Spotlight Thursday: Create Common Good

Care for life and physical health, with due regard for the needs of others and the common good, is concomitant with respect for human dignity. – Salvatore J. Cordileone

I’ve had the good fortune over the years to have known a few noteworthy people that made a tremendous difference in my life; wonderful individuals who truly cared and valued my worth, contributing to my sense of self dignity. It was expressed in various forms by their actions, inspiring me to reach higher and become more than I ever thought I could be.

Tom Cruz (no, not the actor) was a fresh faced kid, just barely out of college and I had the happy chance of being one of the thirty or so students he inherited during his first year of teaching. I was in 6th grade, an awkward time for any young girl, and this wonderful man showed nothing but innovation, kindness and caring for all his students. He inspired me to be better than I was. 

Elaine Beneke was a hardworking, determined woman all of her life. She didn’t put up with any nonsense, was extremely loyal, and loved with a fierceness that couldn’t be quenched. She was my Mother-in-law and though there were times that I’m sure I gave her reasons to give up on me, she never showed any sign of it. She showed me my innate value, and I was blessed immeasurably because of it.

Today’s spotlight falls on a wonderful organization that does what all the great mentors in life do so well. They come alongside those in need, give a word of encouragement, believe in the intrinsic value of a human being and thereby Create Common Good in the world around them.

What is Create Common Good About?

Create Common Good CCG provides job-training and employment to refugees and others in need at our farms and in our kitchen. Food related training programs all prepare at-risk, under-served populations to find, perform, and retain work with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency in our community.

Create Common Good

Intensive culinary and food service training courses prepare individuals to thrive in food service and hospitality. Graduates are placed into jobs in corporate cafeterias, hotel restaurants, grocery retail partners, assisted living centers, and other janitorial and food service locations.

Create Common Good

Agricultural and farm training programs help individuals gain valuable language and job skills, and also build confidence interacting with the broader community. 

Create Common Good

CCG provides broader access to fresh, healthy foods in a variety of ways. All natural, pesticide-free produce feeds the communities through a community supported agriculture program (CSA), through retail sales, and through wholesale partners. CCG also donates a wide variety of produce to those in need in the community.

Create Common Good’s impact is tremendous. 

  • Since early 2009, CCG’s job-training effort has impacted the lives of 1500 refugee family members. CCG has built an alternative education system for those who have had little or no educational opportunities throughout their traumatic lifetimes.
  • Create Common Good places more than 95% of our job training participants and graduates into jobs.
  • CCG has fed tens of thousands of people over the past four years through our farms, value-added food products, catering, and production food services.

For more information on CCG and to learn ways you can get involved with this program go to

Disclosure: The information and pictures regarding Create Common Good was gleaned from CCG’s website. Permission was given to me for use of such materials by CCG. This is not a paid sponsorship, but created as a part of Pure Grace Farms philosophy of giving back to the community at home and at large.  

How to Pot Up Seedlings

I was out in the garden yesterday doing a little cleanup in preparation for planting, along with pruning a few of my raspberry bushes, and oh…it felt so right. My head phones were fixed firmly over my ears as I sang along with Chris Collins, I imagine, a touch bit too loudly. As the warm sun beat down on my back, I was lost in happiness in my own little world.

Everything about this time of year gets me excited. For starters, I get to play in the dirt to my heart’s content, and while it can be back breaking, you won’t hear me complain. 

I find there is something magnificent about working with the soil; nurturing, tending and watching things grow. It centers me, and brings me to the core of things. I experience a stillness of soul, and recognize I am part of a larger and greater picture. I can’t help but feel closer to God during these times. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.

How to Pot Up your Seedlings

How to Pot Up Seedlings

This is the third installment of starting plants indoors. If you need a bit of a refresher or are just beginning, be sure to check out How to Start Seeds Indoors before you start, and How to Care For Your Seedlings: Four Essential Elements for Healthy Growth for tips on the care of your seedlings. Both are important foundations for starting plants indoors.

How to Pot Up your Seedlings Timing is important when potting up your seedlings.

If you started with a soiless mix, as I suggested, the only nutrients your little seedlings receive are from the endosperm of the planted seed. Once the seedling begins to develop true leaves, nutrients from the endosperm are just about used up. At this stage, seedlings will need to be potted up, or a supplemental fertilizer will need to be given. A balanced fertilizer high in nitrogen and potassium should be applied at quarter strength to meet the necessary requirements your seedlings will need for healthy plant and root growth. Using a diluted fertilizer also helps to prevent burning your delicate seedlings. I typically sow seeds a little more densely to begin with, therefore I prefer potting up my seedlings to give them plenty of room for their roots to grow. 

How to Pot Up your Seedlings Assemble your supplies.  

3 inch  Biodegradable pots – If you time your seed starting correctly, it will only be necessary to pot up once.  I use   3″ x 3″ biodegradable pots. By the time my plants near outgrowing these pots, it will be time to plant out.

Potting soil – There are many varieties of potting soil to choose from at the local garden shop . In my experience they are all pretty similar, so choose what works best for your ideals and budget . I use Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix.  Keep in mind more expensive doesn’t always equate to better results.  

How to Pot Up your Seedlings Prepare the work area.

Working with soil can get pretty messy, so choose your work area with this in mind. I cover the area with an old cloth or piece of plastic: making spills less of a headache for clean up. A large basin or large tray works great for catching excess soil when separating your seedlings.

How to Pot Up your Seedlings Potting Up

It is important to start with well watered plants prior to transplanting. Dry, brittle soil can cause excess stress and damage to roots.

Fill new pots half full with potting soil and push to the sides of pot leaving a large indentation in the middle.

Gently remove seedling from current container in one of two ways.

