The Local Grocer

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Posted 3/13/2015 9:02am by Erin Caudell.

It’s amazing what a few degrees make. Our usual February 15 hoophouse planting date was delayed because of the subzero temperatures. As with most things on the farm we plan, plan, plan and then go with the flow.  So many of the transplants we grew for the early planting will go outside. Instead we are planting more leafy greens that will give us some great crops before they need to be removed the second week of April. For us its been just great to get our fingers in the dirt, clean up the hoophouse and feel like we are getting some seeds growing.   

Posted 2/20/2015 1:53pm by fwpleasant.

Part of the fulfillment that we get from farming comes from the theory that, if done properly, we can increase the diversity and vitality of our surroundings around you. One low maintenance way we chose early on was planting tons of native wildflowers. Another was to get some bees.

Mildly graphic imagery alert: For those of compassionate constitution this post contains a somewhat disheartening yet hopeful story of apian tragedy and triumph.

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During our first year of front yard farming we invited a family of honey bees to join our family on the south side of Flint. We were very vigilant at monitoring regularly, providing supplemental nutrition, and adding supers at the appropriate time, skills we learned in a beginning beekeepers class. Near the end of the summer, we noticed that a few of the bees had some wing and leg deformation and upon closer inspection, we saw tiny reddish brown mites on the backs and butts of some of the bees. There was also a weird smell thing going on, but everyone's house smells a little different right? We described our bees symptoms to a more experienced bee keeper who said they had probably gotten one or more of the things that bees get in our area and suggested several organically approved treatments to help reduce the impact. We chose one and completed a full course of treatment before the weather turned cold and hoped for the best. We had so much fun watching our hive over that first summer that we went back to the bee symposium at our local community college and invited two more families of bees and whole slue of native wildflowers to join us for at our farm in Beecher.

On the first warmish day between winter and spring, we put on our bee hats on inspected our hive . There were no signs of life. We said a few words, closed the hive and grieved for a few weeks. It's pretty rough for us losing that hive, because while we knew there is only so much we could have done, it still felt like it was our fault when they didn't make it. Like they were trusting us to get them ready to make it through the winter and we'd let them down.

We tried even harder during our second bee summer. We even went as far as to insulate their hives with straw bales against the ravages of winter. It didn't get any easier losing them either.

Because of all of the press that declining bee populations are getting many more of us know how important having hives in our cities and towns and at our homes has become. So this year we are going to try again. But we aren't going it alone this time, we're taking classes and getting some hands on help from a pro. We are also going to go a little farther with our insulation plan. With a little luck we will get them through the winter and beyond to the point where they start making enough honey to share with you!

Bees new home

This is the day we installed our first hive. There was only one stinging that day.

 

P.S.- One of the better documentaries about bees that helps inform our desire to keep trying is called More Than Honey. It freaked us out, inspired us, and gave us some additional filters to use when contemplating the ethical and ecological impacts of products that we want to offer you at The Local Grocer.

Tags: bees, honey
Posted 2/14/2015 8:45am by Erin Caudell.

Stop by the market til 1pmand get a taste of the most delicious shortbread around. Also today only Dotty brought her delectible bacon, egg and cheese bread and beer 

breads. Want a special treat but are gluten free? She also bakes a gluten free shortbread. 

We love working with Dotty from Scotty Dotty Shortbread and will have her products available on our online store soon! 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted 2/13/2015 5:18pm by Erin Caudell.

The ginger seed is here! We are so excited to plant our little baby gingers up to sprout. These little beauties will be available late summer /early fall as young ginger. For right now they'll be planted up  in flats to sprout before they'll head to the hoophouses later this spring. 

 

 

Posted 2/12/2015 2:43pm by Erin Caudell.

Brrr! It seems like this week is colder than ever! We rely on the wonders of crockpot cooking and lots of soup recipes in the winter to keep warm. But sometimes we need to mix it up.  We've been carrying the Rosewood Tofu from Ann Arbor and I was exploring some recipes I could recommend to our customers. This one was quick and tasty and a great one for no meat monday!

