Farm News

Posted 11/23/2011 6:10pm by Trent Thompson.
Nov. 12, 2011  |  


This child enjoys a bar-b-que rib dinner at God's Kitchen - Battle Creek. The little tyke was one of 25 children served at the Cereal City's new soup kitchen. / Photo by James Williamson

Talk about starting a business with a bang! God's Kitchen - Battle Creek, the new nonprofit soup kitchen located at First Baptist Church in downtown Battle Creek, has served 4137 meals in its first month of operation.

"We attribute the number to need and good food," said Pastor William Stein, Chairman of the soup kitchen.

Since it opened on October 11, God's Kitchen - Battle Creek has served catfish, beef brisket, pork loin, meatloaf, teriyaki chicken and bar-b-que beef and pork spare ribs.

"That is just the beginning," Stein said. "With the support of our community partners, we intend to serve more gourmet dinners to the needy."

Stein is referring to the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, where 90 percent of God's Kitchen's food is purchased and donated. Food is prepared at First Congregational Church and Arcadia Brewing Company before it is served at First Baptist Church for anyone who is hungry!

"Jesus said to 'Prepare a Feast for the Poor,'" Stein said. "We shall endeavor to fulfill that edict for as long as this program exists."

God's Kitchen - Battle Creek is funded by donations and sponsorship. To make a tax-deductible contribution, send your check to: God's Kitchen - Battle Creek, P.O. Box 4127, Battle Creek, Michigan 49016. Or make a donation online at

Posted 11/23/2011 5:48pm by Trent Thompson.
This is embarassing, folks! As a society we have to decide: Are we going to continue giving the rich tax cuts or take care of the basic needs of our most vulnerable people? It seems like an easy decision, but for the past 40 years our lawmakers have decided otherwise. Will we hold them accountable? Will we demand a clean campaign system where corporations and the rich can no longer buy the votes of our lawmakers?
We don't think the solution is a government handout, but if we could do things that would empower people to grow their own food such as what Sprout is doing here in BC, that would be a huge step in the right direction.
By Alyse Shorland and Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
updated 8:59 AM EST, Wed November 23, 2011
Saprina Gressman helps her daughter Kiara, 4, chop tomatoes in a cooking class in New York.
Saprina Gressman helps her daughter Kiara, 4, chop tomatoes in a cooking class in New York.

  • Millions of American households don't have enough food for everyone
  • The problem is spreading to families who have never experienced it before
  • Food insecurity can be especially tough on children, experts say

New York (CNN) -- Students gathered as the chef sliced tomatoes with a plastic knife in a Brooklyn public school cafeteria. Their eyes followed as she held up a slender green cylinder before the crowd of parents and kids in plastic aprons and hairnets.

"What's that?" kids shouted.

"It's a scallion. But don't eat it now," warned Leigh Armstrong, a culinary student and volunteer chef. "It doesn't taste like celery."

Armstrong was helping at Cooking Matters, a free, six-week class that teaches parents and kids how to shop for and prepare healthy, inexpensive meals. The program launched 20 years ago through the nonprofit Share our Strength, and it now serves more than 11,000 families across the country.

Most participants use or have used food stamps, free or reduced-price school lunches or food pantries to cover their nutritional needs, and almost all are still looking for ways to stretch a few ingredients into meals.

The number of families that struggle to get enough food has increased in recent years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in 2010, 14.5% of households in the United States -- about 17.2 million -- lacked the resources to provide enough food for everybody. Among those, about 6.4 million households saw normal eating patterns disrupted or reduced because there wasn't enough food.

Food insecurity -- uncertainty about where the next meal will come from -- is particularly hard on one group: children.

It's a time of record need, a time when you're seeing people from all walks of life needing to turn to assistance to meet their food needs.
Paula Thornton-Greear, Feeding America spokeswoman

The nonprofit Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks around the United States, reports one in five children are at risk of hunger. For children in African-American or Latino households, it's closer to one in three.

They're likely to have trouble focusing in school. They might experience illness or poor health as a result. They're also likely to struggle with stress at home or in class. While many are eligible for free or reduced-price food at school, those programs don't provide food at night, on weekends or during breaks from school.

Hunger is still a more frequent problem for homes headed by single parents and for homes below the federal poverty line, the USDA reports, but it has also crept into homes that have never experienced it before.

