Signs of spring….

What beautiful spring weather we are finally having! We’ll take it, even if it did snow last night. Finally, we are getting caught up from being behind due to the non-stop winter.

So the most frequently asked questions of late are: When are you opening? When will you have asparagus? When can we get baked goods?!! We wish we knew. Due to the cool nights this spring, asparagus will definitely be late. While we normally have it by the end of April, it will be coming in May this year given how things look. The ground needs to be warm 8 to 10 inches down before it can start to grow, so we still need some more warm weather. We will open the market and the bakery when asparagus is ready, so stay tuned.

Please welcome my niece Becca, adding to the 3rd generation now working on the farm. She brings a wealth of experience from working for the Peace Corps in Paraguay on gardening, farming, and beekeeping projects, as well as experience from working on several organic farms in Latin America and the United States. She has some great plans she is putting into motion, including a terraced garden by the market for educational opportunities and U-pick organic vegetables. She’ll also be preparing organic vegetable and herb starts for customers at the market this year. Check out her beautiful little basil pots (another tidbit about Becca: she loves basil). She will start giving her own updates in future website posts.

Basil pots on 4/15.

Happenings on the farm:

1. The last apple orchard brush got cleaned up….Denim and I tackled the brush and debris in the final orchard over the weekend. Doing this reminded me of playing the game “pick up sticks” when I was a young child. Except this time, the rules were the opposite: the more the sticks and branches touching each other, the more that comes out in one large group as you pull them away from the tree. The large branches get pulled to the middle where my son Jay pushes them out to the end of the rows. Any of the limbs that are decent sized, he cuts up for fire wood. The small branches stay on the orchard floor where they get mowed up into little pieces, which provides mulch that helps replenish the soil.

Beth pulling the brush from under the trees

Denim is not a retriever! He was happy to watch and not participate.

Jay pushing the brush into one big pile 4-12-14

2. We are racing to finish tying the grape vines up before they buds start popping out — once they come out, the wrapping of them and tying them can damage the buds and thus, no grapes. With 50 acres of white Niagara grapes–this takes a while.

Becca tying the grape vines to the trellis wire

3. The greenhouse tomatoes are looking great. Today, it was Cathy’s turn to pollinate them. We hand-pollinate around noon each day because in the greenhouse environment, there is no wind which would allow them to self pollinate, nor do we keep bees in the greenhouse. (The bees we have on the farm don’t seem to find their way into the greenhouse.) We estimate that we are about one month away from our first BLT.

Cathy pollinating tomatoes on 11-11-14
A battery operated wand gently shakes the plant where the blossoms are

Look at the tomatoes coming….Dad would have been so proud.

4. Field preparation: We have the fields plotted and mapped out as to what gets planted where, and we’re now simply waiting to be able to get into the ground and get started. Jay got some of the fertilizer down where we will be planting.

Fertilizing the young peach orchard

If the spring weather holds, you will hopefully start seeing a flurry of planting activities here on the farm (and please….no more snow flurries). We are all getting excited about beginning another season and can’t wait to see our customers back at the market. Thanks as always for buying local.

-Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

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Still looking for spring….Rivers of Justice Film Festival

Well, the last few days have given us some hints of spring, so we remain hopeful that a good spring (slow thaws and no freezing temperatures) is still coming.    Saturday we finished trimming all of the white Niagara grapes–which took us almost 3 full months.  Now we start back through the rows to tie the grape vines onto the trellis system for optimum growth.

We completed one spring project this past week of getting the straw spread on our strawberry fields, it felt good to check off one thing on the long project list.  It was actually nice just to see the strawberry plants again with the snow gone!

 

3-29-14 Getting the straw spread on the strawberry rows

Corey Lake Orchards is one of the sponsors for this year’s Rivers of Justice Film Festival.  If you have never been to the Riviera Theatre, this would be a great time to go and see this magnificent theatre.  Also, our bakery is supplying apple pie for the reception and the potluck dinner–so if you have been craving our pie–this is another good reason to go.

We have put information about this local event below.  So on behalf of all of us at Corey Lake Orchards, we thank you for buying local and look forward to seeing you when we open.

Rivers of Justice Film Festival–Riviera Theatre, Downtown Three Rivers

Time: Friday, April 4: 8pm Saturday, April 5: 6pm Price: $5 per film or $10 festival pass
Join us for the 6th Annual Rivers of Justice Film Festival, two nights of great documentary films exploring the international banana trade, mass incarceration and transformative shop class. Tickets are $5 per feature film or $10 for a festival pass, which includes all three films plus a $5 gift certificate to World Fare.
Friday, April 4: Potluck dinner at World Fare (37 N. Main St., Three Rivers, MI) – 6:30pm Banana Land – 8pm
Saturday, April 5: The House I Live In – 6pm If You Build It – 8:30pm Reception at Theatre Bar – 10pm
Click here to visit their website for more information.

