Farm News

Posted 11/4/2012 4:25pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, Folks:

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.

Posted 10/28/2012 8:32am by Trent Thompson.

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:

view of east field tunnels

You can see the chicken tractor in the far back of the field. Credit to Dave

Green Gardens on Facebook!

Posted 10/21/2012 2:31pm by Trent Thompson.

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.

Green Gardens on Facebook

Posted 10/14/2012 3:18pm by Trent Thompson.

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.

Green Gardens on Facebook!

Posted 10/14/2012 2:04pm by Trent Thompson.

Good Afternoon, Friends,

First of all, thanks to all who came out to the Barn Bash last Sunday! Yet another rather delicious potluck was enjoyed and games played by many folks, especially the younger generation  With such a beautiful fall day, folks wandered about the farm to see the new high tunnels and everything growing. We had a great time visiting with friends old and new.

According to the forecast, tonight looks to be the first frost. This occasion brings forth bittersweet feelings: sadness for the end of many crops, but joy in the knowing that our pace will finally begin to slow and that the season of rest [well, sort of, now that we're delving into four-season growing] and renewal grows near. The ebb and flow of the seasons provides farmers with a natural balance of work and rest just when our bodies desire. After months of 70-90 hour work weeks, we finally are getting a bit more sleep! Fall still means work to do: removing field tomato trellising, ripping up plastic mulch, planting overwintering cover crops, even starting the planning for the 2013 season. Now is the ideal time to evaluate how things faired this season, while the triumphs and losses still play fresh in our minds. This crucial step helps us become better growers while working smarter, not harder.

Check out the Online Farmacy today. We have salad mix, arugula, kale, chard, Japanese spinach, collards, salad turnips, radishes, sunchokes, the last of the peppers and eggplant for the season, free-range eggs, CSA sampler boxes, herbs, and more. Order until 7AM Monday, and we'll have it ready to go when you arrive Monday afternoon between 3-7PM.

May your hearts and bellies be warm, Friends.

In good health,
Ruthie & Trent

Photo: the high tunnels at dusk this past week. Mother Nature's beauty surrounds us daily.

Green Gardens on Facebook

Posted 9/23/2012 4:41pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, folks:

We hope you are all having a great weekend. With the cooler temperatures and grey skies, Fall seems to be offically here now. We even came close to getting our first frost on WED morning.

The changes in the temperatures and weather means there are winners and losers in the crop department. This is the time of year when eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers start to shut down and roots and greens begin to thrive again.

Thanks to everyone who braved the Kalamazoo Farmers Market yesterday. The weather was disgusting and there was lightning, and yet people still came. As growers, it's so important for us to know that our customers will come rain or shine. We are grateful to have such a committed, hard core following.

The average age of a farmer got a little lower today (nationally, it is 58). Clay Smith (twenty and current Green Gardens employee) of EarthSmith Food and Forest Products inaugurated his farm with a new hoophouse at his farm in Dowling today. Clay will use the hoophouse to start plugs (for transplants) in the spring and to grow spinach in as soon as this winter.

It's so refreshing to see new, young farmers sprouting up all over. We need more, though. Many, many more. Energy prices and demand for food will continue to increase. The only way we can take control of our food and our landscape is to support local farmers. It's a direct and simple relationship that will provide us with superior quality and nutritionally dense foods, food security, and economic and community growth. Do we really want to be at the mercy of corporate controlled mega farms from a land we don't even know? We think not. And, we are grateful that you are opting out of that system as much as possible.

This week we will continue to run the online farmacy. It's open until 7:30 AM tomorrow (MON). Pick-up Monday night from 3-7 PM. We have lots of georgeous and tasty salad greens. We have specials on arugula and salad mix. $9/LB. Also, chard, three kinds of kale, japanese spinach, collards, leeks, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes (get them while they're still here!), beans, herbs, ground beef from Two Thumbs Ranch and much, much more.

Barn Bash is next Sunday at 1 PM at the farm! It will be a potluck (farm inspired dish), farm games, and tour of winter tunnels. Contact Ruthie at ruthie@greengardensfarm.com by tomorrow if you can attend. We hope you can make it!

