A farm we eat from[ Member listing ]
27 Jul · Wed 2011
Posted by Laurie @ 03:16 PM EDT
Posted by Laurie @ 03:06 PM EDT
I hope you've been well since I wrote you last. Did you think that you missed last weeks newsletter? Don't fear, there were no mistakes. The newsletter is now bi-weekly. We're making this change so that I can develop the content more fully for your enjoyment. Now, let's do the announcements.
First off, please allow me to apologies for a mistake that I made. Last week, I sent an e-mail to let you know that Eater's Guild will be holding an On Farm Chicken Sale. I said that the sale would occur every Tuesday for the rest of the summer when, in fact, the sale will not become regular until a few weeks from now. I'll let you know when it starts up again.
Now I would like to tell you more about Eater's Chickens. The chickens will be dead and de-feathered. They will be whole, fresh, and wrapped. Sometimes, boneless, skinless breasts will be available. The chickens are wrapped in a thick, vacuum sealed bag. They will be ready to freeze. The market price for the chicken is $4.25 per pound. The farm price is $4 dollars per pound.
Travis Meier (the main caregiver) told me that his favorite way to prepare the birds is to put them in a brine for 6-12 hours. Then, he will stuff them with lemon wedges, garlic cloves, and fresh thyme and rub the outside with oil, salt, pepper, and dry thyme. He advised that ranged chicken may need a little more time in the oven to tender. Perhaps you'll want to roast them at a lower heat (350) for longer (2 hours).
Organic farming is a sanctum of unique experience during this time of high industrialization. We have the gall to participate in the magic of growth without clinical, scientific controls and regulations.
Seeds to Plants
We sow thousands of seeds. Thousands of smooth-skinned pumpkins seeds, of rippling dried pea seeds, of translucent sweet corn kernels, of clustered, brown pepper seeds, of tear shaped lettuce seeds. We sow all together, in friendly little stations, in the green house, on afternoons, likely when it's raining.
In the greenhouse the seeds germinate. They grow abundantly in their seed flats, which are a kind of tray comprised by little cups, or cells. They shooting tall, vying with each other for the sunlight. Once they are old enough, we move them outdoors, to the enclave between the greenhouses, to where they are protected and still exposed, so they may be hardened by the pushes of the passing breezes.
Plants to the Field
We snatch up the flats by fours, two bound up in a hand each, and walk. We step through and over and on, marching forward to the double-wide palate that the cobalt blue tractor holds with spaded hands.
Marcellino comienza el tractor, y conduce a los campos. El resto de nosotros caminar detrás. We are talking, and laughing, and watching the farm features as we pass them by. When we catch up, Marcelino has the transplanter set up. We hope that these plants are going to pull from the flats good, or else it will be a long day of filling missed holes.
The transplanter is like a wagon on the back of the tractor. The transplanter has a two hundred gallon drum that feeds water down to two hollow steel wheels that have hollow steel spikes. They turn with the motion of the tractor over the earth, punching holes to fill with water, which we riders fill with plants.
Yes, we're riders. The transplanter has two seats on two iron arms that each often drag along the ground. We sit with our legs forward, braced up on a small steel bar set for that purpose. We each sit behind a tray that's like a music stand, which hold two flats of plants in our reach. We pinching the plants and checking how loose they are. They are coming out smooth today.
The engine is running. Marcelino engages the water flow by turning a valve on the transplanter. He hurries to start the motion as it begins to pool around the steel wheels. The clutch engages. The tractor tugs us forward. We pull our first plants, hold them forward, and begin to plug the holes. After a few yards of clumsy reaching, missing, reaching, and speeding up, we catch a groove, make smooth motions, and sink the plants into the cool, fresh fluid, row by row in the field. We know these ones are going to make it. We don't hardly need to look now.
People to the Plants
We all think we're people who've introduced vegetable plants to a space. But who has introduced who? Our farm is a bilayer orchestra. On one hand, farmers conduct the plants from seed to maturity and harvest the surplus. On the other hand, the plants conduct the farmers from thaw until snowfall, day until night. The plants drew, and draw us, from Flint, Mexico, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and other lands and times afar, to the same fields, to the living soil, to have community, and to grow together through the summer season.
