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

Monthly Archive: May 2016

Wishing You a Good Memorial Day Weekend

This holiday weekend, along with all of you, we’d like to extend our appreciation to our veterans and active service members for all that they have given and sacrificed. We’d like to treat any veteran or active service member who comes to the market over the weekend and on Memorial Day to a free cake donut. (Yes we will be open our normal hours of 8 until 6 on Memorial Day.)

The most frequently asked question has turned to “when will strawberries be ready?” If this heat continues, we might have some already picked strawberries available on the market this next weekend (June 4/5). Our best guess is that U-PIck strawberries would be ready the week of June 13th.   But….it could move up or back depending on the weather.  e will keep you updated.

Look what I found when walking the berry field today!

Look what I found when walking the berry field today!

Asparagus:

  • Asparagus pricing is the same as last year: $2.25 a pound, 10# or more in bulk, goes to $2.00 a pound. Our purple asparagus is the same price, so make sure to try it.
  • With the heat, we have plenty of asparagus….this is the time to stock up for canning or freezing. It is beautiful right now and because it has not rained, it is easier to clean. Please call ahead if you can and want more than 20 pounds and we can get it ready for you. 269-244-5690

Rhubarb is ready!  Available now for $2.50 a pound. If you need large quantities, please order ahead.

Greenhouse cucumbers are coming in almost daily now. Sorry, but greenhouse tomatoes are coming on very slowly. We will be picking only two or three days a week. Need to give us a few more weeks until we have them regularly on the market. (We hope!)

We picked a bushel of cucumbers today, yeah!

We picked a bushel of cucumbers today, yeah!

Bedding Plants:  All of our plants are now in, including the vine crops:  watermelon, squash, cantaloupe and cucumbers!

we have "sugarcube" cantaloupe plants--sweet mini "personal" size melons

we have “sugarcube” cantaloupe plants–sweet mini “personal” size melons

  • Vegetable Plants: broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi. We have a great selection of pepper plants (bell, mini, and hot peppers), eggplant, summer squash, winter squash, cucumbers.
  • Tomato Plants: Our tomato plants are ready! We have many varieties to choose from, including normal size, mini tomatoes, and heirloom. Our tomato plants are some of the best you will find, grown with high quality seeds in a good greenhouse environment.
  • Annual Flowers: asters, cosmos, gomphrena, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, morning glories, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, petunias, salvia, snapdragons, verbena, vinca, and zinnias. There are different colors and heights to choose from.
  • Herbs (sold individually): basil, dill, lemon balm, many mints, oregano, thyme, sweet marjoram, parsley and many more.
  • Potted plants including hanging flowers, herb arrangements, and large pepper and tomato pots for your patio, both regular and mini tomatoes.
Check out the special zinnias, asters and cosmos plants we have--your neighbors won't have these!

Check out the special zinnias, asters and cosmos plants we have–your neighbors won’t have these!

Becca’s Produce: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and carrots. We also have a limited amount of leeks (please call ahead and order them). As always, Becca’s produce is naturally grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. We have really enjoyed having fresh spinach all winter, and it has been just beautiful. While we thought the spinach would go with this heat–we are still able to pick it, so enjoy it while it is here.

Bakery Update: We have been busy baking up many items for this holiday weekend, our usual items plus a number of new things we are trying.  (See these in bold print below.) The bakery staff is eager for you to try them out and give us your feedback.  If you would like us to save something for you feel free to call us at 269-244-5690 and we will gladly set it back for you!

Bakery offerings for the weekend will be:

  • Cookies: Cut Out Sugar, Monster (chocolate chips, M&M’s peanut butter and oatmeal), Iced Lemon, Triple Berry, Peanut Butter, Ginger Molasses, and Oatmeal Raisin
  • Pies: Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb and Rhubarb. We will also have Chocolate, Choco-butter, and Peanut Butter cream pies available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Bread: Whole Wheat, Cinnamon, Italian, Whole Grain, Vegetable and Tuscan, as well as Hamburger Buns, Hot Dog Buns, and Focaccia Bread . We are partnering with La Brea bakery on the following new breads: Semolina Cheese, Rosemary Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic Loaf, and Toasted Sunflower Honey.
  • Cinnamon Rolls and Pecan Sticky Buns
  • Assorted Dessert Bars
  • Mini Cupcakes
  • Muffins: Double Dutch Chocolate, Strawberry, Pistachio, Wild berry, Lemon Poppy Seed, Raisin Bran, and a new Banana Nut
  • Donuts: We will have our Blueberry, Buttermilk, and Cherry cake donuts available Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for Memorial Day. We will also have our chocolate iced yeast donut rings as well as two new yeast donuts: Bavarian Cream filled Long Johns and Raspberry filled Bismarks.

