Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
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Local Sour Cherries

sour cherries in southwest michigan

{Image Credit}
Understory Farm and Orchard
This picture is from June 19. On Monday (July 1)
the trees were bursting with fully-ripe cherries!

It’s cherry season! On Monday Owen and I picked 30 pounds of beautiful sour cherries at Understory Farm and Orchard in Bangor. Understory has been under the stewardship of Chanterelle Vogtmann and Matt Steele for two seasons. According to their Facebook page:

“Understory is a 20 Acre Farm and Orchard with a focus on sustainable/organic methods. Owned and operated by Matt Steele and Chanterelle Vogtmann, two Michigan natives with a shared passion for good farming and land stewardship.”

We were fortunate to meet Chanterelle and Wendell (the farm dog, whom Owen thoroughly enjoyed!) during our visit Monday. The orchard is absolutely beautiful, bursting with cherries and according to Chanterelle, probably “at peak” right now. If you’re looking for sour cherries for baking and preserving, you’ll want to visit very soon. (They’re decent for fresh eating too.) Here are the details:

Understory Farm and Orchard

28120 County Road 215 (54th Street)
Bangor, MI 49013
Chanterelle 1-269-808-7773 Matt 1-810-701-6522

Open whenever the sun is up!
U-Pick Sour Cherries: $1.50/pound
Pre-Picked Sour Cherries: $2.50/pound

Later this week I’ll be sharing about our adventures in cherry pie making and canning for future use!

Anyone know of a source for sour cherries at a better price? We’d love to hear about and share with everyone!


Have you heard about Locavore90?

Locavore90 is a FREE program provided by Arcadia Farms and Flowerfield Enterprises that challenges and equips families in Southwest Michigan to incorporate more local foods into their diet for 90 days. It includes a monthly meal plan that incorporates in-season foods. For details, click here.

Did you enjoy this article? Visit for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.  


Where to Find Raw Milk


{Image Credit}

Last week I wrote about the benefits of raw milk (and the irony of the corresponding dangers of pasteurized milk.) In that post I said that I would be bringing you answers to the following questions:

  1. If it’s illegal to sell raw milk in Michigan, how am I going to (legally) get it?
  2. Where can I get raw milk?
  3. Show me the numbers – how much is it really going to cost me?
  4. What about milk from animals other than cows, like sheep and goats?

In this post I’ll be answering the first three questions. The fourth question regarding milk from animals other than cows will wait until next week. Despite the fact that raw goat’s milk has lots of health benefits and I personally like the taste, I can’t convince my family to go that route. That’s a bummer because many of my farming friends and acquaintances are goat farmers. Just because we won’t be enjoying milk from a goat share doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the opportunity – more on that next week!

How to Legally Buy Raw Milk in Michigan

Did you know that Michigan was the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of raw milk? Silly Mitten… Despite the ban on milk in its healthiest form, farmers and attorneys have discovered a way to get around this legal hurdle. It may be illegal to sell raw milk but it is still legal to drink raw milk from a cow that you own. Don’t worry – you don’t have to run out and buy a cow (and hope your neighbors won’t notice the mooing from your garage). Instead, you can lease a cow from a local farmer. This arrangement is called a herdshare and it typically involves a boarding fee (for the care of your cow) and share fees (which cover the cost of milk).

Where to Find Raw Milk in Southwest Michigan

I found this fabulous website called that provided information about raw milk farmers in Michigan as well as an overview of each farm. Using this list, I narrowed my research down to a few farms within 100 miles of us which sell cow’s milk. You may want to look into some of the other farms listed, but here are the farms I researched.

Hickory Creek Dairy

Location: Baroda, Michigan

Delivery: Delivers to Benton Harbor; On-farm pick up available; Willing to deliver to Kalamazoo/Portage Area (see Other Notes)

Type of Milk: Cow

Type of Herd: Unknown

Farming Practices: Raised on pasture from early spring to late fall (grass-fed); Hay in winter; Non-GMO grain only when milking; No hormones; Antibiotics only as necessary for infections but never as a pre-treatment; If antibiotics are used, that cow’s milk is withheld for 96 hours (double the recommended withhold time).