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Happy First Day of Spring!

Happy first day of spring to everyone!   There are still so many large piles of snow, we’re having trouble believing it’s spring.  Instead of spending time on March Madness brackets, we’ve got our own thing going here trying to guess the date that the snow pile in front of the market will be gone.    Feel free to make your own prediction!

First day of spring, 2014

The first day of spring finds us still about a month behind on our winter work.  So expect to see a flurry of activity as we finish up the grape pruning, get all of the brush picked up from the apple orchards and then start into the normal spring pruning of peaches, cherries, pears and blueberries.  As soon as we can get into the fields (just starting to see them again where the snow is melting) that will launch another set of spring work.

The only place that feels like spring today is inside our balmy greenhouse.  The tomato plants are thriving and beginning to bloom.  That means only about 64 more days until the first BLT of the year!

First day of spring, 2014 in the greenhouse

Tomatoes in bloom, first day of spring, 2014

The Hubbard Family would like to thank everyone for their condolences, support and encouragement given to us in the past several weeks   We especially appreciated hearing your stories and memories of Dad and adding those to our own.

Think spring!  Thanks as always for buying local.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

 

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Gone, but never forgotten

Our father, Dayton Hubbard, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, March 3rd, at his beloved farm of 53 years.  He and Mom built an amazing enterprise, and we’re blessed and grateful for the values they instilled, including a love of what Dad often called his own ‘Garden of Eden.’

His life is so interwoven at Corey Lake Orchards it will be challenging to accept that he is gone as the next generations continue to work the land we all loved.  We know his spirit will be watching over us, and wondering why we’re letting the weeds and worms get out of hand or not working harder and faster.   One comfort to all of us is knowing he is with The One who controls the weather!

More about his life can be found at:.http://www.hohnerfh.com/Obituaries/tabid/115/agentType/View/PropertyID/590/Default.aspx

One of Dad’s greatest joys was pleasing his customers with the fruits of his labors.  Whether it was the perfect ear of sweet corn, the first tomato of the season, or handing you half of a juicy peach he cut for you to try, we thank all of you as you completed his circle.

The Hubbard Family

 

 

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Year of snow….crops will grow!

Hello again from snowy-icy Corey Lake Orchards.  I should have know something was going on when I opened the farmer’s almanac calendar this year and this is what was on January 1:  “Year of snow, crops will grow.”    For all of you who are getting tired of the snow, please realize that it is very good for our soil….so we’re hoping for a warm, gentle–controlled thawing in the spring….that allows our trees, vineyards and plants to absorb the moisture into their roots, and thus, get off to a great start for 2014!

This amount of snow has certainly caused us to be creative about how we get through it to trim the grapes.  We have tried moving it, packing it down, going over it with snowmobiles, snow blowing it, and still have parts of vineyards where the snow is so deep that none of these work.    Thankfully our crew is persevering and we are getting the job done and haven’t lost too much time yet this winter.

Maybe snow shoes or stilts to get through the vineyard??

Our greenhouse tomatoes are planted!!  To be honest, we had to do some serious thinking about starting the greenhouse up this year, given that we heat it with propane.  But we are as anxious as you are for a good-flavored tomato.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can get propane and afford it!!  It would be really nice if Mother Nature could give us a little solar powered heat by having the sun around more often!  So….only 86 more days until the first BLT of the year!

Getting our hands in warm soil for the first time each year is really satisfying! Here we are mixing up the dirt for our pots.

 

Brenda, along with our Dad, Dayton Hubbard, helped get the pot bags opened to be filled with soil.

 

Dayton’s granddaughter, Amber, helped get the filled pots lined up in rows. It was great that she and her mother Brenda were here from Florida for the weekend to help us.

 

And finally, we got about 600 plants in their pots and growing!

We have been busy planning for the year, attending educational seminars, doing annual maintenance and working in the orchards and vineyards when weather permits.  This cold weather has given us extra time for R&R either sitting by the fire or on sunny days–in a lawn chair out in the greenhouse–where it feels like a mini Florida vacation!

We are wondering if you would share some pictures with us?  We belong to the Michigan Agri-tourism association which is having a contest with their members for pictures to put on the 2014 directory cover.   If you have some family photos taken on our farm that you would allow us to enter in the contest, we would really appreciate it.  Just email them back to us with permission to use.

We hope you are enjoying your winter.  I’ll leave you with the Farmer’s Almanac quote for February which says:  “If February is cold, the summer will be a nice one!!”   We’ll take it….everyone at Corey Lake Orchards is looking forward to seeing you soon.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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