Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CSA Season Commences Tomorrow!

Shares begin tomorrow, June 1st!

We had originally intended a later start date...but the glorious asian cabbages in the field as well as our waves of amber lettuce are singing a different tune:

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may!"

On Farm pick-up will be from Noon-4

at Little Flower Farm
14352 MacClain

Gowen, MI 49326.....pass by the veggie field at Eden Farm, continue on down the hill on County Line Rd. and you are there! Grand Rapids drops will arrive sometime in the early afternoon.


This season is shaping up to be an excellent and extended one, so if you are still interested in signing up for 18 weeks email us littleflowerfarmcsa@gmail.com

If this unexpected change of start date is going to cause trouble for you, email us and we can make special arrangments for your pick-up this week.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Burying Baka

"Baka"=polish for "Grandma"
Last weekend we buried Farmer Nathan's Grandma beneath a layer of sod and a few feet of our Southwest Michigan sandy soil. A few days earlier Nathan had left the field, with its new seedings, young plantings, and hills of potatoes to help dig his Baka's grave.
Before we began farming, the cavernous hole of a grave was an ominous thing to me. Its depth and emptiness seemed a gaping mouth, ready to swallow the prey of time. I have stood beside the graves of the old and of the far too young, and each time the lowering of the casket beneath the sod, down into the moist and ready earth seemed such a foreign action to me, such a break from the rest of the rushing forwardness of life. But I have grown accustomed to burying things. I have seen too many resurrections of the seed, first covered over in dirt, then awakening to sunlight and growing glory, to fear the first step of burial. I see the continuity now, where before was only the abrupt confrontation of stillness and heaviness with life and light.
All us, the young and the old, tossed shovelfuls of soil on top of the coffin...great-grandchildren leaned into their digging with a solemn concentration moving to see...they had learned from their Baka to delight in God's green earth, and to tend its fruits assiduously with gratitude and perseverance...and now the sight of the straight edges of the grave was not something jolting and swallowing...the soil revealed in its layers, the sod, cut away to form the hole, the pile of sand next to it...it was like greeting an old friend. For the first time I was able to commend a loved one into the waiting arms of familiar dirt. Take this woman, earth that I hold so dear, I have poured many long hours of labor, sweat, and seed into you, and now I give you my most precious seed of all. I bury her here beneath you, and in you, and I await with faith those first green shoots of an eternal Spring.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's a long Story

One bottle of white vinegar: $2.37

One jug of HE "Free and Gentle" Tide: $11.99

The adventure of transporting 15 Icelandic Sheep in the back of your Buick:


Greenville EARTHFEST 2011

We will be at the Greenville Community Center tommorrow!

Visit our table for information about our CSA shares and join us for a talk on "Sustainable Farming for Sustainable Communities"

The Event will be held from 2-8p.m.

*local bands

*crafters and artists

*conservation talks
*and more...

For info and directions call the community center at (616)754-9163

Featured on Michigan Family Farms.com

Little Flower Farm and Eden Farm have been featured in the May issue of "FRESH"
the Michigan Family Farms.com newsletter!
To read the article click here:


Monday, May 23, 2011

Chevre Shares

There's a new face on the farm...

Guadelupe the Purebread Nubian goat is giving us some of the most delicious milk to be had in Kent County!

Sign up for one of our Chevre Shares! $20.00 for 4 weeks of fresh goat's cheese to spread on crackers and wow houseguests...

Also available: goat's milk yogurt shares.

Email us for an application and info: littleflowerfarmcsa@gmail.com

Chevre shares start in June.

The New Generation and Draft-Powered Farming

We love how farming with animals is coming into vogue again:

It's better for the soil, better for the animals, better for the farms, and better for the farmer. Period.

It's also a way to get kids excited about farming again...

Farming without draft power can go something like this:

"Hey! Want to go to the field and pick up hundreds of rocks and load them into buckets and dump them into a big pile??"

( child mysteriously vanishes...nowhere to be found....)

There goes the next generation of small farmers. Sigh.

Farming with draft Power is vastly more interesting to the young heir:

"Hey! Want to take this donkey here, and hook him up to your all-terrain wagon and get him to pull the rocks you clear out of the potato field to the big pile we are saving up??"