Herd Lease (Annual): $57

Share Fee (Monthly): N/A

Price Per Gallon: $6.50

Annual Cost (1 Gallon/Week): $395

Half Shares Available: Unknown

Other Notes: A share of Hickory Creek Dairy allows you to purchase up to three gallons of milk per week – an excellent option for those who want additional milk for cheese, butter and yogurt making! Hickory Creek also sells cheese, butter and cream.

Also, Hickory Creek Dairy is willing to deliver to the Kalamazoo/Portage area if there is a standing order of at least 12 gallons of milk from herdshare owners. If you are interested in purchasing milk from Shafer’s, please contact me as soon as possible to make arrangements: This is an excellent opportunity to help a Southwest Michigan farmer increase business with mutual benefit to those of us who want convenient access to healthier milk.

Moo-nique Dairy

Location: Vandalia, Michigan

Delivery: Monday deliveries to Portage and Thursday deliverers to Kalamazoo; on-farm pick-up available

Type of Milk: Cow

Type of Herd: A2 Jersey

Farming Practices: Raised on pasture (intensively, rotationally grazed) from early spring to late fall (grass-fed); Hay in winter and as a free-choice (they eat it if they want it) feed year-round; Free-choice non-GMO minerals and molasses lick available to herd; Non-GMO grain only when milking; No hormones; Antibiotics if necessary to save a cow’s life but never as a pre-treatment; If antibiotics are used, that cow’s milk is withheld for “a very long time.”

Herd Lease (Annual): $10

Share Fee (Monthly): $27

Annualized Price Per Gallon: $6.23

Annual Cost (1 Gallon/Week): $334

Half Shares Available: Yes

Other Notes: A share of Moo-nique Dairy entitles you to one gallon of milk per week – since some months have five weeks it brings the cost per gallon down slightly. Moo-nique also provides raw milk cheese (aged appropriately so that it is legal) and Greek yogurt made from their milk. Both are available to herdshare owners only. Cheese: $8.50/pound. Yogurt: $5.99/quart.

Bluebird Farm

Location: Three Rivers, Michigan

Delivery: None currently; Delivery to Portage or Three Rivers may be negotiable

Type of Milk: Cow

Type of Herd: A2 Jersey

Farming Practices: Raised on pasture April to October, weather permitting (grass-fed); Hay in winter (alfalfa, grass); Non-GMO grain only when milking; No hormones; Antibiotics only as necessary for infections but never as a pre-treatment; If antibiotics are used, that cow’s milk is withheld for several days

Herd Lease (Annual): $25

Share Fee (Monthly): $35

Annualized Price Per Gallon: $8.56

Annual Cost (1 Gallon/Week): $445

Half Shares Available: Yes

Other Notes: Bluebird Farm is a low-carbon farm. For example, they use a team of draft horses for haymaking operations, clipping pastures, logging, plowing, and cultivation. This commitment to sustainable farming may mean more time and expense than conventional practices, however the result is as natural a product as you can find. For those who are willing to pay a little extra for dramatically reduced impact on the environment, I encourage you to read more about their farm philosophy by clicking here.

Step-N-Thyme Farm

NOTE: I was not able to connect with this farm so all information listed is simply that which I was able to glean from the internet. Click on the link above for contact info.

Location: Scotts, Michigan

Delivery: Unknown

Type of Milk: Cow

Type of Herd: Unknown

Farming Practices: Pasture-grazed cows. No hormones or antibiotics used with any animal on the farm.

What Will It Cost Me?

While I’m sure you’ve already taken stock of the prices listed above, I thought I’d provide a quick-references summary of prices for these farms as compared to the cost of store-bought milk, namely Meijer Organic milk.

Milk Price Chart Organic

In addition to the costs of milk for drinking and baking, I’m working out comparisons for the cost of other dairy products such as cheese, butter and yogurt. Stay tuned! And don’t forget to check back next week to learn more about the benefits and costs of local goat’s milk!


