Farm News

Posted 11/5/2009 6:21pm by Trent Thompson.

From the Environment Report on 11/4...

A Honey Bee. (Photo source: Erik Hooymans at Wikimedia Commons)

You could thank a honeybee for the last meal you ate. Bees help produce about one out of every three bites we eat. But worldwide bees are dying at a rate never seen in history. Lester Graham talked with Reese Halter about the decline of the honeybee. Doctor Halter is a biologist and the author of the book The Incomparable Honeybee and the Economics of Pollination:

The Incomparable Honeybee

A story on urban beekeeping from TER

"Silence of the Honeybee" from PBS' Nature

Producer: Lester Graham
Release Date: November 4, 2009

LISTEN HERE, click on "Listen" on audio player
Running Time: 3:27

The farm is very fortunate to have neighbors who keep bees. What a wonderful symbiotic relationship the bees have with the farm's plants!

Posted 11/3/2009 9:55pm by Trent Thompson.
Hello All:

The farm still has plenty of vegetables to purchase at the
online farm stand on WED. If you are interested, please place your order by 4 PM on WED and pick-up at the farm from 5:00-6:30 PM on Thursday.

I certainly hope you are all getting ready for the winter. Gloomy, cold days will be the norm here soon. One thing I like to do to cope is look at warm, sunny pictures from the summer such as this one of zinnias from early September...

Thank you again for supporting your small, local farm!

Stay warm, Trent

Posted 10/25/2009 9:35pm by Trent Thompson.

From Talk of the Nation...

Farmers: What Do You Think Of Pollan's Ideas?

Michael Pollan, author ofIn Defense of Food
Blake Hurst, corn and soybean farmer in Missouri
Troy Roush, farmer and vice president of The American Corn Growers Association

October 8, 2009

Michael Pollan has authored multiple books in defense of fresh foods. He advocates for food grown on small, local farms. But many farmers argue that Pollan's vision contradicts the future of agriculture, and is not practical for all farmers, or consumers.

Link here.

Posted 10/22/2009 11:08am by Trent Thompson.

A story below from NPR on a young dairyman in New York using the Slow Money concept...

Wary Of Wall Street? Invest In A Dairy Farm

Dante Hesse at the Brooklyn Greenmarket
Laura Conaway/NPR

Dante Hesse sells much of his milk directly to customers in New York City. He also has accounts with a few retailers.

Milk Thistle Farm
Milk Thistle Farm

The Hesse family raises dairy cows in New York's Hudson River Valley.

It's Your Recession.

We're just blogging it. . .

March 12, 2009

Dante Hesse runs a small organic dairy farm in Ghent, N.Y. Hesse lets his herd of 60 or so cows graze on open pasture. He avoids giving them growth hormones and antibiotics. Hesse says his cows might live a decade or more, and they stay productive longer than the average for more industrial farming.

A couple of days each week, Hesse makes the trip from his Milk Thistle farm to farmers markets in New York City. Even before he finishes setting up his stand, customers start lining up for his milk, at $5 a quart. Hesse says he could sell even more milk — plus butter and cheese — if he could just build a processing plant right in his barn.

For that, he needs to raise about $700,000 — a sum of money that has been hard to come by in the current recession and credit crisis. Hesse has a particularly hard time borrowing money because he has nothing to back up the loan. He rents his barn and his land. He's got no co-signers. Last fall, unable to get a loan through ordinary means, he turned to his customers and asked them for help.

"We feel pretty strongly at this point that there are a lot of people out there who are interested in helping, and the way the economy is now, one argument might be that it's a bad time to be doing something like this," Hesse says. "But I think the inverse is true, that it's actually a good time because people are scared of the stock market, and they know that food is a vital part of survival. And local food is going to become very important in the very near future."

Hesse is offering 6 percent interest for an unsecured loan of $1,000. His business plan taps into a pair of burgeoning movements — the first characterized by an interest in organic, locally grown food; the second by an environmental approach to economics.

That approach is championed by Woody Tasch, a venture capitalist and author of the new bookInquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money. Tasch argues that money is flying around the globe too fast. He rows hard against mainstream economics, which says growth is good and the marketplace knows best. "I've just had it with all of this so-called 'making-a-killing expertise,' which is actually killing the planet," he says. "I think one of the antidotes is daring to move to the other side of our brain, and kind of put down all that economic and fiduciary nonsense and just act like regular people."

continued here.

Posted 10/22/2009 11:00am by Trent Thompson.

From NPR on 10/21 (Thanks Cathy!)...

Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, standing in front of prairie in Salina, Kansas
EnlargeRichard Harris

Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, at his farm in Salina, Kan.

October 21, 2009

We tend to think Earth can provide us with an endless bounty of food. But farming practices in most parts of the world can't work forever. Soil is constantly washing away, and what's left is gradually losing the nutrients it needs to sustain our crops.

In the prairies of Kansas lives Wes Jackson, a man who has spent his long and rich career trying to invent a new kind of agriculture — one that will last indefinitely.

Jackson seems like a good-ol'-boy farmer from the Plains. His hands are broad and strong, a plaid shirt covers his beefy belly, and he sounds every bit like the native son of Kansas that he is.

'An Intellectual Hootenanny'

On this autumn day, the 73-year-old is surrounded by several hundred neighbors, students and fellow travelers, all here for his annual Prairie Festival. Some came from thousands of miles to gather in Jackson's barn to share ideas about the future of the planet in general, and agriculture in particular.

"We have music, the barn dance. It's sort of an intellectual hootenanny!" he says.

Jackson is part scientist, part philosopher, part farmer. More than 30 years ago, he gave up his brief career as a professor to set up this 600-acre farm on the gently rolling uplands of Kansas. He calls it the Land Institute; it includes not only the barn and other out-buildings, but an office in a suburban-style ranch house, a lab building made partly of old telephone poles, and a comfortable, rustic home.

