Muggy afternoon greetings, friends:
We hope you all are enjoying this steamy afternoon in Michigan. We got a few drops of rain earlier in the morning, but nothing worth measuring. We will continue irrigating. What a drought we've been having!
Life on the farm continues at a hectic pace as we try to stay on top of our plantings, weeds, and harvests. We are grateful we at least haven't had to mow the grass!
In farm news, we continue to have bountiful harvests for the Kalamazoo Farmers Market and CSA boxes. Thanks to the farm's investment in field greenhouses, we've been getting a lot of questions like "This is a Michigan pepper, or basil or carrot?" Why yes it is, and we picked it yesterday! We are looking forward to all the eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash which will likely begin to produce heavily out of the tunnels in just 2-3 weeks.
Look for us at the Downtown Battle Creek Farmers Market on WED morning soon. We will be sending out an e-mail once we can verify we will go for certain.
Today you can shop the Green Gardens bounty at the online farm stand and pick up your produce tomorrow (MON) from 3-7 PM. Enjoy beautiful salad and cooking greens, roots, herbs, eggs, Two Thumbs Ranch beef, and if you're thinking about doing the CSA in 2013, give a CSA Sampler Box a try. We have recipes for every crop we grow, so if you're not sure how to use something, just let us know and we will get you started with something quick and easy like Collard Chips or Swiss Chard Quesadillas.
Enjoy the rest of your afternoon and eat well,
Trent & Ruthie Thompson
Farmers, Green Gardens on Facebook
The 1st tomato harvest of the 2012 season! One of the tasty perks of being a farmer.
Good Morning, All!
We survived the first week of CSA preparation and delivery for the 2012 season with great success! Beautiful, bountiful, and not completely all green boxes made their way to 92 families. CSA members, we are ever-grateful and thankful for your support. Enjoy your boxes!
Tomatoes: who is excited for tomatoes?! We are! Tomatoes in the tunnels look to be 3-4 weeks away from the first big harvest of the season. A few Sun Golds ripened early, and we eagerly snacked on them. Most things are looking pretty good around the farm. We still need rain badly, but are managing to keep plants alive and growing with irrigation. This has been one of the driest and warmest springs on record. We look to be making a shift to summer crops over the next 2-3 weeks as we anticipate tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and basil beginning to come on.
Since the crops have kicked up their heels, we have been producing enough to supply some of our wholesale accounts. The People's Food Co-op in Kalamazoo has Green Gardens Luscious Lettuce Mix stocked in their produce section for the past 7 weeks. We also plan to supply them with more produce throughout the season. We are also supplying Zazio's with salad mix, and tomatoes and other summer goodies as the season progresses. The chefs from Rustica stopped by the farmers' market yesterday, so look for Green Gardens veggies there soon, too. The Market at Food Dance now has our Scrumptious Salad Mix in their grab-and-go cooler. Once the tomatoes come on, especially the heirlooms, restaurants will be abuzz with Green Gardens produce. Speaking of Food Dance, on Thursday, August 30 from 6-8PM, enjoy a 4-course meal featuring Green Gardens produce deliciously prepared by Chef Robb. We're really thrilled for this opportunity to have our produce featured!
The online farm stand is once again open today and tomorrow until 7:30 AM for ordering. We've got a great selection of greens and roots to choose from, the last garlic whistles of the season, and snap peas. Yum! Your order is ready when you arrive at the farm tomorrow (MON) from 3-7 PM. When you pick-up, we are faster than McDonalds and the food won't make you overweight or give you a heart attack, so order up folks.
In fact, yesterday we learned of a high school valedictorian this year who has been a ravenous eater of our Kale and other produce for the past four years. Coincidence? Perhaps. But, not according to the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children which tracked the eating habits of 14,000 children over a five-year period. The study discovered a direct correlation between eating habits and IQ scores. The study showed that "every point gained from eating healthily, there was a 1.2-point increase in the IQ level. Conversely, every point lost by eating processed food resulted in a 1.67 fall in the IQ score." So, while we can't guarantee your child will be a valedictorian if he/she eats Green Gardens produce, we can say there is a higher likelihood that he/she will be able to think a little more clearly. Need there be any more reason why the school lunch program needs to change and incorporate more healthier food options?
Have a great week, folks!
Trent & Ruthie
Photo below of one of Ruthie's gourmet Green Gardens creations with our peas and salad mix and flank steak from Ginny Stine of Two Thumbs Ranch (here is the recipe):
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Sunny Afternoon Greetings, Friends!
