Summertime CSA in lovely, downtown Traverse City!


Join a great group of folks who have been learning the ways of growing our own food in a cooperative of downtown Traverse City neighborhood gardens!  Whether you would like to choose a workshare and join us in tending and harvesting—or simply stop by our weekly market stand and pick up your share we are welcoming new members in our 2018 Summer Share season.

Contact us soon!—The Season begins the first week of July!

SUMMER Share (12 weeks, July 5th – September 20th)
$400 Family size, 4 people, All pay, or $200 Work Share (25 hours, reg. scheduled)
$275 Half share, 2 people, All pay, or $137.50 Work Share (25 hours, reg. scheduled)

Includes Salad mix and greens, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, potatoes, radish, green, yellow and soup beans, turnips, scallions, onions, garlic, basil a plethora of herbs, flower bouquets, specialty garden-farm tea-mixes and occasional artwork!

PLUS, we put together fantastic potlucks and are the originators of “The Farmer and The Chef” dinners!  Look for announcements and invitations to join in on these community “foodie” gatherings this summer and fall!

You can read more about us on our Facebook O’K CSA page where post weekly garden-farm news and photos, or at our website where we offer online payment.

STOP BY and visit me at our DIGs Garden-Farm,
Pay online here: http://www.pennyokart.com/shop/ or Snail mail your membership payment to:

Penny Krebiehl 510 1/2 Second St., Traverse City, MI 49684
Please make checks payable to Penny Krebiehl

THANKS for considering our sweet, little CSA as your source of local, fresh, and organically grown food!

231-922-2014
[email protected]
pennyokart.com

Traverse City’s O’k CSA Cooperative is Grow, Grow, Growing!

Need to join a wonderful and very O’k CSA? We invite you to join ours!

Spring Greens: 2017

I always make some kind of personal wish/intent at the beginning of each growing season, and this year in addition to devoting myself to growing really tasty lettuces for you all, I’m also delving deeper into Bee-land.  We are going to work at making sure each one of our garden-farms has an even MORE generous amount of bee-friendly plants flowering all season long!  Here’s a partial list of common plants we’ll be growing and what you’ll see some of these in the herb and flower bundles: Giant Hyssop, Cosmos, Sunflower, Mint, Four o’clock, Basil, Rosemary, Mullein, Zinnia, Borage, Cleome, Globe Thistle, Joe-pye weed, Bergamot, Sage, Thyme, Verbena and more…

AND, Here’s the info on our share offerings for 2017, which also will include an art-share now and then:

Summer CSA (12 weeks, June 23-Sept. 16th) $400-All Pay, or $200-Work-Share for season. Produce includes: salad mix and greens, cooking greens (Swiss chard, kale, collards), carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, potatoes, radish, green/yellow beans, soup beans, turnips, scallions, onions, garlic, basil, herbs, flowers and more!

(For any of you who have been in our CSA in years past, and have had a half share and wish to continue w. a full pay for a half-share, we can continue at the same share fee we used last summer which would be $275.00.)

You can read more here about our wonderful Traverse City based CSA Cooperative: http://www.pennyokart.com/…/sign-up-for-ok-csa-cooperative…/

We offer On-line subcriptions: http://www.pennyokart.com/product-category/2017-csa/

You can also snail mail your membership w. a check to:

Penny Krebiehl
510 1/2 Second St., Traverse City, Michigan 49684

Make checks payable to: Penny Krebiehl

Answers for questions? Give me a call or send me an email.

[email protected]

231-922-2014

We’re happy to share our O’k CSA local news about becoming a local partner to a local organization:

Now folks searching for an awesome little CSA operation within the city limits of Traverse City will have a good chance of finding us PDQ via the Taste the Local Difference® publications and online sources.  TLD is Michigan’s local food marketing agency.  Now O’k CSA Cooperative is a partner with TLD, and likewise support the Michigan Good Food Charter and resolution seeking to have 20% of all food sold in Michigan come from Michigan farms and food businesses by 2020. Let’s ALL do this!

