Yesterday, June 13th, the market team visited Scobey’s Produce in Wayland, Michigan. Originally a mint farm in the 1800’s, generations of the Scobey family have worked to transform the land into the 79 acre, multi-produce farm it is today. Housed upon the 79 acres is a gorgeous white historic farmhouse, marking the beginning of the property. After the farmhouse, a large red barn with a cheery black and white sign declaring “Scobey’s Produce” welcomes you. The barn serves as a packaging center, where all the various produce is appropriately washed and stored depending on the produce’s needs. Sweet corn, after being picked in the early hours of the morning, is kept in a cooler to preserve its temperature and sweetness. Yellow and green beans are washed and put into plastic bags, ready for market!

Every produce grown by Scobey’s is treated based on its unique needs in order to meet the goal of providing healthy, fresh and delicious food to market patrons. Rose, one of the head-honcho of Scobey’s Produce, always has market patrons in mind due to her long history as both a patron and vendor at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market. 

Rose made her market debut in 1947, sitting in a highchair next to the table where her parents displayed their produce for sale. Growing up in the cultural atmosphere of the market influenced the cultural atmosphere that Rose oversees at the farm. Scobey’s works around a farm to table mindset, prioritizing the ability to communicate honestly with their customers. As a grower, Scobey’s can confidently say that at least 80% of their products are grown on their farm, by them. Their identity as a grower is vital to both their market and farming presence, and is something Rose is very proud of. To uphold their identity, Scobey’s is equipped with a large hoop house and a few smaller greenhouses, as well as traditional outdoor fields.

Every acre of the farm has been thoughtfully put to use, and is tended to with extreme care. This was evident to the team as soon as we drove onto the property, with signs at almost every corner informing us of the different produce available at the farm as well as welcoming us onto the property with great warmth. 

With Rose, and fellow head-honcho Bill, reaching retirement age, a youthful presence is always appreciated on the farm. High-school aged students help with the day-to-day work: harvesting, packaging and preparing for market days. Rose and Bill are on the lookout for someone who is willing and able to take over the operation, and as the kids from the Lincoln YMCA poured out from their bus our eyes searched for potential farmers-to-be. Filled with excitement, both the team and the YMCA group piled onto golf carts, ready to explore! We followed Rose to the outdoor fields: from winter squash to kohlrabi, then sweet onions, tomatoes and yellow and orange carrots. The kids were more than excited to pick their own vegetables, sharing the treasures amongst themselves as we drove from field to field.

A few of the kids were so excited about the vegetables that they volunteered to walk behind the golf carts in order to take pictures of the various produce found along the way! Once we were done exploring the fields, and learning about the different produces grown there, we pulled up to two old tractors. The YMCA kids started climbing on them, their curiosity about farming practices growing rapidly. 

We spent a lot of time on those tractors, but finally managed to tear the kids away from them and drive back to the main lot of Scobey’s produce. We sat as a group in a small picnic area, eating peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies (homemade, and courtesy of Rose herself) and freshly cleaned and cut carrots, sweet peas and cucumber while the kids lined up to get their picture taken as giant onions!

 Snack time also marked the end of the YMCA visit, and as the kids piled back onto their bus they reluctantly let go of the produce treasures they had gathered in the field. A final thank you to Rose, and they were off! But the market team’s day didn’t end there. Rose offered to give us a small, private tour of the hoop house. While the hoop house was impressive from the outside, the inside was really something to see. Approximately nine rows of growth, and a huge variety of cucumbers and tomatoes, filled the hoop house from wall to wall, floor to ceiling!  

After our tour of the hoop house, the team and Rose talked about goals for the market and what the future may hold. All in all, the visit to Scobey’s Produce left us with a greater sense of pride in the market, our vendors, and the work being accomplished by everyone involved. It’s vendors like Scobey’s that remind us what food can do for people, for a community, and for generations upon generations. Scobey’s Produce welcomes visitors, so feel free to head out there yourself! Once you’ve reached the picturesque hills and vast, open countryside you won’t regret dedicating the time to spend on a farm that prides itself in growing healthy, fresh produce for the Kalamazoo Farmers Market and greater community to enjoy.