2013 Farm News

Posted 5/27/2012 11:53am by Trent Thompson.

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!

Best,
Ruthie & Trent

Below: a pea blossom with a residual rain drop. Roughly two weeks after blossoming, the pea is ready for picking!

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Posted 5/20/2012 12:38pm by Trent Thompson.

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!

Best,
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

Posted 5/13/2012 1:22pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, All:

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

Posted 5/6/2012 9:31am by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, Folks:

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 trent@greengardensfarm.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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Posted 4/29/2012 10:11am by Trent Thompson.

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
OR
-Pay via PayPal wehen you check-out

Do let us know [trent@greengardensfarm.com] if you have any problems with the ordering process.

We're excited to get the season rolling, and hope you are too!

Best,
Trent & Ruthie

Posted 4/26/2012 11:26pm by Trent Thompson.

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 trent@greengardensfarm.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

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Posted 4/13/2012 7:46am by Trent Thompson.

Greetings:

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 ruthie@greengardensfarm.com 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!

Posted 3/30/2012 12:28pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, folks:

We hope all of you are enjoying the cooler spring weather. I have to admit that I liked the heat we had over the past few weeks, but it also just didn't feel right either. The greens, roots, and peas are breathing a deep sigh of relief with the cooler temperatures.

Tomorrow is market day at the Kzoo Foods Market from 9-12:30! We'll have some beautiful and super tasty spring salad mix. This is the first cut of the year and it is exceptional. We'll also have some spinach, radishes, sunchokes, and free-range eggs.

Tomorrow is also a big day at the farm, as we construct high tunnnel #2 with Nifty Hoops out of Ann Arbor. If you are interested in helping out, we would love to have you. Food and beverage will be included. Come have a great time and be part of building the future of sustainable agriculture in Michigan. Contact Trent at trent@greengardensfarm.com if you can make it out for the build.

In other farm news, we are busy finishing the mobile chicken tractor 2.0, putting 8' woven wire fencing around the entire farm (to keep out deer), building another small greenhopuse, and trying to stay on top of other field and greenhouse plantings. This is a busy, busy time of year for us.

We hope to open the online farm stand in April - stay tuned.

Hope all is well and happy, healthy eating!

Trent & Ruthie
Farmers, Green Gardens

Photo below of Ruthie washing salad today:

Ruthie washing salad mix

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Posted 3/15/2012 10:54pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings, All:

Goodbye winter, hello summer! Where did spring go? After the fourth warmest U.S. winter on record, we are busy gearing up quickly and early for another great season of Green Gardens produce. Yesterday and today we have been busy planting an extremely early round of snow and snap peas, Rainbow and Nelson carrots, spinach, and beets. The garlic and shallots came up beautifully and are already about 4" tall.

First off, on Saturday we'll be at the Kzoo Foods Market from 9-12:30 PM at the corner of Crosstown and Burdick with sweet spinach, chard, and kale. We'll also have some delightful pistous (a concentrated pesto minus the cheese and nuts) from our friends, Tim and Stephanie Pierce, of DirtSong who recently moved up north. If you're ready for some summery flavors already, the dill, cilantro, and basil pistous might be just the thing for you!

Next, we've got a big event here at the farm on April 21st! Mark your calendars. 12:30-3:30 PM at the farm. We're going to have a Fun Farm Field Day (say that three times fast!). We will be having a delicious local food lunch, (if it's dry) watch draft horses plow some new farm ground, learn about the fancy and functional chicken tractor 2.0 and managing intensive grazing techniques with chickens and sheep, get a tour of the new high tunnel, and learn about four-season growing in Michigan. It's FREE to all, but we recommend a small donation to help cover our costs. Also, in order to get an idea of how many to expect, RSVPonly if you are able to attend to ruthie@greengardensfarm.com. Please bring the youth as we want young minds interested in local and sustainable agriculture!

In CSA land, Green Gardens only has a couple CSA spots left. Reserve yours now or it will be too late! We also want to spread the word about a couple other local producers: Two Thumbs Ranch in Bellevue with herd (milk) shares and Pleasant Hill Farm in Ceresco with meat and egg shares. Information on Pleasant Hill's meat CSA can be downloaded here. Kelly Vallelunga, formerly of Green Gardens, has started her own farm, Long Valley, in Kalamazoo and has a CSA this season! We are excited and proud of her work.

If you'd like to get some dirt under your fingernails and learn about the Farm Bill, do so at the Mt. Zion Church in BC from 10:00-12:30 PM on Saturday, March 24. Click here to attend. Also that day, you can volunteer with Sprout Urban Farms at the new Bright Star Farm as they prepare to plant. Bright Star Farm is a new 3/4 acre urban farm on Kendall Street in Battle Creek.

Alright, that's it for now, folks! We hope you've been enjoying this splendid weather, and we're anxious to see you again soon!

Trent and Ruthie
Farmers, Green Gardens

If these e-mails no longer satiate your hunger for GGCF info, find even more information on Facebook!

Photo below of our ginger FedExed from the Big island of Hawaii. We wound up getting only 5 of the 30 LBS we ordered due to a partial seed crop failure. Puna Organics is the only reputable ginger producer (from tissue culture), so we have nowhere to go for replacement seed. However, we are still excited to begin our ginger growing experience. It will be rationed out mostly to CSA members and some farmers market and online farm stand customers in September. The 5 LBS should turn into 40 LBS of baby ginger crop.

ginger to plant

Plow to the End of the Row (hear it) is a great song by Adrienne Young, an amazing artist and advocate of sustainable agriculture.

 

 

Posted 3/5/2012 12:40pm by Trent Thompson.

Greetings Green Gardens Friends!

A few notes as we slowly begin the 2012 growing season:

1) We will be at the Kalamazoo Foods Market SAT, March 3, from 9AM-12PM [SW corner of Crosstown & Burdick] with frost-sweetened spinach, kale, and Swiss chard from our high tunnel.

2) If you are interested in joining us on a grand eating adventure this growing season, we still have a few CSA shares available. 8-week, 21-week, and 26-week shares with pick-up points across Battle Creek [WED], at the farm [WED and FRI], and at the Bank Street Market [SAT]. For more information, check out this page. If you're ready to sign-up, this page will get you started.

3) The 70 or so 4-week old baby chicks in our basement continue to grow like feathery weeds. Construction on the larger moveable chicken coop has begun, so the chicks will be moving out by the end of the month. Our older girls have been spoiled this winter [just like the rest of us], and have kept up with egg production. We know they're eager for green grass.

4) We're building another high tunnel [field greenhouse]! Actually, Nifty Hoops from Ann Arbor will be bringing a crew out on [tentatively] Saturday, March 31 to build the entire 30'x96' structure in 1-2 days. If you consider yourself handy in the construction realm and want to help out or simply watch one of these behemoths built, let us know so we can keep you updated. We're excited to have early tomatoes and baby ginger come from this tunnel!

Hope all is well with you. We'll see you soon! Nicer weather is on its way, folks!

Trent & Ruthie

 

Picture below from Friday morning's harvest of spinach from our high tunnel.

 

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