2013 Farm News
We hope that you are well despite the cold, grey days of late. We couldn't help but remember back to last year, with temps in the 80’s and grilling outside, while driving through near blizzard-like conditions on this first day of spring. According to our records, we planted our first field rotation of roots and greens by March 9 last year. Every season is different! And, hopefully, this colder start to the year will bring a bountiful harvest for the fruit growers this Summer and Fall.
Regardless of the cold, we have seen robins and Sandhill cranes over the past couple weeks, so spring isn't far. The vegetables in our tunnels are growing, albeit slowly. We aim to have a steady supply of salad greens beginning in mid-April. Numerous other crops, like beets, carrots, chard, green onions, kale, spinach, head lettuce, and turnips, we will harvest starting in April or May.
If you would like to have a box of super fresh produce with recipes delivered weekly to your neighborhood in Battle Creek, have you considered purchasing a CSA share with Green Gardens? For Kalamazoo folk, if you come to the Bank Street Market to purchase vegetables, flowers, and eggs, we have a market-style CSA that offers you choice, flexibility, and savings over 33 weeks. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Other great CSA options, too! Clay Smith, a 3-year Green Gardens worker, started EarthSmith Food and Forest Products in Dowling last Fall. He is offering CSA shares along with a separate turkey share. Kelly Vallelunga of Long Valley Farm (worked at Green Gardens in 2009) has a CSA pick-up at the BC market. And, Terry and Renee Hill of Pleasant Hill Farms in Ceresco are offering a CSA through the markets as a credit system for their meat, eggs, and plants. You can save 10% if you order by April 1st. More information about Pleasant Hill's CSA.
Green Gardens Hoop-A-Thon will begin on Monday, April 15 and end on Friday, April 19 at the new farm on H Drive N. We will be constructing five, 30'x144' structures with Nifty Hoops. Do you like to work with your hands, sweat, use screw guns, put up rafters, pull plastic, have fun, and be part of the sustainable food revolution? If so, shoot us an e-mail or sign-up here on Facebook, and we’ll fill you in with more details. Check out this video of the second one going up at the White Rabbit farm in 2012!
This Saturday, March 23rd, we will be at the Kzoo Foods Market at the corner of Crosstown and Burdick from 9-12:30 PM. We hope to have salad mix, spinach, kale, chard, thyme, and eggs from Ruthie’s hens. Check our Facebook page Friday afternoon for the complete list.
Thanks again for your continued support of the farm!
Trent & Ruthie Thompson
Watch the farm's veggies grow, learn new recipes, and build a connection to the farm on Facebook!
Picture of last year's hoop build below. The grand finale at the end wall!
According to our records, you expressed an interest in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program at Green Gardens. Despite this cool start to the year, the CSA season is not that far away (starts at end of May) and we still have some spots left.
Becoming a CSA member is one of the best ways to connect with your local farm and have a continuous supply of freshly-picked vegetables and herbs for 21 or 29 weeks in Battle Creek, or up to 33 straight weeks in Kalamazoo. We include about 10-15 recipes per week that correspond with the contents of each box to give you the confidence to try new culinary creations in the kitchen.
In Battle Creek, we are offering traditional shares whereby members will get 8-12 seasonal crops per week. Here are some photos of spring, summer, and fall (left to right) boxes from last season:
These shares cost $475 (for 21-weeks) or $675 (for 29-weeks). Pick-up points are scattered across Battle Creek to make it convenient for you to pick-up every Wednesday evening. The CSA season starts May 29 and runs to October 16 (21-week share) or December 11 (29-week share).
In Kalamazoo, we are offering a new market-style CSA whereby members purchase credit and get to spend it on vegetables, herbs, flowers, or eggs each week at the farm's stand on Saturdays at the Bank Street Market. The market-style shares offer choice and also provide a great amount of flexibility since shareholders do not have to come to every market.
The market-style shares cost $400 (small), $500 (medium), and $600 (large). There will also be weekly specials on 2-3 crops only for CSA members. This CSA season starts SAT, May 4, at the Bank Street Market and will run until mid-December.
For more information on the 2013 CSA, check out the farm's CSA page, or if you are ready to sign-up, please go to our sign-up page here. If you have any other questions, please contact us directly at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, see Trent at the Good Food Battle Creek Conference on SAT, March 9, at the Calhoun Area Tech Center on 475 E. Roosevelt from 9:00AM-12:30PM or see Ruthie at the Kalamzoo Foods Market (corner of Crosstown and Burdick) from 9:00AM-12:00PM this SAT.
