12147 Corey Lake Road, Three Rivers, Michigan (269) 244-5690

Corey Lake Orchards

Eat your spinach!

Probably like you, we remain a bit perplexed and constantly surprised by the weather….and apparently so are the robins that we see in our yard and the one lonely crocus that appeared this week and…yes our fruit trees and other perennials.    We are missing our share of snow, which is an important slow-release form of the overall precipitation that our trees and vineyards depend on. Our strawberries are missing their winter insulation:  3 – 4 inches of snow can raise the soil’s surface temperature by about 30 degrees, especially when it gets below zero. Yes, this is Pure Michigan weather! As a farmer, we don’t know what “normal” is anymore.

But, our unheated winter hoophouse is still a workhorse, producing a weekly abundance of naturally grown carrots, spinach, green onions, lettuce, and kale.

Naturally Grown Produce: Check out the small table/fridge at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers which we are stocking with kale, lettuce, spinach, onions, carrots, and more as Becca harvests this winter. With the winter roads and snow around the market, this is another way for you to access fresh produce from the hoophouse plus do your other shopping in downtown Three Rivers. We’re also happy to reserve items for you and put your name on them in the fridge, just give us a call at 269 244 5690.

Brandy, Wine and Hard Cider, Frozen Apple Pies:  These are available here at the farm by appointment only. Our popular Cherries Jubilant Tart Cherry Cider from last year is back and bottled, $6 for a 750mL bottle or two bottles for $10. Double Cherry Wine is available, $11 for a 750 mL bottle or two bottles for $20. 269-244-5690.

We are busy preparing for the opening of the heated greenhouse! Within the next week we will be getting the pots ready with dirt and then bringing the tomato plants in, which are planted and growing nicely at Schramm’s greenhouse in Portage.

Tomato plants are about 4" tall and almost ready to come to our greenhouse!

Tomato plants are about 4″ tall and almost ready to come to our greenhouse!

Quite a delivery of dirt and other supplies being unloaded for the greenhouse and hoophouse

Quite a delivery of dirt and other supplies being unloaded for the greenhouse and hoophouse

Becca has been busy putting the finishing touches on wine and hard cider to finally bottle things up in the coming months before we get too busy. She also went to the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference (NMSFC) in Traverse City, which was a really unique event. Every year we go to the Great Lakes Expo in Grand Rapids, which is great. However, it is also one of the biggest ag. conferences in the country, whereas the NMSFC is really dedicated to small family farms and homesteads and is pretty tiny comparatively. It seemed like a great experience with lots of good information and it looks like another event we’ll add to our annual winter calendar.

Eat your spinach!  With an abundance of fresh spinach coming from Becca’s hoophouse I have been enjoying it in many ways.  As I have been out and about this winter sharing this with folks, many of them are surprised by how I am preparing it and tell me they don’t like spinach. Most have horror stories from their childhoods when they were forced to eat spinach that was boiled into a strange tasting and smelly clump. Having parents from the South, most of my childhood experience with vegetables were similar, unless of course the vegetables were cooked or fried with some bacon grease. And even though I grew up in the Popeye era, where after eating spinach, he amazingly grew these fabulous muscles, that didn’t convince me to like it any more. But properly prepared, it is one of my very favorite vegetables.  Last week I made spinach-goat  cheese pasta, tuna-spinach tarts, spinach quiches’ in muffin pans and of course, used fresh in salads.  Mmmmm, delicious!

If you don’t know…spinach is so good for you. It is a super food loaded with tons of nutrients in a low calorie package.  The leafy greens like are important for skin and hair, bone health, and provide protein, iron, vitamins and minerals.  And another incentive for me as I get older, eating leafy greens like these help keep your brain young and can protect against decline in brain function.

So, please pick up some freshly picked spinach at our refrigerator at World Fare and have at it. Or call us ahead of time and pick it up here! Since it is Super Bowl weekend, here is a healthy recipe you can make and bring to your SB party.

