Monday, December 19, 2011

We've Moved !!

We now have a new site!  You can find us at:

We will shortly be redirecting to the new site, so no need to re-boookmark the new address :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Informational party to learn more about open farmer positions at Tilian for 2012 !

BREAKING NEWS! Tilian Farm is hosting an informational party to learn more about the two open farmer positions at Tilian Farm Development Center beginning in 2012: Sunday, November 6, 3:00-4:30p at The Ravens Club, in downtown Ann Arbor. Light refreshments, cash bar, Q & A. Come learn more! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

APPLY NOW to launch your farm business at Tilian in 2012!

Are you an entrepreneurial-minded farmer eager to start your business in Michigan? Are you committed to farming long term, building relationships within your community and boosting the local economy by increasing access to local food?

Then you should consider applying to Tilian's Four Season Farmer Incubator Project today!

To learn more, read our letter to applicants and if you are still interested, complete our application below the letter.

We are looking forward to adding two more farms to our Incubator community next Spring!

Monday, August 22, 2011

DigesTilian, Is. 1, 2, 3

Click Below to view issues one & two of DigesTilian: food assimilation in brief from your local farm development center

Issue 1

Issue 2

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heart Sold to the Honest Way

Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture, the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry.

-Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769

Heart Sold to the Honest Way
Andrea Ridgard, June 2011


The duck's feet were tied
The farmer's face was calm
His words were prayers under a tongue tying truth to understanding
His feet were firm and rooted
Deep, like the depth of the soil growing barley that nourished the meal that would soon be his.

His goats bleated standing by
His chickens crouched in their stable
His ducks waddled, circling their open pasture
And the quiet of all that noise, as the legs, breast and beak below tied feet fell weighty with the passing out before death, quieted pain, too


Through the brush, Earthway and six row seed endless brassica and head lettuce, carrots begin to look like themselves and onions toy with the idea of breaking the drying soil with their rooted sweet bulb
The farmer paces out her row
Her feet in an exact heel-toe concentrated line that will service the bare, booted and sandaled for months of weeding and harvesting
She is voiceless to the passersby
But her whisper draws nourishment from the compost her partner spread until dusk,
And absorbs warmth from the open sun to exposed sprouting maroon amaranth
As the breeze seems to move with her rhythmic step, encouraging the motion of the nature she is assisting to cultivate


Their smiles gleam like those of children
Ever in wonder at the earth's ability
Ever in wonder at their own
Their scruffy dog curls in their arms and waits patiently as they plow yet another field--This one, now fresh with the youngest of cabbage purchased at birth for fermentation; a team attends to its weeding by hand in the afternoon heat-- The protective canine looks on, rarely barking out their accomplishment, just greets them, as the sun sets, with companionship


On Wednesday's eve, you can see them
You can listen to the frank, yet careful word of the farmer selling green duck and puissant
You can sense the quiet connection she has with the earth and her heirlooms, and his strength as he makes way for their success
You can melt at the two with the dog and their green things, one bunch of Spring onions, $2.

All Farm BBQ! & Thank you to our supporters!

Tilian Farm Development Center

along with

Seeley Farm, Green Things Farm, & Bending Sickle Community Farm

Invite you to our ALL FARM BBQ!

Join us in thanking our Tools To Till Tilian Kickstarter backers, helping us to raise over $13,000 to launch Tilian's Four Season Farmer Incubator

August 20, 2011 @ 6PM
Enjoy a meal featuring food from all three farms

Come early for a tour of the farms at 4PM

Tilian Farm Development Center is located at
4400 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

RSVP to by August 17

$20-$50 suggested donation per guest

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Barn Concert & Dance on July 30!

Join us in Dexter for a real party on an upcoming Saturday night, July 30 at 6PM. We will have light food, music, and a rockin' good time!

You're Invited to a

at Rancho Tranquilico,
the home of Barry Lonik

Proceeds to benefit the Tilian Farm Development Center
Featuring Music of the Swtichback wsgs,
A hoppin' mix of blue, rock & alt country

11300 Island Lake Road

Music & Dancing Starting at 6PM
(Bonfire to follow)

suggested donation: $15/person
For more information: email

Interested in Volunteering? We could use some help with food for the event. Please contact for more information.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This Weekend @ Tilian!

We've got two great events going on at Tilian this weekend. Check them out!