Where to Find Rhubarb

pesticide free rhubarb

The weather has been cool in Southwest Michigan. That means you won’t find much at the local market beyond greens, herbs and radishes until the weather warms a bit. It also means that May goodies like asparagus and rhubarb may last a while longer. A couple of weeks ago (before my life got super busy) I shared a post with you about where to find asparagus in the area. I’ve also done a little looking for rhubarb, although I confess that my search hasn’t been as exhaustive as my asparagus search. All the same, I want to share what I’ve found with you – a local source for both conventional and a pesticide-free rhubarb.

Conventional Rhubarb

Right around the corner from our farm there’s a family that grows rhubarb in the backyard. This crop does receive at least one treatment of pesticide early in the season. Rhubarb is $2.50 per pound. You’ll find “The Rhubarb Family” at the corner of South Westnedge and Osterhout and their phone number is (269) 327-6987. There’s a sign on the Osterhout side of the street that indicates whether or not they’re open, so if you’re traveling a ways, be sure to call ahead.

Pesticide-Free Rhubarb

I’m so thrilled to have found pesticide-free rhubarb without having to call 10,000 different places! This weekend at the Texas Township farmer’s market I was able to buy it from Bonamego Farms ($3.00 per pound or $5.00 for 2 pounds). Bonamego Farms is in Lawrence (58041 48th Street). Their phone number is (269) 674-3541. If you stop by, please be sure to tell them that you heard about their rhubarb from our website!

We have two teeny-tiny rhubarb plants at Arcadia Farms and this year I planted several more from seed. If we’re lucky, we’ll be harvesting some for our customers next season instead of sourcing it from other growers. I can’t wait, because I love rhubarb and I love the hands-off benefits of perennial foods!

Does anyone else know of sources for pesticide-free rhubarb? Has anyone found a cheaper price? I saw that Rajzer’s Farm in Decatur had rhubarb cheaper (I think $2.25 per pound) however it is conventionally raised (sprayed with pesticide).

I still haven’t decided how I’m going to preserve my leftover rhubarb… I’m leaning toward making sauce or jam. More on that next week!

Have you heard about Locavore90?

Locavore90 is a FREE program provided by Arcadia Farms and Flowerfield Enterprises that challenges and equips families in Southwest Michigan to incorporate more local foods into their diet during a 90 day period. Click here to learn more!


Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company

corn seed watermark

Seeds are a hot topic at Arcadia Farms these days. We just wrapped up an heirloom seed giveaway this past week. The week before that I shared a Seed Starting Spreadsheet with you that can help you determine when to plant seeds and approximately when your harvest will be ready. That same week I also shared a list of seed sources with you. It wasn’t until after I created that list of seed sources that I realized I had forgotten someone! I want to share information with you about a new heirloom seed company founded by some of our family friends. But first a little background…

Around the time I left my full-time job to become a suburban farmer, an article came out that discussed a movement of young people (20’s and 30’s) flocking to farming. The article cites several reasons why young entrepreneurs are turning to agriculture rather than corporate jobs. Some of the major reasons include the stifling nature of corporate America, a strong demand for local and organic foods, the opportunity to be self-employed and the intangible rewards of doing work you love. The article is endearing to me because I am part of that movement of entrepreneurs who’ve (passionately!) traded desks for dirt.

The Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company Story

Jarrod and Kendra Tishhouse are part of that movement as well as co-founders of Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company (located in Lancaster County, PA). I recently had an opportunity ask Jarrod some questions about Urban Farm HSC. If you’re interested in supporting creative entrepreneurs who are investing in the future of sustainable agriculture, you’ll want to read on to hear their story!

Q: What inspired you to start Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company?

A: Kendra (my wife) and I really feel called to sustainable living and we feel that one way to preserve sustainable living is in the preservation of heirloom seeds (non-hybridized non-genetically modified varieties of seeds that produce true-to-form generation after generation). In light of big agriculture and chemical companies stream-lining “perfect” tasteless vegetables, we want to make sure that people continue to have access to heirloom varieties of seeds, and also invest in their food future!

Q: Please share a little bit about how Kickstarter played a role in the startup of your company. [Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects.]

