When we are Open
Reminder on our days and hours: Open 9 am to 6pm every day, including holidays. Closed Tuesdays. To call us with an order or a question: 269-244-5690.
May 24 is National Asparagus Day and it is time for an Asparagus Feastival! And many of our asparagus stalks are shooting up to join in the festivities!
Happenings on the Farm
So, we went from winter to summer this week when we really were longing for just spring. Now that it is safe to plant, we have been non-stop planting this week to get our vegetables and tomatoes into the ground. The high temperatures and lack of rain is not making our plants very happy as they get transplanted. So, another huge job this week was water, water, water. Please do a rain dance for all farmers!
Here we are busy planting cabbage.
Below we are preparing the field so we can plant our new strawberry plants. This field will be in production next year!
With the current May heat wave, the asparagus is growing faster than usual. Asparagus can grow six inches a day in average temperatures and the heat is causing it to grow so fast that we may have to pick the fields twice a day. This has happened on rare occasions through the years.
60 Stalks Special
In honor of the farm’s 60th anniversary and National Asparagus Day, we have a “60 Stalks Special” for Saturday through Monday. Buy a bag of 60 spears, which turns out to be 2 pounds, for $6.00. This is the time to eat and freeze/can some!
U-Pick Asparagus – Saturday and Sunday
Come pick-your-own. This is the first time ever we have opened our asparagus to u-pick, but we thought we’d give everyone a chance to see how asparagus grows and learn more about this amazing spring crop. The price is $3 per pound. Check in and out at the market. We will provide plastic bags to use for picking.
Hours: Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to noon. Groups going to pick asparagus will depart every 15 minutes, starting at 9, from the market. You will need to drive to the field as it is about a half mile away. Asparagus does not like to be picked in the heat of the afternoon, any more than you probably would want to be out in the heat of the afternoon!
Our field guide will get you to the right spot and give you directions for picking. You can easily break off the stalks, no knife is required. Please remember that the field is basically open dirt. There are no pathways, straw, or plastic so please wear sturdy shoes or boots. You may also want sunscreen and a hat. Afterwards, enjoy a nice cold slushie at the market!
Some Asparagus History
Thanks to many of you for enjoying our asparagus over the years! If you have been a long-time customer of our asparagus, please let us know. We would like to reminisce with you who remember the asparagus operation from 30-50 years ago.
Brenda and Beth picked asparagus all through their high school years and remember when their parents decided to go into the asparagus business around 1970. Through collaboration with Rutgers, our farther got asparagus crowns to plant to “experiment” whether Michigan had the right growing conditions to sustain the crop. It worked and he planted 100 acres, as those of you who knew him know he usually went all in on things! He planted it on the farm property in Constantine. He also developed an “asparagus picker” riding machine that allowed three people to ride close to the ground to pick three rows at a time. With that many acres, it was not unusual to have a crew of 12 picking each day. And fifty years later, it is still an essential crop at the farm, picked on one of his original asparagus picking machines, but today we only grow 3 acres!
Freezing, Storing, and Cooking Asparagus
Asparagus is quite easy to cook, store, and freeze. Most people just steam their stalks to retain the flavors or throw in a pan and sauté in some olive oil with a few spices.
It is a favorite to grill also. Just line a baking pan with foil, lay out the stalks, add some olive oil/ butter, little salt and pepper for seasoning, and place on the grill.
We also have a few Asparagus recipes on our website, and you will find a wide variety online. Find some recipes that you like and enjoy asparagus while it is at the peak of the season!
It is Time to Get Your Gardens Planted!
We still have lots of plants for your gardens, patios, and special beds grown by Schramm’s Nursery in Portage as well as those we grew in our own greenhouse. There is still a good selection of all types left. We are out of a few types of hot peppers and some flower varieties. You can always call us before you come out to make sure we have what you want, and we can hold it for you. 269-244-5690.
You can buy a 4-pack (all same type) or mix and match 4-packs to make a flat of 48 plants. Herbs, specialty vegetables, and succulents are sold in individual pots.
- Cole Crops – cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, various lettuce varieties, broccoli, swiss chard, cauliflower, and spinach
- Heat Loving Vegetables – peppers, cucumbers, melons, squash, and eggplant
- Tomato plants – large selection of tomatoes, mini tomatoes like grape and cherry; large potted tomatoes for patios and porches
- Strawberry plants –early, mid-season, and late varieties
- Flowers – bedding plants like marigolds, zinnias, petunias, cosmos, impatiens, pansies, ornamental cabbage, begonias, snap dragons, too many to list! We have both annuals and perennials.
- Herbs – cooking essentials: sage, mint, lemon grass, basil, cilantro, dill, chives, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, lavender
- Lettuce Bowls, spinach bowls and arugula bowls – already made, just let grow, cut, and new leaves grow back
- Hanging flower baskets (we just got more in this week)
Need help with selecting plants? We have plant guides with pictures and descriptions and a knowledgeable staff to help you with your selection.