Method 1. Place a finger on either side of the stem of your seedling, being careful to hold the soil and not the stem, invert container and gently squeeze sides of the cell  to release the root ball and plant into your hand.  Taking care not to grab the plant by its stem, turn plant and root ball right side up. 

Method 2. Take the end of a small spoon and gently slide it down the inside of seedling container and lightly pry up soil with root ball and plant as one unit. 

Once the seedling and root ball has been extracted from the container and, if there is more than one plant, gently tease the seedling apart, being careful to only hold on by the plants leaves and not by the delicate stem. Leaves will grow back, but if the stem is injured the plant will not survive.

Place the seedling in a container where an indentation was created and fill in around the plant with additional potting mix, holding the plant in place gently by its’ leaves until firmly secured with additional soil. Tap container to help settle the soil and add more potting mix if necessary. Water the soil. To decrease chance of shock, keep seedlings out of direct light for the remainder of the day. Return to lighting schedule as normal, the following day. 







Everyone has something to give.

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today my mind lingers on thoughts of generosity…”what does it mean? and “how does it look?” In search of an answer, I headed over to the Dictionary  to see what old Webster had to say. His definition; “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish: the quality of being generous; especially: willingness to give money and other valuable things to others.” Webster’s basic definition is sound, but in my opinion it doesn’t go far enough.

Everyone has something to give. “Money and other valuables” are tangible things and certainly an important part of being generous, but what if one has no money or valuables to spare… what then? This is where, I believe, the intangibles comes in; something not made with a physical substance. It may  be a friendly smile to someone in passing or a word of encouragement at an opportune time. Perhaps it is pitching in and lending a hand when a need is presented or holding your tongue when angry words might otherwise fly. It’s the intangible things, in my opinion, that tend to have the greatest impact. Everyone has something to give, so what will your gift be today?

Spotlight Thursday

Origins Hobby Farm Today, I would like to place the spotlight on Origins Hobby Farm. I first met Kathy, one of the owners, via email. She contacted me to ask if I would be interested in doing a guest piece for her website. Being new to Blog World, I was a little bit hesitant. I had no idea if I could do it or how to proceed if I did. Kathy showed great patience and kindness, and helped walk this newbie through unfamiliar territory. My first guest post, Plan ahead – Enjoy seasonal foods all year long was published. I was grateful for the opportunity and experience and now have the chance to pay it forward!

Origins Hobby Farm is a small farm located on 10 acres in Middleville, Michigan, set on “an odyssey of small scale sustainability.” Here they grow an ever increasing amount of their own produce, manage livestock, forage for wild edibles and hunt wild game. They are continually learning new ways to implement food preservation, and try different techniques on extending their productive season well into the cold Michigan winters. 

Origins Hobby Farm Honeybees are alive and thriving at Origins Hobby Farm. Find information on how to filter beeswax, a recipe for cold remedies, hand salve and lip balm right on their website.

Origins Hobby Farm I learned something new about rabbits from one of Origins Hobby Farms latest blog post, The Dirty Truth about Hobby Farming this week too! I read there that rabbit pooh was a cold fertilizer known as “Black Gold,” and is perfect for using immediately in the garden without composting. This might be the perfect reason for me to raise a few of these furry little creatures.

I could go on and on about Origins Hobby Farm, but even better, go see for yourself! It is my hope that you will beome friends with Kathy and those at the farm, learn new things and appreciate her as much as I do.

If you’re looking for a personal relationship with someone who produces your food, looking for plantsanimals or other supplies to add to your own hobby farm or homestead, or  just a few recipes and ideas to make your life simpler, then pop on over to Origins Hobby Farm and take a gander. I believe Kathy would love to hear from you, so feel free to shoot her an email. I think you will be happy you did.



Life is Full of Curve Balls

But life inevitably throws us curve balls, unexpected circumstances that remind us to expect the unexpected. – Carre Otis

Frustration and more frustration has been my principle emotion in preparing for this post on seedlings. 

I began in high spirits, sowing my seeds with loving care in great anticipation of what would spring forth.  I was not disappointed either, up sprang shoots of green just as they should with all the promise of what was to come. How to Care For Your Seedlings: Four Important Elements For Healthy Growth Then, it happened. An unseasonably warm day in our area caused the remaining snow on the ground to melt rather quickly and was followed up by a wild pouring rain. I thought little of the weather at the time, and had no notion of the impending disaster yet to come. My mind was absorbed with wonderful thoughts of disappearing snow and springtime planting. That is until I wandered down to the basement where my plants were happily growing and stepped into an ever spreading lake of water. It was brought about by an unending river flowing through a vulnerable window well.

How to Care For Your Seedlings: Four Important Elements For Healthy Growth The mess itself was daunting, but my plants were high and dry and I didn’t think much about them. I unplugged the lighting and heating elements immediately, not wanting to be fried to a crisp as I cleaned up and set to work to stem the tide. Everything was eventually set to rights, but here lies where the mistake was perpetrated. I left my babies (the growing little seedlings) to chance and gave Tim (God bless his soul) the task of plugging everything back in as it should be. Harried as he was, how could he know that a heated seedling mat must be monitored for temperature.

How to Care For Your Seedlings: Four Important Elements For Healthy Growth And so, my poor little seedlings were heartily cooked. Some survived, many did not, and thus a little curve ball has been thrown in my path. Pictures become difficult, tempers flare and confidence in my ability is shaken. All the tough things that can occur when life and a curve ball gets thrown in our path. I keep telling myself this is exactly the thing that develops my character; how I respond to these little life challenges. Tomorrow, I promise I will think hard on these things. Today, I remain frustrated.

How to Care For Your Seedlings: Four Important Elements For Healthy Growth

How to Care For Your Seedlings: Four Essential Elements for Healthy Growth

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