Cool People Update

Here’s the update-

February:

Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb from Selma Cafe. They were truly inspiring! Here’s a quick recap for those of you that didn’t make it: Selma is hosted at the couple’s home in Ann Arbor every Friday morning. You show up, put on a name tag, have an amazing meal made by local chefs with local ingredients, hang out with great people from all over the county, and then leave a donation in a jar at the table. Those donations go to keeping Selma up and running, but then also get funneled back into the community by way of helping to fund the construction of new hoop houses on local farms. Really an inspired idea!

Jeff also spoke about his new project at Tilian Farm Development Center. This project is a “farm incubator”- essentially, they help new farmers get their businesses started that perhaps otherwise would not be able to. They do this by hosting them on a piece of land, providing them with access to tools, facilities, and resources to help them get their farms up and running. After a few years, the aim is that they will be able to buy their own land and equipment and continue providing good food for the people of the community while creating a healthy livelihood for themselves and their families.

These two were a great example of the whole “Farm & Food” concept. They have a mind for really making a sustainable food system a reality! It was a real pleasure to have them out at the Farm. You can contact them on their site for volunteer opportunities, and also be sure to check out the Tilian site for more information about the organization and their farms.

March:

Cool People #3- David Klingenberger, owner/chef at The Brinery. This event was seriously fun. The Brinery produces a number of naturally fermented products using produce from local farms. Think sauerkraut, pickled beets, kimchi, etc. These foods have a history rooted in ancient tradition. David was charming as ever and gave us a whole run-down on the history of these pickled treasures, as well as talk about his passion for farming and good food. To quote his website:

“Raw lacto fermented foods are rich in lactobacteria, similar to yogurt, and have many health benefits such as aiding digestion and boosting the immune system.”

Not only did we get to learn all about what makes David love what he does, we also got to taste everything. Oh my, what a treat! These pickles are not like your ordinary vinegar pickles. They hail a variety of complex flavors that are sure to compliment any palate. Not to mention they are all amazingly good for you! You can find David’s products popping up all over the place- at food co-ops, farmer’s markets, and most recently at the local Zingerman’s Deli atop their amazing Reuben sandwich.

Watch for updates on our next event… to be announced!

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Farm & Food #2: Selma Cafe

Announcing the second event in our “Cool People Series”! The first event was a raging success- Chef Alex Young from Zingerman’s was truly inspiring. He was the perfect person to kick off the series.

Next up we’ve got Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb from Ann Arbor’s Selma Cafe. From their own website, they describe Selma as: “a hub, a center, a heart of the many ongoing efforts to improve our lives through community building and free access to affordable, healthy foods and efforts to foster right-livelihood in vocations with meaning and purpose.

See the above flyer for more information. We hope to see you there!

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Cool People Series!

Lots of things happening at the farm! While things have slowed down outside, we have turned our focus inwards. We think of all the successes we had, and we also look for all the ways to be better in the year to come. It’s a welcome time of reflection- time to think and plan rather than just do. Given the busy pace that comes with a garden in summer, this is a welcome change.

In the spirit of this season of learning and sharing, we’ve planned an exciting new educational series that puts the spotlight on individuals who have done good work in the fields of farm and/or food. These people are all unique examples of this work done right! We figure, there is a lot of innovation and creativity out there, and a lot of really interesting minds who are happy to share their stories.

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First up, Chef Alex Young of Zingerman’s Roadhouse. See above flyer for more details. I hope you all can join us, and stay posted for updates on the coming events!

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Harvest!

We are up to our ears in fresh vegetables, folks.

We’ve recently started combining efforts from the garden and the kitchen to more effectively use all this fresh produce. In a weekly meeting, we hear ideas from both sides to plan out a week’s menu and fill it with garden goodness. So far so good!

What’s been on the menu lately? Baked acorn squash and fresh herbs, roasted fingerling potatoes, chili made with homegrown tomatoes, homemade pizza with fresh veggies, warm kale with ham… Oh yes. This is what it’s all about!

Whatever we’re not eating goes straight into storage. Mostly, that means we’re freezing lots and lots of tomatoes for use throughout the year. We’ve even been making sauerkraut!

This year has been a big one- a lot of surprising weather, some pests and diseases to combat in the garden, not to mention all of the work and dedication that it’s taken to expand the garden to the size it is now… it’s over 5 times the size that it was last year! Despite all of that, we’ve come out ahead. I can only see it getting better from here.

::Things that have not done so well in the garden this year: Cucumbers, cauliflower, radishes, onions, corn. Each year there are losses, but we can always learn something and strive to do better next year!

::Things that have rocked-out in the garden this year: Peas, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, fresh herbs, green beans, squash, greens, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, eggplant, and gourds.

I’d say we have a lot to be grateful for.

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It’s August already?

Be prepared for a massive garden update, starting… now!

Here’s what happened during the second half of June:

We went about adding another 16 raised beds (all measuring 20’x3′) in the southeast corner of the garden.

In the spirit of the “Green Farm Project”, we repurposed all these old bunk bed frames and decided to use them to trellis the tomatoes!

Beans sprouted up overnight.

Peas were productive and beautiful…

The most noteworthy thing to happen in June was certainly the addition of this fabulous hoop house! It was a great collaboration between Dawn Farm, Project Grow, and Selma Cafe. So many volunteers came out and raised this in one day!

We are looking forward to an extension of the growing season under these sunny walls and plenty of fresh greens throughout the winter.