Brandy and hard cider: We have our usual line of brandies made exclusively from estate-grown produce, including our ever-popular apple brandy.

This weekend we will have Corey Lake Orchards Sweet Cider and Corey Lake Orchards Dry Cider for sale. We also have Double Cherry Wine, as well as our Tart Cherry Hard Cider. We have a new sweet Strawberry Hard Cider made with Corey Lake Orchards strawberries! We also have Hopped Hard Cider, which many of you tried and enjoyed when we debuted it last year. If you’d like to try before you buy, we’ll have free tasting and tours in the brandy house from 1 to 3 on Saturday. 

This week the Corey Lake Orchards team gathered after hours in the brandy room for an educational session put on by our head brandy maker, Bruce. Bruce gave the history of the distillery, showed us how the equipment produced the products, and then poured samples of each product so everyone could better understand how they smelled, how they tasted and which ones tickled our tongue. Becca explained the wines and hard ciders she is making, and gave us a preview of additional ones that will be coming yet this year. Healthy snacks, using produce from the farm, rounded out a very pleasant evening for all of us. We all left better prepared to help our customers make a selection.

IF you are able, we highly recommend you try one of our Saturday tasting/tour sessions as the best way to determine which product you would enjoy.  Customers have such a good time and bring others back to enjoy this experience. If you would like to bring a group and can’t make the Saturday timeslot, leave a message at the market for Bruce and he’ll work to try to fit you into a different time.

The CLO staff in their tasting, learning session Tuesday night.

The CLO staff in their tasting, learning session Tuesday night.

Some serious note taking went on between sips.

Some serious note taking went on between sips.

Local Products:  We try to offer as many local and Michigan made products as we can.  Our market is beginning to fill out with some of these:

  • Meat from Mill Lake Farms,  http://www.coreylakeorchards.com/other-products/mill-lake-farm-meats/.
  • Yogurt from Mattawan Creamery
  • Unique cards made by 3 area artists
  • “flatware” flowers and lady bugs made by our neighbor
  • Honey and maple syrup
  • Ruth’s pecan and cashew brittle
  • Ladd’s Jalapeno mustard (made with peppers grown here)
  • Artisan Cheese from Remy Pecot, (Benton Harbor)
  • Michigan shaped chairs with matching Upper Peninsula tables (Kalamazoo)
  • Eggs  (Kalamazoo)
  • Detroit Coffee Company coffee (Detroit)
  • Dried blueberries and cherries (Traverse City)
  • 4 flavors of Great Lakes Chips (Traverse City)
  • 5 varieties of Michaelene’s granola (Clarkston)
  • Boxed (totally recyclable) water (Grand Rapids)
  • and more coming!

So while we try to stay Michigan based, the other way that some items make it to our market is if they pass the “Beth likes it” test.  So you will find some of her favorite cookbooks, a fruit/veggie coloring book, garden signs and tools, spoons and Mad Mats….these are the colorful mats that Beth has used in and around the market for several years.

  • Why are folks so mad about Mad Mats? First, they are just fun coming in a variety of designs and colors that are perfect for indoor and outdoor living.  Second, they are good for the planet and its people as they are made out of 100% recycled plastic and produced using fair labor standards.  Mad Mats are pet friendly as well and just require a hose down for cleaning!
  • The market now has over twenty–4 by 6 foot mats in stock and no two are the same.  While the 4 X 6 size is the most popular, there are other sizes available by special order by contacting Peggy at the market.  She has sold Mad Mats for over 7 years at the former Love Your Mother store in Three Rivers and now has brought them to our market.
Michigan Chairs and Mad Mats

Michigan Chairs and Mad Mats

Happenings on the Farm this week: 

As we are getting used tom  the weather swung to the opposite extreme from last week. It feels like we missed spring and went right to summer!  We were in “high” planting gear as we needed to get everything in quickly having lost precious time due to earlier cold and rains. Around 1800 tomato plants went in the ground, along with more sweet corn, green bean and October bean plantings, cucumbers, squash, followed by melons. Everyone worked some incredibly long hours as the weather person tricked us into thinking that our day of planting would be rewarded by a nice rain….didn’t happen. So, between planting everything we had to continue to irrigate everything–more work!