Here’s our little blurb in their “Find Farms & Food” section:  O’k CSA Cooperative

We feel happy, proud and a little special to be a part of this good work in the Great Lake State of Michigan!


Sign-up for O’k CSA Cooperative local, seasonal Veg-fruit-herbs!

With the help of a little sun, rain and good earth, we have the privilege of doing beautiful work! We design and plant gardens and share food in our O’k CSA Cooperative and today, at the beginning of February, is a good day to say “Hello” to our seeds and to do our  blessing and thanking of these little, amazing vessels of power! 

We’ve been growing gardens in neighborhood yards and community spaces, and sharing veg, fruit and herbs with friends and families in  Traverse City since July of 2008.  We invite you to celebrate the current “Year of the Chicken with us by joining our CSA-Cooperative by becoming a share member of our Spring Greens Share (9-weeks, Beginning in March 24th-May 19th), and/or our Summer Share (12 weeks, Beginning June 23-Sept. 16th). We have a new system this year, along with the new Spring Greens offering, for the Summer Share, rather than a full and half size share, we are offering a “all-pay” or “work-share”.

On-line sign up is quick and easy here: 2017 O’k CSA Share Options

Here’s the info on our share offerings for 2017:

NEW! Spring Greens (DELAYED—Will begin approx. 2nd week of April, 9-weeks) $100 for season. Produce includes: salad mix, spinach, and cooking greens (Swiss chard, kale, collards) and herbs

Summer CSA ( 12 weeks, June 23-Sept. 16th) $400-All Pay, or $200-Work-Share for season. Produce includes: Perennial and Annual veg-fruit and herbs, salad mix and greens, cooking greens (Swiss chard, kale, collards), carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, potatoes, radish, green/yellow beans, soup beans, turnips, scallions, onions, garlic, basil, herbs, flowers and more!

The aim of O’k CSA is to explore and have fun sharing connections between art education, and the practice of ecological design and thinking. We are focused on creatively and intelligently, designing ways to live wisely and well, and that means not just learning the “HOW-to’s”, but also what it takes and then the doing of it. We honor the earth and have great passion for teaching, learning, experiencing, art, community garden-farming and ecological education. Since 2008, we have been building a community network of garden-farms in Traverse City, empowering folks and whole neighborhoods to grow food not lawns, with an emphasis on soil not oil (As in what we use and care for in order to grow our food).

O’k CSA’s garden-farms in Traverse City, Michigan, are located in and around the Central School neighborhood, and at Realeyes Homestead, w. 7 active garden-farm sites (approx. 2500 sq. ft of growing space) spread out within a 3-5 mile radius—-most are within a 5-20 minute bike ride, on the Tart Trail, depending on traffic on Front Street and Hwy. 31.

Our primary goal is to GROW healthy, nutritious food nine months of the year in our temperate climate zone next to Lake Michigan; and to produce healthy, nutritional food to eat alongside of educational opportunities—developing permaculture and garden-farming skill-sets for others while we also utilize and benefit from those skills ourselves.

This includes applying hands-on learning experiences at our “garden-farm, land-share” sites where we not only re-learn and live our connection to nature, but also learn where our food comes from, how we grow it, harvest it and just what it REALLY means to feed ourselves and our families.

This year in addition to selling our CSA shares, we are working to raise funds to put in a small orchard, install drip irrigation systems in all the garden-farm sites, improve, feed and monitor soil and plant health, build a greenhouse and work-station/tool/supply building where we can also hold small classes and prep our CSA shares.

We are devoted to doing our very best which means giving VERY O’k and MORE THAN Pretty Good service. Plus, we love what we do.

Sign-up online here:  O’k CSA Share Options

CONTACT:
[email protected]
231-922-2014

Sandy and Doug, 2016 CSA

 

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O’k CSA News, Summer & Scapes Week #1…..Very O’k and Growing Along….

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Friday, June 26th, 2015

SUMMER GREETINGS! 

We know it’s Summer, when the garlic scapes start their “curling”, and they went into a frenzied twist and turn over the last week!  We will include a bit of our first newsletter here, as well as a few recipes from this week’s share, including Garlic Scape Pesto, Radish Pasta, and Rhubarb Krisp!

An opening FYI…..

Not signed up in our O’k CSA and would like to become a share-member?  Check in w. us  the second week of July and we’ll let you know if we can add on a few more members.  We are being careful to wtch and see how our crops are producing, before expanding beyond our present 15 share-member families.

ALSO, folks can begin visiting our Friday Market the second week of July (11th) to see what produce we have to offer for sale.  We’ve noticed in the last several years that our location at the corner of Seventh and Oak is a heavily foot-trafficked place!  So this Friday Market, from 4-6 pm is for those who happen by!

Beginning now w. a story-telling and little back-paddling….

The aim of O’k CSA is to explore and have fun sharing connections–as in community—between people, gardening & biological farming, Art, and the practice of ecological design and thinking.
We began our CSA enterprise as a “project” and with the support of Little Artshram in 2007 holding gardening and summer art-farm workshops for children and youth on the old State Hospital property and farm site.

We continued with an internship program for young people and adults and announced our first Community Supported Agriculture and Art (CSA + A) offerings to a small group of five families.

We are now working year-long, as a separate business, with Penny Krebiehl owner and proprietress. We use a operational system designed as a “cooperative”, with private land-owners and other garden-farmers. We are at nine (9) different locations on about 4000 sq. feet of Northern Michigan soil!

Gardens all around town….and a few farther out….

Cedar Lake East & North Garden-Farms, 12408 West Bay, TC (Beginning to design/layout, prep beds, amend soil)
DIGs, 510 Second St., TC (Our home-base for plants, seedlings and small mostly cold crop beds)
Far Away Garden, @ Baker’s in Marion (BIG space–pictured above—to hopefully grow lotsa’ corn, viney, and root crops)
Frida’s Folly, 1120 W. Front St., TC (Mainly onion/garlic and lettuce growing garden-farm)
Little Artshram Teaching Garden & Cordia Plot, 875 Red Dr. TC (Longtime, wonderful sunny growing space, with perennial herbs & fruit)  We helped the residents and staff of Cordia @ The Village of GT Commons plant a half plot for their use.
Peace Patch, Seventh St., TC (This is our “host” on share-day, and full of brassicas and a variety of veg.)
Sunshine Farm, 501 Seventh St.,TC (A new garden hosting potatoes, tomatoes and peppers and more.)
(To be named garden), Joe Buteyn & Crystal Mason & Family

This week we are sharing:

  • Garlic scapes
  • Radishes—-w. a great recipes from Chef Ali
  • A sample of Oyster Mushrooms
  • Salad greens
  • Swiss chard and kale
  • Rhubarb—-w. a nice variation of a “Krisp” from the Moosewood Cookbook
  • and a lovely, Flower and herb bouquet

And recipes to try:


Very O’k Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients: garlic scapes cut into pieces, sunflower seeds, parmesan cheese, olive oil, sea salt

Quantity of each ingredient? It depends. I learned to make pesto from an Italian family. Which means, taste and test as you go along, adding what you need. Our batch came out perfect….with a good garlic scape kick to it!

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Sauteed Radishes w/ Radish leaf pesto pasta

Pesto
2 cups lightly packed radish leaves (from about 1 large bunch), tough stems removed
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup garlic olive oil + more to thin if necessary
2 tablespoons Fustinis Sicilian Lemon Vinegar

Sauteed Radishes
1 1/2 cups radishes, sliced in half and stems removed
1 tablespoon Basil Fustinis Olive Oil
salt and pepper, to taste

8 ounces pasta

Optional toppings:
Grated parmesan cheese
Fresh arugula or microgreens

Prepare the pesto by combining all the ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor. Begin processing and with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until smooth. Taste test and adjust seasonings if need be. Set aside.
Heat skillet, add basil oil, then the radishes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving one cup of cooking liquid. Toss the pasta in a bowl with the pesto and radishes. If need be, add the cooking liquid a little at a time if the pasta mixture is dry. Serve with grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and fresh arugula or a few micro greens.  Shared by Chef Ali Lopez,   www.ali-lopez.com