(Farmer is nearly trampled to death by teams of enthusiastic children and said donkey and wagon drowning out all other sounds with their cries of rapturous joy and happiness.)

The future is looking brighter already!

interested in more? www.tillersinternational.org

Field Days

"Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to...strawberry fields."

It seems impossible that apple blossom season is over...every time we passed next door's Klackle's Orchard, we were swimming in the rapturous delight of so many white and pink plump and scented apple blooms, waving back at us with the promise of fat apples in the Fall.

My Grandpa and Grandma used to sing "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" to each other with misty eyes, remembering brief and bygone days of youth and courtship...I can never look at an apple tree all abloom without remembering their steadfast devotion...

This year the apple blossoms were gone too quickly for me. Our strawberries have consoled us in our loss, with their glossy show and starry little flowers.

Tom has been tending them assiduously since the first thaws of Spring, preparing new beds, dousing them with compost teas, and tenderly hand weeding around the plants. His skill has resulted in row upon row of smiling strawberry plants beaming up to the sky for all the world to see...

In the field the potatoes and peas are up...no matter how much we hill them up, the vigorous shoots of the potato tuber thrusts itself up into the May sunshine...to see this kind of determination in the field is encouraging...all of Spring seems to sing out: "We shall survive! We shall thrive! We shall delight!" and it is a welcome refrain after the trials and tribulations of a frost-filled early Spring.

"The world's favorite season is the Spring. All things seem possible in May"

The end of killing frosts has come, the greening days of early summer are around the corner...

and farmers breathe a little easier now, blessed with the benediction of gentle growing rains...they pause in cultivation, surveying the coming fruits of faith and toil...and leave their rakes and hoes for a moment to run the rows with bright-eyed barefoot 2 year old garden nymphs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meet & Greet

Interested in signing up?
Have a few questions?

Come join us!

this Saturday, 21st

10:00 a.m.

at Calvary Baptist Church
12501 Montcalm Ave NE
Greenville, MI 48838

Come meet the farmers of Little Flower Farm and Eden Farm!

We'll answer questions, talk about sustainable agriculture, small family farming, and what our CSA entails, and hand out applications and meat share forms!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Diary of a Dairy Matron

Being the (mostly) true ongoing account of the everyday mornings of the (other) Dairy Queen of Greenville, MI
7:00 a.m. woke up this morning wondering if I should a.) buy myself a chartreuse bikini and fly to tahiti or b.) milk the cow. Settled on b.) milk the cow.

7:10 a.m. Greet Ellie, pour her a little grain, and wash down her 4 quarters. Begin millking.

7:15 a.m. I lean into Ellie's massive glossy flank, and amid bird song I make plans for fresh butter and mutter the first stanza of Robert Service's "A Rolling Stone":

There's sunshine in the heart of me,

my blood sings in the breeze;
the mountains are a part of me,
I'm fellow to the trees.

My golden youth I'm squandering,

Sun-libertine am I;

A-wandering, a-wandering,
Until the day I die.

7:30 a.m. It's back to the house to strain, label, and cool the milk in canning jars. I pause to sign a few autographs: "With all MOOOO love, The Dairy Matron"

8:30 a.m. After breakfast I skim that gorgeous cream off the top of Ellie's milk. It's butter making time! We shake it up in a canning jar...I pass it along to all the boys...if the butter's long in the churning Elijah simply takes to the trampoline. That usually does the trick.

9:00 a.m. Field phone calls from Knopff regarding "Living the Dairy Matron Dream" book deal while making Queso Fresco. Whip up a Blueberry Slab pie and homemade gelato (with 6 Cups of Ellie's cream, 3 Cups whole milk and 23 egg yolk in the triple batch!)

2011 Shares still Available!

Looking for a source of pesticide-free food?? Antibiotic-free and Grass-Fed Meat?

Sign up for a farm share!

$450 for 18 weeks of seasonal veggies.*

1/2 bushel each week of whatever is in season: head lettuce, carrots, sweet corn, strawberries, tomatoes, beans, peas, beets, greens, potatoes, cucumbers, melon, Summer and Winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and herb starts!

Each week will bring you a box of kitchen joy- sustainably grown veggies harvested the previous day, and a newsletter filled with farm updates, upcoming workshops, and recipes.

