Farming is a tough business not for the weak of spirit. The rigors of farm life are mentally, intellectually and physically demanding and farm businesses operate under a myriad of variables humans have little control over. Most farmers are motivated to keep up the grueling pace in order to positively change the social and environmental landscape of their communities through healthy food.
This season, with its historically cool and rainy weather, farming has been especially tough. Plantings are behind. Some crops were lost. Hay can’t be cut. Grazing fields are flooded. Stress is high. We can’t change this season’s weather, but we can stand by our farmers and show them extra appreciation and remind them why they’re doing this important, life giving work.
Open Sky Organic Farm is a certified organic farm four miles from Cross Village, Michigan. Together, Sam and Susan Sharp produce a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, including garlic, snap peas, and spring mix.
Sam and Susan put their roots down in Northern Michigan years ago because of their love for the land, seasonal changes, and the people. Susan says the pace of life up north just resonated with them. The two of them started farming several years ago while Susan was still teaching. She has since retired, and this is their third year farming their land near Cross Village. The 10-acre piece used to be an old fallow hay field, whose soil had been left stripped and in need of some TLC. Susan and Sam went to work building their soil and bringing life back to the property, and they now have four acres in production.
Mighty Soil Farm is a small organic farm run by Kate Debs and Joe Newman in the Upper Peninsula town of Chatham. They pack a punch on their ¾-acre parcel, where they grow about forty vegetables, including staples like carrots, tomatoes, and salad greens.
The return of the longer days, bouts of sunshine, and the promised pop of crocus and snowdrops have signaled that spring is here. If you’re like me, you’re dreaming of your garden and the tastes of fresh, local produce. To ensure that you have consistent access to the upcoming seasonal bounty, consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. In general, every farm has a unique CSA model. However, in most CSA models, consumers pay a set price at the beginning of the season for a subscription to fresh vegetables.
Do you have a passion for educating kids about local food? Do you want to help TLD promote our regions bountiful farmers’ markets? After an overwhelming positive response, we’ve decided to host 5 more Pop-up Farmers Markets this Spring but we can’t do it without your help!
Excuse me if my writing feels a bit exhausted, walking fifteen miles uphill in two feet of snow, just to get wi-fi for this post has drained me.
Gottcha! It’s hard not to joke, but I am happy to report that I am actually warm in my home, with indoor plumbing and all. Although, we do have a generator because when the power goes out it is often for days, and my closest ‘neighbors’ (besides a plethora of deer camps) are over two miles away.
Greetings, my name is Alexandria Palzewicz, and I am beyond excited to be the new UP Local Food Coordinator! Besides a recent two-year excursion in Seattle, I have lived in the UP my whole life.
It’s already snowed here in the U.P. a handful of times. The farmers markets have closed down until next year or retreated inside, but that doesn’t mean the season for eating locally has ended. It is possible to enjoy local food year-round, even in the U.P. The Marq, a restaurant and bar in Marquette, is a working testament.
Calling all farmers, new and old!
Be sure to register your farm with the 2017 Census of Agriculture before June 30th!
This census occurs every 5 years and conducts a complete count of all US farms–including the smallest plots of land, rural or urban, as long as they raise or sell at least $1,000 worth of agricultural product during the census year.
What is this information used for?
This information is used by the Census of Agriculture to influence Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact your local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.
The survey takes just a moment, so register your farm now: https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/legacy0/cgi-bin/counts
Emma Beauchamp is the Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan and the Communications Manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at email@example.com
The average age of farm operators in the United States is 58. In the next 20 years, an estimated 70 percent of privately owned agricultural land is expected to change hands in the US. Farmers in the Grand Traverse Region are not immune to this graying trend, as the average age of operators in this area ranges from about 55 in Kalkaska to nearly 60 in Manistee. Moreover, it is expected that around 83,000 acres of farmland in our region will change hands in coming years as well.
Come attend this fun and informative weekend conference organized by Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology on January 27-28. There will be dozens of community members from across the state sharing on topics they know best. The purpose of this conference is to offer an open exchange of ideas for the small farm community.
Check out the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference website for ticket and speaker information: www.smallfarmconference.com