To us, practicing sustainable, community-based farming is just as important as growing good food.
Bluestem Farm is a year-round organic farm offering build-your-own CSA shares, engaging community events, and some exciting food outreach initiatives. Aaron and Mary Brower are first-generation farmers who believe small farms play a pivotal role in the work of preserving local food supplies, decreasing energy consumption, and bringing neighbors together in authentic communities.
In the age-old tradition of apprenticeship, we learned season-extension and cold-weather farming methods from other farmers. Before Bluestem Farm, previous experiences included a self-sufficient biodynamic community farm in rural northwestern Russia, and as part of a diversified organic raw-milk dairy in northern New England.
We rely as little as possible on external inputs, and avoid all pesticides and synthetic fertilizers – even certified organic ones – preferring instead to cycle nutrients through the ecosystem of our farm. This allows us to use fewer fossil fuels in transport, and helps us to keep costs down.
Our animals graze the fields, producing meat, eggs, and manure. Composted manure and balanced minerals fertilize the fields which grow the vegetables, which in turn feed the people and the animals, not to mention the earthworms, beneficial fungi and soil bacteria in the pastures and compost heaps.
Much of the 80 acres of woods, rolling grassland, and gardens that make up Bluestem Farm were fallow from the early sixties until 2012, when we came to own the land. During that time, the farm’s many habitats were protected in an interconnected patchwork vibrant with plant and animal life.
Today, we’re carefully transitioning the our property back to working farmland in a way that continues to protect the land. Our farming practices include managed intensive rotational grazing, certified organic growing methods, and zero chemical inputs. We are proud to offer our members and customers certified organic vegetables and plentiful, varied diets straight through both the gorgeous summers and long winters of northwest lower Michigan.
We chose the name Bluestem Farm for the native Midwestern grass by the same name. Its roots reach extraordinarily deep.
In 2013-14, we were honored to write a year-long column that followed the travails and successes of an early year on our land in East Jordan. Read the whole series here: Summer, Fall, The Holidays, Winter & Spring at Bluestem Farm - Edible Grande Traverse magazine
What is Organic Farming, Really? - Clean Eating magazine
First-Generation Farmers Set Deep Roots in East Jordan - Petoskey News-Review
New Program Brings CSA Shares to the Disadvantaged - Traverse City Record-Eagle
What is a CSA and How Do They Work? - Petoskey News-Review
Local Food All Year Round - GrowerTalks magazine
Local Band Supports Farm with a Cause - Grand Traverse Insider
Farmer Heroes - EcoCentric blog
Groups Join Effort to Subsidize Food for Low-Income Families - Charlevoix Courier
Bluestem Farm Grows Roots in East Jordan - Petoskey News Review