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Do The Grocery Retailers You Shop At Have The Best Produce Selection?

soil friends fresh produce

fresh produce soil friends

Organic food is great for the fact of environmentally clean crop production but is it the most nutrient dense produce we can consume? Are retailers catching on to this and is organic produce the solution for a healthiest life you can live? A few things to think about follow, this just gives you more to think into than just labels. Know your farmers and make sure the retailers you shop at do also!

• Liquid Fish- Primary form of fertilizer for many organic growers and what are people say about eating fish? (High mercury and metal, ocean pollution)
• Raw- cannot be cleaned (Other than environmental issues what about sanitation from production from tank transfers, processing etc.)
• Foliar feeding gets it on the fruit- Organic method of feeding the plant through the leaves

To be honest I see so much wrong and not healthy in food ingredients that this topic is particularly hard to pin-point what isn’t wrong! We should focus on what can we put in our body that is good for us! The only food label that should be on the table is a soil analysis from the farmer. Some Retailers are catching onto this and  are experiencing less food waste because quality vegetables do not rot. This mindset instead of what not to have and what we should ban, how about what we should add?

“Farmers With Healthy Soils Yield Vegetables With Superior Levels Of Nutrition, Flavor, and Storage Capability” 

• Extracts from fruits (Red Grapes, Berry’s- cancer fighting anti-angiogentic therapy, doesn’t give cancer a chance to grow)
• Cut down obesity rate- (Cancer likes fat areas) -Based on Dr. W.L ideas
• Energy and mental clarity- What lifestyle do you want to live?

The ones eating true health food typically are shopping around the main aisles of the grocery store. Raw foods don’t have much labeling to worry about! Keep in mind it is about nutrient density and getting the right amount of anionic minerals in your diet.

• Nutrient dense crops that are grown in an environmentally clean manner
• Raw Foods
• Keep researching and educating yourself

Grocery inventory  information can be found from Dr. William Li

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Soil Farmers- What Are You Buying At The Farmers Market?

growing bell peppers

growing bell peppers

Soil- The break down of bed rock into mineral components  sand, silk, clay

What are soil farmers?

Soil farmers understand that the soil is alive and certain applications can stop the biology in the soil.  The applications from herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and inorganic fertilizers is killing off a chunk of soil biology each application. When the biology in the soil is not properly working do you think farmers are getting the ample amount of nutrients in their crops? The farmers with these type of applications will not have the highest quality vegetables at the farmers market, you can guarantee that!

Vegetables can be 1,000 times more nutritious from soil farmers 

 Local food is great but don’t get to caught up in the fact that local and fresh are the only option. You can buy local and fresh from a soil farmer who has the goal of growing produce in a soil biological manner. In the soil the bacteria, fungi, arthropods and beneficial nematodes that are used to feed plants must have the proper soil environment in order to function and preform proper nutrient cycling. This is done by farmers who use practices to always maintain and improve soil life, many practices in agriculture are not geared towards growing the most nutrient dense foods. So next time your shopping at the farmers market remember that.

Tilling does reduce Organic Matter from carbon from the surface area mixed in. The bacteria have a party and blow of 60-70% Organic Matter as CO2

Many small changes in management practices from farmers can help grow the high nutritional crops but it takes management. Don’t just buy vegetables from farmers markets because they are a farmer, ask them questions to learn if they are familiar with soil farming. Soil life is how nutrients move into the crop, when you take a step back at a soil farmers perspective  you notice.

“Plants are just energy conversion factories “

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10 Tips for Growing A Nutritious Garden

Growing a healthy garden is fun! Home grown produce taste great with high levels of nutrition and of higher quality than most produce that people are familiar with. All food is not created equal, why not take a shot at growing a garden to feed your family the best food? You can significantly increase your nutrient intake by growing a garden. Here are a few steps you should take in consideration when planting your dream garden. The amount of food you can preserve through the season can not only improve your health but will save money on your grocery bill. Healthy vegetables comes from stress free plants.

1. Take a Soil Test- The most common price we are familiar with is around $25 for a soil test. Thit will give you a proper indication on your soil characteristics and soil type, you can get a more complex extraction test but for a home garden we don’t recommend that. What crops are you growing? Once the soil is understood then we can balance the fertility and make decisions accordingly.

2. Balanced Soils are Best- Always remember Soil eats first, make sure your materials added to your garden are properly broken down. Plants that start vigorously often have higher yields, the soil needs to balanced properly in order for rapidly availble nutrients to the plant. In large gardens and produce fields it is different to find a large enough source for compost in large quantities while remaining economical. Liquid compost teas can be an answer to replace large amounts of spread compost.

“Soil Eats First”


3. Critical Stress Periods– Transplanting vegetables is stressful on plants. Make sure your transplant solution is higher phosphorus (N-P-K), Phosphorous will help with root growth. You want the soil to be biologically active before planting. We also teach an educational approach on biological soil activators but that is an entire topic of its self. Ask us about “Restore 3G”. this should be done in the fall before planting.

4. Are We Growing Produce or Foliage? If selling produce for profit or storing if for the family is our a priority it is important to understand the plant sap ratio. The plant will go through higher phases at different times of plant development higher in a vegetative growth with large amounts of nitrogen in the sap. At other times the mineral content in the plants sap will be used for reproduction, fruit set and vegetable growth. Be careful of nitrogen in flower instances, many times after thunderstorms you will notice your plants aborted their flowers. You need nutrition in the plants sap in order to promote reproduction and fruit set. We need to use our foliage as solar panels to collect energy while creating the proper node spacing to for fruit development growth areas.

“Watch the New Growth”


Do We Want to Set Fruit?

tomato program sets fruit
Healthy Plants

5. Is Boron Properly Balanced in your Garden- This one is dangerous? Although its good to have Boron in your soil this should be taken lightly. If you want to a garden or produce field with proper reproduction. Reproduction in vegetable production is how you will be able to get more produce off each plant. Think of this example : Calcium is a pick-up truck and boron is the driver, the truck will not move without the driver. Boron will help move nutrients in your garden. If your feeding your garden plant foods you want to make sure it is being put to use. Remember more is not always better! Don’t apply Boron unless you are sure you know what amounts your soils need and the crops you are growing require. Otherwise plan on a bull dozer showing up to fix your problem, its that serious.

6. Irrigation- It may sound strange to hear but we would rather it not rain on our produce plants. Many gardens often associate a hot day with soaking the soil and the foliage of the tomato plant so it will take up water and grow tons of tomatoes, the soil should be the only area receiving water. Water bouncing from soil is the scenario for disease and spreading it across the garden. Drip irrigation is the best method for growing a garden.

7. Save Water in your Garden but don’t Explode your Drip Tape- Water should be taken seriously as a garden can consume a large amount of water. Put the water were its needed, no since in watering the weeds. Drip tape can be used with a garden hose attachment but make sure you don’t spend the entire summer exploding your drip lines and wasting water. The drip tape requires lower of water pressure and will explode if levels are to high. After selecting the many options of emitter spacing water will drip in a uniform passion near the roots of the plants without moving soil. A pressure regulator can be attached to your irrigation area to control the water pressure.

ISP Solutions to Sustainable farming
Solutions to Sustainable farming

7. Feed Your Garden- Your plants require nutrition also. The quote ” you are what you eat” is the same in vegetable production. If your plants are not able to eat from fertile soil with the availability of proper amounts of vitamins and minerals your produce will taste terrible, is of lower quality and the largest problem of all it will be robed of nutrition. This will create an environment for bugs and diseases. You know that bugs cannot properly digest sugars, so high brix produce is not a preference for bugs.

8. Know that Healthy Plants Grow Healthy Food- Make sure you have a source of calcium in your garden levels of calcium will drive nutrients and make them available in your garden, not only will it do that but calcium is important for growing good tasting vegtables. Shelf life and firmness go hand in hand together. You will notice the shelf life of vegetables can vary  dependent on how the vegetables were grown, calcium is a significant  mineral and will firm your vegetables.

9. Avoid Fungicides-  Improve the biology in your soil and with fully oxygenated environment and plants will grow how they are designed by mother nature. The result of growing good from soil will get the nutrient cycling working properly to give the plant what its needs at certain times. This environment will grow healthy plants and the most nutritious yields comes from stress free plants. Fungicides will kill the beneficial fungi coating that is naturally on the leaves foliage, mother nature put it there for a reason as the plants natural defense system. If you have to take the route to spray a fungicide it is important to spray a compost tea in order to create new beneficial fungi on the leaves surface. The compost tea should contain

10. Continue to Build Your Soil-  There is no reason to have increased cost year after year in vegtable production. We can take the proper steps to continue building our soil to reduce input cost. The environment needs to be created with the goal of biological activity. Many people claim that soils are depleted. More commonly it is the nutrients in the soil are locked an not soluble to the plant. Compaction is not a friend of soil for food production, oxygen is needed in the soil to allow biological activity in the soil. In an aerated soil environment the roots will be able to grow deeper with access to more nutrients. We need to maximize diversity in our soils, the more life living and feeding on the soil the better its fertility.

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The Fight For Local Farmers – Why You Should Support Your Farmers Now

If the idea of not having access to nutrient dense foods at farmers markets sounds frightening to you, then your thinking like we are. Not Going To Let It Happen? We have to educate ourselves and not get shoved around when it comes to situations like this. The truth is its happening all over the country. Michigan Commission of Agriculture & Rural Development is an example of a current situation that is trying to make changes that are not right. If these changes are made it will make access to local food products in Michigan much more difficult, while taking same farmers out of business.

The situation is two proposed changes in the 2014 Draft Site Selection & Manure Management Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices.

“The Site Selection GAAMP requirements applicable to the smallest of farms. Even a home with one chicken would be required to meet the setbacks of this GAAMP. This change would likely abolish any keeping of livestock, even flocks of less than a dozen chickens or one bee hive, in most urban settings because the setbacks would be difficult or impossible to meet there. We believe that this is unnecessary over-regulation that could be avoided by leaving the definition of “livestock production facility” just as it is, or at a minimum, making it applicable at a reasonable number of animal units”.  Michelle Halley- Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Luckily for the health of us there are great people like Randy and his family from Shady Grove Farm along with Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, who are willing to voice their opinions on what they know they have a right to do. Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

“Defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting
consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods”.
Freshly picked and sold :)
Freshly picked and sold fresh from a local farmer 🙂

Nutrient dense food comes HEALHY SOIL and Management Practices, it doesn’t have to come from a 100 acre farm. I know plenty of farmers who live on 25 or more acres that have Agricultural/Residential zoning, they grow a few acres of fresh vegetables on their land and could be subject to these negative changes if they take place. Residential land is being taken advantage of from farmers who can bring produce to their local markets. These farmers are the ones who have done the research in order to gain the knowledge to bring nutrient dense foods to market. Not all food is created equal, loosing great growers as vendors at farmers markets because they can no longer grow food on their own property is a health threat to communities. Put up a fight for Michigan Farmers ! You can also start your own vegetable garden to be the gardner you always wanted to be. At this point we need as many gardens as possible if we cant to feed ourselves nutrient rich foods.

Nutrient dense foods comes from small family farms


 Film Credit to Frontiersmen Media & Upper Productions

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Why Some Grocers Are Banning Candy in Checkouts- Generation of Change

nuts almod, wal, pecan
Healthy food options can taste great! Not to mention the great benefits you can do for your mind and body!

Retailers in the U.K. are helping parents make it easier for healthy choices while shopping. The U.K. is ahead of the United States with health requirements for their food. For example it is illegal to grow GMO crops in some countries. The change from grocers like Lidl U.K comes from the idea that families shopping together are happier when they expose their children to healthy food choices. Sales performance from the changes have increased and customers are happy. This type of approach will attract families who are interested in feeding their family healthy food. A recent study showed 70 percent preferred to use a “healthy till” when family food shopping. “Tesco and Sainsbury’s, according to the Guardian, have removed sweets from their supermarket checkouts”.

 ” 70 percent of shoppers preferred to use a “healthy till” when family food shopping”.

We are in an industry where consumers can drive demand for products and innovations, healthy food choices need to be taught to children and the only way to make the happen is it demand it! Many sweets and candy contain ingredients that are not healthy for adults, let alone for small children eat. It is nice to see companies making a change for the greater good, we need changes to keep pushing changes like this in America.

People who want to live and expose their children to healthy habits would agree with what Lidl U.K is doing. Positive changes will allow grocers who want to adapt to meet the needs of the health concise shoppers a great opportunity. Retailers who want to attract health concise shoppers can help parents make healthy choices for their children. A retailer doesn’t have to drop the entire candy section but could add healthier products for customers to choose from. Once the data is collected it will be clear how the products are preforming and what direction for product addition and deletion. It is up to us to demand the food on stores shelf!

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Are you interested in growing healthy produce?

In vegetable production we would rather not see it rain! Is that strange to hear? There is a good chance of it being strange if drench your garden plants with overhead irrigation. We do not want the foliage to get wet! When we foliar feed all we need is a fine mist to quickly buzz over the top of the plants. Happy plants are healthy plants that produce healthy food! So when planning your to start growing vegetables your garden layout must factor in a method to get water without overhead irrigation.

Why grow produce in a high tunnel?

We can help give you an idea to avoid the problems that seem like never ending battles in vegetable production. Rain splashes dirt on the plants and spreads pathogens quickly. We work with many growers who use high tunnel production for the reason of keeping their plants away from the weather elements, many growers comment about improved crop quality and health . After spraying a fungicide, if that fits in your management program you should spray plant foods on the leaf surface to provide protection that the fungicide damaged but inside tunnels you can decrease the chances of needing to spray. So don’t spray to be preventive! It’s like taking antibiotics when your not sick. A tunnel can increase a small farms productive potential and is worth the investment because it does not rain in the tunnels! Since their is no rain drip irrigation is the answer.

Who doesn’t want to be first to market with spring tomatoes?

Water pressure helps can things can still be done if their is no access to a well!

Drip irrigation allows us to plant our crops with the ability to provide uniform drip for water and fertility inputs directly in the root zone. This video shows that drip tape can be pressurized enough to be gravity fed. If the luxury is available to have an irrigation well that works also, just make sure your pressure regulator allows you to not blow up your lines but still provides enough pressure. We have seen growers use single rows and double strips per row, pick your emitter spacing dependent on your crop and let it drip!

We recommend Integrated soil & plant technologies water soluble plant foods through the drip tape

SAVE WATER USE DRIP! Gardeners around the world can make a difference with their garden layout to save water! Growing vegetables takes lots of water, so we need to put it where it counts.

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Foliar feeding for quality crop production 101

Pump up
Kwazar sprayers do the job for foliar feeding plants

Stress free crops have the highest nutritional yields with higher quality and better flavor. I have seen foliar feeding in management practices over the past few years give farmers a better understanding of growing crops. It gives a grower a chance to learn what plants do from perspective of plant frame and fruit set development. Plants will naturally grow, set fruit and grow again. When foliar feeding we need to understand what phase of growth our plants are in to achieve the maximum benefits with the proper solution.

Water is not water, check the pH! So many times we have worked with growers who need to spray  in order to get a quick nutritional increase to their crop. If we need to make quick changes to help crops, we recommend foliar feeding but if the correct pH for any application in agriculture is not correct then it is not effective. All water is sourced from different areas, we always want a lower pH to properly dissolve soluble plant foods and other products for effective applications. Foliar feeding can help reduce the time a crop spends in stressful conditions, luxiours amount of nutrients are absorbed through the leaves of the plant, this feeding is luxurious but only for a short time with the plants only taking what they can consume and will require another foliar feeding 5-7 days later.

A large rainfall event is stressful and biological soil conditions are not ideal for crop production, this is where foliar feeding can be used to increase soil biology. Active soil biology provides an environment for plants to uptake nutrients. Which direction do we want to go? Do we need more plant growth and foliage growth?  Are some plants lagging in growth? Is there to much growth and not enough fruit set with blossoms? This can give growers control by observing what they want to achieve with the capability to mix a spray that can make instant changes on crop development.  A fine mist is the most important aspect of foliar feeding.

More often it could be if there is a change in soil type, even soilless medium types and plant varieties can show a differently fertility requirement. A created solution with a goal in mind can do the trick, but we need to know what we want to achieve! How can we grow high yielding plants that don’t have enough nodes. Proper fruit development requires node spacing and control between nitrogen and mineral balance in the plants sap. When foliar feeding rowers can observe plants and make controlled changes as needed, but we recommend at least one or two applications per week depending on how aggressive we need to be in order to control the plants.  Different environmental conditions will cause growers to use different approaches that work in their programs. Take control so you can increase your quality and flavor of the crops you grow!

Kwazar Sprayers produce a fine mist
Kwazar Sprayers produce a fine mist
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Kwazar Sprayers are made to last- Why are they the best sprayers on the market?

Kwazar Sprayers are made to last

We have worked hard to bring experience, education and the highest quality products we can find to the market. We offer a range of products designed to meet a variety of needs and conditions, and we help you select the management program to serve your operation best. We have ample experience with most of the crops grown in the Midwest.

Good fertility levels in our soil helps us weather many challenges more successfully. The better our soil biology is balanced the better its performance and production. We have a line of powerful concentrated products including plant foods, soil inoculants, buffers and surfactants, liquid minerals, and biologicals. The greater the quantity and variety of life growing and feeding in and on soil, the better its fertility. This is where foliar feeding with the Kwazar sprayers plays its role in our program. Kwazar sprayers produce a fine mist that hang in the air and slowly drops down over plants, this cloud is ideal for foliar feeding plants. Foliar feeding with our plant foods can almost immediately increase soil biological activity and can be used as an additional management technique for growing healthy crops.

Kwazar sprayers manufacture the highest quality garden sprayers on the market from hand sprayers to backpack sprayers. We have found through our own trials and tribulations that low quality garden sprayers will not efficiency work in a successful crop production operation. From an economical and sustainable outlook we cannot keep throwing sprayers away after each growing season that are filling landfills. A common scenario we have dealt with in the past is having expensive solutions inside the sprayer and having problems with the garden sprayers not spraying effectively. Our search began for the best garden sprayers and after sometime we found Kwazar garden sprayers and realized they are built with the customer in mind, they produce the finest mist of any sprayer we have worked with on the market.

neptune lance
Kwazar sprayers give you a chance for an extra reach to hand a cloud 🙂

Every year brings it own challenges and weather complications.  Soilfriends will provide reliable information and management tools to give our customers for positive return on their investment. Yield loss from environmental stress factors can be reduced. Optimum result being less disease infestation and enhanced nutritional and storage quality. Foliar feeding is a critical tool growers can use to manage their crops, Kwazar  garden sprayers do their job by being durable sprayers that are easy to use. Let us help you develop a crop management program that will improve your bottom line.

Roadside stands can be a great place to purchase mineral rich produce
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Why are the best gardens grown with heirloom seeds?

Heirloom varieties respond well to foliar feeding

When growing food our thoughts should be to start out with seeds that have the potential for maximum nutritional content. Future generations depend on the actions that we take to create a food culture for the feature. This food culture needs environmentally clean, healthier food production with better flavor. Do you ever wonder why some children do not want to eat vegetables? Often the reason children don’t like the taste of vegetables is because something doesn’t taste right,  when talking about conventional fruits and vegetables that are found in most supermarkets the children are correct.

Growing heirloom varieties is a great way to grow delicious tasting vegetables and help the genetic preservation of thousands of year old varieties of vegetables that are disappearing rapidly. We do not want to live in a world that only has a few varieties of crops with the potential of being taken out because of disease and pest problems,  our current food production model is rapidly taking us in this direction.

Heirloom varieties give organic farming operations the ability to grow a crop that has more nutrition in the seed than most hybrids, healthier plants have a higher resistance to disease and insect infestation. Plants from heirloom seeds develop resistance and unique adaptations for the microclimate they are cultivated in reducing and even eliminating sprays for productive crops.   Two years in a row we have worked with growers who have had heirloom plants last longer in the growing season than their hybrids because of disease resistance. When you save seeds, your saving high potential for productive crops that can survive adverse weather conditions.

The flavors are endless
The flavors are endless 🙂

Heirloom seed varieties are open pollinated seeds that can be saved and when replanted growers can expected it to be the same type of crop from which the seed was harvested from. These seeds can be passed on for future generations to cultivate, varieties are typically older than 50 years and can range from thousands of years old. When saving seeds that have been passed down it is very important to start with clean seeds grown from healthy crops, diseases such as blight can contaminate the seeds if not properly cleaned. Harvesting the seeds correctly depends on the type of crop grown and its stage of maturity.  At our farms we save heirloom tomato seeds when the fruit is ripe enough for consumption. Saving seeds at the correct time will allow the seeds to properly develop, allowing the seed to germinate with maximum productive potential when its planted.

To avoid cross pollination it is recommend to give plants their own areas to lower the risk of cross pollination to stay on the safe side. Most tomato plants are self pollinated but other factors such as pollinators can contribute to cross pollination, but bees are good so its worth the roll on of the dice. Usually any cross pollination that does take place is minor and will just add character to the crop.

We are in control of the preservation of unique crop varieties, change can start by pairing with friends to each plant a few varieties of heirloom seeds and exchange seeds and ripe fruit with one another to continuously build a supply of healthy seeds. Eventually this practice could take the rolling effect like social media and create a supply of seeds for food security purposes, but we all need to bring something to the table. I have herd a wise man quote

“ We can count how many seeds are in an apple but we do not know how many apples this seed is capable of producing”.

Kwazar sprayers are produce a perfect mist that sticks to the plants

We attract customers at our farm stand because of the unique varieties that we grow, they are varieties typically only found at farmers markets and roadside stand operations. Our customers are searching for the flavors that have been lost in their lifetime because of the changes in modern agriculture. I have been approached by a customer at the farmers market who told me “ I love tomatoes but in my lifetime the flavor of tomatoes vanished, these are the first tomatoes in 40 years that I have enjoyed that bring back memories as a child, you know what your doing!”. Those type of comments are things that I hear that make my job enjoyable 🙂 Save your seeds and pass them along!

We are planting heirloom seeds right now for our research trials in Kalamazoo, Michigan this summer. Pass along your heirloom seeds to a friend and start a tradition in your community. Growing vegetables with high quality and great flavor can be done in your organic farming operation. A good start on the quest to flavor is by using heirloom seeds. Good luck!