No Co-op for 2017

2016 was a tough year to launch the Co-op.  It started with Lynn’s unfortunate passing in April then onto 28 days of rain in May.  Jessi came along in June, learned the ropes pretty well and then left in October.  It seems she got a sudden urge to be a teacher.  I explored a couple prospects in December and January but none panned out.  I am just spread too thin to do it all myself.  In the month of June I’ve got 25,000 trees to shear…by myself, 75 acres of hay to cut and bale and 5 acres of pumpkins to plant.  To top it all off, I am typing this with one finger because I have two fingers broken in my left hand.  I’ll still be growing a limited number of veggies and primarily wholesaling them.  Planning on tomatoes, pie pumpkins, acorn squash and butternut squash.  I’m open to the possibility of making a go of the Co-op in the future but I’ve got to have a stable person in place that I can count on.

2017 Co-op status

With Jessi moving on to other pastures, I find myself in a dilemma for the second time in one year in regard to staffing the Co-op.  I was very pleased with the job Jessi did while she was here but it would be too much for me to take on by myself with all the other tasks I’ve got going on in early summer.  The veggie growing season this year was nearly a disaster between the soggy May and weed pressure.  I’ve added 11 acres to my organic acreage this year which will give much more flexibility in rotation and hopefully weed control.  I’d really like to get feedback on this year’s Co-op.  Of the 4 main commodities I grow, the veggies are the most labor intensive and least profitable.  I’ve already redoubled hay production for next year.  With that in mind, you can see I’ve really got to see the demand to keep it going.  You could give feedback here or by email to jim@evergreenacres.biz or message me on the Evergreen Acres facebook page.

TMI on tomatoes

To start with, I will say that I am floored that tomatoes are not on the list of the dirty (produce) dozen.  These are the items that some author feels you should be buying organic.  So here’s the dirty skinny on tomatoes:  What’s the first thing you do with tomatoes you purchase?  You take them home and wash them under cold water…right?  When you do this and the water is 10 degrees cooler than the body of the tomato, an inversion occurs on the skin of the tomato so that anything on the outside goes through the skin to the inside.  If it is a conventionally grown tomato, all the pesticides do the inversion.  Washing a second time won’t undo the first washing.  You may say, “simple enough, I’ll wash tomatoes under warm water.”  That is fine for the pesticides currently on the surface, but you can’t undo what happened two weeks ago when the thunderstorm came through and dropped all the cold rain on the tomatoes, doing the same inversion a week before they were picked.  Now do you see why I believe in eating only organic tomatoes?  Cantaloupe do the same thing.  That is why some stores won’t carry cantaloupe anymore….too much risk.

Lots of folks ask me why tomatoes in the stores taste like cardboard.  The short answer is that they are picked green.  As a tomato grows, it builds the size of the fruit first.  After it gets to its destined size, it will start to change color, from light green to dark green, then a little pink starting at the bottom.  When the first pink appears, we call it a breaker.  When a tomato goes into the breaker stage, it will never get bigger as the plant is maturing the seed and pumping plant sugars into the fruit.  This is where the flavor comes from.  It keeps pumping the plant sugars until it is fully ripe.  Most stores don’t like to carry these tasty, flavorful, nutritious tomatoes.  Why not?!  That’s what we want!..you might say.  There are several reasons:  Vine ripe tomatoes that are full of plant sugars are very perishable and have a very short shelf life.  With a batch of tomatoes acting like a bin of grenades with the pin pulled, the grocer risks losing a delivery of tomatoes.  Secondly, it is easy for the grocer to pass off green-picked tomatoes as vine-ripe…all they have to do it change the color, which can be done overnight.  Tomatoes along with lots of produce, make ethelyne gas.  It is part of the ripening process.  Ethelyne gas turns the tomato skin from green to red.  So they can either keep the gas contained around the tomatoes as in the back of a truck or they can open a canister of ethelyne gas.  When this happens it is still a green-picked  tomato with red skin and no flavor.  Green picked tomatoes can be kept in the cooler in the back of the store for 2 to 3 weeks.  Vine-ripe tomatoes cannot be chilled.  The skin wrinkles when they come out of the cooler.  Vine-ripe tomatoes have a shelf-life of 1 to 7 days…depending on the variety.  Are you begining to see why stores don’t like to carry vine-ripe tomatoes?  Oh and those tomatoes labeled as vine-ripe from Mexico or California that are still on the vine, are green-picked as well.  Leaving them attached to a dead vine does not allow the plant to fill the tomato with the plant sugars and flavor.  It would be more accurate to label them as vine-attached, not vine ripe.  Vine-ripe tomatoes cannot make the trip on long distances.  The route by truck takes at least 3 days to get to the warehouse.  Produce going through a warehouse often adds about 5 days because of first-in, first-out inventory to turn it over before it goes bad.  That makes the long-distance tomatoes 8 days old getting to the store.  There’s no way you could do that with a vine-ripe tomato.

