Monday, June 28, 2010

Food Independence Day

What will you be eating on Independence Day this year?

I encourage you to join Kitchen Gardens, International and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) Food and Society Fellows in their goal to educate and encourage all 50 governors and 50 first families to celebrate July 4th with locally sourced and sustainable food and ingredients.

Local food systems are smart and have both health and economic benefits. In addition, supporting foods grown on local farms and gardens is certainly patriotic.

For the second year, Kitchen Gardens International is conducting “Food Independence Day” with a petition asking the nation’s 50 governors and thousands of elected officials to help declare their food independence this week by eating a locally sourced meal on Independence Day.

The petition is accessible via and asks elected officials to “Whet our appetites by publishing your planned menu in advance of the holiday. Share your recipes and the names of the local farmers, fisherfolk and food producers whose ingredients you’ll be using.  And, tell us why local food matters to you."

I haven't finalized our menu yet (it's only Monday!), but I am thinking it would be a good day to thaw and grill our last locally grown chicken still in the freezer from last winter to get the freezer empty before finally moving to the farm house along with grilling some garlic scapes with other fresh vegetables like some early zucchini, and of course some kale slaw. There is no local corn on the cob or watermelon yet in Michigan, but we have black raspberries ripening up at our farm that could be used in pie. Can't get more local than that!

Saturday should be a GREAT day to visit your local farmers' market to see what foods you can purchase to declare your own Food Independence Day! Please consider signing the petition (I have) and recommending the petition to your friends, and then let me know what you are planning to eat in your part of the country on Sunday July 4th.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2010 - My Endowment's Funding

Every year beginning back in 2000, I have had the pleasure of reviewing all the nutrition and cancer research that The American Institute of Cancer Research ( has chosen to fund that year in order to choose which research project will receive additional money from my endowment at AICR (which is funded by proceeds from the sale of my book A Dietitians' Cancer Story.)

This year I have chosen to fund a project by a researcher whose work I have been following with great interest for years. Lilian Thompson, PhD, Professor in the Nutritional Sciences Department at The University of Toronto, has been working with the effects of flaxseeds on breast cancer (among other types of studies) for well over a decade and is considered the expert in this important area of work.

Her current project will be done with mice, but it involves the potential effects of flaxseed in women who have HER2 breast cancer while using the anti-cancer drug Herceptin. I have included her abstract which summarizes the study and its potential beneficial outcomes for these women.

"Interactive effect of flaxseed and trastuzumab (Herceptin) in reducing the growth of human breast tumors over expressing HER2"

Breast cancer with high levels of HER2, a growth factor receptor, is associated with high risk of relapse and death because it is aggressive and harder to treat than other breast cancers. Trastuzumab (TRAS; also called herceptin), its primary drug, is expensive and a side effect is cardiac toxicity. Also, tumors develop resistance to TRAS and regrow within a year so there is a need to enhance or prolong the effectiveness of TRAS.

Dietary flaxseed has been shown to reduce tumor growth and HER2 levels in breast cancer patients and in mice and therefore we suggest that flaxseed may complement the effect of TRAS. Our aim is to determine in mice with established human breast tumors that express high levels of HER2 whether dietary flaxseed in combination with TRAS treatment is more effective than TRAS treatment alone in reducing the tumor growth and to determine how flaxseed is able to accomplish it.

Mice with tumors of the same average size will be fed flaxseed diet and given twice weekly TRAS treatment, alone and in combination. The growth of palpable tumors will be monitored weekly and after 8 weeks treatment tumors will be analyzed for many biomarkers of tumor growth and pathways that lead to tumor growth.

If the study shows that flaxseed can reduce the growth of human tumors over expressing HER2 and can enhance the effect of TRAS, it could lead to a simple, inexpensive, complementary treatment of breast cancer that overexpress HER2 and thus help prolong lives.

My endowment at AICR (officially called The Diana Dyer Cancer Survivors' Nutrition Research Endowment) specifically supports research funded by AICR that focuses on nutritional strategies for cancer survivors (i.e. any time after a diagnosis as opposed to primary prevention) in order to optimize their odds for long-term survival. Therefore this project by Dr. Thompson fits perfectly with my mission. In fact, including flaxseeds into a diet is also tasty and therefore has the bonus of increasing quality of life, too, in addition to length of life.