 

Gluten Free Sesame Tofu

INGREDIENTS For the marinade

  • 1/4 cup gluten-free tamari (soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 Tbs. peanut or sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

For the Sesame

  • Tofu 1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot,
  • divided 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil,
  • divided 4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 Tbs. mirin or rice wine
  • 2 Tbs. gluten-free tamari 
  • 2 Tbs. Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. spicy chili sauce or thai chili or crushed red pepper
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2-3 Tbs. sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbs. scallions, finely sliced

 

PREPARATION Cut tofu into cubes. Combine ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Toss the tofu cubes in the marinade and let sit for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Mix 2 Tbs. of the arrowroot with ¼ cup of cold water to create a slurry and set aside. Put the remaining arrowroot on a plate. Remove the tofu cubes from the marinade, shake off any excess and coat the tofu in the arrowroot. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Cook the tofu cubes in the oil until they are browned and crisp on all sides, about 7 minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining Tbs. of oil to the pan. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the mirin, tamari, Hoisin, maple syrup, and chili sauce to the pan. Stir and bring to a simmer. Mix the arrowroot-water slurry into the sauce. Continue to cook the sauce until it thickens. While the sauce is cooking, toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet over low heat. Move them around with a spatula every so often and make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. When they get a bit brown and toasty, remove them from the heat. Add the tofu to the sauce and toss to coat and reheat the tofu. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon zest. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with brown rice and steamed vegetables. Adapted from One Green Planet

Posted 1/30/2015 10:34am by Erin Caudell.

I don't know if other farmers think winter is as short as we do. It seems like that list I made of projects that will finally get done in winter is a mile long! The fact you are reading this means I did finish at least one of the winter projects... our website! 

  

Posted 1/9/2015 9:19pm by Erin Caudell.

I love napa cabbage. Not only is it packed with antioxidants and folates but it's super delicious and doesn't take long to cook. I like to mix it in my stir fry and miso soup. It also can be mixed in salads, used to make coleslaws and generally the most versatile winter vegetable. And when I can't think of anything else I can make a quick kimchi. 

  •  1 large or 2 smaller heads of Napa cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (1 cup)
  •  2 to 3 tablespoons coarse red-pepper flakes

Quarter cabbage lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-to 3-inch pieces. Toss with 3 tablespoons salt in a large bowl and let stand, tossing occasionally, 2 hours. Rinse cabbage well, then drain. Squeeze out excess water with your hands and transfer to a large bowl. Purée garlic and ginger with fish sauce and vinegar in a blender until smooth, then pour over cabbage. Add scallions and red-pepper flakes, mix. Marinate at least 1 hour. (can be stored longer, flavor will evolve.)

Posted 12/31/2014 8:58am by Erin Caudell.

Its hard to believe that one year ago the farm was completely under ice. This year the more mild weather has helped us continue to harvest greens in the hoop houses. Its hard to believe that we got our first box of seeds in the mail today. In a few days those seeds will be our first transplants of 2015. Another exciting year is about to begin. We're grateful for the amazing customers who trust us to grow food for your families. Wishing you the best in 2015!

Posted 12/29/2014 7:14pm by Erin Caudell.

Even in the winter there is still so much to do on the farm. We keep a careful eye on the temperature and have to vent the hoop houses on sunny days. Harvesting is still happing as long as the temperature is above 32 degrees. Franklin has been hard at work putting a new metal roof on the shed and on the warmer days of the last month we've managed to clean up a few more of the outdoor beds. 

We've been working on expanding our setup for growing transplants, I can't believe its time to start planting seeds for planting the hoophouse in February.

It seems like the planning for the next year never ends.   Some of the least favorite jobs have faded in our memories. I almost forgot how much I hate picking green beans.  Since it's been six months I seem to have softened on the idea, so I order the seeds again for some new variety that might magically pick itself.