Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beet Salad Dressing

My current favorite. Thanks, Hop and Lila! We miss you!
1 beet grated
3-4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup good olive oil
3 TB cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp salt
1-2 pitted dates
1/2 tsp rosemary

I also add some honey, and usually more vinegar. Play with it till it tastes best to you. The color is vibrant and it really dresses a salad.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When farmers are going broke, it’s wrong to expect them to reform the system,”asserts Wendell Berry, “In fact, there are too few actual farmers left to reform anything… Reform is going to have to come from consumers. Industrial agriculture is an urban invention, and if agriculture is going to be reinvented, it’s going to have to be reinvented by urban people.”

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beautiful weather!

I don't think we had many August days as nice as today and yesterday! Wow. I could use about a week of this.

Bill and Mike built our new sugar shack shed off the new shop and have most of it painted. We picked out the new syrup arch and pan to order from Sugar Bush Supplies. We skipped Spring 09 syrup-making, so it will be good to make it in Spring 2010.

Bill picked the first small field of corn and we moved all the brood cows and calves into it this evening. They will glean the stalks and missed corn - we try not to waste much on this farm. All the cows will get run through the shoot tomorrow, pregnancy checked, and retagged if they've lost their tag. They will get a good look for health, age, etc., and some may be marked for culling (ground beef). The calves look great this year! All the rain made lush pastures and good milk.

We still have the younger bull, but butchered the older bull a few weeks ago.

I got all the potting soil made for next years' seedlings to be started in the greenhouse. More garden is cleaned up. Rye is sprouted in the fields for green manure crop. All the carrots and parsnips for winter storage are mulched thickly with straw and will be dug throughout the winter. It's always a chore to move the snow, straw, and then freeze hands while digging them out of the cold soil, but they are so tasty sweet! We have tried to put in a large enough crop to have some for Sweetwater Market through the winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fully Fallen

Whew! Wow! Holy s#*+! Yeah, at different times of the seasonal cycles that's about all I can say. Please forgive my internet absence. Its been quite a year and hunting and pecking my way through regular communication entails more energy then I want to spare.

Autumn is completely here. This year it came in the way of one long cold raindrop. October 31st, after dumping another 3" from the rain gauge, the monthly total here on the farm exceeded 11 inches. At one point the weather man commented that "for 24 days so far this month there has been measurable precipitation on 17 of them."

To quote myself from a few months ago "I wonder what the recharge will look like?" We were due, now here it is. The ponds, swamps and rivers are full. The local paper (17 miles away) had the precipitation for last month at 3.37" when we had over 8". North of us, they got 11 inches in one June rainstorm. Roads are still being repaired. The agricultural erosion and sedimentation created from that "rain event" will take years to repair.

Fortunately, here, we are just muddy. The sunny break in September allowed for some very good fieldwork and the new barley, rye and hay remain in good shape. The critters are still on pasture. Rain equals grass so the cattle have never looked better. For that matter the pigs look great too, following the steers, foraging acorns and rooting the soft ground wherever they please.

Obviously some work is delayed. There is compost that could have been spread and the home barnyard is pretty sloppy. Corn is yet to be picked and that will prove interesting. We may have to wait until it freezes. If necessary we could cross fence it and turn the cattle into a chunk at a time. If that happens we would probably winter some pigs to follow.

All that being said, there's still plenty to do before snow arrives. We have some building projects to finish and more firewood to bring in. Yesterday the sun came out and it was a beautiful day to work in the woods. And trees love the deep rains we've had. Bill

Colored beauty past
The leaves now fully fallen
Contours are revealed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Higher Grounds Coffee

We bulk order Higher Grounds coffee about every other month, plus I sell it in smaller quantities at Sweetwater Local Foods Market. I really like working with a truly Fair Trade organization. Here's a note from them today:

Higher Grounds is sending $4,200 to coffee farmers in the Mayan Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico!

Each year, Higher Grounds sends 15 cents per pound purchased to the coffee growers of the Maya Vinic coffee cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico. This is on top of the fair trade/organic green bean coffee price we pay the farmers. This year, we purchased 28,598 pounds of green beans from the cooperative to fresh roast as our Mexican Maya Vinic Medium Roast and use in many of our best-selling blends.

The total premium sent to Maya Vinic this year is $4,289.78, which will be used to support the co-op and the 500 farmers employed there. Higher Grounds was among the first coffee roasters to import Maya Vinic's fair trade and organic beans, and has been honored to partner with the people of Maya Vinic on a number of projects over the past seven years. We view this payment not as a donation but a reflection of the deep partnership between Higher Grounds and Maya Vinic to offer you the highest quality coffees grown by the most amazing fair trade and organic farmers in the world!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall in the Gardens

We got all the garlic planted yesterday - ~~ 1800 cloves. This is about a 100 more cloves of hardneck than last year, and a bit more green garlic.

