Moving Right on into Summer!

Another week and we will officially be into summer! Where does the time go?

Today, Thursday, we have the farm store open 10-4, sharing the produFarm store productsce that’s fresh right now on the farm.  Although we’ve suspended our farm-share subscription (CSA) for this season, our goal is to have fresh food available at the farm store most weeks for neighbors and on-farm shoppers.

The garden is looking pretty good this year, as we’ve had abundant rain and sunshine the past couple of weeks.  We’re harvesting the last of the asparagus – no more till Fall, end of the rhubarb, carrots from the hoop house, salad greens including lettuce and arugula, and we have some new kohlrabi, among other things on the menu today.  Stop by!

 

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Hello, Sunshine!

We’re certainly enjoying this new, warm and dry weather!  Such a difference to work outside without rain and mud, although we know the moisture we received in the last couple of weeks (or more) is necessary for good crops all summer long.  Just glad for the hiatus!

Our focus on Old Loon Farm is to promote healthy eating and family gardens.  Everyone can grow something!  Please don’t hesitate to ask us about any gardening or food-prep questions you might have — we will do our best to advise and guide. We are members of Indiana Grown.  We use organic seed, no pesticides and only natural fertilizers and compost.  Our eggs are produced by free-range chickens that roam the fields all day long, and get non-GMO feed for dessert!

DSCN1869This week we’ll be making breads again in the Old Loon Farm kitchen. Look for a variety at the market on Saturday, including the new einkorn bread products, whole grain and nutty granolas, and our delicious no-grain, no-gluten energy bars.  We also will have plenty of asparagus, fresh herbs, and rhubarb.

With the warmer temps and drying soil we’ve been able to start planting in the main garden.  We’ve sown our first four rows of edamame, along with more onions, peppers and tomatoes.  This year we’re looking for more variety and less volume, and adding more perennial crops – mainly berries and grapes.

Have you made your rhubarb pies and desserts yet?  Last week we feasted on a delicious rhubarb-apple crisp, fresh and tart! Here’s the recipe, adjusted from my old Betty Crocker standby cookbook!

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9×13″ glass baking dish place 2 cups rhubarb, cross-chopped into 1/2″ pieces; sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Top with 2 cups apples, finely chopped.  In a separate bowl, mix until crumbly:  1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup brown sugar (packed); 10 Tbls unsalted butter, 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly over fruit.  Top with 1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg, if desired.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly and nicely browned.  Enough for a crowd! Serve slightly warm.

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Week 2 of May – record cold temps!

Officially, I don’t know if this is record chill for May, but it’s way, way out of the range we’d like to see this late in the Spring.  Although some farmers around here have corn popping through the ground, many fields remain unplanted due to cold and wet.  And most gardeners had their plants covered last night as the temp dropped down to 36 degrees.

Yesterday’s downtown market was a rainy and chilly place – we even had some sleet – and the weather deteriorated as the morning progressed. Thanks to all who braved the cold and came to purchase our asparagus, rhubarb, salad greens, honey and breads.  If you chose a rain check on this week’s market, we will have more next weekend!

As the temperatures are projected to normalize this week, we are planning to sow our first crop of edamame, along with direct seeding of green beans and sugar peas.  Cool weather crops, including radish, carrots, lettuce and spinach are enduring the chill well and growing quickly. A few days of strong sunshine will help!
einkorn toasts 2   This week we introduced a new product – crunchy little toasts made of 100% organic einkorn flour. You’ll love these nutty, crunchy toasts!  They’re great for snacking, appetizers, and dippers.

Einkorn is ancient wheat – a grain that has not been hybridized and has remained as delicious and nutritious as it was 12,000 years ago.  Einkorn is nearly 40% higher in protein and contains 15% less starch than the commercial varieties of wheat in general use today.  It contains abundant B vitamins and trace minerals like iron.  Although einkorn is not gluten-free, the gluten in einkorn lacks the high molecular weight proteins that many people cannot digest. (Einkorn is NOT suitable for those with celiac disease.) In future market dates this summer, we will also offer a variety of einkorn breads. We source our einkorn flours and organic olive oil from Jovial Foods (www.jovialfoods.com).

We are looking forward to warmer weather this week. Bring on the sunshine!

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Preparing for Opening Day!

