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.

1 comment:

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