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Thomas Creamery Retires Nov 2014

Thomas Creamery

Letter from Thomas Creamery……
Have you “herd” the news? We are retiring. We have decided it was time for us to “head out to pasture”.

As of this week we are closing our farm and creamery. This is our last week bottling milk, making yogurt, and delivering our products to stores. All of our cows, our “Jersey girls”, have headed to a large pastured organic farm in Missouri.

We sincerely thank each of you as well as all of our stores for faithfully supporting our farm over the years. We have been honored with the distinction of producing some of the top yogurt and milk in the nation for quality and nutrition (see Cornucopia Institute). And we have eight fabulous employees who have worked hard for the success of the farm.

We were originally “city kids” and have been on the farm 17 years now building our business. Now it is time for us to slow down and take a rest. Keep an eye on us in the future as we look toward the Traverse City area. We just may be at it again in a few seasons.

We deeply thank you with all our hearts for your support all these years. You are the ones who have made us successful.

If anyone would like to continue with the Thomas Organic Creamery tradition of creating nutrient-dense yogurt and milk, our creamery equipment is for sale. We would love to train the right person who has the desire to continue what we have started. Please feel free to contact us by email at

Sincerely, Harley and Linda Thomas

Growing Season Update November 2014

Wow that cold snap hit everyone. January weather in Mid November. How weird is that, not only did it raise the heating bills for everyone, cause some to suffer the car won’t start syndrome it also greatly affected plant and animal life.

Even many of the plants in the hoop-houses suffered premature deaths and those that didn’t die and now believing that they went through the winter and when it warms up they are going to say Ahh!! it is now spring, time for me to go to seed.

The plants that will do that are what are considered bi-annuals. Those plants have a two year growing season, the first is growth the second is going to seed. They don’t follow a calender they react to the temperature changes and the length of day.

The hoop-houses are not heated and rely on the sunshine to warm them up and double layers of plastic to hold the heat in during cold nights.

For those of us that were relying on a great winter production year will have to wait a little longer. It has been told that this winter is going to be as bad as last years winters. We are all hoping that is not the case, but with the premature November Cold Snap things don’t look good. Mother Nature Wins out again.

Apple Cole Slaw

Recipe submitted by Racheal Yonkman(via the www)

Apple Cole Slaw
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 unpeeled red apple, cored and chopped
1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, red apple, green apple, carrot, red bell pepper, and green onions. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Pour dressing over salad.

How the Farmers Work Together

Many of the farmers participate with the operation of this market, and when no unexpected events/emergencies happen the market runs almost as smooth as clock work.

Today I received a panicked phone call from Racheal that she can’t open the market today because goats are out. So alas today I have to click the mouse, change the wordings and open the market.

Tuesday morning the farmers know what products they have to prepare for the market. CSA Farmers Market action starts Wednesday night when one of our helpers creates reports for packing frozen & dairy and prints the invoices, envelopes and other miscellaneous paperwork that enables us to get the farmers products to you. Michele from Fallen Oak Farm brings her items over and assembles the envelopes, invoices and packing reports than places them in the appropriated distribution location basket.

Thursday Morning Kurt from Ulrich Farm arrives with his items and packs up the orders that is suppose to go the West distribution area. Barb a helper takes the van and heads of to Almars where she meets with Linda Purdy from Westwind Mill and Pat Whetham from Whetham Organic. Orders going to the West side are packed and everyone takes the orders to their respective farms for customers.

The items they have for the East area are loaded in the van and taken back to White Pine Farm where Dale Kinney from White Pine Farm, Joe Law from Law Family Farm, Doreen Wilcox from BF&E Organics, and our helpers start to pack orders. As they are packed they are put in totes and placed in the walk in cooler. Of course frozen items go in the freezer and CSAFM is operating five chest freezers right now (it is going to be wonderful when we get the walk in). Krystal Owens son gets off from the bus at White Pine Farm where we pack orders and she loads up products that are going to Healthy Habitz which she will deliver before going home.

Friday morning Dale Kinney, Marian Listwak, and a helper go to White Pine Farm to load the van. We usually start loading at 7am as we carefully pack to make sure we don’t miss anything. Everything is color coded to help us know what to unload where it is suppose to go. If things go well we are on the road by 8:30 am to start delivering and the van does not arrive back until approximately 5pm. If I’m not helping with deliveries I usually stay close to the phone to deal with what every unexpected event that happens.

We operate somewhat like a co-op where the farmers are expected to do their share of work. Not all farmers can help so they contribute a higher percentage of their sales as compared to the grower that can participate with helping at the market.

Of course as always there is a fall person that fills in whenever any one is sick or goes on vacations or has to help friends whose goats get out. That person is me and if I don’t get back with everyone timely I can guarantee it is one of those weeks where I have to do double duty.

