|Our piggies are starting to explore their new home.|
This week has been a great week for plant growth, between having a lot of soil moisture and more ideal temperatures. As the temperatures have warmed, the insects have finally started coming out and we have been fighting flea beetles on several crops. The insects appeared later this year than they usually do because of the long winter, but they are now here, and so begins the constant war we will fight with them until everything dies back in the late fall. We even have one bed of cabbage that has an infestation of ants, which we have never seen happen before. It seems like no matter how long we (and by “we” I mostly mean Fred) do this, we learn a few new things each year. We also turned in a lot of our cover crop to prepare the ground for our warm season crops like tomatoes and sweet potatoes, which are likely to be planted this week. Our coldframes are also in the process of being prepared for our main tomato planting as well. Also this last week,
our piggies arrived at the farm! We have six of them this year, and they are
acclimating well to their new pasture. Our
chickens are also laying more eggs and are very happy feeding on the lush
growth of spring. Everyone around here
(pigs, chickens, and people alike) are excited about the gorgeous weather!
|The pigs are going to need names! If you have any |
ideas, find us on facebook and join the pig
Keepin’ it Local: How we Distribute Our Produce Around Michigan
Most of you reading this newsletter are probably either past or current CSA members, or maybe you just love us enough to read our newsletter even though you live too far away to join the CSA (Hi Aunt Laura!). Although the CSA is the main way we get our veggies into people’s homes and onto their plates, we also have other partners in getting our fresh organic veggies into our local food system.
|The evening sun on lovely green|
kale. I'm probably a huge dork,
but I love stuff like this!
When we first started the farm, our intention was to have the CSA, do some farmers’ markets, and sell to some wholesale accounts such as restaurants and stores. As it turned out, there was just not enough time to do the farmers’ market on a regular basis and keep up with everything else we need to do to make the farm work. Also, selling at the farmers’ market usually involves a lot of produce waste, because whatever doesn't sell has to get thrown away (or in our case, fed to the pigs). The CSA however, is working out well, continues to grow, and is a pretty efficient way for us to get our veggies into your homes at an affordable price. Beyond the CSA there are a lot of other partnerships that help us get food to restaurants, stores, and even a few schools. One of our main ways is to take our produce directly to area restaurants like The Brass Café and Camille’s on the River in Mount Pleasant, Fireside Grille in Shepherd, and Red Haven, Soup Spoon Café, and Fork in the Road in Lansing/ East Lansing. We also sell directly to some stores such as ELFCO (East Lansing), Green Tree (Mount Pleasant), Natures Gift Organic Market and Lolande’s Market (Midland), and Mert’s Specialty Meats (Okemos). These stores and restaurants are looking to set themselves apart from the crowd by having unique local flavors, and also by helping support local agriculture. It has been great for us to be able to talk to and get to know the unique personalities behind these businesses and to experience some of the great foods that they provide.
Beyond these direct relationships, we also work with three different local distributors. In the past, distributors used to have a less than stellar reputation with farmers due to poor business practices and extremely low prices for the farmers’ products. However, the small distributors we work with (Cherry Capital Foods in Traverse City, Earthy Delights in Okemos, and Wildroot Food Collective in Bay City) have a different focus and way of doing business from the old model, and now have enabled us to get our food into more places in Michigan than we would have the ability to do ourselves. These partners have given us good prices for our produce, and they are able to provide their customers a great service by coordinating pick-ups from many different farms and bringing the products to the customers. All three of these groups pick up at our farm, which is really convenient for us and many other farms during the busy season. There is increasing interest in this type of model, and if you have ever heard of food hubs or local food aggregates, this is what that is referring to.
|These tiny lettuces will be|
salad mix at the first drop-off!
The CSA and our other food partnerships have been great, and we are always looking for more ways to get our food onto the plates of local consumers. In fact, we believe one of the main hurdles to building a vibrant local food system is finding efficient ways to disseminate local foods from small producers. One idea we are considering for the future is a home delivery option for the CSA. We know that for some folks, going to the drop-off at the same time for 20 weeks can be a burden, and we are looking at ways to make it easier for those who are in a time crunch most of the season or otherwise have trouble making it to the drop-off. If you have interest in a home delivery option or any ideas to share, we would love to hear from you as we consider this idea.
We hope this gives you a more complete view of how our farm works, and how we are always trying to find ways to better meet the demand for local veggies. We are always open to ideas, and we appreciate the great amount of support we have received from the community of people who consume our veggies and appreciate the unique seasonal flavors and freshness we work hard to provide.