Fresh This Week: It's Strawberry Season!

If you've been missing fruit at Argus, you'll be happy to hear that we now have strawberries! Our producers are just starting to bring in trays of locally-grown berries, so hurry in and get them while they're fresh! You can expect these strawberries to be more densely sweet and flavorful than anything you've tasted that was grown industrially or far far away. Our customers have been raving about the flavors!

Strawberries are definitely a healthy choice, too. You probably don't need to be convinced to eat this delicious fruit, but did you know that strawberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants, plus anti-inflammatory properties, high vitamin C, and more? Plus, studies have found that the natural sugars in these berries actually helps to regulate blood sugar.

There are good reasons to choose strawberries from Argus, too. We have several organic producers, and the rest use complex and soil-healthy growing practices like crop rotation, in order to apply chemicals only as needed. (Because strawberries are such a fragile,  fungus-prone crop, it is difficult to grow them entirely without spray. Even some conventional "organic" strawberries are exposed to some chemicals). One Argus farmer took the time to explain that they spray as little as possible, never close to harvest days, and that these sprays are a much different formula from those used on industrial farms, where strong chemicals regularly deplete the soil and put workers' lives at risk. 

What does all this mean? Buy strawberries at Argus! Our producers' strawberries are grown with your health, soil health, and farmer health in mind. Plus, these strawberries are guaranteed to be delicious. Like all our produce, strawberries are a seasonal joy, so hurry in and choose a carton or two. And remember to pick up some whipping cream, while you're here...

-- Post by Rose Miller
Sources:

http://civileats.com/2015/01/12/the-future-strawberry-will-the-loss-of-a-major-pesticide-help-the-industry-to-go-green/#sthash.923k7AGy.dpuf
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/10/-sp-california-strawberry-industry-pesticides
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=32

Villa Villelyon: Goats, Soaps, and More - South Lyon, MI

Villa Villelyon, a small goat and duck farm in South Lyon, MI, was one of the first friends of Argus Farm Stop. Rumor has it that Kathy – who boards her horse next door – rode up the lane one afternoon and found Curt and Tim unpacking, newly arrived from San Francisco. Before long, Villa Villelyon was supplying the Farm Stop with all-natural goat milk soap, bath salts, and lotion, made right in their house kitchen! Within their community Villa Villelyon also serves as a co-operative farm, providing duck eggs and meat, goat shares, CSA veggies, and even seasonal calendars.

Villa Villelyon became a reality when Curt and Tim, who were living (and paying high rent) in San Francisco, decided they wanted a change. Tim worked in the entertainment / information technology business – and still does, remotely – while Curt, an architectural designer by training, was rolling sushi at Whole Foods. They bought the land off the Internet, sight unseen, for what Curt says is 'probably the same price as a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.' Now they are proof that city folks can be farmers too, although when asked where they get their know-how, Curt admits: mostly from Google!

Ever since they made the move, these two have been making their dreams a reality – always with humor, flair and imagination. The farm has expanded to include a small greenhouse, a garden and pumpkin patch, and a solar panel able to power one 70-watt light bulb (if the sun is shining). They have just finished transforming a grain silo into a living space for volunteers, who might never want to leave after they see the loft skylight, composting toilet, and reclaimed-wood counter tops. Along with their many farm animals they have two barn cats and a white, fluffy dog named Squirrel, who is an important part of the team: he likes to helpfully watch out for shiny objects and trot along in front of visitors' cars.

From the start, Villa Villelyon has had a distinct community focus, which extends to their many Facebook fans. Online you can watch videos of their baby ducks dancing to Francoise Hardy songs, or use the “barn cam” to watch Curt milking goats! For Curt and Tim, this friendly and fun atmosphere is an essential part of farm life. They are happy to have in-person visitors as well, and plan to offer a full “demonstration farm” experience, for kids and adults to learn about milking goats, making soap, and growing veggies.

Image courtesy of Villa Villeyon

Image courtesy of Villa Villeyon

Curt and Tim are always looking for ways to make their passions profitable. Their main project for Argus Farm Stop is the Villa Villelyon soaps and lotions, which typically include all-natural and raw ingredients, such as goat milk, olive and coconut oils, and essential oils. From a No-Nuthin' bar for sensitive skin, to Bergamot for skin conditions, and a historic-recipe Spice Bar, there is a soap for everyone. He also makes an all-natural, non-toxic spray cleaner. (No time to visit Argus? Find their products on Etsy.) Besides soap making, Curt has used his artistic background to design and construct various features out of reclaimed barn wood. If you've ever sat and sipped a latte at Argus, you've probably seen the gorgeous benches he built! A sense of quality and beauty is obvious in all their designed products, and it is this mix of the artistic and natural that sets Villa Villelyon apart.

As farmers, Curt and Tim have found that the process of dreaming and self-educating never ends. They are always learning about every aspect of their farm: what crops grow best in their soil; how to de-worm goats; how to herd escaped ducks out of their neighbor's pasture (very slowly, with a walking stick). And as they have proven so far, these two are willing to take the risks necessary to help their young farm succeed.

If you want to learn more, buy soaps, or visit or volunteer at Villa Villelyon, check out their website, or Facebook page!

-- Post by Rose Miller

Welcome to Our Blog!

If you've ever been to Argus Farm Stop, you've probably met owners Kathy and Bill, along with the rest of the team. But do you know our dozens of producers? If you're lucky, maybe you've met one of our farmers drinking coffee in the cafe, or you've seen them dropping off some produce in the grocery section. But although you've experienced their incredible range of products (not just produce, eggs, meat, and dairy, but packaged food and gift items, too), you might not know the people behind the scenes.

That's where this blog comes in. We want you to “meet” the many great people who sell at Argus! Producers are the cornerstone of the Argus Farm Stop mission, because unlike at commercial grocery stores, products at Argus come from individuals, each with a unique story. Some live right here in Ann Arbor; all live within a day's drive, and we consider each one a neighbor a worth talking to.

This blog also gives us a chance to tell you about our seasonal produce as it comes in the door, and keep you updated on new products. There's a lot to be excited about around here. So welcome to the Farm Stop! Come on in!