On July 24th, the market team headed out to Russell's Farm to visit The Garlic Brothers operation. While Russell's Farm is owned and managed by Rick Russell of Russell Farm Inc. (another vendor at the market), part of the land has been allocated to The Garlic Brothers. Thus, a beautiful business relationship in which Rick's knowledge and The Garlic Brothers enthusiasm come together to foster new generations of farmers as well as fresher produce and smarter farming. 

The Garlic Brothers consists of Britt Harris, Cameron Tarnas and Matt Boylan. Unfortunately, the market team was unable to meet Matt but enthusiastically spent the day with the other two-thirds of The Garlic Brothers Team. Britt and Cameron warmly welcomed us onto the farm, immediately taking us on a whirlwind tour of their land. We started out at the front of the property, were the largest field of Garlic Brothers produce is located. The field was full of various kinds of produce, from eggplants to squash and peppers. We made our way from the first filed, to the greenhouses, and finally to the last three fields in the back of the property. The amount of produce being grown, some tried and true others experimental, was a beautiful sight. Despite their name, The Garlic Brothers grow more than garlic!

In order to expand their produce list, Britt, Cameron and Matt needed the land to do so. That's where Rick came in. Cameron met Rick about four years ago, in search for land to lease. Rick, needing someone to take over the land he had but was unable to use due to the time consuming nature of farming, had the three Garlic Brothers meet in the late summer of 2013 and begin their farming life on Russell's Farm. Now equipped with the land needed to grow their produce, the Garlic Brothers had to decide what produce to focus on growing: garlic, one of the most enjoyed produce in the nation must have been an easy decision. 

But why garlic exactly? That's a question the market team was quick to pose to the Garlic Brothers. Cameron supplied the answer: few farmers in the Kalamazoo area seemed to be growing garlic, despite the regional climate being ideal for garlic growth. There was a void to fill, and the Garlic Brothers aimed to be the ones to fill it. The Garlic Brothers also desired to make a positive impact within their community, and within the world. Knowing that over 75% of garlic sold in the United States is imported mainly from East Asia, and that the majority of domestic garlic comes from Gilroy, California and the Christopher Ranch company, The Garlic Brothers made it a goal to supply their community with a local product that differed from the genetically modified products one would find in one's average grocery store. This way, the community is supplied with local, fresh and healthy garlic and a step towards bettering the global environment is made. 

There's also a practical reason, according to Cameron, as to why the Garlic Brothers chose to grow garlic as their primary produce: garlic has a stable shelf life after harvest which, when compared to other produce, makes labor inputs lower and profit margins better. All of these goals, reasons and plans make the Garlic Brothers dedicated, enthusiastic farmers who see farming as more than a profession but a way of life in which you have "to be passionate and motivated every day". 

Because the Garlic Brothers see farming as a way of life, they believe that people should know their farmers. That way, your produce is directly connected to your community. Cameron's example for why it's important for the community to know their farmers asks one to take a look at Meijer, which is selling plums right now. Plums are currently in season in Michigan, so why do the plums at Meijer come from California? Cameron, and the rest of the Garlic Brothers team, believes that local systems can and should provide for local needs! If people know their farmers, know where to go for their needs, they don't need to turn to Meijer or California plums. 

Another instance in which farming is a way of life and not just a business for the Garlic Brothers is their Saturday farmers socials. They may be at Russell's Farm to make a living, but they're also there to learn from all the local farmers around them. Saturdays at Russell's Farm are full of "farmers walking and talking and laughing, sharing information with each other". Cameron describes it as a rewarding social experience" that connects him, a young farmer to "all of the people who have been doing this for decades". Thus, being on Russell's farm connects the Garlic Brothers to information and experience years in the making, as well as provides the land with youthful, enthusiastic and determined farmers that can continue the legacy of local farming practices. 

Come see all that the Garlic Brothers, and Russell's Farm, have accomplished by visiting them at the Kalamazoo Farmers' Market. Their garlic is truly beautiful, and delicious! Just like all the produce they grow and supply with love, intentionality, and care.