Last autumn I visited the three-generation homestead of EarthKeeper Farm located ‘on the ridge’ near Grand Rapids. I’d met farmers Rachelle and Andrew Bostwick at the Fulton St. Farmers Market; I’ve been purchasing their produce for a couple of years. We’ve stayed in touch over the winter as I’ve been writing a two-part post about their farm. The second one will be posted late summer.
The farm is certified organic and biodynamic by the Stellar certification body. Andrew and Rachelle explained the process and techniques to me, noting the on-site certification visits. The soils are tested in a lab and custom soil amendments, such as fish emulsion, kelp meal, or bone meal, are made for fertilizer to supplement the local manure and compost they use. And they don’t usually have to spray any organic pesticides. If they do, the occasional use is Neem oil.
For labor, they do work shares, and they host people through WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In this program, they provide basic housing for people who want to work on a farm in exchange. They’ve met lifelong friends this way as evidenced by the photo collage in their barn.
They grow 50 crops (280 varieties) including garlic, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, rutabaga, cabbage, broccoli, melons, onions, garden transplants, flowers and herbs.
As the season begins, they are selling flowers, wheatgrass, pea shoots, buckwheat shoots, baby kale, baby collards, spinach, green garlic, and heirloom vegetable transplants. Soon they will have lettuce, spring turnips, green onions, cooking greens, and bok choy.
“This spring we are delighted to offer 100% heirloom, organic vegetable plants for pre-order,” said Rachelle Bostwick. “There are 34 different varieties to choose from, including tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, kale, and much more. Plants come individually, in 6 packs, or in mixed flats that contain all the veggies you will need for your garden.” Plants are available for pre-order through the farm or at the Fulton Street Farmers Market; they will be ready the last two weeks in May for pick up at the same places. Many of the varieties are from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which is a list of foods specifically valued for their outstanding flavor and meaningful role they play in the food system.
Follow the farm on Facebook or visit them at Fulton St. Farmers Market until Thanksgiving. They are there on Saturdays from 8am to 3pm, and occasionally Fridays during peak season. During winter, they sell at Sweetwater Farmers Market in Muskegon.
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