On Friday:

Mind, Body & Soil, starts at 6:30 with a yoga class led by A2 Yoga Studio (All levels are encouraged to join, please bring your own mat if you have one). In addition, there will be multiple masseuses on site. Around 8:00pm, a large spread of local food prepared by some of our favorite restaurants, producers and chefs will be served. Weather permitting, there will be a bonfire under the full moon.

Time: 630PM-late
Cost: Suggested donation $11+
For more info or questions contact Michelle @

Full Flyer @

On Sunday:

Food Swap hosted by Real Good Food. Make a batch of something (e.g. pickles, preserves, soups, sauces, tamales, liquor infusions, or homebrews), portion it out in tupperwares, mason jars or ziplocs, and bring your bundle of goods to the swap. Then trade your items for other people's specialties! Shelf or freezer stable items are a plus but not required. An extra portion for samples is recommended but not required.

Time: 3PM-5PM
Cost: Free, but tickets are required. Reserve yours at
For more info or questions contact Tim @

Friday, July 1, 2011

Seeley Summer Harvest

Now that we're beginning to harvest our first Summer salad mix at Seeley Farm, the many components that make it up, I am reminded of why we started this venture in the first place. Our vision was to grow diverse greens throughout all four seasons. So while our Spring mix contained baby sorrel leaves, cress, pea shoots and other damp-and-chill-loving greens, many of these crops have begun to bolt or go bitter in this early summer heat.

We're tilling up old beds and vigorously replanting them with heat-loving greens. Our Summer mix has greens like Purslane, New Zealand spinach, nasturtium and amaranth. We're experimenting with a small patch of malabar spinach, not a true spinach but a tropical vine with leaves resembling spinach. What results is a salad mix that's not just lettuce, but a composition of many flavors, textures and an overall nutrition powerhouse.

And we're already plotting our seed order for the Fall. I am imagining all the new greens varieties we can grow for the coming cool of Autumn, and Winter beyond.

But by far the most exciting arrival yet this summer is our budding artichoke plants. Growing artichokes is somewhat of an experiment for us this year, only our second year cultivating these thorny, foreboding thistles. It has been an unexpected relief that they are now producing what look to be healthy and happy chokes. We are so happy to be able to add this tasty addition to our host of local foods in Michigan, and are already scheming for acres and acres of artichokes for the coming growing seasons.....well, maybe just one .

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Harvest

It has been a year of firsts for Green Things Farm, but one of the most fun have been our first harvests. It is so satisfying to finally pick the crops we have planted, weeded, and watered for weeks or months.

So far this summer Nate and I have been giving our shares LOTS of green things (and red and purple too)... green onions, kale, chard, peas, kohlrabi, lettuce, turnips, radishes, herbs, bok choy, mustard greens.... It's been great, but I can hardly wait for our first real heat loving crops-I have been having reoccurring dreams of our hoop house tomatoes finally turning red. It has to happen one of these days!

It has been a joy to watch Seeley and Bending Sickle also have beautiful first harvests. The plants and animals are really growing at Tilian!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Who Wouldn't Weed a Hoop House for a Rhubarb Muffin?

Hello friends!

I am Emily Jaffe, an undergraduate student studying in the Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan. This summer I will be working as an intern for the Tilian Farm Development Center! My role for Tilian is to help organize volunteer events, seek opportunities in the community for partnership and connection, and to offer administrative support and working hours to the farmers.

The first volunteer event that I helped to arrange was Volunteer Orientation Night at Tilian Farm Development Center for the Four Season Farmer Incubator Project and its farmers! Project Manager Andrea Ridgard and I arrived a little before 5 to prepare the barn and awaited the arrival of volunteers coming to help Nate, Jill, Alex, Mark and Ben, Tilian’s dedicated young farmers.

By six ‘o clock, we were joined by six friendly folks, eager to get their hands dirty!

The evening began with delicious food—which is always the best way to start a night! We all gathered in the barn to enjoy fresh rhubarb muffins, homemade applesauce, veggies and a big salad—with Andrea’s newly harvested carrots & Seeley Farm greens!

The warm environment inside of Tilian’s barn accompanied with a scrumptious meal made for a great start to our Volunteer Orientation Night. Everyone introduced themselves—and we all got to know each other a little bit! Nate shared how Tilian operates and the importance of having and supporting Tilian and other similar small-scale, sustainable farms in our community.

