312 N. River Ypsilanti
Owner Beverly Ruesink starts new chapter for family farm A thick layer of dew brought on by heavy early-morning fog covers everything - from the dark, rich soil to the highest silo that towers above the pine trees. It’s about 10:30 on a Thursday morning in late October. The sound of a rooster crowing in the distance carries through the fog that hovers over Tipton and a Chocolate Lab trots up to greet me at Needle-Lane Farms. After wandering around for a few minutes with my new four-legged friend, Beverly Ruesink, owner of Needle-Lane, finds me looking lost among some rows of cabbage. Wearing a green Michigan State sweatshirt and blue jeans tucked into her muddy rubber boots, Ruesink shakes my hand and introduces herself as well as her dog Vinny. Although, I clarify Vinny and I already met. “The whole farm is about 70 acres; we grow on about 10 acres of it,” Ruesink explains, jumping right into the interview, as she walks
through the wet grass toward a small greenhouse located near the front of the property. Tucked away near Adrian, oﬀ Tipton Highway, Needle-Lane Farms got its start as a dairy farm when Ruesink’s parents purchased the property in the 1970s. After a couple years at Michigan State University earning a horticultural degree, Ruesink returned to her parent’s farm to start a new chapter for her life and for the land she grew up on. Her first project was a one-acre market garden in the summer of 2004. The following year, NeedleLane became a Community Supported Agriculture farm, with members paying a share of the cost of buying and growing. Now, the farm grows more than 400 varieties of vegetables, 200 varieties of flowers and 150 varieties of herbs on 10 acres for its members and for other markets. Full season member shares at Needle-Lane run for 20 weeks and include cool-season vegetables as well as the typical
By Christine Laughren
summer fare, such as tomatoes corn and beans. Members can also buy a summer season share which, runs for 12 weeks of the year. Staring down half a greenhouse full of Swiss Chard, Ruesink said Needle-Lane is a CSA farm first and foremost. But depending on the crop and the season there could be extra food to go around, and that’s where outlets such as the Ypsilanti Food Co-op can come in handy. “Swiss Chard, for example, you can pick twice a week, every week, for five months straight… CSA members really don’t want to eat
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Ruesink plants as Kate Long waters in the greenhouse
Swiss Chard every week for five months straight,” Ruesink chuckled as she closed the door to the little greenhouse.
Needle-Lane is not a certified organic farm and, though, Ruesink says she doesn’t even really call herself an “organic farmer," she uses organic orders s e t practices and a n i coord of her o t h u o w standards in , y s n Phillip to keep Vin e i n a everything she Steph o-op, tries c . s e does. k h r t o r w fo le she i h For Ruesink, a w y wa good farm doesn’t have to mean certified organic, a good farm means buying organic seeds and using organic compost and fertilizer, in addition to crop rotation and weed harvesting. On its Web site, Needle-Lane also boasts In addition to the co-op, Needleno artificial chemical pesticides, Lane also sells its overabundance at fertilizers, or herbicides are ever the Adrian Farmers’ Market, the used on its plants and sprays are not Tecumseh Farmers’ Market, the an option. People’s Food Co-op, Morgan & “We don't spray ever...even York, Arbor Farms Market and at its OMRI (Organic Materials Review own road-side store. Cows and Institute) listed substances since we chickens still roam the land, know that spray is non-selective,” however, Ruesink says the animals the Web site states. “It will kill bad are raised for personal consumption.
bugs and the good bugs just as eﬀectively.” But growing organic produce is all second-nature to the 31-year-old who, in addition to growing up on the same 70-acre piece of land with her parents and helping them raise chickens and cows, also helped to start a state-run organic farm during her stint at MSU. With Vinny galloping along side the truck as it slowly moves forward, sloshing around in the mud, Ruesink points to fields on either side of her, listing oﬀ one vegetable after another while she continues to tell the story of how she got to where she is today. “I actually had the perfect timing getting (the internship) and the perfect education learning how to grow vegetables on a small scale and market them through the CSA and local markets, so that’s what we do,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone. As we round a bend in the track the largest greenhouse on the property comes into view. It stands alone, like a giant white ghost in the middle of the fog. A hint of pride can be heard in Ruesink’s voice as she points toward the black field of freshly-tilled soil adjacent to the greenhouse.
Saturday, Nov. 14
Tuesday, Nov. 10 Winter Farmers’ Market
From 3-7 p.m. at the Corner Brewery (720 Norris St.)
Thursday, Nov. 12 Information session: Community Garden Start Up!
From 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Ypsilanti SPARK. Contact Growing Hope at (734) 786-8401 to reserve a spot.
Saturday, Nov. 14 The Art of Pie - Pumpkin
Learn to make your own pumpkin pie from scratch. Class begins at 10:30 in the bakery. (More information at front counter)
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Art in the Park
General Manager Corinne Sikorski
Saturday, Nov. 21
Editor Christine Laughren
Fundraiser to benefit Ypsilanti Community Center. From 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Recreation Park Complex
New member orientation At 2 p.m. at the co-op
Tuesday, Nov. 24 Winter Farmers’ Market
From 3-7 p.m. at the Corner Brewery
Special Thanks to: Beverly Ruesink, Stephanie Phi#ips and Kate Long, as we# as our employees, volunteers and members
Thursday, Nov. 26 Happy Thanksgiving
Co-op closed for holiday.