End of July Update

Good evening everyone,

It’s been a busy month at the farm, and we are glad for it! There have been hundreds of pounds of tomatoes for us to harvest for co-op, and we have members buying up to 50 pounds to use for canning.

Many of you have seen the sweet corn was ready this week, and here it is on display at co-op.

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We were pleasantly surprised to see hardly any ear worm damage. You might not find many organic farms with quality sweet corn, so be sure to pick yours up next week!

July also means it’s time to harvest honey from our 14 bee hives. Check out the lighter colored honey from last year, compared with the darker color from this year.
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Folks have asked us, ‘Why is the color different even though it’s the same bees?’. It’s actually quite simple: They’ve been eating different foods! It all depends on what flowers they have been getting their nectar from. Pretty neat, huh?

What’s New at the July 7th Co-op

Good evening all,

Everyone at Evergreen Acres hopes everyone had a Happy Independence Day Holiday! It’s nice to be back in the swing of things after a vacation. Farm fresh produce doesn’t take a vacation though, so we do have more goodies for upcoming co-ops.

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Huge, red tomatoes have begun peaking through the lush green leaves on our greenhouse plants. This is the very start of the season, so we apologize if availability is limited. Everyone has been very patient and understanding about this, and this virtue will be rewarded once peak season comes up soon!

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Beautiful, wild blackberries are ripening on the vines all over the farm. As we pluck the last few blueberries, we can begin to collect bucketfuls of blackberries.

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Summertime string beans were available at our last co-op. Thank you to members who were able to pick them up after a last minute announcement. We will have more at this Thursday’s co-op, along with blue potatoes, and (hopefully) kale and blueberries.

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon! Stay cool this week, it’s going to be a scorcher.

 

Welcome to Jessi

Jessi at the Co-op
Jessi at the Co-op

We welcome Jessi as the latest addition to the farm.  Along with her degrees in Ag from Tech, she brings lots of energy and fresh ideas.  She’s managing the Co-op and working with us in the fields.  We’ll see if she can teach this old dog a few new tricks.

Co-op Announcements

Good Morning, all!

I hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful weekend! There are just a few quick announcements about our co-op tomorrow, June 27th. We will have onions, kale, beets, blue potatoes and depending on availability lettuce and blueberries.
We are very excited to welcome two local farms to the Evergreen Acres co-op event. Rainbow Acres Farm and Moose Acres Farm will be selling their local foods to enjoy!

Sally at Rainbow Acres Farm will have various cuts of meats available such as beef, pork, chicken, and veal.
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Marie at Moose Acres Farm has a variety of raspberries such as red, purple, and black raspberries. Moose Acres will also be offering other berries throughout the season.
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Thank you to these two farms who have come out during our first week of co-op and helped make it such a success! We are looking forward to a great season together.

As always, a huge thank you to all of our members supporting your community and local food. We welcome any and all questions and comments to help us serve you better!

