On the last Friday of August, the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market team made their way down to Sturgis, MI to check out what John Templin had popping out of his dirt at Butternut Sustainable Farms. Dedicated to growing sustainable, chemical-free vegetables, herbs, salad mix, and flowers, Butternut Sustainable Farms has been a food provider in Southwest Michigan since 2012.
We rolled up to John’s 3+ acre farm nestled on the edge of a residential neighborhood along the banks of Lake Templene. Among the grounds lie neat rows of salad mix, a pumpkin and melon patch, rows of red and green okra, oriental varieties of radishes, edible flowers, and more. With three hoop houses, acquired through MIFMA’s Hoop Houses for Health program, bursting with heirloom tomatoes, herbs, plant starts, and micro greens, Butternut Sustainable Farms is able to provide food for CSA shares, the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market, The People’s Food Co-op, and several Chicago-area restaurants (including a Michelin star-rated eatery! ), among others.
John acquired much of his agriculture know-how through Goshen College in Indiana, but the land itself has been in his family since the 1880’s. We could even catch a glimpse of his grandfather’s old barn, turning back into the earth alongside the road.
We made our way past the butternut tree that John planted when he was a kid, the same tree from which the farm gets its name. Heading up his parents driveway, we caught a glimpse of their salad mix wash station, where the salad is washed three times, spun dry, and packaged, all with the help from interns, farm hands, and his family.
John has a vision for future growth of his farm, with ideas of purchasing more land to cultivate berries and even an orchard! For more information, stop by the Butternut Sustainable Farms booth at the Saturday Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market, and visit their website at www.butternutsustainablefarms.com.
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