We could not ask for a more beautiful Sunday! After the much-needed rain we received Thursday and Friday, this sunshine is just what those tomatoes need to plump up their fruit.
In exciting farm news, Ruthie collected the first brown eggs from our newest batch of hens on Thursday and small they are! [see photo below] With the nest boxes installed this past week, that surely helped kick things into motion. 5 of the 75 girls are laying at this point, but we anticipate most to start over the next week or two. On Friday, we opened the fence between our two flocks so the girls could all really get to know one another. After a few feathery spats, the new pecking order has been established and all is calm amongst the girls. They all slept in the new coop last night, and this morning, we moved out the old coop. The 100 girls now have plenty of room to roam in the grass, which they clearly love. With the rain last week, their rain barrels finally filled, making Ruthie's job of refilling waterers significantly easier. Look at the bottom of the email for a photo from today of the new arrangement and see where the nest boxes are located.
In the veggie realm, it's beginning to look a lot like summer. We've crunched on two cute cucumbers from the high tunnel, topped our morning eggs with a sprinkle of fresh basil, and Trent picked the very first Sun Gold cherry tomato this morning! Yes, it's really exciting, but it will be a bit longer before these plants start pumping out enough for markets, CSA boxes, and the Online Farm Stand. Just know that all these tunnels we've constructed over the past year are making it possible to bring all this deliciousness to you sooner!
CSA Members: quick reminder that boxes start this week for 21 and 26-week members! Summer shares start in late July. The 2012 CSA is full, but if you would like to be placed on next year's CSA waiting list, click here.
Thanks to all who have been attending the Kalamazoo Farmer's Market! Things are in full swing down there, so come on down and check it out if you haven't yet. Also, big thank you to Zazios and the People's Food Co-Op of Kalamazoo for carrying our salad mix and baby lettuce mix.
Lastly, check out the Online Farm Stand for all your spring goodies! Scrumptious salad mix, spinach, beautiful heads of greenleaf lettuce, carrots, turnips, radishes, curly kale, collards, mustard greens, plus meat and eggs from Two Thumbs Ranch in Bellevue, pistous from DirtSong, handmade soaps from Maple Leaf Farm in Nashville, and some beautiful tomato plants for your garden (including Sun Gold cherry). Order now until 7:30AM Monday and pick up Monday from 3-7PM here at the farm. We are excited to announce that we can now accept credit cards when you pick up your order. This is in addition to cash or check upon pick-up or via PayPal when you check-out online. Quantities are limited on certain items so order soon to get just what you want!
May you enjoy the remainder of your day, All!
In good health,
Ruthie & Trent
The Eggmobile (it's moveable!) and desegregated chickens:
Good Steamy Afternoon, Friends!
Thanks to those of you who donned your rain dancing shoes, as the farm finally received a little rain Saturday! Don't put them away just yet though - we would love lots more!
Construction of our third high tunnel (second Nifty Hoop) was completed successfully last Sunday! If you'd like to see a quick time lapse video of the build (minus the plastic pulling), watch here. Summer squash, zucchini, basil, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes are being planted in the hoop first.
In vegetable land, excitements continues to abound!
-Tomatoes in one of the high tunnels are 3 feet tall, covered in yellow blossoms, and beginning to set fruit. We anticipate to start harvesting them in late-June.
-Little bell peppers are emerging from their dried blossoms in the caterpillar tunnel.
-Potatoes poking their first few leaves through the soil this past week. 10-200' rows of deep green leaves makes quite the spectacle!
-White pea flowers (see photo below) have taken over the pea plants, slowly turning into pea pods. We've even found a few to munch on!
-We are pleased with how well the onions, shallots, and scallions have grown. The garlic is "scaping," meaning those tasty garlic whistles [the top part of the garlic plant that curls around and would form 'bulbils'] are here! They are available this week on the Online Farm Stand and at market for the next two Saturdays.
-Cucumbers in the high tunnel already have baby cukes on them!
-The brussels sprouts seeds await seeding until this hot spell passes to improve germination.
-Sweet corn sowed 2 weeks ago will be transplanted out this week.
-The spring brassicas [broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi] loved the spit of rain we received here yesterday. We could just about watch them grow they were so pleased!
Thanks to the much-needed investment of the 8' woven wire fence that now encompasses the entire farm, we have not noticed any deer damage! Woohoo! In years past, they caused significant damage to crops, row covers, and supplies.
