12147 Corey Lake Road, Three Rivers, Michigan (269) 244-5690

Corey Lake Orchards

“C” What We Do In Winter

While we are closed for the winter season,  we are always happy to meet you by appointment (just call us on 269-244-5690) if you need any of the following:

  • Baked goods: frozen take and bake pies
  • Alcohol products: hard ciders, brandy, or wine
  • Other: honey, maple syrup and meat
  • Animal Apples: $5 a bushel, bring containers
  • Vegetables: certified organic spinach, carrots, kale, lettuce, scallions, garlic available all winter long (grown in our sun-heated hoophouse).

As of now we have organic produce for sale at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. They are open Tuesday through Saturday and our refrigerator is in the back of the store – we tend to re-fill it on Tuesday nights so Wednesday through Saturday are the best days to go for fresh produce.

So often folks ask us what we do at the farm during the winter when we are closed, wondering if we go south and soak in the sun on beaches or the like, so thought we would allow you to “C” what goes on during the winter months of a farm.

Cut/Clip: Our largest outdoor winter job is pruning grapes, so when workers are in the vineyard, you can hear the snip/snip/snip as they cut and clip out the old vines, leaving the best vines for this coming year. Hearing the clippers going in the quiet of the vineyard is such a reassuring sound, knowing that with each vine falling to the ground we are getting closer to getting this huge task done.

Compute/Calculate/Count: The record keeping on a farm this diverse is extensive. During the daily hustle of our farm in season, a spiral bound notebook and pen (if we can find one!) is our chosen tool. Everything we pick, sell and process gets recorded, with notebooks in the bakery, the distillery room, and the market. It’s easy to identify the notebooks by the flour, dirt or drops of alcohol smudged on the pages! In the winter, much of this information goes into spreadsheets for reports that we have to do for many constituents but most important, ourselves! This data helps us figure out what/how much/when and where we are planting for this coming year—hoping to get those succession plantings just right so we never run out of lettuce. When I recently finished a required 50 page report where every bushel of corn, quart of strawberries, and pound of grapes produced for the year had to be counted—I could almost feel myself lifting each bushel of corn again.

Comply:

  • Licenses: There are 10+ licenses and certifications which must be maintained for our farm. Some require a test or on-going educational credits, some just need application forms and fees processed, and all require follow ups to track them down, endure stories of “we have new software but it is in the system.”. Their systems of cashing our check for the required fees never seems to fail.
  • 5 year census—this year there is the bonus activity for all farmers of filling out the census, required by law every 5 years. This year’s form is a mere 24 pages of small print, and allowing us to use extra paper for our answers! We are hours into filling this out, speechless at the detail required, and truly wondering if someone knowing how many trucks we have and the horsepower of our tractors will aid in solving the large issues challenging the agriculture industry. We hope it does.

Check: There is a long path we walk to check on all of the farm’s buildings, especially those with water or where equipment like coolers and freezers run. We don’t like the surprises that can occur if we don’t, like a frozen water pipe or a visit from a wild animal seeking shelter! Equally important are walks through the fields, orchards and vineyards, checking to see if natural predators have curbed mice and vole damage and which trees are on the deer’s menu this winter.

Cook/Create/Consume: We often lament the lack of time we have to cook when our farm’s produce is in season. In the winter months, new recipes are tried, especially those which can use the greens coming out of the hoophouse. Becca and Beth have been trading paleo/gluten-free/dairy-free/heirloom vegetable cookbooks and Michaela has been coaching Beth on using her new Instant Pot pressure cooker.   This time of year finds many Becca notebook-scribbles creatively conjuring up different ingredients to try in hard ciders. We can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Consider/Contemplate: This time of year has us asking the “what if” and “should we” questions out loud. What if we washed our greens before packaging them? Should we try to grow bunching onions and swiss chard again and will enough customers want it? How can we use excess spinach and carrots in the bakery?

Care/Cultivate: Becca now devotes weekly hours to caring for the crops growing in the hoophouse, much more enjoyable (and warm!) on the sunny days. We are sorting through reams of soil sample data as we determine the health of our soil and how best to care for it. We continue with community caring, apples going to food banks weekly, volunteering time on the local boards we are on, participating in the MLK walk, throwing together some farmer-to-farmer gatherings, and more. We’ll be at A Chocolate Affair in downtown Three Rivers on February 10th and warmly invite you to come as well.