Have a wonderful week, Trent & Ruthie

Sunchokes basking in the glorious fall sunshine:

sunchokes basking in sun

Due to drought, our sunchoke tubers are still very small. We are hoping they will size up over the next three-four weeks with the recent rain.

Find Green Gardens on Facebook.

Posted 9/18/2012 9:10pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, All:

Raising hoophouses is the modern day equivalent of a barn raising. These simple structures are the engine behind Michigan's 21st century local food revolution, enabling growers to harvest crops 12 months out of the year! Help Clay Smith get his farm growing by constructing a 20x76 ft hoophouse at EarthSmith Food and Forest Products in Dowling, Michigan at 10 AM on Sunday, September 23. Please RSVP on Facebook here. Or, if you don't have Facebook or have questions, contact Clay directly at claytonj26@gmail.com.

If you can't make the build, enjoy hamburgers from Two Thumbs Ranch and salad mix from Green Gardens later after 12 PM. You are free to walk the 92-acre property and ask questions about about Clay's plans for the farm in the future.

In case you didn't know, Clay has been working at Green Gardens for three full seasons. He has worked hard and smart every day on the job. Although we are going to miss him greatly next season, we couldn't be happier for him as he builds a future for himself at his farm in Dowling. We have no doubt that the farm will be a success, but, like any new farm, community support will be critical these next couple years. More information to follow in the coming weeks as he finalizes his plans for a FoodShare (CSA) for the 2013 season.

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you there!

Your Farmers, Trent & Ruthie Thompson

For some fun, build this hoop on Sunday, folks:

Like EarthSmith Food and Forest Products on Facebook!

Posted 9/16/2012 12:31pm by Trent Thompson.

Good afternoon, friends!

Another beautful fall-like afternoon in store - hope you're enjoying it as much as we are!

These cooler days and nights make the roots and greens happy. We anticipate salad greens coming on more regularly from now. Cabbage looks to be 3-4 weeks away and about the same for our first rotation of broccoli. More carrots again in a week or so, while the spinach is about 4 weeks away. The carrots in the second Nifty Hoops high tunnel look amazing [see photo below] and will start harvesting them early November for many weeks. We will have fall/winter crops at the Kalamazoo Foods Market starting Saturday, December 1 from 9-1PM [we will be there every other week like last year], on the Online Farmacy, at the People's Food Co-op in Kalamazoo, and at various restaurants, includng Malia in downtown Battle Creek, and Food Dance and Rustica in downtown Kalamazoo.

The Online Farmacy is open! Until the frost, which typically arrives in early October, we will have tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant, and some herbs, so now is the time to stock up and enjoy while they're still around. In addition, we have all kinds of tasty cooking greens, arugula, leeks, potatoes, CSA sampler boxes, herbs, sunflowers and zinnia bouquets, organically-fed free-range eggs, soaps, and pistous. Ginny from Two Thumbs Ranch dropped off more ground beef, so that's back in stock on the Farmacy! Order until 7AM Monday for pick-up Monday from 3-7PM.

Barn Bash is just around the corner, only 2 weeks from today on September 30th from 1-3PM here at the farm [click here for directions]. We will have all kinds of farm fun, including the tastiest potluck [please bring a dish using local, seasonal products when possible], tomato tasting (bring several of your own to enter contest), and farm games for all ages. You can also tour the farm to check out what fall and winter crops we have growing, see the moveable chicken coop, and just enjoy a lovely fall afternoon. Please bring your own seating [chairs, blankets] for the potluck and a suggested donation of $10/family to help the farm cover costs of hosting Barn Bash. RSVP by Sunday, September 23 only if you are able to attend by simply responding to this email. We hope you can join us for a fun- and food-filled afternoon here at Green Gardens!

Be well, All!

Trent & Ruthie

Photo: carrots in the Nifty Hoops high tunnel a week ago. They germinated very well, are growing with gusto, and we can't wait to dig them, especially after a few good frosts to sweeten them!

Green Gardens on Facebook!

Posted 9/9/2012 2:09pm by Trent Thompson.

Good afternoon, Friends!