If you are no longer interested in the CSA at Green Gardens, please respond with CSA UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line and we will remove you from all future mailings about the CSA.
Thanks so much! We look forward to seeing many of you again here soon.
Well, we know it's still early. And yet, despite the brutal cold and windy weather, we sowed the first seeds only 8 days ago and just like that, a new season is underway at Green Gardens.
This is the time of year when we do lots and lots of planning on the farm. We create numerous spreadsheets for supply lists, budgets, seeding dates, planting dates, and planting locations. Both farms are entirely laid out with planting maps of the fields and tunnels before the season even starts. Obviously, we are Mother Nature's mercy sometimes, and we need flexibility to change the plan accordingly as the season progresses. Without it, though, we wouldn't stay sane and we wouldn't be good farmers.
The first crops of the year (kale, chard, and green onions) are growing cozily on heat mats in our starter house. Many more crops, including salad, carrots, beets, and spinach will be sown directly into the field tunnels in February.
Thanks to everyone who came to the Kzoo Foods Market yesterday. We didn't have much, but it was still good to see everyone. Our free-range eggs, kale, thyme, pistous, and soaps will be available on the Online Farmacy for pick-up at the farm on Monday from 3-6 PM at White Rabbit. Order online from now until 10 AM on Monday. We will re-open the Farmacy in 3-4 weeks when we will have more produce available. We will likely shift to a bi-monthly schedule by April and weekly by June. Stay tuned through e-mails.
It's almost February, so if you are interested in joining our CSA, please consider signing-up soon online. Members have been buying shares at a quicker rate the past couple weeks. Once our 130 spots are filled, you'll have to wait for 2014. More information on the CSA in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo can be found here.
In other news, we have more chickens on the way next weekend! Ruthie is getting anxious to be a mama hen again. They will be mostly barred rocks this year. These little balls of cuteness won't start laying eggs for 16-20 weeks. Our job is basically to keep them warm and provide plenty of food and water until we let them outside in April.
The two new coolers at the new farm are almost complete! This has been a big project the past few weeks that we are eager see finished. The two coolers will allow us to have two different temperatures: cold for roots and greens and cool for tomatoes, cukes, peppers, eggplant, etc in summer.
We are excited to announce that we have over $130,000 of verbal commitments from investors for infrastructure at the new farm. Our $100,000 goal of investment dollars has likely been met, but if you are still interested in being an investor, please contact us and we will place you on a back-up investor list. Thanks to everyone who has believed in the farm and share our vision for stronger local food economy. As far as we know, this is the largest community investment in a vegetable farm in SW Michigan. The 1/2 acre of tunnel space will allow us to continue momentum going into the new farm and meet the growing demand for local produce, especially in the winter.
We had the privilege of talking to 5 elementary classes at the Wattles Park Elementary Career Day 10 days ago. It was great talking to the kids about farming, and these kids do know their vegetables (YES!), although Swiss chard did trip them up. We know, from experience, that it trips most adults up, too! Some kids said "I want to be a farmer," at the end of the presentation and that really made us feel good. The truth is that we need many, many more farmers. And, healthy eaters. The two pair with each other nicely.
If you love watching the farm throughout the season, then live vicariously through all the great photos and more on our Facebook page!
Alright, enough with this novel. We hope you're staying warm and having a great winter. We'll see you soon.
Your Farmers, Trent & Ruthie
Photo below of Swiss chard beginning to pop up and grow on the heat mats:
Greetings, Friends, and Happy New Year!
We hope you had a joyous, safe holiday season with family, friends, and great food!
With the start of 2013, we have some exciting news to share with you: we purchased a 20-acre farm 15 minutes southeast of White Rabbit (about half-way between BC and Marshall)! This will not affect CSA pick-up or the Online Farmacy this season, as we will continue to farm at White Rabbit in 2013. This year will be more of a transition at the new property: getting infrastructure in place and working the land with cover crops at our new location, preparing it for becoming a full-time working farm in 2014.
Right now, Trent and Clay are building two walk-in coolers (for different temperature storage) in part of the pole barn. The chickens made the trip of their lives about a month ago (see photo below) and have been enjoying all the grass and bugs in the area where we plan to construct new high tunnels this spring. Might as well put the fertility where it will best be utilized!
The new property will enable us to continue to grow our vegetable operation and incorporate more animals into the rotation to improve the long-term health of our soil. With more land, we also will have the opportunity to explore other ventures such as tree and berry fruit, nuts, asparagus and rhubarb in the coming years.
