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

Monthly Archive: February 2018

Another Month Gone….Will March Come In Like A Lion?

We remain closed for the winter season,  but are always happy to meet you by appointment (just call us on 269-244-5690) if you need any of the following:

  • Baked goods: frozen take and bake pies
  • Alcohol products: hard ciders, brandy, or wine
  • Other: honey, maple syrup and meat
  • Animal Apples: bring containers
  • Vegetables: certified organic spinach, carrots, kale, lettuce, scallions, garlic available all winter long (grown in our sun-heated hoophouse)

As of now we have organic produce for sale at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. They are open Tuesday through Saturday and our refrigerator is in the back of the store – we tend to re-fill it on Tuesday nights so Wednesday through Saturday are the best days to go for fresh produce.

We are happy to report that the tomato plants have been planted in the greenhouse, which puts us at about 75 days for that first BLT of the year!

Tomato plants growing, trellis strung, Becca’s organic flats seeded

For those of you who would like to read about Beth’s trip to California–read away! And for those who have enough of your own California memories—here’s wishing you all the best from us at Corey Lake Orchards!

Not sure how it is that I have lived this many years and not visited California, the most agriculturally diverse state in the US, ahead of Michigan who is second. Yes, I actually left the farm for twelve days in February and lucky me, all twelve days of the trip were picture perfect, sunny and short sleeve weather.

I attended the annual “Farmers inspired” agritourism convention, held in Los Angeles this year, joining up with 300 farmers with operations like ours for three days of bus tours, followed by two days of workshops. Gracious farm hosts opened up their farms, their kitchens, their maintenance shops, their markets and U-Pick operations….you name it, let us talk to their staff, all in the spirit of sharing and learning. Probably some of the best learnings took place in our lively discussions on the bus rides, where we were together a lot, thanks to Los Angeles traffic. These were my people!

The annual worst traffic congestion survey was released while we were there, with Los Angeles winning again. Of note was San Francisco which came in third, where we were headed next! But if you have to be stuck in traffic, you might as well be on a bus with your peers. There was no “quiet time” as we took on solving the problems of the world, especially those on farms.

It was pretty fun to visit farms, especially someone else’s! Here were some takeaways:

  • One farm was open and picking 360 days of the year (thank goodness for our winter downtime)
  • Another farm attended 30 farmers markets weekly—they really have the packing and unpacking down to a science and I took a copy of their checklist!
  • Citrus was in season and plentiful. I did what customers at our farm do when eating a freshly picked peach, let the juice drip all over me and become speechless when the flavor bursts in my mouth
  • Saw how they use festivals as major draws to their farm—with one farm peaking out at a 2700 car parking limit (no thank you!)
  • Loved seeing their creativity in creating play areas for all ages (my favorite was recycling cardboard by putting it out to sit on and slide down a grassy knoll)

    California grown strawberries eaten fresh are pretty amazing!

  • Mother Nature is always in charge—as lack of rain plagued these farms, how I wish we could send this week’s excess water in Michigan to them
  • Wow—Hollywood knows how to do a farmer’s market which is just blocks away from the star-studded celebrity walk.  Since it was Superbowl Sunday, we loaded up with fresh citrus, strawberries, red raspberries, avocados, snap peas, goat cheese, macadamia nuts, dried tomato basil bread and a small boysenberry pie, creating quite a smorgasbord back at our hotel room. We declared these the best super bowl snacks ever and I loved that the game started at 3:30 so I could stay awake for all of it!

    At one stop the university folks set up citrus educational and sampling displays–loved this idea!

    Super bowl Snacks!

    Where to next?

    Do we need these at our farm?

    Beautiful displays of vegetables at their farm market

    What you do when you can’t go snow sledding..

    Using clippers and cotton gloves were a must for picking oranges on this farm

    We purposely detoured to see a Pacific sunset waiting for LA traffic to clear

    We spent the night at the Paso Robles Inn and admired their chef’s gardens.

After five days of rigid conference scheduling, my husband and I were thankful for our “have no plans” two-day drive north to San Francisco. We had to take some detours as sections of the highways were still closed due to the recent tragic wild fires. One of the best stops, with a reservation made 30 minutes beforehand was at the John Steinbeck house. Eighty years ago this April, John wrote his classic “The Grapes of Wrath” from here. The house has been beautifully restored to a lovely restaurant, all staffed by volunteers who happily provided a tour and riveting stories about the Steinbeck Family. As we drove along the dust-blown roads after lunch passing farm after farm, caravan after caravan of workers harvesting crops, it was easy to see how this California landscape provided fodder for his work.

John Steinbeck House

We arrived at the gorgeous Stanford campus, where son Chad goes to school. He became our tour guide for the next three days, showing us his favorite spots in San Francisco.

Joe, Chad and Beth in front of the Stanford Graduate School of Business

He had made reservations over a month ago at one of the many farm to table restaurants, which capped off our day in the city. One of the dishes we had was “stinging nettle & ricotta ravioli, black trumpets & apple cider ‘saba.’” We have our share of stinging nettle here on the farm which we  consider to be a very nasty weed especially if you touch it. Was I the only person who didn’t know that the sting part goes away when cooked and it tastes like delicious nutty spinach?

Warm scrumptious donuts were shared for dessert

After dinner, we headed to Sonoma Valley, where we rented a farm house on an olive farm. Here the only traffic problems were chickens wandering around and playful new-born lambs running into each other. The mountain views from the farmhouse windows and the quiet was exactly what I wanted for my final few days away from my own farm.

So fun to watch!

Loved finding this upon arrival!

Sonoma Valley was non-stop grape vineyards. I have never seen so many and each with their own winery, tasting room, and unique road sign encouraging you to stop. We stopped at as many as we could fit in, where one of my goals was to see how they designed their tasting rooms and of course indulge in farm to glass!

In wine grape vineyards.

Yes I am sharing!

I returned to the farm to find deep piles of snow along with the piles of winter work waiting for me just as I left them. I remain inspired by what I saw and can’t wait to implement a few new ideas here at the farm in 2018. So stay tuned!