This is Part Three of a three-part series from farmer Brian Bates of Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan. This essay was delivered as part of his keynote address to attendees at the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network’s annual Farm Route to Prosperity Summit on February 17th of this year.
In parts one and two of the essay, Bates first describes his journey On Becoming A Farmer and then begins to demonstrate the lessons of Scale and Perspective learned from hands-on experience working at large farms in the US and elsewhere.
Part Three: Making a Choice for Our Community
I think prosperity is defined by a community’s well-being. At Bear Creek, we are invested in our community and hopefully our community in us. We won’t relocate our factory tomorrow, and in the meantime, we shop locally, bank locally, ensure locally, employ locally. We teach others how to grow, and we welcome strangers to our farm.
We celebrate the deliciousness of our food, and we respond precisely to the needs of our community.
This is Part Two of a three-part series from farmer Brian Bates of Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan. This essay was delivered as part of his keynote address to attendees at the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network’s annual Farm Route to Prosperity Summit on February 17th of this year.
In Part One: On Becoming A Farmer, Bates describes some of the influences in his life that led him to become an organic farmer. In this Part Two, he details an eye-opening journey that took him to a variety of farms around the world, learning what he could about the differences that scale makes in farming practices. And that, all in all, the farmers he worked with are not that different than him!
Part Two: Scale and Perspective
We used to drive to the beach every year on the 4th of July and pass through the vast cornfields of Delaware. You may not have expected me to say Delaware, being that we’re in the Midwest, but at a certain scale, we become numb to the scale regardless of size – more on that later.
Brian Bates, farmer and partner at Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan, gave the keynote address at the annual Northwest Food and Farming Network Farm Route to Prosperity Summit on February 17th of this year. His creative problem-solving and passion for learning put him in a new category of young, emerging, farmers making their way in entrepreneurial agriculture. His infectious optimism and positive approach to his work are refreshing.
We’ll present his keynote address in three pieces over the coming weeks. Please be sure to come back for parts two and three.
PART ONE: On Becoming A Farming
So why am I here? I’m here to share a little about me, a little about our farm, a lot about our food system, why we’re screwed (just kidding!), and why I think small actions make a big difference.
First, a little about me. I am a DMV native (that’s DC, MD, VA) and I am gradually becoming OF Northern Michigan. How many people saw Mr. Palladino’s awesome speech at the Small Farm Conference last month? The idea of being from somewhere, and OF somewhere has really stuck with me. I love it.
I moved to Petoskey 5 years ago. I’m 27 years old. And I’m obsessed with keeping things in perspective.