It appears that Fall has arrived, much to our great excitement! The fall greens and roots, as well as all the chickens, much prefer these mild days for growth and happiness, while the summer crops continue to plod along. Hard to believe, but the first frost is probably about a month away. We've even begun conversation with the managers of the Kzoo Foods Market that we will again attend from late November through the end of April. My, how the season does fly!

Chef Robb at Food Dance prepared this awesome Kale Caesar Salad at the Farm-to-Fork dinner 2 weeks ago. You know it's a hit when attendees are still raving about it. It's raw kale, but not massaged like you normally hear of. Here's Robb's explanation:

-With the kale, remove the stem and the rib out of the center, then chiffonade the kale. See this video for those instructions. http://youtu.be/yJEQFgfv7iw
-Wash and dry the kale, then toss the kale in large or coarse kosher salt. I would say for every cup of kale use a 1/8 cup of salt.
-Let stand for three hours in the fridge.
-Wash kale twice in a large water bath removing all the salt. Dry throughly.
-After that you just add whatever casear dressing you might like some dry aged cheese and croutons. Feel free to improvise, considering that's how we did it.

We've also tried salt, lemon juice, and olive oil for at least 15 minutes in the fridge then rinsing for a similar effect with positive tasty results. I whipped up a batch of Creamy Italian Dressing, which used some homemade mayo. Many times better than any bottled store dressing and without water or chemicals. Additionally, if you'd like to see photos from the dinner, check them out here.

The Online Farmacy is once again open for business! CSA sampler boxes, tomatoes galore, herbs [basil, chives, rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley], cooking greens [Japanese spinach is back!], eggplant, leeks, peppers, flowers, and more. We still have bulk basil for pesto making! Order until 7AM Monday and come out here Monday evening to pick up your goodies.

Upcoming Events:

1. Learn about the basics of food preservation (read flyer here) Sept. 13 from 6-8:30 at Springfield Farmers Market. Register online.

2. Tillers Harvest Festival is next Sunday, the 16th. 11:30-5:30 PM in Scotts. Learn about being a better environmental steward in your home and community!

Be in good health, friends!

Ruthie & Trent

The Kale Caesar Salad at Food Dance:

Read why Kale is so good for you on our Facebook page!

Posted 9/2/2012 10:26am by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, friends:

We hope you're having a wonderful Sunday morning. The sun is poking its head out now at the farm.

September is here and the days are getting noticeably shorter. We are beginning to shift a little towards the Spring/Fall crops again, as our baby greens will soon make a big presence in the CSA boxes and the farm's stand. Other roots like turnips and radishes are coming back soon, too.

The field tunnels are looking magnificient for Fall/Winter crops. Carrots, kale, chard, collards, Japanese spinach, and scallions are all beginning to take off, as are the sunflowers and zinnias we hope to have in October and November. Baby greens will be seeded in tunnels over the next 4-6 weeks.

Last Tuesday we harvested the first baby ginger (photo below) ever at Green Gardens. We trialed it this year to see how it would do, and we are so happy with how it turned out, we think it has serious potential as a major crop in the tunnels for next season. Chef Robb Hammond of Food Dance used the ginger on the grouper (as a cure) at the farm's first Farm-2-Fork dinner (see photo of menu here) at Food Dance Thursday night. It sold out! Thanks to all that came for the evening of fabulous food!

The Online Farmacy is open! Order now until tomorrow at 7 AM. Tomorrow is Labor Day. We will continue with the regular schedule of pick-up on Monday night from 3-7 PM, but will also offer pick-up on Tuesday from 4-7 PM to accomodate those taking Monday off. Please indicate in the notes section which day you plan to pick up your order. We've a wide assortment of tasty and healthy vegetables and herbs to purchase. You are running out of time to make bulk basil purchases (probably three weeks left) for pesto. You can buy it buy the pound from the farm for only $7/LB.

This week's recipe of the week is eggplant crisps. They are easy, quick and highly addictive!

Enjoy the rest of your Holiday and eat well.

Trent & Ruthie

Photo below of baby ginger harvested from our field tunnel last Tuesday:

ginger

Find the Farm on Facebook to get even more farm updates, information, recipes, photos, etc.