Elder Fire 2012 CSA Program: Almost Everything YOU Need to know about it!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 18, 2012 by leekornhauser

Elder Fire Farm Arts Community Supported Agriculture


Our CSA has sprouted, at last, from nearly a decade long germination process doing radical work towards building a more local and equipped foodshed with a sustainable infrastructure—one that’s good for the people and the land—while acquiring the skills to actualize our personal and shared dreams as a family and community. Being committed to the SW Michigan grassroots effort to co-create, localize, and grow a truly sustainable and transparent food system means building trusting/meaningful relationships between people as producers, consumers, neighbors, and the land, while at the same time transforming the obstacles and beliefs that allow/encourage a disproportionate number of people growing food to the ones consuming. CSA allows us to deepen and develop these connections, as well as become more sustainable on the local level, by sharing some of the responsibilities and the joys of food and medicine production, ultimately bringing us closer to one another and with the land that provides these necessities and more.


Indeed, the role we play in this scheme as a community food producer, but also as members of community and as stewards, demands us to be deliberate and intentional with the seeds we plant, the ‘what, where, how, and why’. We seek to make our methods, our values, and the skills we gain from this work as transparent and accessible as we can. Therefore, the plants and plant varieties we choose each year are based on a multitude of factors; organic/heirloom seed availability, hardiness to our zone, choice flavor, visual appeal, storage potential, potential to save seed, nutrient density, disease tolerance, and medicinal properties of plants are all vital in our decision making so that we’re able to grow a diverse range of staple crops and adventurous ones, alongside plants that heal bodies and the soil.


Based on obvious and variable seasonal factors, weekly shares will contain carefully selected varieties of vegetables using only organic methods (for instance, cooking greens/kale, lettuces/salad, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage, all sorts of roots, heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, watermelons, muskmelons, sweet corn, cucumbers, husk cherries, parsley, dill, beans, peas, edamame, squash (and more), as well as wild and cultivated fruits, cut flowers, culinary and medicinal herbs, and mushrooms (like shiitake and oyster). We’ll share interesting family/farm inspired, seasonal recipes and, perhaps, other surprises along the way.


Our CSA is a 20 week program, starting the week of June 10 going through October 27.

Weekly pick up locations are:

Wednesdays 3-7pm @100 Mile Market (@ People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo) or

Saturdays 7:30am-12pm @ Kalamazoo (Bank St.) Farmers’ Market


At this point, we have a very limited number of Summer shares to offer for a cost of $350, which breaks down to $15-$20 worth of freshly picked produce each week. Share reservations are made upon receipt of the Member Agreement Form and check(s) made to Elder Fire Farm Arts. Payment can be made in full or with a “down payment” (approx. 1/3 of the total share cost) along with post-dated checks dated for the first of each consecutive month for the remainder of the share cost, ideally being all paid up by the first week of our CSA season so that we’re not having to keep track during the very busy parts of the season. As you may know, this up front investment helps provide the funds/seeds/operative tools/etc. needed for the chance at a successful growing season, it is a model we believe and have participated in for years both as shareholders and as beginning farmers—here’s to the (re)emergence of it all.

Elder Fire Farm Arts

Membership Agreement Form CSA 2012




Choose your pick up location


_____100 Mile Market/Wednesdays/3-7pm(Peoples’ Food Co-op of Kalamazoo)

507 Harrison St, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

_____Kalamazoo (Bank St.) Farmers’ Market/Saturdays/7:30am-12pm

1200 Bank St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

____Elder Fire Farm Arts/Saturdays/5-7pm/On-Farm Pick Up

10400 S. Gurd Rd, Dowling, MI 49050


Your payment plan

Please make checks out to Elder Fire Farm Arts.

Prior to April 1st, please mail to Elder Fire Farm Arts, 470 Egleston, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

April 1st and onward, mail to Elder Fire Farm Arts, 10400 S. Gurd Rd, Dowling, MI 49050

Enclosed is my check(s) of:

In Full ($350)______     OR       Initial Payment of $________with post-dated checks for the following amount $_______ $________=$350

Member Agreement

☯   I will receive a full, weekly share of Elder Fire produce that will vary in size and weight depending on the time of the season.

☯   I agree to support the farmers by sharing in the inherent risks of agriculture (poor weather, drought, hail, crop failure, pest problems, etc.) and the rewards (fresh, local, organically grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, etc. the harvests of a good season). I understand this principle and agree that there is no guarantee on the exact amount or type of produce I will receive in my share. By participating in CSA I am supporting the local farmers (and our foodshed), as well as allowing for more equitable food distribution.