Thursday Aug. 27 Talk of the Neighborhood
Our Water, Our Wallets HOW TO SAVE BOTH. From 7:15 - 8:15 p.m. at the Recreation Park Complex. Admission $5.
Printer Standard Printing Ypsilanti, MI Printed on 100% recycled paper %om the French Paper Company. Niles, MI
Needle-Lane cont. “We have some beautiful, dark, rich soil; that’s where it all starts,” she says jumping out of her pick-up and sliding the greenhouse door open. With Vinny at our side, Ruesink introduces “the last girls standing,” Needle-Lane employees Kate Long and Stephanie Phillips, who are busy watering, clearing space, weeding and planting. While the girls work on making room for spinach Swiss Chard, lettuce and kale, Ruesink reinforced the idea that it takes more than just herself to run the farm. Needle-Lane had about eight interns over the summer, all of which are back at school or moved away. On a daily basis the farm can see anywhere from six to a dozen workers or volunteers. She says it takes a lot of help from a lot of people, and more than that, Ruesink says running a farm is “a way of life.” “It’s what you do when you’re working, it’s what you do for a hobby, it’s what you do when you’re drinking a beer on a Friday night.” As the fog slowly starts to dissipate, Ruesink and I hop in the truck to make our way back to the farmhouse so she can grab another flat of lettuce for the greenhouse. Vinny follows the muddy truck as it cruises on a thin layer of pine needles. Standing near my car, saying my last goodbyes to Vinny, Ruesink said I would likely see more greenhouses next time I visit, as her operation continues to get larger every year. “We just grow a lot of stuﬀ,” she said. “I guess our mantra is to keep on planting.” For more information about Needle-Lane Farms visit needlelanefarms.com
The Funky Punkin’ is here...
...and other news from the River Street Bakery The River Street Bakery will bake the Funky Punkin’ on Mondays until the fresh pumpkin season runs out in two or three weeks. Look for Michigan Apple Bread starting after the Funky Punkin’ season ends. Also making special appearances the week of Thanksgiving are Soft Butter Rolls and Cranberry Sage Bread. Cranberry Sage will continue to be baked weekly through Christmas.
River Street Baking Schedule Every Mon, Wed, & Fri
Baguettes Ciabatta Focaccia (plain & parma) Original Sourdough Three Seed Whole Wheat SD Tour of Sour Caraway Rye Specialty Breads
Anadama Funky Punkin’ Asiago Herb
Multigrain Cheddar Chili Oatmeal Raisin
Sunny W Rustique Potato Garlic Caramel Blonde
Let us simplify your holiday meal - ORDER TODAY! Once again, the Co-op Deli and the River St. Bakery will oﬀer delicious ready-to-heat-and-eat Thanksgiving dishes to help make holiday meal preparation a breeze. Our menu includes meal starters, traditional side dishes, fresh baked rolls, and desserts for your holiday feast. Or order Everything But the Turkey --pre-portioned meals with all the side dishes needed to feed a party of up to six people. See the front desk for selection and pricing and place your order by November 23.
Survey says: ‘YFC Rocks!’
Customer input reinforces co-op plans Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out our 2009 customer survey; 78 shoppers responded either online or through a paper copy at the store. The survey helps the co-op’s board and the management in understanding the future needs of the co-op, as well as what is the most important to you so we can continue to provide better services. Important to our shoppers is the availability of natural and organic foods as well as foods produced locally and sustainability. As far as big picture improvements to the store, the availability of a greater selection of products in more space with lower prices were more important that a diﬀerent location or better parking. This information supports the plans we are making to
expand the co-op’s square footage into the remainder of the first floor of the Mill Works Building. Rather than attempt to relocate the store (at great expense) the board and manager are in the planning stages of an expansion that will enlarge the bakery and deli working facilities, create a larger eating area, as well as provide more retail selling space. There is only so far we can expand here in this historic building, but we feel that our decision to stay here was reiterated in the responses to the survey. We will also work on lowering prices, labeling the multitude of local products and continuing to provide great specials through our aﬃliation with the National Co-op Growers Association.
From the list below, please choose the top five factors you consider when choosing where to shop for groceries:
“We are lucky to have such a great co-op in our community. We appreciate the personal, caring atmosphere, and dedication of the talented staﬀ. We are so glad children are welcome.” “I love the bakery products and the availability of the organic grains and flours.” “Thank you and keep up the good work!” “I appreciate your greater attention to local foods and participating in community building events == THANK YOU.” “Good Work. Thanks~” “LOVE THE COOP. It is one of the reasons we stay in Ypsilanti. Love it, love it, love it. You ALL rock and we are grateful for Corrine’s leadership and faithfulness. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE.”
Turkey Time Order before Nov. 23 • Fresh free-range turkeys • No hormones or antibiotics $3.25/lb • Available from Garno Farms located in Palmyra, MI. Breast only • Half turkeys available $5.85 Pick up Tuesday & Wednesday Thanksgiving week.
November Sale organic bulk products Thick Rolled Oats $ .95 Yellow Popcorn $1.05 Thompson Raisins $2.25
The listed bulk items will be on sale through the end of the month. Prices reflect per pound cost.
Green Split Peas $1.45 Mammoth Pecans $6.45 Green Lentils $1.45