Endowments are long-term commitments, so funding for this type of necessary and important nutritional research for cancer patients will be available for a long, long time to come. In fact, the reason I established an endowment (as opposed to just an annual donation) is because this funding will certainly out-last my book, no matter if I choose to stop publishing it after this most recent reprinting or keep going yet again.

As I have since 1995, I still eat some flaxseeds nearly every single day, either in my morning smoothie or my home-made granola. In addition, I also add them to salads, breads or muffins, bean burgers, and the list just goes on and on, as I am always thinking if flaxseeds could be added to whatever I am making from scratch.

Don't wait for the research to be done for adding some ground flaxseeds to your daily diet for overall good health. They have been an ancient food (in addition to the flax plant being the source of linen), so I hope you will enjoy them in a variety of ways on a regular basis. Everything old is new again. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, June 24, 2010

P is also for Preserving Garlic Scapes

This "P" is much more fun than my posting yesterday about "P is for Patience and Persistence".  :-)

I'll get photos posted up later (riiiiiiight - you've heard that before, at least lately!) but I want to get this information posted so those of you who have purchased garlic scapes in abundance during their short season can preserve them to use year-round.

Special Note: a woman stopped by our table at the Ann Arbor market yesterday to tell everyone within earshot to "Buy now! These will keep in your refrigerator for months!" First of all, I just love it when someone else is marketing our product for us. :-) In fact, come to think of it, I know I have done that myself at other vendors' stalls, too (although perhaps not quite as loudly!). However, I cannot vouch for the scapes staying fresh "for months" as ours have never stayed in the refrigerator (or on the counter - another recommendation from a buyer that I would be reluctant to try) that long in past years. Having said that,, I think I will hold some of our scapes fresh in a loose plastic bag in the veggie bin of my refrigerator this year to test out the length of time they are still usable.

So here is a copy of the information we handed out this week at the farmers' markets for both freezing garlic scapes (easy as can be to do) and also for making pickled garlic scapes. We held enough of our scapes back to make pesto, pickles, and freeze. We'll enjoy taking the time to have a preserving session for ourselves this weekend so we can savor the fruits of our labor over the coming year.  :-)

Freezing Garlic Scapes

Chop raw garlic scapes to any length desired and pop them in a freezer bag, squeezing as much excess air out of the bag as possible. Store in the freezer, no blanching is required if they have been harvested when young and tender, now ready to use to sauté with kale or other greens, put in soups, or stir-fry all winter long.

Pickled Garlic Scapes

 1       pound or more of scapes, whole (trim to length of quart jar if needed)
 3       cups vinegar
 5       cups water
 ¼       cup kosher salt
 1       tbsp curry powder in each quart jar (if desired)

Other herbs to taste: basil & oregano are very good plus chopped cayenne or jalapeno pepper to taste.

Boil the water, vinegar & salt solution. Pack hot jars with whole scapes, then curry powder, and then the brine. Put on lids, place in a hot water canner and boil for 45 minutes.
Leave at least 2 weeks before serving to get best flavor. Makes 3 quarts.

Dick’s Pretty Good Garlic at Dyer Family Organic Farm, Ann Arbor, MI
“Shaping the future one clove at a time” - (coming soon)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row, and clove by clove, too!"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

P is for both patience and persistence

I guess those are my middle names. I won't go into all the gory details, but suffice to say that for the first time since initially publishing my book in 1997, I ran into snafu after snafu with this latest reprinting. and bookstores have been unable to fulfill orders for my book A Dietitian's Cancer Story for months, and even AICR was down to a stock of only 5 books before the 13th printing was finally delivered two days ago and then immediately shipped out to restock everyone on Tuesday morning.

My frustration was so high (like I had nothing else on my mind to get done!) that I seriously considered throwing in the towel and just ending publication with, "Well, the last 13 years were a great ride!". However, the books are here, they are beautiful and perfect, and new material has been added with every word re-read and considered for a potential update (even omission). This may be my last re-printing (I am still undecided about that) but if that is my decision at some point in the future, I'll feel better knowing I can make that call on a "high note" instead of just fading away out of aggravation.

I still hear from people who have read my book at some point in the past (I even received a recent letter from a woman who read an early-early edition that was just stapled together!). I don't think of myself as a famous author or well-known local 'celebrity' (EEK- I certainly am not!), so I have been surprised each time someone came up to our table at the local farmers' markets to introduce themselves as a "fan" who reads my blogs and thus knew to look for us.