☯   By becoming a member I commit to picking up my share weekly and understand that if I, or a designated other, is unable to pick up my share it CANNOT be saved or picked-up at a later date unless prior arrangements have been made with the farmer.


Member’s Signature


Persephone, Hades, Demeter, Us

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2011 by leekornhauser

Perhaps you don’t know this, but I have a deep fondness for Greek mythology and Paganism, in fact, most narratives involving human nature, the celestial meaning of our seasons, characteristics/wisdom of beasts that roam Earth, the element of spirit that imbues life here–I could go on, but I won’t–this post is about Autumn and Balance. Persephone~Demeter~r80r95.jpgWhen I’m a crone, I will know truths about the earth that aren’t fully intelligible to me now–but the crone in me knows some things, intuits others: This time of year, this fleeting transition, this bridge between time and space and transformation and quiet on earth is also one of seeking the balance amid constant change, finding individual strength to face winter, overcoming fears of approaching dark/death, and, I think, taking risks. I won’t recap the myth involving Persephone, Demeter, and Hades, but I suggest finding several different readings of the story, all of which are easily accessible if googled– because these readings, myths, and interpretations help us, and I’m pretty sure helped millions before us (ok, maybe also hindered…but that’s a different post), find great solace/understanding/beauty, and perhaps most importantly, our place in this wild world. As a farmer, I find the responsibility even greater to observe and understand the language of earth and her seasons: living outside, living one step off the ground in our yurt separated from the earth only by canvas and wool–has pushed me further down the path of learning these truths, and facing these fears, and it is something I had expected, desired.

My favorite season, of course, at its Kore (another name for Persephone) is about balance: Balance between dark and light–balance between polarities of all kinds; It is true, I’ll make this post even more personal, my life’s journey has been a struggle with polarity: charted paths or (mostly) uncharted ones, a life of the mind (graduate school) or a life of the body (farming), a life of togetherness-We (I am a twin) or separation-I, and perhaps with the most pain, being a human being of the West having to choose between (intelligibly) inhabiting male or female–for some of us, this choice is best left undone; for all of our choices, we have to learn to follow our heart and take risks, discover if there is even a choice to be made. This either/or world is something we have, and with great harm, imposed on the earth, which, of course, balances all things if left to her own devices!Copyright ©2007 Susan Eleanor Boulet Trust

Seeking the balance on earth is harder than ever, so it seems, after what we’ve done. Can you feel it, too? I am one person of the Midwest, surrounded by woods and corn and soy and pasture, and it is quiet here, quiet enough to feel earth feel. I check the weather often, but have also gotten quite good at intuiting it–I see these fear ads of typhoons and hurricanes and threats, telling us how we should all be afraid to die at the hand of Gaia, and they’re real; has the earth always been this angry? I don’t think so. Storms like those are a serious warning signs of our bad choices, and will quickly swallow the earth if we don’t stop imposing our false needs and security onto this land and water and sky we’ve been blessed with as Stewards. We all know this–but how far do we each have to go to keep earth intact–is that even earth’s/our Destiny? 2012 is right around the corner, and after this season on the land I’m not sure what all the signs mean–where are the Crones? Please share your comments and your thoughts, your wisdom.

My fear of Death, the underworld, was seriously manifested this Spring and Summer with the great winds and storms; to me, they’re unforgettable. I spent many hours in panic of the winds and splitting trees and lightening and not having shelter, not being able to go underground, the safest shelter…and I’m pretty sure those levels of stress take years off one’s life: Yet, how does one come to Peace with the destruction of the natural order we’ve caused?

No, this time of year causes me no fear–these calm winds and rains that tell us Fall is here and coming all at once, that Persephone will soon descend and perhaps find shelter there, most likely to return again in Spring, is a great comfort. Thank you, Persephone, for choosing Balance, death and life, Mother and Lover, fertility and barrenness, both instead of either/or.

Perhaps it is simply time for us to share old, maybe ancient stories, recall myths, build altars to honor and celebrate the Balance that we each seek, that earth finds (even amongst all of the barriers and poisons we’ve unleashed and invented), to eat the seeds of the pomegranate and not fear Death, to honor and taste all the fruits that this season of chaos has given us before the barrenness returns, and darkness once again dominates light.

Hades & Persephone, enthroned in the underworld | Greek vase, Apulian red figure volute krater

Top 15 reasons to LOVE farming!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2011 by foragefiend

In no particular order:

Farming is a time to CONNECT with the EARTH everyday and an opportunity to OBSERVE and LEARN from it.

