Tag Archives: Inchworm Microgreens Farm

Westside Farmers Market: Year in Review

Ann Arbor Food

Inchworm Bakery Peach Cobbler with cinnamon buttermilk biscuit topping (yummy)

It was another good year at the Westside Farmers Market. I know everyone talks up their market, but the Westside is the best.

This year the market had some great new additions.

Corridor Sausage Co
Featuring a variety of pork, chicken, beef and lamb sausages

Hand Sown Farm 
Offering a great variety of fresh veggies

I hope they are back next season.

Inchworm Microgreens and Bakery Recap:

Baked Good:

All Made with Organic Flour, Organic Butter, Organic sugar, Organic eggs, Organic spices and fresh local fruits and berries

Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb Scones
Short cakes
Cinnamon Cakes
Blueberry Pie
Raspberry pie
Sweet and Sour Cherry Pie
(Finally bought a cherry pitter, was hand pitting for hours)
Peach Pie
Peach Cobbler
Slider Buns
Olive Oil Bread
Smoked Sea Salt Chocolate Cookies
Fresh Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

Veggies:
Sunflower Sprouts
Pea Shoots
Potatoes
(Yukon Gold, Kennebeck, Pontiac red, California White, Yellow Finn)
Oyster Mushroom Kits

I was hoping for a Winecap mushroom harvest and better potato yield.

Next Years Plan

Potatoes (5-10 varieties)
Oyster Mushroom and Mushroom Kits
Sprouts and tray grown baby greens
Fruit Pies
Cookies
And…. Savory pies (Meat and greens and cheese)

I have been hooked on these meat and greens and cheese filled pies that they sell at the Middle Eastern grocery near me. They are affordable and ready to eat for a quick lunch. And they keep in a frig for a few days.

I want to make and sell them next year for the Farmers Market

This will require the use of a commercial kitchen, which will take some work arrange, but I love the idea of offering meat filled pies like using Corridor sausages and making greens and cheese with the seasonal fresh greens like spinach, arugula, broccoli, kale, chard, collard, beet greens or what is in season.

See You Next Season!!!!

Are There too Many Farmers Markets?

This is a copy of a letter I sent to the Michigan Farmers Market Listserv. I will post updates with feedback from vendors/market managers.

There was an article in todays Sunday New York Times:
As Farmers’ Markets Go Mainstream, Some Fear a Glut.

The gist was that there are too many farmers markets and it is making it harder for farmers.
Selected Pieces From the Article: By 
Nationwide, the number of farmers’ markets has jumped to 7,175 as of Aug. 5; of those, 1,043 were established this year, according to the federal Agriculture Department. In 2005, there were 4,093 markets across the country.

Rick Wysk, who spent the morning pulling beets out of the eight acres he tills at River Bend Farm in nearby Hadley, says his business at farmers’ markets is half what it was five years ago.

“You have a certain amount of demand, and the more you spread out the demand, you’re making less,” said Mr. Wysk, who has been selling at markets for 13 years. He believes his business is further hurt by additional markets that opened this year in Northampton and Springfield.

“We’re Western Mass. We’re not New York City. We’re not Boston,” Mr. Wysk said. “We’ve got people, but not the population in the bigger markets.”

In New York, farmers’ markets in some parts of the state have started to “cannibalize each other’s customer base,” said Diane Eggert, the executive director of the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York. The organization has started distributing feasibility surveys to communities that want to open markets so they can figure out if the location has the farmer and customer base necessary to survive, Ms. Eggert said.

Jeff Cole, the executive director of Massachusetts Federation of Farmers Markets, said the organization had urged groups not to open new markets near thriving, existing ones, but could not order them not to because of state law. In one instance, a new market opened less than two miles from another, Mr. Cole said. Sales at the first one dropped by more than 30 percent.

Other communities do not have enough farmers to keep up with all the new markets that are opening, Ms. Miller said. According to federal agriculture officials, there are approximately 2.2 million farms nationwide; in 2006 there were 2.09 million.

———————-

So is this happening in Michigan and in Ann Arbor where I sell at the Westside Market?


The Westside is the new kid on the block starting in 2005. 

The Yspi Farmers Market is also relatively new comer too (2006), but Yspi seems to far enough away to affect Ann Arbor and Ypsi needs all the fresh food they can get because they’re bordering on being in a food desert.

Last year was my first year at the Westside. I am a super small farmer (offering sprouts and baked goods), more of a backyard grower and I was grateful to get into the Westside market because the Ann Arbor downtown Farmers Market was more expensive, was hard to get into and a farmer was already selling sprouts there. 