The heat made the asparagus grow so fast (can grow up to an inch an hour in these high temperatures) that our daily pickings took longer to keep up with the tall asparagus.

Tall purple asparagus

Tall purple asparagus

Michaela apparently decided she had enough of the heat and decided this was a good time to work on re-arranging items in the bakery freezer!

Hat, gloves and coat, really??

Hat, gloves and coat, really??

Staff worked hard in the garden areas around the market. Teri worked on planting the U-PIck herb garden (some are ready for picking now). Nichol and Teresa helped with sunflower, gladiolus and annual flower plantings in the terrace garden. Cathy planted the stone bed garden and did her great work on the old potato planter. So much TLC goes into these areas around the market, we hope you enjoy them.

Cathy putting the finishing touches on the stone garden

Cathy putting the finishing touches on the stone garden

We have started getting the various yard games out for your enjoyment. This year the little house with the dump trucks and tractor toys is filled with soybeans instead of corn. (Thanks to David Hubbard for the soybeans.) We had just finished filling it when two small visitors clamored eagerly in to play and test it out for us.

The soybeans are a hit!

The soybeans are a hit!

A good share of the CLO crew worked some incredibly long days that turned into night this week, with the heat adding further fatigue.  We are blessed to have the great employees who work here.

Beth and everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local.  Hope to see you at the farm this weekend.

 

Shifting Gears: from Neutral to Planting

We feel like we’ve been in neutral gear for most of May, kind of stuck and unable to do normal spring planting activities. We are loving the sunshine and warmth and especially being able to shift back into planting gear. With this weather change, the most frequently asked question now is: When will you have greenhouse tomatoes? So for those folks clamoring to get some of our very first greenhouse tomatoes, we are happy to report, they are starting to turn red and we will start bringing a few in as they are ready.  It will take several weeks before we are going to have any sufficient quantities….so continued patience is required! For the past several weeks the question had been: Can we plant tomatoes yet?? We have not yet but are hopeful to get them in yet this week, and you probably can too!

Yes!!  tomatoes in our greenhouse turning red!!

Yes!! tomatoes in our greenhouse turning red!!

We are bringing in fresh cucumbers now from the greenhouse, yum!

Asparagus:

  • Asparagus pricing is the same as last year: $2.25 a pound, 10# or more in bulk, goes to $2.00 a pound. Our purple asparagus is $2.50 pound.
  • If the warm weather remains, we should have good quantities available all the time now, however, still best to call ahead for large orders.  269-244-5690.
  • Be aware that if you are getting the asparagus right after a rain (which seems to be a frequent thing lately) it will require a little extra washing to remove the dirt that splashes up on it when it rains. We recommend rinsing several times in warm water.
  • We grow 3 kinds of asparagus. This is why it might look different in the bags or what you get from week to week. Our clerks can help show you the difference if you are trying to get thin or thick spears.
  • We have some great recipes available at the market, I tried one that I absolutely loved, “Asparagus Spears”, which came from Sandy Wiseman who works here, you can pick up a copy when here or….go to the bottom of this email.

Rhubarb is ready!  Available now for $2.50 a pound.  If you need large quantities, please order ahead.

Bedding Plants: We have a nice selection of most bedding plants now and will be bringing them in through the month of May.

  • Vegetable Plants: broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi.   We have a great selection of pepper plants,  (bell, mini, and hot peppers), eggplant, and summer squash.
  • Tomato Plants: Our tomato plants are ready! We have many varieties to choose from, including normal size, mini tomatoes, and heirloom. Our tomato plants are some of the best you will find, grown with high quality seeds in a good greenhouse environment.
  • Annual Flowers: asters, cosmos, gomphrena, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, morning glories, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, petunias, salvia, snapdragons, verbena, vinca, and zinnias. There are different colors and heights to choose from.
  • Herbs (sold individually): basil, dill, lemon balm, many mints, oregano, thyme, sweet marjoram, parsley and many more.
  • Potted plants including hanging flowers, lettuce bowls, herb arrangements, and large pepper and tomato pots for your patio, both regular and mini tomatoes.

The last group of plants to come out of the greenhouse will be the vine crops:  cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe.  These will be coming the week of May 23rd.

Specialty pots: 

  • Specialty pots made by our own Cathy and Teri, lovely arrangements of flowers and herbs in unique pots and baskets.
  • Lettuce bowls. they’re planted with cold-tolerant greens that can be put outside now, and the lettuce can be picked and it grows back!
  • Patio plants: large tomato plants, large sweet bell pepper plants and basil plants

Becca’s Produce: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and carrots. We also have a limited amount of leeks (please call ahead and order them). As always, Becca’s produce is naturally grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. We have really enjoyed having fresh spinach all winter, and it has been just beautiful.  Sadly, spinach which is a cold loving crop is finishing and we will not have it after this weekend.

The size of the spinach was amazing

The size of the spinach was amazing

Bakery Update: Our bakery has opened for the season. During some of the slow weeks in May, we don’t stock everything until Friday, so forgive us if we are out of something you wanted, or call ahead to see if we have it. 269-244-5690.

Bakery offerings for the weekend will be:

  • Cookies: Monster (chocolate chips, M&M’s peanut butter and oatmeal), Iced Lemon, Triple Berry, Peanut Butter, and Ginger Molasses
  • Pies: Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb and Rhubarb. We will also have peanut butter cream pies available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Bread: Whole Wheat, Cinnamon, Italian, Multi-Grain, Vegetable and Tuscan, as well as Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns
  • Cinnamon Rolls and Pecan Sticky Buns
  • Assorted Dessert Bars
  • Muffins: Double Dutch Chocolate, Strawberry, Pistachio, Wild berry and Raisin Bran
  • Donuts: We will have our Blueberry, Buttermilk, and Cherry cake donuts available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will also have our chocolate iced yeast donut rings!

Brandy and hard cider: We have our usual line of brandies made exclusively from estate-grown produce, including our ever-popular apple brandy.

This weekend we will have Corey Lake Orchards Sweet Cider and Corey Lake Orchards Dry Cider for sale. We also have Double Cherry Wine, as well as our Tart Cherry Hard Cider. We have a new sweet Strawberry Hard Cider made with Corey Lake Orchards strawberries! We also have Hopped Hard Cider, which many of you tried and enjoyed when we debuted it last year. If you’d like to try before you buy, we’ll have free tasting and tours in the brandy house from 1 to 3 on Saturday. 

Our meat is here! We are partnering with Mill Lake Farms, a local farm in Cassopolis who will be bringing in a variety of beef and pork cuts–all done naturally. This means hormone and antibiotic free, no use of pesticides or chemicals on their farm, open pastures, grass-fed, non-GMO grains and hay. They believe these practices result in the meat being the very best quality available, without sacrificing flavor or tenderness.  They are looking forward to having you try their meats and welcome your feedback. Please read more about them here: http://www.coreylakeorchards.com/other-products/mill-lake-farm-meats/.

Happenings on the Farm this week: 

We worried through the weekend with the ridiculously low temperatures, cold rain and sometimes even sleet about all of our crops. We tucked every plant possible into our cold storage, which thankfully has room this time of year.  We hooked up special irrigation to irrigate the strawberries. We are grateful that very little was damaged.

Thrilled to see peaches on the trees!

Thrilled to see peaches on the trees!

A cold storage full of plants held hostage by the weather!

A cold storage full of plants held hostage by the weather!

Getting into planting gear today was very productive, we planted our second planting of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, followed by 1700 pepper plants!  Many of you have been wondering what the black plastic in the field on the west side of AL Jones Road was…it is the plastic mulch we use annually on most plants for weed control and irrigation.

Love seeing these rows of black plastic mulch finally filling in.

Love seeing these rows of black plastic mulch finally filling in.

Becca’s also been getting things in down at the schoolhouse and in the hoophouse. Now counting a LOT of little cherry tomatoes. Still green for now but we’re hoping they’ll be ripe enough to start harvesting within the next three weeks.

Baby sungold tomatoes!

Baby sungold tomato sighting!

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local.  Hope to see you at the farm soon!

And if you get a chance, please consider attending the Earth & Sky Celebration at Dr. T.K. Lawless Park this weekend! The weather is supposed to be beautiful and it’s a great time. Fun for the whole family, with local vendors, hands on childrens activities, a book exchange, live music, storytellers, and more! More information available here: http://www.earthdaypark.webs.com/

Asparagus Recipe from Sandy Wiseman 

Asparagus Spears

Wisk 2 egg whites, Add 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and wisk again

Combine ¼ cup panko bread crumbs, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper into bread crumb mixture

Dip trimmed asparagus spears into egg white mixture then into bread crumb mixture

Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes

 

 

 

Sun, Clouds, Rain, Repeat…

It was so great so see so many of you out at the farm this past weekend! It seemed like everyone was ready for something fresh and green, and of course a pie or donut after a winter without them. Here’s what we have at the farm now:

Asparagus:

  • Asparagus pricing is the same as last year: $2.25 a pound, 10# or more in bulk, goes to $2.00 a pound. Our purple asparagus is $2.50 pound.
  • Last week we had some asparagus growing problems, but yesterday we finally got our first good harvest off and hopefully those problems are behind us. The inconsistent weather, particularly the cold, causes the asparagus to not grow smoothly as it comes through the ground, so the initial pickings didn’t look like we want them to. You will see a marked improvement now in asparagus quality,
  • We have plenty of asparagus now, but with the cold week forecasted, the quantity we pick will go down again.  So until it stays warm, it is best to call ahead and place an order (and if we’re out, we’ll call you when we have it). 269-244-5690. For those trying to get large quantities to can or freeze, we probably won’t get to filling those orders until it stays warm and have good pickings.
  • Be aware that if you are getting the asparagus right after a rain (which seems to be a frequent thing lately) it will require a little extra washing to remove the dirt that splashes up on it when it rains. We recommend rinsing several times in warm water.
  • We grow 3 kinds of asparagus. This is why it might look different in the bags or what you get from week to week. Our clerks can help show you the difference if you are trying to get thin or thick spears.
  • The Sturgis Journal did a nice article on our asparagus this past week, including a few recipes, you can find it here: http://www.coreylakeorchards.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SturgisJournal_20160510_A12-Asparagus-Corey-Lake-Orchard.pdf

Rhubarb is ready!  Available now for $2.50 a pound.

Bedding plants: We have a nice selection of most bedding plants now and will be bringing them in through the month of May.

  • Vegetable Plants: broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi.  These are cold tolerant plants and can go into your gardens now. We have brought in some of the heat loving plants: peppers (bell, mini, and hot peppers), eggplant, and summer squash. We recommend you not plant these until at least this next cold spell is over.
  • Tomato plants: Our tomato plants are ready! We have many varieties to choose from, including normal size, mini tomatoes, and heirloom. Our tomato plants are some of the best you will find, grown with high quality seeds in a good greenhouse environment.
  • Annual Flowers: asters, cosmos, gomphrena, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, morning glories, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, petunias, salvia, snapdragons, verbena, vinca, and zinnias. There are different colors and heights to choose from. If you pick these up now, we recommend waiting a bit longer to plant them to assure warmer weather.
  • Herbs (sold individually): basil, dill, lemon balm, many mints, oregano, thyme, sweet marjoram, parsley and many more.
  • Potted plants including hanging flowers, lettuce bowls, herb arrangements, and large pepper and tomato pots for your patio, both regular and mini tomatoes.

The last group of plants to come out of the greenhouse will be the vine crops:  cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupe.  We hope to have these on the market by May 20th.

Specialty pots: 

  • Specialty pots made by our own Cathy and Teri, lovely arrangements of flowers and herbs in unique pots and baskets. My favorite is the one that grows mini-eggplant!
  • Lettuce bowls. they’re planted with cold-tolerant greens that can be put outside now, and the lettuce can be picked and it grows back!
  • Patio plants: large tomato plants, large sweet bell pepper plants and basil plants
Emma Grace with the specialty pots we have.

Emma Grace with the specialty pots we have.

Check out our famous "lipstick" and "strawflower" baskets---our most popular.

Check out our famous “lipstick” and “strawflower” baskets—our most popular.

Becca’s Produce: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and carrots. We also have a limited amount of leeks (please call ahead and order them). As always, Becca’s produce is naturally grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.

Greenhouse update: Yes, we are waiting impatiently for the tomatoes to turn red, could someone order some spring sun and heat? The cucumbers are coming along and we should have some this week. These are the same ones that were pictured in last week’s update….almost to full size within a week.

See the baby cucumbers coming at the end of the blossom!

See the baby cucumbers coming at the end of the blossom! 5-4-16

Look how much these cucumbers grew in one week:  5-12-16

Look how much these cucumbers grew in one week: 5-12-16

Bakery Update: Our bakery has opened for the season. During some of the slow weeks in May, we don’t stock everything until Friday, so forgive us if we are out of something you wanted, or call ahead to see if we have it.   269-244-5690.

Bakery offerings for the weekend will be:

  • Cookies: Monster (chocolate chips, M&M’s peanut butter and oatmeal), Iced Lemon, Triple Berry, Peanut Butter, and Ginger Molasses
  • Pies: Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb and Rhubarb. We will also have coconut cream pies available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Bread: Whole Wheat, Cinnamon, Italian, Multi-Grain, Vegetable and Tuscan, as well as Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns
  • Cinnamon Rolls and Pecan Sticky Buns
  • Assorted Dessert Bars
  • Muffins: Double Dutch Chocolate, Strawberry, Pistachio, Wild berry and Raisin Bran
  • Donuts: We will have our Blueberry, Buttermilk, and Cherry cake donuts available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will also have our chocolate iced yeast donut rings!
Emma Grace studying the donut choices (and putting little finger prints on her mother's(Michaela) display case

Emma Grace studying the donut choices (and putting little finger prints on her mother’s (Michaela) display case

Brandy and hard cider: We have our usual line of brandies made exclusively from estate-grown produce, including our ever-popular apple brandy.

This weekend we will have Corey Lake Orchards Sweet Cider and Corey Lake Orchards Dry Cider for sale. We also have Double Cherry Wine, as well as our Tart Cherry Hard Cider. We have a new sweet Strawberry Hard Cider made with Corey Lake Orchards strawberries! We also just bottled Hopped Hard Cider, which many of you tried and enjoyed when we debuted it last year. If you’d like to try before you buy, we’ll have free tasting and tours in the brandy house from 1 to 3 on Saturday. 

Special display of items from the “Love your Mother” store. Peggy, who works for us and also owned the “Love your Mother” store in Three Rivers, will be setting up a display of favorite items: Mad Mats (one of Beth’s favorites!), Recycled Glassware, Love Your Mother stickers and magnets, cards, and journals.

We have a new meat supplier for 2016! Stay tuned, we will have meat by Memorial Day we promise….we have a slight delay due to a freezer issue.

Happenings on the Farm this week: 

We planted 10,000 new strawberry plants this week, whew….what a job. These will be ready for our 2017 season and we will begin this year taking out some of our older fields.

We began training our two-year-old trees in our new U-Pick apple orchard which is coming along nicely, but probably 3 years away yet from real production. It’s a time-consuming task of looking at each tree, deciding which branches should be left to form the tree’s shape as it grows, pruning off the ones not needed, securing the tree to a post to help it grow straight. It will be fun to watch these trees grow up and we can’t wait to share them with you in the future.

See the difference between the left and right side of the tree, the left has been pruned.

See the difference between the left and right side of the tree, the left has been pruned.

We did our weekly amount of worrying about the weather, wondering when the ground would be dry enough for us to continue planting. Then wondering whether anything would even grow if we could plant it given this coming week’s cold forecast. Does anyone besides me wonder why weeds and grass seems to grow with almost any weather conditions??

Pallet after pallet of plants ready to go in the ground when the weather lets us.

Pallet after pallet of plants ready to go in the ground when the weather lets us.

As the fruit orchards finish up blooming, we have a better feel for fruit set and whether the bees were able to pollinate along with other environmental factors like wind and temperatures. We are grateful that Charlotte Hubbard keeps her bees on the farm, positioned in various places where pollination needs are higher. Of course, we are all thrilled when she is able to pull the sweet honey off to sell. Last week, Charlotte came to Norton Elementary school along with myself and some of the Corey Lake Orchards team to read her new book If I Could Sit on A Bee’s Knees to all of the children plus letting them touch honeycombs, wear a bee keepers suit and other fun things to learn about this important insect. Every child was able to take a book home, in our hope of beebookresspreading the word to others of how critical bees are to providing the food that we eat. The children were surprised to learn that since bees can travel up to 3 miles, the bees they see at the school are probably from Charlotte’s hives. Charlotte’s book will be available soon on our market. (To see more on the school bee demonstration and reading, see our Corey Lake Orchards Facebook page.).

Wow, look how many blooms on this tree are forming small pears....

Wow, look how many blooms on this tree  are forming small pears….

Strawberry blossoms and small berries--looking good!

Strawberry blossoms and small berries–looking good!

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local.  Hope to see you at the farm soon!

 

Ready or Not…Here We Come!

You may be more ready than us this year, but we’re working hard to have a good opening day Friday, May 6th. This will be our official opening where we will have most of our spring product offerings in. Donuts will be coming off the fryer first thing in the morning while the crew is out picking asparagus. Local vendors will be stocking their products: Greek-style yogurt from Mattawan Creamery, Ruth’s brittle, locally-made cards, maple syrup, honey and more. Brandy, wine, and hard cider, with new choices for this year, will once again be out on the shelves. All we need now is a warm, sunny weekend and of course, our loyal customers!

Asparagus: Due to the cold weather, we are really struggling to have sufficient quantities of asparagus still. It will take some days of nice warm weather before we have any large harvests. Given how fast it sells out, it is best to call ahead and place an order (and if we’re out, we’ll call you when we have it). 269-244-5690. Asparagus pricing is the same as last year: $2.25 a pound, 10# or more in bulk, goes to $2.00 a pound. Our purple asparagus is $2.50 pound. Be aware that if you are getting the asparagus right after a rain, (which seems to be a frequent thing lately) it will require a little extra washing to remove the dirt that splashes up on it when it rains. We recommend rinsing several times in warm water.

We grow 3 kinds of asparagus,  This is why it might look different in the bags or what you get from week to week.

  1. The thinner spears which we have grown for the past 15 – 20 years (which we don’t even know the name of the variety!)
  2. Our new plantings are producing Jersey Knight–which is traditional green asparagus but the spears are longer and fatter than the old variety we had. Do not worry—even with the larger size–it is tender!   And the size makes it perfect for grilling.
  3. Sweet Purple–this is a dark purple that is sweeter than standard green varieties. The spears are large–but also very tender. When cooked, it does turn green.

Rhubarb is ready!  Available now for $2.50 a pound.

Flower flats ready!

Flower flats ready!

Bedding plants: We have a nice selection of most bedding plants now and will be bringing them in through the month of May.

  • Vegetable Plants: broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, chard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi.  These are cold tolerant plants and can go into your gardens now.
  • Annual Flowers: asters, cosmos, gomphrena, impatients, lobelia, marigolds, morning glories, nasturtium, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, petunias, salvia, snapdragons, verbena, vinca, and zinnias. There are different colors and heights to choose from.  If you pick these up now, we recommend waiting a bit longer to plant them to assure warmer weather.
  • Herbs (sold individually): basil, dill, lemon balm, many mints, oregano, thyme, sweet marjoram, parsley and many more.
  • Potted plants including hanging flowers, lettuce bowls, herb arrangements, and large pepper and tomato pots for your patio, both regular and mini tomatoes.

We will be bringing in heat-loving plants around mid-May. These include tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, and such. It’s still a bit cold at night to have these out of the greenhouse right now.

Becca’s Produce: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and carrots. As always, Becca’s produce is naturally grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.

Greenhouse update: The weather has impacted the greenhouse this year, so greenhouse tomatoes are going to be late….but they are coming….along with greenhouse cucumbers. We hope in a few weeks.

Just need to get them ripe.

Just need to get them ripe.

See the baby cucumbers coming at the end of the blossom!

See the baby cucumbers coming at the end of the blossom!

Bakery Update: Our bakery will open for the season on Friday, May 6th! Feel free to call and order what you would like for Mother’s Day, 269-244-5690.

Bakery offerings for the weekend will be:

  • Cookies: Flower Cut-Out Sugar Cookies, Monster (chocolate chips, M&M’s peanut butter and oatmeal), Iced Lemon, Triple Berry, Peanut Butter, and Ginger Molasses
  • Pies: Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Strawberry Rhubarb and Rhubarb. We will also have chocolate cream pies available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for Mother’s Day.
  • Bread: Whole Wheat, Cinnamon, Italian, Multi-Grain, Vegetable and Tuscan, as well as Hamburger Buns and Hot Dog Buns
  • Cinnamon Rolls and Pecan Sticky Buns
  • Assorted Dessert Bars
  • Muffins: Double Dutch Chocolate, Strawberry, Lemon poppy seed, Pistachio, Wild berry and Raisin Bran
  • Donuts: We will have our Blueberry, Buttermilk, and Cherry cake donuts available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We will also have our chocolate iced yeast donut rings!

Brandy and hard cider: We have our usual line of brandies made exclusively from estate-grown produce, including our ever-popular apple brandy. We also have Double Cherry Wine, as well as our Tart Cherry Hard Cider. Starting Saturday, May 7th, we’ll have a new sweet Strawberry Hard Cider made with Corey Lake Orchards strawberries! We also just bottled Hopped Hard Cider, which many of you tried and enjoyed when we debuted it last year. If you’d like to try before you buy, we’ll have open tasting and tours in the brandy house from 1 to 3 on Saturday.

Mother’s Day Ideas (this year it is May 8th!!–yes this weekend):

  • Pick out one of the specialty pots made by our own Cathy and Teri, lovely arrangements of flowers and herbs in unique pots and baskets.
  • Why not buy Mom a “living” salad? We will have large tomato plants for the patio or to set outside—Pair these with one of our lettuce bowls. They’re planted with cold-tolerant greens that can be put outside now, and the lettuce can be picked and it grows back! Grab a basil plant in one of our colored pots, then add a bottle of your Mom’s favorite salad dressing and you have a healthy gift she can continue to enjoy.
Lettuce bowls have grown nicely

Lettuce bowls have grown nicely this year!

Special display of items from the “Love your Mother” store. Peggy, who works for us and also owned the “Love your Mother” store in Three Rivers, will be setting up a display of favorite items: Mad Mats (one of Beth’s favorites!), Recycled Glassware,  Love Your Mother Stickers and magnets and select cards and journals.

We have a new meat supplier for 2016! Their products will be here around May 13th and we are excited to try them. We will be partnering with Mill Lake Farms, a local farm in Cassopolis who will be bringing in a variety of beef and pork cuts–all done naturally. This means hormone and antibiotic free, no use of pesticides or chemicals on their farm, open pastures, grass-fed, non-GMO grains and hay. They believe these practices result in the meat being the very best quality available, without sacrificing flavor or tenderness.  They are looking forward to having you try their meats and welcome your feedback.  Please read more about them here: http://www.coreylakeorchards.com/other-products/mill-lake-farm-meats/.

Happenings on the Farm this week: This was one of those weeks where we all looked at the thermometer and the rain gage more than we wanted to. This wet, cold spring is really hard for farmers. Bees won’t come out to pollinate, the ground is too wet to plant anything, the strong winds are whipping the plants we do have in the ground…..so we continue to move forward where we can. While the tractor tires sank deep into the ground, we managed to get one more planting of sweet corn in and just today planted a new apple orchard, with great varieties for cider making.

Bee pollinating apple trees

Only a single bee pollinating this apple tree

Getting the trees lined up in the right order

Getting the trees lined up in the right order

Making the first ground cut with the tree planter

Making the first ground cut with the tree planter

David "tamping" the trees into the ground and we're done

David “tamping” the trees into the ground and we’re done

Another note-worthy happening is getting the entire market crew together for a 2016 kick-off meeting.  We are so grateful for the employees who come back year after year—who are the face of Corey Lake Orchards.  A dedicated and experienced team like we have is critical to giving our customers the very best farm experience. The faces of Corey Lake Orchards again this year are: Cathy, Teri, Terri, Peggy, Michaela, Patti, Jan, Nichol, Laura, Nancy, Sandy, Sarah, Gene and Bruce. And….every now and then, you might see the faces of Beth and Becca as we dash across the market!

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards is looking forward to seeing all of our customers back for the year! We thank you for buying local.  For all of the mothers–we wish you a very special and well deserved day!

Grand-daughter Emma Grace came out with me to one of our new apple orchards, trees her size!

Grand-daughter Emma Grace came out with me to one of our new apple orchards, trees her size!