Meet the farmers producing near-perfect vegetables for the most demanding chefs

The farmers at The Chef’s Garden in Ohio are producing vegetables that not only look perfect but have taste to match. Photo: Michelle Demuth-Bibb/Chef's Garden

The farmers at The Chef’s Garden in Ohio are producing vegetables that not only look perfect but have taste to match. Photo: Michelle Demuth-Bibb/Chef’s Garden


There’s a small corner of the restaurant world where food is art and the plate is just as exquisite as the mouthful. In this world, chefs are constantly looking for new creative materials for the next stunning presentation. The tiny community of farmers who grow vegetables for the elite chefs prize creativity, too, not just in what they grow but in how they grow it. They’re seeking perfection, in vegetable form and flavor, like this tiny cucumber that looks like a watermelon — called a cucamelon. The Chef’s Garden is a specialty vegetable farm in Huron, Ohio, about an hour west of Cleveland. It’s a family farm, where three generations of the Jones family work side by side with about 175 employees. It’s a place where vegetables are scrupulously selected and then painstakingly coaxed from the ground.

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Learn how to rebloom your holiday poinsettia

MSU Extension:

Your poinsettia should be moved outdoors during summer, so it is important to keep it in good condition now. Often, blooms will last for months after January. The first important part is to remove the colored foil covering the outside of the pot. It traps water if it has no holes and plants can be marinating in several inches of water, rotting the roots. Poinsettias need to be close to a west or south window and receive some sun during the day. Michigan State University Extension suggests watering it when the top inch of soil is dry.

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Repairing soil visited by cats

What can I do to repair soil in a yard that is occupied/visited by several neighborhood cats (to help eliminate the smell and to make the soil better for plant growth)?

Cats are territorial and often use urine as a way to mark their properties. Cat urine contains pheromones, which is a substance that cats and other animals use for communicating. Pheromones are much like fingerprints with humans, as they are used to identify the cat to other animals. When a cat sprays, it is his way of letting other cats know that this is his territory.

If you can identify the areas most frequented, you can repair the soil by removing the compromised material and adding new soil appropriate for the plants you are growing. Cat urine is highly acidic. Some resources suggest neutralizing any remaining acidity still in the soil with hydrated lime and thoroughly mixing it into the soil.

Once you remove the urine-marked soil, the cats will return and want to refresh their territory. Therefore, you need a multi-pronged approach to keep them away. Go for odor repellant and the element of surprise. Purchase a commercial product to spray on your plants and soil surfaces that will repel them from re-staking their claim to your garden. A product that contains the scent of a predator such as coyote or fox, effective against rabbits and squirrels, is also effective with cats. They will go someplace else rather than take the chance of encountering a predator. Secondly, a motion-activated water sprayer has demonstrated that its unexpected “attack” can keep the more persistent offenders away. Using other motion-activated devices that emit unexpected noises, like a dog barking, can also be effective when used in combination. Cats are quick learners despite their often aloof attitude. Once you have established your gardens are no longer a feline restroom, they will seek out less threatening facilities.


700,000 pound U-M bur oak is thriving in new location one year after move

A little over a year after it was moved 100 yards, a 65-foot tall, 250 year old bur oak tree is thriving outside the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The 700,000 pound tree was moved to accommodate an expansion at the business school.

In an interview with The Ann Arbor News, Marvin Pettway, U-M’s senior supervisor for grounds, said, “The tree is doing excellent, especially considering all the factors. It went through the winter well and we gave it a fertilization upon bud swell. It leafed out nicely and had great spring color.”

In honor of the team’s effort to preserve the tree, U-M Grounds was selected to receive the 2015 International Society of Arboriculture Gold Leaf Award for Beautification. Pettway accepted the award at a ceremony in Lansing earlier this year.

Check out a video, photos and the full story on the move here…

Moross Greenway Project aims to revitalize main thoroughfare

The Moross Greenway Project has broken ground on its plan to landscape and revitalize seven islands on Moross Road on Detroit‘s Eastside, between St. John Hospital and the I-94 service drive. The $600,000 project is the culmination of nearly six years of design work, planning and fundraising. “Moross Road is a main thoroughfare, with more than 19,000 vehicles travelling daily between I-94 and Mack Avenue,” said Tim Killeen, Wayne County Commissioner and Vice President of the Moross Greenway Project. “We are pleased to be at the forefront of the revitalization of this Detroit gateway.”

“St. John Providence Health System is a major supporter of our Project,” continued Sheila O’Hara, Project President. “As one of the largest employers in the City of Detroit, it attracts thousands of patients and their families each day. Given all these visitors and hospital employees who travel Moross, the Greenway will give a strong positive impression of the neighborhood and city in general.”

The Moross Greenway Project, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, is a collaborative effort of volunteer residents of the City of Detroit and its suburban neighborhoods. The project involves the planting of 115 trees, 500 shrubs, and 9,700 native perennial plants. For more information, visit