Farm News

Posted 2/1/2011 2:01pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings:

For those interested in participating in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program this season, Green Gardens Community Farm has shares available. Joining a CSA is a great way to eat the freshest, tastiest vegetables, stick to a healthy nutrient-dense diet, support your local food economy, and connect with a local grower.

Green Gardens' 21-week CSA includes a seasonal variety of freshly picked vegetables (8-12 different crops per week), annual herbs, and sunflowers. It runs every week from the second week of June through the end of October. Box pick-up is available at the Kalamazoo Bank Street Market on Saturdays (7:30 AM-12:00 PM) or at pick-up points scattered across Battle Creek on Wednesdays (4:00-7:00 PM). Weekly recipe sheets will help you with both unusual and common crops to keep your creativity alive in the kitchen!

Cost is $440 for the 21-week CSA season. Payment is due by April 1.

More details about the 2011 CSA can be found at the farm's CSA page:
http://www.greengardensfarm.com/content/814

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me directly at trent@greengardensfarm.com. If you would like to join, please send an e-mail to me indicating your interest with your name, mailing address and phone number. CSA membership details will be mailed to you immediately. Membership slots are likely to be full by March.

We are already excitedly getting ready for the 2011 season. Our high tunnel tomato seeds will be started on Tuesday, Feb. 1! Spring isn't too far away!

Thank you, Trent Thompson
Farmer, Green Gardens Community Farm
8319 White Rabbit Rd.
Battle Creek, MI 49017

Posted 12/20/2010 5:01pm by Trent Thompson.

If you've never been out to the beautiful Circle Pines Center, you are really missing out. The meals, people, and scenery is hard to beat, especially in the winter time! Rachel of CPC informed me of a couple of winter events coming up and I wanted to pass along...

FAMILY NEW YEARS GETAWAY (December 30 - January 2): Lots of great activities for families and plenty of time to relax by the wood stove.There will be cross country ski and snowshoeing instruction and the sledding hill will be open (weather permitting). We can fire up the wood-burning sauna down by the lake and/or have a music jam in the farmhouse evenings. We will have a family friendly New Year's Eve party. Bring in the New Year with your CPC family. Enjoy winter like it was meant to be -- out in the country, playing in the snow or curled up beside a woodstove. Bring your family, some friends, a good book, a jigsaw puzzle, your skis and/or snowshoes (or use some of ours, size options are limited). Cost: $70/day (lodging, 3 meals); $90/day (single occupancy room, 3 meals). Due to the limited winter housing we require a 2 night minimum stay for participants.

 

CHEESEMAKING WORKSHOP (January 21-23, 2011): Our homesteading workshop series continues with an opportunity to join experienced goat farmer Marge Perrin in learning to make cheese in your own kitchen. This hands-on, introductory workshop will explore the lost art of turning farm fresh milk into delicious homemade curds and whey. Marge will cover the equipment needs and basic principles behind the process. The emphasis will be on chevre, fresh soft cheese made from goat's milk. Together, we will also make yogurt, as well as discuss and explore the many uses for homemade cheese and whey in baking and cooking. The workshop will include: samples, cheese to take home, recipes and a cheese culture to get you started. As always, there will be plenty of opportunity throughout the weekend to relax and enjoy the beauty that is Circle Pines, as well as savor delicious from-scratch, home-cooked meals.Cost: $85 (workshops only); $135/overnight (workshops, 1 night lodging, 4 meals); and $175/weekend (workshops, 2 nights lodging, 5 meals).

Please call: (269) 623-5555 or email: rachelz@circlepinescenter.net with questions or to register. Visit us on-line at: www.circlepinescenter.org.

 

Posted 12/14/2010 9:10am by Trent Thompson.

We are excited for our friend, Maria Brennan, of Victorian Bakery. Her bread and scones are simpy divine. If you are in Kzoo, please stop by her new place! It won't be your last!

Victorian Bakery ready to open in new, expanded location and serve baked goods made from Michigan ingredients

Published: Friday, December 10, 2010, 3:00 PM     Updated: Friday, December 10, 2010, 7:47 PM
maria.jpg
Ready to open: Maria Brennan will open her expanded Victorian Bakery at 116 W. Crosstown Parkway in Kalamazoo on Dec. 11.

KALAMAZOO — There won’t be a ribbon cutting ceremony or a posted banner that screams “Grand Opening,” but Maria Brennan, owner of Victorian Bakery, hopes lovers of artisan breads and pastries will come to the opening of her new bakery and tea shop Saturday anyway.

