Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 10

Forecast: Highs in the low to mid 70s. 60% chance of rain on Wednesday.

As you know, we've been crazy busy on the farm this week, with CSA harvests beginning and planting season still underway. It's hard to believe it's June and Week 10 already!

On Monday, Chelsea & Shelby will facilitate our exploration of diet and nutrition and Becca will help us figure out how to evaluate and locate good food in wherever you find yourselves. To that end, I'll offer a website: If you search your zipcode, it will show you listed CSAs, farmer's markets, and farms in your area. Of course, you still have to figure out which ones you want to support. Also on Monday, we'll need a little time to do course wrap-up and evaluations.

What we do on the farm this week will depend largely on the weather. It sounds like there is a good chance of rain on Monday night and again on Wednesday, which could make things too soggy to plant. In fact, we do need the rain, but I'm hoping that the showers will time themselves so that we can go ahead and put in some tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers while you are here. I'm also eager to show you how much the crops you planted have grown in the past week--the peas look fantastic and potatoes are starting to poke through the soil. And, we'll do a final check on your vermicomposting operations and inoculate an outdoor vermicompost pile with worms from your bins.

See you soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Week 9 on the Farm!

Forecast: 80 degrees, hot & humid. Bring water & hats!

Sorry for the late post this week. In truth, I haven't been sure what we're going to do on the farm and I'm still deciding. I'd hoped that we might start in planting tomatoes on Tuesday, but I'm not sure that John & I will be able to get the beds prepped by the time you come out. So perhaps we'll have you help us with bed prep. I also need to get the last of my squash seeded, the red beets thinned, the yellow beets planted, and some weeds controlled. So those all many be options. On Wednesday, we will be opening the beehive and adding a new super on top. So, Wednesday people--bring long sleeved shirts and pants with you. Light colors and smooth fabrics are best. Also bring closed-toe shoes.

We got a call yesterday that our second group of bees are on their way. We are getting these bees from Huron City Bee Company ( and they will come in a nucleus hive rather than a package. These are more expensive than package bees and we will have to drive several hours to pick them up, but we really like Huron City's philosophy and hive management methods so we thought it would be worth it. Like us, Huron City has been having its own struggles with the weather in getting their bees up from Florida this spring. I'll forward you the email updates they've sent us so that you can get an understanding of what they are dealing with. Here is their philosophy page:

CSA harvests start this week! And so the harvest season begins before the bulk of the planting is finished. It's the most craziest time of the year!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Week 8: In Kalamazoo, On the Farm, In Lansing

Weather Forecast: Tuesday, 50% chance of rain, high of 77 degrees F. Wednesday, cloudy, high of 69 degrees F.

Whew, Week 8 already! This quarter is flying by, as is the spring. Hard to believe that our first CSA harvest is scheduled to take place in just two weeks. I hope we're ready! This past week's cold snap sure hasn't helped things any--as you know, a few of our crops got set back by frost and those that didn't haven't done much growing over the past couple of days.

This weeks sounds like it should be a good growing week, though, with temperature highs in the 60s & 70s and lows in the 50s. We'll take advantage of it as much as possible and get as many plants in the ground as we can. First on our agenda are those potatoes we'd hoped to plant last week, followed by carrots, golden beets, cilantro, scallions, and second plantings of radishes and salad greens. Also on our list for the week is to finish thinning, weeding, and mulching the crops we've already got in the ground and to do a little weed control around our fencelines with the flame weeder. We also need to get all of our vine crops started in soil blocks--those are the cucumbers, melons, and squashes. Among other things!

This Monday, Eric & Lola will be leading our class exploration of food justice, access and security. I'm looking forward to that! I'm going to suggest that we spend the first half hour inspecting and evaluating your garden. You've watched me do this with my gardens--looking to see what's doing well and what's not and then making decisions about how to proceed. Let's take a look at what's growing in your plot and talk about what you'd like to do with it over the next 3 weeks.

I suspect that Wednesday may be DOGL. If that's the case, the Wednesday lab group will obviously not be coming out to the farm. Wednesday folks, if you would like to schedule another day to come hang out with us, we're happy to accommodate that--your choice.

I'm excited about our MSU trip on Thursday! It's been awhile since I've been to the organic farm and I'm looking forward to seeing what changes they've made. Here's their website so that you can get a preview:  See you all soon!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Week 7 on the Farm!

Weather forecast: Tuesday, high of 72 degrees F, 70% chance of rain. Wednesday, high of 60 degrees F, 20% chance of rain.

The next four weeks on the farm are some of the busiest of the entire season. We're due to begin harvesting for the CSA in just three weeks and we've got a lot to do before then! The plants we've already got in the ground (pac choi, cabbage, kale, broccoli, swiss chard, snap peas, arugula, spinach, turnips, beets, radishes, dill, and salad greens) are doing well so far, but we must keep monitoring them to make sure that they have enough water and aren't getting attacked by pests or diseases. In addition, several of the crops we direct seeded (such as the arugula, spinach and turnips) need to be thinned, since we planted them pretty thickly and if we don't pull some of the seedlings out, they will compete with each other. We also need to keep on top of the weeds while they are still small and easy to contend with before they start interfering with the vegetable plants.

And we've got a lot more planting to do! Potatoes, carrots, and golden beets should be in the ground by the end of this week and we'll be starting cucumbers and summer squash indoors this week as well. Obviously, what you all help us with on the farm will depend a good deal on the weather. If the weather is nice when you come out, we'll probably have you work with us on thinning, weed control, and/or potato planting. If it's raining, we can work on getting those cucumbers and summer squash planted in soil blocks.

I was trying to find an excerpt from Michael Pollan's film "Botany of Desire" on potatoes to share with you this week, but haven't been able to locate it. So instead, I'll post his TED talk in which he describes his inspiration for the book that led to that film: Enjoy!

Video links for tomorrow's presentation

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all having a great Sunday night! I just wanted to post links to two videos which I will be showing clips from as part of my presentation tomorrow. Since we will watch portions in class, there is no need to watch them beforehand, unless you wanted to watch the whole things. They are both great resources so I encourage you to do so!

The first video is just a great overview of the different issues that migrant farm workers in the United States, specifically children, face.

The other is a video produced by a non-profit based here in Kalamazoo, called Welcoming Michigan. The aim of the video as a whole is to educate native-born Michiganders about the struggles of migrant workers, the marginalization they face, and their contribution to the local economy. The video is long, but there is a portion which does a good job of explaining the conditions they endure.

Thanks everyone and see you in class tomorrow!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Week 6 on the Farm: Transplanting

Weather Forecast: Mid-60s to low 70s. Slight chance of rain on Wednesday.

It's transplanting week!!! I have twenty flats of vegetables that need to be in the ground by the end of the week. This includes all of our cool-weather transplants such as broccoli, pac choi, red & green cabbage, scallions, red marble onions and kale. So we'll have you help us with that when you come out. You'll get to practice garden bed preparation and we'll show you the proper depth to plant each transplant.

You'll also want to take a look at the crops that you direct-seeded a couple of weeks ago. Peas are coming up, though spottily, and the spinach is coming along quite nicely. We've also got radishes, turnips, salad mix and arugula sprouting in the garden beds.

Your worms are doing well too, so remember to bring them some more food this week!