"It's invasive and real," said Paula Thornton-Greear, a Feeding America spokeswoman. "It's a time of record need, a time when you're seeing people from all walks of life needing to turn to assistance to meet their food needs."

For adults, the most important step might be talking about it, Thornton-Greear said -- reaching out to friends and family who can help and learning what government and nonprofit food programs are available.

"At some point, we're all in need of something," she said. "It's reflective of a society experiencing a huge downturn. It's not reflective on one individual."

For kids, it might mean getting adults more engaged in teaching nutrition and stopping hunger before it starts.

On TV, a new "Sesame Street" puppet, Lily, is talking about food insecurity from the perspective of a 7-year-old who doesn't always have enough to eat.

CNN Hero: Bruno Serato

In Orange County, California, chef and restaurateur Bruno Serato feeds pasta to about 300 children every night.

Serato, one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011, began cooking for kids when his mother visited from Italy and saw a child eating potato chips for dinner. The boy, like dozens of others near his restaurant in Anaheim, lived in a motel, where his family had limited access to food and cooking space.

"'Bruno, you must feed them pasta,'" he recalled her saying. Serato continued the nightly pasta feast throughout the recession, even as his restaurant struggled.

"They're customers," he told CNN earlier this year. "My favorite customers."

And back in Brooklyn, it means teaching parents to shop and cook with kids in tow. The Cooking Matters curriculum includes taking families to grocery stores and then getting them into kitchens at schools, community centers or even housing units.

Today's menu: breakfast burritos with eggs, cheese and homemade salsa. The cost: less than $2 a serving.

At Saprina Gressman's first Cooking Matters class this month, the 25-year-old mother of three said her kids first told her about the class.

"I'm hoping to learn a lot," she said, as she helped her 4-year-old daughter, Kiara, cut a tomato to make salsa. "I'm hoping to learn to cook with my children, because you need patience."

While parents will usually be the ones to budget, buy and cook food, getting kids excited about preparing and eating homemade meals can keep everyone engaged in healthier choices and smart shopping.

Aliyah Rowe, the Cooking Matters program coordinator for City Harvest in New York, said some members of the class rely on food stamps, but it's designed for anyone with food insecurity -- people who recently lost jobs and have to rethink their food budgets, or families that occasionally seek assistance from food banks.

It also gets parents and kids spending time together and talking about the food the fuels them.

"I remember baking with my grandmother, but that doesn't happen anymore," Rowe said. "The reality is parents are busy; you have some that work two jobs. But the kids come here and they are so excited, and they go home excited. And that inspires parents to cook with their children."

Posted 11/23/2011 4:49pm by Trent Thompson.

Opinionator - A Gathering of Opinion From Around the Web
November 19, 2011, 5:23 pm


Mark Bittman

There are days when it seems ­ both in and out of the food world ­ that Everything Is Going Wrong. That makes it easy enough to complain, and I’m not alone in doing so routinely. Nothing tastes the way it used to. Even pricey restaurants have lost their glow. Quality is shot. People die from eating melons. The dominance of hyper-processed, industrialized food (and, more to the point, food-like products) is spreading globally, and we’re all gaining weight faster than ever, while wrecking the planet.
[] Sarah Williamson

Nevertheless, it’s nearly as easy to find signs of hope ­ lots of them ­ as well as people and organizations who’ve been prodding American food back on a natural, sustainable, beautiful track.

Then, of course, there are the things that just plain make you glad to be alive. Aside from the smell of garlic simmering in olive oil, what and whom am I thankful for? In no particular order:

1. Start ­ as many of those involved in the food movement did ­ with Marion Nestle, the nutrition and policy guru and an all-around heroine. (Her daily blog, Food Politics, is always worth a look.) Put simply: eat per Marion’s advice and you’ll be eating better. (You’ll probably live longer, too, but as Marion might say, “the studies are incomplete.”)

2. For low-income people, better eating often starts with WIC and SNAP. It’s a shame we need these food assistance programs, but it’s great that we have them, and we must fight to preserve and improve them.

3. There are more than half as many farmers’ markets as there are McDonald’s. The markets are gaining ground, and fantastic groups like Wholesome Wave are making them more affordable.

Sarah Williamson

4. You gotta love food markets like Oakland’s People’s Grocery and the Park Slope Food Co-op, for their daily demonstration that corporate supermarkets aren’t the only way to shop.

