This week we were fortunate to visit Bill and Rose of Scobey’s Produce, in Wayland, MI. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Rose Scobey, who has been participating in the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market since 1946. Rose is a strong advocate for eating fresh food and knowing where one’s food comes from. She has been urging us to take a group of kids from the YMCA summer camp out to her property to get dirty and have fun in the outdoors, as her an Bill share their wisdom & experience from decades of farming. It was quickly made apparent to me the knowledge that the Scobeys have to share is invaluable and could not be learned by reading a couple of text books. During our two hour tour, I learned more then I could possibly retain. Bill and Rose split up our tour of their 60 acre property in gorgeous West Michigan, on which they raise all the products they sell.
To begin, Rose walked us through a Hoop House that was a new addition to the farm this year. We were walked up and down the rows and taught about varieties of plants that don’t require bee pollination to flourish. She encouraged us to lift up leaves and look at how delicately some of the plants were hung with special ties that are ideal for the plants growth for example. As we continued on into the fields, she informed us of the ample varieties of products grown, as well as ideal soil composition and even rotational cropping strategies they have used in the past and present. I even learned about invasive weed species in Michigan such as Ragweed and Garlic Mustard. Frequently, Rose stopped the cart so we could get out to touch and smell veggies and pick a few weeds. We were given the opportunity to take pictures of anything on her property we saw... I learned that Rose’s favorite vegetable to “raise” in her words, is Cabbage. Later, in light of the conversation Rose and I were having about cabbage, Chris and I were given the opportunity to cut our own cabbage. First, Rose instructed us on techniques to cut it, as well as tips for optimal freshness.
We then were given a tour of their preparation station and walked through their industrial fridges. The Scobey’s also have a CSA that is over 140 members, which is part of why the preparation stations and fridges are so crucial aside from preparing over four large trucks of products to take to markets. Lastly, Rose showed us some of the tractors that are Bills pride and joy. Bill then took over our tour and took us out to the see the many sweet corn fields. He too taught us more information. He talked a lot about the best times to pick the corn... “it is best to pick the corn in the coolest part of the day otherwise the water in the corn will turn to starch more quickly” he explained. We were also shown the 7 active bee hives. Honey is not extracted from these hives; they are solely used for the bee’s contribution to the production on the farm. After a full two hours of constant sensory engagement, pictures taken and our minds full of knew knowledge, Chris and I called it a day at the Scobey’s Farm. Rose had some Basil to cut for a local restaurant's order...
For more information on Scobey's, check out their Facebook page.
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