Plants to People
Now our days are filled harvesting. Picking, bunching, boxing. Lifting, washing, stacking. Shipping. Transporting the plants one final time, that they might live one final life and create one more community of consumers.
Posted by Laurie @ 02:42 PM EDT
Thanks all that have complemented this newsletter. I'm glad to be a part of the campaign. After receiving the last issue, many of you requested more photos. I can try to meet that request with each letter.
Farm GatheringTime and Things to Bring
The first farm gathering of this season will be on June 26th! The gathering will begin at 2:00 pm. After the potluck, attendees will be invited to tour the farm. Please bring your own table setting, cup, and an entree or desert to share. If it's possible, bring a folding chair as well!
This link will show you Eater's Guild on on google maps, just put your location in the "from" field to get directions. Do beware, google puts the Eater's compound almost a quarter mile further North than it is in reality. The actual location is much closer to Hastings road. If you prefer to do your own search, their address is: 26041 County Road 681, Bangor Michigan.
Notes from the FieldDusters
Every few days we hear helicopters and airplanes droning in the distance. We can't see, but do imagine that over the vast blueberry, corn, and soy fields that neighbor our oasis, these mechanical insects release a misty tempest of noxious fluids. One site tells that about 350 million acres of the continental United States are used for cropland. According to the USDA, only 5 million acres of the US are used for organic cropland. It's just over one percent of farmland land that is wholly free of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides...that means it's also just over one percent of food that's pure.
As we're kneeling in the radish row, wriggling our hands through the plants to find the right leaves, to pinch, to pull, to evaluate, and to bunch, we talk about the engines we hear. Lee notes that the whole bed of radishes we're working through would be "considered a total loss by conventional farming standards." If a real person even needs to come out and look at it, it's not worth harvesting. Who'll have these skills later when they are needed if no one practices them now?
Is that so? I can't imagine. I brush the soil off of a radish now and again, as the hours go by, and enjoy the burst of peppery fluid. The poisons that the drones are releasing, Lee informs us, are so dangerous that people are restricted from entering the fields sometimes for days after. Moreover, for fruits like blueberries, farmers call in for extra doses of fungicide right before the harvest. If not for the extra air-strikes, the crop would never last through the complicated, time consuming shipping and shelving system on which our big-chain groceries rely. For what reason are we unable to share the land with other species?
I'm grateful for the support of CSA members like you, who make the healthful farming that we do a possibility.
They are known as Cornish Crosses. That's an F-2 hybrid for anyone who remembers their lessons on Mendel's genetics. Cornish Crosses are the “standard American” chicken. They are one of the best at growing breeds, maturing in eight to nine weeks, and also converting feed into meat very efficiently. Chicken was not really a popular source of meat until these birds came into the scene.
What kind of housing do your chickens live in?
The housing can be referred to by many different names; I use “mobile pasture pens”. They look like small greenhouses but have tarped roofs to create shade. They have an open area of pasture that is enclosed by electric poultry fencing, which is a screened wire fence that is intended to keep them in. It gives them a lot of space to run around, and frequently, they run out, too.
Do you move the mobile pasture often?
Oh, yes. Many times during the course of the chickens lives. How often they move varies with the weather and the way that the chicken are acting, but basically, when I see that the ground has been nicely spread with manure, it's time to move them.
A lot of the moving that's done within the electrified fencing is done simply by moving their feeders around and that kind of changes where the gravitate. Once I've run out of area to move the feeders to, and the whole area is well spread with manure, I just shift them down one more unit.
So the chickens have a symbiotic relationship with the plants?
Yes, their principal relationship with the plants is to spread manure. The whole of the topsoil and the plants in it get to respond to that huge boost of manure, making the ground more fertile in future times for vegetable farming.
They also eat some plants. Some of their feed sprouts little protein shoots, which puts more nutrients into the bird that are returned to the end user, humans.
Chickens are their not like a rabbit or a cow, sole source of food for which is salad like items. The plants that they eat are considered “low calorie feed”, which helps them digest other food and helps them be more nutritious.
What are some cool things about the chicks?