Farming provides the Rugged SATISFACTION of having worked an entire day outdoors in FREEZING weather, knee deep snow, pouring RAIN, or dripping SWEAT

Farming is FOOD: It is okay to talk about, make and eat food ALL day long

Farming is being a FOOD ACTIVIST (passionately  part of a sustainable local food system/ economy everyday)

Farming is EFFICIENCY: working and exercising at the same time

I get to spend everyday WITH my FAMILY when I’m a Farmer

Going out and PICKING whatever I want for DINNER (and it’s all fresh and grown to my standards of cleanliness)

Sitting around as a family and COMPARING MUSCLES

Connecting GOOD FOOD with HAPPY PEOPLE twice each week at FARMERS’ MARKETS

Farming is the most DIRECT method of PROVIDING for my family and myself


To farm is to LIVE OUTSIDE of just about EVERY BOX

I LOVE seeing my KIDS take PRIDE and OWNERSHIP over our farm vision (just like I fantasized they would!)

Farming fosters UNDERSTANDING and APPRECIATION for where our food comes from and what it takes to get it to you and me

If you have never worked on a small vegetable farm (where most work and harvest is done by hand), I STRONGLY recommend at least one day. Through the course of a growing season you can get a pretty clear picture of what each crop (and farmer) goes through to get to your table each week. You may never see CARROTS or SALAD the same way AGAIN!

HOT scenes from today’s harvest!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2011 by foragefiend

I don’t know how hot
 it is today, but after the last couple of weeks of the

down comforter at night, the 90+ degree days are something I was patiently waiting until next summer to feel again.

 It makes for one hot harvest, so we get up early and work till it gets hot and then finish up later in the day. It’s a nice relief to be sitting at the computer in the shade and take a little time to whip up some blueberry lime-alade (Mitchell transitional blueberries, and crystallized citrus rinds that have been curing for a couple of months, all turned in to a marmalade type condiment (the follow-up to peach-orange marmalade made late last night.)), and, of course, kale wraps with our favorite ton-o-parsley dressing. small shining lights melon-- moments before being eatenEach harvest day is a little different around here.

Depending on the weather and because we don’t have cold storage (a cooler) everything must be fresh (that’s how we like it anyway). We plan out each harvest day in whatever way to best keep things happy and fresh from the time we pick them to the time you  take them home.   On some days greens get picked early in the morning and are either packed up and stored in the shade or it might spend the day lounging around in the icy water  bath drawn up from our well.  Some days we pick it last thing at night or even by the dawn’s early light  before we leave for market (which is not very light anymore). Tomatoes, cukes, melons are not so sensitive and can be picked just about any time before the market when we aren’t picking the picky-er items. Basil and other herbs can be very tricky! Basil doesn’t like water, heat, or cool…but I think we are starting to figure this heat of the summer  show-stopper out.

Harvest days are our favorite days to commune with all the plants and really examine things. We often get distracted visiting other plants we haven’t seen in in the last day or two, discovering how they’ve been doing while we were off doing other things. The pace of harvest day is usually so peaceful. There is no machines here to break nature’s overwhelming “silence” from manmade noise. The only sounds are those of the birds and insects communicating with each other,  the breeze, the each crop’s unique harvest sound, occasionally the rumble of hummingbird wings, sometimes a rain storm,  and lately a lot of us cracking open watermelons to cool us in the middle of the field (our favorite place to eat watermelon).

Kale Wraps are Forever

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2011 by leekornhauser

We’d like to introduce you to our dear friend, The Kale Wrap (TKW).

Today's Kale Wrap: Our kale (curly and lacinato), white cucumbers, green onions, heirloom tomato, tahini lemon parsley dressing, on a millet-flax lavash

Kale wraps are simple, yet there are some requirements in our household for making them:

ALWAYS slice kale in thin strips, chiffonade as they say.

USE what you have/need to use veggiewise,

BUT ALWAYS use Sami’s millet and flax lavash (ok, you can use tortillas, but don’t expect “to die for” good)


ALWAYS make a raw TAHINI based dressing. (Heather, who’s sitting beside me, disagrees with this rule–and she’s somewhat right, kale wraps can be made with oil based dressings-or any dressing that suits your fancy (except probably shouldn’t be store bought…but that’s a different post) and still be absolutely delicious, but they won’t be addicting like The One).