5. Hooray for the Environmental Working Group, our best watchdog on misallocated subsidies, ethanol policies and a variety of conservation issues.

6. Let’s thank Europe. I agree, Europe is wholly un-American. But food-wise, we have more to learn from them than the other way around. Examples of how to move forward on food policy and agriculture while clinging (if by a carrot paring) to worthwhile traditional ways abound.

7. While we’re over there, let’s thank H.R.H. Prince Charles, who’s smart and outspoken enough to make you reconsider the notion of royalty. A couple of other admirable non-Americans are the United Nations’ Olivier De Schutter, a key figure in recognizing and promoting agro-ecological agriculture, and Vandana Shiva, who fights for food as nourishment, not commodity.

8. Back home: Will Allen and the Milwaukee-based Growing Power, Malik Yakini and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and Nevin Cohen of the Five Borough Farm are, along with the other pioneers of the urban food movement, making a difference.

9. Journalists. Especially Barry Estabrook (of the blog Politics of the Plate), Tom Philpott (Mother Jones) and Tom Laskawy (Grist), old-school guys who dig up the food stories you need to read. In her blog and her book (both called “Superbug”), Maryn McKenna routinely scares me half to death. Then there’s Raj Patel, a social justice writer who focuses on food; his “Stuffed and Starved” is a classic critique of the world food “system.” (Raj is also, by some accounts, the Messiah. But I know him and he’s not that great.)

10. Can’t mention Estabrook (or his book “ Tomatoland”) without a shout out to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who showed that farmworkers could fight for and win better working conditions.

11. Speaking of fighting, Just Label It and others are involved in the much-needed struggle for better food labeling.

12. If Michael Pollan had done nothing other than say, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” we’d still owe him a great debt. But his new edition of rules (“An Eater’s Manual”) features the typically gorgeous art of the great Maira Kalman.

13. We also owe the Humane Society of the United States, Mercy for Animals and PETA (they can be extreme and, I think, even silly, but still…). All decry animal abuse on a daily basis, sometimes at physical risk to their employees. It’s tough work; it isn’t pretty; but as awareness increases so will the cry for change.

14. For his long-range view and persistence, you have to love Wes Jackson, whose Land Institute is advancing perennial agriculture as an alternative to input-heavy annual monoculture.

15. Few views are as long-range as those of Wendell Berry, who’s pushing 80. The farmer, poet, novelist and essayist is a leading voice for sustainability and common sense, and perhaps the first scribe of the food movement.

16. Serious thanks to Bill McKibben, who’s trying to keep the earth in good enough shape to grow things on it, and Tim DeChristopher, who put his freedom on the line (and lost it) protesting oil and gas leases on public land.

17. And to Bill Marler, who, as the leading food safety attorney in the country, is trying to keep the things we grow from killing us. Check out Michele Simon on Marler’s Food Safety News, too.

18. The Rudd Center has spearheaded the movement for a much-needed soda tax. When that happens … well, woo-hoo: we’ll know that serious and lasting change has come.

19. For better and still improving school lunches, let’s thank Ann Cooper (the Renegade Lunch Lady), Kate Adamick, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and (why not? it’s Thanksgiving) Michelle Obama. (At this point, a nod to the world’s most famous walking advertisement for a plant-based diet: Bill “Mr. Slim” Clinton.)

20. With Washington on the agenda, a shout out to Ezra Klein, the hardworking economics and politics writer whose daily WonkBlog is indispensable. (The food link: I met Ezra when he criticized my mah-po tofu. No one’s perfect.)

21. Four D.C. lawmakers with the guts to fight Big Ag: Senators Bernie Sanders (a national treasure), Jon Tester, an organic farmer, and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Chellie Pingree. There are others, but not enough; next year there should be more.
[] Sarah Williamson

22. Let’s acknowledge all real farmers, stewards of the earth, as well as those fishers and ranchers who get it: there are plenty, and their numbers are increasing.

23. Much movement in the right direction is thanks to groups like Food and Water Watch and American Farmland Trust (“No Farms, No Food”).

24. But you don’t need to be a farmer to grow food: check out Roger Doiron and his plan for “subversive plots” that will not only lead to greater individual self-sufficiency but will also point to a better way of growing and eating.