Spinach Balls

Ingredients:  2 lbs of fresh spinach** (or two (10 ounce) boxes of frozen spinach, drained well, 3/4 cup melted butter, 1 small onion finely chipped, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 cups of season bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.  Roll into 2 inch, walnut sized balls.  Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours,  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes….Enjoy!!

**To prepare fresh spinach for recipes like this, I wash it and put about 1/2 pound at a time into the microwave for about 1 minute.  Just enough to wilt it.  Then I put that in a colander and drain well, usually squeezing excess moisture out with paper towels.

Enjoy, and may your favorite team win!!

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards appreciates your buying local!

See the sunrise as I make my way to the farm on a cold, crispy morning, never gets old

See the sunrise as I make my way to the farm on a cold, crispy morning, never gets old

 

Winter Continues at Corey Lake Orchards

Hope everyone is having a good winter and staying warm. During our winter months, we thought we would try something different and offer you the perspective of some of our neighbors and friends of the farm. We thank Bruce Ruesink, our Master Distiller and our wonderful neighbor, for being our first guest writer. Please give us feedback if you enjoyed it and would like us to do more of this, or if you would like to volunteer! We’d love to share stories of some of your favorite times at Corey Lake Orchards.

Just one quick note before we let Bruce describe his perspective on farm life in the winter: as always we have naturally grown lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, and more freshly harvested from Becca’s hoophouse available at World Fare. You can head there and grab some whenever they’re open. You may also call us at (269) 244-5690 if you’d like to have us set some aside for you (or if you want to pick it up here).

Without further ado, here’s Bruce:

It is deep into January.  Snow and cold have an iron grip on the fields and gardens. The linear geography of orchard and vineyard is softened by undulating drifts. Kaiser Lake is iced-over, but its surface still heaves and recedes, only now at glacial pace.
Wildlife are deprived of leaf cover. Tracks in the snow reveal which rabbit burrows are active and which trees are home to squirrels. Turkey runs and hawk roosts are more easily identified. A disturbance in the snow might signal where a fox made a meal of a vole, or where a deer scraped after one last wind-fall apple. The natural architecture of wood lot and lakeside is revealed in stark contrast to the ordered rows of fruit tree and grape vines.
vinesbr2016res
Color is leached out of the landscape. On an overcast day, the world appears black and white.  On those rare days when the sun shines brightly, the light–bounce off the covering snow amplifies the muted colors that remain. Those outdoors must squint against the intensity of the reflected brightness.
It is a season when the community narrows. Neighbors check on one another. We are reassured by the regular habits of those around us, and are alerted by something out of the ordinary.
The work of the farm goes on. It is a season of preparation, of maintenance, and of planning. Workers spend long and lonely hours in the vines, trimming and tying off vines to ensure the possibility of a optimal crop. Machines are repaired and stored so as to be ready when needed. Wines are corked, and brandies mellow slowly in their barrels and bottles. Bakers try new applications in their home kitchens and tweak a recipe or two.  The hardiest of the vegetables continue to bear in Becca’s hoop house. Beth can occasionally work uninterrupted.
Among the most enjoyable aspects of winter at Corey Lake Orchards are the remarkable sunrises and sunsets… and the few minutes of leisure it takes to appreciate them.
sunrisebr2016res

Happy New Year! All the best for 2016!

A living refrigerator, complete with specialty long radishes.

While we are officially closed for the year, we still have items if you need them and we can make an appointment:  brandy, wine, hard ciders, frozen apple pies and a few Fuji apples. Just call us at 269-244-5690.

We do have an abundance of naturally grown produce coming out of Becca’s hoophouse.  After  indulging in many sweet and rich foods over the holidays, I find myself craving something fresh, green, healthy and homegrown!  This is the first winter for the hoophouse, and it literally takes my breath away when I walk in to be amongst such beautiful, growing  produce.   I am really enjoying trying to find new ways to use spinach and kale and it finds itself on my plate daily in some form!

Naturally Grown Produce:  If you’d like to buy some, please call ahead and let us know what you want (269 244 5690) or check out the small table/fridge at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers where we are stocking it with kale, lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, carrots, and more as Becca harvests this winter. With the winter roads and snow around the market, this is another way for you to access fresh produce from the hoophouse plus do your other shopping in downtown Three Rivers. We’re also happy to reserve items for you and put your name on them in the fridge, just give us a call at 269 244 5690.

