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The Long View of Farming (and more kale!)

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Grumpy Goat has added some organic White Russian Kale today (excuse the name!), salad mustard greens, and fresh cilantro – mmm that smell! – all organic. Grab them before they run out!

-Continuing along the theme of what working conditions make farming somewhat unique as far as vocations go… as previously mentioned, farmers are intimately in contact and have concern for seasons, weather, and climate, because these directly affect activities and income. Another interesting aspect of farming is how one’s thinking and planning are invested over a long term: seasons and years.

For example, one of the main principles of organic practices is maintaining healthy, living soil. Many factors go into this practice: crop rotation (e.g., over 3 to 5 years), allowing some areas to be fallow, using cover crops as “green manure”, and producing/using compost (as opposed to chemical nitrogen fertilizers that negatively affect climate by their production and use).

Of course, depending on the size of the crop production, fertilizing needs and methods can be greatly varied. Basically, any time you remove a crop from the soil, be it hay, or vegetables, or fruits, something has to be put back, because the minerals in the crops are being removed from the system. In my case, container raspberries and flowers and vegetables in raised bed gardens receive regular addition of compost. That is how I justify keeping two horses and three goats and cleaning stalls daily in winter: they’re making excellent compost! There’s a really big pile just outside the field gate that gets turned with the tractor loader bucket at every opportunity when the ground isn’t too wet—a tricky proposition in Ohio!

And so, all of these considerations come into play in a very long dance, so to speak, as I plan over the seasons and years to maintain the soil health and therefore viability of my farm production. Anyone who is seriously into farming, is in it for the long haul, which begins with the complex business of conserving fertility in the soil. Healthy, fertile soil produces healthy food, which equals healthy people.

Caroline McColloch

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We're open!

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We have Garlic!…added by Walker Cabin Farm. She always has baked goods, and is especially known for her English muffins and garlic pretzel twists, but is offering her garlic for now as well – lucky us!

The garlic is a softneck variety with a mild flavor that becomes a little stronger with storage. The bulbs typically have at least a dozen cloves. Walker Cabin Farm isn’t certified organic, but they don’t use pesticides and fertilize the garlic only with compost.

Be outside and enjoy this beautiful weather!


Farm Work (and last day to order!)

Today is the last day to place your orders for pick-up this Tuesday, March 15th. Shop here

So many vocations in this world! Some indoors, some outdoors, some mental, some physical, some tedious and boring, others fast paced and socially intense. Any given job might be a combination of several or all these qualities. Some are considered more lowly and menial, while others are held up as paradigms of talent and achievement.

That some jobs are valued more than others is unfortunate because all work (inequitable pay rates notwithstanding) is important to society in one way or another, regardless of social status – and every working person is deserving of respect for that fact alone. And we should have compassion for those unable to work. The majority of them want to work.

And let’s not forget how very much important unpaid work goes on in this world!

A sometimes-humorous reference is that my off-farm wage work supports my “farming habit”. I’ve had lots of different careers and vocations over the decades, mostly a rich store of experiences. My present occupation of farming is more a fortuitous confluence of events and a kind of personal evolution than any long-term plan, at least previously. And so, I find myself immersed in what some consider menial, low social status work. Perhaps it is, though not among those enlightened consumers who buy from local farms!

There is dignity (and health benefits!) in physical work, particularly outdoors – being intimately in contact with the air and weather, seasons, soil, plants and animals…its own reward, as they say. A great deal is un-glorious, solitary, and distinctly uncomfortable on occasion. But what comes to the fore is a kind of persistence that takes a longer/alternative view of effort and reward, investment and return, and working for something beyond yourself: I think that’s the crux of our mission here on earth. We may or may not find it in a given occupation, but the opportunity is always near, in or beyond our working life. Remember – “You give to the world, you give to yourself, when you’re giving your best to somebody else.” (Lyrics from the song No Place Like the Right Time, by Donna the Buffalo)

Caroline McColloch

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We have more spinach!

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We have a new vendor, Burns Green Leaf Market, who has plenty of spinach available right now.

Joel and Maria Burns own a six-acre farm in Covington and have two young sons. With two hoophouses, they’re able to grow carrots, spinach, and other winter greens such as kale and lettuce throughout the winter – how delectable! Though they aren’t certified organic, the Burns don’t use any pesticides, and for fertilization they use compost, lime, and cover crops.

They are particularly known for their winter spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and sweet corn, but they also have around 25 other vegetables to be discovered and enjoyed as they come available to us here at the Market. I’m so thankful we’ll be able to purchase their produce here at Miami County Locally Grown!


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We're open!

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The Market is now open, so you can place your orders for next Tuesday’s pick-up. Farmhouse Bakery is back after a week off, and it’s a good thing since we need her gluten-free baked goods (among many other delicious treats)!

Enright Park has her popular Pain Relief Lotion Bar in the smaller half ounce size available now as well. With cooling menthol, peppermint essential oil, and arnica, it’s wonderful to use on sore muscles and joints. It’ll be nice to have this around after working hard in the garden!

Spring is less than two weeks away!

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Order today for pick-up this Tuesday!

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We still have some kale, microgreens, and Swiss chard available this week. Pretty soon we’ll have more exciting produce to offer as we get into the growing season. I can’t wait!

