Limited and Elegant

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard over the years in farming is this: “Don’t ever apologize for being small.”

We think about that every year as we review our previous seasons and draft our farm plans for the upcoming year, and I’ve been thinking about that advice recently quite a bit.  As we get excited about our work and our opportunities, it’s easy to start to thinking big and bigger.  But curbing our enthusiasm is not all bad; one can get greedy and before long, have an operation that’s way out of control.  Small is beautiful on this farm!

What does small mean?

It means hard work but it also means quality control.

It means limited production and elegant food – tasty varieties grown with care and harvested at the peak of flavor and nutrition.

It means an end to “mediocre and plenty of it,”  Instead you get seasonal anticipation, delicious foods, and appreciation of each bite.

It means learning to preserve our bounty at the height of flavor and nutrition, and then experiencing it again in the middle of winter — summer comfort in the cold and dark season.

It means better quality of life for the farmer and producer; thoughtful rest during the by-season, and rejuvenation of spirit.

So we will continue to stay small, producing the best products we can,  enjoying what we do and sharing it with you!

Spring is just around the corner.  Thanks for supporting Old Loon Farm!

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Welcome to 2017 – A New Season!

gathering eggsIt’s been a while since we updated our site, but after a very slow and complicated 2016, we’re ready to start anew for 2017.  Last year was filled with family events – death of our parents, a new grandchild, a big family reunion, and even some health issues.  So we stepped back a bit from our farm work and took the days as they were presented to us. But it’s a new year now, and we’re full of energy and ideas.

Kitchen Update:  We are remodeling our farm kitchen so that our farm store has a dedicated sales area, with new refrigerator for fresh produce and eggs, a freezer for frozen meats, and new shelves for baked goods, jams and other items.  We have a larger production area now too!

Scheduled Weekly Hours: Starting in March, we plan to have our farm store open two days per week.  Beginning in mid-May, we will be selling on Saturday mornings from the Whitley County Farmers Market in downtown Columbia City.

A Second Hoop House:   This winter we’ve finally framed another hoop house to further extend our growing season and offer fresh salad greens earlier in the spring.

Extra Help: We’re looking forward to having some extra company with us this summer.  Lots of grandkids will be visiting and helping out on the farm.  They are especially good at loving the animals, gathering eggs, digging potatoes and picking (eating) berries.  And maybe painting the little red barn.  We love our little migrant helpers!

So keep watching for our blog updates – we’ll let you know what’s IN STORE at Old Loon Farm each week.

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Fall is Here Again

It’s been a rather busy summer here at the farm, and I’ve neglected our website!  Travel to California, lots of company, and lots of gardening during the long, warm summer kept me very busy.  We were joined by one new family member, baby Eleanor, on July 22!

Fall crept up on us this year, with temperatures high in the 80’s belying the fact that it was  mid-September.  And now we are already into October, watching the leaves just beginning to change.  Night time temperatures are dropping, good for germinating lettuces and spinach!

Early this wour-cane-sorghumeek we processed our sweet sorghum crop.  Chuck has worked hard all summer planting, cultivating and then harvesting his plot – our experimental first time with this crop. On Monday we took more than 600 pounds of cane over to the Merry Lea Environmental Center Sustainable Farm and worked with farm director Jon Zirkle, local farmers Larry Palmer, Tom Wise and others to press out the cane juice and boil it down into syrup.  After evaporating juice at Merry Lea, we brought the almost-finished product home to our farm kitchen to finish and bottlbottled-sorghum-syrupe.  Sweet sorghum syrup is different from molasses, which is pressed from sugar cane.  Sorghum is a thick, amber-colored syrup with a mild, nutty flavor, reminiscent of toasting grains.  I can’t wait to try it in rye bread and ginger cookies!figs-2016

Our fig tree experiment begun last summer, is still alive.  The trees emerged from hibernation in mid-May, but took a long time to leaf out and bear fruit.  We’ve been able to harvest some fruit, and there are lots of green figs on the branches now. Hopefully they’ll be able to mature before the cold temperatures arrive. As always, they’re delicious!

As the summer garden winds down, we have Fall lettuce and arugula growing well, some new kale emerging, and are about to harvest sweet potatoes. Our delicious honey is sold out.  Tomatoes are nearly finished, as are the peppers and eggplant.  Okra will be breathing its last next week as the temperatures fall. We are beginning to prepare the garlic beds for fall planting this week.   And we’ll be starting to re-cover our hoop houses and plant for indoor winter crops soon – salad greens, carrots, beets and radishes.

We have just two more weeks of Saturday morning Whitley County Farmers’ Market in Columbia City, and then we’ll be hosting on-farm sales throughout the winter.  This week we will feature pumpkins, green tomatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet sorghum syrup, and fall salad mix, along with our usual baked goods.  Hope you all can come visit the market this week!

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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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