Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
Eat healthier. Save money. Create local jobs.
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Win a set of reusable produce bags!

produce bags

Farmer’s market season is here! If you’re participating in Locavore90, you’ll probably be making a handful of trips to your local farmers market or farmstand. Many farmers market frequent-flyers bring their own reusable grocery bags to the market to bring food home, but have you ever thought about using reusable produce bags as well? Whether you’re shopping at the farmers market or the produce section of Meijer, you can do your part to reduce use of plastic produce bags by bringing your own reusables from home.

In last year’s Farmer’s Report I shared that I wanted to focus on using more reusable packaging in 2013. As a key part of that commitment, Arcadia Farms is now using re-usable produce bags which have been handmade in the USA specifically for our farm by Kara from Love for Earth. Want to get your hands on your own set of reusable bags? Lucky you – we’re giving some away! (You can enter once per day!)

Click here to enter the giveaway!

I’m so impressed by the quality, selection and customization options offered by Love for Earth that I asked Kara if I could share a little bit about the work she does and products she offers. Here’s the scoop on what she does, why she loves it, and why you should check out her Etsy site for reusable produce bags and so much more!

What inspired you to start Love for Earth and begin selling reusable produce bags?

I was inspired by self interest, I suppose. I had wanted something to use for produce, but the grocery bags that were available were too heavy, not see through, and just difficult to use. I would get skeeved out at the thought of putting my produce on the conveyor belt on top of whatever germs or raw meat drippings or any other contaminants may have found their way to the grocery store conveyor belt, so the first set was for my own use. I couldn’t get out of the produce section without being stopped and asked ‘Where did you find those?’ and if I told people I made them, they would offer me money on the spot! I had just discovered a new website called “Etsy” and figured, what the heck, I’ll make some and see how they sell. Before I knew it, I was making produce bags 7 days a week and the store grew bigger than I ever imagined it would… and I love every minute of it!

How long has Love for Earth been making reusable produce bags?

I have been making and selling produce bags for a little over 5 years in some capacity, whether it was at a craft fair or to a stranger at the grocery store. The Etsy store has been open since 2009, although the name changed in 2010.

Your Etsy site talks about the industrial quality of your products. Can you share a little more about the steps you take to create high quality products?

I really want to provide the best quality I can. No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on something that will fall apart after a few uses. While even the best of us can run into problems out of our control (bad thread and a dull needle, for example) if there ever is an issue with anything from my store, customers can just send me a quick email or Etsy convo and I will replace it and honor the standard that I set for what I make. I try to source the best materials I can and have gravitated over the last few years to USA mills. I have sourced a few things from Canada or Europe, but I am steering away from places where I believe the quality might not up to my standards. Putting a bag or garment together is sort of like a recipe, you want to put the freshest and best ingredients in it so the taste is better. I think every little thing makes a difference when sewing, the needles, the thread, the ribbon, the zippers… the better parts you work with, the better the outcome will be.

Note from Katie: Although we’ve only started using our produce bags, I can tell by looking at them and working with them that the quality is great! Each one is slightly (only slightly!) different, which is part of the charm of buying something handmade by an artisan.

zip sandwich bag lunch zipper bags reusable napkins towells

What other products do you make that you’d like us to know about?

I make reusable produce bags, snack bags, storage bags, freezer bags, unpaper napkins and towels. I can custom make just about ANY reusable item one can think of. I make reusable puppy pads, I’ve made bread bags for bakers and bags for knitters to store their yarns. Anything is possible and customizing your bags or towels is easy to do… you can even choose the color or size.

What’s your favorite part about what you do?

I really love what I do! I love the things I make and I love that in some small way I am making a difference as far as pollution and waste is concerned. Every time someone chooses a reusable product over a disposable, that is one less disposable bag or paper napkin that is ending up in our landfills, our oceans and cluttering our otherwise beautiful Earth. I am happy that more and more people are jumping on the reusable wave, and they are doing it for various reasons, but the end result is less trash our children and grandchildren are stuck with decades from now. Not to mention, you can save a small fortune going to reusables. Every time I go to the wholesale club for groceries, I cringe at the jumbo pack of paper towels for $30 and I am so glad I no longer have to throw money away like that. Every one of those paper towels will be used for a few seconds and tossed in the trash, and I love being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Where to Get It

Interested in getting your hands on some reusable products from Love for Earth’s Esty store? You can check them out – or make a custom order – at www.loveforearth.net. I’m personally hoping to pick up a Lunch Zipper Bag set for Owen’s school lunches next year.