2013 is going to be an extraordinarily busy year for us as we try to manage two farms simultaneously. We are also going to need some financial investment to build about $100K of infrastructure in the spring and be adequately capitalized throughout the season. We strongly believe in local investment to grow the local food economy and create a sustainable food system. If you are interested in being a Slow Money (what is Slow Money?) investor in the farm, please click here for more details on becoming an investor.
Thanks to you all for your continued support. We enjoy reading many of your Christmas letters and hearing about the changes in your lives. We realize not every year is a good year. We experienced some close family loss this year ourselves and we know that it's not always easy, especially around the Holidays. We hope that we can continue to strive to make the best of the world that surrounds us and enjoy all the kindness and beauty that we have to give each other while we are here on this earth.
May you be in good health, Friends, and embrace the opportunities that present themselves in this New Year.
Trent & Ruthie
It's not every day that you see a giant chicken coop moving down the road. Photo below of chickens on the move:
There were lots of white knuckles during this drive. Remarkably, the chickens laid great that day!
Despite no snow on the ground and the feeling that we're not even close to Christmas yet, we hope that you all have a spendid Holiday season.
While plant growth and our harvest schedule has really slowed over the past few weeks, we are busy planning for next season already. This past week, Ruthie ordered 75 more baby chicks for next year's flock. We'll be getting them in early February and she cannot wait to be a mother for the little balls of yellow and black cuteness!
We are beginning to analyze this years crops, too, and decide what to plant for next season. CSA members play a big role in this process by telling us what they liked and didn't like from the 2012 season in their end-of-season survey. The seed catalogs have come in the mail and we anticipate finalizing our order by the end of the year. It's hard to believe but we will begin planting in our field tunnels and greenhouse by the middle of January.
We had another busy day yesterday at the Kalamazoo Foods Market. Thanks to all who attended and supported the farm. We nearly sold out! We hope to be at the Kalamazoo Foods Market again on SAT, December 29. However, if the weather is terrible and we have harvest problems with the cold, we may not come. An e-mail will be sent out if this is the case.
The online farmacy is open for the final time in 2012 until 8:30 AM tomorrow. This is it, folks! We have really enjoyed the online market this year, but the time has come to take some a bit of time off. There is still lots of delicious food to choose from: candy carrots, frost-sweetened kale and collards, broccoli, spinach, salad mix, beautifully colored rainbow chard, free-range eggs from Ruthie's gals, herbs, pistous, and gift certificates of health for Christmas. Order now for the best selection. Pick-up at the farm on Monday from 3-7 PM.
We intend to open up the farmacy as early as February or as late as March in 2013. As always, we will keep you posted!
This week in the Kalamazoo's People's Food Co-op's quarterly Coop Scoop, the farm was featured in a Harvey Pekar-esque cartoon. Click here to take a peek. Credit goes to Chris Moore and Simon Borst who did such an amazing job with it.
Sign-up for the 2013 CSA is open (more info here)! Traditional box-type shares available in Battle Creek and market-style shares are available in Kalamazoo. Taste the local difference in our weekly CSA boxes and learn how to prepare new vegetables and meals so you can stick to a healthy diet and feel great.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Thanks again for your time and have a great week!
Your farmers, Trent & Ruthie Thompson
View during the golden hour from one of tunnels on Friday afternoon:
What a tasty sight! Look at all that salad. See even more photos and recipes on Facebook!
We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying your weekend. It is warm and wet on the farm.
Attendance at the opening day of the Kalamazoo Foods Market was very high yesterday. Thanks to all of those who came. Your continued support will help build a strong year-round local food system. We will be back at the Kzoo Foods Market (located at corner of Crosstown and Burdick) on Saturday, December 15 from 9-1 PM. In case you missed the market, you can still get lots of Green Gardens' goodness at the People's Food Co-op in Kalamazoo (507 Harrison).
After taking a break last week, the Online Farmacy will be open again for Monday pick-up at the farm from 3-7 PM. Order now until 8:30 AM Monday morning. We still have those super sweet and crunchy candy carrots, kale, spinach, salad, chard, collards, green onions, sunchokes, herbs, and free-range eggs that have beautiful, nutritious orange yolks. Give the gift of Green Gardens’ goodness and health to friends and family this Holiday season with gift certificates. Weather permitting, we hope to have the farm stand open again in two weeks. We’ll keep you updated.
Sign-up for the 2013 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is open (sign-up here). The last two Battle Creek pick-up points will be nailed down shortly. Vegetables are the cornerstones of a healthy diet and many of our members tell us that the CSA is what helps them stay disciplined and eat out less.