We anticipate our new batch of 75 pullet hens to begin laying within the next couple of weeks. Their first few egg efforts tend to be teeny [think: ping pong ball-sized] and more sporadic. As they get in the groove, they establish their laying schedule and the eggs size up, sometimes come out larger than jumbo with a double yolk. This is due to their systems still working out the kinks of timing the egg production. We're excited to see how these girls compare to our first batch of girls!
CSA members: look for an email containing pick-up site details and a newsletter either today or tomorrow. Can you believe the CSA starts next week?!
The Online Farm Stand is open this Memorial Day weekend. In an effort to be flexible with customers' schedules, we will offer a Tuesday pick-up from 3-7PM in addition to the Monday 3-7PM pick-up. Please let us know in the 'Notes' section which day you will pick up. Ordering is still until 7:30AM Monday. New crops this week include garlic whistles, purple top turnips, collards, and cilantro. We also have Sun Gold cherry [sweetest cherry tomato], Big Beef [beefsteak], and New Girl [early, medium-sized red slicer] plants available. You can also get salad mix, spinach, and curly kale, as well as meat and eggs from Two Thumbs Ranch, herb pistous from DirtSong, and handmade soaps from Maple Leaf Farm.
May you all have an enjoyable, safe holiday!
Ruthie & Trent
Below: a pea blossom with a residual rain drop. Roughly two weeks after blossoming, the pea is ready for picking!
Warm Greeting, Friends!
Another busy week at the farm down, punctuated with the construction of our third high tunnel on Saturday. Jeff McCabe and crew from Nifty Hoops built another gigantic steel and plastic masterpiece just south of the one they constructed 6 weeks ago. Basil, cucumbers, and summer squash/zucchini await their turn for planting in the new tunnel early this week. Since constructing the two Nifty tunnels (both 30'x96') and one smaller tunnel (15'x96'), we have an additional 1/6 acre to utilize for extended season growing. This will be most noticeable with earliness of summer crops (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil) and late fall/overwintered/early spring greens and root crops.
Speaking of summer, we anticipate planting 900 outside tomatoes in the coming week or so. The first rotation of green beans and Dragon Tongue beans (an heirloom variety) went in 10 days ago; sunflowers sprouted in the high tunnel and more to come soon in the field; sweet corn has been seeded; and the dahlias and ginger have recently poked through in the high tunnel. So much burgeoning excitement!
21- and 26-week CSA members: the first week's pick-up happens in 2 1/2 weeks on June 6, 8, or 9. Information regarding your pick-up location and share details to come via email by next weekend. 8-week CSA members, your share starts July 25 or 27, so information for you will go out in mid-July.
Yesterday marked the third Kalamazoo Farmers' Market for the season. We could not be more pleased with the amount of traffic, especially numerous new customers and the buzzing enthusiasm thus far this season. The market runs from 7-1 on Saturdays until mid-November. You can find us on the inside of the middle portion; just follow your nose to Papa's Italian sausage stand - we're only a couple stands away. Upcoming crops include collards, carrots, more kale, green onions, garlic scapes, and peas - so yummy! If you ever miss us at market, People's Food Co-op now carries our luscious lettuce mix [red and green romaine and oakleaf]. We plan to have more crops throughout the season at the co-op, too! In late May or early June, we will start attending the Battle Creek Farmers' Market on Wednesdays from 9-12:30. Look for a forthcoming email about this.
Finally, check out the Online Farm Stand this week. In addition to our delightful greens [salad mix, spinach, kale] and free-range eggs, we have rib eyes, NY strips, boneless chuck roasts, and free-range eggs from Two Thumbs Ranch in Bellevue; homemade oats 'n honey and luxurious lavender soaps from Maple Leaf Farm in Nashville; and basil, dill, and cilantro pistous [pestos without nuts and cheese] from DirtSong. Our hope by providing products from other fellow farmer friends in the area is that Green Gardens can be a local food hub, making eating local, fresh, and healthy more convenient for everyone. Ordering continues until 7:30AM on MONDAY with pick-up Monday from 3-7 PM here at the farm.
This week's weather looks to be rather pleasant, and we have great hopes to get the rain anticipated for Monday. If you feel so inclined, get your rain dancin' shoes on and send it our way. The early and bountiful crop potential (and your eager farmers) will thank you.
Enjoy the remainder of your beautiful Sunday, All!
