Bean Pole Farm – first farm in the Upper Peninsula taking advantage of local farm incubator program
A new farm is sprouting in the Upper Peninsula, thanks to a new farm incubator program.
The Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) would like to welcome Bean Pole Farm as our first enterprise to be working under our farm incubator model at the North Farm. The Farm Incubator at the North Farm works to remove barriers and challenges for new farmers entering into agricultural production in the Upper Peninsula. Land, access to equipment, crop storage and technical guidance are offered in exchange for a participation fee. After two years of farming at the North Farm, program organizers hope that the incubator farms are better prepared financially and has the skills to establish their own farming enterprise. Three new farmers will be accepted each year, with up to six total enterprises hosted at the farm.
Farmers, Landen and Dakota are new to Chatham, and they chose to enter into this program because of the location, the timing, and the desire to really dive into a career in sustainable agriculture. While Dakota’s past farming experience is mainly limited to helping out in his father’s summer vegetable garden, Landen has lived around agriculture her whole life. Growing up, she spent countless summer days on her grandparent’s farm; as a teenager, she worked on a hybrid corn and soybean farm and during the summer while in college she worked on an organic vegetable farm. These experiences, along with a never-ending thirst for dirt under their fingernails, all contributed to the advent of Bean Pole Farm.
Landen and Dakota are both 2013 Northern Michigan University graduates, Dakota earning an Electrical Line Technician Certificate and Landen earning her B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability. After graduation, the couple moved near Dakota’s hometown in northcentral Wisconsin; where Dakota went on to earn two more certificates in welding. During that time, Landen began to study the art of permaculture and received her Permaculture Design Certificate last September. These teachings of sustainable life systems and closed-loop functions spurred a shift in the both of them, and a determined search to begin a career in sustainable agriculture commenced. When word got out of a new farm incubator opening in the Upper Peninsula, they knew it was time to bade Wisconsin farewell and begin their journey as small-scale organic vegetable farmers.
Bean Pole Farm, while now in its fledgling stages, has big plans for its future. Following the permaculture principles, the farm’s main goals include becoming a fully self-sustaining closed-loop system, thriving off the natural inputs a working farm provides, while absorbing the outputs in a cyclic pattern. Beyond that, Landen and Dakota’s dream is to provide a whole-diet food share, based on a CSA model and including every part of the human diet. Components will include grains, protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, herbs and a form of sweetness. In addition to these goals, Landen and Dakota hope that one day Bean Pole Farm will be an educational farm, where the community can gather and learn about food, sustainable life systems and farming.
If you are interested in learning more about the farm incubator program, feel free to reach out to Ashley McFarland at 906-439-5176 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are taken on a rolling basis. McFarland is the Coordinator of the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham, Michigan and a Community Food System Educator with Michigan State University Extension.