Curl Up: And with no official starting time at the farm, on some of these bitterly cold days, staying curled up under a blanket still in bed or in front of the fireplace, is a nice choice to have!

And before we know it, spring will be here, the farm will wake up and we’ll be “C-ing” our customer again!  Hope you are having a wonderful winter, from all of us at Corey Lake Orchards.

 

 

 

Just Chillin’

We’re just chillin’ here on the farm, waiting for these cold temperatures to break so that we can continue our outdoor winter work. No need to hurry the pruning as long as our orchards and vineyards are in full dormancy, and right now they’re getting their deep winter’s rest for sure! So the indoor work continues, despite the pull to stay curled up in a blanket some mornings.

Winter view from the herb garden

The tomato seeds have arrived safely at Schram’s greenhouse in Portage who always starts our greenhouse tomato plants for us, 800 being planted this week. So, the official BLT countdown begins: about 170 days to go! The seed order for the conventional growing side of our business is going in this afternoon. The most time consuming part was deciding on the final sweet corn varieties since there were several that we all loved last year. Not to worry, those favorites are coming back while trying two new ones.  So to get our minds off the cold for just a minute, here’s a sweet corn picture to remind us of summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Becca has placed all of her organic seed orders too, since it’s important to buy seeds while organic varieties are still available! We’re growing a few new types of tomatoes this year and have bought some great lettuce varieties that will hopefully hold up in the heat. After three years of doing this it feels like we’re getting a good idea of what our customers want from the organic side, but it’s always fun to learn new techniques and try new ideas.

As always, we want to make sure our customers are happy about the produce and experience they get from our farm. So while we are still in the planning mode, feel free to give us any feedback on things that you wish we would grow or do, and we’ll certainly consider it! Just reply to this if you got it in an email, or leave us comments if you are reading it on Facebook!

And while we are closed for the winter season,  we are always happy to meet you by appointment (just call us on 269-244-5690) if you need any of the following:

  • Baked goods: frozen take and bake pies
  • Alcohol products: hard ciders, brandy, or wine,
  • Other: honey, maple syrup and meat
  • Animal Apples: $5 a bushel, bring containers
  • Vegetables: certified organic spinach, carrots kale, lettuce, scallions, garlic available all winter long (grown in our sun-heated hoophouse). These will be a little slow-growing until mid-January due to the especial cold and cloudiness this winter, but we know our patience will be rewarded soon!

Starting January 9th we will have organic produce for sale at World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. They are open Tuesday through Saturday and our refrigerator is in the back of the store. As previously mentioned the greens are growing a little slowly right now and it might be sparse for a bit, but the sun in the forecast and a few warmer days will really help them swing out of the slow growth of dark mid-winter.

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards hopes you stay warm and safe, and get a little chillin’ time in yourself during the quiet of the winter season.

 

Wishing You Joy, Peace, and Good Health!

We are now officially closed for the 2017 season, but we are always happy to meet you by appointment over the winter if you need any of the following:

  • Baked goods: frozen take and bake pies
  • Alcohol products: hard ciders, brandy, or wine,
  • Other: honey, maple syrup and meat
  • Animal Apples: $5 a bushel, bring containers
  • Vegetables: certified organic spinach, kale, lettuce, scallions, garlic available all winter long (grown in our sun-heated hoophouse)

Starting January 9th we will have organic produce for sale in downtown Three Rivers. We will keep you posted on details.

Happenings on the Farm:  We are thick into our winter pruning of grapes……a long job that takes us about 3 months! Seed catalogs are being pored over in front of the fire and orders being placed for next year.   Somehow looking at those beautiful pictures of vegetables and fruit make us temporarily remember all the work that comes after the seeds arrive here! In a few weeks it will already be time to start the tomato plants growing for the greenhouse. But we are enjoying the slower pace of work for sure, taking the time to weed the hoophouse on sunny days and doing paperwork when it’s cloudy.