The hoophouse is enclosed and things are growing in it. A lot of garden is cleaned up and cover crops planted. The new wash shed is almost done. Potatoes are all dug and sorted into seed and eating size.

The deer are wrecking the fall garden - eating the tops of cabbages. GRRR. They probably snack on them while on their way to the field corn for their main meal.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bulk ground beef for sale in a few weeks

We will have lean ground beef for sale in quantity soon. The packages will be 1# and 2#, it will be USDA inspected, but not priced for individual package resale so put your orders in now! Minimum quantity will be 10# or there-abouts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I feel like I'm still in recovery and trying really hard to do other things than think about or work with vegetables. Of course, that hasn't happened, but I have let the blog slide for a couple of weeks!

Having a CSA is a huge responsibility. You trust us to grow food and we do our best with the enormity of that job. It presents different challenges all throughout the growing season, and from year to year. This year seemed especially hard for even experienced growers like us. If you've planted a garden of your own this year, please know this and don't lose heart - try again next year! We will :-).

The past 2 weeks have been busy with winter preparation. It would have been nice to have a warmer stretch into October. We've had to hustle to get the last of the tender crops in, the hoophouse rebuilt, ground cleaned up and readied for planting garlic and green manure crops. Long-season crops are being harvested, sorted, prepped for storage. We've finally dried and frozen and canned some food for ourselves, too. Bill has repaired a lot of fence and moved the cattle a few times, separating out the older bull and the steers.

Bill just got appointed to the MIFFs Board - Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Alliance.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FREEZE ~ more than just a frost

We were hit hard last night. Those of you who picked up veggies today saw how wilted and damaged the plants were. We picked all the beans, covered the pole beans but they still had damage, picked a bunch of basil, peppers, eggplants (mostly very small ones). Season's over for most things. It's kind of fitting since this was the last CSA pickup day.

We would like to invite you all to come to Sweetwater Market with an enticing $5 off vegetable purchases at our table. We are at the Hackley professional building south of The Lakes Mall on Harvey Street. Or take the Pontaluna Road exit off US 31 and go east to Harvey St. Then go north and follow the signs. We are outside if the weather is good, inside if it's windy, rainy or snowing. Hours are Saturdays 9-1 till the end of the year. We are also open January - May every other week.

Thanks for being a part of our CSA! We are going to try to organize a members potluck in the very near future. Email or call if you are interested in participating.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes are a family of heritage potatoes which naturally grow much smaller than conventional potatoes. They also tend to be elongated and slightly knobbly, making them very finger-like in shape. The unusual looking, flavorfulpotatoes can be used just like regular potatoes in an assortment of roasted, broiled, baked, grilled, or boiled dishes.

'French Fingerling': FRENCH FINGERLING MINI-TUBER * ORGANICSilky-smooth, cranberry-red skin covers moist yellow flesh marbled with red, especially just under the skin. The 11/2- by 3-inch-long tubers look as good as they taste. Best steamed or roasted.

'Russian Banana':Fingerling PotatoesYellow-skinned, yellow-fleshed, and medium-sized tubers produced in a quantity rivaling Austrian Crescent's make this one of the most popular fingerlings. Russian Banana tubers measure 1 inch by 3 inches. Along with perhaps French Fingerling, this variety is the one you'll most likely find served in restaurants. Best baked, steamed, or in salads.

'Purple Peruvian':
See full size image
Uniquely purple skin and flesh are perhaps this fingerling's best features. The tubers measure 3/4 by 2 inches. The plant is less productive than most fingerlings. Best mashed or baked.


Celeriac is also known as celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery

Celeriac is a vegetable that is a member of the celery family. However, only its root is used for cooking purposes. It has a taste that is similar to a blend of celery and parsley. I planted the seed in February, transplanted it into the garden in May and it is just now ready for harvest!

You can safely store it in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Because celeriac can be used in recipes that call for celery, its use is limitless. It needs to be peeled with a paring knife, and then can be used raw or cooked in many ways.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

To our CSA members

Please get your herbs this next week, or let me know what you want and stop by Sweetwater Market on a Saturday. We have a lot of cilantro and basil right now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Russet Potatoes

Russet Potato russet potatoes

Usage: Baking, frying, mashing, roasting, boiling. Russets are often used to make french fries

Selection: Good-quality Russet potatoes will be firm, have a net-like texture to the skin and russet-brown coloring. They should have few eyes, and those few eyes should be shallow.

Store Russet Potatoes in a cool (40 - 50° F), dry, well ventilated, dark place to protect them from light exposure and to inhibit quick sprouts from growing. If your potatoes do begin to sprout or grow, cut off the sprouts. If you don't have good storage available, buy in smaller quantities and more often.

Kale Chips! Recipe from a friend

Kale Chips is what you do when you have kale here, kale there kale EVERYWHERE!

