EAST JORDAN — From world travelers to first-generation farmers, Aaron and Mary Brower hope to bring their knowledge and passion for fresh food to Northern Michigan.
In less than one year's time and with help from family, friends and neighbors, the Bluestem Farm is taking its place among the area's most innovative and aspiring new farms.
"As we traveled we were consistently drawn to farms which successfully grew food throughout the long winters," Mary said.
It was in these places where the Browers learned season-extension techniques for winter growing, gained an understanding of animal husbandry, and also developed admiration for the strong communities which can center around a genuine local farm.
"In retrospect, it is easy to see that those itinerant years equipped us with the skills we were going to need to become community-centered, four-season farmers, but for a long time, we could not solve the problem of where we wanted to build this farm we could not stop talking about," Aaron said.
After the birth of their son, the Browers decided it was time to follow their dream, so they packed up and moved home.
"With plenty of help, we bought the land from a widow who, along with her husband, owned and cared for the place for a half-century without ever actually farming it," Mary said.
The diversity of products from Bluestem Farm spans anything from 30 types of vegetables, heritage breed animals, fruits, pasture-raised meats and eggs, along with all-out care for providing the best food possible to Northern Michigan.
Bluestem Farm also participates in a year-round CSA program that runs for 21 weeks. Participants can choose a la carte from their many non-GMO offerings. Pick-ups for this program are available in Petoskey, Bellaire, at the farm in East Jordan, Boyne City and Gaylord.
"We chose the name Bluestem Farm for a native Midwestern prairie grass with extraordinarily deep roots, mainly because we thought it was a pretty name, but also because we liked it as a symbol," Mary said. "The Bluestem grasses belong to a class of pasture plants which grow when other types of hay take the summer off. As farmers, we do not take the summer off."
For more information about the farm, programs and events, contact Mary at (231) 459-8968 or go to website www.bluestemfarm.net.