Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 Farmfest Sites Announced

The time is coming for this year's Family Farmfest! Now in it's 26th year, Farmfest is an excellent opportunity for families, church groups, childcare centers, or anyone interested to be able to get a close up view of what happens behind the scenes of agricultural related businesses and farms in Jackson County. This year the event is traveling to the western part of Jackson County, on September 17, 2011 from 11am to 5pm. There are four Family Farmfest sites this year. Click "read more" for further details!

Puddingstone Farm and Nursery 
Growing up with poultry and small animals, Donna Baum has always enjoyed being around livestock. She is a flower fanatic and decided to combine her passions by opening a greenhouse in 2008.  Puddingstone Farm and Nursery is located in Parma, Michigan, owned and operated by Baum herself. It is a multi-faceted farm that consists mainly of small animals, annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. This diverse operation allows its customers to see and occasionally participate in the day-to-day management practices that help keep the farm running.
Puddingstone Farm and Nursery has many unique features. Their hands-on farm animal display is a popular attraction for preschool, elementary and care center tours. The operation has potting benches for customers to pot their own planters and hanging baskets.  Gardeners love the on-site compost facility where they can purchase compost by the bag or in bulk. In the future, Puddingstone Farm and Nursery hopes to add more growing houses and a gift shop that will feature hand made products from local crafters. Another upcoming goal is to market wool products and offer classes for spinning, weaving and braiding of wool hair.
Baum finds diversity and management to be essential components in a growing business. The hard work that is put into Puddingstone Farm and Nursery is not only profitable but rewarding. Baum states that her patrons “appreciate the hard work put into all aspects of this business and in turn I’m rewarded with loyal customers.” Individuals in the agriculture industry feel it is important to spread the message that small acre farms can be diverse and sustainable and Baum’s enthusiasm and passion will help her to continue promoting small scale, local agriculture.
At Puddingstone Farm and Nursery visitors will be educated on how farmers make a living from everything their livestock produce such as meat, milk, wool, manure etc.  There will be explanations on how to care for sheep, goats, rabbits and chickens as well as information on how to get involved with local 4-H clubs. Puddingstone Farm and Nursery is no doubt a destination location for all ages!

Sears Farm
While driving down the back roads of Horton it is easy to spot a pasture full of beef cattle. Just four miles south of M-60, on the corner of Sears and Reynolds Road is Sears Farm, home to approximately 1,300 beef cows and feeder calves. In 1955, the Sears family relocated to Horton, Michigan and started their family farm with a small amount of livestock and crops. Since the early 1980’s they have expanded while bringing on the third generation to the family business. Today, the farm consists of 400 beef cows, 900 feeders, and over 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay that are used to feed their herd.
As the world population continues to grow and crop land decreases, it is vital for farmers to exercise and uphold environmentally safe management practices. Ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply is a main goal for the American farmer and Sears Farm is just one of many operations that strive for sustainability. The Sears family applies and promotes safe management practices and in 2009 they received the Jackson County Conservation Farm of the Year Award for their efforts in environmental stewardship. Throughout the years they have worked hard to maintain their reputation as being good stewards of the land and are very much appreciated for their aspirations of becoming even more environmentally friendly.
Happy cows come from Horton! So stop by and allow the Sears family to educate you about the day-to-day challenges and activities they encounter. You won’t want to forget your camera as the baby calf petting area will make for the perfect Kodak moment. In addition, there will be a display of beef products and a local organization will have beef barbeque sandwiches available for purchase.

Hearthstone Farm Market
In 1980, Chuck and Denise Tomasello were nothing more than a couple of college educated kids from town with no farming experience. However, they had a desire to operate and live on their own farm and began one by selling sweet corn from a wheel barrel in their front yard. At first, most of the farm’s payments came from their full time jobs. As their family grew they began to grow more vegetables and eventually their business expanded into what is now known as Hearthstone Farm Market.
Hearthstone Farm Market is a seasonal family farm market that is open from mid-July through October. The market opens with seasonal home grown produce that includes beans, summer squash, and sweet corn. The market’s sweet corn is considered to be their specialty as it draws in people from miles around for its spectacular taste. They organically grow tomatoes, melons, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, honey and herbs. Horse and cow manure from neighboring farms are used to fertilize their produce. In addition, locally grown blueberries, peaches and watermelons are available. Hearthstone Farm Market finishes their growing year with pumpkins, winter squash, apples and fall decorations.
Modern culture, progress and development have forced farmers away from cities and towns where farm products are needed most. The Tomasello’s believe that farms are a huge asset to any community and feel that government regulations need to be farm friendly in order to feed our growing population.
Over one hundred and twenty five commodities are grown in our state’s soil, ranking Michigan second in the nation for crop diversity, meaning safe food is grown close to your home! Hearthstone Farm Market hopes to give its visitors an appreciation of Michigan agriculture and share some of the tools and techniques they use to plant, irrigate, and harvest their crops. Get a glimpse of their bee hives, take a beautiful garden walk and enjoy a guided hayride tour at this Farmfest site.

Sweet Seasons Orchard
Ed and Nan Jasinowski enjoyed owning their own natural food store but desired to be more self-sufficient. Thirty years ago, the couple gained independence after they purchased Sweet Seasons Orchards. Sweet Seasons Orchards is located just three miles west of Concord off of M-60 and is open from the first part of September to Thanksgiving.
Throughout the years, the Jasinowski’s have expanded their business into much more than an orchard. A full kitchen has been added along with an expansion to the sales room. They produce and sell apples, cider, plums, pears, grapes, squash, pumpkins, gift fruit baskets, baked goods, popcorn balls, caramel apples, donuts and homemade apple butter. Having experience with natural foods, the Jasinowski’s decided to add a natural food products line that includes whole-wheat pasta, grains, fresh ground peanut butter, soup mixes and a vast variety of trail mixes.
Michigan ranks third in the nation in apple production with an estimated farm-level value of ninety seven million dollars in 2007. During Farmfest, Sweet Seasons Orchards will exhibit one byproduct of apple production by demonstrating how they make their own cider while educating visitors on the different varieties of apples and other tree crops that they grow. Visit this site to enjoy the taste of fresh pressed cider and homemade donuts. Have a picnic on the lawn or delight in the beautiful fall colors while walking through the orchard.