We’re hoping that your visits here to the farm this past year brought you joy, peace and good health. And we’re hoping that continues through the winter until we see you again next year! From all of us here at Corey Lake Orchards!

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Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local and wishes you all the best in this winter season!

Open this Saturday 11 to 3!

We will be open December 16th from 11 to 3 which is our final day for this season.  However, we are happy to meet any day at your convenience – just call us in advance to pick up things that you may want for the holiday – fresh apples, a bottle of our wine, a 6-pack of our hard ciders or a pie you can bake in your oven! (269) 244-5690.  We realize our market location on the hill is not “winter friendly” so we are ready to help bring your purchases to your car for those who prefer not to get out in our  snowy driveway and want curbside service!  Here’s a customer who stopped this week and not even a little snow could keep their little ones off the big slide!

Here’s what we still have (until they run out!) for our final Saturday or for an appointment pick up.

Baked goods: frozen take and bake pies in many flavors
Apples, see list below of what we still have
Organics: garlic, kale, spinach, lettuce
Alcohol products: We’ll also have hard cider, brandy, wine, and if you want to try before you buy, come to tasting on Saturday the 16th from 1-3. Peggy is hosting it in the warmth of the bakery.
Other: honey, maple syrup, meat.
End of Season apple specials:

Buy any size bag of apples and get a free bag of Golden Delicious apples the same size (1 free bag per customer–of the largest size bag you purchased). In other words, buy a 1/2 bushel of Romes, a peck of Jonathan, and take a free 1/2 bu bag of Golden Delicious.
Picked Apples on the market:  Apples are going fast so don’t delay…..

Jonathan: Pretty and popular, used for fresh eating and cooking, a favorite for apple butter and taffy apples.
Northern Spy: The professional baker’s dream, cooks up well in applesauce, pie and other dishes.
Red Delicious: America’s most popular apple “back in the day.” Best for fresh eating and snacks. Full-flavored sweet taste.
Golden Delicious: A gingery-smooth, sweet taste under a thin skin. It’s the most popular yellow apple, good eaten fresh, baked or cut in salads.
Fuji: Has a fantastic sweet flavor and tart flavor, with a low acid content.  An incredibly good keeper, it says crisp for weeks without even being in the refrigerator.
Red Rome:  A big, round very red apple, mild sweet flavor. Holds it shape and flavor when baked.
Apple Cider is gone for the year, we all miss that for sure!  Our bakery is now closed for the year, so sorry, no donuts, cookies, muffins, just “take and bake” pies from the freezer.
Many of you have asked where you can get our hard cider during our off-season. The Local Bar in Centreville has a great bottle selection and usually stocks five or more of our ciders. The Riviera Bar in Three Rivers also carries a few of our ciders, and we’ll be reaching out to some more stores now that we’re mostly done at the market.  You are always welcome to schedule a time to drop by and buy some wine, brandy, and hard cider as well – 269-244-5690.

Animal apples:  We have our apple “seconds” available for purchase at $5 a bushel, bring your own containers please.

Free Pallets:  If you would like some, give us a call and we can make arrangements to get them for you.

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local and wishes you all the best in this winter season!

 

 

 

 

 

One Last Saturday: December 16th from 11 to 3

We apologize for the confusion in last week’s update about which Saturdays we are open. We have one last Saturday remaining and it is December 16th from 11 to 3. However, we are happy to meet any day at your convenience – just call us in advance to pick up things that you may want for the holiday – fresh apples, a bottle of our wine, a 6-pack of our hard ciders or a pie you can bake in your oven! (269) 244-5690.

Happenings OFF the farm:  This week three generations of our farm family attended the Great Lakes Expo, which is one of the largest (and best!) conferences held annually. Michaela and her mother Patti attended the bakery sessions, Brenda attended the farm market and agritourism sessions as well as the bus tour of five farm markets, Becca dashed between the hard cider and organic classes and Beth attended the sweet cider and the fruit and vegetable sessions. And since it is never too early to start, granddaughter Emma Grace came along, too. There is also a large trade show where we saw the latest technology in farm and bakery equipment, fruit and vegetable packaging, greenhouse construction, soil, fertilizers, seeds, fruit trees and so much more. We look forward to this opportunity each December to get away from the farm and be immersed in learning and networking with several thousand of our peers. While our heads are still reeling from so much information, over the winter we’ll digest it as we begin our planning for our 2018 season and beyond.