Also available weekly: chevre and goat's milk yogurt shares, as well as Free-Range eggs.

Our members also receive first dibs on all of our pastured pork, broilers, rabbit, and lamb shares.

If you think a full share might be too much for your family, you are encouraged to find someone to split with...otherwise we do offer half shares for $300.

Wednesday is our Delivery Day.

You can pick up your share at three locations:

Eden Farm

6393 County Line Rd.

Greenville, MI 48838

North Grand Rapids
4805 Northview Ave NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Central Grand Rapids

1045 Courtney NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Help support our families' work, and sustain a small, beautiful, haven of responsible and local agriculture near you! Let us be your farm!

Email for application and info:

upon receipt of your application and check, we will send you a "welcome packet" in the mail. Share deliveries begin June 15th.

*485 for Grand Rapids Deliveries

Kittens Available!

Come on! You know you want one!
Surprise Dad for Father's Day! I'm sure he'll be thrilled with 2 or 3!

They all come from a line of great mousers. Greys, Seal-Points, stripes, and one black.

Email: littleflowerfarmcsa@gmail.com

David and Goliath

When the USDA approved genetically modified alfalfa earlier this year it was sheer LUNACY. We have become more than simply a nation without stories, we are a nation without facts!

Alfalfa is an insect-pollinated crop. There is no way to prevent contaminating other organic and non GMO fields of alfalfa. What does this mean??

It certainly spells some measure of doom for organic agriculture! Organic dairies must feed their livestock only organically grown hay. They risk losing their certification and their income if they (even inadvertently) feed grass which has been cross-pollinated with a GMO crop.

The very idea of owning a plant is problematic to begin with. Nature of necessity is prolific, and does not seem to spread seeds and regenerate with any eye to patents or private property. Monsanto has already crushed many a small farmer who has dared to save seeds from his own crop...because the crop was within distance of a Monsanto crop, such that the wind caused cross pollination, and the resulting seed was considered thus, property of the Agri-Giant. Does this alarm any of you?

Monsanto has engineered a crop which is resistant to it's weed killing chemicals. But the use of these chemicals is resulting in the evolution of "super weeds" which will pose problems for organic and conventional farmers alike down the road. My advice to the farmer with the hay field is to consider his few weeds a delicious fodder crop, and not worry about them, since by the time the field is cut, the alfalfa has had its head start anyway.

The more you wake up and pay attention to what is going on in Agriculture the easier it is to feel like there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The deluge of irresponsible farming is so enormous, our little efforts at sustainable agriculture seem too minute. The myth that organic agriculture cannot feed the world continues to be perpetuated by people too old to want to throw themselves into any new effort, and too tired to research and read the facts behind the way soil works as an organism, and plants propagate. Organic agriculture results in higher yields per acre of fruit, veggies, and grass. It requires a higher level of involvement on the farmers part...there is no driving through the thousands of acres twice yearly on a tractor...and talking about it for the rest of the year...and it also calls for more hands. But that is one of the beauties of organic agriculture, it puts people back to work on the farms. No more the lone farmer and his cousin farming hundreds of acres between just the two of them, with no work or money to support a son or two or three. Organic agriculture requires more human participation, and fosters small town communities.

Don't think you don't have a choice in all this. Where you choose to put your money, there will the politicians rally for policy. You can do better than supermarket beef. You don't have to settle for artificially enhanced vegetables. You can put your money back into your local economy, and drive prices down by making it more regular and possible for the small farmer, with a thriving local market.

It may seem like childish thinking to source your food directly from a farmer. But it is childish in the sense of simple, immediate to the senses, obvious to the thought. We complicate things with our elaborate and on-demand food system. We denigrate our small towns and farmers when we ignore them for the fluorescent halls of the grocery store.

Saving the world is much too big a thought for one person, one family.

Putting responsibly raised meat and veggies on the table for dinner is so much more doable. And by the time dessert has rolled around...you'll turn around and find that the world just got a whole lot more saved....one forkful at a time.

If you think this is not your responsibility do some research yourself on Monsanto, the effects of GMOs, and conventional agriculture. This is an issue that goes far beyond liberal and conservative politics. Ask yourself "what am I eating?" and "Why?".

