Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CRAFT at DeYoung Farm

Sunday afternoon's CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) was held at the DeYoung Farm just outside of Traverse City. Several years ago, the Leelanau Conservancy bought the farm in order to preserve it as an agricultural site and for its natural beauty. There were about seven people who visited to learn about the heirloom bean crops currently being grown. Two fields are growing on the property mostly filled with beans to sell at market, though some will get saved for next season's planting. These beans can be used for eating in soups, and each variety has a subtly different taste.

In addition to the beans, there are sunflowers growing in both fields. This sunflower variety has seeds particularly high in oil content. When these seeds are mature they will be black, and then pressed to harvest the oil. During the pressing process it is important not to get the seeds too warm, as this can cause a loss of nutritional value in the oil. Marty, who runs the farm, says that the sunflowers are a new adventure at the farm this year. The oil that is harvested has health benefits, and is of course useful for cooking.

After Marty showed us what is grown on the farm, we toured the other projects and machines that he uses: the irrigation system that is fed by a stream near the property, an old combine that still works, his new planting system for seeds, and a cultivator that really speeds up weeding time. All of these tools help Marty’s work to be sustainable and organic.

Marty has a strong sense of radical tradition, and an interest in passing along smart agricultural practice through his work at the DeYoung Farm. We ended the afternoon with some quiche and bread in the shade.

For more information on the CRAFT program, visit http://artmeetsearth.org/craft.html

—Dulcee Boehm, summer intern

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