Trent & Ruthie
Below: (from L to R) our three high tunnels (the newest one on the right with the large door open), our two smaller tunnels, and our starter greenhouse (for plug production)
Green Gardens on Facebook - photos, updates, links, and other interesting food/farm-related tidbits
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!
This is just a quick and friendly reminder that the online farm stand is open until 7:30 AM tomorrow (MON) morning. Pick-up at the farm from 3-7 PM Monday evening.
This week we've got greens galore: chard, kale, japanese spinach, spinach, salad mix as well as eggs, pistous, and ground beef from Two Thumbs Ranch.
May you have a wonderful and peaceful rest of your weekend!
Trent & Ruthie
We hope you are all having a restful weekend and enjoying this beautiful Sunday.
We had a great opening market day yesterday in Kalamazoo at Bank Street! Thanks to all those who attended. It was nice to see all the familiar faces. Spring salad mix and spinach were both big hits.
This year we also plan on attending the Battle Creek Farmers Market on WED from 9-1 PM in Downtown Battle Creek (across from Kellogg Headquarters). We hope to start selling at the WED BC Market by June. There is also the possibility that we will sell at the SAT BC Market later in June/July when the full bounty of the season kicks in. We'll keep you updated.
The online farm stand is now open (until 7:30 AM Monday)! Pick-up at the farm (directions) from 3-7 PM on Monday evening. Selection is limited, more crops will become available in the weeks ahead. We have salad, spinach, kale, Japanese spinach, and some other goodies to delight your tastebuds. We're also going to be offering eggs from Two Thumbs Ranch until our new batch of girls begin laying (by late June) and other authentically-produced goods from local producers we know and trust. Our goal is to make it more convenient and easy for you to eat more local food through the online farm stand. If you'd like to be placed on the online farm stand e-mail list, please let us know via e-mail.
In other farm news, we continue to plant more and more (and are starting to weed more and more, too!). All tunnel crops look beautiful, including the tomatoes in the new Nifty Hoop. We are on track to have some great tomatoes, eggplant, peppers by mid-late June. Spring crops are also progressing. We are especially excited about the first batch of spring carrots which we should start to harvest in 2-3 weeks.
We are building another large high tunnel (30x96 ft) on the farm from Nifty Hoops on Saturday, May 19. Please let us know if you might be interested in helping with the build. We would love to have extra hands. The last one was built in seven hours...can you help us beat that record? Contact Trent at email@example.com if interested in this exciting opportunity.
May you be in good health.
Trent & Ruthie
Harvesting salad greens on Friday morning:
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Good sunny Sunday morning greetings, friends!
We trust that you've had an enjoyable weekend thus far. Looks like warmer spring days ahead!
The time has finally arrived when we can announce that we opened the Online Farm Stand here at Green Gardens for the 2012 season! This week's offerings include salad mix, Japanese spinach [very similar to bok choy], curly kale, and basil, cilantro, and dill pistous [pestos without cheese and nuts] from our friends at DirtSong. We do have limited quantities of the produce at this point, but greater amounts and a wider variety of produce will become available in the coming weeks.
Ordering continues until 7AM MONDAY. Pick-up is still on Monday from 3-7PM here at the farm.
You have two payments options:
-Pay with cash or check when you pick-up Monday
-Pay via PayPal wehen you check-out
Do let us know [firstname.lastname@example.org] if you have any problems with the ordering process.
We're excited to get the season rolling, and hope you are too!
Trent & Ruthie
Greetings, Green Gardens Friends,
Thanks to all who came out for the farm's open house this past Saturday! We had a great turnout including many children and had an enjoyable time showing everyone around the farm, eating scrumptious food, and watching the draft horses plow up some new ground. For those of you who couldn't attend, Barn Bash, the farm's annual potluck with local music, happens in September. More details to come in July/August.
Saturday is the final day for the Kalamazoo Foods Market [corner of Crosstown and Burdick] for the season. You can find us there from 9AM-1PM with salad mix, spinach, Japanese spinach, bok choy, and possibly other surprises. The following Saturday, May 5, the Bank Street Market commences for 2012. Our table will have a greater number of offerings earlier due to the jump-start we gained in March. We look forward to seeing our wonderful customers' and CSA members' smiling faces every week!
