You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : midnight

A2eatwrite: Local Love Fridays - Our Family Farm

By Jennifer Shikes Haines

Here is a puzzle:

Shikes Haines Duck Egg/Chicken Egg

What are these two objects, and what do they have to do with baking?

If you guessed that the one on the left is a duck egg, and the one on the right is a chicken egg, you would be correct. If you know that duck eggs can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary in terms of baking, you win a blue ribbon.

These baking treasures, along with perfect chicken eggs and an assortment of natural produce, can be found at the Our Family Farm stall at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.

Our Family Farm is owned by "Farmer John" Hochstetler and his wife, Lois. I asked Lois how she found out about using duck eggs in baking.

Well, "Grandma" told her.

Shikes Haines Duck Eggs
Grandma of Grandma's Kitchen (another Farmers Market staple business), that is. It seems that many grandmas have let people in on this baking secret - substitute a duck egg for a chicken egg, one for one in any recipe, and your cakes will rise higher, baked goods will be moist, and breads will develop a luxurious and silken texture.

Does this go beyond conventional wisdom?

Jamie Oliver, who first got his professional chops as Head Pastry Chef for the Neal Street restaurant in London before going on to his career as a television chef, has this to say about duck eggs: "A duck egg yolk has more fat than a chicken egg and its white has more protein. This means the white builds a loftier structure when whipped and the extra fat makes the baked good richer. Fluffier and richer? Um, yeah! This, my friend, is how old farm ladies win state fair baking competitions."

Duck eggs are $3 for the half dozen at Our Family Farm, and they're worth every penny by my reckoning. They started raising Pekin ducks for eggs because someone asked Lois if they had duck eggs and Lois asked John why not? She thought it might be a fun project, and so they took it on. And this is an illustration of the general spirit of Our Family Farm and why it's a different kind of farm with a different kind of CSA program.

John Hochstetler comes from many generations of farmers. His father bought the current farm in 1948 and John's farmed it his whole life. He's seen trends come and go. He's happy to now raise free range chickens who eat a natural diet and lead good lives outside. He's started working with hydroponics - you can find beautiful heads of lettuce at his stand and sweet, lovely hydroponic strawberries - just as juicy as if now is the height of strawberry season.

Shikes Haines Our Family Farm Strawberries
He's one of only four Michigan farmers to grown hydroponic lettuce (one of the others, Carpenter's Organics, also sells at the Farmers Market). He put in hoop houses this spring and he's hoping to give Shannon Brines of Brines Farm some competition this winter, selling kale and other greens during the winter months. He also follows organic principles although he is not organic certified - he uses sustainable agriculture practices, and does not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Our Family Farm's mission is to produce healthy food, and their motto is: "Health from the farm, not the pharmacy."
Shikes Haines Our Family Farm squash

Our Family Farm also has two CSA programs: a traditional CSA program in the summer, which provides share members with seasonal produce and eggs, and a winter CSA, that will include chickens (which are given access to hoop houses when the weather gets too cold), eggs, optional pork, greens and a turkey at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Farmer John also sells at the Farmers Market year round - you can find his delicious eggs any time of year.

Our Family Farm can be found Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, or you can get information about the CSA program by calling 734-428-9100. You can also find more information about the summer CSA on his website. Winter CSA information will be posted soon.

Each Friday, I will be highlighting a small, local food business.

I'm Jennifer Haines and my blog is a2eatwrite. Please let me know about any small area food businesses by contacting me at: Jenshaines at gmail dot com or 734-662-1693.



Mon, Jan 25, 2010 : 5:49 a.m.

Thanks for the great article! We will add this story to our blog as we have readers love to read articles like this. Home and Garden

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 2:05 p.m.

@ Brian - thanks for the kind words @ The Farmers Marketer - they really do sell lovely eggs. And yes, Farmer John is certainly there no matter what the temperatures. @Goofball - not sure where I'd find them in Belgium, but I'm sure someone might sell them at a market? @Charity - next week's Local Love Fridays feature is especially for you.;-)


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 9:57 a.m.

Very interesting! Of course, I had no idea about the duck egss (but you could've guessed that).


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 8:49 a.m.

duck eggs? How only I need to find some

Kim Bayer

Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 6:32 a.m.

Nice post! I am a fan of Our Family Farm eggs too! Farmer John has been a stalwart vendor of the winter months for the last couple of years - at the market every single Saturday in the wintertime no matter how cold. Looking forward to more greens this winter!

brian miller

Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 6:27 a.m.

nice. love a good local farm, the freshness in the produce and what not adds so much...nice post Jen.