Okay, I got my hot coffee, let's talk!
When we began farming, the winter was a time to rest, plan and reconnect with friends and family that you were unable to see through the chaos of the main season. It was great! It really made it a lot easier to justify the long hours the farm demanded through Spring, Summer and Fall. As our farm developed, we became interested in trying to make fresh produce available to people year round. That has been the chief cause of the erosion of our yearly workflow cool down cycle. We routed a lot of energy and resources to off season production over the years. Some years those allocations would translate to immediate results, sometimes... not. Fast forwarding to now: We have 3 caterpillar tunnels and 3 hoop houses planted with cold hearty crops, and a giant walk in cooler stockpiled with dedicated storage crops grown in the late Fall. To pull that off though, you really end up with a lot of work to do at the tail end of the main season. All your storage crops have to be harvested and tucked away before the first serious frost comes through, hoop houses have to be cleaned up and planted with winter crops and caterpillars need to get moved/built in preparation of planting. Our late Fall work load has done a slow 180 over the years. Don't get me wrong, it's been great! The work flow shift has been rather organic, and it coincided with a perspective shift: It's not work, it's life. So, now that I've given you some background, here's what happened the past couple weeks! (I tried to keep things in order, but assume a healthy amount of overlap of the various events)
1. Our 2017 tax extension came due and we had to slug our way through over a week of designing and employing our new accounting set up.
2. We moved 2 caterpillar tunnels and built a new one
3. Clean and planted hoop houses
4. Upgraded hoops and caterpillars with a set of additional smaller inner hoops and blankets (operation: Winter Shield)
5. We had to let the staff go a little earlier than expected :( Miss you guys!
6. Frost hit! We had to make a mad dash to get the literal tons of produce out of the field and squirreled away for winter
7. We got accepted to the Eastern Market and began attending a third Saturday market!
8. Low temps have forced us to relocate our wash station
All these items came together and really pushed us to the limit the past few weeks. It's been exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. We have lots of produce in storage for the winter and hoop house crops are looking better than ever thanks to operation Winter Shield. Yeah, a strong and prolonged cold snap might still thwart some of our plans, but we did everything we could, and didn't leave anything on the table. Of course, we didn't do this alone...
This all happened amidst a planned visit of my parents from NJ. Here's about how that played out.
Dad: "Jim, are sure it's a good time for us to come out?"
Me: "Yeah, this is as good as gets. Things SHOULD be pretty quiet that week"
Dad: "Great, we'll see you then"
Upon their arrival we had just been accepted to the Eastern market and a hard frost had set it's cross hairs on Lake Divide's storage crops. It would not be the restful visit I had advertised (sorry guys!) Without a complaint, they sprung into action, helping us save our carrots, beets, herbs, winterizing our infrastructure, cooking, cleaning, dividing for markets, you name it! Special thanks to them for the long hours they put in to set up Lake Divide for a bountiful winter! We even had some time left over to tackle some drywall in the house! Nice to be rid of that 6'x8' hole in the ceiling! I better send this email out soon or I'm gonna end up in hot water. I can't close out this Thanksgiving email without sending thanks to all of you for making it out the markets each week and for being part of our weird farming adventure. I hope you all get to spend some time gathered around a loaded dinner table with loved ones.
One final special thanks to the Lake Dividers for hanging tough through the end of the season. Frigid temps, icy wash station water and utter exhaustion weren't enough to stop ya. Bravo team!
Helen will be making a guest appearance at the Ann Arbor market this Wednesday (today), she missed her A2 people too much to stay away! Catch up with her for some last minute produce for Thanksgiving, or a chat, or a song. Apparently she sings to customers sometimes?! Looks like Lizz and I will have to start taking singing lessons... or at least I will.
Jim writing for the Lake Dividers
Fresh From the Field!
Baby Bok Choi!
Tokyo Bekana- Bok Choi lettuce!
Kale: flat leaf, green curly, and red curly
Parsley: The stems of the curly parsley are incredibly sweet!
All manner of deliciousness:
Fennel: Fresh licorice-y fronds with crispy bulbs.
Kohlrabi- beautiful meal sized kohlrabi and tender petite
Potatoes will be back in a couple weeks once the rest of the crops are safe from the frost
*Hot peppers: Hungarian hot wax, cayenne, jalepeno, serrano, and poblano- try pickling!
Radishes: Classic, White Daikon, Green Daikon, and Watermelon- Try making steamed radish
Turnips: Sweet white turnips and purple top roasting turnips
*End of the season for starred crops so stock up while you can!
Markets, always rain or shine!Wednesday: Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor Market is located in the Kerrytown District at 315 Detroit St, Ann Arbor, MI. The market runs from May thru December, 7 am to 3 pm.
Saturday: Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Detroit's Eastern Market
The Ann Arbor Market is located in the Kerrytown District at 315 Detroit St, Ann Arbor, MI. The market runs from May thru December, 7 am to 3 pm and January thru April from 8 am to 3 pm.
The Chelsea Farmers' Market is located in the lower library lot along Park St. It runs May thru October from 8 am to 1 pm.
The Eastern Market in Detroit is located about a mile northeast of downtown. It covers about 43 acres, bounded by I-75 on the West and Gratiot Avenue on the South. It runs year round from 6am – 4pm