 
 

Garden Apps Wish List

Wish List Wednesday | Garden Apps (from seed to table!)

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s nothing organic or sustainable about apps for your mobile device. At first glance it may seem a little off-center that a website about living sustainably is featuring a Wish List of Android and iPhone apps, but please, hold the phone! Our take on sustainable living is a wee bit different than you might expect. In this recent post about the topic of sustainable living I mentioned that “the beauty of sustainable living is that we can (responsibly) enjoy the comforts of modern resources without worry for what we’ll do if or when they’re gone. Living sustainably does not mean utterly forsaking modern resources, but it does mean that we have a plan for living well should we need to live without them.”

So in the spirit of smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, I give you this month’s Wish List Wednesday! There’s a whole world of nifty apps out there just waiting for you to discover them! Check out these neat programs that can be accessed from your mobile device and can make garden planning, planting, watering, harvesting, local eating, cooking and recordkeeping one step easier.

Square Foot Gardening Spacing

Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing Cheat Sheet. Its written to be easy to read from your mobile device so you can check it on your phone while you’re in the garden. {Arcadia Farms}

 

Gardening Toolkit
The Gardening Toolkit – The app that loves to grow! Organize your plants in multiple gardens. Advice on what to grow and when to grow it. Data and photos for 1000 plants and vegetables.

 

Gardenate
The garden calendar shows the vegetables and herbs you can plant every month. A detailed guide to growing the most popular garden vegetables, with local planting information for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.

 

Green Drop
Green Drop is a full featured garden/plant manager. – Organize your plants into gardens with locations – Monitor and get reminders when plants need water, food, or are ready for harvest. – Keep notes on your plants. – Manually adjust watering, feeding, and harvest dates if needed. – Keep a gallery of pictures of each plant with notes and date picture was taken (to track growth).

 

Herbs+
Herbs+ gives you images and information on the most popular herbs in an elegant, fun-to-use application. Each herb offers gardening tips, culinary ideas, medicinal uses and a crisp image to help you identify the herb.

 

Bugs in the Garden
Quickly ID common North American insects in your vegetable garden. Includes realistic illustrations and photos of both adults and larva (caterpillars and grubs). Gives basic advice on management and damage assessment. If you have seen while gardening: * Beetles * Moths * Aphids * Caterpillars * Grubs This app will help identify them. 33 pictures of 23 bugs all on one page to swiftly pinpoint the bugs in your garden.

 

Mother Earth News
The new MOTHER EARTH NEWS app acts as a virtual library of our electronic resources, conveniently bringing them all together in one handy tool. You can browse through our resources and download those that most interest you. Our How to Can and Food Garden Guide tools, previously available only as separate apps, are offered for free within the MOTHER EARTH NEWS app and together will guide you through growing a great organic garden and preserving your fresh harvests.

 

Garden  Guide (Mother Earth News)
The Food Gardening Guide from Mother Earth News is a one-stop gardening app from America’s leading magazine on organic gardening. The app provides expert advice on Crops and Techniques, plus a Resources section to find even more helpful information. Shown with beautiful illustrations, the Crops section includes planting and harvesting instructions along with recommended varieties, pest control advice and extra tips to improve your garden’s yields.

 

How to Can (Mother Earth News)
This app explains how to can fresh produce using both water bath and pressure canners. Complete basic instructions plus timing details for over 20 crops make this free app a must-have for anyone who cans or wants to learn how to can. Incorporates advice from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Ball brand home canning products company. The Basics section will fully equip even the most novice of canners with all the information needed to get started.

 

Harvest Plan
Harvest Plan is a neat little application for your mobile device that lets you keep tabs on your garden. With a library of more than 200 popular plants at the start, harvest plan will keep you abreast of what’s where and when it’s going to be ready. Keep track of plantings, losses, and yields – even attach a picture of your plants to the entry. When it’s time to check on your plants, Harvest Plan will post a notification to your device’s notification panel so you won’t miss it.

 

Taste of Home Recipe App
Taste of Home’s recipe app brings provides tons of recipes featuring the season’s freshest flavors right to your phone. Each season brings a new collection of recipes for fresh fruits and veggies. Recipes have photos. Allows you to browse by course, cooking style, cuisine, ingredients or holidays. My favorite part: You can find which locally-grown ingredients are available in your state this season—just choose your location, browse the ingredients, and find hundreds of recipes!

 

AmpleHarvest
While America has more than 50 million people who are hungry or are at real risk of being hungry (“food insecure people”), more than 40 million Americans grow food in home gardens – often more than they can use, preserve or give to friends. It doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you deliberately planted an extra row of food or just harvested more zucchini (or any other fruit, vegetables, herbs or nuts) than you can possibly use, AmpleHarvest.