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Rhubarb Krisp (variation of Moosewood Cookbook’s Apple Krisp)

  • 5-7 cups Rhubarb, plus 3-4 cups of any berry—I used Raspberries and Red Currants
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups raw oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Chop up fresh rhubarb into 1/2 inch chunks, toss the berries in too.  Drizzle this mix with fresh lemon juice. Spread half of it into a large pan.  Melt butter and honey together.  Combine with oats, flour, nuts, seeds, salts and spices.  Spread 1/2 the mixture (actually crumble, it won’t really spread) onto rhubarb mix in pan.  Cover with remaining rhubarb mix and the rest of the topping.  Pour orange juice over the top.  Bake 40-45 minutes, uncovered, at 375. Cover if it crisps too quickly.

 

Thanks for checking out our webpage!

For more info about O’k CSA:

[email protected]

231-922-2014

 

 

 

Applications accepted through March 20th! Growing Our Local Food Infrastructure: Urban Garden-Farm project begins in Traverse City, MI

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We are extending the invitation and application process through March 20th, to find a few more LLOOFers for our 2013 project—-please consider joining us or share this info. with someone who might benefit from learning the skills of garden-farming, permaculture and more. THANKS!

Download an application for the LLOOF program here (PDF):
Cover Letter – http://www.littleartshram.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/LLOOF-cover-letter.pdf
Application & Agreement – http://www.littleartshram.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/LLOOF-application-and-agreement-2013.pdf

Download a brochure to become a shareholder in O’k CSA here: http://pennyokart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Ok-CSA-Brochure-2013.pdf

The LLOOF (Learning Local on Organic Farm) project is a comprehensive, 30-week program for students to learn the ins and outs of how to be a successful urban garden-farmer. The LLOOF project is a change-making opportunity working cooperatively with Little Artshram and collaboratively with O’k CSA and Market Garden.

Students will work with a team of instructors to run a neighborhood CSA + gain a 72-hour Permaculture certification + work with practitioners and sites around the city of Traverse City + rural farmers + community food leaders, including owners of businesses, directors of nonprofits, and city and county officials related to urban food gardening and farming. The curriculum will include a full range of topics, from design and budgeting, to soil fertility, harvesting and preservation, to 3 or MORE ways to compost, to bio-char and animal husbandry, to herbal medicine and forest gardens, and more. The LLOOF main ‘campus’ is at O’k Studio, an art studio and living learning laboratory in downtown Traverse City. Each week an activity and/or workshop will be hosted at other sites in and around Traverse City, as well as, Bakers Green Acres in Marion, Michigan.

The LLOOF project will run May 6 – November 13; Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 9am – 5pm + four independent learning hours. In its second year, the LLOOF project will accept 12 students (285 hours of work exchange asked of each). Applications are being accepted now on a first come, first served basis, followed by a brief interview.

Students will also attend a one-week learning immersion hosted by O’k CSA and the LLOOF project. A database of potential employers, community mentors and educational resources will be shared with each student. Multimedia storytelling and documentation will be included in each week’s activities so that students gain skills in how to tell their stories on what they are doing, and why it’s important to them, their communities, and in today’s world.

The goal of the LLOOF project is to train people in their local communities, who can help establish neighborhood CSA’s, green schoolyards, community gardens, farm-to-restaurant projects, and overall urban food security. Students will learn how to 1) maximize yields in minimal space, 2) diversify garden-farm production, 3) connect the dots between gardening, farming and potential partners, clients, community cooperatives and collaborators, and stakeholders, 4) demonstrate what is possible in one backyard, and 5) further the meaning of food security in our cities. This food-centric project brings together enthusiastic farm- and food-growing students with the practitioners, the projects, the networks, the skills, and the visions to effectively garden-farm in the city.