Today you can definitely feel spring on its way. Whenever we get weather like this in late winter, I get so invigorated, and then distracted, dreaming about my garden. But my husband worries and frets about the trees, always proclaiming, “It’ll snow in April, it always does, just wait and see…” The crocuses ignore him as they pop up, optimistic and premature.

I’ve spent many a spring night out in our yard covering trees and hitting ice off the branches before they break from the weight, and my yard is less than an acre in size. Can you envision the work and worrying that our real farmers must do around this time? But to stay connected to the outdoors and the seasons and the earth’s cycles is so energizing and life-affirming that I imagine it’s one of the reasons farmers do what they do. I’m guessing another reason is that they feel a connection and therefore responsibility towards the earth. There is a popular quote about farmers that I love…“God looked down on his planned paradise and said, I need a caretaker – So God made a farmer.” Farmers are caretakers of our precious earth – what an awesome job description!


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Ever heard of Weston A. Price?

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An excerpt from Nourishing Traditions, published by the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF):

The diets of [nonindustrialized] peoples…contained several factors in common…they valued animal fats as absolutely necessary to good health; and they ate fats, meats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains all in their whole, unrefined state.

The populations that Dr. Price studied in the 1930s were all very healthy, and he attributed that to their nutrient-dense diet of whole foods and avoidance of refined or denatured foods and ingredients, low fat products, pasteurized and homogenized dairy, hydrogenated oils, white flour, protein powders, synthetic vitamins, and food additives and colorings.

While it is a challenge to prepare everything from scratch, I still build a few meals a week around some organic fruits and vegetables and locally sourced meat. For the few processed items used, I read labels and avoid artificial colors and flavors, corn syrup, and monosodium glutamate, and I prefer limited ingredient lists and look for non-GMO certification. My motto is, perfect is the enemy of good!

Caroline McColloch
Chez Nous Farm

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The Market is open, and we have mushrooms!

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We’re open for ordering for the week! Studebaker “History in the Baking” is back after a week break, so all of her delicious, hearty breads are available.

And yes, we have mushrooms! There are two varieties – grey dove oyster and pioppino, both of which are delicious cooked. Oysters are meaty, mild, and nutty with a very faint seafood flavor. They are excellent sauteed in butter with thyme, mixed into your favorite sauce or even scrambled eggs. Pioppino are also mild and nutty but get slightly crisp when cooked. They’re good in just about anything – stir fries, soups, and risotto to name a few. There are limited amounts available, but look for more stock to be added Friday.

Have a great week, everyone!


Last day to order for the week!

Shop from our Virtual Market where you’ll find some microgreens and Swiss chard still available to snag for this week!

Last weekend my family headed north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to a small town on Lake Superior, to watch the sled dog races. It’s a whole different world up there, especially during winter. Everybody looks prepared for the weather, and the few tourists that have never experienced this event stand out with their hoodless coats and slim-fitting pants and boots. Most people wear snow pants and you see a lot of fur hats and even mittens made out of coyote fur. Snow drifts are as high as one-story houses.

As we drove up north, we watched the temperature reading on the car drop degree by degree. The Straits of Mackinac were frozen all the way across, which was a sight to see. As we drove over the bridge we could see where an ice breaker had gone through, presumably to make a path for cargo liners.

And ice-fishing! Some fishermen even have tents and fires surrounding their fishing holes in the town bay. How is feet and feet of snow and ice cozy? I don’t know, but it is.

It’s also a huge hub for snowmobiling in this part of the U.P. I could do without the incessant vroom of all them in town, but boy are they fun! A quieter, electric snowmobile would be ideal, since one of the magical qualities of all that snow is the cushioned silence that envelops you.

And then of course, watching the races! It’s fun to see and listen to the mushers as they talk to their teams. We stay at a friend’s house as our place isn’t winterized (although my sister and her husband braved it, melting snow to flush the toilet…), and the teams come down a hill and into town right in front of her house. There are three races over the weekend, with names that sound as fun as being up there: the UP200, Jack Pine 30, and Midnight Run…and that’s a little glimpse into a different world for you!


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Where does health begin?

Place your Virtual Market order here and enjoy being able to get fresh, local food all month long. (Actually all year long!)

Health begins in the mind—and the gut! As already described in the February 3rd post, the microbiome of the intestines, as in diversity thereof, is key to long term health. And of course what kinds of food we consume definitely affect the trillions of bacteria living in our gut. But ultimately it is our mind that decides what kinds of food we will consume. Not that food access and affordability are not serious social and economic problems—but that topic is for another post.

For those of us with the means, we do have choices about food. Having good information and being educated about nutrition and digestion is the starting point. But it is also about time management (e.g., for preparation and cooking), and many of us are on the verge of ‘time bankruptcy’. That’s probably the biggest impediment to eating right.

And so, understanding nutrition and digestion, along with good planning and time management, are prerequisites. But even before that, it seems there needs to be a great desire for good or better health, and the belief that it is possible—that we do in fact have some control over our health. The focus here is on preventable chronic diseases, such as diabetes and other digestive disorders, and to some extent cancer and heart disease. Not that genetic heritage is not a factor, but so too is food—for better or for worse.

A great many factors in addition to food affect long term health: genetics, stress management, physical activity, sleep and rest, social and family relationships, mental health and attitude. Some of these factors we have more control over than others, and perhaps the main one is food. My premise is that a quality diet is foundational and helps us manage the other factors a little better.

Caroline McColloch
Chez Nous Farm

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