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Know your food, know your farming team!

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Know your food, know your farming team!
This Week's Vegetable Harvest*:
  • Cipollini Onions
  • Gem Head Lettuces
  • Young Beet Greens
  • Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
  • New Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Tomato 'Taster' Sample
  • Sweet Corn - grown by Mick Klug Farms, St. Joseph, MI - not organic but local and delicious!

This Week's Fruit Harvest (from Mick Klug Farms, St. Joseph, MI)
  • 'Flamin' Fury' Peaches
  • Blackberries
  • Apricots
What's New at the Farm Stand
Peach and Apricot Season - There may be nothing sweeter than Michigan-grown stone fruit season. Take advantage of a great harvest and stock up while there are here! The Farm Stand is open daily, 7am-7pm. 
Farm Journal
Good evening from the farm!
Thank you for your reactions to our recent newsletter sharing the faces of the people that grow your food. Per members' requests, we are delving deeper into their stories this month.

To kick off this series, we'll share more about how we found our employees and focus on two of them, the father and son team of Anacleto and Cleto. 
Anacleto and Cleto are from Jalisco, just a few hours west of Puerto Vallarta. With a rich farming background, Cleto began working on his family's farm in the mountains starting at age 4.

Cleto's first season with us was in 2022, and his dedication to our farm inspired us to invite a family member to join the team. Cleto suggested his father, Anacleto, because of their many years of farming together, and their existing friendship with the rest of our team. The fit worked well for all of our families.
On their family farm in Mexico, they raise corn and livestock to feed their family and community. While Anacleto and Cleto are growing food with us in the Midwest, Anacleto's brother keeps an eye on things in Mexico. Cleto's niece and nephew step up to help the family with the daily animal chores and have fun outside, too! When Anacleto and Cleto return to Mexico in the fall, they will continue to farm through the temperate winter weather. Fun fact: they are able to harvest two corn crops each year! 
We have received the question of why we decided to hire our team through the visa program, perhaps in response to recent articles about our national food system.

In our experience, we've found it to be extremely difficult to find a reliable crew that can work with us seasonally from April to November in a full-time role. Growing organic vegetables is extremely labor intensive and requires the 7am-5pm, Monday through Saturday, April through November schedule that we keep. We spoke about labor challenges being faced across the farming industry in this newsletter article, and you can find numerous articles written about the challenges with a quick Google search. In late 2021, we applied to take part in the H2A agriculture worker visa program.  After an extensive application, inspection, and review process, we were approved.
We often get questions about the program and suffice it to say, it's very complicated to ensure that workers are treated fairly and equitably. We are required to provide transportation to and from the border of Mexico, transportation while in the US, housing, and a living wage for our workers. We are inspected and provide reporting to ensure that our workers are treated fairly and well. 
We believe strongly in the values of fairness, equity, and generosity, so we sought to go above and beyond in welcoming and accommodating our team wherever we could. As Jeff often states, "They left their families to help us, so it's the least we can do!" Our crew becomes family, as we spend more time with them than we can with our own families in the growing season! We often invite our farm team to family events, help them with any language challenges, assist the American banking or medical system, we visit with each other on the weekends, and we send back gifts with them for their family in Mexico.
We love to learn from each other, indulge passions, test new ideas and together, find ways of working that make farming easier and more enjoyable for us all. For instance, with Cleto and Anacleto's experience raising animals and crops, we've learned different techniques to grow popcorn, cucumbers and zucchini. We will work with their knowledge of animal husbandry to better create structures to serve as a part of our regenerative farming approach in the future. Mexico has such a deep agricultural tradition and connection to food that we find it wonderful to have the opportunity to learn about their traditions!
We all share a passion for land stewardship, growing food for others, and providing for our families. We could think of no better way of farming than to farm with others who care so deeply about the same things we do. 

Thank you for caring about the people who grow your food. We will share more stories in the weeks to come. In the meantime, enjoy the summer harvest!

~ The Miller Family, Cleto, Anacleto, David, Riley, and Miguel

Note: All photos from Mexico provided by Cleto.
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
This is also our first harvest of new red potatoes. Typical potato harvest involves mowing off the potato leaves with a tractor and then waiting a few weeks for the skins to cure before harvesting the potatoes.  We've found our rich, moisture-holding soils are not as ideal for curing potato crops, but they are perfect for growing rich, delicious new potatoes. This week's new red potatoes (the variety is called Norland Reds) haven't had any curing time. They have an excellent flavor and because their skins are very delicate, we leave them unwashed until cooking.  I hold them underwater, gently brushing the soil away with my fingers to clean them. Store these potatoes in a brown paper bag in a cool, dry place and use them within two weeks.
Gem Lettuces make a return this week and we love these sweet, tiny romaine heads. We're finding new uses for them including they are a nice replacement for endive leaves. Simply cut up your head, wash the individual leaves, and dress as you would an endive leaf. They are much sweeter in flavor, so you could also try experimenting with grilling, wedge salads or mini lettuce wraps.
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen

Sautéed Beet Greens

Green Bean Salad with Toasted Almonds & Feta

Free-form Blackberry Apricot Tart

Elotes (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)

Little Gem Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

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