Sadly, most Americans do not eat enough produce (only three servings of vegetables and fruits/day when 5-13 servings is recommended) and suffer the consequences of a life mired in diet-related health problems. The likelihood of stroke, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, poor vision, constipation, and even certain cancers can be reduced in most people by eating more vegetables and fruits. See link for entire Harvard publication. This is the easiest, cheapest, and tastiest pathway to a lifetime of good health and yet ignored by most in favor of nutrient-poor, processed foods. Using scare tactics to get people to eat well may be necessary for some, but the truth is that integrating fresh wholesome foods into our diets can be an amazingly fun, educational, and rewarding process and especially important for young children's growth, development, and life-long taste for truly healthy food. Please don’t hesitate to ask us for recipes or cooking tips for any vegetable you may encounter.
May you have an enjoyable holiday season, and be in good health, friends!
Trent & Ruthie
Photo: an example of how to integrate veggies into a "breakfast of champions." The protein and fat from the eggs, avocado, coconut oil, and ground pork give us the fuel we need to stay satiated and energetic all morning, while the sweet potato, broccoli, and leeks pack a super punch of naturally-occurring (and therefore, better utilized by the body) vitamins and minerals. We know that we live in the Cereal Capital, but this breakfast will easily outlast any bowl of vitamin-enriched cereal. No more mid-morning hunger!
With daylight savings time, these days sure do seem to be going fast! Sunlight is waning every day, as is plant growth. Vegetables don't grow very much this time of year in Michigan because of both daylength and temperature.
One thing we do in the tunnels to prevent against extreme cold winter temperatures is add an extra layer of insulation (in photo below). Besides the outer layer of plastic, the inner layer is comprised of agribon, a thin sheet-like material that will hold in soil heat. The ground will never freeze in these tunnels all winter and vegetables will be 10-25 degrees warmer on cold winter nights. The vegetables will freeze, but that is fine. In fact, for many vegetables like carrots, kale, spinach, and collards, the flavors improve because of extra sugars stored in the plant cells. These sugars in the plant cells are designed to guard against frost damage, and they get increasingly concentrated with each frost/freeze. We are the fortunate benefactors of thousands of years of nature's work.
The online farm stand will remain open this week. Order now until 8 AM Monday morning for pick-up here at the farm on Monday from 3-7 PM. We still have lots of veggies to choose from! We are considering going to every other week ordering soon. There's a chance that we may not have the farm stand open next week, so if you're desperate for some fresh and tasty vegetables, consider ordering this week.
Our CSA sign-up is open for the 2013 season. For more information, please consult the CSA website or e-mail us directly.
Thanks so much again for your support!
Trent & Ruthie Thompson
Farmers, Green Gardens
Photos below of hoophouse before and after being blanketed today. Chard, kale, collards, japanese spinach, green onions, and herbs will come out of this tunnel for winter harvest.
Good morning, folks!
It looks like we are going to have another spectacular fall day in store for us today. Yesterday, sure was a beauty at the Bank Street Market over in Kalamazoo. Thanks to all those that attended. We had a great market. For those interested, there are still three more Saturdays left at the Bank Street Market. Then, we head over to the Kalamazoo Foods Market on Saturday, December 1, where we will be all winter every other week.
Thanks to our cold-hardy crops, hoophouses and quick hoops (covering of field crops), we continue to have nice harvests of beautiful greens and roots, as well as sunflowers. The sunflowers were such a surprise to many on Saturday. It's almost November and we cut over 250 stems from our unheated hoophouse on Friday night. This brought back memories of August and September.
The online farm stand is still open for business, and should be for most of the winter. We may go to an every other week schedule soon, but we'll be sure to let you know when we do. We have some delicious salad (the best of the year) with 1 LB specials available, as well as arugula, spinach, kale, collards, rainbow chard, japanese spinach, salad and purple top turnips, candy carrots, sunchokes, lots of herbs, free-range eggs, ground beef from Two Thumbs Ranch, soaps from Maple Leaf Farms, and much more! Order today until Monday at 8 AM. Pick-up at farm on Monday from 3-7 PM at farm. Don't hesitate to ask us for recipes!
The 2013 CSA Program is expanding and sign-up is open online! Traditional weekly boxes for 21 straight weeks will continue in Battle Creek while Kalamazoo is switching over to a market style CSA for up to 33 weeks. More details or sign-up. Please let us know if you have any questions.
New this week to the farm is a mammoth salad spinner. This new, high quality piece of craftsmanship was done by Clay Smith, our employee, and farmer at EarthSmith Farm and Forest Products. The salad spinner can gently spin up to 80 LBS of salad. This spinner will improve the quality of the salad and speed up the mixing process. See a photo and video of it in action on our Facebook page. The spinner was inspired by Eiott Coleman, a masterful 4-season grower and organic agriculture educator and researcher in Maine.
