A Little Dirt Doesn’t Hurt

 

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Did you know that each week multiple classes full of excited children come to The Farm for a field trip? This past week, first graders from Ypsilanti Community School traveled to The Farm to learn how it operates.  During the students’ time at The Farm, they were able to feel the texture of the soil and touch the leaves of growing carrots fueling their imagination when thinking about what vegetables need in order to grow.  As a future dietitian, I couldn’t help but smile from seeing the results of the children having a hands-on experience with their food.  A portion of the children was captivated by Amanda’s lesson on the importance of hoop houses to extend the growing season during the harsh Michigan winters.  Other children asked questions that were a result of critical thinking about what a plant needs to survive.  A final portion of children spent the majority of their time at The Farm running their hands through the dirt and touching the leaves of each plant they walked by.

A common theme between all of the children was that each student was having a learning experience with food, which sparked a greater appreciation for farms, growth, and being healthy. 

One of the experiences we value is allowing the students to try a new vegetable when they are at the farm.  This week, the students were able to try the hakurei turnip.  Have you heard of this unique turnip variety?  This Japanese turnip variety is sometimes referred to as a salad turnip, due to its delicious raw flavor.  Many of the children loved the earthy flavor of the hakurei turnip.  Some even asked for seconds!

With summer break right around the corner, there are two summer camp opportunities for children at The Farm.  The first is called the Farm to table summer camp where children ages 4-7 attend the camp with an adult.  At this camp, we harvest fresh produce and explore the science behind growing, eating and cooking food as we learn how to make good food choices. Each day includes hands-on activities and take-home recipes.

The second is called the Farm, Field, and Forest Camp where children grades 2-5 are able to explore our farm, our surrounding native prairie, and our woods along Huron River. Each day we do farm chores, gather information on a hike, and investigate nature through hands-on activities.

Sometimes it takes having a hands on experience and getting a little dirty to have a better appreciation of the beauty that food is.  As my title says, a little dirt doesn’t hurt!

 

About me: Hello! My name is Jen LaBarre and I’m a new dietetic intern at The Farm.  I’m studying to get my PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Michigan.  I’m passionate about the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes, especially in children.  When I’m not working, you can find me on a hiking trail or listening to Frank Sinatra while cooking in my kitchen.  Cheers!

 

Spicy greens and turnip salad with a honey-orange dressing

This week’s farmers market was a success!  Dietetic intern, Jen LaBarre, sliced up some hakurei turnips served over a bed of arugula and mizuna greens.  The key to this recipe is the mint and orange dressing, which gives the spicy arugula a sweet finish.

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Don’t forget to sign up for our CSA which will run from June 21st through November 1st.

2017 Summer CSA

Join us for the 2017 Farm at St. Joe’s Summer CSA program!

Definition: If you haven’t heard of them CSAs, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, are a way for farms to connect directly with customers. Typically, farms offer a set number of “shares” which customers can purchase at the beginning of the season. Then customers come pick up their share each week for a set number of weeks. By buying into a CSA you are sharing in the season’s produce and also sharing in the inherent risk of farming. This means that there can be crop failures due to weather etc leading to a different distribution of produce. For example, last year was a horrible year for potatoes and onions due to the drought so participants didn’t get very many. On the other hand, it was a fantastic year for broccoli so there was a lot of that.

What: 2017 Summer CSA. Get a bag of produce from the Farm! The produce in the shares changes through the season. The share will start with spring crops (head lettuce, greens), move to summer fruits (tomatoes, peppers), and transition to late summer/fall crops (broccoli, squash). Learn more about crop availability in this nifty chart. Our CSA is collaborative, meaning that many small local farms contribute produce. Note that fruit is not a common crop for small farms in the area so it will not be a large part of the share.

**New this year** we are offering two sizes!

Whole share: Pick up every week for 20 weeks. Cost is $20 a week ($400). This is a big chunk of change and I’m happy to take payments in installments. Sign up here

Half share: Pick up every other week for 20 weeks. Cost is $20 a week ($200). This is a good amount of food for a smaller family or a single person. Sign up here

Who: Anyone!

When: June 21-November 1st.

How: This is a self-serve CSA, meaning that you will be able to pick your shares (a bag of produce) up from a cooler at the Farm any time from  Thursday mornings to the following Monday at noon. Check out the video.

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Arugula peeking out!

How to participate: 

Step 1: Fill out the appropriate form:

Whole share

Half share

Important: by filling out the form, you are committing to paying for the share and picking up.

Step 2: Payment

The share is $20/ week for 10 weeks (half share) or 20 weeks (whole share). You must pay by June 1st or your spot will be given away ! Options include:

1.Come to the Wednesday Farmer’s market (11-1) and pay with cash, check, credit card or payroll deduct.

2.Bring cash or check (made out to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital) to the Farm. I am installing a wall-mounted lock box next week.

3. Send via mail/interdepartmental mail to Amanda ( 5333 McAuley Drive Reichert Health Building Suite 1117, Ypsilanti MI 48197).

4. If you are employed as a physician resident and you want to use your stipend money, please go to any of the Joe’s Java’s and tell them to put $ toward the Farm. Do this as many times as you need to get to the desired amount of money. Once you have the receipts, please put them in an envelope with your name on it and get it to me. (Farmer’s Market, interdepartmental mail) or send me an email with pictures!

