2013 Farm News
A shot from the scaffolding down onto the tomatoes (yes, they survived the frost thanks to the fabric we used to protect them!). There are approx. 420 tomato plants in the 35 x 96 ft. structure. Plastic will go on this week.
Another shot from the scaffolding looking out onto the West field. This N section of the field is still mostly in cover crops and will be used for potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillo, sweet corn, popcorn, and tomatoes!
I've been crazy busy the past couple weeks and haven't had time for any blog entries, but here are some more farm photos showing some progress on the high tunnel. Hope all is well with you all.
FOOD partisanship doesn’t usually reach the same heights of animosity as the political variety, except in the case of the anti-cilantro party. The green parts of the plant that gives us coriander seeds seem to inspire a primal revulsion among an outspoken minority of eaters.
Culinary sophistication is no guarantee of immunity from cilantrophobia. In a television interview in 2002, Larry King asked Julia Child which foods she hated. She responded: “Cilantro and arugula I don’t like at all. They’re both green herbs, they have kind of a dead taste to me.”
“So you would never order it?” Mr. King asked.
“Never,” she responded. “I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.”
Read the rest here.
Ivan Lake doing a great job preparing the soil last week. If you need any large gardens tilled, brush hogging, or post holes dug, he does fine work. 269-580-2317.
Early Tomatoes have grown. The goal is to get these in the new high tunnel by April 20.
One of about 3,000 garlic plants looking great!
From the Freep...
Shannon Brines stooped down, pulled a young carrot out of the ground and gently brushed the soil off its roots.
"My customers love to get these," he said, checking his crops one cold, rainy morning last month.
While most Michigan gardeners still haven't bought their vegetable seeds, Brines spent his winter harvesting handfuls of baby carrots and hundreds of pounds of fresh baby lettuce, arugula, spinach, chard, kale and exotic gourmet greens from three unheated hoophouses near Dexter.
Growing produce year-around in Michigan may sound like a global-warming daydream. But entrepreneurs like Brines prove it can be done -- profitably -- in the low-tech, plastic-covered sheds.
"It could be a living, depending on your definition," says Brines, 34, a University of Michigan data analyst who lives in Ann Arbor. If he focused only on growing, he figures he could make about $40,000 a year.
This past winter, he ran Washtenaw County's first-ever wintertime community-supported agriculture (CSA) group -- a contract arrangement in which customers pay an upfront fee for crop shares.
Each week since last fall, his two dozen customers have received shares that have ranged from about 3 pounds of produce during the dead of winter to huge bags of salad and cooking greens this spring, as the daylight hours increased.
At about $25 a week per share, Brines' CSA will generate about $14,000 over its 23-week span. And this summer, he expects to earn additional income selling several kinds of hard-to-find and heirloom vegetables from his stall at the Ann Arbor farmers market.
When he built his first hoophouse in 2004, they were almost unknown in Michigan. They're still rare. Michigan State University officials estimate there are perhaps 100 scattered around the state.
"Growing food year-round in Michigan is still kind of a crazy concept," says MSU hoophouse outreach specialist Adam Montri, 31, of Bath. "But there's enough people who know it can happen -- that it's no longer considered a crazy-off-the-wall, it-can't-happen idea."
This was quite an impressive speech from Oliver, bluntly linking America's ignorance of food to our troubles with preventable diet-related diseases. The farm is inspired by his desire to start a food revolution!
The farm is proud to begin using a 100% compostable and biodegradable mulch in 2010. The mulch is made out of a corn starch based raw material. The mulch helps control weeds, reduces water loss, and heats the soil (helping the plants grow bigger and faster). Despite costing more than four times as much as the previously used plastic mulch, we feel like this new mulch may be worth it. Labor from removal, as well as recycling and landfill costs are eliminated.
The 2010 CSA at Green Gardens is all full. The final opportunity to become a member this season will be by winning (through a silent bid process) a CSA box at the Community Inclusive Recreation (CIR) Auction on April 15 at the Battle Creek Country Club at 5:30 PM. CIR is a tremendous organization in our community that needs funding to continue providing recreational opportunities to the disadvantaged in our community. For more info. on CIR, I would encourage you to watch the short video above. We are hoping the box will raise at least $400 this year for CIR. Also, win a 2010 Camaro at the auction!
Well, spring is getting closer! The robins and the majestic sandhill cranes are back, the trees are beginning to bud out, and the grass is starting to peek through the melting snow. This time of year is so invigorating for me, as the warmer air and longer days mean I have more time to get things accomplished around the farm.
Over the past month, a new washing station was built in the red outbuilding to improve washing efficiency. New shelves were also put in the red outbuilding so CSA boxes can be prepared easier, quicker, and with less confusion. The new high tunnel is still sitting in boxes in the barn where it will remain for about the next three weeks until the ground thaws. The goal is to erect the structure by April 15 in time for planting the early tomato crop and basil.
Several crops have already been seeded and are growing in the starter greenhouse. These include the early tomatoes (photo below, sorry I can't e-mail the smell to you!), leeks, green and bulb onions, celery, celeriac, kale, collards, kohlrabi, basil, and eucalyptus.
Ivan Lake is scheduled to come and till the first week of April as long as the soil is dry enough. The first plants will be planted shortly thereafter as long as the weather cooperates. Oh, how exciting!
CSA membership for 2010 is near full. The farm can squeeze a couple more people in, but that is it. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact the farm soon so we can mail you the membership forms. CSA details can be found here. Membership reciepts, confirmation of pick-up points, and hopefully the spring newsletter will begin being sent out to members by the third week of April.
Area food news and events:
*Maple Syrup Weekends at Circle Pines in Delton. From CPC: Join us for a weekend of sugaring! Bring the whole family and experience the art of making maple syrup. Help us identify and tap trees, as well as collect and boil sap. Evening events include live jazz music, storytelling and folk dancing. Stay the night. And, don't miss the pancake breakfast Sunday morning! March 12-14 and March 19-21. To register, call 269-623-5555 or e-mail email@example.com
*Classes on raising backyard chickens (March 27) and permaculture (April 18) will be held at the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings. Also, an introduction to gardening class will be put on by MSU Extension on April 15 from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Kendall Center (50 W. Jackson Street in BC). RSVP by April 12 by calling 269-781-0784.
* Sprout Urban Farms in Battle Creek continues to organize this year's community gardens around Battle Creek. If you'd like to get involved or find a garden near you, see Sprout's Facebook page or contact Jeremy Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org
* People's Food Co-Op in Kalamazoo is expanding!
*Rustica continues to thrive in Downtown Kalamazoo! I met with chef Adam Watts a few weeks back to go over the harvest schedule and the restaurant's menu for the 2010 season. We hope you can enjoy some of the farm's produce on their plates this year. It will be awfully tasty.
Ok, that is all for now. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have about the farm!
Best wishes, Trent
Here's a nice shot of those early tomatoes from earlier today: