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Archive for the month “June, 2015”

Food and the Common Good: A Service Learning Reflection

     The central mission of the Monroe Park Co-opDSC00437 is to provide fresh, healthy, and nutrient-rich food at affordable prices, a mission that specifically seeks out the disadvantaged. Monroe Park may be considered a “food desert,” an area where a population cannot easily reach, or lack access to, the markets and grocery providers that more well-off populations enjoy. As such, the Co-op is a step towards alleviating the “food desert” affliction of the Monroe Park population, bringing the variety and quality of food, largely locally-sourced, that one may find at a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or a regular farmer’s market.

     Looking at the mission of the Monroe Park Co-op from a perspective of Catholic Social Thought may reveal a strong sense of Rights and Responsibilities. The ability to obtain good, healthy food is not something to be regarded as a privilege; rather, we must seriously treat good, healthy food as a right, a fundamental cornerstone of a quality life. And as such a right, we all, as a society, a culture, as communities large and small, must take on the responsibility to make such food more common and accessible. We may relate this responsibility to the Preferential Option for the Poor, by which we recognize the failings of our current systems, analyzing what needs are yet to be met, and dedicate ourselves to creating and implementing solutions. As is written in Introducing Students to Social Analysis and Theological Reflection, “humans beings are called to do justice, i.e., they are called to create and refine social structures that uphold the inherent dignity and facilitate the fundamental sociality of all human beings” (J. Reed-Bouley, K. Reed-Bouley 9).The Monroe Park Co-op is a needed agent in the process of guaranteeing healthy food access to all populations. But the Co-op has not yet fully reached its goals, and the needs of people like those in the Monroe Park area are yet to be fully met.

     Access is a key aspect of the Co-op’s mission, but there are other obstacles to the success and propagation of food market models as seen at Monroe Park that require further dedication, analysis, and involvement, and not just on the part of providers like the Co-op. Everyone must understand the Call to Family, Community, and Participation. Solutions to issues of social justice and equality, and the pursuit of the Common Good, arise from participation of many voices. In his book Good Business: Catholic Social Teaching at Work in the Marketplace, Thomas O’Brien remarks on how people need to recognize the solidarity we all belong to in our communities through interrelated relationships, everyone depending on others for their needs. As he writes, “human communities are not merely a collection of individuals thrown together haphazardly but rather people who belong together and whose togetherness has a purpose,” such as a purpose in the Common Good, which can be pursued by promoting equality of life and justice in our social and economic systems (O’Brien 212).

     A major stumbling block in the Co-op’s mission is education regarding the benefits of the food they provide. Produce like kale, chard, potatoes, and beans can be nutrient rich and filling. Not enough people recognize the improvements to one’s health through eating, in addition to lacking knowledge on how to prepare plants like kale, or rhubarb, and even simply disregarding that such produce tastes good. But we also cannot ignore the costs of quality produce, even when sold through places like Monroe Park Co-op. Cheaper, bulk products like ramen or frozen foods are much easier to access and much cheaper to provide for large families on low incomes. An increased voicing of support for entities like the Co-op, and for local food producers like Bertrand Farm, as well as a wider resistance against the harmful actions of the industrial food complex through informed consumerism, are the steps that we all, as families and communities, can and should participate in. So are we called.DSC00438

Until Next Time,



The Colorado Potato Beetle has Arrived

This is a picture of a potato plant. We have been fighting what seems like an endless battle with the little bugs on the leaves called the potato beetle! here you can see the adult and adolescence stage of the bug.They attack and eat the leaves of the plant causing the plant to die. They reproduce  like wildfire. Today I removed 20 eggs and 10 beetles on the same plant.! The best organic way to keep them off is to go on each plant and search for them and squash them, unfortunately you cant just brush them off or they will  crawl right back on. I will admit this is my most hated job to do but it has to be done. Hopefully with all the work put into this we will have a good yield!

Meet Josh

josh2015     Hello! My name is Joshua Kuiper(on the left). I am interning at Bertrand Farm, Inc. as part of a summer service program. As a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, I plan to study English and Japanese. At first glance, I may seem an odd fit for Bertrand. But I truly believe in the sustainable agriculture and philosophy supported at Bertrand Farm, and I am so excited to spend the next several weeks learning about permaculture, the local food movement, and just agriculture in general. As a participant in the Summer Service Learning Program at Notre Dame, my goals include understanding small-scale farming methods as they relate to food security and food access for various populations, especially for those people with low-income or in food deserts. I know I will have a rewarding experience at Bertrand Farm. Thank you for your time!

Food Tunnels

This is what we call a Food tunnel! We built it today so that nature can take its course on it. Plants will grow on it and under it.  It is held in place with T-posts and the hoop is made with 16 foot pig/cattle fence panels.  The  panels will serve as a trellis to the pole beans  and sweet peas that are already planted. They will crawl and grow onto and over it and will also provide some shade to the underlying plants inside the tunnel. Food tunnels are a great way to maximize space by getting vertical and horizontal growing space. They are fun and beautiful too.



strawberries5We have piles and piles of strawberries right now, and the season is only beginning! Funny enough, our field manager (Richie) said that this is a light year for Bertrand Farm in regards to strawberry production. As someone who has never really been around a strawberry patch, that surprised me. I can’t imagine what a normal year looks like. Tonight, we spent about 45 minutes harvesting 10 quarts, and still only got to 1/3 of the field.

We strawberries in all different sizes – from very tiny to fairly large. Strawberries are the sweetest when the weather is hot and dry, so although all this rain is technically not good for taste, I still have never eaten a better strawberry. If you have never tasted a strawberries straight from the farm, I encourage you to try one. They can’t be beat.


Soil Blocks for Seed Starting

This is a picture of me making what we call soil blocks! It is used heavily in our seed starting for plants that have small seeds. How it works; you mix soil, peat, and compost in the right ratio and add water to keep it together, stir it with a shovel and you are ready to go! Take the tool in your left hand and push it down in the mix to squash it full of soil which creates the blocks. When it is full you push out the blocks by squeezing onto a tray. Someone will have the seeds ready to put in the holes that are pre drilled by the block tool. This is one of my favorite things to do here at the farm because it takes little effort to make big results and it keep seedlings healthy and organized on the trays!

Permaculture Plot

We interns and a few outside attendees have a permaculture class with Theri every Tuesday from 6-9pm. This aspect of the internship is great because we get to learn the philosophy behind Bertrand Farm and our daily field work. An ongoing homework assignment we have is to pick a plot of land, draw it, and then add different things such as buildings, north direction, high and low spots, water holding areas, paths, plants and their location, etc. The list of things we add grows each week, and the end result will be a backyard permaculture plan we can put into action when the class is over. Since we interns are living here for the summer, Theri assigned us a plot in her backyard just to practice. When the class ends, I will upload a photo of my finished plans.

perm plot 1 perm plot 2

Asparagus & Eggs

Two things we have a ton of right now are asparagus and eggs, so I thought I’d share a quiche recipe using the two.Ingredients:1 pound fresh asparagus trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces10 slices bacon2 (8 inch) unbaked pie shells1 egg white, lightly beaten4 eggs1.5 cups half-and-half cream1/4 teaspoon ground nutmegsalt and pepper to taste2 cups shredded swiss cheeseDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Place asparagus in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain and cool.
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
  3. Brush pie shells with beaten egg white. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped asparagus into pie shells.
  4. In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Sprinkle Swiss cheese over bacon and asparagus. Pour egg mixture on top of cheese.
  5. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until firm, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.


Recipe has been taken from All Recipes website:

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