Questions? Email or call Amanda at Amanda.Sweetman@stjoeshealth.org or 712-4667

 

2017 Spring CSA

***Update, the Spring CSA is now full!*****

To receive updates about future CSA seasons, please sign up for our email list here.

 

 

Signups are closed for the 2017 Spring Farm at St. Joe’s CSA program(not sure what that is there’s more info at the bottom of this post).

What: Spring CSA. Shares will consist, primarily, of greens (spinach, lettuce, arugula, spicy mix) with the addition of other crops like radishes and peas.

Who: Up to 40 people

When: March 22-April 12

How: This is a self-serve CSA, meaning that you will be able to pick your shares (a bag of produce) up from a cooler at the Farm any time from  Wednesdays at 11am to the following Monday at noon. Check out the video.

 

Cost: $48($12/wk). We ask that you pay in full before the first pick up.

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Arugula peeking out!

How to participate: 

Step 1: Fill out this form

Step 2: Payment

The share is $48 ($12/week). Please pay in advance! Options include:

1.Come to the Wednesday Farmer’s market (11-1) and pay with cash, check, credit card or payroll deduct.

2.Bring cash or check (made out to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital) to the Farm

3. Send via mail/interdepartmental mail to Amanda (Reichert Health Building Suite 1117).

4. If you are a resident and you want to use your stipend money, please go to any of the Joe’s Java’s and tell them to put $ toward the Farm. Do this as many times as you need to get to $48. Once you have the receipts, please put them in an envelope with your name on it and get it to me. (Farmer’s Market, interdepartmental mail)

 

Questions? Email or call Amanda at Amanda.Sweetman@stjoeshealth.org or 712-4667

Definition: If you haven’t heard of them, CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, programs are a way for farms to connect directly with customers. Typically, farms offer a set number of “shares” which customers can purchase at the beginning of the season. Then customers come pick up their share each week for a set number of weeks. This is a great model for all involved, farmers get upfront capitol when they need it most and consumers get ultra-fresh, local produce.

 

Living Seasonally

It’s November 23rd, 2016. Until this weekend, the weather felt like September. But despite the warm weather, I’ve been feeling myself return to my winter habits. I am surprised to find that the shorter days drive my behavior more than the temperature outside.

As I spend more time at home cooking, reading, and enjoying the company of friends, I am grateful for the passage of time and the changing seasons. After a frenetic summer, I need the long nights to force me to slow down and rest. This is a time of regeneration.

I cooked more times in the last two weeks than I had in the entire month previous. What I’m cooking has changed also. Root vegetables are prominent in their sweet, crispy glory. I roasted a locally-raised chicken, and was reminded how many ways a chicken can feed a family. (Have you ever made homemade stock?). And, maybe best of all is the salad!!!

Even though temperatures have finally cooled off and the days are short, there is still so much growing at The Farm. This is the season for cold-hardy greens: spinach, lettuce, baby kale, arugula, ruby frills, and so much more. These greens taste sweet, crisp and have more bite than standard lettuce. As one of the CSA customers told me: “Your spicy salad mix has rocked my world!” Not only does our salad mix incorporate a broad variety of greens. But also, greens taste better in the fall/winter because sugar is nature’s antifreeze. Once the greens have frozen once, the flavor changes dramatically!

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What are your winter habits? One new habit I’m working on is feeling more gratitude. The best way to make a new habit is to practice. If you’re a St. Joe’s colleague, join the Gratitude Challenge Nov 28-Dec 16th. Learn more here.

Access to Healthy Foods

Hunger and health are deeply connected.

According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 people in Washtenaw County are food insecure. Food insecurity is the USDA’s measure of lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. It also looks at whether or not a household can get nutritionally adequate food.  Food insecurity is associated with poor nutrition, health, academic achievement, and mental health as well as with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases.

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http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/helping-families-in-need/nutrition-initiative/

Often, food insecurity is associated with living in a food desert. A food desert is an area that lacks easy access to both healthy and affordable food. Often, these are low income neighborhoods that are not near a supermarket.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2013/11/09/too-much-of-too-little/

There is also an association between income and obesity. The diagram above shows that in all 50 states, the lowest income families (dark blue dots) have a greater rate of childhood obesity than the highest income families (light blue dots) in the same state. Sometimes this is related to living in a food swamp, a place where unhealthy foods are more accessible than healthy foods. For example, low income areas have twice as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores compared to high income areas.

The image below shows the area around St Joe’s. (St Joe’s is the star). The green portions show areas of people that have low income and low- access to healthy foods. The orange shows areas where people are low income but have slightly better access for foods.  

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The best way to combat food insecurity and low food access? Provide more food! Farms, farmers markets and CSAs are common methods used to address food access issues and The Farm offers all of those. The Farm currently hosts a weekly farmers market in the lobby of St Joe’s as well as a weekly CSA in collaboration with other local farms.

Interested in other farmer’s markets in your area? See here. You can also use this source to find farmer’s markets in your area that accept SNAP.

The farmer’s market runs every Wednesday from 11am-1pm in the lobby of St Joe’s. We accept cash, card, or Prescription for Health tokens.