The Westside was the only night market in town, which I felt gave us an advantage with customers who wanted to shop after work. We also have easy shopping mall parking unlike downtown, which can get so crowded on Saturdays that I some times leave without shopping because it is impossible to park.

(Maybe they can run shuttles on Sat????)

This changed this year when the Downtown Market decided to extend their Wednesday day hours to include nights.

I cannot say how this new Wednesday night market has change the Westside business. 

I am not the only Westside vendor to speculate about the impact of the Wednesday Night Market. 

Maybe the Wednesday night market will grow to swallow up the Westside for good or vise versa. 

Maybe we can both reach a happy medium. 

Or maybe we will both dilute each others customer base and poach each others vendors making Ann Arbor night markets an all around loss.

Or maybe another Thursday night market will pop up next year a few miles away?

It does seem like their have been fewer people at the Westside this year, but I do not have the numbers. If our numbers are shrinking, I cannot say if the recession is a factor or a saturated market place.

So, are there too many Farmers Markets?

Are we spreading ourselves too thin and forcing farmers to have to go to 2-3 markets instead of one to make the same sales or half of their sales at the one market?

If there are too many Farmers Markets, it could be a good thing. I figure that Farmers Markets need to start poaching customers from super markets instead of from each other. Think of all of the Kroger shoppers who buy from their organic food section. They can be shopping at the farmers market instead

If there are too many markets, we need more customers all around to support them, which is the challenge for market managers, farmers/vendors and the go green/buy local media machine and food movement.

I think that there is a perception that the farmers market is too expensive, which is entirely untrue. Dollar for dollar, I have found the farmers markets are competitive on price if not less expensive with Whole Foods, and organic/natural sections in super markets for comparable produce. I know my prices are on average or lower than area super markets for organic produce.

With that said, it seems that Farmers’ Markets are experiencing growing pains.

Brian Steinberg
Inchworm Farms
Ann Arbor, MI

Inchworm Micrgreens and Pie

Today’s offerings at the Westside Farmers Market today from 3:00-7:00PM are:

Cinnamon Cake: A coffee cake with a cinnamon and sugar swirled inside

Rhubarb Pie: Local rhubarb, all butter crust

Both made with organic sugar, org flour, org eggs, rbgh free butter (tilimook)

Pea Shoots and Sunflower Shoots

Grown in organic soil

Sunflower seeds are organic pea are natural from Johnny Seeds

Westside Farmers Market: The Last Day of the Market

Ann Arbor Food

Well, today was the last day of the Westside Farmers Market for the season. As you know this was Inchworm Micrgreens Farm/Bakery’s first year.

We learned a lot, meet some great people (vendors, market managers…Corrina we are talking about you, and of course our customers.

We will be back next year for sure to offer sunflower, and pea sprouts, and a spicy micro mix.

And there will be baked goods. Yes, we will have our focaccia bread, and our pocket pies, and galettes made from seasonal fruits purchased at the market. Be on the look out for strawberry rhubarb pies, the first of the season.

And Emily has big plans for shortbread cookies.

We are also starting mushrooms logs this fall which should be ready for sale mid summer at the market.

And…….wait for it……

Ann Arbor Food

Bagels!!!!

We will be testing recipes this winter to create the perfect bagel like the kinds I grew up with in NJ/NY.

Thanks again for your support.

Please stay in Touch, and follow us on this blog for updates about what we are going

Thanks

Brian Steinberg
Inchworm Microgreens Farms/Bakery
Ann Arbor, MI

chefbrian1@yahoo.com

Inchworm Microgreens: Lessons learned in my First Year

Ann Arbor Food

The picture above shows several nice trays of microgreens growing. But there seemed to be some new challenge and lesson every week of my first season as a microgreen farmer.

-Poor germination
-poor drainage in trays until I cut more holes in the bottom
-Buying the wrong seed
-dealing with rain
-dealing with heat, and frying a few batched of trays with the plastic lid covers
-varieties that flopped like lentil, chic pea, and corn shoots
-trying a supposedly fail proof indoor system that failed
-Then there were the chipmunk attacks
-And even when I had a bumper crop, a rainy day at the market resulted in slow sales

Ann Arbor Food

I set up a fence to protect my microgreen trays from deer and wood chucks, but I never thought about chipmunks. They can get in anywhere, and they love sunflower seeds. The real problem is that they like to dig around in the trays, and once they uncover the seeds, the seeds dry up and die. They ruined a weeks worth of trays.