25. Finally: Thanks to anyone who’s started a small farm in the last five years, and anyone who’s supported one; anyone who cooks, and especially anyone who teaches others to cook. In these realms, let’s thank FoodCorps, SlowFood USA and Cooking Matters, all doing great work. As are millions of individuals. Bless you.

A version of this article appeared in print on Nov. 20, 2011.

Posted 11/22/2011 5:39am by Trent Thompson.

Looking Glass Creamery Hominy Valley Farms - Land and Cattle Harvest Table Farm Highlander Farms Farms film website Purple States website

The growing season is in its last throes on Hana Newcomb's Northern Virginia farm. In one of the final harvests, workers pull carrots, leafy kale and verdant collard greens from rows flanked by mounds of hay or sheets of black plastic, both chemical-free ways to suppress weeds.

In fact, no crops here have been treated with pesticides, herbicides or chemical input of any sort. But you can't call what's produced on Newcomb's Potomac Vegetable Farms "organic." That word has been tightly regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2002.

"We were certified organic for 13 years, before the federal government got involved," says Newcomb, who now calls her farm's produce "ecoganic" as a way to encourage customers to ask how it was grown — or, even better, come see for themselves. "We are still doing everything the same way, but just aren't getting certified."

Across the USA, many small-scale farmers do not feel the need to become certified organic, even if their method of farming would meet or exceed federal standards. It's a phenomenon that can be credited in part to the eat-local movement and the explosion of farmers markets, where consumers can meet, ask questions of and even visit the people who grow their food. Many locavores feel they don't need a third-party certification for something they've seen with their own eyes.

"My customers put faith in me to provide them exactly what I say I'm growing," says Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, a poultry, beef and pork farmer in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley who was featured in the film Food Inc. and who wrote Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World. "Polyface is open to any visitor, unannounced, 24/7/365 … unescorted. That's our credibility."

Indeed, having credibility in the community is how these farmers are able to make ends meet. Many do all the farmwork themselves, while keeping the books, selling at farmers markets and getting the word out. Maintaining paperwork required to be USDA certified organic is more than many can handle. Salatin says he would need another full-time staffer.

Some farmers "are no longer playing the organic licensing game due to its onerous bureaucratic qualities," Salatin says. "And it does not address many of the important variables — like techniques for soil fertility, weeding and employee treatment — so charlatans receive credentials along with true-blue producers."

Still, not all small farmers opt out. Take Katie Kulla of Oakhill Organics, a 17-acre family farm outside Portland, Ore. She and her husband, Casey, sell organic seeds, and they must comply with USDA rules to use the "O" word.

"Every year, I have to make the decision all over again," Kulla says. "I don't think the restaurants we sell our vegetables to would care at all if we were not certified. They care about the quality."

Brian Leitner, executive chef and co-owner of Nettie's Crab Shack in San Francisco, agrees, saying the big issues are how something is produced, where it's produced and that it's produced sustainably: "Knowing who is growing your product is key."

But how is a non-certified-organic farmer to market a product? Like Newcomb and her "ecoganic" crops, many create terminology. At Polyface, Salatin has come up with catchy terms including "salad bar beef" and "pastured poultry." Proponents of certification would argue that unregulated terminology leaves the consumer uncertain.

Back in Northern Virginia, Newcomb scans her 7 acres. "The organic certification process serves the needs of large-scale farmers who ship their products and can't be in touch with the people who are buying them," she says. "When you live where your market is and sell to your neighbors, what more could you ask for?"

Posted 11/20/2011 10:39am by Trent Thompson.

Greeting, folks:

We hope that you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving! It looks like the snow is going to stay away for another week so all of you who are traveling over the Holiday can do so safely and swiftly!

Thanksgiving may be the ultimate food and farming holiday. For North Americans, giving thanks for a good harvest season at the end of the year as a community has roots in European and Native traditions. The harvest season ends earlier up north, so Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving before we do (second Monday in October).

Here at Green Gardens, the harvest season is still upon us! They didn't have hoophouse or season extension technology in the 16th and 17th centuries. Our unheated greenhouses (high tunnel photos below) are still full of beautiful plants that are thriving with these cooler temperatures. In fact, every time we get a good freeze, the carrots, spinach, and kale get a little sweeter as the sugars inside the greens and roots intensify. The flavors of some of the winter crops are amazing and cannot be experienced during any other season.

