Mid-June already and once again, we’re asking where the time is going this year! The gardens are in, the Farmers Market is up and running in town, and our on-farm market days are underway each Tuesday and Thursday. Lots of new faces are appearing around Loon Lake and they’re showing up at the farm as well, looking for breads, vegetables and other treats.
This year’s asparagus crop was a good one, and it is continuing into June, even with the hot weather and lack of rain we’ve had the past week. Chuck planted another 1,200 crowns so asparagus will continue to be a big crop for us. Our small hoop houses produced some beautiful, sweet strawberries and some gorgeous red beets and arugula. And of course lettuce and other salad greens, including kale, chard, radicchio, and spinach are producing as well. Onions and radishes are looking good, and other crops that we direct-seeded into the garden are growing well. Beans, cabbage and edamame are (unfortunately) feeding some neighborhood rabbits so those are under some stress! And we’ve pruned and stayed ahead of the weeds in the berry patch this year, so those are looking spectacular. Our sour cherry tree is loaded – and the birds are well aware of it. I’m seeing blue jays and cardinals feasting on the not-quite-ripe cherries and wondering if we will get any harvest there at all!
We’ve been doing a big bread business, with our stand-by 9-grain and braided whole wheat loaves, and some new offerings: Russian rye, peasant loaf, and an einkorn olive and rosemary boule – that are becoming very popular.
Another new endeavor this year that we’d like to report on: Old Loon Farm, in partnership with Wise Farms LLC, Larry Palmer Farm, and Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, received a SARE grant from the USDA to research the economic viability of small-farm sorghum syrup production in northern Indiana. It’s a two-year project that includes planting, tending, harvesting, processing and marketing sorghum syrup. Sorghum syrup is much more popular in the South than up here in the northern states. With the exception of some Amish farming areas, most folks haven’t tasted, or even heard of sorghum syrup, sometimes incorrectly called sorghum molasses. Our last year’s product was smooth and delicious, a great addition to pumpkin pies, cookies and – beer! So this year we are hoping to move to a bigger, and more standardized production, and document our effort to share with other northern producers.
We’ll update the sorghum grant news as the summer progresses. But you can mark your calendars now to save the date for our local Sorghum harvest festival, which will be held Thursday and Friday, October 12 and 13, at the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, in Wolf Lake, Indiana, just a short drive up the road from our farm.
Meanwhile, June is the month of weddings, and we have two in the family coming up the next two weekends, followed by our own family gathering here at the farm. So while the farm store will be open during the week, we will be absent from the Saturday Market for the next 3 weeks in downtown Columbia City.
Enjoy the summer!