Brenda and Beth at the Agritourism booth

Beth looking at a new mini cider press

Emma Grace testing out the barrel train while sampling a yogurt smoothie

Here’s what we still have (until they run out!) for our final Saturday or for an appointment pick up.

  • Baked goods: frozen take and bake pies in many flavors
  • Apples, see list below of what we still have
  • Organics: garlic, kale, spinach, lettuce
  • Alcohol products: We’ll also have hard cider, brandy, wine, and if you want to try before you buy, come to tasting on Saturday the 16th from 1-3. Bruce is hosting it in the warmth of the bakery.
  • Other: honey, maple syrup, meat.

End of Season apple specials:

  • Buy any size bag of apples and get a free bag of Golden Delicious apples the same size (1 free bag per customer–of the largest size bag you purchased). In other words, buy a 1/2 bushel of Romes, a peck of Jonathan, and take a free 1/2 bu bag of Golden Delicious.

Picked Apples on the market:  Apples are going fast so don’t delay…..

  • Jonathan: Pretty and popular, used for fresh eating and cooking, a favorite for apple butter and taffy apples.
  • Northern Spy: The professional baker’s dream, cooks up well in applesauce, pie and other dishes.
  • Red Delicious: America’s most popular apple “back in the day.” Best for fresh eating and snacks. Full-flavored sweet taste.
  • Golden Delicious: A gingery-smooth, sweet taste under a thin skin. It’s the most popular yellow apple, good eaten fresh, baked or cut in salads.
  • Fuji: Has a fantastic sweet flavor and tart flavor, with a low acid content.  An incredibly good keeper, it says crisp for weeks without even being in the refrigerator.
  • Red Rome:  A big, round very red apple, mild sweet flavor. Holds it shape and flavor when baked.

Apple Cider is gone for the year, we all miss that for sure!  Our bakery is now closed for the year, so sorry, no donuts, cookies, muffins, just “take and bake” pies from the freezer.

Many of you have asked where you can get our hard cider during our off-season. The Local Bar in Centreville has a great bottle selection and usually stocks five or more of our ciders. The Riviera Bar in Three Rivers also carries a few of our ciders, and we’ll be reaching out to some more stores now that we’re mostly done at the market.  You are always welcome to schedule a time to drop by and buy some wine, brandy, and hard cider as well – 269-244-5690.

Animal apples:  We have our apple “seconds” available for purchase at $5 a bushel, bring your own containers please.

Free Pallets:  If you would like some, give us a call and we can make arrangements to get them for you.

Everyone at Corey Lake Orchards thanks you for buying local and hopes you are having a good December.

 

***Storing Apples:

Apples are best kept in your refrigerator, preferably the crisper drawer or in an unsealed plastic bag. Refrigerate apples separately from vegetables because apples naturally release small amounts of ethylene gas that can be damaging to lettuce and other produce. If you have a root cellar, you can keep larger amounts there if it is cool, dry and dark.

For every 10 degrees above 30°F, the apples’ lifespan decreases dramatically. You do not want the apples’ temperature to fall below 30°F, however, because that will make them freeze and turn to mush when they’re thawed. Their cell walls will all collapse. Therefore, apples are best stored somewhere around 30-35°F, in a humid environment.

If storing apples in the fridge, place them inside a crisper drawer and lay a slightly dampened paper towel on top of the apples. Apples are one of the few fruits that really do benefit from being stored in the fridge as quickly as possible. Keep them in the crisper drawer with aforementioned damp paper towel, or else keep them in perforated plastic bags in a cold shed or cellar.

There is trust to that old adage: “One bad apple rots the whole bunch.” Apples give off a lot of ethylene gas, and so just one bruised and rotting apple will give off enough to swiftly ripen (and rot) the others. If you have any bruises or soft spots on an apple, set it aside for eating. Don’t store with the other apples.

Ultimately, if you’re planning on storing a lot of apples for the winter, look for firm, long-lasting apples. These are usually thick-skinned, tart apples. We recommend storing Rome or Fuji, properly stored they will last until spring