Happenings on the farm: We finished trimming all of the purple Concord grapes and have now started the Niagaras. The weather cooperated by finally getting cold so we could start these sensitive grapes. The lack of snow is actually helping us to find and save potential new trunks for our plants where the last several winters have killed off the main trunk. Tedious, slow, but such necessary work.

Becca wanders up to the brandy house daily to check on ciders and experiment with meads, when not tending to the hoophouse. From Becca:

A big thank you to stepdad Marshall who helped anchor the west wall of the hoophouse. Heavy winds all year had shifted the wall east about an inch! Looks like this issue is now taken care of. There are still a few things I’d like to do to make sure a heavy snowload doesn’t collapse the arches…it’s really overwhelming to think that a wet, heavy snow could easily load 10 tons of weight onto the frame. (The greenhouse where we grow our tomatoes has a arch design with about 30% more steel in the frame, so it’s a lot stronger and far less worrisome in winter conditions.)

During the winter, certain plants keep growing (like onions, lettuce, spinach, and kale) while other plants stay in hibernation…making the hoophouse a sort of walk-in refrigerator. Of course, there’s still lots of weeding to do, which is something we try and do on warm days when it can be 65-70 inside the house!

Like Batman, Becca has her own Fortress of Solitude.

Like Batman, Becca has her own Fortress of Solitude.

A living refrigerator, complete with specialty long radishes.

A living refrigerator, complete with specialty long radishes.

 

As the calendar turns to the new year, we are well in the midst of planning for this upcoming season.  Lots of reflection time of what we did well last year, what we need to work on, what we didn’t get done, what’s on our wish list, and most important, what we could do to enhance the experience for our customer.  And of course, a winter favorite, perusing the seed catalogs!  The greenhouse tomato seeds have been ordered and will be planted next week in order for you to enjoy a BLT in late April and May!

Happy New Year from everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

Happy Holidays from all of us at Corey Lake Orchards!

While we are officially closed for the year, we still have items that you may be interested in, especially for the holiday season and will be happy to meet up with you by appointment (269-244-5690).  Here’s what we have:

Apples: Fuji:  These are the best keeping apples, so they are still crisp with the sweet/tart hints in each bite.   Pricing is$24 a bushel, $13 1/2 bushel, $7 peck or $4 for a 1/2 peck. 

Naturally Grown Produce:

It is absolutely delightful to be eating fresh spinach, kale and beautiful lettuce from Becca’s hoophouse this time of year. If you’d like to buy some, please call ahead and let us know what you want (269 244 5690) or check out the small table/fridge  at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers where we are stocking it with kale, lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, carrots, and more as Becca harvests this winter. We have some apples, potatoes, and black beans there as well. With the winter roads and snow around the market, this is another way for you to access fresh produce from the hoophouse plus do your other shopping in downtown Three Rivers. We’re also happy to reserve items for you and put your name on them in the fridge, just give us a call at 269 244 5690.

Mixed lettuces for a beautiful winter salad.

Mixed lettuces for a beautiful winter salad.

Brandy, Wine and Hard Ciders: For those people who are difficult to buy gifts for, this might be a nice idea. Or, if you are interested in a tasting/tour to get the family out of the house, please call us to set up an appointment: 269-244-5690.

Bakery Pies: The bakery is closed for the year as well–but we still have frozen apple pies for sale (with instructions on how to bake it yourself). It is our Northern Spy apple pie and would be perfect at your holiday table.  The bakery staff has been busier than Santa’s elves lately, today is their last day and pie making will be  done for the year, they have finished about 500 pies.  Thank you bakery staff!

Our bakery staff has been at it all week--look at the love and care that goes into our pies!

Our bakery staff has been at it all week–look at the love and care that goes into our pies!

Happenings on the farm: We are continuing the pruning of the concord grapes and expect to finish by the end of December, right on time, thanks trimming crew!  Then we’re not sure what to do as our white grapes need it to be much colder than this before we start, so okay, where is winter?  Our trees and vineyards are ready for their long winter’s nap.