Meeting other cancer survivors is always very meaningful to me, so please feel free to introduce yourself to me at the markets. However, I have arrived at the thoughtful and difficult decision to not sell or promote my book that is focused on cancer survivorship at the farmers' markets where we are now vendors. Having the opportunity to educate ALL people about purchasing, cooking, and eating good food has been so much fun and joyful, that I am very happy knowing I can now be part of cancer survivors' journey in a new way plus everyone's journey for both cancer prevention and overall great health by providing my community with a local source of organic foods.

Many thanks to all of you who have purchased my book in the past, whether one copy or multiple copies, and to those of you who will purchase this new printing. All of you already have a special spot in my heart knowing that you will enhance the lives of cancer survivors in the future. (Special note: the books being shipped out now will not indicate they are the 13th printing, as even that tiny additional update would have delayed the printing even more - arghhh!)

In an upcoming post, I will write about the research project that I have chosen to support in 2010 with my endowment at AICR where I donate proceeds from my book.

Cultivation is needs both patience and persistence. I have re-learned that lesson in spades!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, June 21, 2010

Garlic Scapes R Us!

Woo-hoo! We made the Ann Arbor News on-line version of our local newspaper with a very nicely written article about our 18 varieties of garlic scapes that we sold at three local farmers' markets last week, complete with a photograph of garlic scapes on our farm.

See the garlic "curly-q's" in among the garlic leaves? Those are the edible garlic stems or scapes that we cut off to sell.

Photo: Spanish Roja garlic plants and scapes
Photo by Dick Dyer at The Dyer Family Organic Farm, Ann Arbor, MI

This will definitely be our last week at the local farmers' markets selling garlic scapes. In fact, we may not even have enough scapes to sell at the market on Thursday afternoon! We hope we have some scapes to keep for ourselves! We are thrilled with how successful we have been, essentially selling a new food to most people who stopped to see what this was. :-) We'll be back at the markets in August (probably at the end of that month) with 40 varieties of dried garlic bulbs!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today is National Eat Your Vegetables Day

and I didn't even know it until I briefly glanced at the website for! I am too busy farming and selling to lift my head out of the trenches to be up on things like that this year. So NEXT YEAR I'll let you all know that ahead of time. Or better yet, please don't be shy about letting me know what is coming up to know about - haha!

So, tonight my husband and I feel like we have run a 3-day marathon (maybe a shortened Tour de France!) or even hitting the cycle by selling at our 3 local farmers' markets this week (Ypsilanti Downtown, Ann Arbor's Wednesday Market, and the Ann Arbor Westside Market). Whew! We are beat, beat, beat tonight but also exhilarated by the enthusiasm from our local community when learning about garlic scapes and their willingness to try a new food! At each market, we were still selling our scapes way past the official closing time!

Chefs purchased our scapes, as did caterers, bakers, individuals who planned to make Korean pickles, with our last sale today being to an individual who wanted some of each variety (I think we had 18 varieties with us today) who simply wanted to taste each variety in the leisure of his home and then decide which one(s) to buy in bulk if we still have them next week. 

However, the best comments I heard were (1) from a woman who did not even purchase any garlic scapes when she looked at me and said so sincerely, "Thank you for educating me about garlic scapes." (2) Another man told us "Thank you, thank you for telling me about garlic scapes. The farmer over there was not willing to take the time to answer my questions". Those thoughtful comments each brought tears to my eyes, which is what a farmer friend of mine calls "building social capital". (And in all fairness to the "farmer over there", he was probably far more established than we are and thus was likely working as hard as he possibly could to sell his produce to people coming to purchase from him without wanting or needing an "education" about the produce he had available.)

I don't have time or energy tonight to download photos (we just finished supper and it is currently 9:57 PM), but I will work on that as soon as I can.

Here is a copy of the handout we prepared that gives an overview of garlic scapes and the endless  ways to use them (sorry if the formatting is odd due to the "cut and paste" snafus - I don't have the time or energy to correct that tonight):

What are Garlic Scapes and How Should I use Them?

