are in the ground. Countdown to markets is on!

Farmer Doug. In the background is the Tissue Culture planted from the lab plants.

Hoeing the tissue culture. Too delicate for mechanized work. The potato plants, that is, not me.

Several acres of potato field, looking very romantic in the morning mist.

Andrew working on the cow barn. On the newly cut cedar tree, the bark practically fell off. Andrew really had to work at the older, dead one.

Behold, the chicken, about to cross the garden hose..

These two pics were taken in early May.

Angus and Maggie carefully planting something.

Clear and cold with a very hard snow-pack. I have been hauling firewood out of the bush with this sleigh built on an old pair of skis. I think I am trying to off-set the pending tractor work. Luckily, we have a bit of time on our side. Looks like it might be a late spring, with another foot coming down this very day.

 Sorry about this terrible picture quality. I had to act quickly or one of them would have moved. Yes, these are all the dogs and cats sleeping beside the fire. It was cold outside.

Andrew (father to Angus and Maggie, husband to Lisa, intrepid woodsman) displays his natural talents....

Bella and Mae love to eat eat eat...


December 2010

December 1, 2010

We will NOT be at market Dec 18, page shop as previously suggested. Not enough spuds.
Merry Christmas.


November 2010

November 30, 2010

Getting really wet now everywhere. Still no real hard frost, but that is coming soon. The snow is getting lower and lower on the mountains. We are pretty well out of potatoes, with only enough to go to one more market- December 18th  in Vancouver. The winter market at Nat Bailey on Saturday's seems to be rockin' and we look forward to being there a little more often next year. We are doling them out to the restaurants, along with celeriac and eggs.

These pictures are from a little earlier in the fall:

Celeriac harvest: lots of flowers this year, which provided a nice treat, visually.

    

Maggie in charge of the chickens and Jennie in charge of ducks.

Jennie and nephew Angus.


September 2010

September 16, 2010

The summer season has come to a close with a heck of a lot of rain. We are at both the East Van and Kits markets on Sat and Sun in Vancouver, as well as Squamish on Sat and Whistler on Sun. The Vancouver markets will be going until the end of October. Not sure about the other two.

All the potatoes are in, and we are awaiting the first frost.

We are thankful to all our customers who make the trip, rain and shine, to the markets.

Some random shots from the summer:

One day Twique, the dog visible in this pic, made her way over to the other side of the road where we were digging. Very unusual for her to leave the farm yard. Still not sure why she did that, but she sure enjoyed spending the day in the tractor while we were digging.

This is the view of the harvester from the cab of the tractor.

This is a view of the mangled bunker feeder which got caught on the side of the bunker without us/me noticing and self destructed as a result. Jennie and Anna were able to take it all apart and take the worst mangled metal to John Tschopp's machine shop. We had it back up and running in 24 hours. This event picked up nominatioins for "worst breakdown on the farm 2010", "most mangled metal 2010" and also "biggest thing you don't want to tell dad about Lifetime Achievement Award".

Market update:

We will be at Squamish this Saturday July 17, and hopefully Whistler July 18. We will begin to harvest in earnest next week and attend the East Van market July 24 and Kits July 25. Potatoes have been slow to grow but are catching up now with all the heat.

 Last day of June entry

Here are the first potatoes picked this year. They are a little small just now. We consider this a "promising" sign of things to come. As it stands, our first East Van market will be July 17th.


June 2010

June 30, 2010

A windy and rather wet start to the summer up here in Pemberton. Potatoes don't mind, but I think the corn might get a little behind...

We look to be on track for potatoes mid-July, and look forward to joining fellow Pemberton farms Rootdown and IceCap at the Vancouver markets. It's a good looking field. We have spent lots of time cultivating with various implements and the weeds are not competing well against the potatoes.

We hosted the UBC Farm Apprentice Progam students recently. Great prgram. Good luck all you future farmers.

Pemberton market starts this Wed June 30 outside the Pemberton Supermarket.

And this is exciting...we are on Facebook: Helmer Farm. And even more exciting...we are on Twitter helmerfarm.

My two favorite vehicles.

Here is a little potato. This was taken at the beginning of the month. Much bigger now. Flowers possibly in the next 2 weeks, depending on the variety.

Jeanette and Anna did a bike trip up over the Hurley Pass, over Mission Mountain, and along the Highline Road back to Darcy, and then to Pemberton. 3 nights, 4 days of fairy epic cycling- very little traffic, wonderful wildflowers, good company, and ridiculous hill climbs on ungraded dirt roads.


May 2010

May 20, 2010

Want to know what else is happening in Pemberton's farming scene? Go to www.pembertonfarmers.com.

Stay up to date with the big summer bike ride at www.slowfoodcyclesunday.com.

Anna has been writing articles in the local paper, the Whistler Question. Read the latest here.


March 2010

March 16, 2010

Welcome to the farm, cows with curly hair.

Mom and Uncle Duncan, the famous ex cattle rancher and current organic orchardist.

The fuel line failed and got replaced. An adventure in learning.

We are spending some hours in the lab cutting plantlets. We will end up with 150 plants of each of our varieties which we will then plan in the field, harvest, plant again next year, repeat, and then bring to market. We do this for 8 of the varieties we grow; the others are grown for us by other seed growers in Pemberton.