“She’s been waiting her whole life for this,” said Jenny Buckley, Brennan’s assistant.

“Oh, she’s a bratty baker,” said the shy Brennan about her assistant and the comment.

But, the comment rings true. Brennan has been planning the store for many years. She first opened Victorian Bakery in 2006 as a wholesale business and established a commercial kitchen in her Stuart Avenue home. Business grew and she enlarged the kitchen, which led to the new space at 116 W. Crosstown Parkway, near the intersection of Burdick Street and Crosstown Parkway.

teapots.jpgView full sizeTea shop too: About 50 tea pots sit in a window at the new Victorian Bakery. The new location has seating for 14 people.

Dale Anderson bought the building last August. He originally planned to use the space for offices but Brennan approached him last May about a bakery, he said.

Brennan will offer breads, tarts, scones, brownies, Christmas cookies and other cookies.

“I like the chocolate chip cookies the best,” said assistant Irma Gonzalez. “I know it is a basic thing, but when you find a good chocolate chip cookie, man, you stick with it.”

Gingerbread cookies are made in the shape of the state of Michigan. Miniature coconut cakes are covered with coconut icing.

Blueberry tarts are made with blueberries from Mitchell’s Blueberry Farms in Bangor that Brennan froze to use now. She likes to use local ingredients whenever she can, she said.

Brennan uses flour from King Milling of Lowell because the company specializes in organic flour.

tart.jpgFreshly baked: Maria Brennan removes apple and almond tarts from the oven.

Brennan also tries to use local free-range eggs in her baking.

“It began when people would come to me and say, ‘I have a homestead. Would you buy some of my free-range eggs?’” Brennan said. “Soon, that became two dozen eggs, three dozen eggs.”

Patrons will be able to have tea from one of the 50 China tea pots kept in a window grid. Brennan also has an assortment of China cups and saucers for tea service. She’s been collecting China sets for years to use in such a restaurant, she said.

The bakery and tea shop has seating for 14 at heavy oak tables and chairs.

“We hope people will come in and feel relaxed,” Brennan said.

Contact William R. Wood at bwood@kalamazoogazette.com or at 269-388-8549.

Posted 12/10/2010 9:15am by Trent Thompson.

Greetings CSA Member:

Many thanks to all who have completed the 2010 CSA Survey. The response rate has been terrific! We are very grateful and have already been making changes to next year's planting schedule based on the responses. We will share the results of the survey and the changes we are making once the survey has expired in three days.

 

In other news, we made our major seed purchase for 2011 last week. Ordering early allowed the farm to secure certain varieties such as the newly developed blight resistant tomato before the seeds were sold out. Organic seed also comprised a large chunk of our purchase this year due to increased availability from seed companies.

We've also been doing some contruction work in and around the red outbuilding, which will allow us to more efficiently process and package boxes for 90 CSA members next season.

Strawberries will also be planted in 2011 for the 2012 CSA since they produce fruit heavily starting their second year. We have received many requests for fruit over the past couple years and strawberries seems like the best place for us to start. They don't take up much space and everyone loves them!

The farm is also looking to become more mechanized for the 2011 season. After three seasons of doing practically all of the soil preparation with our walk-behind tiller and mulch laying by hand with shovels, we realized that this is an inefficient work method and rather grueling on our bodies. We will be looking to have our own tractor, rototiller, chisel plow, manure spreader, and mulch layer for the 2011 season. Your investment in the farm will help make this a reality. Thank you.

From the high tunnel, we are still harvesting salad mix, spinach, kale, chard, and salad turnips. It's hard to believe that you can still eat fresh greens in December in Michigan, but that is exactly what these structures enable us to do. We plan on utilizing them more efficiently and will continue building more of them in the next few years. You will see more of these structures popping up throughout the countryside and in urban areas in the coming decade as energy prices, concerns about global warming, and desire for fresh produce continue to rise.

The farm was also asked how S.510, the Food Safety and Modernization Act, would affect the farm. Click here for the farm's response.

Thank You and Happy Holidays!

Trent & Ruthie

Posted 12/10/2010 9:08am by Trent Thompson.

In the Room with Dan Barber from onBeing on Vimeo.

Very interesting discussion. He talks about how our hedonistic desire for the best flavors just so happens to coincide with the creation of sustainable agricultural systems that are local and ethical.

Posted 12/2/2010 11:38am by Trent Thompson.