Garlic scapes are the curly tipped, garlickly tasting green “stem or flower-stalk” that grow from
the hardneck garlic varieties. Although the scapes have often been discarded in the US, they are
considered a culinary delicacy in many Asian countries and are increasingly available in the US.
Some Asian markets with well-stocked produce sections will carry fresh garlic scapes in season
(June in the Upper Midwest), but increasingly you may also find them at farmers' markets and
gourmet grocery stores or natural food stores. Frozen garlic scapes (called garlic shoots) are
readily available year-round in the freezer section of most Asian supermarkets (but I'm told are not nearly as tasty as fresh!).

• Taste-wise, garlic scapes are garlicky but with a fresh "green" taste. They can be used in any
dish where one usually uses garlic but would like a garlic flavor with less bite than garlic cloves.

• Garlic scapes work well chopped and added raw to salads, salsas, dips, guacamole, marinades,
pesto, bean dip, salad dressings, mashed potatoes, and a topping for pizza or baked potatoes.

• Scapes are also delightful when cooked into sauces, added to soups, stews, omelettes, frtitatas,
souffles, a stir fry, or mixed into softened butter and used to make toasted garlic bread.

• Cut into 1-inch sections, lightly steam, and you will think you are eating mild garlickly-
flavored green beans.

• Garlic scapes can also be pickled and added to homemade flavored vinegars.

• Toss or brush with olive oil and grill along with some fresh Michigan asparagus (they are in
season together).

• A simple, beautiful, and delicious garlic scape spread or dip can be made by chopping some
scapes and mixing them with mayonnaise, any white bean dip, cream cheese, or yogurt cheese.

• Finally, you can also chop up garlic scapes and store them in the freezer, no blanching required
if they have been harvested when young and tender, ready to use all winter long.

Garlic scapes will keep ~3 weeks when refrigerated loosely in plastic. However, the season is
very short, indeed fleeting (maybe 2 weeks before they either sell out or get too tough to eat), so purchase enough now when they are young, tender, and tasty to freeze, make pesto, or pickles for a reminder of summer all year long!

Dick and Diana Dyer
Your Local Garlic Growers
The Dyer Family Organic Farm, Ann Arbor, MI
“Shaping the future from the ground up!”
Coming Soon -

I will end by telling you that today I really thought we were organized enough to get to the Westside Ann Arbor Market early enough to be set up in a relaxed manner, without frenzy or feeling like we were 'flailing around". Suffice to say (no need to explain further) it did not happen. So I was surprisingly grumpy as I was driving our loaded van to the market much later than I had hoped or planned. However, as soon as we got there and began setting up, a friend I did not expect to see on that side of town happened to walk by and without saying a word, just pitched in and stayed and stayed and stayed to help by doing all these "little necessary things" to get us set up in record time.

Thanks, Jan (you know who you are!). This experience (again) taught me to let the universe unfold with these "small problems". Help will come when needed. (Now - the BP oil spill and the long-term damage it is causing is a different matter, in a different category entirely - sigh.........)

I hope you nab some scapes if they are still in season in your part of the country.  Please let me know how you used them (and what variety you purchased, if you know) and also what you thought about them. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, June 13, 2010

EPIC Study again - keep eating your fruits and vegetables!

In an earlier blog post, I offered my thoughts about the recently published study investigating the role of fruit and vegetable intake for prevention of cancer, for which most media outlets ran negative headlines, such as:

"EPIC study finds 'weak' link for fruit and veg against cancer"
"Fruits and vegetables provide only modest protection against cancer"
"Fruits and Veggies Probably Don't Prevent Cancer"

"Cancer Protective Effect of Fruits and Vegetables May Be Modest at Best"
"The EPIC Study Questions Usual Diet Cancer Advice"

Here was my headline: "Don't Throw the Baby out with the Bathwater!"

A recently published magazine article in Today's Dietitian also took a look at this study, interviewing me and several other Registered Dietitians (RDs) who specialize in nutritional oncology, either actually evaluating and educating people undergoing cancer therapy or RDs involved in cancer and nutrition research.

In different words, they all offer the same sage advice as I did; continue striving for at least 5 servings per day of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, focusing on those with deep dark colors (including leafy greens like kale - of course!) or ones that are lighter in color (like garlic - of course!, onions, leeks) but still contain multiple cancer-fighting compounds.

I have changed nothing in my diet based on the results of this study, still striving for 9+ servings each day. My 16 year old nephew currently staying with us eats pretty darn well, but I do think he is astounded at the amount and variety of vegetables we eat every single day, in fact almost at every single meal.

