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Take a Class

Our last class of the season is in one month. Join us!

Dahlia Flower Arranging Class
Thursday, Septembe
r 7, 2017 | 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

September boasts some of the season’s most luscious blooms: dahlias. Bring your favorite bottle of wine and come create a farm fresh dahlia centerpiece at Finding Eminence Farm.

 

Though our farm is normally closed to the public, during this class you’ll get a farm tour and be able to harvest giant, fluffy dahlias as the golden sun soaks over you as it sets.

Audra will then lead you through each step of creating a stunning, abundant centerpiece to take home and enjoy. This is a beginner level course and guests are welcome to bring their favorite adult beverages.

Space is limited. Class will be held through rain or shine.

Photos by Rachael Schirano Photography.

Arm Crunch

Mwelp. It happened.

Lincoln went almost four years without an Emergency Room visit. Almost.

He fell on his arm Friday night, he cried and we consoled him, but also told him to walk it off. After snapping pictures of one of the bridal bouquets from this weekend, I gave him his bath and he couldn’t put his arm into his shirt.

I called the 24 hour pager hotline of our pediatrician (which I’m pretty sure was solely set up for first time parents) and the Dr. said if he were her child, she’d taken him in to be x-rayed. Of course, this is all occurred after Prompt Care was closed. We took him to ER, they told us he was fine, no breaks and sent us home.

Fast forward to today….we receive a call from the ER charge nurse. An Orthopedic Dr. had taken a look at his x-rays, he does indeed have a small fracture. We drive back into town to get an arm sling, which is a hilarious suggestion that a three year old not move his arm.

We’re to call the Orthopedic doctor tomorrow to see what the healing plan is.

Here’s the crazy thing. This kid doesn’t act like he’s in horrible pain. He’s been such a trooper. We thought the first ER visit would be from something farm related, it wasn’t. He was trying to kick a soccer ball with us. Unfortunately, he didn’t come from the most graceful people on the planet.

We are currently overflowing in awesome produce and flowers. We are offering a mini-subscription for four weeks in August where these goodies are delivered right to your doorstep. There’s still time to purchase one which starts this week! Purchase one here.

 

 

Micro Greens at Finding Eminence

One of our most exciting new ventures on the farm this year has been growing micro greens. As we continue to try to identify and establish markets for our micros, we’ve found that quite a bit of education of consumers is needed.   So here’s the deal with micro greens.

 

Micro greens are immature versions of the fully grown plant. Most of our micro greens are harvested within two weeks of being planted. Most are still in what is called the “cotyledon” stage, which means that the plant hasn’t even gotten its first “true leaves.” These little beauties are jam-packed with flavor, and perhaps more importantly, all the nutrition in that seed that was intended to help the plant fully grow. Studies have shown that micro greens are loaded with nutrients, such as vitamins C, E, and K, lutein, and beta-carotene, 40 times that of the mature leaves of the same plants.

At this moment, we are growing a “mild micro mix,” which is a mix of all sorts of vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and others in the brassica family. We also have a “spicy micro mix,” which has lots of mustard greens, arugula, and an assortment of asian greens. Then we do sunflower and pea shoots as well.

Here is what our mild mix looks like after 2-3 days:

Right now, we’re growing all of our micro greens inside under grow lights. We start the seed in 1” deep trays, water them in, and then let them do their thing. Because they are so densely planted, there are a few things we need to really watch. Disease and fungal issues can become a problem when plants are grown so tightly together. We help with this by keeping a fan running all the time to increase air flow on our plants. Watering is also key. We hand water twice a day, and if we forget to do it, we can usually notice a reduction in our yields. With only 10-14 days in the soil, every day really does count.

Here is the difference that a week makes:

For our micro mixes, we just plant them densely, water them in, and keep them dark and moist until they are germinated. The sunflower and pea shoots require a little different setup. We soak these seeds for 8-10 hours, and then sterilize them with white vinegar and food grade hydrogen peroxide to reduce fungal issues. Then we seed the trays and stack them up on top of one another. We put a 5-10 weight on top of the trays, and let them sit like this for a few days. The weight increases seed to soil contact and helps them germinate more evenly. The plants will literally lift the weight up. In fact, one time I left them stacked a day too long and the plants had pushed up so much that they knocked the weight over onto the floor.