This past week, we put the finishing touches on our fourth tunnel [this one is only 14'x96' and one of two smaller tunnels] and planted 3 rows of tomatoes. The newest high tunnel built by the Nifty Hoops crew a month ago is also full of knee-high tomatoes, while the other small tunnel boasts peppers, eggplant, basil, and zinnias. We're excited to have numerous early crops this season! In other exciting news, the Nifty Hoops crew returns on Saturday, May 19 to build another 30'x96' tunnel for our extended season growing delight! We received a 5-yr, 0% loan from MIFMA [Michigan Farmers' Market Association] to cover 75% of the $12,300 tunnel cost. Funding for the MIFMA loan came from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Loan payback is through food assitance sales (WIC and Senior Project Fresh and SNAP) at the Battle Creek Farmers Market over the next five seasons. If you are interested in volunteering to help build the tunnel on May 19, please let Trent know at email@example.com.
Tonight, we put up the next to last portion of the 8' woven wire deer fence. How wonderful to know that we are preventing the sizable deer population in Pennfield from their late-night dining at Battle Creek's best buffet. We anticipate an increase in yields this season from the lack of deer damage.
The younger chicken flock loves being outside doing what chickens do best! They are currently munching away in a clover patch next to their big sisters. At 12 weeks old, they have roughly 6 more weeks until egg laying time! Once they're in full production, we anticipate having ~50 dozen/week! That said, if you have empty, clean egg cartons [one dozen preferred], we would love to take them off your hands. Bring them to market, leave them at your CSA pick-up point, or bring them to the farm if you're ever out this way - much appreciated!
We hope you have a glorious weekend! Warmer temperatures are just around the corner!
In good health and good eating,
Ruthie & Trent
A couple snipits from the open house:
Trent explaining four-season growing in a tunnel and what is currently growing
Doug Grosso plowing new ground with Mac and Mae, his Belgian draft horses
Green Gardens on Facebook! Stay up-to-date with what's happening, what's in season, where we're at, and what's cookin'
We hope you all are having a great spring! Since our last e-mail a couple weeks ago, the weather has been much more spring-like. We even encountered a brief flurry of snow on Tuesday. The plants are all unharmed, as we have only planted cold-hardy crops outside so far. The first round of tomatoes get transplanted Friday!
First, Saturday is market day at the Kzoo Foods Market! We'll have some super tasty salad greens, spinach, pac choi, Swiss chard, and Japanese spinach on our table. Hope to see you there!
Opportunities to join the CSA are limited. We do have a couple shares left (sign-up here), but we'd also like it if you would bid up the share price at the annual CIR (Community Inclusive Recreation) Vegas-themed Auction on April 19 at the Battle Creek Country Club at 5:30 PM. The higher you bid it up, the more dollars go to CIR programming. CIR provides recreational opportunities to people of all abilities in our community. We believe funding for CIR is critical to continue striving to create an inclusive community where all are welcome and joy is shared. For more information on CIR, see this informational video. This is the farm's fourth straight year donating a CSA share.
Construction on our second high tunnel is complete! It took only 7 hours with a crew of 15 on March 31. Here are photos. A big thank you to all of the volunteers, the Natural Resources Conservaton Service (part of the USDA) which funded over half of the project, our landlords, and Jeff McCabe of Nifty Hoops (based in Ann Arbor) who has done a phenomenal job of efficientizing the entire greenhouse design and build process and making it affordable to the average grower. McCabe also inspired us with his work generating over $200,000 to fund high tunnel builds for local growers through low-interest loans. How does he do it? He's opened up the doors of his Ann Arbor home to 150-200 people EVERY Friday morning (see video here) for the past three years, serving a locally sourced breakfast and asking for a donation of $12-15. It got us thinking about micro-credit for local producers and the need for more of it in our area to adequately capitalize farm start-ups. More to come...
And, finally, don't forget to RSVP to the farm's OPEN House on Saturday, April 21st at 12:30 PM. Come eat some delicious local food, tour the high tunnels and discover the possibilities of 4-season growing in Michigan, check out the new chicken tractor up-close and learn about management intensive grazing, watch draft horses plow, and see the crops and fields. RSVP to Ruthie at firstname.lastname@example.org only if you CAN make it.
Happy, Healthy, and Delicious Eating, Folks! Thank you for your support!
Trent & Ruthie
Photo: the Nifty Hoop build crew next to the new tunnel
Green Gardens on Facebook - RSVP for the Open House, see pictures of the farm in all of its spring glory and of Ruthie's latest culinary creations, read food- and agriculture-related articles, and see what we have available!