Monthly Archives: May 2015

EarthKeeper Farm

Earthkeeper FarmLast autumn I visited the three-generation homestead of EarthKeeper Farm located ‘on the ridge’ near Grand Rapids. I’d met farmers Rachelle and Andrew Bostwick at the Fulton St. Farmers Market; I’ve been purchasing their produce for a couple of years. We’ve stayed in touch over the winter as I’ve been writing a two-part post about their farm. The second one will be posted late summer.

The farm is certified organic and biodynamic by the Stellar certification body. Andrew and Rachelle explained the process and techniques to me, noting the on-site certification visits. The soils are tested in a lab and custom soil amendments, such as fish emulsion, kelp meal, or bone meal, are made for fertilizer to supplement the local manure and compost they use. And they don’t usually have to spray any organic pesticides. If they do, the occasional use is Neem oil.

For labor, they do work shares, and they host people through WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In this program, they provide basic housing for people who want to work on a farm in exchange. They’ve met lifelong friends this way as evidenced by the photo collage in their barn.

They grow 50 crops (280 varieties) including garlic, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, rutabaga, cabbage, broccoli, melons, onions, garden transplants, flowers and herbs.

As the season begins, they are selling flowers, wheatgrass, pea shoots, buckwheat shoots, baby kale, baby collards, spinach, green garlic, and heirloom vegetable transplants. Soon they will have lettuce, spring turnips, green onions, cooking greens, and bok choy.

“This spring we are delighted to offer 100% heirloom, organic vegetable plants for pre-order,” said Rachelle Bostwick. “There are 34 different varieties to choose from, including tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, kale, and much more. Plants come individually, in 6 packs, or in mixed flats that contain all the veggies you will need for your garden.” Plants are available for pre-order through the farm or at the Fulton Street Farmers Market; they will be ready the last two weeks in May for pick up at the same places. Many of the varieties are from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which is a list of foods specifically valued for their outstanding flavor and meaningful role they play in the food system.

Follow the farm on Facebook or visit them at Fulton St. Farmers Market until Thanksgiving. They are there on Saturdays from 8am to 3pm, and occasionally Fridays during peak season. During winter, they sell at Sweetwater Farmers Market in Muskegon.

Andrew Bostwick, Earthkeeper Farm

Earthkeeper Farm

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Blessing of the Cherry Blossoms 2015

Michigan Cherry BlossomsI just received this news release from WOMP – Wineries on Old Mission Peninsula: On Sunday, May 17th at 12:30pm, Chateau Chantal will host the interdenominational Blessing of the Blossoms service, the origin of the Cherry Festival, with Rev. Polycarp of St. Francis Parish. Complimentary cherry pie, refreshments and musical entertainment will be on hand after the half hour service.

The Blessing Ceremony and refreshments are offered free of charge to the public and do not require a Blossom Day Event ticket. Should guests wish to participate in the special wine tasting at Chateau Chantal and the other seven Old Mission member wineries, they can purchase a wine trail ticket for the May 16th event at www.wineriesofoldmission.com.

In 1910, the residents of the Old Mission Peninsula created the “blessing of the blossoms” ceremony to pray for a good cherry crop. Over the years more orchards were planted and the ceremony grew as cherries became more important to the region’s economy. In 1925, the cherry growers partnered with Traverse City merchants to create the “Blessing of the Blossoms Festival” to promote the region and the cherry business.

For a number of years the Fiedrich Tower (across from what is now Chateau Grand Traverse) was the ceremony site. Mr. Fiedrich built the observation tower, dressed it with garlands, and sought to wed tourism and faith in the Blessing ceremony. The location moved to Center Rd and Old Mission on occasion, and on to Bowers Harbor Park where the temptation to float blossoms on the water proved irresistible.

In 1928, the Blessing of the Blossoms was renamed the Michigan Cherry Festival which shortly evolved into the National Cherry Festival.

Hopes are high for our cherry blossom viewing this year. Buds are just beginning to swell and with the warm weather forecast ahead, we should be seeing blossoms during our celebration. ###

I’ve been to this event in the past. It was great fun to meet the vintners and taste what’s new for the season. The cherry blossoms are beautiful as evidenced by my photos from a few years ago below.

Michigan Cherry Blossoms

Old Mission Peninsula