On the left is a flat of pea shoots almost ready to harvest.  On the right is a tray that was planted about 3 days prior to the picture being taken:

So how do you add micro greens to your diet? We put the mild and spicy micro mixes on just about everything we eat. Eggs, meat, pasta, salads, and the list keeps going. We add the sunflower and pea shoots to salads, and sometimes use them as a substitute for lettuce on sandwiches and wraps. The sunflower shoots can also be cooked gently and added to stir fries.

We have a lot more experimenting to do with micro greens. There are hundreds of flowers and vegetables that you can grow as micro greens, so we have a lot more playing around to do as we learn more about growing this product. If you’re interested in trying them, you can currently purchase our micro greens at Green Top Grocery in Bloomington, IL.

The Little Church on the Prairie

**Edited 7/4/17** I received an email from the family that helps to maintain this church and property and would like to apologize. I originally called this church abandoned, which wasn’t fair. While services are not held regularly at this church, it still remains a staple of the community and many people have helped to maintain it, including raising the funds needed for a new roof. We very much understand how hard work and determination are key elements in keeping something special. Calling it abandoned on my part undermined the progress of many people. Just because I didn’t see people in the church, doesn’t mean it’s abandoned.**

Tucked in the corn and soybeans is an 150 year old church that sits on the prairie of central Illinois. This church is where Arden and Josh decided to exchange their vows. Sara Gardner Photography joined us and captured what it takes to make something sacred look overgrown and loved. The flower installation for this church is one of the most magical things we have been trusted to do.

Images by Sara Gardner Photography.

Slacking Off

How do you run a small farm and have sanity at the end of the day to be a good family unit?

I’m not really sure, we’re very much running this show with a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” mentality. We don’t have it all figured out, I’m not sure we really want to have it all figured out. And quite frankly as grey hairs keep creeping onto my head I’m pretty sure NO ONE has it all figured out.

But we’re slowly learning how to make this farm work for us instead of us constantly working for this farm.

I can’t stop thinking about this article I read a few weeks ago called “Darwin was a Slacker and You Should be Too”. To save you the time of reading the article heres what it’s about:

  1. Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman showed an almost superhuman ability to focus on their work
  2. This superhuman ability comes from only focusing on something for four to five hours a day and napping, walking, and resting your brain for the rest of the day
  3. Scientists who spent 25 hours a week in the lab were no more productive than scientists who spent five hours in the lab
  4. Scientists who spent 60 hours in the lab were the least productive
  5. This also applies to writers and violinists
  6. People do the best when they follow a pattern of working or practicing the hardest and longest in the morning, taking a nap in the afternoon and then going back at it again for a few hours

What does this have to do with small-scale farming? Because frankly, there are many days where we are in the studio designing for 12+ hours or in the field for 16+ hours weeding, planting, harvesting, turning beds over, etc.

My point is. We take breaks. And it’s become healthiest thing that we can do. We are far more efficient when we aren’t physically and mentally tired. We can wrap our minds around a problem better and aren’t super stabby grump-asses by the end of the day. We’re better to each other and more importantly, we’re better parents to our son.

Our breaks range from stopping during the heat of the day to taking a little family adventure off the farm. We find our best re-grouping time is when we are off the farm.

There have been times this year where it feels like we’re slacking a bit because we’re not frantically trying to make this thing work like in the past two years. We’ve had to check ourselves a few times and realize we have better systems in place that allow us more down time to be us.

The better systems came about because we:

  1. Realized we HAD TO GET a piece of equipment that would help us farm. Doing it by hand was no longer an option.
  2. Kept really good records about varieties that we grew and what crops were the most profitable and what crops we enjoyed growing. Anything that didn’t bring money or joy was axed.
  3. Tracked all of our farm finances in Quickbooks and set financial goals for this year. What do we have to make to pay off the BCS tractor and hit our goals so we can have fun at the end of the year? Having a black and white plan that guides us along the way feels better than assumptions on crops and constantly searching for buyers.

We just keep realizing, there is no need to get bigger if we can do more with less. We trimmed excess fat and have sold pretty much everything we’ve grown with little waste. I can’t say the same for last year. We’ve held on tight to the tribe that puts their own blood, sweat, and tears into our dream too. Because frankly, our people are the only reason this farm even works.

So slack off, friends.

P.S. Did you catch that our lettuce and micro greens are currently for sale at Green Top Grocery and that we are at the Downs Farmers Market each Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.?