Welcome, again to the 2016 O’k CSA growing season!
It’s time to finalize garden-farm planting charts and seed orders, and begin the $ investing in start-up costs, so please do respond this weekend if you are planning to join our O’k CSA Cooperative again. Early bird membership fees end on Monday, February 29th! Below are the membership designations.
Here they are–NEW Membership options for 2016:
BECOME a O’k CSA Cooperative Member/Grower! For folks who have been or interested in hosting a garden-farm site, have an option to take on their own garden-growing space if they so wish with a minimal input by myself and the O’k CSA garden-farm interns at the beginning of the season to get you off to a great start. Member/Growers will tend, gather and deliver their weekly harvest to the Peace Patch garden site on Friday mornings, in exchange for a CSA share box from other member/growers. Additionally, for Member/Growers, I would offer a consultation for a fee, which would familiarize you w. the garden-farm site’s beds already in production and/or cover a spring consultation and garden bed design plan, also offering an opportunity for you to order plant starts from our stash. Member/Grower fee: $45, yearly membership, PLUS cost of plant starts and any on-site work.
BECOME or continue to be one of our O’k CSA Co–op Share-holders. This year, we are offering Full shares @ $450 and Half-size shares @ $275 of fresh vegetables, herbs and flower bouquets, beginning June 15th, through September, with pick-up on Friday’s at our Peace Patch Garden at the corner of 7th & Oak, in Traverse City, Michigan.
BECOME a O’k CSA Sponsor and help grow the “green-collar” jobs we offer to youth 18 years and older, by helping to provide an apprenticeship and mentoring relationship with educational opportunities for two positions in the 2016 growing season. Your support will help cover the registration fees for our CSA crew members to take the upcoming Traverse City Permaculture Design Course.
Please share our good news with others that you think may wish to join us as growers, members or sponsors of our community and neighborhood garden-farming CSA. Below is a list of our current 2016 garden-farm sites, and also a link to the announcement of the LLOOF work-exchange program which is accepting applications and trains garden-farming interns/students in our cooperative.
2016 O’k CSA Garden-Farm sites in and around Traverse City, Michigan:
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)
Frida’s Folly, 1120 W. Front St., TC (Mainly onion/garlic and lettuce growing garden-farm)
Little Artshram Teaching Garden, 875 Red Dr. TC (Longtime, wonderful sunny growing space, with perennial herbs & fruit)
Peace Patch, Seventh St., TC (This is our “host” on share-day, and full of brassicas and a variety of veg.)
The Sunshine Farm, 501 Seventh St.,TC (A new garden hosting potatoes, tomatoes and peppers and more.)
And a warm WELCOME to our new Member/Growers, so far:
Karen Comella, 8th Street, Traverse City, MI
Barb Tholen homestead, Cochlin Ave., Traverse City, MI
Levi & Brenda Meeuwenberg, Realeyes Homestead, Traverse City, MI
And, if extra space is necessary, we may continue growing a few viney crops at our Far Away Garden, @ Baker’s Green Acres in Marion
The monkey in me, likes to begin the growing season w. fond memories of the fun-fun-fun of the work-work-work of planting and tending a garden and growing food for myself and others! While I may not be quite this flexible in 2016 as I was back in 2000, we still do our daily yoga in the gardens–once the snow takes leave!
A GREAT way to join in on the fun-work is to support and/or join our Very O’k CSA Cooperative—a community supported group of garden-farms right in the Traverse City–city limits!
And because of all of this monkey-bizness—the first five folks/families that sign up or renew their membership will also receive a “Year of Monkey” calendar that is coming hot of the press this week!
You’re invited to join a great group of Veg, Fruit and Folks at our Spring Open-House and learn more about our 2015 Summer O’k CSA Cooperative!
JOIN US at our Spring Open-House and 2015 Summer CSA kick-off and potluck:
Friday, May 29th, 6 to 8 pm, at our DIGs garden-farm site,
510 Second St., Traverse City, Michigan
Bring a dish to share and your own tableware, we’ll be dining picnic style in our backyard around a campfire, if weather permits!
O’k CSA believes that food is art and art is food.
In 2005, our idea of “sharing” what we grow began in the winter months by sharing artwork, with
a series of drawings, paintings and an annual “Year of…” calendar, featuring a Mid-Western version of the Chinese New Year calendar.
It’s now 10 years later and our unique Traverse City based, urban CSA continues to share local and regional Michigan artworks, alongside of good, healthy, pesticide & chemical-free produce. Each of our gardens are designed with permanent growing beds, and reflect a beautiful nature inspired, organizational structure following permaculture design practices.
As the summer season approaches, with just a few shifts and twists and turns, the O’k CSA Studio and garden-farm sites are gearing up for another great season, and we invite you to join this great, little, local community gathering of folks who care about the food they eat and act on the urge to be supportive of the arts!
SIGN-UP for a Summer Season of great company, good food and art. Check out info on our website where you can sign up online here:
~Culinary herbs and medicinal herbal teas and Lovely Flower bouquets
~Original ART by artists around the Great Lakes!
~Weekly options to order Fresh Milk, eggs, meat & mushrooms!
~Community gatherings & workshops all about growing food, permaculture and creative, neighborly fun!
~NEW this year for our CSA share families and neighbors: “The Farmer and The Chef” dinner parties, taking place at our garden-farm sites and other special locations. Our O’k Garden-Farmers will team up with Chef Ali Lopez preparing wonderful, healthy meals for you and yours—straight from the gardens! Learn more about Chef Ali here: http://www.ali-lopez.com/
We begin our 2015 O’k CSA Cooperative season sometime between the end of May and the 2nd Week of June-September, with 12 Weeks of goodness! Below is a general list of produce we grew in our co-op last year and plan to grow in 2015:
Irregardless of the snow piled up, we’ve been deep in the soil and plant biology studies just completing the “High Bionutrient Crop Production” 2-day intensive workshop, with over two dozen gardeners and farmers. The course presenter was Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association, and Mark and Jill Baker were the hosts at their farm in Marion, Michigan, with O’k CSA as the organizing sponsor!
Through Dan Kittredge’s presentation and info sharing, we learned how to detect and understand unique advantages and limitations of soil and crops, as well as the interactions between plants, soil, and air. We learned how we can grow better food, and work towards increasing quality in the food supply. There was much eagerness amongst the participants to learn more about the principles and practices of this form of biological and energetic farming and gardening, and plans for several local chapters in Michigan, under the Bionutrient Food Association umbrella are underway! To learn more about the BFA: www.bionutrient.org or, to learn a bit more about BFA Chapters – click here.
Amongst other things, in the two day course we were advised and learned how to look and read our soil tests and make our own recommendations to improve the soil life, integrating whole system understanding, visual plant guides of growth and status, and using plant and soil monitoring to trouble shoot problems. The course concluded with discussion about local, natural solutions and a brief (re)introduction to seminal thinkers like Mae Won Ho, Phil Callahan, Richard Olree, Stephen Herrod Buhner, Bill Mollison/David Holmgren, and Rudolf Steiner to name a few.
NOW, it’s time to sort, organize and layout the seeds and garden farming plans for the five O’k CSA 2015 gardens. For the past several years, we’ve been saving as many seeds from healthy plants—fruit and vegetables, and, herbs and flowers, as we possibly can. We still have a lot to learn about seed saving, but have managed to save many different types of tomato, squash and several varieties of pepper seeds. Making friends with other gardeners who are VERY proud of their produce and willing to share seed is a wonderful part of community and neighborhood gardening. I have up to 10 different tomato variety seeds from our O’k market gardens and the give-away plot at the community garden.
Even in our shorter Northern Michigan climate we can grow fantastic crops of tomatoes. If you’ve never saved seeds it’s SOOOOOO easy to save tomato seeds in particular. Have you’ve noticed that where a rotten tomato lies it will likely sprout another of several other tomato seedlings if left somewhat covered with soil, protected and undisturbed? That was my first aha! moment of seed saving—observing which ones wanted to be saved! Those that had already decided to save themselves! All I had to do was pick them up, tuck them into an used seed package and label them with their tomato variety name and the year!
This year we’re planning to put extra effort into our pepper and onion crop and learn more about care-taking them to encourage a greater yield. They are a bit more finicky than tomato plants and will likely spend a bit of time in the Hobbit Greenhouse once sprouted and when it warms up.
Saving tomato and pepper seeds is pretty simple, and included below is a good link with almost all you’ll ever need to read/know about saving seeds. BUT, the best way to learn is not to just read, but to actually do it—-make time now, while planning and ordering seeds to set up a system to save your own.
It can be a fairly simple act of observing as the fruit ripens on the vine, remembering to make note and select a few of the most beautiful and fully ripened for seed saving. It’s a difficult to refrain from eating the lovely fruit as you watch it grow to maturity—but remember, you’ll be carrying that loveliness into your garden growing the next year.
It’s as important to know where our seeds come from as it is where our food (in the store) comes from. Gardeners can effect BIG change in the current Monsanto-Genetically Modified seed debacle and crises by simply purchasing heirloom, untreated, open-pollinated seeds, and then saving your own seeds from the crops you raise.
Our most recent and still enduring favorite gardening book is John Jeavons “How to Grow More Vegetables*” *than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine.
In addition to having the best gardening book title—EVER—the work of Ecology Action has spanned the planet with such a positive garden-food-security impact that I’m pleased to know of. Likewise, most of the needed seeds, beyond my own efforts to save-seeds, are ordered through Bountiful Gardens—which is a project of Ecology Action.
In the Bountiful Gardens catalog, one of our Northern Michigan neighbors, Craig Schaaf’ has a small published book the “Golden Rule Farm’s Guide to Growing Early Tomatoes”! 28 pages of tomato growing wisdom, “with detailed text and clear color photos for $11.95”! SO wonderful and proud of Craig’s wisdom sharing! http://www.bountifulgardens.org
We still have 2015 O’k CSA shares available—-and will have an updated, and on-line signup available soon. REGISTER BY MARCH 20, 2015: AND GET A FREE Worm Farm Bucket comes with your 2015 O’k CSA Cooperative subscription!
“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!
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 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,
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.
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.
During a lovely weekend in Spring 2012, I traveled away from my Northern Michigan home-place by Grand Traverse Bay to Detroit to be with gardeners, farmers and folks educating themselves about basic human needs. The theme or reason for me to travel to Detroit was meeting folks who are growing food….or “Greening” Detroit. Community gardening and food growing in Detroit is something that has been going on for awhile, and it was quite delightful to visit city-farms in full swing and spring-bloom. I met longtime garden-farming residents and folks of all ages that are re-crafting their lives and livelihoods around setting up gardens, farms and going to market to feed themselves and their families and others.
When I visit Detroit, I do see the vastness of human-made and industrial waste–but I also see and feel beautiful possibility in this place. I recognize in myself an interest and attraction to the “Re’s”, as in need of repair, reconnection, rekindling…..It may be connected to my practice and skills as an artist and designer. Someone who spends a lot of time in the fascinating land of “aha” moments of seeing all the bits and pieces of a whole, and beginning to understand the immense ways that life composts what needs to be composted, while re-generating itself and putting out, giving what needs to be given.
During my garden touring and farmer friend connections I was able to visit the DIA with my friends and my daughter, and spend time with the Detroit Industry mural. The mural pictured in part below, created by Diego Rivera, connects the car-making industry and factories—filled with bits and pieces of human and car-parts—with the hands and bodies that gather them, fit them, build them—and with the food that fuels the workers. I believe these frescoes, painted in 1932-1933, in addition to “representing the idea that all actions and ideas are one” are also a fore-telling of three very important areas we are present day dealing with regarding energy, economy and the environment. A story recorded on a wall.
I love the panel below, as it moves from dim and grim gray colors, changing over from factory-working-men and machine to colorful, sensual images of food and women giving birth. The caption on the mural wall with part of this image is “infant in the bulb of a plant”.
Art and my experiences with it, have always fueled and nourished me, helped me to understand the world all around. And now, after dozens of trips to Detroit, and viewing of this 27 panel mural, I ask myself questions about the present day—which I believe can honestly be applied in any place, any hometown across this country. Detroit has always been news worthy on many levels of awesomeness, and does grab a lot of media attention, but it really is a “home” town too. It’s grabbed mine since my country life childhood, with a few trips to visit my 90 + year old Uncle Lon, another artist and gardener living in the Detroit suburbs; listening to the Tigers; and, especially when I walk into the atrium of the Detroit Institute of Arts and get a whiff or glimpse of Rivera’s vision of Detroit’s “industry”.
I’m a life-long resident of Michigan and come from a family of blue-collar Oldsmobile workers and farmers. The questions I ask myself and others are definitely influenced from my life experience of connecting cars and food, my up-bringing in a little farming community In Laingsburg. They are also coming from a place of seeing friends and family, like Jason and Stephanie that are a present day part of the greening of Detroit. My questions also come from the basic four areas in realizing or choosing to call a place home and what we need: food, water, shelter and community: What kind of story is this gathering of people, living/working in Detroit telling in it’s brokenness? What merit does this broken, human-made car-industry-city in South East Michigan hold for all of us Reconnoiters in our home-places? Are you attracted to places like Detroit…or a believer in the merit of brokenness, and why?
Seems to me like there is significant merit to “being with the broke”. In the words of one of my young artist friends, “We are mere mortals after all.” and we “are all compost”. As a parental unit of two twenty-somethings trying to find their way as a part of the working class wanting to have food on their tables, these questions are burning through my consciousness every day, regardless of where I’m at.
Especially right now, as some of us may only feel crumbling on the edges or in far-away places or in news stories, while others of us feel it up close, personal and an everyday experience. My life-long love of bits and pieces and connecting this to that gives me a fairly positive outlook in our human ability to deal with difficulty as our industrial way of being comes to a close. Like rolling up my sleeves with the folks pictured below and planting three neighborhood gardens in Traverse City.
From Detroit to Traverse City, with massive changes in the car industry that supported my family in the past, to the places and people I’ve encountered recently, perceived as broken or otherwise, all point to the re-beginning of a new way to be. Re-using stuff to build what we need to grow our own food, makes sense and has merit to many of us, and may even involve making art out of car-parts.