After we were done talking, the farmers took us on a tour! We petted the goats, learned about the various types of onions, lettuces, artichokes and the numerous other vegetables growing at Green Things and Seeley Farm.

We also enjoyed watching as the baby pigs bounced toward us in a hurry with their flapping ears!

And, of course we snuck a snuggle with Porkchop…

Then, it was time to get to work. We headed to the wonderful 4,500 sq. ft. hoop house built by 70 volunteers in mid-April to terminate the weeds.

And what a success it was—together, we weeded almost all of the artichokes, tomatoes, eggplants and lettuces!

Please click on the link to learn more about Selma Café and their great help in creating the hoop house @ Tilian (

Unfortunately, the pesky mosquitoes found us after awhile…

So we found cover in the barn! We put volunteers to work making some awesome new Tilian t-shirts—which you can buy for 10$ at Tilian—and designing the north-east facing side of our sign on the Pontiac Trail.

From the beginning to end, it was an enjoyable and productive night.

I am so excited to have such an educational experience that allows me to meet and work with many kind and passionate people.

Most importantly, I would like to give a huge thank you to the volunteers:

Alex told me that it would have taken the Seeley & Green Things farmers several hours to complete all of the weeding that we accomplished in about 90 minutes in the hoop house. So—really, a huge shout out to everyone who helped us at Tilian!

I hope to see you at the next Tilian Volunteer Night on Monday from 5-9PM :)

In-Kindness, You've donated

Thank you Thank you to all who are so generously lending hand, heart, pocket change, and larger sums, body, energy, delicious prepared meals & raw ingredients, ideas, dreams and actions to ensure Tilian Farm Development Center's long stay in Ann Arbor.

Join me in celebrating some of Tilian's early development victories:
  • Trickl-eez contributed $750 worth of irrigation equipment toward out purchase for the farm
  • 70 of you volunteered to build the 4,500 square foot hoop house and another nearly 40 are signed up to build the next one ~ a mobile hoop~ on July 2: Sign up HERE if you haven't already!
  • Kickstarter supporters, like you, raised over $13K for a tool shed, deer fencing and a BCS walk behind tractor!

  • Tilian's livestock farmer, Benjamin Fidler's "A Bard Sings Out" night of poetry & song brought in $350!
  • In t-shirt sales and individual donations, we have raised an additional $1000. (Buy your t-shirt this summer for $10, before prices go up in the fall!)
  • 6 of you showed up to our first volunteer night last Monday & weeded...a lot! (Check out Emily's blog: "Who Wouldn't Weed the hoop house for a Rhubarb Muffin?"
Hope to see more of you this Monday morning (10:30AM-12:30PM) and evening (5-9PM) for more good fun & farm work!

Our next big time at the farm is the weekend of July 15 - 17. Join us for yoga, wholesome food, farm tours & a food swap. More details to come.

Be sure to check out our calendar for more upcoming events!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bards Sang Out

On Saturday night, we gathered in the barn, thankful for the cool air & a reason to celebrate and listen to insightful lyrics while resting on straw and hay and munching on fresh greens from the Tilian fields, yonder. (we raised $350!)

Since compiling these words on page early that morning, their truth calls me back more and more often to the barn, the fields, the rows of rooting brassicas and tamed patches of once tall grass where the goats graze and pigs root:

the stillness of this place 'fore barn swallows wake
the power hovering o'er misted fields
bearing up shoots of sun-kissed love to caress our lips and fuel our hungry depths

the freedom in the vastness of blue or clouds
the way the sun seems to fully absorb this ground
my feet are but small prints quickly covered.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

We're on Facebook!

Check out the following link to "like us". We'll periodically post info and upcoming events. It's a great way to stay connected.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Happenings!

Check out what's hot at Tilian & join us when you can!
(@ 4400 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105)

  • June 11: First Farm Tour (4-6PM, $5 suggested donation) & The Bard Sings Out: A Night of Poetry & Sung (begins at 6PM, $5-10 suggested donation)
  • June 20: Volunteer Training/Orientation & Potluck (5-9PM), Please RSVP to if you would like to attend
  • Every Monday: Beginning June 27, join us at Tilian to volunteer & share food with Green Things Farm, Seeley Farm, & Bending Sickle Community Farm from 10:30AM-12:30PM & 5-9PM. Please bring a dish to pass.
  • July 16: Second Farm Tour, Patch & T-shirt Pick Up (for Kickstarter Backers) & Sales (Patches for $7, T-shirts for $10)
  • August 20: Third Farm Tour, Patch & T-shirt Pick Up (for Kickstarter Backers) & Sales, And Mid-Summer All Farm BBQ ($20/ticket)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seeley Farm Greens

