Michigan Corn Crop Doing Well…..

13 08 2008

..other crops, not so much.

But several freezes during the spring killed off many blossoming tart cherries, apples and grapes.

Production of those fruits this year is expected to be way down.

Corn, however, has had a perfect year and with massive flooding in the corn belt wiping out most of the crop in Iowa and parts of Illinois and Indiana, it should be a good year for anyone who still has something to bring to the elevators. 

…..farmers in the state can expect a record-setting yield of 148 bushels per acre in 2008.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also says corn production in the state should surpass 307 million bushels this year, shattering a 26-year-old record.

Oh yeah, a sugar beet growers are also likely to see record yields.



Mid-Michigan Farmers Stuggling After The Storms Too

12 06 2008

Last night, I posted a story from Bloomberg about the recent storms’ effect on this years crops.  Tonight, WLAJ, talked to a farmer in Ingham County about the issue and it’s one that isn’t only affecting Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

“We’ll readjust- we usually can handle these sitautions this came so fast,” said Haynes.

Haynes lost five percent of his corn yield which averages out to about a &50,000 loss- a cost which will ultimately be passed on to consumers. Read the rest of this entry »

Ann Arbor to allow chickens in backyards

3 06 2008

How bad do you want fresh eggs?  In Ann Arbor, you’ll be able to actually keep chickens in your backyard.  No roosters.  Just hens.  I know most of you city folk are scratching your head right now wondering how you can get eggs without roosters.  Unlike mammals, eggs are fertilized AFTER the hen lays them, so no rooster is necessary to actually lay the eggs.  Rooster’s are not necessary to produce the egg.  They are necessary to produce a fertilized egg.  The eggs you buy at the store are usually unfertilized eggs.  The only place you would ever get fertizlized eggs would be a farm.

I don’t know if this is a good idea or not.  The ordinance will not allow the slaughter of the chicken and there’s no way for your chickens to reproduce so it would be a challenge to actually save money by raising chickens.  Most likely, you’re going to end up losing money.

Still, there are those in Ann Arbor who are excited

“I’d like my children to understand where food comes from. This is Ann Arbor, we’re different and we like it. We have dairies that deliver and community gardens. I’d would love to have this local food connection,” said Jennifer Hall.

Other comments during the public hearing that preceded the vote focused on the value of locally grown food and compatibility of backyard chickens with broader ideas about environmental sustainability.

Take your kids to a farm then.  I just can’t see why anyone would want to raise chickens in an urban environment.  Yes, the fresh eggs would be nice, but you’ll never be able to afford enough chickens to meet your demand.

Michigan Recipes

2 05 2008

Accidently came across this site today on the Department of Agriculture homepage.  There’s a whole bunch of recipes for Michigan grown ingredients.  I found a handful that I can’t wait to try.

MDA Recipes

The Rising Cost of Food

22 04 2008

We’ve all heard the stories in the news about how gas prices are driving up the cost of food.

“Our distributors have to ship all the products to our food and distribution centers, so they tack on surcharges,” (Jeff) Rinke (of Hungry Howei’s Pizza)  said. “We, in turn, have to pass those costs along and down the line to our franchisees, and then ultimately to our customers.”

He said the Madison Heights-based chain has cut back on discounts it typically offers through coupons and promotions. Franchisees have raised the typical customer delivery charge from about $2 to about $3 so they can reimburse drivers for their fuel costs.

And it’s no better at the grocery store.

The latest data show cereal prices rising by more than 8% a year. Both flour and rice are up more than 13%. Milk, cheese, bananas and even peanut butter: They’re all up by more than 10%. Eggs have rocketed up 30% in a year. Ground beef prices are up 4.8% and chicken by 5.4%.

So I found it interesting last night when I saw a farmer on WLAJ defending himself.

One area that most families notice right away is the cost of millk. We went to a local mid-michigan dairy farm, where they want consumers to know, don’t blame the dairy famers because they are not reaping the benefit of the rising prices

“It upsets me because this is a 24 hour 7 day a week job, business, lifestyle,” says Nathan Brearly of Brearley Farms in Lake Odessa.  “I want to produce the best quality product for the consumer at the most reasonable price.” 

You can’t blame the farmers.  They’re doing everything they can to feed their families.  The myth of Ethanol is taking valuable corn away from farmers that should be used for feed and not a fuel that costs more to produce than gasoline and gets worse gas mileage.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing we as consumers can do.  We need to eat. 

Community Supported Agriculture

18 04 2008

When I was living in Peoria, I saw an interesting story on Community Shared Agriculture or CSA’s on the local news.

With the price of gas pushing up the cost of food all over the country and the recent contamination scares with produce grown both in the U.S. and abroad- many are turning to locally grown organic produce to insure food safety and lower prices.

We visited a farm in Congerville.

It’s called Henry’s Farm and it works like a corporation that sells its stock to its customers.

It’s a way to get locally grown organic produce and truly have a stake in what you’re feeding your family.

“We do tell them that you’re going to share like you would in a company- with certain risks and rewards and you’re part of our operation,” said Terra Brockman, Henry’s sister.

Like the article suggests, CSA’s are a way to get farm fresh produce and support local farmers.  Every farm does it differently, but the idea is the same.  The farm sells a share then every week, the “shareholders” get fresh produce that was grown on the site.  The downfall is you don’t get to choose what you get.  Whatever the farmer feels is ripe and ready to be picked is what you get.  Everyone in the group gets the same thing.  The food that is harvested that week is divided evenly among the shareholders.  Usually, you can get 13-16 weeks of food during the harvest season for right around or under $500.  Most CSA’s have pick-up points in town or at the farm itself.  Some CSA’s will require that it’s members work on the farm, but most don’t.  Something to check into before signing up.

There are risks involved.  When you buy into a CSA’s, you’re buying into all the costs associated with the farm.  The farmer determines what his costs to farm are going to be and what his salary for farming will be.  The shareholders pay that cost no matter what.

Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

So, where can you find a CSA in Mid-Michigan? 

  • Our Farm and Dairy – 4633 Essex Center Rd., St. Johns MI 48879, (989)-224-7353
  • Wildflower Organic Farm – 14650 Center Rd., Bath, MI 48808, (517) 641-4761
  • Owosso Organics – 3378 Mason Rd., Owosso, MI 48867, (989) 725-3151
  • The Giving Tree Farm – 15433 Turner Road, Lansing, MI 48906 (517) 482-8885
  • Titus Farms – 3765 N. Meridian Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 (517) 589-5543
  • MSU Organic Farm – MSU Horticulture Teaching and Research Facility 3291 College Rd. Holt, MI 48825 (517) 230-7987
  • Our Asparagus Patch and Gardens – 12650 Sutfin Road, Horton, MI 49246 (517) 529-9054
  • Tantre Farm – 2510 Hayes Road, Chelsea, MI 48118 (734) 475-4323

If you want to look for a CSA in your area, check out Local Harvest