I thought I may have a better chance of my family embracing kale in chip form. Everyone in my house loves chips. Green chips, do you think they bought it? Um, no. But I am in love.

So being that I am not a recipe person most of the time here is how I did it.

1. Wash kale and check for bugs n' stuff. Spin or pat it dry.

2. Remove the leaves from the center stem.

3. Tear up into pieces about the size of a chip, like a tortilla chip not a Frito or chocolate chip.

4. Toss them in a big bowl with a enough olive oil to lightly cover (less than you think so be careful) and a dash of salt or garlic salt. You can get creative with cumin, or chili powder as you get used to making it.

5. Lay out one layer on a cookie sheet.

6. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes or so. Until the edges are just starting to turn brown. Be aware that if you pull it out too early it will be soggy and not chippy.

7. Remove from sheet onto paper towel to soak up some of the excess oil.

8. Present on a colorful complimentary plate and EAT UP!

Winter Squash

Heart of GoldHeart of Gold Squash
An early winter squash that combines a sweet dumpling with an acorn squash to produce a small acorn shaped vegetable. The outer skin is cream colored with dark green stripes covering a fine-grained inner flesh that is orange when ripe. This squash has a sweet rich flavor and can be baked, mashed or steamed. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Garden and veggie update

  • Two more weeks of CSA veggies after today. A few of you are having an extended season because of time out of town. We'll get together with you to figure out the specifics of that.
  • Pickles are almost done producing and certainly aren't as nice-looking any more!
  • Beans are producing lots! In fact, we have extra for canning or freezing for $2 per lb, $1.50 per lb for CSA members. They are picked young and tender.
  • Peppers are finally turning red! S l o w l y...
  • It's the last week for sweet corn and melons.
  • There are very few pumpkins.
  • Some animal went through the melon patch and pulled up most of the sunflowers! They were just about to bloom.
  • Potatoes are all ready to dig - lots of them. New kinds coming still: Russet, French Fingerling and Peruvian Purple Fingerling.
  • Winter squash looks plentiful for shares. Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Delicata.
  • Lettuces look good - they like the cooler nights.
  • We should have enough carrots ready for them to go out in shares 1 more time.
  • Onions should all be harvested this week. You will get more, plus scallions, plus leeks.
  • You will get celeriac and parsnips the last share days (first week in October).

Friday, September 11, 2009

CSA Poem

This was written by a friend (and beef and pork customer) who belongs to the CSA at MSU.

It's Wednesday Again
The week has flown by, with its hustle and bustle,
My body's so tired, I can't move a muscle,
I glance at my calendar, thinking, and then
break out in a smile--it's Wednesday again.
Wednesday--the day I pick up from the farm
home-grown veggies, herbs, flowers, grown pure without harm,
Twice blessed--by the ground and the students who grow them,
and pick them, and sort them, and love them, and know them.
I pick up my bundle, a colorful treasure,
The bounty and beauty a gift beyond measure.
I take in the shapes and the textures and sizes,
And think of the flavorful meal surprises
we'll enjoy through the week, as we try out new dishes.
All organic and locally grown, as our wishes
to live more sustainably, purely, have shown us,
so I thank you for all the good stuff you have grown us!
by Patti Kenney

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomatillo Salsa recipe from Gail Smythe

I found a new recipe for tomatillo salsa that's excellent! Made it today with peppers from the garden and some of Patrice's fantastic tomatillos, onions, & garlic. (Note from Patrice: The recipe can be halved or quartered)

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (It's hot!)

2 pounds fresh tomatillos, whole, husks removed, and rinsed
2 medium (or one large) red onion, cut in to large slices (width-wise), approximately 3/4 inch thick - Imagine onion rings, but not separated.
2 habanero peppers
2 jalapeno (or 3 serrano) peppers
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Preheat a grill on indirect high heat. Cook the tomatillos, onion slices, peppers, and garlic all on indirect heat for 10 minutes on one side, flip, and then 10 minutes on the other. Time may need to be adjusted. You want the tomatillos to be slightly charred and a little soft. They'll turn from bright green to a yellowish-green when ready. You also want the garlic and onion to soften up. The peppers will char slightly and get very soft.

Let everything cool to handling temperature. Using a food processor, chop the peppers finely (removing the stems first). Peel the garlic. Chop the onions coarsely. Throw the onions and garlic into the food processor with the peppers and chop finely. Put the onion mixture into a bowl. Puree the tomatillos and add to the onion mixture along with the salt & coriander.

Refrigerate and eat within 2-3 days.


Roasted Tomatillo & Cream Cheese Dip

In a mixer, or by hand, cream an 8 ounce block of cream cheese. Gradually add 1 cup of the above salsa, mixing well. Beat it until it's light and well combined. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Eat with tortilla chips. Or use it as a sandwich spread. Or Try mixing it with shredded chicken for an enchilada filling. Mmmmmmmm......

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weather and veggies

I think this is the hardest growing season we've ever experienced. The weather the past week has been what we needed a month ago! We disconnected most of the irrigation since things were so wet, and now we are getting dry again.

The Winter Squash looks like it's made a decent crop. There are 4 or 5 kinds growing. The melons have not done well - normally we have lots of whole melons for everyone, but we are having to cut them in halves and quarters to have enough. They are ripening inconsistently because of the weather, and again, don't have the flavor they normally do with a hot summer.

Sweet corn is still coming on. Silver Queen is next - it's an old fashioned white corn.

We aren't even trying for tomatoes for shares this week - even the little tomatoes are affected and look terrible. I picked some green tomatoes that didn't have rot to see if they would ripen off the vine. So far, they just develop the blight spots.

Red and yellow peppers - still green. We will have to start picking them green soon and just give up on colored ones. They are supposed to turn red or yellow about 3 weeks after they are mature green. It's been at least a month now!

It takes us about 40-50 hours to pick, wash and pack veggies for shares every Monday and Thursday this time of year. It gets hard to find the time to keep up with the weeding, tending, planting. We did quit early today (6:30pm) and met our daughter and family for dinner before the kids go back to school tomorrow.

I hope you all have had a great Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Roasting Chickens for sale

$3 per lb. They are available at the Farm fresh tomorrow. After that, they will be frozen either here or in storage at The Starting Block in Hart. They range from about 4.5# to 6#. Think 'small turkeys'. Yum.

Long Days

Mike and I were commenting about how we don't know when we would have time to pick tomatoes if we had some! It's usually a couple of hours every other day. Instead, we've started pulling out the plants. They won't make enough to leave them in, and it's starting to smell quite unpleasant! I have some canned and frozen tomatoes left from last year - good thing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kennebec Potatoes

What exactly is a KENNEBEC POTATO?Kennebec Pictures

The Kennebec potato is making quite an imprint on the culinary world... potato-wise. The days of 'just use any old potato' for french fries are gone, and finer restaurants are switching over to the Kennebec for a variety of reasons and for many kinds of dishes. Why?
As with all basic food items, the qualities of that particular food are important to how it is cooked by itself and how it is used with other ingredients in recipes. The Kennebec has great potato qualities and, though this strain of potato has been around for over 50 years, it's just beginning to get its due and being noticed by better restauranteurs.
The Kennebec is a large potato, and it looks very pretty with its light tan skin, nice uniform appearance (it usually doesn't have large 'holes' like many other potatoes), and attractive white fleshy insides. The skin is thin so it peels quickly (and is fine to use even unpeeled), and it's a nice oval potato so it is more attractive on the plate than some other irregularly-shaped ones. It is an easily-grown main crop potato, the plant has a high and dependable yield of large potatoes, it resists blight and other diseases well, and the potatoes winter very well for a long storage time.
But all that is just the growing, storage and appearance benefits; what about cooking and taste?

They are GOOD. It tastes very much like a potato; this statement only makes sense when you really try to decide what a potato tastes like. Some have a very weak, diluted potato taste, some have sweeter or starchier or 'dirt' tastes, but the Kennebec tastes balanced, just right. The balance of tastes seems like the perfect potato. They perhaps have a subtle 'nutty' tint to the flavor.

These potatoes 'hold together' well when cooked. Some potatoes seem to keep too much firmness after cooking, some potatoes get all mushy right away, but the Kennebec maintains a stable integrity... you pick up those fries and they like to hold together, you bake the potato and it's a nice consistency. Mashed, scalloped, potato strings, potato salad, roasted, baked, hashbrowns and french fries, you have only to search for 'kennebec potato' and you'll see what restaurants, fish and chip cafes, and chefs are saying about the Kennebec.

It is still rare to find this potato type in grocery stores. It is more common for restaurants to buy them through suppliers as it is becoming a well-known restaurant potato.

Garlic in your box today / Tomato blight

Is Elephant garlic that got stressed (cold winter?) and made 1 big bulb instead of cloves. It's a mild garlic, very juicy and can be chopped and used like any garlic.

Tomato blight is widespread. I heard today - Baldwin, Traverse City, East Lansing Student Organic Farm. Everyone is bummed. MSU says they don't think it carries over in the soil, tho. The University specialists have tried to save about 1/3 of the organic farm crop there. Jeremy also said they are picking all their green tomatoes and seeing what ripens, so maybe we will try that.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Veggies this past week

It's raining, again. I have a spare moment out of it to let you know about some surprises in your box!

A few people got Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers (an heirloom, long pointy and wrinkly) and a few got Mild Jalapenos (they look like regular jalapenos, only they have no heat). We still have no sign of red or yellow sweet peppers, and feel lucky the green ones are finally getting a little larger. I'm not sure what the 4 days of temps in the 60s / 40s will do to them, or the other heat-loving crops.

Hot peppers are sparse. Any in your box will be in a ziplock bag marked HOT. I try to have some extra at the Market or set out for CSA people here. I got a report of a very hot jalapeno!

The tomatoes are getting worse and worse. All the tomatoes put in your boxes this week were sorted through for blemishes or blight and all looked good going in. However, some of the large ones I had set aside for shares picked up on Friday and Saturday started deteriorating overnight. I'm sorry if yours has. It is absolutely the worst tomato crop ever, in 38 years of growing them. And that's the word from just about everyone. Even people with nice looking tomatoes (no blight) say the flavor is not good. Tomatoes need heat and dry weather to develop the best taste, concentrate the natural sugars. Commercial growers are having to spray spray spray to keep some of their crop.

Here's more on Jimmy Nardello:

Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Italian Frying pepper

  • This variety of pepper was originally from Basilicata, a southern region of Italy. It takes its name from seed saver Jimmy Nardello, who brought the seeds from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887. The Jimmy Nardello's pepper is sweet and light when eaten raw. It is considered one of the very best frying peppers as its fruity raw flavor becomes perfectly creamy and soft when fried.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My favorite ways to eat eggplant

  • Cube it into fairly large chunks (1/2 inch slices cut in half) with summer squashes, onions, green peppers. Toss in olive oil and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
  • Cut into 3/4 inch slices lengthwise. Brush with oil and grill till it's browned. It will soften as it cools.
  • Eggplant Parmesan!
  • Saute and add to any tomato sauce.


It seems that all over the world, at some point along the way, many cultures met and fell in love with the lovely appearance and creamy-smooth flesh of this surprisingly versatile vegetable.


Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50°F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild.


Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort. The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries.

Baba Ghanouj

This is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe for baba ghanouj, a thick but light spread that is delicious as a dip for pita bread or vegetables or as a filling in a sandwich. Its distinct, nutty flavor comes from tahini, a sesame paste that is widely available in specialty stores and many supermarkets.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 medium eggplants

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4–1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1–11/2 large lemons)

1/3 cup tahini

1–2 cloves garlic, minced (1/2–1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil over both whole eggplants and place them on a baking sheet. Roast, turning once or twice, until very soft, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. Let cool.

3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. (Be careful not to overtoast them, as they will burn very quickly once toasted.) Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.

4. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh. Purée the eggplant flesh in a food processor or finely chop it on a cutting board. Transfer to a bowl.

5. Add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix until well combined.

6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro or parsley and toasted pine nuts.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bad News About Tomatoes

Our tomato patch is succumbing to the Tomato / Potato Blight that is sweeping the Northeast and moving into the Midwest. The cause is cool, damp weather combined with spores of Phytophthora infestans. This has been blamed on plants sold at 'big box' stores for home gardeners, but we grew all our plants from seed - all 600+ of them. It's the weather that is to blame - too cool and too wet too early in the season. I saw the first affected plants on Saturday and now it's evident through most of the patch. Some spores tend to stay in the soil, but are usually dormant till September when most of the fruit has ripened. We will have to destroy all diseased plants and not grow tomatoes in our driveway garden for years to come.

Commercial growers are losing 25-50% of their crop and organic farmers are being wiped out because the controls of the fungus can't be used. We have sprayed with copper, kelp and fish emulsion hoping for plant vigor in the remaining plants so they can resist the disease.

Please rest assured we will not spray poisons on your veggies. We will pass on any decent edible tomatoes to CSA members. Cherry tomatoes are most resistant, so that may be the bulk of what you get.

I laid awake a couple of hours last night lamenting the loss of this wondrous vital crop. We depend on our tomatoes for nourishment and income, and you depended on us to grow them for you. We are so sorry.

Monday, August 17, 2009

today's veggies

I'm off to a birth - am doing a quick post here. We are going to try to send a half dozen ears of corn with each share! They were not quite ripe a couple of days ago (we ate them anyhow). The peppers are still kind of small and misshapen - the plants are loaded and sometimes peppers get caught in the middle. They will break the plant as they grow so have to be harvested smaller and they are usually strange shapes because of the crowding.

Please return the containers, plastic and wooden, pints, quarts and odd sizes. We like to keep them in circulation. Boxes, too!

Enjoy! More posting later.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sweet Corn!

We ate not-quite-ripe sweet corn for dinner last night! Soon....

And we picked nearly a dozen large tomatoes, an Italian Heirloom variety started from seed by Amanda, Mike's wife. Yay! The hot crops are loving the weather the past week. NOW it feels like summer in Michigan!
love your farmers market contest - help your market win $5,000 - vote today!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Michigan: where folks are wondering which will be turning red first; the leaves or the tomatoes! : /

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

8 Excellent Reasons To Plant Cover Crops

You will notice when crops are harvested and the ground worked up, we usually plant buckwheat or rye, oats or wheat as a green manure cover crop. Here's all the good reasons why. Thanks to Peaceful Valley for the article!

1. To provide erosion control.

2. To build the soil's organic matter & humus content and improve soil structure.

3. Increase the microbial activity and biomass in the topsoil and provide food for the soil microbes and earthworms which are vital to plant health.

4. To provide competition to weed growth.

5. To increase water infiltration from rainfall and irrigation. Your soil gets more water, distributed more evenly.

6. To increase nutrient availability: cover crops extract nutrients from the subsoil and deposit them in the topsoil.

7. To provide habitat, prey, nectar and pollen for beneficial insects.

8. To break up the subsoil, clay layers and plowsoles for increased water and air penetration.

Summer Squash recipes

These are from Peaceful Valley, an organic farm seed and supply catalogue:

Simple Sauté

Dice an onion and slice few zucchini. Warm a few table spoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions, then zucchini a couple minutes later. Add some Italian seasoning and fresh cracked pepper. Other welcome additions could include minced garlic, diced red pepper, summer squash. Put the lid on the pan to let the squash simmer and soften. Enjoy with rice.


Summer Omelette

Whisk 4 eggs with a touch of milk and pour them over sauté vegetables (see above). Use a spatula around the edges of the pan to encourage the uncooked eggs to find their way to the frying pan surface. When the eggs are nearly done, add some cheddar cheese to the top and put a lid on it. Turn off the burner and let the cheese melt. Fold in half (or not) and enjoy!


Summer Squash Soup

In a tablespoon of olive oil, sauté a diced yellow onion or two, some minced garlic, and (optional) sliced celery and carrots. After a couple minutes, add several sliced summer squashes, stir and sauté for about 5 minutes. When the squash is soft, add enough chicken (or vegetable) broth to cover the vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes. Blend the soup in a blender in batches. Stir in a 1/4 cup of cream (optional) and serve with a decorative drizzle of creme fraich or sour cream (optional). *Make this a curry squash soup by adding a table spoon of curry powder when you sauté the onions.


Stuffed Zucchini

When you find yourself with a zucchini the size of a bowling ball pin, slice it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and set it aside. Sauté some onions, garlic, more squash (of course), other garden veggies, and optionally some beef or Italian sausage. Add some tomato sauce (optional). Mix in bread crumbs or cooked rice or cooked barley. Add some mozzarella or parmesan cheese (optional). Re-fill the zucchini shells with the stuffing and place them in a glass baking dish with a 1/2" of water in the bottom and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  (Let us know if you want some larger squash - we usually feed them to the chickens).


Squash Parmesan

Slice any kind of squash you have on hand. Toss with some olive oil and minced garlic. Fill a glass baking dish with the squash and cover the top with a generous layer of a mixture of breadcrumbs, parmesan, and italian herbs. Bake for 30-45 minutes. This makes a great side dish for chicken.


Summer Squash Garlic Grill Marinade

Mince 4 cloves of garlic and mix it with a pinch of fine salt. Allow it to sit for a minute (the salt will help bring out the garlic flavor). Mix with1/4 cup of olive oil and add any other herbs you enjoy grilling with. Slice zucchinis, yellow summer squashes, and patty pan squashes into broad 1/4" slices. Brush both sides with the garlic marinade, grill for about 3 minutes on each side and enjoy.  (I usually also add tamari soy sauce.)

I also like to roast squash and other vegetables:  slice in uniform-sized pieces.  Toss with a good olive oil.  Spread 1 layer deep on a cookie sheet and roast in a 375-425 oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring 1-2 times.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finally - Hot Weather!

It was warm enough to jump in Lake Michigan yesterday and is supposed to be really hot all week! Maybe we'll start getting some real tomatoes soon. The Sweet Peppers, Cukes and Squashes are coming on really strong, and we ate the first cantaloupe today for lunch!

Enjoy your veggies this week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Next week's (#11) veggies

Looks like we will have leeks, garlic, sweet peppers, maybe some hot peppers, eggplant, fingerling potatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, lettuce, beans, and more!

A note about potatoes

Do not leave them out on your counter. The fingerlings especially will begin to turn green right away. They need to be kept in a cool, dark place. We have to be extra careful about hilling and mulching the fingerling potatoes when they are still growing so there will be no sun exposure.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Time off

Bill and I just had 5 days away from the Farm. Our niece got married in Oregon so we flew out with lots of other family, had hot hot hot weather while in Portland, spent a few cooler days on the Coast. The family & friend time, hiking, seafood (gosh I wish we could grow that fresh here!), Pinot Noir, wedding, were all great!

It's so nice to have capable and consistent help here on the Farm so we could do that. Thanks, Mike, and everyone else!

Now to catch up...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week 9 veggies

Update Monday night: The potatoes are Satina, a buff outside and yellow inside, supposed to be better than Yukon Golds. They somehow got scab on the outside so they are not very pretty and should probably be peeled, but they taste great! We aren't saving any seed so we dug the whole row for shares this week (and a huge batch of mashed potatoes with Shitake butter last night).

The Rainbow Carrots are reds, yellows, whites, oranges. Quite pretty and tasty!

Looks like we will have celery, beets with greens, lettuce, rainbow carrots, squash, cucumbers, potatoes (not sure which variety), the last of the small onions, and more.


Changes along the driveway: Chard and Kale are abundantly growing. Please cut extra any time. A knife is in a plastic container nailed to a fencepost there. Late cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower are mostly in west of the chard and kale. Most of the early broccoli is pulled out and fed to chickens, pigs and cows.

Tomato plants are growing taller and finally setting some fruit. We've had tomatoes for CSA by early July in every other year. Plants were put in as early this year, but just are slow to set fruit, and then ripen. We are still picking about a quart every 2-3 days, not nearly enough for us or you all!

Sweet peppers and hot peppers are setting fruit. I think having so many bee hives on the land has improved the pollination of our veggie flowers, leading to increased production.

The beans are coming on strong. Late pole beans are planted where the peas were pulled out. Provider is the variety we are picking now. Masai (a small filet bean) have baby beans, and grenoble is the late main crop, about 6 inches tall now.

When you drive by the upper garden by the big oak tree, look at the baby eggplants on the plants there. Look further west and you will see the summer squashes, with the yellow fruit visible from the driveway. We have about 6 different plantings of summer squashes to keep a steady production till frost.

The home garden has gone through a lot of changes. You will see a lot of plants harvested and ground worked up, new lettuces transplanted and planted from seed. New kohlrabis, carrots, beets are in. New small cabbages are ready to transplant.

If you take the time to drive east on Loop Road, you will see the Putney garden- just past the old house. Potatoes are being dug, onions harvested, garlic is all harvested and hanging to cure, leeks are almost ready to begin harvesting, sweet potatoes are sending out their runners. The squash and melons are growing. The sweet corn is to the northeast corner of that far field, with the front part planted to green manure for soil improvement. The early corn variety - Spring Treat - is tasseling, which means corn will be ready in about 3 weeks!

Now, if I can only get out with the camera to take you on a photo tour, too!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cold and this week's veggies

47 degrees this morning!

Some of the beans are larger than normal, but I think they are still tender enough. We are on a regular picking schedule now so this should not happen in the future.

Fingerling potatoes are a yummy gourmet potato. Boil them and serve them with garlic butter or a good olive oil.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Herbs, Greens and Tomatoes

We have a lot of herbs ready for picking. If you are interested in some, ask when you come for pickup. For the delivery people, we are trying to put some extra herbs in your boxes and you are always welcome to stop by Sweetwater Market and get some off our table there. If you know you want some ahead of time, let me know and I'll take extra there for you.

There's also extra kale and chard for whomever wants some. There's a knife in a plastic container nailed to a fencepost out by them (the front of the driveway) and you can cut your own. Or get some from us at Sweetwater Market. You can check the blog to see if there's some included in the week's share.

We have had tomatoes for CSA by this time all past years. This year - NADA. Very few fruits are setting yet because it is so cold! The Weatherman said this may be the coldest July on record. Frost in multiple counties 3 mornings this week, highs in the 60s. Tomatoes like 60s and 70s at night, 80s and higher in the day. They thrive on hot sunny weather. Sorry - you should eventually get some - the plants look great! We have over 600 plants in (100 more than last year).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Herb Walk with Amanda Jones

Saturday July 18 $15.00

Meet at Hit The Road Joe's at 10:00am for an introduction to local plants with Amanda Jones. We will be walking around the area identifying and discussing medicinal and edible plants. Please dress for the weather (rain or shine). Bring water and items for taking notes. Children are welcome at no extra charge for the class. We will go back to the cafe for lunch and a discussion on how to use the plants in medicinal preparations.

We will looking at plants like yarrow, wild bergamont, st.john's wort, ox eye daisy, and much, much more.

The cafe is located in Croton, on Elm, 2 miles north of M-82 (about 7 miles west of US-131). Please email for more detailed information.

Please let Amanda know if you plan on attending. 231-861-2535

Monday, July 13, 2009

CSA Days are long

We were out picking by 8:30am and I just came in at 9:45pm. It's been a busy day with the usual "other things" going on, too. We got feeder pigs today! 13 of them - cute now while they are smaller. They look happy to be here. This is fewer than past years, but all we can handle right now, and all that were available. If you want pork, please reserve your side now.
We also had other veggie and meat orders to fill for a restaurant, bakery, and friends.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Veggies tomorrow ~ and all season

I've been picking veggies since Saturday for Shares Monday and Tuesday = Peas - 3 kinds; carrots, scallions. We will only hold most veggies for a few days - otherwise they are rejected for CSA shares and given to the food bank, friends or we eat them. It's important to us that your veggies are fresh and savory.

