Farm News

Posted 5/18/2009 9:07pm by Trent Thompson.

I just want to let everyone know out there that the frost last night did not do any major damage to the crops. The early tomatoes were covered. Most other crops were covered as well and many crops that were exposed could easily handle a light frost like last night's. So, no major problems. A few cauliflower (a frost sensitive brassica) left uncovered may have been injured slightly...we'll see. A guinea pig tomato plant left exposed, however, was a casualty. The Reemay (sheet-like material I used to cover the tomatoes) worked great! Hope everyone is looking forward to a great season. It was nice today taking the Reemay off of the Kale and Collards and seeing them in their full glory. Based on the 10-day forecast, it is looking like last night will probably be the last frost of the season...keep your fingers crossed!

Posted 5/13/2009 9:52pm by Trent Thompson.

Monday, May 11 was the first major plant-out of potatoes (about 75% were planted, next week the remainder will be planted...the order has yet to come in from Irish Eyes in WA). In total, 1600 row feet of potatoes were planted, or 8 rows. The farm gets the bulk of its seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine. All are certified organic. I think the farm is growing a nice mix of potatoes this season. Varieties include: Onaway, Yukon Gold, Red Cloud, Rose Gold, Russian Banana (a fingerling), and All Blue as well as German Butterball (from Irish Eyes). Here are a couple photos...










For gardeners out there who have never planted potatoes, here are some basic steps: 1. Cut potatoes larger than 4 ounces in two or three pieces. Ideally, each piece should weigh at least 2 oz. and have a couple eyes. Potatoes that are 2-3 oz. in size can simply be planted whole (called a single-drop). 2. Place potato pieces/whole potatoes in a 6" deep furrow, 12-18" apart. Make sure that eyes are facing upwards on cut pieces. 3. Cover potatoes with soil and water. 4. Hill-up potatoes with soil when plants are 4-8 inches tall after a few weeks, covering a large portion of the plant stems. Continue hilling for another month or so...after 3-4 months after planting, harvest with digging fork! Also, watch out for potato beetles! Kill' em if you see 'em.

In other farm news, early tomatoes will be going out tomorrow, May 14. They will be covered with Reemay (a thin fabric) for an extra 4 degrees of frost protection just in case!

Posted 5/7/2009 10:24pm by Trent Thompson.

I never thought I would be seeding green beans the first week of May this year, but I did just that yesterday. Since the first half of April, the night temperatures have been quite warm...similar to last year's late May and June. I just couldn't resist getting a couple early plantings in. An early round of tomatoes will also go in the ground early next week. The thought of green beans in June and tomatoes by mid-July was just too tempting!

Artichokes were planted yesterday and potatoes will go in the ground over the weekend as long as it doesn't rain too hard today.

The online farm stand is now open for ordering today for Friday pick-up from 6:00-8:00 PM. No produce is available yet (still 2-3 weeks away), but several varety of brassica and tomato starts are available for your home gardens. Flower, pepper, and cucurbit (zucchini, summer squash, melon, winter squash, pumpkin, cucumber) starts will be available later in the month. All starts were raised using organic synthetic fertilizers or sprays besides a little fish to give them an extra boost. Hours and days (Tuesday night will also be a pick-up night) will be extended for pick-up in future weeks (likely June).

Note to CSA members: Your pick-up point is your 1st choice. I will be mailing out your receipts and pick-up point location details within a week. Also, if you have any recipes for the CSA's weekly recipe sheets, please e-mail Sue Case, the farm's recipe guru, at She would love to have them in advance of the season starting (remember, the first boxes go out Tuesday, June 9).

See you soon!


An artichoke nestled nicely in straw (for mulch to control weeds and to reflect sunlight, artichokes hate the heat of Michigan summers) after yesterday's planting...

Posted 4/29/2009 9:19pm by Trent Thompson.

Been super busy here the last few weeks getting the crops in. It has been so warm I decided to go ahead and plant several crops earlier than usual. So far so good. I don't have too much time for commentary tonight...I'm going to try to get some early seedings of more root crops and spinach in at 6:30 AM before the rains come. Here are some photos over the past few days...







2009 onion and leek planting

Posted 4/21/2009 10:28pm by Trent Thompson.

I realize the website does not get the site traffic of larger sites, but please feel free to post any comments you may have here on the blog. I've decided against Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other time draining portals for the farm simply because we already have a wonderful interface for dialogue here on the farm's website. Your comments help me gauge what you think about food, your community, and what the farm can do to improve its operation. They may also help you connect with other community members. Don't be afraid!

Posted 4/21/2009 9:42pm by Trent Thompson.

From the Chicago Tribune...