I don't know. They're just really cute. For me, the amusement of watching three hundred chicks in a sort of small area must be similar to what other people feel when watching fish in tanks. It's kind of exciting watching them all chase a fly or have staring contests with each other. I probably do too much watching them, but I call it “observation” to make myself feel better.
What would you tell a potential customer that is not accustomed to free range chickens?
Well, I would say that, because my chickens are let in the field and ingest a feed that is heterogeneous, that is, made up of many kids of seed, they are more healthy to consume. Generally speaking, the more diverse the nutrients a chicken eats, the more healthful it is for a human to eat. In factory farm situations, the food type is whatever is cheapest, which means that it's also usually all the same type.
Also, I've noticed that the chickens taste great. They taste more “chicken-y” than the average, factory farmed animal. I'm not saying that they are more “game-y” like wild animals, they simply have a richer chicken flavor. They are even more moist than a big-chain chicken. I grow the best tasting chickens I that know of.
Where can people expect to find your chickens?
That's a good question. Right now they are at the Holland Market, South Haven Market, Texas Township Market, People's Food Cooperative, and Salt of the Earth. The more I can expand that list, the better. I'd like to arrange to a few more wholesale accounts. Serving a few restaurants really appeals to me right now.
Posted by Laurie @ 10:57 AM EDT
Greetings!And welcome to the first CSA newsletter of the 2011 growing season. If you'll permit me a quick aside, I'd be flattered to introduce myself to you. My name is James. I am enjoying my second season as an employee of the Eater's Guild farm. This summer, Lee and Laurie have privileged me with the responsibility of orchestrating the production of the Eater's Guild newsletter. I shall act as the Eater's Guild herald, the compound crier, master of ceremonies, a vocalist for hire, narrating the seasons unfurling events, introducing the voices of my compatriots, and serving as a resource for you on how to prepare or preserve the contents of your shares. I will be pleased to take your comments and suggestions over the coming months so I may become a better performer. For now, I'll relinquish the spotlight.
Farm GatheringThe first farm gathering of this season will be on June 26th! The gathering will begin at 2:00 pm. After the potluck, attendees will be invited to tour the farm. Please bring your own table setting, cup, and an entree or desert to share.
Notes from the Field
You've probably noticed that the weather has been volatile. Last week on the fields, we endured ninety degree days with cloudless skies and afternoons that felt like the evening due to tempests overhead. Amusing as the spring swings are, most of us in the field will be glad for the smooth summer sailing to come along. Abrupt changes are what makes our bodies ache.
The plants on the other hand are rejoicing in the hot and cold again spring. We see intrepid growth day after day. We've sown the first tomatoes of the season. When the seedlings went in, they averaged four three inches in height. By the middle of the week, they'll likely have pushed up past five.
We are harvesting the first strawberry crops in Eater's Guild's history. The volume is a little on the low side this year, but next season, the plants will be far more veracious and we will be able to put more pints on the table. One wonderful happenstance that we've found is that bales of mesquite (a variety of legume), which "fixes" nitrogen in the soil has growth throughout the strawberries, replenishing the soil they grow in even as the produce.
"Free Them"Have you heard the names Rachel and Nancy Goodrich before? How about Regalo? If not, you may hear of them soon. This spectacular mother and daughter team is traveling from Hopkins, Michigan to California to raise awareness on a challenging subject, human trafficking. Rachel is making the trip on horseback. You may have guessed, Regalo is her horse.
The women, who travel by the name "Free Them," sold their home and possessions in order to make the trip. They will be traveling in 30 mile increments, stopping of in towns along the way to deliver literature and speeches on the subject of human trafficking. According to this story about the Goodrich family, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asserts that human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry, accounting for more financial flow than "Nike, Google, and Starbucks combined." Eighty percent of people who are trafficked are women and children. Of that, seventy percent are trafficked for "the purpose of sexual exploitation."
Free Them began their journey last week. They spent three nights at Eater's Guild, enjoying the sun, space, and an attentive audience. Here's a video report on the team. Keep your eyes open, I'm sure that you'll hear of the Goodrich family again. Let us know when you do!
Posted by Laurie @ 10:52 AM EDT