i just came back from chicago for my dad’s surprise 60th birthday party! it’s always great to get back to the midwest for family time and to see the friends i grew up with. my best friend since i was a kid, dorothy, is working on an organic farm up in michigan near ann arbor, so i decided to take a few days before the party to visit her and get my hands dirty.
i brought dorothy a jar of my “radical granola” and made her pose with it in front of the awesome old trainstation in jackson. from there, dorothy brought me back to the farm and gave me the tour of the house, where the girls were canning tomatoes and making big batches of salsa. she showed me the fields, the greenhouses, the barn, the incredible 1940s stone cabin near the back field, the pond, and was introduced to the whole crew, including kitties!
frog holler organic farm is in brooklyn, michigan, about 40 minutes away from ann arbor. cathy king and her husband ken raised their three sons, billy, kenny, and edwin on the farm, living and working and learning together as a family since 1972. they have a few interns each summer, this year it’s dorothy; angie, another chicagoan who’s in her second year at the farm; and kirsten, who grew up in germany and recently returned from the peace corps in mali. everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming! the whole place runs like a big family, with communal meals together in the green farm house (like a frog!), group decision making, and shared work…
i was so excited to be put to work despite the early start time! we started snipping lettuces and greens (butter, chard, endive, radicchio…) while the sun was just peeking out; moved to picking flat-leaf and curly parsley; picked bagfuls of neon nasturtium; mixed the salad in a giant bathtub and washed it in cold water baths. snack time dirty fingers picking endless raspberries and warm peach melba muffins brought over by a neighbor! we spotted all kinds of caterpillars, frogs, birds, grasshoppers, and general critters…
after lunch, with legs dangling off the back of the pickup and armed with rubbermaid buckets and sunhats, we drove to the back field to pick green beans, broccoli, broccoli rabe, and squashes. back at the barn we packed CSA boxes into the evening and then dorothy and i drove to town to pick up pizzas, making a quick pitstop at dairy queen for a blizzard. pizza party back at the house with roasted eggplants, peppers, tomatoes straight from the garden!
we were spared the 4am wake-up time (what!? i’m a guest!) but drove to meet the rest of the crew at a more manageable 7am at the ann arbor farmer’s market, which frog holler sells at twice a week. the hot, humid summer i was expecting was nowhere to be found, replaced instead by a chilly fall wind and that special midwestern light particular to early september mornings.
we explored the farmer’s market for a bit before i took the megasbus back to chicago, stocked with veggies, a watermelon, some beeswax candles and fresh baked yummies from their stand neighbors. it’s so satisfying to know exactly where your food comes from, the people who grow it, and the effort it takes to distribute it all. we’re all so disconnected from our food sources, it was incredible to be able to witness and participate in the process, especially as a csa sharer! how truly inspiring to experience an original “back-to-the-land” community! thanks frog holler!!!