 

Honorable Mentions

Fooducate
Don’t Diet – Eat Healthy with Fooducate! Featured App on Android Market Dec 2011. Scan and choose healthy groceries. Over 200,000 unique UPCs! As featured in Oprah’s O Magazine, USAToday, NYTimes, WSJ, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and on ABC, FOX, NBC and more… Instead of trying to decode nutrition facts labels and ingredient lists… …use your Android phone to: ? Automatically scan a product barcode ? See product highlights (both good & bad) ? Select better alternatives

 

Locavore
LOCAVORE: It’s your seasonal, local food network. Locavore makes searching & sharing in-season, local food a breeze by mapping farms and farmers’ markets, and what is in season based off your location. Features: 1 – Share photos about local, in season food & sellers 2 – Locate farms and farmers’ markets near you 3 – Browse what’s in-season and soon to come 4 – Find who is selling it and where 5 – Get details about your local farmers’ market 6 – Post what you ate locally to Facebook

 
 

Wish List Wednesday: Magazines

Wish List Wednesday | Magazines

Welcome to another Wish List Wednesday! When I first started sharing these posts I intended to do them every Wednesday. Then I realized it was a little obnoxious. So now I’m working on making this happen the third Wednesday of every month. While some of the items I share about may be true recommendations – products/services I’ve used and think you’d benefit from – most of these things are truly just wishes – things I’d love to have or experience or learn more about as I move deeper into living a sustainable farm life.

This Wednesday (which just happens to be my birthday) I’d like to share a list of magazines I’d love to receive in the mail. These magazines are related to food, permaculture, homesteading, small/urban farms and/or sustainable living in general. Do you receive any of these publications? If so, please leave a comment to let me know what you think of them!

Urban Farm

Sustainable city living has a magazine and it’s called Urban Farm. This magazine has great tips for those of us who live in suburbia or the city who want to experience the benefits of farming right where we are. Farming/self-sufficient living in the city requires a level of creativity and this magazine shares tips and tales from others who understand the unique challenges of a city farmer.

 

Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News is, well, the mother of all permaculture/homesteading magazines. It is packed with SO much great information, including info on organic gardening, modern homesteading, renewable energy and green homes. It’s been around for a long time and has lots of DIY project plans available.

Permaculture

What is permaculture, anyway? Well, according to the magazine by the same name, permaculture is”an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living” as well as “a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere.” This magazine provides information and inspiration for living a permaculture kind of life.

 

Organic Gardening

It’s all in the name. Organic Gardening magazine provides expert garden advice, helpful tips for beginners, useful information about beneficial insects, how to make compost and other things critical to organic growing.

Source: amazon.com via Arcadia on Pinterest

Backwoods Home

Backwoods Home offers useful information on self-reliance, homesteading, canning and other related topics.

 

Back Home

This magazine is a hands-on guide to sustainable living with many agriculture and homesteading topics.

Hobby Farms

Hobby Farms is a magazine for hobby farmers, small production farmers and those passionate about the country.  Hobby Farms caters to all aspects of rural life—from small farm equipment, to livestock, to crops.  Hobby Farms highlights “rural living for pleasure and profit.”

 

Grit

GRIT is a bi-monthly magazine distributed throughout the United States and Canada that celebrates country lifestyles of all kinds, while emphasizing the importance of community and stewardship.

Source: grit.com via Arcadia on Pinterest

Countryside

Countryside & Small Stock Journal (better known as just “Countryside”) is more than a magazine: it’s a network where homesteaders share a wide variety of experiences and ideas about simple, sustainable, country living. There are no guidelines and no paid writers. Instead, there is an open atmosphere of neighborly sharing.

 

Small Farm Today
Small Farm Today® was founded by a small farmer in central Missouri in 1984, and is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of small farming, rural living, sustainability, community, and agripreneurship. It is published on a farm, by a farmer, for farmers.

Growing for Market

Growing for Market is for local food producers. GFM keeps you informed about the business of growing and selling vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, plants, herbs, and other food products. They have information for those who are market gardening or farming, whatever your scale, that will help make your business more profitable and enjoyable.

Everyday Food

This magazine has great recipes (many of them very simple) and is family-friendly. They also offer great tips on selecting produce and buying in-season. I love it and recommend it!

 

 

Whole Living

I enjoy the articles in this magazine. Unfortunately the magazine is being discontinued sometime in 2013 due to a lack of subscriptions.

 

Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.   

 
 
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