Beth and Denim checking on the grape trimming progress, look at the pile of vines on the ground!

Beth and Denim checking on the grape trimming progress, look at the pile of vines on the ground!

Freshly trimmed apple orchard waiting for the real winter to come....who missed this apple??

Freshly trimmed apple orchard waiting for the real winter to come….who missed this apple??

Winter maintenance has started on all of the equipment and David has a regular parade going of implements coming in and out of the shop.

This lift tractor has been a favorite over the years but needs some serious work

This lift tractor has been a favorite over the years but needs some serious work

Last week, many of us attended the Great Lakes Expo held annually in Grand Rapids.  This is a 4-day  fruit, vegetable and farm marketing/agritourism conference that is one of the largest in the nation.  Our heads are full of new and reinforced learnings about fruit and vegetable growing, greenhouse and hoophouse production, hard cider, sweet cider, farm market and bakery sessions.     We are eager to try out some new things for 2016 that we took away–so stay tuned!

Beth checking out (and tasting!) new apple varieties.

Beth checking out (and tasting!) new apple varieties.

Emma-Grace attended the baking session with her Mom and Grandmother, starting her out at an early age!

Emma-Grace attended the baking session with her Mom and Grandmother, starting her out at an early age!

Merry Christmas and we wish you a joyful and peaceful holiday season!   Thank you for buying local!  Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards

Lettuce, Kale, Spinach – Eat Fresh This Winter!

While we are officially closed for the year, we still have items that you may be interested in and will be happy to meet up with you by appointment (269-244-5690). Some of you may be still feeling the after-effects of Thanksgiving, perhaps finding yourselves in the mood for some fresh produce or needing to find wines, brandies, or a pie to take to an upcoming event. If so, we can help you! Here’s what we have:

Apples: Red Rome, Jonathan, Fuji, Golden Red Delicious:  All size bags are buy one–get one free until they are gone for the year with the exception of Fuji which are normal priced.  Pricing is$24 a bushel, $13 1/2 bushel, $7 peck or $4 for a 1/2 peck. 

Naturally Grown Produce:

It is absolutely delightful to be eating fresh spinach, kale and beautiful lettuce from Becca’s hoophouse this time of year. If you’d like to buy some, please call ahead and let us know what you want (269 244 5690). My favorite salad this time of year is simple: sliced apples, walnuts and blue cheese chunks added to greens with a simple vinaigrette made of mixing olive oil and balsamic vinegar (1/2 and 1/2 portions). I have also found a great recipe for spinach-kale pasta which I have made three times now in the last week and loved by everyone who tried it. It’s comfort food that is actually healthy!!  Note from Becca: I don’t normally like pasta dishes but I love this one…Note from Becca to Beth: feel free to bring me lunch tomorrow. :)

Mixed lettuces for a beautiful winter salad.

Mixed lettuces for a beautiful winter salad.

Spinach growing strong on December 3rd.

Spinach growing strong on December 3rd.

Becca also has a small table/fridge at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers and stocking it with kale, lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, carrots, and more as she harvests this winter. We have some apples, potatoes, and black beans there as well. With the winter roads and snow around the market, this is another way for you to access fresh produce from the hoophouse. We’re also happy to reserve items for you and put your name on them in the fridge, just give us a call at 269 244 5690.

Brandy, Wine and Hard Ciders: For those people who are difficult to buy gifts for, this might be a nice idea. Or, if you are interested in a tasting/tour to get the family out of the house, please call us to set up an appointment: 269-244-5690.

Bakery Pies: The bakery is closed for the year as well–abut we still have frozen apple pies for sale (with instructions on how to bake it yourself). It is our Northern Spy apple pie and would be perfect at your holiday table.

Happenings on the farm: We finally have finished pruning the apples and are focusing on pruning the concord grapes. So if you drive by you may see us working or on some of these warm days (which are not normal in December) if you have your  window open you will hear “snip, snip, snip”  as we cut away the old and leave what we hope are the perfect vines for a great 2016 crop!

 

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards