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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inaugural Harvest Celebration at Eastern Market

I had the amazing opportunity Thursday evening to be among the  200 people  invited to attend the Inaugural Harvest Celebration at Eastern Market.

A benefit for Detroit's Eastern Market, a non profit, six block, public market that has been working to bring farm fresh food to the people of Michigan for over 120 years, the Oct 16 event was billed as a celebration of the richness and vibrancy of the Market, to feature  exceptional food and entertainment showcasing this Detroit landmark.

It was said that dinner would be an “”epicurean exuberant farm-to-table feast” with “exquisite cuisine, appetizers and desserts will be prepared by Michigan’s newest and most talented local food artisans.” paired with Michigan wines.

I must say, the event lived up to the billing.  From the servers who met me at the door with drinks and trays of hors d’oeuvres, to the string ensemble from Detroit Symphony Orchestra, who played during our dessert, I was temporarily transported, from the world of  farming, to a magical world of fantasy and luxury.

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I made sure, as the trays of hors d’oeuvres circulated, to limit myself to one of each type, so as to save room for dinner.  It wasn’t easy, particularly with the Caribbean Baked Wings, The Apple Chutney Crustini, or the Tomato and Basil sliders. (They had other sliders, but the Tomato and Basil were the best.)

Along with are business leaders, and government officials, several local celebrities were there. Cynthia and Edsel Ford made an appearance early in the evening,  and although I would not previously have known him by sight, everyone knows the voice of Paul W. Smith of WJR who was the Master of Ceremonies.   It was exciting to “bump shoulders” with some of the people who make things happen in Southeast Michigan.

A film shown during dinner highlighted two of the projects Eastern Market has focused on this year.  Farm Stand, a series of pop-up markets, has allowed local grown produce to be introduced to inner city neighborhoods, and Kitchen Connect a program that provides commercially licensed ‘incubator’ kitchen space for entrepreneurs.

The newly refurbished section of Shed 5 at Eastern Market features a sparkling new community kitchen, made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

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A “Farm to Fork” dinner, prepared by some amazing chefs, using ingredients sourced from Michigan farms was a highlight of the evening.  (And I have to admit, it was rewarding to be able to explain to the people at our table what a Delicata was, how it was grown, what they looked like and why it made such good soup.)

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Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged. To think that as a farmer, perhaps I don’t belong with the upper echelons of society.  I think maybe some people hear the title farmer and attach subtitles like redneck, bumpkin or hillbilly. So it was encouraging to be there, among a group of some of the most influential people in the region, and know that I could hold my head up and be proud to be a farmer.

Without farmers, the entire event would have never come to pass.







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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Saving Seeds

Hi everyone!

We are coming to the end of the farming season now at DTL Herbs Farm. It was an interesting season as well as a learning season for our first year actually having a farm to work with.

Besides planting, harvesting and selling our produce this year, we also made sure to do a lot of seed saving. We are specializing in all heirloom veggies (and hopefully fruit in the coming years) so, we made sure to harvest as many seeds as possible. This helps consistency from year to year.

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Our dining room became seed saving central this past season. I think I might actually see our table in the near future! LOL

Did you know that there are Seed Banks all over the world? Some of the world’s largest Seed Vaults are right here in the United States!

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The reasons for storing seeds may be varied. In the case of food crops, many useful plants that were developed over centuries are now no longer used for commercial agricultural production and are becoming rare. Storing seeds also guards against catastrophic events like natural disasters, outbreaks of disease, or war. Unlike seed libraries or seed swaps that encourage frequent reuse and sharing of seeds, seed banks are not typically open to the public.

Source: Wikipedia

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Of course, this too has taken up the table since Spring! The dehydrator. I don’t think we have had a single day in about 3 months that this thing wasn’t running. Honest! We definitely need to get several more for next year.

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We have dried a lot of various veggies this year. But, without a doubt the biggest time has been concentrated at drying our hot peppers. We have grown several of the world’s hottest peppers this season and are developing a new product. Our customers at DTL Herbs have been asking us for some hot and spicy mixes. We listened and dedicated a lot of time this year to grow these peppers in order to fill this need.

Oh, and in case you are wondering what those “sticks” are in the above picture, they are dill stems. Did you know they are filled with flavor as well as the leaves? Yup, I use them to flavor my oils and vinegars for here at home. They don’t look as pretty so, I don’t use them for products. but, for home use, they are just fine.

Do you save your seeds?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Visiting an Apple Orchard

Hello everyone!

This is my favorite time of the year, Autumn! And one of our favorite activities is a visit to an apple orchard. We stopped by Spicer Orchards a couple of weeks ago and had a great time walking around and smelling all the amazing scents!

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At this point we could smell the fresh donuts being made. Oh, is there a better smell that fresh fried donuts? I can’t think of one!

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Okay, so we made a beeline straight to the donuts! Might as well get that over with.

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Having had our immediate donut fix, we could enjoy looking around.

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All the gorgeous fresh fruit!

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I sneaked into the apple cider making room and took a picture! Shhh!

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Even a wonderful little café and wine tasting room!

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Loved this sign! LOL

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Definitely Fall!

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They had a beautiful outdoor sitting area where you could enjoy apple cider and fresh donuts!

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One view of the orchards.

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The trees were loaded with fresh ripe apples!

Do you like to head out for a day at a local apple orchard? If so, where is your favorite place to go?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kicking Off the Autumn Season

Hello!

One of our Farming friends is Mums the Word. A local Mum farm.

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Taking a trip to check out the Fall harvest is something we look forward to every year.

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Seeing the fields with beautiful mums it such a treat! Every color you can imagine a mum coming in, they are grown here!

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We like to have some of these beauties for our customers and this is the only farm we would ever think to buy from! Carol has us go out in the field and pick the ones we want to be potted up.

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Just like our herbs and produce, nothing but the freshest, best quality and locally grown will do!

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We don’t just buy for our customers, all of the mums that are around our home come from Carol at Mums the Word. I have had the best results with Carol’s mums. Every year they come back beautifully!

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This is such a fun place to visit. We definitely recommend taking a trip out to New Boston, MI and enjoy all the Autumn splendor!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Make a Simple Compost Bin

Hi everyone!

One of the things we were happy to get into place at the farm is compost bin areas. We make our compost completely organically and with only vegetation (no animal products).

Cost and time are always an issue for us. Fortunately making a compost bin doesn’t require either!

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We grabbed a few pieces of lumber that we got off of Craiglists for free (just had to load it up) and 5 pallets from the pallet pile at the farm. Craigslist is a good place to find free local pallets. They are always listed for free if you pick them up.

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Simply stand the pallets on ends and start nailing the extra boards to the top. You are just joining them together. You don’t need to join them on the bottom if you don’t want. We didn’t.

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Although ours is up against a hoop house, it is still free standing. Nothing was nailed into the end of the hoop house. And as you can see, we aren’t going for beauty here. The beauty lies in the compost! LOL

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This is so simple, you don’t even need to worry about doing any measuring. Nothing has to be perfect. Pallets rarely are. One side is used for the fresh “to be broke down vegetation” and once it does, it gets moved to the other side.

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This whole compost unit could be lifted and moved somewhere else if we wanted.

We are making several more of these compost stations in other areas at the farm. Keeping compost bins close to where you farm/garden is ideal. Less work and you are more inclined to use them.

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Start dumping in your weeds and vegetable/fruit scraps. I am always so amazed when we drive down local streets on trash day and see the bags of yard trimmings and what nots that you have to bag up separate and put out for the trash. And quite often you have to pay for a certain amount of extra bags!

 

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Do you compost? If so, what is your method?

Friday, May 30, 2014

How to Make a Fairy Garden

Hi everyone!
Earlier this month at our Garden Club Meeting, we had a woman in to teach us how to make a tabletop fairy garden. This was so much fun!
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She brought all kinds of fairy accessories that she either collected of made for us to use. I am going to just start at the beginning and work my way through the tutorial!
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The first step was to pick out a basket to make our garden in. She had two tables filled with different baskets to choose from.
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We chose our accessories.
You can use and upcycle a lot of things you may already have around your home.
You can make shepherds hooks out of old wire hangers. Using a golf tee and a round marble you can make a gazing ball. Popsicle sticks can turn into garden gates. Small Christmas ornaments can also be added as gazing balls. Painted metal mesh or plastic mesh can be cut to use as a trellis. So many ideas!!
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Next we chose our plants. Herbs like lemon thyme work great in fairy gardens. You want small plants that grow close to the ground with a couple of spiky plants for height.
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Each table also had bags of pebbles/gravel, scissors, a small knife, soil and floral foil.
Okay, we have all our stuff, let’s make a fairy garden!
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Line the inside of the basket with the floral foil. Roll down the edges to match the height of your basket. Use the small knife and poke some holes in the bottom of the foil for drainage.
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Now fill with soil.
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Now plant your plants. this is where your creative side kicks in. There is no right or wrong way to build your fairy garden. You just want to keep in mind your accessories and creating little pathways with the pebbles.
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Once you have your plants in, make little pathways with your pebbles and start adding your accessories!
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Everyone working on their fairy gardens.
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I love that everyone’s fairy garden was different. Each added their own touches.
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This was our fairy garden.
I honestly am hooked on making these! I just love them. We ended up making this for my mom for Mother’s Day and she loved it!
Once you have your garden made, gently water it. These are meant to be outside however, if you have the right space they can be inside as well.
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So, are you ready to make your own fairy garden? I hope this inspired you to get creative and have some fun!
Thank you for stopping by!
Also being posted at The Thrifty Groove

Monday, May 19, 2014

Peafowl Egg. A Rare Treat From a Farming Friend.

 

Peafowl eggs make  a rare, delicious and hearty  breakfast.

A family friend retired from her management job here in our area, a few years back, and bought some property on the West side of Michigan. 

As a Master Gardener and animal enthusiast, it was only a matter of time before she started to raise and grow food.

Because we have entertained the idea of raising chickens and maybe a few other things ourselves, we have watched carefully, to glean as much information as we could from the things she is doing.

Knowing my fascination with the possibilities of poultry, on a recent visit she brought us, not only a dozen farm fresh eggs, but a peafowl egg as well.  I had never tasted peahen eggs and was very excited.

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Peafowl eggs are a rare treat, because, unlike chickens, which can lay an egg every day for most of the year, peahens will only lay eggs during a small time window in the spring,and only one egg every other day,  so while an average laying hen will produce between 200 and 250 eggs per year,  a peahen may produce at most 20 eggs a year, under ideal conditions.

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So I was flattered and honored that she was willing to share one of her first eggs of the season with me.

Peahen eggs are considerably larger than chicken eggs.  In baking it is recommended that you use one peahen egg to replace 2 chicken eggs.

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Another very obvious difference was the thickness of the shell.  It took several good solid thwacks ( technical term) on the side of the bowl to get it to break open, while one moderate thwack is enough for a chicken egg.

Once cracked the color and consistency was very similar to the chicken eggs from her farm, (Which of course tend to have have darker yolks than grocery store eggs.)

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I opted to fry both the peahen egg and a chicken egg, so I could taste them side by side for comparison.

The peahen egg took quite a bit longer to cook, and had a tendency to stick to the pan a bit more.  I suspect there is a chemical difference, quite possibly a higher protein level, or lower fat content, that caused this, but not being a chemist or scientist, I couldn’t say for sure.

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The end result was a fried egg, over medium, that was roughly twice the size of the other egg I cooked for comparison.

The taste was very similar. The white of the peahen egg seemed to have a little less flavor than the chicken egg. The yolk seemed to have significantly richer flavor, and almost a sweetness to it.  My brain immediately turned to baking.  A recipe that calls for egg yolk, for a cheesecake, or even a hollandaise sauce, would logically be much better with peahen eggs, while a meringue or other recipe that just uses the white, would probably not be noticeably different.

It was a fun experiment, a very nice breakfast, and a learning experience.

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Thank you Glenda, for sharing a bit of your farm with us!