Our produce is still avaiable for pick-up at the farm on Monday night using the Online Farm Stand: we have a Thanksgiving special this week! Order today or tomorrow (until 10 AM). We're also still continuing to go to market in Kalamazoo at the Kzoo Foods Market on Saturday, Nov. 26, Dec. 10, and Jan. 7. You can also find our tasty salad mix in Kalamazoo at the People's Food Co-op as long as we have it! We're anticipating we will officially have our Thanksgiving on the farm in January when we will stop harvesting until late March/early April of 2012.

CSA folks: We are still working out the details of the 2012 CSA. For 2011 members, the end-of-season survey will be going out by next week. We are currently looking for a host site near Columbia in Lakeview. Anyone with a shady spot with easy access interested? We hope to finalize details and allow sign-up for next season for current members by Dec. 1. Those on the CSA waiting list for next season will be prompted with an e-mail in January or February to sign-up for the 2012 CSA. Although the list is exceptionally long this season, we'll do our best to find a membership spot for you.

May you all have a great Thanksgiving full of love, family, community, and good food!

Best, Trent & Ruthie


Trent standing at the east end of the unheated greenhouse right before we put on the row cover last WED


Looking eastward once the row cover is on (this is 4, 30x40 ft sheets laying on top of 4, 94 ft. wires that run end-to-end at 40" above soil surface). It's secured to the ends with clothespins. For harvesting, we simply unclip the clothespins, pull the cover into a bunch, and harvest away!

A big thank you to John Biernbaum and Adam Montri at the Mich. State Student Organic Farm and MSU Extension for all of their outreach to growers in Michigan about season extension!

Posted 10/30/2011 2:11pm by Trent Thompson.

Fall Afternoon Greetings, Everyone!

We don't get any trick-or-treaters here at the farm, and that's probably a good thing. Most kids would be sorely disappointed with the bunch of radishes, turnips or carrots that we would drop in their bags. Or, perhaps not? We've heard so many great stories this year about parents raising their kids on real foods and getting their kids to beg for Kale chips, salad mix, cherry tomatoes, or carrots! When we hosted a large group of teenagers from Sprout Urban Farms this summer, they gobbled up a farm lunch that consisted of roasted vegetables and a burrito with vegetables. We looked on with surprise as many of them went up to get extra servings of vegetables. So, while we understand that we are all pre-disposed to crave sweet and fatty foods, it turns out that fresh raw or cooked vegetables can taste just as good or better to our youth than most of the packaged and highly processed foods in the store. We've been saddened by the food we've seen served to our youth in local school cafeterias over the past few years, and hope that Congress will resist further cuts to the school lunch program. A small increase of additional funding for fresh foods in the cafeteria would save hundreds of billions of dollars in the long-term for unneeded treatment of depression, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, etc (see full list here). Fortunately, some schools are making childhood health a priority and are seeing real results!

Alright, off the soapbox and onto farm news...

Yesterday, the final CSA boxes for 2011 went home with our Kalamazoo members. The end of the CSA season is always bittersweet, as this means the end of lots of extra work for the farm, but also the end of our relationship for many months with our CSA members.  Thank you to all of our members for your support this season of fresh, local, naturally-grown produce and in sharing the bountiful fruits of our harvests with the intention of inspiring a new appreciation of healthy, delicious eating. We are still working on the details for the 2012 CSA season, but will release them as soon as we can (probably by Thanksgiving). We still need some time to evaluate this season and we are working with some new software through our webhost that will enable online sign-up, payment, and many other CSA management tools.

We will be at the Bank Street Market in Kalamazoo for 3 more Saturdays until November 19. You can also find us at the Kzoo Foods Market November 26 and December 10. We also anticipate keeping the Online Farm Stand open until mid-December.

This past week, we dug sunchokes [also called Jerusalem artichokes], the nutty-flavored edible tuberous cousin of the sunflower. They yielded roughly 4 pounds per plant, which, considering the miniscule amount of time we spent tending them, is great! They proved to be a hit at the Bank Street Market yesterday, especially with recipes for Sunchokes au Gratin and Glazed Sunchokes, 2 tasty dishes we tried earlier this week. We'll save some tubers to plant in the spring for next year's fall harvest. You can buy sunchokes on the Online Farm Stand for all you curious folks.

