We hope you find this third installment of our Meet the Maker series as fascinating as we did when we interviewed Abby Schilling of Mick Klug Farms in SW Michigan.
Mick Klug Farms is a family business that supplies us with seasonal fruits and vegetables from the Green Belt of SW Michigan. They have been a partner-supplier for us since the year we started in 2008.
Here's what we asked Abby had to say about the family business and her answers to our questions:
Q: How long has your family been farming at Klug Farms?
A: I am a third generation farmer. My grandparents started farming in the early 1940's so that makes it almost 80 years of farming.
Q: What are the crops that do well in SW MI?
A: Due to our proximity to the lake, we have a great climate for fruit. There is also nutrient-dense soil that is great for both fruit and vegetables of many varieties.
Q: How do you practice sustainability?
A: We are environmentally-verified for both our farmstead and cropping systems through the MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program), which is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.
The Farmstead System addresses environmental risks of the entire farmstead, including safe handling of fuels. It focuses primarily on protecting surface and ground water.
The Cropping System reviews production practices that occur wherever crops are grown on the farm. It focuses on field-related environmental issues, such as irrigation and water use, soil conservation, and nutrient and pest management.
Furthermore, we use low-risk or organic spray materials minimally, and only when we have to in order to ensure a viable crop. We also rotate crops in order to decrease the risk of disease without the use of chemicals.
Q: What does "organic" mean to you and the way you farm?
A: Organic means using organic spray materials in order to rectify issues that could potentially harm the crop (pests, disease, fungus, mold.) We use organic materials whenever available for the particular issue.
Q: have you noticed any effects of the changing climate in SW MI?
A: Every year is different on the farm, so we are accustomed to adapting to the changes. One particular challenge last year was the excessive amount of rainfall.
Q: What makes your products different than large Big Ag farms in California and Mexico?
A: Many things make our products different than those raised on those types of farm. Mainly, they are grown so much closer to your customers, which leaves such a smaller carbon footprint! We are only 100 miles from Chicago.
Our products are also picked at the peak of ripeness, not under-ripe and ripening in a box like they do when coming from California or Mexico. This makes the flavor and quality of our products much better.
Our products are also harvested by employees that are making a fair and living wage, unlike the employees in Mexico that are not.
Q: Do you invite guests to come look at the farm to understand where their food comes from?
A: We are so busy growing, caring for, and harvesting crops, that having guests come to the farm is not conducive to our daily workload.
However, we encourage guests to come to the farmers markets we are at in order to get to know the farmers that are growing their food!
Klug produced asparagus and ramps are currently in our produce chiller at Green Grocer Chicago!