Just an Update

Greenhouse cucumbers

Greenhouse cucumbers

Hello all, sorry about the long delay in getting into touch with you.  This spring has been very busy and challenging for us.   Being our first season here on our own there are many things that we are learning.  We started the year with big hopes of having really early crops that we could get out.  As you all know the weather has been cooler than usual.  The rain has been a big blessing and greened everything up but the cooler weather and the cloud cover has not helped speed the growing process.  Other than the weather we are very excited about all the progress that has been happening on the farm.

Starthouse Bursting with Starts

Starthouse Bursting with Starts

With our new start house we have been able to start a lot more plants this year than in previous years.  Just today we transplanted around 2000 tomato plants of varying varieties into the field.  We also planted 2000 feet of melons with more to plant.  I could go on and on about what we are planting but needles to say we are putting a lot of food into the ground each day.  A couple of weeks ago we expanded our strawberry patch from 5 beds to around 17.  Last week we also grew our raspberry rows from 400 feet to around 1600 feet.  We have also put in a new irrigation system in the past couple of weeks that is saving us a ton of time already.  We have been working hard to put into place many changes that will help save time and increase efficiency throughout the season. Our ultimate goal is to be able to focus more on getting food out of the ground and to you- the customer.

Setting up Irrigation Lines

Setting up Irrigation Lines

Thank you all for supporting us and cheering us on.  Growing food is not the easiest endeavor to tackle and just when you think you have it figured out you realize you’re not even close.  One thing that makes our profession so enjoyable is having all of you guys out there begging for our food.  It brings daily encouragement.

As for the CSA we are hoping to start it soon.  Things are beginning to grow better now but it is always hard to tell exactly when we will start.  We had been hoping to be rolling by now, but all we can do is work with what we have.  Please stay tuned for any info that we send out.  We will try and give you as much notice as possible.  Once again thank you.

Blessings!  The Farm Crew

Transplanting Tomatoes

Transplanting Tomatoes

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Spring Has Sprung!

March Greenhouse

The Greenhouse in March- Working on those early tomatoes!

Well, it is official- spring is here. Although you could hardly tell by the weather we have been having! With lows around 5 degrees last week we were really putting our new greenhouse heating system to the test. So far, we are blessed to say that it has worked marvelously! Our main greenhouse is packed about as full as we can get it. It is home to MANY tomato plants, as well as kale, basil, cucumbers, zucchini and freshly seeded carrots, radishes and salad mix! We are hoping to start the season off early and with style. We are praying that the Lord blesses our efforts!

Our Start house has had the plastic on it for a couple of weeks now. With this main structure finished it was endured some pretty heavy winds, which is very reassuring. We still need to get the flooring and benches installed, but other demanding projects have pulled us away for the time being.

If you have not signed up for our 2013 CSA share, we would like to ask that you consider doing so. By joining our CSA program you are helping first-hand to support the work we love to do. We strive to provide quality weekly boxes that contain the freshest produce you can find in our area! Our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program is very important to us. We have made some changes this year, so if you want to learn more about it, please check it out on our website: www.battlecreekgardens.com.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via email at: farm@bhhec.org.

We are moving forward with incredible anticipation as we prepare for the warmer weather. We look forward to seeing you all soon. Until then- Blessings!

Greenhouse Rugrats

Rugrats in the Greenhouse- Helping the Best They Can!

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2013 Community Supported Agriculture Program

As we prepare to meet the 2013 growing season head on, our thoughts and efforts have been focused upon our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for this year. We are pleased to announce that we are

Now accepting applications for our 2013 CSA Program

This year we are offering our traditional 15 week CSA program, just as we have in the past. This will consist of a produce delivery once a week for the 15 week period to be picked up by members at an arranged location. The box will contain a variety of produce that is fresh on the farm for that week, with an emphasis on variety and value. It is much like owning stock or a ‘share’ in the harvest for the season. We will be offering two separate 15 week programs this year, back-to-back. The second session will run into the winter months.

In addition to this traditional model we are adding something new this year. We would like to offer a Market-style CSA program. Market-style CSA’s differ in their level of flexibility and choice offered to the member. In this type of program, the purchaser has an account balance which they purchase at the beginning of the season. They can then get on our website and ‘spend’ their balance to build their box each week, giving them the opportunity to customize it’s contents. Additionally, in a Market-style CSA, the member can ‘spend’ their balance at our farmer’s market stand in Rapid City. We are only offering a limited number of Market-style CSA shares this year as it is a test run for us. They are strictly first-come-first-serve, so if you are interested, please sign up today.

For more information about our CSA program please see our CSA information page, or to sign-up please click HERE.

As always, we would like to remind our CSA members that purchasing a CSA share is much like owning stock in our farm for a season. You get to share in the bounty of the harvest. We make every effort towards success in our farming practice, however, we have no control over crop failures for whatever reason. By purchasing a CSA share, you are assuming this risk with us.

Tomato HadassahThank you for your support! We look forward to sharing the upcoming season with you!



Hadassah with a freshly transplanted tomato plant. We are so excited and hoping for early tomatoes this year!

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Spring Fever!

We can’t believe that it is already March.  This is an exciting time. We can see and feel changes in the weather patterns, we can hear the songs of new birds as they make their journey back North and the feeling of spring is in the air! Daylight savings time is only one week away and then things will really feel like summer is on the horizon. Time sure flies, especially when things are busy.

The past few months have been exciting for us. We completed our first winter CSA program on February 14 this year. We had a wonderful experience serving our winter CSA members and have received lots of critical feedback. Thank you to those who supported our first effort at such an endeavor. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Beds in GreenhouseAnother project that has been ongoing this winter has been the transformation of our greenhouse from a raised-bed system to a more traditional, in-ground layout. This will enable us to maximize out growing capacity in this greenhouse for the seasons to come. This was quite the project, since the ground had been compacted and covered with gravel and even some underground tanks had to be removed. As you can see, we have the beds all ready for planting now.

In addition to this greenhouse project we have another in the works. Starthouse ConstructionSince we removed all of the work benches from the previous greenhouse, we needed to build a space to start all of our seedlings. This is where our ‘starthouse’ project comes in. We have been constructing a (large), south-facing solar greenhouse specifically for seed starting. It is adjacent to our existing maintenance building.  The structure sits atop a hole that is four feet into the ground. This enables us to monopolize on the constant temperature of the ground below the surface. Another Starthouse Constructionfeature this greenhouse will have is a 15 to 20-inch cavity between it’s layers of plastic overhead. This cavity can then be filled with soap bubbles at night for warmth and during the hottest of days for shade. These bubbles provide insulation that is equivalent to an R-value of 1 for every inch. With these features, we can keep our greenhouse at safe temperatures for the seedlings without using excessive energy to do so.

We have many other plans and projects for the weeks and months to come. We will do our best to keep you updated as we go.

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Gearing Up For the Coming Season

We have been planning for this time for months! The new season is only a few short weeks away and already there is much preparation underway! We finally have a heater for the greenhouses, a 1,000,000 BTU pellet stove that was generously donated by Eden Valley Institute.  This is very exciting since it means that we can plant in the greenhouse much earlier this season. In addition to the heater for the greenhouse, we will be constructing a new start house in the next couple of weeks. It will be a South-facing solar heated greenhouse. The floor will be lower than the ground and we will be trying to harness heat from below the ground to help to keep the start house warm on cold days. It will be nice to have a space dedicated solely to plant starts rather than sharing greenhouse space with other, growing crops.

Our winter CSA has only two weeks of deliveries left after today. It sure has flown by! This week’s CSA box contained collard greens and included a recipe for making wraps with them. If you would like to watch a video of how this is done, you can do so below.  It’s not the best videography in the world, but you can see how to make the food…and that;s the important part!

We also have been blessed  with two farm volunteers who will be here for through the 2013 growing season. Their names are Akeem and Anjin. They both have a passion for learning about country living and farming  with best practices. Hopefully we can get some bios up soon!

Stay tuned for updates on the new start house! Until then, stay warm and eat well!

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Happy Holidays!

Just a reminder to our current CSA members that today’s delivery will be a double box and that there will be NO DELIVERY on DECEMBER 27th.

Have a great holiday and we will see you next year!!
Blessings! Matt, Deidre, J&H

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We would like to wish you all a happy holiday and say a big thank you to all who support us! We couldn’t do what we do without you!

Since there was an option for pumpkin pie this week , we had someone request a vegan whipped cream. Although we didn’t have time to make up a batch to accompany your pies, I would like to share my favorite recipe with you. It is adapted from the cookbook “Vegan Homestyle” by Kay Hansen. This is my go-to cookbook for just about every staple recipe. Here it is, hope you enjoy!

Coconut Whipped Cream
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp Agar powder
1-14oz. Can of coconut milk
2 Tbsp evaporated cane juice crystals (white sugar)
1 Tsp vanill extract (or 1Tbsp powder is best)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Pinch salt

Directions: Heat agar and water in a saucepan and simmer gently for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Place all ingredients, including agar mixture into the blender and blend until well incorporated. Pour into a dish and chill until set. Before serving, spoon the set mixture into the blender and blend just until whipped and smooth. Makes approx. 2 1/4 cups.

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Winter CSA Underway

First Winter CSA Box

Well, this past week was the first delivery of our Winter CSA boxes. We were happy to still have vine-ripened tomatoes to include in the box…and they were tasty! We have been anticipating the first box for some time now, so it was a relief to get the first one behind us.

We had quite the cold snap this past weekend- down around 10 degrees. We were able to keep the main greenhouse above freezing, but just barely at times. This was a real test for us, because we are still learning what it takes to keep the heat in and pumping out of the stove. Some of the tomato plants near the outside wall did not make it, but we realize that is all part of the game. We just keep doing what we can and rely on the Lord to do the rest.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving week and are trying to plan the contents of our box around the holiday. If you are a current CSA member, please keep your eye out for details bout your delivery next week as Thursday is Thanksgiving and we will be changing the pick-up day. You should have an email by tomorrow (Wednesday) evening so you can have about a weeks notice.

Enjoying the cold weather

Last, but not least, we want to let you know about an event that is planned at Black Hills Health and Education Center- Healthy Cooking for the Holidays. It will be take place on Sunday, November 18th. There will be recipes, cooking demonstrations and food samples all geared to help you prepare healthy alternatives to traditionally rich holiday meals. If you are interested in attending, an RSVP is appreciated, but not required.

Healthy Cooking for the Holidays

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To Everything There is a Season

Well, on the farm the seasons bring change! This fall has brought upon great change here at Battle Creek Gardens. One of the most noteworthy changes has been saying farewell to Larry and Michelle Lesher. The Leshers spent the last three summers running the in’s-and out’s of BCG. They poured all of themselves into their work here and they will be sorely missed!

Matt, Deidre and family

Matthew Dealy has stepped into the role of farm manager. Some of you may remember Matt and his family. Matt spent the summer of 2010 working on the farm as an intern. His growing practices and beliefs parallel Larry’s in many ways and Matt aims to uphold the same high standards that have been employed here at Battle Creek Gardens in the past. Matt will be joined on the farm by his wife, Deidre and their two young children.

Wood Stove in Greenhouse

The change in weather means farming has slowed down for 2012. Our first freeze came in early October and it was a hard one! We were in a flurry trying to prepare the field and greenhouses, harvesting what we could before it was laid to waste by Jack Frost. We are now working to prolong the harvest on the crops remaining. We moved two of the field houses over some of our winter crops and placed some smaller row covers over others. This will maintain harvests longer as the temperatures continue to fall. Additionally, Matt has installed a wood-burning stove in a portion of the tomato greenhouse to maintain temperatures well above freezing at night. So far this has been a success and our tomato plants continue to set and ripen fruit, though at a slower pace than in peak season. There is still much to do on the farm to prepare for winter and next spring. We are taking it one day at a time.

Hadassah Sitting in the Kale Patch

Another new venture for the farm this year is the addition of a winter CSA program. This program will consist of 15 weeks of deliveries, just as the summer CSA program does. The cost is $350. The contents of the box will differ somewhat, with more cold-weather produce and a bakery item from Battle Creek Bakery each week. We will  be working hard to produce as much as we can on the farm this year. We will then purchase other, quality items to complete the box. If you are interested in signing up for our Winter CSA, please do so now as the deadline is this coming Sunday, November 4th. Our first delivery will be on Wednesday, November 7th and can be picked up at the Rapid City SDA Church or at the farm in Hermosa. You can sign-up at our new website: www.battlecreekgardens.com.

Thank you for your support of our farm!


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Wow! What a Year!

Well as many of you know we had a bad hail storm on August 10th that wiped out our Winter squash and melon harvest for the year.  You would think that by now we would be used to the devastation since the same thing happened last year. But it is still  a difficult time. There is a lot of hard work that goes into farming and when you witness the fruits of this labor, so close to harvest, be ruined…well lets just say it is a humbling experience . What can we learn from this? This is what I ask myself in an effort to grow through the process of disappointment. It is interesting to think about how much these plants need their green foliage to grow and to ripen. Once the leaves were destroyed by the hail the life line to the plant was cut short.  The leaves take up energy form the sun and this energy is what the plant needs to ripen. The leaves also work to shade the plant from the direct sunlight, without them the fruit gets burned.

As you can see in the picture above the beautiful Winter Squash is now exposed and not protected from the sun. It is amazing to me how we take so much for granted. These leaves are so essential for the growth of the plant just like food, water and air are essential for us.We are sad that we lost so much, however there are many plants that have totally recovered from the hail. This picture taken of the confetti chard is no longer a sad memory because it has totally recovered and looks even better than it did before the hail storm (I will post a current picture soon for you to compare).

We have also been very blessed to witness the amazing sky after the hail storms come. We know that in the end this is God’s garden and we trust that He knows what we can and can’t handle. The beautiful sky after the storm gives us hope for tomorrow and for next season.

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