I don't give much time here on the blog to movies (we don't have the time to watch any movies during the growing season!), but Ruthie and I watched Temple Grandin the other night and really enjoyed it. It's the amazing life story of Temple Grandin. Despite the barriers put up by a male-dominated meat industry and a society that shunned autistic children back in the 60's and 70's, she persevered and ultimately changed the way cattle are processed and became a widely respected authority on autism for over twenty years. Very educational and inspiring. Suitable for all ages.

Posted 12/2/2010 11:14am by Trent Thompson.

We received an e-mail this morning from a local food eater with the question:

What will happen to your farm if S510 is signed into law?

Currently, there is an amendment (Tester-Hagan) in the Senate version that would exempt small producers (sales of less than $500K) like us from all the new FDA regulations. Larger producers are urging the House to reject the Tester Hagan amendment, knowing quite well that without Tester-Hagan, S. 510 has the potential to eliminate new competition from small producers. We hope that the House and Senate will agree to keep this amendment in the final bill because we simply cannot afford to do the extensive paperwork and be subjected to the same fines that the major industrial scale producers are. The farm should not be penalized for problems that have occurred on huge farms/slaghterhouses/food processing plants. We are extremely careful to grow the produce in a safe way, and, even if an outbreak did occur, it would be very small and easy to track. This is one of the real benefits of creating a local food system. Corporate control of the food system is already too strong and unsustainable in many ways. S. 510 would monitor large farms and processors more adequately, however, without the Tester-Hagan Amendment, S. 510 would destroy the local food movement and likely put the farm out of commission.

We will update you with information so you can make your voices heard as the final passage or debate around Tester-Hagan re-emerges in the House.

 

 

Posted 12/2/2010 11:12am by Trent Thompson.

From Civil Eats...

December 1st, 2010  By Helena Bottemiller

In a rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the Senate passed the most sweeping food safety reform bill in seven decades Tuesday morning. Despite high tempers in the wake of a contentious cycle, the upper chamber voted 73-25 vote to approve S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that would increase the Food and Drug Administration’s fractured oversight of an increasingly globalized food supply.

Though the bill’s passage–lauded by the major food industry, consumer, and public health groups–follows a similar measure that passed the House with bipartisan support in July 2009, the road ahead for comprehensive food safety reform is uncertain.  With the clock running on the lame duck session, most advocates for the bill want to see the House take up the Senate version as soon as possible to get the legislation to President Obama’s desk.

In a statement yesterday, Obama called on the House to act quickly on the legislation.  ”I urge the House–which has previously passed legislation demonstrating its strong commitment to making our food supply safer–to act quickly on this critical bill, and I applaud the work that was done to ensure its broad bipartisan passage in the Senate.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), a key proponent of the measure in the Senate, indicated before Thanksgiving that key leaders in the House agreed to take up the Senate version, but it is not clear that is the game plan for House leadership.  The House version of the bill requires far more frequent inspections, augments the cost of the bill with a flat $500 fee for each food facility, and does not contain a hard-fought amendment to exempt small farms and food producers from certain new regulations.

Continue here

Posted 12/2/2010 11:08am by Trent Thompson.

CHARLES J. HANLEY | 12/ 1/10 05:59 PM | AP


CANCUN, Mexico — Even if we stopped spewing global warming gases today, the world would face a steady rise in food prices this century. But on our current emissions path, climate change becomes the "threat multiplier" that could double grain prices by 2050 and leave millions more children malnourished, global food experts reported Wednesday.

Beyond 2050, when climate scientists project temperatures might rise to as much as 6.4 degrees C (11.5 degrees F) over 20th century levels, the planet grows "gloomy" for agriculture, said senior research fellow Gerald Nelson of the International Food Policy Research Institute.

The specialists of the authoritative, Washington-based IFPRI said they fed 15 scenarios of population and income growth into supercomputer models of climate and found that "climate change worsens future human well-being, especially among the world's poorest people."

The study, issued here at the annual U.N. climate conference, said prices will be driven up by a combination of factors: a slowdown in productivity in some places caused by warming and shifting rain patterns, and an increase in demand because of population and income growth.

Cont. here.

Posted 11/23/2010 8:35am by Trent Thompson.

Dive! Trailer from Compeller on Vimeo.

As a former dumpster diver in my college days (thank you Little Caesars!) and current producer of food, I am very aware of food waste. It is truly a sign of our society's wealth and also our tremendous disconnect from the time/energy/resources it takes to actually produce the food. There is a new book out called American Wasteland that documents food waste in America and proposes some innovative wasy to reduce waste. I'm looking forward to reading that and perhaps seeing this movie this winter.