To tell the truth, I’m not quite certain how I came upon Tortoise & Hare Farm. I think I was searching for local farms offering CSAs and their name popped up. But what I do know is I am sure glad I stumbled upon them when I did. I’ve been following them on Instagram and Facebook for a few months now, cheering them on as they documented their journey starting up their farm. From their winter posts about tapping maple trees to their (still winter) posts about starting their plants indoors, to their (yes, winter is still here) posts about bringing their new “farmhand” home (hint: he’s big, white, fluffy and super sweet).
That brutal, never ending Michigan winter did not stop these two from trudging along on their farm. Not in the slightest. Krista and Brett have been busy building a hoophouse, a greenhouse, a chicken coop, and irrigation system. All while renovating their old farm house. Did I mention they also added bees to their farm this year? And they are growing over 150 varieties of fruits and vegetables? These two are unstoppable and I LOVE it!
(In case you were wondering, the name of their farm comes from their nicknames for each other. If you want to know who is who, stop by their farm stand or see them at the Muskegon Farmers Market or the Montague Farmers Market and ask. Check their social media pages for info on where they will be each week AND on the hours of their own farm stand).
Let’s back up a bit and get to know a little about Krista and Brett. Krista hails from Ohio but found herself in Michigan, graduating from Baker College with an Associates of Applied Science in Physical Therapy. She then spent some time living in Grand Rapids. Brett found his way from Illinois (because all the cool kids come from Illinois, if you didn’t know), after graduating from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant and Soil Science. In my conversation with Brett, I just HAD to ask him where his Illinoisan loyalty lied: Sox or Cubs. If you’re from Illinois, you know the rivalry. And you know, even if you’re not a baseball fan, you still have to choose a side. I won’t hold it against Brett that he’s a Cubs fan. I couldn’t even ask my next question: Bears or Packers. I liked Brett too much to take a chance on him being a Packer’s Fan. Brett, if you’re reading this, and you’re a Packers fan, just don’t tell me. Let’s be friends. But I digress…
As I learned in our farm tour, the two always had a passion for gardening, specifically in ways that are sustainable and that protect the soil and water supply. When they decided to start their farm, they wanted to begin in Michigan, where they would find a nice 30 acre parcel of land to call their own. According to Krista, the property was once owned by a family who worked the land as homesteaders, raising their children and their own food. Still on the property are some established blueberry bushes and black locust trees (whose flowers are edible. Who knew?! Well, I didn’t, at least). Their home, an old farm house, is full of swoon-worthy beautiful old woodwork and farmhouse charm (I should add this is not normally part of the farm tour but my children have a knack for needing to use the bathroom everywhere we go, even if I made them use the facilities before we left the house. Thanks, Krista, for being so understanding).
One structure they didn’t have to build on their farm was a separate garage off Weber Road where they have installed a walk-in cooler and will soon have their farm stand! Staring June 21, they will have a farm stand where locals can stop by for eggs and produce, and,of course, to get to know their farmers. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram to find their operating hours and keep up to date on what they have to offer each week. While you’re there picking up your farm fresh produce, ask about a tour, so you can see where and how they grow your food. Also, ask about Duke, their irresistibly cute Great Pyrenees, lover of people and chickens.
My family took them up on the tour and were blown away by how much Brett and Krista have growing. Over 150 varieties of fruits and vegetables, from a delicious salad mix (which I highly recommend), to swiss chard, onions, garlic, broccoli, peas, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and much much more. Even better than the variety they have to offer is their commitment to raising their food as sustainably as they can, protecting the soil, the water supply and providing the community with healthy, nutrient dense food. And you know what I find awesome about that? If you want to know where your food is coming from, just ask! They were completely transparent with us about their farming practices and their belief about being good stewards of the land. We appreciated that quite a bit!
Starting in July, Tortoise & Hare Farm will offer a small CSA program for the peak of the season. If you’ve never tried a CSA, now is the time to give it a go! We tried a CSA when we lived in Wisconsin and loved that it not only gave us a chance to try a few vegetables we were not previously aware of (um, kohlrabi and swiss chard. I had never heard of those before), as busy parents, we appreciated the ease of pick up and not having to make so many trips to the grocery store. Have questions about their CSA? Contact Krista and Brett and ask away!
Want to know something awesome about Tortoise & Hare farm? Something refreshing and high-five-worthy? They talked to us about working with other farms in the area, knowing that together, they can ALL provide our community with healthy, high quality, good-for-us food! That’s not something you hear about in every sector, businesses helping out whom they might otherwise see as a competitor. But these two and the other small farms in the community are so passionate about what they do, they collaborate with each other. And they tell you about it. Because they love what they do, they want all the small farms around to succeed, and they root each other on. Now THAT is something I can, and will, get behind. Because it speaks volumes to their passion, their hard work and their character. I love hearing this because it gives me more motivation to get to their farm stands, to get to the farmers markets, to spread our money around this community, supporting as many local farms as we can. It feels good to know that when my family supports one local farm, we really are voting for a more sustainable future both environmentally and financially speaking.
Give Tortoise & Hare Farm a “like” on Facebook and follow them on Instagram to see all the progress they have made on their farm. Watch as they continue to grow and expand. They talked to us about one day having their honey for sale and possibly expanding their farm to include pigs. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Tortoise & Hare Farm!