The Strawberry Plants Have Arrived
Our strawberry plants have arrived and are ready for pickup. You should have received a call from us. Thanks to those who preordered – it helped us with managing the order. We also have some for sale. There are 7 varieties available and a limited number of plants on four varieties so stop by soon to make sure that you get what you want.
The plants are nice, high-end nursery stock, and are the same varieties as those we grow. The best time to plant strawberries is now through early June. These plants will produce berries for 5-7 years if taken care of properly. We will provide planting directions with your purchase. See list of varieties and guide on our website.
On the Market
Asparagus. With the warm days we have plenty of asparagus. It helps us to get it ready for you if you call ahead for larger quantities (10 lbs. or more). Call us at 269-244-5690 to place an order.
Rhubarb. Rhubarb is plentiful now also. We are also taking orders for larger quantities (10 lbs. or more).
Bankson Lake Farms Produce. Dan will be bringing us fresh lettuce mix, lettuce heads, mushrooms, green onions, spinach, and parsley this weekend.
Grocery Items. Assortment of local cheese, yogurt, eggs, jam, jelly, salsa, maple syrup, honey, and more.
Greenhouse tomatoes. We just started picking the first ones of the season. Patience please as we wait for more to ripen! We are only picking a few each day so they sell out quickly.
Strawberries. Probably none ripening until the second week of June. Check back for more details. Pricing is still TBD and we will have our order sheet out soon for you to sign up for flats.
We love seeing so many white blossoms in our strawberry field. In this first photo you can see several blossoms with a black middle which means they did not make it through the cold nights we had this spring. But on the later varieties we aren’t seeing that damage which is good news!
Teacher Appreciation Gifts
As the school year ends, it is time to remember the teachers who have done extraordinary work during this pandemic. Not only should we honor our professional teachers, but it is appropriate to say thanks to parents who have served on the home front to coordinate the often-virtual learning experiences of multiple children. We at Corey Lake Orchards give a huge salute to all who struggled through the year including teachers, other school staff, parents, and the students as well. Are we allowed to do group hugs, yet?
Consider giving a gift of appreciation, and we hope that you will support our local business. We have put together a variety of gift options for you. While a traditional teacher gift has been a shiny red apple, and while we are partial to apples ourselves, it is not apple season. However, you will find some items on a gift table marked with red apple sticky notes.
Stop by and peruse our gift table to purchase or to be inspired. Allow our staff to assist you and make note of your desires so we can arrange to have your teacher appreciation packages together in a timely fashion.
Products for gifts include local honey, maple syrup, soy candles, herb plants, jams, jellies, and salsas. Additionally, we have loads of hanging baskets, bedding plants, meat sticks, cheeses, artwork, bags, cards, and more for you to customize your token of appreciation. And as always, we have gift certificates in any amount.
Thank you again to all those who contributed to the education and support of the young people in our community during this pandemic. You are superheroes!
Just a reminder. Our physical bakery space is still closed to the public and our baked goods are limited to our signature fruit pies and donuts for now. We appreciate how much everyone has loved our baked goods and know this is disappointing to many of you.
Donuts. We are making donuts on Saturdays and Sundays only at this time. The current flavors are Vanilla, Cherry, and Blueberry. Stop by this weekend and get fresh donuts while they are still hot.
Fruit Pies. This year our pies are frozen “take and bake” only; we no longer offer “ready to eat” pies. Having them frozen allows us to offer a full variety of pies every day the market is open, not just on weekends. If you are driving far, bring a cooler or insulated freezer bag. The pies are simple to bake, ready to bake when you need them, and give your house a mouthwatering aroma! So far customers are liking this better. The pies are hot right out of your oven, plus extra pies can be tucked in the freezer for that time when you need a dessert! Baking directions are included on each pie.
Varieties available: Apple, Dutch Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Cherry Berry, Peach, Rhubarb, and Strawberry-Rhubarb.
Slushies. The slushies are back! Enjoy a Strawberry, Mango, Strawberry-Mango mix, or Cider.
Spirits, Wine, and Hard Ciders
We have a nice selection of alcohol produced on the farm.
- Fruit brandy in 375ml and 750ml sizes
- 2 sweet wines – Double Cherry and Peach and Honey. Look for several drier wines coming soon!
- Hard cider in 12-ounce bottles. You can purchase them individually or mix and match them in a discounted 4- or 6-pack.
Rhubarb Hard Cider. Our rhubarb hard cider is available in 16.9-ounce bottles. This is a tart cider that many of you enjoy! It is a seasonal offering so be sure to get yours before it disappears.
We are following operational guidance from the CDC as well as State and local health rules. We are an open-air market and masks are optional though we encourage you to wear them if you have not been vaccinated. Our staff will be wearing masks when working with you. We also follow food safety rules that regulate how produce is harvested and packaged.