For further information on Little Artshram please visit:www.littlearthram.org                 Follow us on Twitter @LittleArtshram

For further information on O’k CSA please visit: www.pennyokart.com                         Follow us on Twitter @okart

Go to this link for more detailed info/photos on the LLOOF project: http://www.littleartshram.org/?page_id=976

For additional images and further inquiries about the LLOOF project please contact: [email protected] 231-922-2014

Permaculture & Garden-Farming Intensive: Become a LLOOFer, Learn a lot….

What is LLOOFing (Learning Local on Organic Farms)?

Written by Kerry Alspaugh, 2012 LLOOF program: “Urban gardening in the summer of 2012 made me appreciate “Home grown” at a whole new level. I have never tasted tomatoes that were so delicious. I can see why farmers feel proud at the end of the day.

Working outside everyday alone expanded my horizons literally. I felt a sense of purpose, showing up everyday, nurturing new gardens into being. Even though I still don’t know very much, I appreciate now how much fun it can be to work alongside of friends who are working hard right alongside you, to bring new possibilities from the earth in exchange for some sweat. I learned so much just sharing observations with my fellow gardeners.

I learned that sometimes the things you plant; just don’t make it, even though you have the best intentions for those wondrous seeds and plants. (I felt discouraged at times.) I initially thought that because I was working with someone who is experienced that that wouldn’t happen. It’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean you give up!

Celebrating the things that do grow is the fun part but letting go of what doesn’t work, observing, researching, recording findings and trying new approaches is the process of permaculture. Problem solving is a core activity of permaculture and gardening. It’s an ongoing process where problems highlight opportunity.

Permaculture helps me realize that as we look to solve problems (in the garden or in our lives) we seek ways for things to work together in synchronicity. When using this as a guide, simple, new ideas and processes evolve.

Successful gardening takes a lot of attention. I always knew that but until I actually jumped in with both feet (and the rest of my body), and actually experienced the day-to-day duties, I didn’t understand.”

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Kerry partaking in a shared poetry reading, during our end of season LLOOF field-trip to Peter Bane Permaculture Activist and author of A Permaculture Handbook, and Keith D. Johnson, Permaculture designer/consultant/teacher extrodinaire, home-place in Bloomington, Indiana.

 

Become an O’k CSA share-holder and have a spot of tea….

Spot of tea.1
     This year in our O’k CSA and Market Gardens–herbal medicine plants for teas and tinctures will be offered each week, with simple instruction to begin and/or relearn the HOW-to’s of gathering and using what healing plants grow in our tame and wild gardens. We’ll be hosting a Community Pharmacy…with special workshops in the O’k garden-farm neighborhoods to help you build and fill your own medicine chest.
     We’re learning about the plants that grow all around our O’k CSA home-place in North West Michigan, and love to gather and dry medicinal herbs—–and there are SO many of them. In the spring and summer we head out on familiar walks, where plants I’m getting to know grow, with the intention of bringing good green plant energy into our bellies when it’s winter white outdoors.
Hibernation tea
     We’ve named this tea “Hibernation Tea”, and it is a combination of: Horsetail–St. Johns Wort blossom–Lavender–Sarsparilla.  It is a tea that tastes good and feels good, with lovely, light and lavender-ish flavor that is not overpowering.
     Before sharing our teas, we learn the medicinal properties of these plants and how they interact with each other.  This tea was concocted  to address over-stimulation and frazzled nerves. It has properties of relieving anxiety and depression (St. Johns Wort), is blood purifying and cleansing (Horsetail), a hormone balancer–aiding sexual vitality and testosterone activity (Sarsparilla) AND, alleviates tension and insomnia (Lavender).
Kootie-Buster-Tea
     Kootie Buster Tea was created in 2009 and came to the aid and did great service to all of the 28 students in our first-time offering of a Permaculture Design Course in the Tc/NW MI area, during the winter months this course was offered. It’s a beautiful tea and is well-loved by many in our Northern Michigan area!
     Kootie Buster Teas’ healing properties address and alleviate symptoms of virus caused diseases like flu, respiratory illnesses: colds, asthma and bronchitis, acts as very, low-level sedative, diminishes fatigue and stress and is a liver cleanser and over-all toner.
     It’s O’k CSA and the Market Garden’s 7th year as Traverse City’s first Urban CSA involving area youth and adults as market garden-farmers.  We have exciting changes in this year’s Market Garden and CSA program, which is part of the Urban Farm Collective and includes 3 additional, neighborhood and community gardens in Traverse City. AND, also celebrating the second year of the LLOOF (Learning Local on Organic Farms) program that provides a work-exchange and permaculture training for green-collar jobs planning, planting, tending and harvesting the CSA gardens!  LLOOFers will also get out into some of our “wild” gardens in the area, and help to harvest elderberries (pictured below) and other medicinal plants for our teas and tinctures we’ll be offering in the CSA and through “Community Pharmacy” workshops.
Download a brochure to become a shareholder in O’k CSA here: http://pennyokart.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Ok-CSA-Brochure-2013.pdf
     Join our work-exchange program LLOOF (Learning Local on Organic Farms):  REGISTRATION FOR THE LLOOF PROGRAM IS OPEN, from February 1st, until March 1st, 2013 to apply for the 12  LLOOFing positions that will be offered during this growing season.This project is based on both a  CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, and inspired by WWOOF, the world-wide version of what we are bringing you locally through LLOOFing.
Find out more about the O’k CSA and LLOOF program here:

How do you learn about gathering herbs and the use of these plants as medicines? We found a wise woman and herbalist in our friend, Carol Laughing Waters, who has been studying, practicing and making herbal medicines in the form of tinctures, teas and healing salves and willing to share her knowledge. Thank you Carol!

For additional information on our O’k CSA and Market Garden or the LLOOF program, contact:  [email protected]   or 231-922-2014

In Consideration of Where I Come From and a Look at Spirals of Erosion

“Anything that we value, but that is being progressively lost; from soil to silence, from biodiversity to darkness, from trees to a sense of purpose, can be studied to help us identify the root causes of these problems.”  Aryana, Permaculture Design

This is what I aim for as a permaculture designer—studying the root causes before I step into action—and/or—-putting the brakes on during the process to do even more study and consideration.  Another step in permaculture design that travels hand-in-hand with observation rather than interpretation, is evaluating why any given thing doesn’t work and where we can make different choices.  An illustration in Permaculture Design, depicts a reinforcing feedback loop focusing on people and their food supply.  This shows a feedback loop which spirals out of control, from growing human population to need for more food, to creating more sunny land, to cutting trees, to loss of biomass and fertility along with less productive land and lower productivity; then spiraling into traveling further for more biomass, taking more time, not being able to support ourselves….whew!

Hand-print Series: Seeds © `penny O’Krebiehl 2013

Looking at the illustration in the design book doesn’t freak me out, but it does anchor me in the pondering place of knowing that I’m a seed-tree-plant based garden-farmer with a concern and question I have about one of my family’s favorite foods which is: “Where will I get my bacon from?”.
“Our aim in in permaculture is to turn spirals of erosion into spirals of abundance and productivity….” Looby Macnamara, People and Permaculture.

Instead of panicking or skimming over this feedback loop which resonates with my food supply concerns, as well as my livelihood as a market-garden-farmer, I spiral into a place of looking at my history of where my food comes from, my own roots—which influenced my behavior about what I eat and how grow it, and where I get what I can’t grow.  Even though I may have to give up pork, someday, I live and work and plan to stay put in a small urban setting here in North West Michigan, and I have great fondness for where I grew up in a small, farming community near Lansing, Michigan.

My dad, John Krebiehl in his mighty pumpkin patch back along the edge of our property and a nearby swampy area.

 

My original, home-place in Laingsburg was about 10 miles out of town, near the Looking Glass River, a branch of the Grand River flowing just a mile or two south of our rural ten acres.  It was a beautifully rich, wooded area  with only about four homes on our dirt road. No pig farmers, but a chicken farmer lived right down the road, and my friend Debbie Hurst and her family had milk cows a mile or so away.  My parents mostly relied on the industrial food chain to feed our family of eighth, and my Dad a blue-collar Oldsmobile worker, did his best to supplement us with an annual veggie garden, and an assortment of well-tended and blessed, fruit-bearing trees.