Here is our spring newsletter!

March can be a bit of a messy month on the farm. The hole is filling with water as the water table is just about at the surface just here.

Maggie discussing RPM's with Anna

This is a picture of Jennie working on the biodynamic preparation 501 (from last fall).


January 2010

January 31, 2010

We are all back from various holidays and are now planning for the coming season. Plans are the only things that grow at this time of year, drug and do they ever flourish. Can be a little frustrating as there is lots of snow on the frozen ground and there is plenty of winter to come.

Still lots of spuds in the root house. We are attending the winter markets on alternate Saturdays, and Capers Cambie, Raincity Grill, C, Nu, Peartree and Bishops are getting regular deliveries. Thanks to all those hearty Vancouver shoppers who come out to markets rain or shine. Vancouver market shoppers are quite hard-core. There have been some cold, wet markets days where we have been run off our feet. Thanks so much, everyone.

The Pacific Agricultural Show is this weekend. We are going on Thursday to attend some potato meetings, see the latest new equipment, and make even more plans.

Happy January.


December 2009

December 31, 2009

The barn is finished and we are now stuffing it with equipment.

However, viagra order we are slightly distracted with this in the back field:

One sweet sheet of ice. Heavy rain almost every day in November, prescription (while building the barn), has resulted in some big ponds. Now that the weather has turned cold and sunny (now that the barn is finished), we are rewarded with pond hockey.


November 2009

November 30, 2009

The barn is coming along very well. The new part is now finished and we are tarting up the old barn and the shack-teau. The ridge cap went on at 5pm just as the first really big snowfall of the season got into full swing. Too wet and cold to bring out the camera.

Tons of rain in November. Neither river flooded, and there is an abundance of water on the fields. Every time we think it is going to get cold and really start snowing, the rain comes (again and again). The fields are happy for the water, and the cover crop on this past season's field is really taking hold before the winter comes, so we are actually quite happy with the weather.

This picture shows the log work on the barn. Roger is an absolute artist.


October 2009

October 30, 2009

Well another summer is done and dusted. And dusty it was. And smoky too. 1,600 hectares of wildfire within sight of the farm was a little distracting. No significant rain from very early summer until late August and then very little (enough to douse the fires, thankfully). High temperatures. Everything that got water grew really well.

The potato crop is all in now. We had an irrigation system on 1/2 the crop this year (for the first time ever).  A good year to start.

upper roothouse now full

chickens "helping" to dig the base of a new compost pile

The fall project: rebuilding Grandpa's barn, which had sunk two feet over the last 40 years and become downright dangerous. Roger Harris is doing it and we are helping. He is also going to expand it so that we can fit more equipment in there.

Somebody is going to be peeling all those logs for the barn...

Earlier in the summer....

Jennie the bee lady.

 

Collecting Dandelions for a Biodynamic preparation


Spring 2009

May 1, 2009

Garlic coming up strong.

We started planting potatoes April 26th and finished May 7. Today is May 18th and they are starting to show! Go to the Farmer's Markets page for our market schedule. This year we have 18 varieties.

 

Twique (the dog) and a chicken on guard over newly hatched chicks.

 

The celeriac is started! This is going to be a banner year. I have promised Chefs Quang AND Scott.

Jennie and Maggie keep the bees company on a nice warm winter day.

 

This little owl has become part of the family and spends hours around the wood pile waiting for mice.

In case anyone was wondering what we get up to all winter...

Everytime it snows we shovel the snow away from four greenhouses before it gets too heavy and threatens to crush the structures. Here is Jeanette hard at work. It has snowed a lot lately.

The field on the left is next year's potato field, planted in fall rye. The field on the right is this year's (2008) potato field, planted back to forage (clover and grasses).

2007 potato field with a good cover crop showing the mulch from regular mowing.

The small greenhouse has some lettuce planted which will be ready in February

The garlic was planted at the end of October.

Doug, Jennie and Anna on the tractor.


How We Grow

March 16, 2009

How we grow

We use biodynamic methods to build soil health and productivity. Our potato fields enjoy a five year rotation under cover-cropping which returns the nutrients to the soil. The off-year fields are mowed 4-5 times per year which creates a thick layer of mulch- we consider this to be porridge for the soil and thus there is no need for blood or bone meal fertilizers. We cultivate the fields using our tractors and PTO driven implements and well as more simple discs and harrows. Garlic, view celeriac and other vegetables are cultivated using stand-up hoes, hands and elbow grease. Garden soils benefit from applications of healthy biodynamic compost heap material.

A proud mother with 7 babies!


Potato Nutrition

February 16, 2009

Potatoes (with the skin on) contain fiber, protein, more Potassium than bananas, complex carbohydrates (the good ones), Vitamin C, important B Vitamins, and other minerals (Copper, Magnesium, Iron). They can be a healthy meal all on their own!

tomatoes, sunflowers and a handfull of fingerlings...

 

 

Anna and the crew harvesting potatoes. The Grimme harvester is made by a small German company that specializes in manufacturing equipment for small growers like us. This machine replaced Great-Grandfather Green's machine that dug up the spuds and left them on the ground for us to pick-up on our hands and knees.

 

Garlic hanging in the barn to finish curing.