Please Note:
In recognition of the 4th of July Holiday, we will not be holding a co-op that evening. We hope everyone enjoys a safe and fun Independence Day, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

June 21st Co-op Update

Greetings!

Our first co-op was a wonderful success! Thank you to all those who came out to the farm on Monday. We appreciate the support of all our members, and we look forward to seeing everyone this Thursday from 6:30-8! We will have onions, beets, and blueberries, and depending on product availability, we may also have cabbage and different varieties of lettuce.
Check out this great spread the team at Evergreen Acres worked hard to set up!

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Beets were a high demand item. Folks stocked up noting how versatile and healthy they are. What a coincidence they have such have significant benefits to heart health and also resemble a heart!

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June 19 Co-op Update

Good morning!

We are very excited to announce our first co-op tomorrow, Monday June 19th. We will have fresh, organic produce ready for our members to pick up from 6:30pm-8:00pm on-site at Evergreen Acres farm.
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It’s been about 3 years since planting for the bushes to fruit, but they are absolutely worth the wait.

We will also be harvesting onions, beets and red leaf lettuce heads.
For some reason, beets are not everyone’s favorite veggie.
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The beautifully purpleish-red root are loaded with antioxidants. In fact, it has been found that root as well as its top-greens offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels within the body, and have anti-aging effects (USDA National Nutrient Database).
Not sure how to prepare beets for the whole family to enjoy? Check out this recipe to bake crispy, flavorful beet chips. You can store the beetroot in your fridge for a few weeks. Throw the leaves on your salad when their fresh and enjoy those yummy health benefits!

Check out our onion stalks falling over and the “shoulders” popping out of the ground.

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This means the onions are ready to be picked and enjoyed! If stored properly, they can last months (if they’re not eaten up by then).

Here is our red leaf lettuce ready to be picked fresh for you! Why not make a salad with those beet greens? Delicious, organic, and super healthy!

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We are looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow! Can’t make it out to the farm? Head over to Whole Foods in Fair Lakes where customers can pick up our local and organic produce every week.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!

 

June 1 update

Now that we have seasonal weather, the race is on to make up for what didn’t happen in the past month.  On Memorial day I tilled under all the zuchinni, cucumber, yellow squash, cantaloupe and watermelon.  On June 1, I replanted all the above.  All are warm-season plants that need warm soil high temperatures and lots of sunshine.  We set a new record by not breaking 80 during the first three weeks of May.  Of course it rained every single day which kept the soil cool.  The seed did nothing but rot and the weeds went ballistic.  We always want to be among the first to provide the warm-season produce, but this is often the down-side of early planting.  Anytime warm-season seeds are planted before mid-May the results are messy.  I planted the last week of April, which is really pushing the envelope.  The first two plantings of corn and beans are doing well although the second planting is doing better than the first…not surprising.
The field tomatoes narrowly averted a frost on May 16 at 36 degrees but are doing well.  We are able to get on the field to mulch them with compost now that the field has dried enough.  We’ll be scrambling to get stakes in Monday after rain this weekend.  Critters seem to have eaten about 1% of plants but we’re still close to 3,000 in the field.  300 tomato plants in the high tunnel are doing well.  We had a setback with thrips but the high temps seem to have helped.  Production may lag by a week.  We’re still nursing and weeding greens in the field.  The chinese cabbage bolted without forming a head.  The blue potatoes and beets are doing well.  I’ve started cutting and baling hay, which is off about 40% due to the lack of rain in April, so heads-up to the equine folks.  The bees have been busy swarming this year but not making as much honey with all the rain.  I came out of winter with 7 hives and am at 15 now.  It looks as though I may get more than 10 quarts of blueberries this year.  I’ll be looking at coyote calls to keep the deer off them.  Those and the tunnel tomatoes usually come in the third week of June.  With that and some greens, I hope to open around that time.