Know your Farmer: Tortoise & Hare Farm

Meet Brett, Krista, and barn dog, Duke, of Tortoise & Hare Farm in Muskegon, Michigan! Tortoise and Hare is a small farm that uses organic and sustainable methods to grow vegetables, fruits, honey, and eggs. 

Brett and Krista started Tortoise & Hare Farm in 2016, and this is their second growing season. They met in 2015 when Brett was living in Chicago and Krista in Grand Rapids. Krista was working in restaurants, and Brett had a sales job, but they were both super interested in learning about good food and where it comes from. 

Starting a Farm

As their interest in learning about where their food came from grew, they began thinking about starting their own farm. The idea started to make more sense when they thought about becoming more self-sufficient and growing their own food. Why not turn growing food into the way they support themselves financially? As they connected with more farmers, it just seemed like the right path for them. Brett said, “farming encompasses everything we wanted to do.” That is, running their own business, being outside, and growing healthy food. 

Brett and Krista farm a little less than two acres on their Muskegon farm. To utilize their limited space, they use a style of farming that Krista described as “patchwork farming.” As soon as one crop is done for the season, they immediately replant the bed with a new crop so that no piece of land goes unused. Since they are asking a lot from their land with this intensive planting process, Brett and Krista are careful to give just as much, if not more, back to the soil. 

Keeping the soil healthy is essential for a small farm like Tortoise & Hare. Practicing no-till helps soil retain nutrients, and keeps soil ecosystems intact. Constant plant coverage is better for the soil, too. It reduces erosion, compaction, and moisture retention. Planting a wide diversity of crops close together is also beneficial for disease resistance and pest control. Native plants and wild flowers also attract pollinators and add biodiversity to the farm. Just by focusing on these methods more this year, Brett and Krista have tripled their production since last season!

Brett and Krista are super excited to continue growing Tortoise & Hare. They hope to expand production in one of their new fields with irrigation and additional high tunnels. This would allow them to grow more crops under cover and extend their growing season. Make sure you keep up with Tortoise & Hare to follow these exciting changes that Brett and Krista are making! 

Where to Find their Produce

You can find Tortoise & Hare Farm at the Muskegon Farmers Market and Montague Farmers Market on Saturdays, and the Fulton Street Farmers Market on Fridays. If you need a suggestion for what to get, try some of their personal favorites! For Krista, Asian greens are hard to beat, and Brett’s current favorite is arugula. Tortoise & Hare also supplies some produce to Nipote’s Italian Kitchen in Muskegon if you’re in the mood for a meal out. Either way, be sure to follow their story and learn more on Facebook and Instagram @tortoiseandharefarm.