The 10,000-Year-Old Problem

In 1976, when the institute was founded, Jackson says a lot of time was "devoted to a search for sustainable alternatives in agriculture, energy, shelter, waste management."

This grand plan turned out to be too much to bite off all at once. So Jackson quickly tore down his bulky windmills and the old solar panels, and focused on the topic closest to his heart: trying to solve "the 10,000-year-old problem of agriculture."

The problem, Jackson explains, is that agriculture in most places is based on practices that use up limited resources. The major grains, like wheat and corn, are planted afresh each year. When the fields are later plowed, they lose soil. The soil that remains in these fields loses nitrogen and carbon.

This worries Jackson because vast quantities of soil are washed out of the fields and down the rivers, and the soil that's left is gradually losing its nutrients.

Trying to figure out how to solve this problem, Jackson realized the answer was right in front of him. It was the patch of native prairie on his own farm — full of grasses from ankle to shoulder height, peppered with white and purple flowers, and surrounded by shrubs and cottonwood trees.

"Here is a steep, sloping bank with a lot of species diversity, featuring perennials," Jackson says. "This is what I call nature's wisdom."

Perennials are plants that put down strong roots 10 feet or more into the ground and hold the soil in place. Perennials live year-round, unlike annual crops that get planted every year. In Kansas, perennials survive the harsh winters and the blazing hot summers.

continued here.

Posted 10/9/2009 12:50am by Trent Thompson.

Ok, I know I've done a lousy job updating the website this season. It's entirely due to time constraints, however, here are some Fall photos over the past 2-3 weeks. Enjoy!

Field Shots...

Ruthie harvesting the B. Sprouts...

Brussel Sprout close-ups...

Farmers Market Shots...

Also, CSA Box shots over the past few weeks...

Current non-members interested in the farm's 2010 CSA program should contact the farm to get on the waiting list. The list is totally non-committal, but the higher you are up on the list, the greater the likelihood is that you will get  a spot. The farm is expanding the 2010 CSA to 80-90 members, but these spots will fill very quickly. The price (~$425), duration (~22 weeks) will be roughly the same and pick-up points will be throughout BC and also the Richland FM on WED evenings. All 60 current members can retain their membership if they want to continue in 2010. Thanks, Trent (


Posted 9/9/2009 11:13pm by Trent Thompson.
Hello All:

The transition from Summer to Fall is well underway. The tomatoes are currently in the dumps (a fungus attacked!) and the wonderful white salad are back as beautiful as ever. Overall, the Fall crops here on the farm look fabulous. Kale, Mustard, and Japanese Spinach are looking great and ready for harvest, as will be spinach, lettuce, and salad mix within 2-3 weeks. Winter squash will also be on deck shortly.

If anyone is still interested in a CSA sampler box, please let me know. Additional CSA boxes will be offered on a week-by-week basis to people interested in next year's CSA. The farm currently has a surplus of produce and has the capability of offering out additional shares to those interested. Please contact me ( if you are interested in purchasing a trial CSA box for $20 from the farm today (Thursday) or Friday. Pick-up will be at the farm on Thursday and Friday this week, and other locations in Lakeview and Harper Creek on Tuesdays and Fridays. All pick up times are from 4-7 PM.

The online farm stand is also open today for vegetable pick-up from 4-7 PM here at the farm! Make your order by 1 PM today.

Barn Bash '09 details can be found here.

Also, the SW Michigan Harvest Fest in Scotts promises to be a great time for those interested in local food, sustainability, and music. Hope to see you there on Sunday, Sept. 20.

A photo (credit Ruthie) from the SW corner of the farm's West field where many of the Fall crops are thriving...

SW corner of West field. Fall crops. 9-5-09

Happy Growing and Eating!

Thanks so much for all of your support this year.


Posted 9/9/2009 10:11pm by Trent Thompson.

Many people have expressed interest in joining the 2010 CSA and some have already placed their names on the 2010 waiting list (current members are automatically guaranteed a spot if they elect to continue their membership).

The 2010 CSA will likely be expanded, but I have decided to offer additional shares to those interested in participating on a week-by-week basis for the last couple months of the season. The cost will be $20 per week. Box pick up will be at the farm on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4-7 PM starting this week. Other pick-up points in Lakeview, Harper Creek, and the northside of town are possible on Tuesday and Friday from 4-7 PM. This is a nice opportunity for those interested in next year's CSA to get a sample of a CSA box before making the big commitment before next season.

Many of the following will likely be on this week's menu: tomatoes, sweet peppers, jalapenos, pablano peppers, onions, potatoes, radishes, pac choi, green beans, tomatillos, white turnips, summer squash, zucchini.

Please let me know if you are interested in a box this week!

Best wishes, Trent

A photo of a CSA box a couple weeks ago next to a shot of the swiss chard tonight...

aug csa box


Posted 8/24/2009 8:15pm by Trent Thompson.

Barn Bash '09, the farm's annual fall harvest celebration, will be on Sunday, September 27 from 1:30-4 PM. Arcadia Way (Folkgrass acoustic musicians) will be entertaining. Family and guests are welcome to attend, but please RSVP to A farm-inspired dish is required for entry, preferably with a farm ingredient. A $5-10 donation is encouraged to help the farm cover the costs of the band and putting on the party. No pets please. Hope you can make it!



Posted 8/24/2009 8:08pm by Trent Thompson.

There was an excellent article in TIME posted last Friday about the societal and environmental consequences of America's addiction to cheap food. Here is a link to the article. For an even greater in depth look at some of the problems with the American food system, I highly recommend the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

By the way, customers that complain about paying $1.25 for a bunch of fresh, organic radishes and drive $30K cars irritate me!