A: Kickstarter is an invaluable resource to us. Not only does it provide all the start-up costs for your business, it single-handedly proves that you have an idea worth selling and helps you access people out of your immediate circle who would be interested in your project. Heck, we sent seed capsules as far as Portugal, Taiwan, and Australia among others!

To visit Jarrod and Kendra’s Kickstarter page for Urban Farm HSC, click here.

Q: What surprised you most about the startup process?

A: It is definitely a lot of work getting all of your ducks in a row! You have to know all your costs from A-Z, and you have to connect with the people that you want to support your project – let them know that you’re a real person with a real beating heart who believes in what they are doing.

Q: Please tell us about the products you offer.

A: We currently offer seed “capsules” in a couple of different options – a standard Survival Capsule with everything you need to plant a well-rounded garden, and a completely Customized Capsule where you choose all 25 varieties. We also just launched a new, “Ready-to-Start” garden that comes unsealed and non-capsulated for those looking to get started right away at a cheaper price! Now’s a great time to get your garden kit for the Spring season, and all of our kits come with included planting-times and seed-saving instructions! We are also looking to the future with other sustainable garden capsules and new projects.

These capsules contain heirloom seeds sealed in mylar bags for safe-keeping!

These capsules contain heirloom seeds sealed in mylar bags for safe-keeping!

Q: Some of your products are designed for long-term storage. What measures do you take to keep seeds from becoming sterile over time?

A: There are three specific factors that harm a seed over time: Light, oxygen, and temperature. Our Urban Farm capsules aim to keep the first two intact, but unfortunately we have no control over the last. (We put a suggestion on all of our capsules to store them in a cool place). Our seeds are sealed in mylar bags which are then encapsulated. You can literally bury your capsule in the ground if you want to (we keep ours in the freezer)!

Q: What can customers do to help maintain the viability of their seeds?

A: You’ll want to keep your capsule in a cool place. I suggest a fridge or freezer, a cool basement or cellar, or just burying it straight in the ground. The mylar bag has a zip-lock enclosure, so you can re-seal your bag after you’ve opened it. (It comes heat-sealed, however, and once you do unseal it initially the oxygen absorber inside can be spent rather quickly if you leave it open).

Q: Why did you select the seed varieties that you offer?

A: We wanted to offer the standard varieties, but I really like fun varieties too. We are constantly going to be updating the different kinds of seeds available for our custom gardens. I’m a big fan of purple and red carrots, yellow lemon tomatoes, and banana melons! When we started on this journey, we had no idea how many varieties there are out there that you would NEVER find in a supermarket!

Q: What are some of your future plans for Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company?

A: I have been thinking about this since day one! The seed capsules and gardens are only a start for us. We are looking to the future for other sustainable methods that we can apply not only to our lives, but to those around us! Our next step is to start a full local CSA in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, transforming our yard-space into a literal “urban farm.” I am in the midst of planning out the details right now, and we are VERY excited about this! Look forward to a new Kickstarter project within the next week or two!

Q: What advice would you give to new gardeners?

A: I would suggest doing research. Organic gardening is the only gardening worth doing and many people frown at the amount of work they think is involved. I suggest Googling a film called “Back to Eden” as a good starting place, as that revolutionized the way my wife and I did our garden this year. Gardening can be far easier than people make it out to be, you just need the right resources at your fingertips!

Q: Is there anything else you’d like Arcadia Farms’ readers to know?

A: We are so grateful for people investing in a young company like ours! Many people don’t realize the amount of work that goes into running a personal business – it’s a lot of work with little pay, but for me it’s a labor of love. We enjoy what we do. Sure, gardening, canning, dehydrating, and all the other facets of sustainable living definitely are a lot of work, but I can tell you one thing for sure: Every night at dinner time I am SO glad we do what we do. Our food is fresh and delicious, not stale and filled with preservatives and chemicals. It’s an ongoing transformation, and Urban Farm HSC is just one way to help us live the way we do, while helping others too!

capsules watermark

Your Part of the Story

If you live in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania and would like to join the Tishhouse’s CSA – or if you love what they’re doing and would like to support their newest endeavor through Kickstarter – check them out here:

Cinderblock Gardens CSA Kicstater Campaign

Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company Website

Another Annie’s Heirloom Seed Winner

Last week we ended a great giveaway for heirloom, non-GMO seeds from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds. Thanks again to everyone who entered! We had such great participation. Even though I was very happy for our winner, I wished I could do more for the rest of you. So I gave an open invitation for our readers to comment here on 1) What one thing they’d love to have from Annie’s catalog and 2) one garden tip. We planned to  pick our favorite reader tip and give the winner the seeds they desire courtesy of the farm! And that’s just what we did…

Everyone had great tips (and I wish I could have picked more than one “winner”)! But at the end of the day, Tina’s Folded Newspaper Pot Pictoral takes the cake seeds. Congrats, Tina! She’ll be receiving the purple Falstaff Brussels Sprouts she desires. Thanks to everyone for their tips!

 Did you enjoy this article? Visit for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.   


Wish List Wednesday: Magazines

Wish List Wednesday | Magazines

Welcome to another Wish List Wednesday! When I first started sharing these posts I intended to do them every Wednesday. Then I realized it was a little obnoxious. So now I’m working on making this happen the third Wednesday of every month. While some of the items I share about may be true recommendations – products/services I’ve used and think you’d benefit from – most of these things are truly just wishes – things I’d love to have or experience or learn more about as I move deeper into living a sustainable farm life.

This Wednesday (which just happens to be my birthday) I’d like to share a list of magazines I’d love to receive in the mail. These magazines are related to food, permaculture, homesteading, small/urban farms and/or sustainable living in general. Do you receive any of these publications? If so, please leave a comment to let me know what you think of them!

Urban Farm

Sustainable city living has a magazine and it’s called Urban Farm. This magazine has great tips for those of us who live in suburbia or the city who want to experience the benefits of farming right where we are. Farming/self-sufficient living in the city requires a level of creativity and this magazine shares tips and tales from others who understand the unique challenges of a city farmer.


Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News is, well, the mother of all permaculture/homesteading magazines. It is packed with SO much great information, including info on organic gardening, modern homesteading, renewable energy and green homes. It’s been around for a long time and has lots of DIY project plans available.


What is permaculture, anyway? Well, according to the magazine by the same name, permaculture is”an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living” as well as “a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere.” This magazine provides information and inspiration for living a permaculture kind of life.


Organic Gardening

It’s all in the name. Organic Gardening magazine provides expert garden advice, helpful tips for beginners, useful information about beneficial insects, how to make compost and other things critical to organic growing.

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest

Backwoods Home

Backwoods Home offers useful information on self-reliance, homesteading, canning and other related topics.


Back Home

This magazine is a hands-on guide to sustainable living with many agriculture and homesteading topics.

Hobby Farms

Hobby Farms is a magazine for hobby farmers, small production farmers and those passionate about the country.  Hobby Farms caters to all aspects of rural life—from small farm equipment, to livestock, to crops.  Hobby Farms highlights “rural living for pleasure and profit.”



GRIT is a bi-monthly magazine distributed throughout the United States and Canada that celebrates country lifestyles of all kinds, while emphasizing the importance of community and stewardship.

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Countryside & Small Stock Journal (better known as just “Countryside”) is more than a magazine: it’s a network where homesteaders share a wide variety of experiences and ideas about simple, sustainable, country living. There are no guidelines and no paid writers. Instead, there is an open atmosphere of neighborly sharing.


Small Farm Today
Small Farm Today® was founded by a small farmer in central Missouri in 1984, and is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of small farming, rural living, sustainability, community, and agripreneurship. It is published on a farm, by a farmer, for farmers.

Growing for Market

Growing for Market is for local food producers. GFM keeps you informed about the business of growing and selling vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, plants, herbs, and other food products. They have information for those who are market gardening or farming, whatever your scale, that will help make your business more profitable and enjoyable.

Everyday Food

This magazine has great recipes (many of them very simple) and is family-friendly. They also offer great tips on selecting produce and buying in-season. I love it and recommend it!



Whole Living

I enjoy the articles in this magazine. Unfortunately the magazine is being discontinued sometime in 2013 due to a lack of subscriptions.


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