Our preferred dressing of late is always without measurements, but resembles the following:

  • A BUNCH of italian flat leaf parsley (at least one bunch, this is the best aspect of the dressing)
  • A 1//2 cup  or more raw organic tahini
  • A Lemon or more
  • organic extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons
  • celtic sea salt, several pinches
  • OFTEN we add unpasteurized MISO (the sweet varieties, always from South River–which makes the best commercial miso we can get our hands on), a tablespoon or more depending on the amount of tahini used.
  • tablespoon or so of water–add more depending on your desired thickness, but we tend to like it quite thick! Cause Kale likes it thick.
THE key to the dressing, and The Kale Wrap at large, is one tool:
The IMMERSION BLENDER. But use your upright blender if that’s all you have (but we strongly suggest you getting an immersion blender, even if it is just to make dressings like this one, but it’s great for making soups or sauces, too).
Heat up lavash, PILE on the kale (seriously, this is actually why the kale wrap exists: to consume large amounts of kale in one sitting),
throw on toppings (onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, kimchi, hot peppers, anything),
and then,
cover everything in the dressing,
make sure the kale is coated in the dressing;
if it looks like it’s going to be messy, it’s perfect.
Send us a picture of yours.

Let Your Food Inspire You

Posted in Uncategorized on August 24, 2011 by foragefiend


After every market that we vend at we play a game called “how can we eat this Winter and not let this food (and energy we spent growing and harvesting it) go to waste.”  Years of being CSA members primed us for the experience of having more food than we could possible eat, and taught us how to make it work for us later in the year: We are becoming master preservers using as many techniques as we can. Of course, the techniques that maintain the nutritional integrity (or add some) are at the top of the list. We have a food dehydrator! It is among my top 10 kitchen inventions of all time! So many tomatoes and herbs, fruits


and mushrooms go through its time elapsed drought and end up looking gorgeous in jars on our shelves waiting for their moment.  Obviously, a freezer could handle this preserving task amazingly and in years past, (we don’t have a freezer here…I know) you could find all the bright Spring and Summer fruits frozen in time (in some form) most of the Winter in our freezer. Fermentation is our number one form of preservation, but without a refrigerator or root cellar, fermenting doesn’t usually keep as long as other preservation techniques. Fermenting is sweet because not only can you ferment just about anything and it will taste amazing, but it also cultures beneficial microorganisms. So, the food is actually better for you when you eat it than it was when you put it in.  Fermentation is an ancient technique of submerging foods under salt water brine and letting the cultures grow in a controlled environment. What you end up with is the most tangy, zesty, zippy, pickle-like foods that we put on wraps, salads, rice, as a side or condiment and any other way that inspires. Right now, our counters are covered with crocks filled with fermenting things like chipotle turnips, spicy gingery kim-chi, dilly carrots and turnips, fruit vinegars, honey wines, and soon beets in some form or another.


Probably the most familiar method of preservation for most Americans is canning. And if you’ve visited our booth at the market, no doubt you’ve seen our rustic preserves (if you haven’t seen them, look next into the fray of vegetables, they’re always there). Most of the other things we are not legally allowed to sell unless made in a commercial kitchen, but we sure can whip ’em up for ourselves. This week with our market leftovers we made an amazing barbeque sauce (with our heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet onion, and wild horseradish) that inspired our grilled pizza (because we don’t have an oven).  I won’t even go into all the fabulous local foods paired with our sauce (ok, I can’t resist, local organic spelt flour, our leeks, local grass-fed monteray jack cheese, and Young Earth Farm’s andouille sausage (from his pasture raised hogs). Resist the urge to can pizza, though.

On Saturday, we got rained out at the Bank St. Farmers’ Market so we had a lot of tomatoes and leeks over. SO, we canned quarts and quarts of pasta sauce (recipe made up that used as much of the market leftovers as possible) using bunches of leeks, heirloom and cherry tomatoes (we don’t peel anything, ever), tomatillos, fresh basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, and garlic.  It turned out spectacular and we ate some for dinner that night (word of advice: always leave enough of what you’re canning not canned for your next meal, after all that work it’s important to be rewarded).


The barbeque sauce turned out so nicely that we’re planning on canning some from this week’s market leftovers!

Experimenting with seasonal produce will help you discover what creations you love so much that you want to can or ferment or dehydrate or freeze or eat loads of it fresh. With just a little inspiration from your plant friends, it’s possible to eat (your favorite) local foods all year round.

How the other part of that ‘we’ got here.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17, 2011 by leekornhauser

I come from a family of healers and farmers and homemakers.