We pick summer squashes daily, peas every 2 days, beans every 3 days, lettuces, broccoli every 3-4 days. When tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers, melons and eggplant are ripe, they are picked 2-3x a week. Some things will hold on the vine or plant = chard and kale, potatoes, onions, winter squash. Some things are picked and stored = cabbages, onions, garlic, potatoes, winter squash. It's a constant rotation of what needs to be harvested, what gets eaten first, etc.

Anyone want to come help transplant hundreds of brassica plants this evening??

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Peas, peas, peas

3 kinds of peas today! They are labeled with what they are and how to prepare them. I think the shelling peas should be shelled and eaten on your way home :-). Most CSAs do not pick peas, beans and cherry tomatoes. We do - we want you to experience these veggies and not have to do the work of harvesting them. You are always welcome to come hang out with us and work on the farm (Thanks, Sandy!) any time! Call ahead and we can give you an idea of good times to come.

Chard has been called the vegetable with the best return. It grows in all sorts of conditions and soil, from Spring through Fall, and will even winter over.
Good chard recipes:
  • Saute onions and garlic, then throw in washed and chopped chard (stems removed or not, your choice). Saute about 5 minutes longer. Add tamari or salt and pepper, or season with toasted sesame oil and a little rice wine vinegar.
  • Wash and place on a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Seal the foil and grill both sides for 3-5 minutes a side.
  • Use large chard leaves with stalks removed as wraps for taco-type ingredients. Or wrap any kind of sandwich filling.
  • Chop or shred and add to an omelet.


Is this a weird weather Summer or what? High of 96 degrees the last week in June, high in the 60s the next ~ the first week of July! Extremes like this are hard on most plants, as are 2 inches of rain followed by no rain for weeks. We can plant the same varieties of seeds and plants the same way, the same day and get different results from year to year. This year turnip production was not good (they were great last year!) and it looks like winter squash will be abundant if the plants set fruit well (they were terrible last year). Last summer was not so great for tomatoes and peppers but we had enough plants in that we had plenty for the CSA, just not much extra for sale. The year before we couldn't pick tomatoes fast enough to harvest all there were. We should have more carrots this year, and so far the quality looks better.

Many things are coming on later this year than past years: celery, onions, potatoes, tomatoes for example. They will be ready to harvest soon, tho.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Farm update

We've had a little rain. The hay that was ready got baled before it came. There's more cut and more still to cut.

1 new calf was born to Nudgie, an orphan raised by Catie and Ari from across the street. They have also added sheep to the Farm menagerie!

The irrigation system is almost set up - we'll be pumping water from the pond into the driveway garden. Everyone would have gotten summer squash this week if we'd had more rain last week.

The tomatoes and peppers loved the heat last week! Peas didn't. Neither did the rest of the Chinese Cabbage - It bolted and will all become chicken feed.

200 day old chicks were added to the Farm yesterday. They start out under heat lamps in a small space. 100 are for other families, but we'll get them started, especially with this cool turn to the weather.

Patrice will be selling prepared salads at the ROTHBURY Festival this weekend! It will be her second year there.

Monday, June 29, 2009

CSA Week 6 - Monday

Remember there is no veggie pick up or delivery next week. We will have lots of suprises for you all on Monday and Tuesday, July 13th and 14th!
This week: Salad Mix and a head of lettuce. Snow peas! These are all edible, just take the stem end off. Double shares will get shelling peas instead - these are not edible-pod and need to be shelled before eating. Then eat them raw or lightly cook them. Chinese cabbage to Monday shares - make an oriental slaw! Beets with lovely greens to Monday & Tuesday. Monday gets turnips with ratty greens trimmed off, so you get chard instead. Everyone gets broccoli. Earthly Kneads delivered shares get kohlrabis and summer squash. Everyone gets scallions.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coffee from Higher Grounds Roastery in Traverse City

I'm putting together a bulk order of coffee. Please let me know soon if you want to order this time. I will need to know if you want whole beans or ground, the type and quantity.

Prices are $6.50- $7.75 per lb in 1#, 3# or 5# bags.

The website is javaforjustice to see the kinds of coffee available, or you can call them for a faxxed list of varieties 877-825-2262.

More photos from yesterday - Putney garden

Winter squash and weedy aisles. We will till, hoe and mulch them in the next few days. Want to come help??

From L to R, early potatoes, Garlic, onions of all kinds and sizes, leeks, late potatoes.

Early potatoes - these are planted in shallow trenches, barely covered with dirt. When the plants are 8+ inches tall, they are covered with soil about 4 inches deep. They are then mulched with straw. The garlic was planted last October, mulched all winter and when the snow melted, little sprouts shot up through the straw!