I set up this system of a brick frame with some hardware clothe on top, and bricks on top. If you are more of handy person than me, you could build a wood frame. Once the seeds sprout to about an inch they are safe because the chipmunks only seem to like the seeds, and not the sprouts.

Ann Arbor Food

This system is also great for sprouting seed starts outside. Stadium Hardware sells hardware clothe by the foot/yard.

Ann Arbor Food

Sugar Beet Starts

Ann Arbor Food

Inchworm MicroGreens Farm Update: CSA Information

Owner: Brian Steinberg
Phone:

Email:

Season: June 3 – Sept 9
Pick-up: Thursday 4:00-7:00PM at the Westside Farmers Market in Ann Arbor in the Zingerman’s Roadhouse parking area
Cost: Full share $180, Half share $90
Cost per week: $12 Full/$6 half
Total number of Membership: 50 full shares or 100 half shares
Growing Practice: Organic Practices: Use of Organic soil and amendments, and use of organic seed when available
Please Email me to request a membership sign up form.

What is in a share?: A full share consists of a Full standard size grow tray (11 x 22 inch) of Microgreens. The picture above shows full trays of Pea Shoots, and Sun flower shoots. Half shares consist of one (11 x 11 inch) size trays of Microgreens. Members can choose two half trays to make a full share.

What types of Microgreens are offered: Pea Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, and Wheat Grass are the standard offerings, and available each week. I will also feature basil, cilantro, radish and various other microgreens, with availability announced in the CSA Newsletter throughout the season. This is our first years, so I will be growing a lot test trays.

Can I customize my share?: Yes. Membership shares can be customized. There is a place on the sign up form where members can specifically request which variety of microgreens they want for each pick-up. For example a member can requested all pea shoots for the entire season, or all wheat grass. Another option can be peas shoots one week, and sunflower the next. I am very flexible, and only need a two week lead time to accommodate ongoing share requests. But I do prefer requests up front in the beginning of the season from the sign up form.

Do I have to sign up for the entire season, or can I sign up for a flexible CSA membership consisting of specific pick-ups?: Members can sign up for as little as one week, or a specific number of weeks, and even specific pick up dates during the 15 week season from June 3-Sept 9.

Can I get a double share (two full, or four half trays) or more?: Yes. Members can sign up for as many as they like. They can even increase their share (another half or full tray) during the season.

Can Members decrease their shares from Full to half during the season?: I prefer that members stick it out with the membership they signed up for. Members can always donate or trade their share to friends. When I was a CSA member, I would donate veggies my family did not like to appreciative neighbors. With that said, I ask at least a two week lead time with any changes.

If I cannot make a pick up can I get a refund?: Sorry, but no. I suggest having a friend pick up the tray. Trays are started 2-4 weeks in advance for members, and once started I and the member is lock into that tray for pick-up. Microgreens, unlike say storage crops, have a short shelf life, which means that once started, me, the farmer most likely cannot find another home for the tray. My policy is more flexible than most CSA which commit members for the entire season without options. If you know you will be out of town, I suggest sign up for a custom CSA share.

What do I do with the tray(s) after I harvest my Microgreens?: Members are asked to return the tray with the soil during their next pick-up. I reuse the trays, and compost the soil to grow more Microgreens. I require a $10 refundable tray deposit with CSA Members, which they will get back when they return all of their for their last pick-up.

Can I order more trays before and after the 15 week CSA season dates?: I may have more microgreens available possibly into October and even November depending on the weather. I will be running a few test tray before the season and may some some available. I will provide updates on this site, and in the newsletter with extended season news.

Can I request a special custom tray of a variety that you currently do not offer?: Yes. Like I mentioned, I will be doing a number of test this year, and I encourage requests for microgreen varieties. Special requests will take some lead time to find and order seed, and to start a tray.

I am a restaurant, school, hospital, Co-housing development, or planning an large event. Do you take large orders, and what about delivery?: Restaurant and large orders are welcomed and encouraged. I prefer that trays are pick-up at the regular Westside Farmers Market date and times. Special arrangements can be made if that is not an option.

What is the story behind Inchworm Microgreens Farm? How did you become the microgreens farmer we know and love?: I have been gardening for 10 years, and I love to share the food that I grow. The thought was to buy a farm one day in the future, but I have been thinking of what I could do now. The opportunity happened with microgreeens. I was traveling last summer, which meant that for the first time in years, I was not able to have a garden. When I got back into town, I still wanted to grow something, and I discovered microgreens. I started a few trays late last season, and featured them at the Home Grown Festival, at Bona Sera Secret Super Club and Tammy’s Tastings in Ann Arbor. The positive response inspired me to start my Microgreen farm and offer a CSA.