Along with my Dad’s influence and pride in the little time he had to spend gardening, my first garden-farming skills were learned through my adventuring and foraging in the fields and woods, as well as my involvement with 4-H in the summer. At the edge of our 10 acre field, I discovered a group of hazelnut bushes and up and down the road there were several old hickory nut trees.  My brother raised chickens, rabbits and pigeons off and on, and both he and my dad hunted for squirrel, pheasant and deer in the fall.  But mostly for food, my parents did the best they could to keep up with our growing family and shopped at an industrial food chain store in Lansing, and a little family owned business Mahoney’s Market in Laingsburg.  It wasn’t until after I left home, at 18, that through harvesting what I tended in a community garden plot in Lansing, that I began to learn to preserve and can food from my garden.

 
In this past year, I’ve gone way back further still, in regards to my early influences of living rurally and my connections to a portion of land.  I recently did a bit of research and came across information that in the late 1700‘s through the 1800‘s my home-place was a thru-way for travelers, along the abundant lake and river systems, a source of fresh fish and other food sources.  Within a few short miles along the Looking Glass River, was also a favored camping site for the Sagninaw Chippewa people of the the Ojibwa nation. Just a few miles east of my home Chief John Okemos was born in Shiawassee County and just west of my home, is his burial site.  Through the widened lens of system thinking, I take a long look backwards at how the land and the people interconnect and intersect, and this definitely and positively influences my choices in the present day, mostly giving me hope and a reality check.

Even though this is a bit of a twisty-turny side trip, it leads me back to looking at where my food comes from and our hand-to-mouth food-system existence on the planet.  I’m thankful for my upbringing and the space/place I had to wander and explore.  I’m incredibly grateful for my parental units growing, and finding/buying the food they did to nourish our family.  The land and the place where my initial observations and patterns of food systems occurred have influenced me as a human-designer.  And now, taking a deeper look/revisit to my roots, allows me to ground my decisions to begin the design process again.  And without judgement or interpretation, take a look at the deep-deep root of the industrial-age-problem I’ve been born into. Of how I’ve “become the food that I eat”. Observing and letting go of what didn’t work, what isn’t replenishing and providing in a necessary way of ecological choice-making.  I can be a garden-farmer and wandering food gatherer as both my Dad and ways Chief Okemos may have practiced.  I do not have to support the industrial food-system any longer, a system that I know is not working.  And I can continue to realistically plan steps to help my family and neighbors do this as well.

“At a time when the world is more messy, more crowded, more interconnected, more inter-dependent, and more rapidly changing than ever before, the more ways of seeing, the better.  The systems-thinking lens allows us to reclaim our intuition about whole systems and

  • hone our abilities to understand parts,
  • see interconnections
  • ask “what if” questions about possible future behaviors, and
  • be creative and courageous about system-redesign

Then we can use our insights to make a difference in ourselves and our world. “  
Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems

I find a great deal of passion-creativity and solace in being able to back-paddle through these complexities I’ve encountered in the holon of food system upon food systems in my life so far.  It’s like a treasure map of discovery.  And as Donella Meadows points out above, by taking time to consider system thinking  I can use these “insights to make a difference in ourselves and our world.”

This understanding leads me back to my current work and a place of designing a combination of a rural-urban food system with my personal design project through the O’k CSA and Market Garden and LLOOF program here in Traverse City.  It also sets a connective tone for my work this weekend at the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, as I do my graphic-recording/note-taking with other folks working towards integrated, whole-system design on their small farms.

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About to be fried, a lovely gift of cured bacon from Bakers’ Green Acres.

P.S.  Currently my bacon, pictured here, comes from Baker’s Green Acres, which means I can thankfully stick to urban garden-farming with perennial and annual veggie, fruit and herb/flower growing, including the Baker’s farm in my families’ food system.