Hopefully, the weather remains dry for the next couple of days, as we have yet to plant our garlic. We plan to plant 2,400 row feet of garlic this year in hopes of satisfying demand next year. As we wait, the end-of-season to-do list continues: removing twine, t-posts, and mulch from the tomatoes; tilling in crops that are done; washing 300 totes; fence repairs; removing irrigation lines; various projects we didn't get to in the spring; and general clean-up. Today, we will finish stringing wire and covering the high tunnel crops with large pieces of row cover. This provides an extra layer of warmth in the cold nights to come. The caterpillar tunnel now has the plastic covering it [see photo below of carrots, Japanese spinach, and kale], making the temperature inside rather pleasant on sunny yet chilly days.

Sunchokes aren't the only item on the Online Farm Stand this week. We have all the wonderful greens [salad mix, kale, chard, Japanese spinach, collards], plus salad turnips, broccoli, CSA sampler boxes, cabbage, gift certificates, and more! Order now until Monday at 10AM for pick-up Monday evening from 4-7PM. Pay with cash or check when you pick up, or use PayPal when you check out.

Have a great week, folks, and may you be in good health!

Trent & Ruthie

From L-R: 2 rows Red Russian Kale and 1 row Japanese Spinach in far left bed, middle and right bed each have 3 rows of Carrots. The metal hoops over the beds provide support for the row cover [not shown] so as to minimize frost damage to the greens or foliage. It is usually 10-30 degrees warmer inside the tunnel during the day and several degrees warmer at night.


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Posted 10/25/2011 7:56pm by Trent Thompson.

We bet most of you have not ever heard of a sunchoke [Jerusalem artichoke], let alone tasted one. We hadn't tasted them...until tonight. With nearly a dozen sunchoke recipes to choose from in the Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook, we settled on Glazed Sunchokes and Sunchoke au Gratin. Both are tasty and simple to prepare.

A bit of background: sunchokes are cousins to sunflowers, as evidenced by their sunny yellow flowers and stunning height of 10 feet. They were heavily used by the U.S. Native Americans. Since sunchokes contain inulin, a slow-to-digest polysaccharide, instead of starch, they make a great choice for diabetics.

Now, for the good eatin'!

Glazed Sunchokes from Harmony Valley Farm in Wisconsin

  • 1 pound sunchokes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (to prevent browning)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Soak sunchoke pieces in water mixed with lemon juice. Bring a saucepan of fresh water to a boil; add sunchokes and onions and cook for 7 minutes. Drain. Stir-fry parboiled sunchokes in butter, stirring in pecans and honey. Cook until onions begin to brown. Makes 3-4 servings.

We used chopped walnuts, which turned out quite tasty.


Sunchokes Au Gratin from Harmony Valley Farm in Wisconsin

  • 2 pounds sunchokes, scrubbed or peeled
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, in pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Steam or boil sunchokes until just tender. Let cool and then cut into thin slices. Lay slices in a greased casserole dish. Add salt and pepper. Cover with cheese and dot with butter. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until brown. Makes 6-8 servings.

We cut this recipe in half with delicious success.



Posted 10/16/2011 12:24pm by Trent Thompson.
Good Morning, Fellow Green Gardens Friends!

Friday marked the next to last seed sowing: baby Asian greens and spinach. These crops staked claim on the last 2 beds in the high tunnel. See photo below for what we have growing out there. The hoops and purlins [cross supports] went up on the caterpillar tunnel this past week; all that remains is the plastic, which will prove less daunting than the plastic for the high tunnel a year ago spring. The carrots, kale, and Japanese spinach look beautiful, so we're expecting bounty from this tunnel! Our last crop to plant this year is garlic. We plan to plant it next week and use even more seed than year's past. Garlic is one of the only seeds we save here on the farm. In doing so, we can save the best seed to continually better our crop and increase our annual yield. Customers certainly notice a distinct flavor difference between farm-grown garlic and store-bought garlic.

Between these chilly fall days and helping you stay healthy, now is the perfect time to stock up on greens. And the Green Gardens Online Farm Stand is just the place to help you out. We have chard, kale, Japanese spinach, collards, salad mix, arugula, and mustards, plus CSA sampler boxes, sweet carrots, kohlrabi, turnips, and more. Order now until Monday at 10AM, then pick-up Monday evening 4-7PM. Pay using PayPal when you order, or by cash or check when you pick up. It's that easy!

Lastly, we have a serving spoon and a pot holder left at Barn Bash 2 weeks ago. If you're missing either, send us an email with a description and we'll figure out a way to get it back to you.