Pesticides linked to Parkinson's, UCLA researchers find

Research: Exposure can raise risk of developing disorder

April 20, 2009

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have provided strong new evidence linking at least some cases of Parkinson's disease to exposure to pesticides. Researchers have suspected for some time that pesticides may cause the neurodegenerative disorder, and experiments in animals have shown that the chemicals, particularly the fungicide maneb and the herbicide paraquat, can cause Parkinson's-like symptoms in animals. But proving it in humans has been difficult because of problems in assessing exposure to the agents.

Parkinson's is a disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs the sufferer's motor skills, speech and other functions. It is not fatal of itself, but complications often are. As many as 180 of every 100,000 Americans develop it.

To explore a potential connection to pesticides, epidemiologist Beate Ritz of UCLA and her graduate student Sadie Costello, now at the University of California, Berkeley, studied public records of pesticide applications in California's Central Valley from 1974 to 1999. Every application of pesticides to crops must be registered with the state. Working with Myles Cockburn of the University of Southern California, they developed a tool to estimate pesticide exposure in areas immediately adjacent to the fields.

They then identified 368 longtime residents who lived within 500 yards of fields where the chemicals had been sprayed and compared them with 341 carefully matched controls who did not live near the fields.

They reported in the current issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology that people who lived next to fields where maneb or paraquat had been sprayed were, on average, about 75 percent more likely to develop the disease. In most cases, the exposure occurred years before onset of the disease.

Posted 4/15/2009 8:42pm by Trent Thompson.

It's been another very busy week here on the farm. Manure was delivered to the farm, spread on the areas for late season crops and flowers (the farm does not use manure on early or mid-season crops due to pathogen concerns), and tilled in on Monday. Irrigation was layed today and the first round of planting will begin tomorrow through Saturday. It's looking like there is going to be a nice window here before the rains come next week. Crops going in the ground include: Kale, Collards, Broccoli, Green Onions, Peas, Kohlrabi, Spinach, Pac Choi, Radishes, Turnips, Carrots, and Beets. Oh my! If anyone is interested in volunteering on Saturday, please contact me. I'd love some extra help and company. Many jobs go 3-4 times as fast with one extra hand. Here are some pictures of the west and east field from Monday...



Posted 4/15/2009 8:33pm by Trent Thompson.

I know I mentioned a couple weeks back I would have the CSA receipts back to those have already paid by now. I apologize for the delay. I have just been swamped with work here on the farm and taxes this week. It's looking like I will send everyone's receipt and pick-up location details back the first week of May.

If you have yet to pay for membership due to financial reasons, please contact me. We can work out a payment plan, or I can refund you your deposit. I understand many are going through difficult economic times right now, and I want to make this as easy as possible for you.

Posted 4/9/2009 8:27pm by Trent Thompson.

Things are really starting to pick up here on the farm. Seedlings are growing quickly, the irrigation and new rototiller are in, Ivan Lake will be coming on Monday to till most of the field, and then planting will begin shortly thereafter! I'm excited to have plants in the ground again. It's looking like pac choi, kohlrabi, green onions, and snap peas wil be the first crops out. If you're wondring what the heck pac choi is, here's a glimpse...


Pac Choi is actually one of my favorite greens. I can't say it gets a lot of respect from many people, but those who are adventurous enough to try it, seem to like it. It is commonly used in Asian cooking in tends to absorb much of the flavor of sauces, but it does have a nice mild mustardy bite to it that I enjoy.





Yes, it is possible to grow artichoke in Michigan. Although commonly grown as a perennial in moderated Mediterreanean climes, new varieties have been developed to do well as annuals. I'm giving it a shot this year. Please note that this is an experiment...this crop isn't one that I can guarantee. I've never grown it before.



And, snow covered garlic from the recent blast of winter. Don't worry...garlic are very cold-hardy...they will be fine!

Posted 4/3/2009 11:42am by Trent Thompson.

Thank you to all who have already paid for your 2009 CSA membership. So far, about 80% have paid for their membership. This was a huge financial help for the farm and will make the season run much more smoothly since most of the farm's supplies need to be ordered and ready before the season begins.

Most of the money goes towards farm expenses. This includes seeds, onion and leek plants and potatoes, irrigation, fencing, row cover, wheel hoe, manure from the dairy and organic fertilizers, lime, soil mix ingredients, hired tractor-work, CSA boxes, website expenses, organic pesticides and fungicides, plastic mulch, pest monitoring equipment, plant flats, carts, new greenhouse and greenhouse benches, new rototiller, kerosene heater and kerosene, hand tools, fencing, soil tests, wheelbarrow, produce scales, vehicle fuel and maintenance, T-Posts, tomato twine, office supplies, etc. Total business expenses related to the CSA for 2009 is $18K. CSA members have helped me cover all of these expenses this Spring and have also helped me with my personal expenses such as rent, groceries, electricity, natural gas, and catastrophic health insurance. I'm very grateful for your support. Thanks.

Member receipts will go out (via e-mail) along with drop site info. (everyone has received their 1st choice so far!)  for those who have already paid in full within the next 2-3 days.

Hope everyone out there is having a great Spring!