Until Next Time
Marian Listwak


We all love to visit the local pumpkin patches in the fall and amble through them to pick the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Sometimes those pumpkin patch farms have crop failures and have no or very few pumpkins; like every farmer this is usually the result of weather or disease.

Over the last month or so I have been driving past one such pumpkin patch. The frost hit, the vines died and normally when the vines are gone pumpkins can be seen, but there were almost no pumpkins in the patch, a week later a pumpkin fairy must have visited in the night and there were pumpkins neatly growing in a predictable fashion with one small, one medium and one large pumpkin spaced every 5 feet apart.

Another day I drove by and I was amazed that on the side of a hill there were many huge mega size pumpkins, I had to shake my head and rub my eyes as I was in shock that they managed to grow such huge pumpkins. I did not remember seeing them there before, although I suspect the pumpkin fairy that visited them must have been a professional weight lifter pumpkin fairy in order to be able to carry such huge pumpkins.

This year we (White Pine Farm) had an almost total squash/pumpkin failure and the visions of these pumpkins must have been stuck in my brain for as I slept I dreamt of cresting over one of our hills and seeing five foot tall vines with huge squash and pumpkins growing gloriously everywhere. Maybe the dream will become reality next year, farmers are always hoping the next year will be better.

CSA Farmers Market does not have any fairies for pumpkins or squash, we have to rely on someone in the group to have a successful year with those crops; fortunately this year Law Family Farm and Ulrich Farms have been blessed with a reasonable harvest of squash and they did it without the help of a pumpkin fairy.

Until Next Time
Marian Listwak


It is a great time of year when the trees start to change color and the woodlots that we have are carpeted with glorious, oranges, reds browns and greens. Sometimes you have to be careful where you step so as to not find a prickly American Chestnut Seed.
Many years ago the chestnut trees grew tall and big throughout our area, but as seems to happen more often a disease came through and killed them. On White Pine Farm we have some trees only because I disease free stand was found in Northern Michigan and my uncle was helping to reintroduce them.
I could never figure for how prickly they were how the squirrels and other animals could get into them and eat the seeds inside. Of course I am not watching and filming the animals to solve these mysteries, instead I’m too busy trying to make the farm sustainable so that we can also protect and preserve the swamps and the woodlands. Someday when we get a breather from farming I may sit in the woods and observe nature, listen to the songs the birds sing, chase away the dear that want to eat the vanishing trilliums, watch the turtles lay their eggs, watch the sticklebacks swim in swallow waters and be grateful for the glorious world we live in knowing that we as organic farmers are preserving rather than destroying this good earth.

Cabbage, Carrot and Potato Soup

Submitted by Racheal Yonkman

This is a very simple recipe and freezes well.

Original recipe makes 6 servings
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 large potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/4 medium head green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt

Combine the carrots, potatoes, onion, cabbage, garlic, chicken stock, olive oil, thyme, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper in a stock pot over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender in small batches and blend until smooth.

Spinach Feta Strudel

Recipe submitted by Carolyn Doherty

½ # Strudel leaves
2# fresh Spinach
3 T olive oil
1 ½ c finely chopped onions (Leeks)
½ C salt butter
5 eggs beaten
½ C chopped scallions, green part and all
½ # Feta, chopped or grated
½ C fresh Dill, or 1 T dries dill
½ C finely chopped Parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1 C sweet butter melted

Remove packages of strudel leaves from frig at least 3 hours before using.
Wash spinach in several changes of water. Dry it and cut into 2” lengths.
Cook in oil till wilted. Drain. Brown the onions in salt butter.
Mix the onions, eggs, scallions, cheese, dill and parsley. Add the spinach.
Preheat oven to 350

Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad

Recipe submitted by Carolyn Doherty%

Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad
Serves 4
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeño
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.
2. Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.
3. Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

Frost Came and than it was warm

Yep, we had frost and the sweet potatoes came out of the ground just in time. Frost marks the end of many crops that cannot take the cold, basil, tomatoes, peppers and more, unless they were covered or in a hoop-house. Once past that first frost the weather gets warmer and fortunately we are getting a reprieve from the rain, now the large farms that have beans can get on the fields and start harvesting their beans. Farmers are busy putting up fences and the dear are moving into the farmer fields and into the gardens. The dear must have good tastes because this last week they found Laws Romaine lettuce. White Pine Farm has pasture where the cattle are and the dear don’t like to mix with the cattle so they tend to leave the garden alone. Once in awhile we will see tracks and they gleefully nip the tops off the plants.
This time of year the plants get a little weaker so we have to watch them closely for it is more challenging to get the higher quality produce that is easier generally earlier in the season.
We are enjoying this wonderful warm dry spell and so are the yellow jackets.

Until Next Time
Marian Listwak