As our state becomes blanketed in snow, it is easy to think life on the farm grinds to halt. Fortunately for us eaters, however, many farmers utilize hoophouses (aka high tunnels or passive solar greenhouses) to grow a variety of cold hardy winter greens: collards, kale, and spinach are commonly available year round. If you’re normally not a fan of greens, and even if you are, I dare you to try the winter kissed varieties and not fall in love.
On the edge of Ann Arbor, at the Tillian Farm Development Center, dark leafy greens and crisp, flavorful salad mixes are artfully tended by Hannah Rose Webber. A first generation farmer, Hannah is in her third season cultivating crops as The Land Loom. She currently rents 1.5 acres at Tillian where she follows organic practices to produce high quality greens and summer fruits (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.).
When Joannée DeBruhl’s 21-year insurance industry job fell victim to cuts, she saw a window of opportunity in the form of establishing a church garden. DeBruhl did more than produce 2,000 pounds of vegetables for Gleaners Community Food Bank. She found her calling. DeBruhl dedicated the next year to confirming that and honing her skills at Michigan State University’s Organic Farmer Training Program.
Michigan’s growing season is frustratingly short. But at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, “We’re a booming market all year round,” says Robin Richardson, the market’s manager of event planning. “You can come to the market on any given Saturday and buy a tomato.”