Thanks to you all for your continued support. Due to the raising of more hoophouses this year at the farm, there will be no end-of-season e-mail. We will keep you updated with more exciting winter growing news in the coming weeks.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week, Trent & Ruthie
A view from the heavens, or from Skytrack atop the peak of the new barn roof:
You can see the chicken tractor in the far back of the field. Credit to Dave
Good Afternoon, folks:
We hope you are enjoying this beautiful Sunday afternoon in West Michigan. We've had such a gorgeous Fall so far. Can you believe the colors on the trees? What a sight! It has been cooler than last year's Fall, however. We've now had five frosts on the farm.
We continue to march on here at the farm, doing many things for the last time, working in the plant debris left on old beds and sowing cover crops. Soon, we will begin to shift into the tunnels for harvesting winter crops.
North Pennfield Elementary, just a few minutes from the farm, is in the midst of constructing a hoop on their school grounds. Principal Scott Hall met with us this past winter to discuss partnering with them on the project. After receiving grant money from the Battle Creek Community Foundation this fall, the build was a go-ahead. Construction has taken place the past 3 Sundays, and they're making great progress. Check out the article in Saturday's Enquirer.
The Online Farmacy is once again open for ordering. We have our salad special again this week: 1LB of tender mixed baby greens for only $9. We also have CSA Sampler Boxes [for those of you thinking about joining the CSA for 2013, this is a great way to try it out], cooking greens, arugula, herbs, sweet carrots, radishes, sunchokes, eggs, salad turnips, and more. Note the change in ordering time: now through Monday 8AM. The pick up window remains the same: 3-7PM on Monday.
CSA sign-up for the 2013 season is open. We are expanding membership for 2013, so there is no longer a waiting list. Click here for many more details about the 2013 program.
In Good Health,
Trent & Ruthie
Photo: a sea of frost-kissed kale in the morning's first glow. These frosts make the kale, collards, spinach, and carrots much sweeter by concentrating their sugars, making them a special winter treat! Kale is a superfood and is super delicious. Try one of these 10 recipes from Real Simple.
Good afternoon, Friends!
In case you missed Thursday's paper, the Enquirer ran a story on eating locally in the winter featuring the farm, as well as Jeremy Andrews from Sprout Urban Farms and J.R. Reynolds of Good Food Battle Creek. Creating a local food economy year-round could have profound economic, environmental, social, and geopoilitical benefits. The era of cheap energy is over, climate change is real, and let's face it, local food just plain taste better, too. We don't need to rely on Californians for produce or Iranians for the energy to move the produce. We can take pride and comfort in producing food the right way in our own community. Thanks for your continued support!
To current CSA members and anyone interested in joining the Green Gardens CSA for the 2013 season, sign-up is now open! We have made a couple changes to the program for 2013. Battle Creek pick-up will only be on Wednesdays at the farm and 4-5 sites scattered throughout Battle Creek. Two share types will be available: the traditional 21-week share and the extended season 29-week share [the last 8 weeks of which must be picked up at the farm]. Egg shares will not be offered, but can be purchased when picking up your box. In Kalamazoo, we are trying an entirely different CSA set-up. The market-style CSA works more like a credit system: members pay $400-$600 before the season starts, and instead of getting a box of 8-12 pre-selected crops, members have the freedom to choose what they want from our market stand each week: vegetables, herbs, eggs, and flowers. In addition, members have up to 33 weeks [May through mid-December] to use up their balance at the Bank Street Market [May-November] and the Kalamazoo Foods Market [November-December]. Click here to read more about the details regarding each share type, prices, dates, and photos, as well as complete the sign-up process.
We appreciate payment for your share as soon as you can reasonably afford. This helps us through the leaner winter months of paying bills and purchasing seeds, supplies, irrigation, funding building projects, etc. We also understand that a CSA share can be a major purchase for some; therefore are willing to work out a payment plan with those who need to.
The Online Farmacy is open! Check out our salad special: 1 LB of our beautiful, tender ready-to-eat baby salad mix and arugula for only $9! We also have all your cooking greens covered, carrots, sunchokes, peppers, herbs, CSA sampler boxes, eggs, gift certificates, and more. Order until 7am Monday for pick-up Monday from 3-7pm.
May you be in good health, Friends!
Ruthie & Trent
Photo: our landlords are having a new roof put on the barn. The sunlight streaming through the old wooden slats Thursday morning was just too captivating not to photograph.