So I encourage you to hop down to your local farmers' markets as often as possible during the week to supplement what you are growing yourself as you continue to strive for overall great health, which definitely is associated with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables! :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, June 12, 2010

At the Farmers' Market - At Last!

My husband and I grinning like little kids on Christmas morning on our debut day as vendors at the Ypsilanti Downtown Farmers' Market June 8, 2010 - photo taken by Cara Rosaen, Marketing Director for the brand new website  

Please check out this website - it is designed to connect people to fresh, local sources of food by providing "real time" information (including beautiful photographs) about the location of farmers' markets around the country along with what is available to purchase today, right now, , i.e. "real time". It is an interactive site that you (yes, you!) can also use to load up information about what you see available at farmers' markets where you live.

Help promote locally grown food by your local farmers! Your local farmers (like us!) thank you from the bottom of their hearts. :-) Unlike grinning kids who have the pleasure of having gifts just appear on Christmas morning, my husband and I fully appreciate every aspect of both the years of hard work leading up to this moment and our extreme good fortune to have arrived at this moment. I just turned down a cancer survivorship speaking invitation because I am too busy farming, but that does not mean I have forgotten "where I have come from" to get here. I am a very grateful cancer survivor every single day, hoping that I can still help others plant and cultivate their own seeds leading to a successful survivorship journey, too.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Friday, June 11, 2010

Recipe: Garlic Scape Pesto

Our absolute favorite garlic scape recipe - we make this by the gallon (well, almost!).

Garlic Scape Pesto


1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes) cut into ¼-inch slices

1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts (toasting these adds a nice twist)
3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 

1/2 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and grind until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. Transfer mix to a mixing bowl.   Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Or transfer to an ice-cube tray and freeze to be defrosted and used one cube at a time at your leisure.  The latter approach makes scape pesto available even in mid-winter, when it’s use can make a scrumptious dish.

For ½ pound dry pasta, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.

We also use garlic scape pesto as a topping on baked potatoes, home-made pizza, as a sandwich spread, and as a flavor enhancer to soups for starters. I'm sure there are other ways we use it - they just escape me at this moment. I'm not kidding, we make alot of this right now as scapes are coming in to have all year long. We are just using up the very last ones we made in 2009.

Head down to your farmers' market and buy a bundle. Hey, if you're in Michigan, you could even purchase them from us (hint, hint!).

Please let me know how you use scapes or garlic scape pesto. We'll be making new recipes cards to hand out next week, too! I just might be able to use one of your ideas or recipes and give you the credit. :-)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recipe: Garlic Scape and Spinach Frittata

Here is one of the recipes we handed out this week at the Ypsilanti Downtown Farmers' Market. Easy as pie, in fact, it is like an egg pie without the crust! 

Spinach and Scape Frittata

3 Tbsp. olive oil

10 eggs

1 cup (1/2 lb.) chopped raw spinach

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or basil
1/2 c. finely chopped garlic scapes
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl mix all ingredients except oil and scapes. Heat oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove. Add the scapes and saute until tender on medium heat for about five minutes. Pour egg mixture in skillet with garlic and cook over low for three minutes. Place in oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until top is set. Cut into wedges and serve warm. Serves 6 generously. A half recipe can be made if desired.

Yum, yum! Sorry I don't have photos - there is just no time right now to download and label them! I'll get back to that again. Meanwhile just picture this coming out of the oven piping hot. Serve with a spring green salad, fresh strawberries, and thick slices of whole grain bread toasted and spread with a jam of your choice.

Enjoy this recipe now because fresh garlic scapes won't be available more than a few weeks at the most!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our debut on the other side of the table!

It felt like a mad dash to the finish line (actually the starting line!) as we were still figuring out just what we needed to take to actually have a stall that was beautiful and enticing to potential customers less than an hour before the 2 pm start time at yesterday's Ypsilanti, MI's downtown farmers' market. However, we made it, yes - we were a bit late, but once we realized we were really there (!!), took a look around and took a deep breath, the afternoon just whizzed by, even after it began raining.

We took 7 varieties of garlic scapes: Music, Montana Carlos, German extra-hardy, China stripe, Romanian Red, Ontario Purple Trillium, and Blossom.  We sold out of 4 varieties, and came very close to completely selling out our first harvest of our garlic scapes. No worries, we'll be back next week with much, much more, including several more varieties.

