Organic Lawn Care

I’ve been thinking about organic lawn care a lot lately. I’m concerned for the honey bees that have all died the past four years at The Farm. I’m also concerned for the humans and animals that walk and graze on the grassy areas of our neighborhoods. I’m concerned for our rivers and lakes. I’m concerned for the people who apply these chemicals.

This is the time of year you start seeing weekend warriors and landscaping companies spraying lawns again. At local hardware stores, the amount of chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides, available to make lawns look nice is breathtaking. Unfortunately, just because these products are available off the shelf doesn’t mean that they are safe. At The Farm at St. Joe’s, and at my own house, I follow strict organic growing practices for the food and non food plants that I steward.

This morning I ran across this article in the Detroit Free Press talking about huge toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie resulting from too many nutrients, including agriculture and likely including lawn fertilizer.

Honey bees at The Farm at St. Joe's have all died the past four years.

Honey bees at The Farm at St. Joe’s have all died the past four years.

I did a little research and uncovered a plethora of research and writing regarding the negative consequences of chemicals used in lawn care, including safer organic alternatives. I learned a lot this morning reading through some articles. Ontario has a ban on cosmetic pesticides. Pesticides come into our houses on our shoes and pose special risks to kids crawling on our floors.

This spring and summer why don’t you try to keep your garden and lawn organic? Use compost to fertilize your lawns. If you can’t accept dandelions, be like my mother-in-law and remove 200 per day by hand. Also, the little flowers that grow in our lawns benefit the bees in our gardens. Ditch the pre and post emergent herbicides and ditch the 2,4-D and ditch the spray bottles of herbicides.

Here’s a list of reading to keep you busy before you start gardening this year:

Measuring Transport of Lawn-Applied Herbicide Acids from Turf to Home:  Correlation of Dislodgeable 2,4-D Turf Residues with Carpet Dust and Carpet Surface Residues



The Lawn Chemical Ritual



Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees?



Lawn Pesticides: An Unacceptable Risk



Save Lake Erie before its too late



Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban




Have you and a group of coworkers or family members been thinking about growing a garden this year? Are you itching to get your hands dirt, but don’t have the right piece of ground? The Farm at St. Joe’s has a limited number of organic community garden plots available to St. Joe’s staff and their families. Plots are 10′ x 15′, cost $75, and are on the campus of St. Joe’s Ann Arbor at The Farm at St. Joe’s. If you’d like more information, please contact me at bairdz@trinity-health.org. The garden opens up soon, so don’t wait!

Honey the dog enjoys helping out in the garden.

Honey the dog enjoys helping out in the garden.


The nutrition department would like to thank our CEO, Rob Casalou, Dr. David Steinberg, Registered Dietitian, Kyle Bunton and Executive Chef, Ryan Kendall for judging our spinach contest. We had over 30 recipes entered into the contest. Special thanks to the registered dietitians for preparing 6 of the recipes on their own time at home for the judges to taste. Also, we appreciate farmer Dan announcing the event and donating the delicious organic spinach from The Farm.

spinach contest

Congratulations to Julianna Porter from MHVI who was our grand prize winner. Her recipe will be featured in The Market Cafe for purchase! In addition, all finalists received a Farm logo shirt for participating. Those not selected received a coupon for the Farmer’s Market. Thanks to everyone involved who helped with the fun event. See below for the winning recipe:


Ground Turkey and Spinach


1 lb ground turkey

1 large 3lb pack of fresh spinach

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Juice from 2 fresh lemons

3 tablespoons of pine nuts

1 teaspoon allspice,salt,black pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons of tomatoe paste

6 cups of water or organic vegetable broth


Brown basmati rice made according to package directions

 Saute garlic,onion, and pine nuts in olive oil until lightly brown

Add ground turkey and spices-cook until done

Add water or broth until boiling

Add tomatoe paste until blended then add spinach

Cook on med for 20min then just on simmer until rice is done

Add lemon juice just before serving

 Cook rice according to directions

 Serve spinach on top of rice

Enjoy the surge of energy and feeling great from eating spinach! Dark, leafy greens are one the most nutrient-dense power foods you can eat. Try to get at least one serving each day or even better-  one serving at each meal.

Thanks for supporting The Farm at St. Joe’s!


Come fill your senses: enjoy the aroma, see the beautiful array of color, touch and taste fresh and dried herbs and spices. See a demonstration of the use of a mortar and pestle to grind fresh spices. Taste samples of seasoned roasted potatoes and carrots.
Using herbs and spices while cooking adds flavor to food without adding extra salt or the additional calories from sugar or fat. Studies continue to show the health benefits of herbs and spices, which includes protective antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

“Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate.” ~Plautus

Roasted Potatoes and Carrots
Preheat oven to 425⁰
Line baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray
In a bowl toss cleaned and cubed potatoes and carrots with olive oil and mixed herbs. Our roasted vegetables were seasoned with Salt-Free Lakeside Herb Blend from Spice Merchants® a blend of thyme, chervil, parsley, basil, marjoram, celery, savory, rosemary and lemon zest.
(Start with 1 pound of vegetables, 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil and 1-1 ½ teaspoons of herb mixture and adjust seasoning to taste.)
Spread mixture in single layer on baking pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once during baking.

Special thanks to the Southeast Michigan Dietetic Association for their generous grant donation which allowed us to provide samples today!

The Farmers’ Market at St. Joe’s is cancelled today due to the inclement weather. We will see you next Wednesday, 11-1, barring any further snow storms.

The hoophouses were covered in snow this February.

The hoophouses were covered in snow this February.

nuts nnm

March is National Nutrition Month and Clinical Nutrition invites you to stop by the Farmer’s Market today! Stop by to enjoy a free sample of spiced nuts with dark chocolate and dried cherries.

Nuts are a delicious snack because they contain a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, protein and fiber. Many studies report nuts help protect the heart. The same is true for dark chocolate, which is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. One ounce of dark chocoloate daily has been shown to lower blood pressure and improves the flexibility of blood vessles. Daily consumption of dark chocolate has been associatied with a decreased risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease. Look for brands that contain at least 70% cocoa, such as Valrhona, Ghiradelli, and Green & Black’s.

Enjoy our sample nut mix recipe:

8 oz walnuts
4 oz almonds
2 oz mixed nuts
12 oz dark chocolate
6 oz dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves

Roast nuts at 350 degrees until slightly browned (around 10-15 minutes). Sprinkle with spices while warm.

Once cooled, mix with chocolate and dried cherries.

Enjoy an ounce each day! Nuts do have calories so while they are great for you, try to make sure you increase your physical activity. Challenge yourself to take the stairs or go for a walk on your break.

Special thanks to the Southeast Michigan Dietetic Association for their generous grant donation which allowed us to provide samples today!

Market Today

Ann Arbor Seed Co. seeds are the best seeds.

Please join The Farm at St. Joe’s and Eisenhower Center at the farmers’ market today, 11-1, in the main hospital lobby at St. Joe’s. We’ll have fresh arugula and spinach for sale. Look out for our friends,  Ann Arbor Seed Company, seed kiosk featuring vegetable and flower seeds grown in Ann Arbor.



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