We’re busy this week preparing for the opening of the Whitley County Farmer’s Market.  Hampered by rain and chilly weather, it’s nonetheless very exciting to start a new season with friends and neighbors at this fantastic, producer-only market.  We are very lucky to have such a great group of vendors and consumers in Columbia City and its surrounds.

spun honey pic  spring 2016

Spun Honey

We will have a great supply of OLD LOON FARM goodies for sale at the market downtown on Saturday, including our own, local spun honey.  Spring asparagus and rhubarb are available, along with our fresh, free-range eggs, jams and fresh bagged salad greens.

Been missing our home-made breads?  Look no further, Breads are back.  We’ll have several artisan breads, along with two varieties of whole grain granola, multi-grain scones and, new for this year — no-grain energy bars.

Visit us this Saturday at the market, downtown Columbia City on the courthouse square.  Our booth is on the Market Street side near the corner with Chauncy St.  See you there!

 

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Where Did April Go?

asparagus croppedThe snow has come and gone. The trees and bulbs are in full bloom.  Morels are popping up in the woodlands of Indiana, and it’s time to plant again.

2016 will be a new kind of year for us on the farm.  Although we are taking a year off from our CSA, we are still offering fresh vegetables and baked goods at our farm store, 7551 N Brown Road, Loon Lake, north of Columbia City.

This week we have fresh asparagus, along with washed and bagged fresh spring salad greens – lettuce varieties, baby kale, new Swiss chard.  We also have a good supply of our own local honey.

Our market is open this week on Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm, or by appointment.  Call the farm 260-799-4422 or email us at oldloonfarm@gmail.com.

 

 

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Waking up to Spring!

new chives

Chives peeking through the garden surface.  Spring is just around the corner!

Wow, what a great feeling this week to wake up to 60-degree weather, even if only for a day or so.  Buds are sprouting on the trees and shrubs, spring bulbs are poking up through the soil, spring peepers are noisy in the wetlands, and days are getting longer.  It really puts us in the mood for playing in the dirt outdoors!

Last weekend we attended the Purdue Indiana Small Farms Conference in Hendricks County.  What a great opportunity to learn, network and really immerse ourselves in farm planning, dreaming and learning.  If you are a small farmer, this is a do-not-miss annual event!  We plan on implementing several new processes and management practices that we learned about at the conference this year.

This week we’ve  been finishing up the maple syrup season. Lots of gathering, boiling and bottling. It’s incredibly labor intensive, and worth every minute!  Unfortunately for our customers, we gather the maple crop for our family only; at this time we don’t have excess product for sale.  But you can find delicious Indiana-produced maple syrup for sale at many farmers markets in Indiana.  And we do have our own, locally produced, honey for sale at the farm.

This month, we are also preparing for the upcoming summer markets.  We now are registered to accept WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and Senior Citizen program benefits at the Farmers Market downtown and also at our home farm stand.  We are working on a process to accept credit and debit card sales as well.   More on that to come in the near future.

Have a great week!

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Maple Sugaring and Other Sweet Winter Treats

One of the fun winter activities we do on the farm to keep us sane around this time of year is to make maple syrup.  Ours is a low-tech operation, making use of a propane-fired turkey cooker with a large stainless steel pot.  At least 40 gallons of sap are needed for one gallon of maple syrup, and since we have just one sugar maple (acer saccharum) in our woods, we don’t need much capacity for evaporating!

boiling sap

Watching the sugaring pot boil from the doorway of our farm shop. Such a relaxing way to pass a Sunday afternoon!

Today as I finish my first batch of syrup, Chuck is helping our neighbor, Ron Moeller, over on Dollar Lake, with his much bigger sugaring operation.  It’s a good day and a good year whenever you get this natural treat from the land!  And yes, we’ve planted more sugar maples, but they’re for our grandchildren, as it takes about 40 years for a tree to grow large enough to tap.  But a sugar maple can live hundreds of years, so it’s definitely an investment in the future!

Another unexpected sweet treat we’ve received this winter is honey.  Several our our beehives died out in the early fall, and we saved honey from those hives for baking and distributing among the remaining hives for winter food.  Unexpectedly another of our larger hives died out over the winter, so we have been harvesting and bottling honey over the last couple of weeks.   It’s gorgeously golden and delicious, and is for sale locally through our on-farm store.  Later this spring we will have to replace the bees and queens in those hives.  So far, we still have four live hives, and are working to ensure they survive the remainder of the winter.

As ever, the small farm is an interesting and productive way to live.  Get to know your local farmer.   Better yet, become a small farmer in your own place!

 

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