Mark and I feel so grateful to have the opportunities the Four Season Farmer Development Program is affording us. Without the enormous obstacle of finding affordable land with all the infrastructure we need to run our business, we've been able to focus our time on the other details of our production: crop planning, soil preparation, marketing, and more. And it's been invaluable to share this experience with a group of other young farmers who are starting on similar but unique projects of their own. It's been comforting to know that we're part of a team here, and not just out on our own.

-Alex Cicciari

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jill From Green Things Farm

In response to Andrea's question...

"How has being a part of the Four Season Farmer Development Program affected your outlook on farming & developing your own business?"

Twenty two and self-employed two months out of my undergraduate degree--these past few months building a farm from nothing have absolutely been the hardest and most exciting times I have yet to experience. My body is tired from bending and lifting and most days I go to bed with a to-do list that has not stopped rolling by the time I wake up. But each day I feel my muscles growing along with my convictions that the local food movement is a beautiful and substantial effort worth dedicating all of my hours.

The gift and curse of farming is how flexible it can be. The business is developing over time, and has room to be creative in so many ways. Nate and I have so much fun dreaming about what to build next, how to design vegetable beds, or what more we can incorporate into the farmscape. The downside to all of this freedom is that there is very little structure; possibilities and problems are innumerable therefore the work is endless.

The connections we have made because we are now farmers to birth, death, and community have been incredible. Our co-farmers and advisors are unique in their capacity for kindess and to achieve great things and for that are truly inspiring.

Tilian has been an amazing support network to help us start our business. Without the push from this program, we may not have started our farm for years, while we have been chomping a the bit to just do it. That is how I feel about most things these days... Just do it! What have you really got to lose when you have so much to gain?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hogs, Chicks, & Artichokes, Oh My!

Welcome to Tilian Farm Development Center's Four Season Farmer Development Program Blog. In the coming months our 5 farmers will be sharing their stories about their business development in Ann Arbor Township. These 5 farmers are launching 3 new farm businesses & are eager to share their business ventures with the surrounding community.

Green Things Farm's Nate Lada & Jill Sweetman have rows & rows of onions, lettuce and other tasty veggies stretching up to the sun in preparation for their CSA, which starts with a member pick-up next week!

Seeley Farm has 2,225 sq. feet of artichokes planted inside a new hoop house and is watching lettuce & other salad greens peek out of the newly tilled soil. They are looking for restaurants & local grocers to buy their greens.

Bending Sickle Community Farm is growing rapidly. First, with 100 chicks whose feathers change by the day, and then with 5 young hogs, who will be harvested at around 225 lbs. Baby goats are the newest arrivals and lambs will come in the summer. A heritage meat CSA will offer 150 pounds of meat per member share.

I asked the farmers to answer the question:
"How has being a part of the Four Season Farmer Development Program affected your outlook on farming & developing your own business?"

And I think I will answer it too.

Over the past 6 months, working with Jeff McCabe & the Advisory Team to launch the program and recruit the farmers, and now to watch them gear up and settle in, I have learned more than I ever knew about farming. I knew it was a lifestyle choice, not particularly profitable, financially risky, but oh so appealing in its seeming freedom & necessity to work out of doors. What I did not fully grasp, and never will, unless I am to farm myself, is the extreme commitment, courage, fearlessness, and determination it takes. These five peers of mine, are a joyous, tenacious group. They are eager, yet patient, and will do what it takes to see their business succeed as a sustainable benefit to their community. They are up with the sun, and writing updates to their CSA members after dark. They are moving across the sate, maintaining second jobs, connecting with experienced farmers, trying new growing methods, driving to Kentucky for a walk-behind tractor, and, all the while, smiling. They just successfully raised over $12,000 to cover the cost of tools & equipment for the program that were not covered in the grant, and I do not doubt their energy for future endeavors with match that of the recent Kickstarter Campaign.

That said, please visit their websites, linked above, and support their work, their livelihood, their lifestyle choice ~ as sustainability-focused vegetable growing & livestock rearing business people, who long, as do many of us, to see our community transformed with universal access to healthy, local and organic food.