We also got a lovely garden shed for storing our tools and supplies, and also started using our point well for watering.

We started harvesting broccoli…

Potatoes were growing quickly, and we worked hard hilling them up with straw and compost.

Here’s what happened in July:

We added three more raised beds to the original garden after we noticed some gaps between the existing beds.

This month was hot! We watched everything grow, and tried to keep up with the pesky Colorado Potato Beetle which had been attacking the potatoes and eggplant.

(Note- we use only organic methods here, so we’ve just been handpicking the beetles and keeping their population under control. While we may not be able to completely eliminate them, it has worked very well and the vegetables are looking just fine!)

Garden overview in mid-July:

The clients put together these great trellises for the cucumbers with supplies we had on hand. So thrifty!

Onions.

Tomatoes!

Beans.

That last area to be prepared was planted with corn, beans, and squash, to create a “Three Sister’s Garden”, which I’ll talk about more in a later post.

Here we are in August already!

Herbs are growing.

We’ve got birdhouse gourds forming.

Peppers.

Tomatoes are starting to ripen.

Three sisters garden is growing fast!

We harvested the last of the broccoli recently, and we’ve planted some lettuces, carrots, beets, greens, and beans for a fall harvest.

Whew! Keep checking our “Volunteer” section for updates. July was a slow month, but over the next two months we’ll have opportunities for helping with harvesting, food preservation, and more!

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What’s growing?

Even with this uncharacteristically wet and cold spring, we’ve taken everything one step at a time, and so far things seem to be flourishing. I thought I’d give you all a peek at what’s growing around the farm…

Below is a picture of the garden from last year. It is comprised of 16 raised beds, measuring approximately 20’x3′. We prepped this area for planting late last fall, so we were able to plant these beds with all of our early crops. You can also see that there’s a new area in front of the garden for playing volleyball!

Our peas are doing very well. They are just starting to develop little pods, and will be ready for harvest soon! We planted two varieties- Amish Snap and Dwarf Gray Sugar.

There are also lots of greens growing- we planted swiss chard, three varieties of kale, collards, spinach, arugula, and lots of lettuces. Yum!

Pretty, isn’t it?

The other crops that we planted in this area include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and beets.

Below is a picture of the garden’s addition so far. It adds approximately 3,800 square feet of new garden space in the form of permanent raised beds- most measuring 25’x3′.  It took three volunteer events and at least 100 volunteer hands to get this area all prepped and planted. The support from the community has been really amazing, and we are so grateful!

In this new area we’ve planted lots of herbs, potatoes, onions, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and bush beans. We’ve also planted cucumbers, melons, and birdhouse gourds.

Phew! We’ve been busy! All of our vegetables this year are heirloom varieties, and we hope to save some of our own seeds this fall.

We’re currently working on the last section of the garden (for this year), which will add another 1000 square feet of raised beds- located directly behind last year’s garden.

Still to come this month… more planting, a garden shed, a point well, and a hoop house! Also, check us out in the news

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We’ve been busy!

Well, despite its cold and rainy appearance, spring has been good to us. Things are growing and there are many projects underway out at the farm. I’ll be sure to give more regular updates about what’s going on now that the season is in motion.

Some of you might be familiar with the “Green Farm Project”. This project is essentially just a commitment from us to continue looking at ways to be environmental stewards. We’ve done a number of things already, and there’s so much more to do! It’s an exciting project, and it’s one that is so important- especially in a place that is so committed to the renewed health and welfare of its clients. Why not nurture the health and well-being of our environment as well? And so, a natural next step was to create a new and improved vegetable garden. Here’s what’s happening out at the farm:

It’s growing… Below is the “before” picture. You can see 16 raised beds (approximately 25 ft by 3 ft) off to the right.

The new plan? The new plan covers approximately an acre, and will be completed over the next 2-3 years. That’s about 15 times the size of last years vegetable garden… So, you might ask, why the change? It wasn’t as though the initial garden wasn’t productive. It was! However, we wanted to challenge ourselves to be even more self-sufficient. With this new plan we hope to utilize the space to grow the majority of our vegetables/fruits for use through the whole year, and not just throughout the growing season. Exciting, yes?

This means that we have a few challenges ahead of us. We have lots of new area to cover- from how to get it all in the ground to how to store and use all of it! It should be a fun year, and definitely a great learning experience.

Be sure to check out the “Volunteer” section of this blog for updates! We need your help!

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Hello!

Dawn Farm is, first and foremost, a place of recovery. To quote the website:

“Since 1973, Dawn Farm has met community needs with compassion, creativity and hope. From our humble roots in 1973 to the current array of community programs, Dawn Farm’s plainspoken ideal has always been the same—to be the place where addicts and alcoholics could go for help, regardless of their ability to pay.

For many years, Dawn Farm has offered a continuum of services to help addicts and alcoholics achieve long term recovery.  With residential services, supportive transitional housing, outpatient treatment, sub-acute detoxification and a range of active outreach programs, Dawn Farm has always been there to help.”

All of this takes place on a beautiful 65 acre farm. This blog was created to give you a behind the scenes look at the farm side of Dawn Farm. You see, we want you all to be involved in this project, because it really is a community effort. None of us are seasoned farmers- we’re just trying new things and learning every year!

This space will give you an opportunity to see what we’re up to, find out how to lend a hand, or to give us your suggestions/feedback. Thanks for stopping by!

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