Community, Connection and Carbon Farming

Farming is a practice that relies on connection — to community, resources, and, of course, the land. Farmers throughout Northwest Michigan who see themselves as stewards of their land recently had the opportunity to build further connections, thanks to the Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology. Their Carbon Farming Planning Cohort uses peer-to-peer learning opportunities to focus on implementing carbon sequestration in farming and forestry.

Carbon sequestration practices remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in organic materials, such as plants and soil. These practices support a resilient future for agriculture by building soil health and preserving water quality, which protects against weather shocks, such as flooding and drought.

Birch Point Farm participates in the Carbon Farming Planning Cohort, pictured here with hakurei turnips.

According to Daniel Marbury, the Program Coordinator tasked with the success of the cohort, this dedicated time allows farmers to step back from the seasonal production cycle and take a moment to think of their land investment through a legacy lens. While the group is composed of farmers from all experience levels and walks of life, Marbury notes they all have a common goal: “We’re building friendships and real community because there is a shared commitment to do something at whatever scale people can manage.”

Caitlin McSweeney-Steffes of Mancelona’s Danu Hof says their intention to be a part of the change in the climate and food system when they first bought their farm was hampered by the realities of what traditional farming had done to their soil.

“It was basically a sandbox where pastures once were, which was eye-opening to see how much work needed to be done to help the land and environment,” she recalls. The cohort has helped her better understand programs provided through the USDA, NRCS, and others to change this reality, as well as build a realistic 5-year cohesive plan.

Carbon Farming Planning Cohort

For many in this inaugural cohort, the ultimate goal is to apply for funding to cover carbon farming implementation costs. Crosshatch also plans to share the cohort’s stories of successes and challenges with the local farming community at their Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference, to help make carbon sequestration and risk mitigation through sustainable land ownership a part of the agricultural community dialogue. Marbury says that the response to this conservation call-to-action has been exciting, with a waitlist for future cohorts already starting to fill.

Farmers in Northwest Michigan are actively engaged in building a resilient future. Join in their community mindset when buying your next bunch of local veggies!