All in all, to say it was a fun and joyful experience is an understatement. I slept like a rock last night, but my husband was too excited and so will sleep well tonight!

Where are the photos, you ask? Well, we were so swamped from the moment we finally got our canopy tent up and everything displayed and organized on the table, that we never got a picture of us on either of own cameras. However, did take our picture and posted it on their website (look for the Ypsilanti Downtown Market photos on Tuesday June 8). Please check out this new website - they want to make it as easy as possible for you to find fresh, local food where you live!

We'll get some photos of us and our stand for sure next week.  We'll be much more organized, and it will be very helpful to actually get there early next week! :-) I'll post up the recipes we're passing out, too, asap (i.e. when I have another free minute!).

Until then, I hope you get down to your farmers' market and enjoy the bounty of local produce coming in - yum, yum!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Not enough daylight hours !!

I cannot even remember my last post - every day is spent remodeling, painting, weeding, farming, or researching some new challenge - truly there are not enough daylight hours in each day to get done what we want done 'yesterday'! :-)

Embarrassing confessions:

(1) we don't have anything planted for us (haven't figured out where to till our own gardens and how to fence them from becoming the local salad bar buffet for the deer).

(2) we sometimes don't eat supper until after dark.

(3) sometimes we make popcorn and then fall into bed.

(4) we are still wondering if we should join a new local CSA that makes all meals ready to cook/eat from locally-grown organic food.

(5) a neighbor asks "How DO you keep up two houses?" "Not well at all", I respond with a smile. 

(6) vacuuming?, dusting? - not much but we do laundry every single day because of the abundance of dirty, sweaty clothes and work gloves!

(7) I haven't downloaded photos from my camera for weeks and now I feel overwhelmed with the thought of remembering what things are and taking the time to label them on my computer.

(8) Everything has a learning curve that seems to be straight up. Good thing that my husband and I are "on the same page", work well together and share a common dream.

(9) Should I keep going? :-)

In contrast, here are the highlights of forward motion:

(1) Over 2 inches of rain last night plus a local tornado and our farm house basement is bone dry this morning. Last year a rain of that type would have put 2 inches of water in our basement. Can you hear our sighs of relief, actually tears of happiness?

(2) Garlic scapes are growing and we'll be making our debut at two local farmers markets this week. (Ypsilanti on Tuesday afternoon and Ann Arbor on Wednesday morning) - can you feel our excitement and our panic as nothing is really "ready"?

(3) I have found a dress maker to take over the "project" of dressing me for my younger son's wedding in August. Can you hear me saying "yahoo!" - one less thing for me to "worry about" when I wake up at night. 

(4) I beat back the weeds in just a tiny spot in front of the farm house, put up 3 hummingbird feeders, planted some red salvia, and the hummingbirds were there within an hour, fighting over "rights" to those feeders. Now I'll move some around to the back of the house, too, to help make peace in the neighborhood.  One little spot to call "my own" at the farm.

(5) After "wrestling" with the zoning/planning department in our township, the barn site prep work we had done before we understood that what looks like our backyard is actually considered our front yard (yes, I know - ??????), we can use that site and the barn should go up very soon. In the end, everyone was indeed 'reasonable'. :-) (I have a friend who is starting a new band called Reasonable People - I like that name!)

(6) Our 3 bee hives are thriving and actually producing honey!!

(7) Should I keep going? :-)

Lastly, I am looking forward to having a dietetics student from Michigan State University spend time on our farm this summer as an independent study course. Here is the first thing I am going to have her read, an article written by Michael Pollan in the New York Times, "The Food Movement, Rising".

It's a good review (lengthy, typical of Michael Pollan) that covers where we have been and where we are now as our food and the system that produces it is more (much more) transparent and generating much needed discussion and changes.

Don't try to skim this article or just read the first and last paragraphs. It is a good read and worthy of pondering.  We are having a 16 year old nephew staying with us for 3 weeks this summer. Explaining how we eat and why to him is an interesting process. He visited his first Farmers' Market yesterday. I introduced him to one of our local farmers and told him he was meeting a "rock star".  Our nephew is already asking when the next farmers' market is - I think he is seeing some results of the never-done, hard farm work and might be catching "the fever"!

Signing off to head back out to the farm - it's an inside day so painting, painting, painting and taking breaks on our front porch to look for the hummingbirds. :-)

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"
Diana Dyer, MS, RD