Farming the Upper Peninsula

ISHPEMING– A snowy lot is not exactly where you would think you would find a booming farm.

But the managers of Partridge Creek Farm are hoping to break ground for agriculture in the city.

“This is traditionally a mining culture and when people are mining they tend to bring in their supplies from other sources,” said Dan Perkins the Director of Partridge Creek Farms. “Although in the old days most miners’ families did grow food to supplement the family’s substance.”

Farming is not a big part of the Upper Peninsula; in fact Perkins says the area is defined as a good desert and we import 92% of our food.

“To the point that there is very little sustainability, if the trucks stopped rolling we’d be in big trouble” Perkins said.

Besides fresh food, Perkins says farming can grow a strong and engaged culture as well.

“If a child learns how to play in the dirt and grow a carrot, he’s going to eat that carrot,” Perkins said. “And then also get engage with the in the community who are doing it. So it’s a way of building bond and building community.”

However, there are some unique challenges to farming in the Upper Peninsula. The soil is difficult and sandy and we are in many different climate zones, meaning temperature can be very unpredictable.

“The temperature can swing wildly, which means I could lose those cucumbers before the end of the month and have to replant them and be set back in my schedule,” said Ray Bush, farm manager for Partridge Creek Farms.

Here food is growing using a warmed greenhouse and even the snow outside.

“We expect to have early cucumbers well before anybody else and tomatoes,” Perkins said.

And they’re hoping to expand this success and bring the community in on this.

“We want to grow food right in the downtown of Ishpeming and have it everywhere so that kids get to nibble on it as they go by beds,” Perkins said.

Bush said, “We hope to turn the city lots here that are empty into a positive for both us and the city in that we’ll manage them and maintain them and make them look since while providing food for the community.”

For more information about Partridge Creek Farm, go to their website here.