We hope you are well.

Happy eating!
Ruthie & Trent

From right to left: 2 rows salad turnips, 2 rows lacinato kale, 1 row chard, 2 rows beets, 1 bed baby lettuce [1st rotation], 3 rows spinach, 1 bed baby lettuce [2nd rotation], 1 bed baby Asian greens [1st rotation], 1 bed baby Asian greens [2nd rotation, not yet germinated], 3 rows spinach [not yet germinated]

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Posted 10/9/2011 9:39am by Trent Thompson.
Good Morning, Folks,

What a beautiful weather week we just had! Friday's harvest was tremendously more pleasant than the Friday before. We enjoy still having the warmth and sunshine on our backs.

We had a great turnout for market yesterday in Kalamazoo; many people were trying to savor the last taste of summer while enjoying some of fall's delights. Thanks to those who came to show your support!

This is the time of year that we normally begin to see the end of the season coming and start to put things away for the winter. But, this year is a little different. We are going to give winter growing a serious shot this season. Our field high tunnel (greenhouse) has been planted with beets, chard, kale, salad turnips, salad mix, and spinach. These crops will be ready to harvest in November and December, and then the spinach will continue to re-grow in February and March for additional harvests. The flavors of winter vegetables are amazing since the freezes intensify the sugars in the greens and roots. The carrots, spinach, and kale, especially, are incredibly sweet. The photo below is of the caterpillar tunnel that we are constructing this week over three beds, two of carrots and one of red russian kale and Japanese spinach. Clay spent much of yesterday while we were at market setting the ground posts and attaching the hoops together (the first hoop is up, 20 more to go!). We'll show a picture of the winter high tunnel planting in next week's e-mail. Look for our winter produce at the Kzoo Foods Market (starting Nov. 26) in Kalamazoo and at the farm through the online farm stand.

The online farm stand this week has lots of great produce choices, including no-spray apples that are sweet and crunchy, greens (baby and cooking) galore, German Butterball potatoes, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, and more! Order now for the widest selection. To make purchasing transactions easier, we now accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover credit card payments through PayPal processing. Pick-up is Monday night from 4-7 PM at the farm at 8319 White Rabbit Rd.

We hope you are all enjoying this beautiful weather! The chickens certainly are taking advantage of it. The dry weather means dust baths are pretty popular these days!

Have a great week, Trent & Ruthie

Photo below of caterpillar tunnel construction...

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Posted 9/25/2011 1:14pm by Trent Thompson.
Cozy Fall Afternoon Greetings, Everyone,

Since last week's update, we plowed through the roughly 1600 lbs of tomatoes that were taking over our living room. Many folks in the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo area have been happily canning. Thanks for taking the tomatoes off our hands, and we hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor in the depths of winter!

This cool and wet weather means that the baby greens, cooking greens and roots are thriving again. Cabbage and broccoli are looking really good and are probably 2-3 weeks away. Despite the coolness, the tomatoes, eggplant, and beans are continuing to produce well.

This past Saturday was our last Saturday market at the Battle Creek Farmers Market for the 2011 season. We will continue to go to the Battle Creek WED market from 9-1 PM.

The online farm stand has lots of great choices again this week. We are continuing to offer CSA sampler boxes. Other tasty and highly addictive options include the Hakurei salad turnips, beets, japanese spinach (new this week!), beans, German Butterball potatoes, leeks, and New Girl tomatoes. Order now for the best selection. Ordering is fast, easy, and fun! Pick-up here at the farm on Monday night from 4:00-7:00 PM.

On the farm, we are continuing to plant and are gearing up for a strong winter harvest from the field greenhouses (with no supplemental heating) through December (and probably later). This will be our first season taking winter growing seriously. We are planning to attend a winter market in Kalamazoo, as well as sell to area restaurants and via the online farm stand at the farm. We'll be taking lots of notes to aid in planning for the late fall/winter CSA extension next season and future winter markets.

Don't forget the Barn Bash (Details) is next Sunday at 2 PM! RSVP to only if you can come by Tuesday.

Thanks again and have a great week, Trent & Ruthie

A shot of the East field below. Here you'll see the baby greens, some roots, and the chicken tractor out on the field. The hoops with covering are protecting crops from the wind and cooler temps which are sure to come soon. What a beautiful, productive, and tasty site!