These most probably aren’t the labels my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents would’ve used (I’m quite sure they aren’t)—but so much has been their paths, nonetheless, and such has been mine; they are the ones whose walking have made the most sense in my heart.

My twin (Jess, on right) and my older sister  (Elizabeth, wearing our grandma’s homemade dress)

and I (Lee) were raised in the suburbs of Detroit (Southfield first and later Bloomfield Hills) by my father, cardiologist, and mother, retired nurse, my Hungarian-immigrant-Holocaust surviving grandparents Helen and Sandor—who died several years ago at ages 102/ 98 from natural causes—and by 3 other women who shared the responsibilities of our rearing: Willeen (my 2ndmother), Felice (a sensitive non English speaking (“illegal?”) immigrant from Poland), and Kitty (a badass from Livonia whose tickling is seriously painful). Someday I’ll write a book about all of them—but I want to keep this in the realm of farm blog, if possible.

Of course my grandparents grew up on farms, like most of peoples’ grand/greatgrandparents, until war and political unrest or available work moved them to cities. I attribute their longevity primarily to their agrarian roots, to clean air, the food they grew, raised, harvest, stored, prepared, and ate as developing children and young adults—and to the close familial relationships their lives fostered—and their big hearts. They, like many of their generation, and, I’m guessing, like many American immigrants who have the space, had a quaint garden where my Grandfather grew roses for his/our kitchen table, where I pulled out my first magical carrot, cherry tomato, bean, and fed squirrels peanuts (yes, I’m aware this is weird), and played, of course. I could say more about these moments, their lives and their longevity—but so much of their lives weren’t spoken, but rather attempted to be forgotten or remembered or translated; the truth is, Helen and Sandor touched my heart/life in ways only they could: my sisters and I have no choice but to carry the fire. And as much as they would’ve rather me had continue graduate school and become a professor of English (as were/are the values of their/our time and American culture), I desire a simple, earthy life, longevity and health, and family time, and time to meditate and be grateful, and homegrown organic food, and music played for loved ones, and magical cooking, and making clothes, and woods and pastures and bees and goats and chickens and horses, and homemade everything; yeah, the fire has spread and it keeps spreading, this must be my destiny.

And my Mom’s folks? Well they’re from a small town farming community in Saugus, Massachusettes, so is my momma. My grandfather baked his own Swedish coffee cake/bread with cardamom and raisins or no raisins in honor of his roots, he got up early and sliced us oranges or grapefruit when we visited, or made banana pancakes, and he loved the crap out of gardening (he was particularly proud of his squashes, I think, and he sent us those sometimes). I think he enjoyed gardening more than anything, just like my dad’s dad. And my dad loves being outdoors more than anything except his family. So, you see, the inclination comes from both sides, all sides—they dosed my subconscious to value the homegrown-outdoor thing—and my grandma Helen and my mother dosed me to value the homemaking thing and child loving thing, and then, around my college years, I grew to kind of obsess about where my food comes from and made every (every!) meal organic, local when organic, and from scratch—and what you have now is someone who has tried on several coats, can’t take any of them off, and still kind of obsesses over these things and more.

I don't play pool, really, but don't let this photo deceive you: Both of these men gardened their bow-ties off!

I’ve struggled with health problems since puberty. Be it a twin thing, or not breastfeeding thing, or growing up on conventional meats, milk, vegetables, or  inheriting IBS, or like I presume, a pretty impressive combination of all the above—who knows, but it has been a hindrance to my every day life. So many of my discoveries about myself as an adult have come from the work of attempting to regain my health/ reach my full potential, and from attempting to deeply understand a vast array of social, literary, political theory. That said, much of my energy has been devoted to healing—another aspect I must have inherited. My ways are very different from my parents’—a natural phenomenon—and it hasn’t always been easy for them to accept—BUT they are now among my biggest supporters, and I’d probably be a much meaner and stingier person without their love and influence.

Add in my years at the Food Co-Op of Kzoo and year at Eaters’ Guild Farm of Bangor (read the last two paragraphs of Heather’s blog “How we got here” to know more about these places, the kids she done birthed that are a huge part of my life and my heart,  and to find out how we made the transition to here) and that leaves me pretty much sketched out (with glitter) for you all. I’d like to tell you more about the farm, but that’s another post.

I’ll leave you with this:

I want to grow food and herbs and roots and make food and think thoughts that help heal people and help the earth and the winged, burrowing, walking, running, swimming things all recover from the damage civilization has caused. And really enjoy life in the process.

Thanks for reading about me. Now send me a link to your blog so I can read about you.