Open Sky Organic Farm is a certified organic farm four miles from Cross Village, Michigan. Together, Sam and Susan Sharp produce a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, including garlic, snap peas, and spring mix.
Sam and Susan put their roots down in Northern Michigan years ago because of their love for the land, seasonal changes, and the people. Susan says the pace of life up north just resonated with them. The two of them started farming several years ago while Susan was still teaching. She has since retired, and this is their third year farming their land near Cross Village. The 10-acre piece used to be an old fallow hay field, whose soil had been left stripped and in need of some TLC. Susan and Sam went to work building their soil and bringing life back to the property, and they now have four acres in production.
For Susan and Sam, farming is a very real form of activism that allows them to transform their agricultural system in ways that can lead to major positive environmental and social changes. On the environmental side, Susan and Sam are very focused on building their farm’s soil structure. Building soil has no quick fix, so they make sure to focus on proactive efforts rather than reactive ones. To do this, Open Sky uses organic soil amendments and methods like minimal tillage to build a soil that will be able to support their farm for many years.
On the social side, Susan and Sam feel like farming is a way for them to help take care of their community. One way they are able to do this is through the Manna Project in Harbor Springs. The Manna Project has partnered with local farms to help provide fresh produce to local food banks at wholesale prices in exchange for up front payment to the farmers. This system helps provide farmers with money during times where money is tight while also providing people in need with fresh, healthy foods. “I love this model—it’s a win-win for everyone!” said Susan.
Farming can be intense and unpredictable. Yet, there is a new opportunity every day to learn something new about a little piece of land, or a new plant. This ability to constantly learn more about their farm is what keeps Susan and Sam passionately growing their veggies and flowers. Right now, Susan is growing her interest in producing herbs for distilling and brewing. Open Sky Farm is also excited to be growing more dry beans, adding protein-rich legumes to their expanding vegetable harvests. Pink celery is also a fun new addition to their farm this year! For flower lovers out there, Susan is looking forward to growing more dahlias, peonies, delphinium foxglove, snapdragons, and celosia.
Make sure you don’t miss out on these products, and connect with Open Sky Organic Farm this season! You can find their veggies and flowers at Toski Sands Market, Harbor Springs IGA, and the Grain Train in Petoskey. They are also at the Harbor Springs Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the Petoskey Farmers Market on Fridays. You can also find their products seasonally at local restaurants and florists in Petoskey, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, and Mackinac Island. Make sure to follow their story at @openskyorganic farm on Instagram and Facebook, and their website www.openskyorganicfarm.com.
Julia Linder is the Communications and Events Intern this summer for Taste the Local Difference. This piece is part of our Know Your Farmer Series. Contact her at [email protected]