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Clover Valley Farms gets a Refresh

As the snows fell over the 2017/2018 winter and early spring, we were far from hibernation at Clover Valley Farms. In fact, we were percolating!

We’re in the home stretch of a yearlong re-branding effort — starting here on our website. When we began farming just over ten years ago, we were seasonal pasture poultry growers.

However, as our fruit and herb production increased and we started making more products — starting with our line of vinegar, our farm shifted dramatically. The changes to our logo and labels speak to our new emphasis on farm-made goods crafted with our own fruits & herbs.

And with all the change afoot, it was the perfect time to make good on all your helpful feedback. We heard your CALL FOR LESS PLASTIC, and we’re proud to deliver.

Our products now have uncoated labels that have a nice feel and sharp look. Plus, we replaced the plastic shrink bands with beautiful seal strips made of the same uncoated label stock. We hope it makes you feel great about buying our products — especially as they support our local economy! We use local professionals like our website designer, writer, graphic artists, printers & accountants to keep our virtual ducks in a row.

A few other items worthy of note:

  • Our new 5 oz vinegar bottle has a sleeker shape
  • New Shrub and Salt packaging is on the way
  • We’ve added color-coordinated labels with “tips for using” on the side panel for each flavor
  • Also, our beloved Rhubarb-Rosemary Honey Mustard will be available to our wholesale customers later this summer

And the best for last— We will be adding three new kinds of vinegar: Elderberry, Wild Cherry & Apple Wine Vinegars!

Thanks for checking in our Clover Valley Farms and sharing in all our exciting news. More to come!

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Making Vinegar… Our Process

We can’t find anyone else crafting fermented vinegar from raw fruit that they’ve grown themselves. Can’t blame them — it’s a lotta effort, but we feel it’s worth it.

Before we get into what we do, we’ll tell you what we don’t do. We don’t “flavor” vinegar with syrups added to white distilled or basic balsamic.

No, instead, we ferment our fruit into wine. Next, a secondary fermentation is done using aceobacteria. That’s Mother: a form of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria that you’ve might have heard about for its healthful properties. It’s made up of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that develop from fermenting alcoholic liquids.

Mother’s big trick is that it turns alcohol into acetic acid to create vinegar. While it can give a bottle of vinegar a bit of a murky look, it’s excellent stuff. Many feel strands of Mother in vinegar are responsible for a myriad of health benefits. While we can’t say for sure, we know it tastes great — and surely, that’s gotta be good for you, right?

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Intro to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at Clover Valley Farms!

Geared towards backyard and beginning growers of all skill levels, whether you have 1 backyard tree or a small orchard. This class will include overview of issues related to growing healthy fruit trees and controlling pests and diseases throughout the season with emphasis on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and organic management of fruit trees. Classes will include lots of handouts on specific topics covered including the “annual cycle of orchards”, meeting the culprits (recognizing specific diseases and pests), methods for monitoring and dealing with potential pests or diseases. Lots of discussion and hands-on activities, so bring your questions!

Saturday, June 9th, 2018 – 10am-noon
Location: Clover Valley Farms, 6534 Homestead Road, Duluth, MN
Cost: $25 per person/couple
To Register: contact Cindy Hale <cindy@clovervalleyfarms.com>, 218-525-0094

On our farm we use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) with a strong emphasis on only spraying when something is needed. The core idea behind IPM is to understand the life cycles of the plants being managed and the pests and diseases that can impact them. We monitor the phenology of our orchards as well as pests and diseases so we know what is present in our orchards at any given time. That information drives decisions about when or what to spray and more importantly when NOT to spray. We collect and submit our weekly data to the MN Department of Agriculture’s IPM newsletter which you can use to find local information about what conditions are being found around the state.

Our Summer Farm Field Day will follow from 1pm-4pm, so bring snacks & lunch!

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Cindy Hale will be back teaching fruit tree grafting March 28th in Grand Marais!

Fruit Tree Grafting for Beginners – indoor bench grafting
Save or propagate the old family apple tree by learning how to graft it onto a new root to create a new tree! Course fee includes all supplies (handouts, grafting bands, tools, etc.) and one semi-dwarf rootstock (additional rootstock available for $6 each from instructor, supplies are limited) and a selection of non-patented scions (twigs of desired apple varieties). Each student should bring a sharp, straight bladed knife (some will be provided for use during the class), good fitting leather gloves recommended. Bring your own “scion” wood if you have some. A “scion” is a 1-2 year old twig, the longer the better, cut directly before class. Keep scions moist by putting them in plastic bags with moist paper towels, leaves or moss.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018, 5:30-7pm 
Location: Cook County Community Center, 317 W. 5th Street, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Cost: $15 per person  To Register call: Diane Booth, 218-387-3015

Grafting Tools and Process with Images

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Time to put the farm to bed…

We have had 2 light frosts, but no hard freezes and we are week into October, very unusual!

However, there is frost in the forecast and the growing season is coming to a close. Today I downloaded the last of the seasons temperature and wetness data in the orchards and see that we are sitting at 1,288 degrees days (average for us for a season), but only 110 of those “degree days” (measure of heat) have accumulated since August 31st! So if you feel it has been cold and cloudy for weeks, you are correct.

Today we will harvest the last of the outdoor crops and move potted herbs into the greenhouse. Then we begin the process of final mowing, mulching and putting winter protection on all of our apple trees.

Fall is a good time to reflect on the blessings we have been given and to look forward to a winter of spiritual rest (there is never an end to work!). Thanks to everyone who makes local farming possible!