Meanwhile what are we doing at Little Flower Farm and Eden Farm?
Well...shearing sheep, planting out 37 flats of tomatoes...cleaning the veggie acreage of rocks and more rocks, embracing the wheel hoe, building new paddocks for our pastured lambs, making butter and cheese, milking a Nubian, milking a jersey, tilling in cover crops, and making manure teas.

In the face of Agri-Giant's like Monsanto and huge conventional farms we are just a wee sprite of a David...at times it definitely doesn't seem like enough.

But there is nothing like a yard filled with Spring Lambs, or a field filled with laughing, working children that will turn heads...which is our slingshot. Big Agriculture doesn't want to attract attention...it hopes you will go on with your busy lives without a thought as to what your eating and where it came from...after all, you have so much on your plate already...to have to worry about...what's on your plate...

Here we are working hard at providing you the story behind our farming, and along with it, we hope you will also discover for yourselves all of the facts too. Facts about the soil, the animals, the grasslands, the vegetables, the grains, the dairy products. Stories which inspire your soul, facts which fuel your mind, and food which fills your body with good health and cheer.

There. I'm done. I feel better already. If you don't, sign up for one of our farm shares

We still have shares available. Email us at littleflowerfarmcsa@gmail.com for info and application. Shares begin Mid-June.


When I was 8 years old, the local variety store sold bulk candy for 1 cent a piece. Finding our way to purchasing and hoarding hundreds of pieces of smarties, butterscotch hard candy, cinnamon rounds, and bubblegum was our constant battle plan
My parents were among those who thought allowances were for sissies, and children denied them would have ample opportunity for brilliant imaginative and entreprenuerial feats. Certainly our lack of cold hard cash thrust us into a kind of agriculture...Late Spring and the Lilac bushes that lined our property, snaking their intoxicating scents throughout the neighborhood brought with them the golden chance for 6 pound bags of penny candy.

I remember well how we gathered up the neighbor kids and struck a deal. We share in the labor and split the profits. We needed every cute face we could get, and we'd fan out in groups knocking on everydoor on the block.

We piled our red Radio Flyer wagon high with our little bundles, bunches of lilacs wrapped in wet paper towels, and squeezed round (in that way that only small chubby sweaty hands can do) with tin foil. We scaled those lilac trees till they were completely denuded of all their lovelieness...then we took to the streets.

Our unsuspecting victims opened the door to a pack of dirt covered snotty nosed children with upheld fists of wilting blossoms. We had our sales pitch down to a mantra: "Hello Ma'am! We're selling bouquets! Only 25 cents a piece ("or 4 for a dollar", the mathematician among us would pipe up) and for a really good cause!!" And after fielding the usual questions of "Does your Mama know where you kids are?? and the exclamations of "Oh how cute! Fred, come see this!" we'd usually walk away with bank.

I will never forget the feeling of pride and solidarity as we walked home with our empty wagon, pockets heavey with loads of change. Chief amongst our thoughts (besides the mother load of candy we were about to experience, ) was that we had sold a product that had come to us by inheritance, from the generous hands of mother nature. It seemed in those lovely last Spring days of 1989 that all of Creation was on our side, the kid's side...and that the earth in her bounty was flowing with milk and candy.
So the scent of Lilacs has always been for me, a scent filled with opportunity and romance. But it has also signified the bitter aspects of a swiftly changing life, a remembrance of youth...here today and gone the next, and also of the hard knocks of life. For when my mother came outside to find her lilac bushes ravaged and pillaged, and her children no where in sight she became a tad upset...and when the conquering heros returned they were greeted with a mandate to return every penny to the poor unsuspecting elderly population we had preyed upon with our saucered eyes in our suburb. And instead of a riotous trip to the local variety store, and the pleasure of struggling home again on bikes laden with swinging bags of the best life had to offer...we were grounded for going too far afield- without permission- in our sales...

Still, I can never look upon a Lilac without a solid measure of appreciation and gratitude. It was a Lilac that first taught me my Winter was over, and my Spring of making my own way in the world was upon me...a Lilac first breathed enterprise into me, and showed forth the generous gleanings of Nature are appreciated by this doored-up world. Behind every door waits a person ready to be reminded of the small fleeting beauties of this life, and of the glories of a world in the youth of summer.