Category: Local Food

09 Feb 2021

Cold Weather Garden Preparation

Cold Weather Garden Preparation

With the snow and cold arriving, it’s a great time to stop and think about what it means to eat fresh, local produce in the winter. Believe it or not, we start growing produce for the winter in May. It begins with sweet potatoes, moves to winter squash and root crops (carrots, beets, and radishes) in August and ends with greens planted in October. None of this process is easy, but the reward of having crisp winter carrots, tasty sweet potatoes and sweet winter greens is worth it!
The part of our winter production that is the most work is our winter greens. Many of the greens you see in our farm store during the winter months are what we call cold hardy. Cold hardy means that they can survive a range of cold temperatures and conditions, each to a varying degree. Things like spinach can handle freeze and thaw with no issue, while crops like arugula need special protection to be harvested throughout the winter. That’s where farming ingenuity comes in!

By using plastic-covered structures (tunnels), we are able to protect these cold hardy, yet not invincible, crops from the harshest winter conditions. These tunnels help capture heat, keep the rain, ice, and snow off the crops as well as protect them from bitter winter winds. When the temperatures really drop, we also use something called row cover, which is a bedsheet-like material, that helps keep the plants insulted from the cold even more! The greens you have been eating from our farm store this winter were seeded in late October and have been babied all winter long, so we can harvest them fresh for you weekly.

No matter how much we prepare, Mother Nature is still the undisputed champ. She takes her share of the harvest every winter and seems to be especially fond of using February’s cold weather to make sure we remember who is really in charge!

02 Dec 2020

Not all grass-fed beef is created equal

Not all grass-fed beef is created equal

Why are we selling beef raised in Michigan here at our farmstore? 100% grass fed and finished, these cattle were raised as part of our ongoing research into the nutritive benefits of grass-fed beef in collaboration with Michigan State University.

Definitive results from a 2018 collaborative study from Greenacres Foundation and Michigan State University (MSU), investigating the nutritional quality of grass-fed beef show that not all grass-fed beef is created equal. Among other nutritional benefits, grass-fed beef claims to have a more favorable fatty acid profile than grain-fed beef, with a purported omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2-to-1. The findings of our 2018 research showed that, of the 750 samples collected, a large portion labeled “grass-fed” had fatty acid profiles that more closely resembled grain-fed beef with omega-6 to omega-3 ratios in excess of 10-to-1. The 2018 study was based on beef samples from farms across the U.S. with self-reported production practices that were difficult to verify and had wide variability. This left us perplexed as to what was causing the skewed omega 6-to-3 ratios. More research was needed.

Chad Bitler
Greenacres Research Director

One thing was for certain though – the beef that was raised on farms like ours that grazed fresh, growing grass, without supplementation, resulted in the most favorable nutritional profiles.

To discover what factors were driving the unexpected results, Greenacres has once again partnered with MSU for a second study to increase the collective knowledge of grass-fed beef production and help increase consumer awareness. Sixty beef cattle were purchased by Greenacres and sent to MSU’s research farm in Battlefield, MI. There, the cattle were randomized and put on different feeding regimens, including forms of supplementation currently allowed under some “grass-fed” labeling claims. After 6 months the cattle were harvested and nutritional analysis will be completed to look for variation between the beef from cattle in different regimens. This study will be repeated again in 2021 and the results will be published in a refereed scientific journal – helping to fill current knowledge gaps to improve grass-fed beef production.

Of the sixty cattle in the study, the meat from seventeen were brought back to Cincinnati – these were the cattle who followed Greenacres production practices only – 100% grass fed and grass-finished – resulting in beef that we know is of the highest nutritional quality. This beef is from Michigan, but played an important role in our research toward bringing you the best quality, most nutritious beef.

Greenacres is proud to sponsor ground-breaking research in the world of agricultural science. Together with our partners at Michigan State University, we continue to explore the nutritional differences of grass-fed beef. We look forward to the next phase of this research being released to the public soon. Our beef products are available for sale throughout the year in our Farmstore, located at 8255 Spooky Hollow Road.

07 Aug 2020

Growing Summer Lettuce

Growing Summer Lettuce

Lettuce prefers the cool days and chilly nights of spring and fall in Southwest Ohio. Some of the lettuce we grow can tolerate temperatures as low as 28 degrees! This is why you find tons of lettuce in the store during the spring and fall (what we call our shoulder seasons). During the heat of summer, lettuce quickly becomes stressed and bolts (goes to seed) in the field. When lettuce bolts the flavor becomes VERY bitter – it isn’t that sweet crunchy leaf we expect. We know lettuce is a favorite of our Farm Store customers, which is why this year we decided to experiment with techniques to grow summer lettuce.

See how our tunnel is covered in shade cloth in the picture above? This keeps the full force of the sun off the tender leaves. Next you will notice the black woven plastic under the plants. This is called landscape fabric – it helps to keep the soil moist and cool, and also suppresses weeds. The last thing we do is water the lettuce, briefly, twice a day. This part is important to cool the lettuce down and keep it from going to seed.

Out of all of our experimenting this year, the most important part has been choosing the proper lettuce variety. We have experimented with a few “heat tolerant” lettuces and landed on one called Muir. Muir has been sweeter, crisper and more productive than any of the other lettuces we have grown this summer. So when you see lettuce in the Farm Store next to those tomatoes in the summer, know that a lot of work, care and thought went into getting that lettuce on to your plate in July and August. We hope that you enjoy every tasty bite!

12 Apr 2020

Legendary Genetics

Legendary Genetics

At Greenacres we are committed to building the best grass-based genetics in our registered Angus herd. We approach this by utilizing our natural breeding practices to retain the best calves to join our breeding program. We also collaborate with others across the country to integrate the excellence of proven premier cows and bulls from the Wye genetics line. Utilizing the latest in genetic technology, we are able to revive the exceptional genetics of bulls from the 1950s that laid the foundation for the most efficient grass-fed meat producing herds.

Last fall we added a few elite cows to our herd with links back to the most notorious Wye Angus sire – Prince of Malpas – who was born in Scotland in 1956. A few weeks ago we were excited to witness the birth of a heifer calf who is the grand-daughter of this great foundation bull.

Prince of Malpas Granddaughter

We also welcomed a new bull calf (pictured in header) who is the son of another legendary bull – Banjo of Wye – who was born in 1989 and played a critical role in adding exceptional maternal efficiency traits- often called maternal goodness- to the genetic strength of the Wye lines.

Both of these calves will play key roles in our future breeding program at Greenacres.

Why is Greenacres committed to this work of genetic improvement and excellence in our herds? Exceptional genetics are tied directly to development of the best products – whether for our customers who trust us in purchasing the highest quality and most nutritional meat products or for our fellow farmers that may wish to add these genetics to their breeding programs. Our genetics will ensure we continue improving key traits in our herds including :

• Meat producing efficiency on grass-based systems
• Maternal efficiency and structure (calving ease, weight gain, milk production)
• Docility and steady temperaments for safety and reduction of stress
• Longevity and health