Raindance Organic Farm Finds a New Home!
Our family has lived in town for the last decade, but we are very grateful to share that we have purchased a farm just north of Ann Arbor! We are hard at work with holistic farm design, conservation work, crop planning, market applications, and CSA member recruitment. This 10 acre property, five miles north of Ann Arbor (and only a 12 minute drive from Kerrytown!), is our new home. We're also pleased to be leasing 8 acres of adjacent land from a neighbor. We'll cure this summer's garlic harvest in the big red dairy barn, and our 2018 flower fields and market garden will find their home nearby. Children will scout for frogs and turtles in the pond and splash in the creek. Look out for sheep on pasture later this year! And for chicks cheeping in the hen house!
-Kristen & Adam Muehlhauser
When Adam and I first said "I do" and moved to Ann Arbor in 2007, we heard about a local community garden project with plots for rent and signed up. That first year the weeds grew higher than the plants, but-- to my total amazement-- delicious vegetables hid in that jungle and made their way onto our plates.
That winter I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and was taken with the idea of growing our family's food and eating locally. I poured over seed catalogs and fell in love with the names of beans grown by Seed Savers Exchange. Armed with one trusty garden reference book, I seeded a flat of tomatoes in the windowsill and faithfully woke up 15 minutes early to water them with a baster every morning before work. I planted out our second season plot that spring and made friends with mulch. Everything grew! Tomatoes took over our kitchen in August.
Over the next decade I grew food as a gardener and worked professionally as a registered nurse at both St. Joe's Hospital and Michigan Medicine. This work of care-taking fit my personality and skillset well, and the opportunity to live out the values of empathy, compassion, and service to others brought a great sense of purpose to each day.
But when the daffodils bloomed in 2012, our daughter was born. Our lives changed in ways large and small. Her birth brought me home to our community, to building deeper relationships and spending time outdoors. Her delight in the worms, weeds, and wind brought great joy and wonder for me, and made me look for new opportunities to share gardening with children and adults.
When our son began preschool, I started the adventure toward doing this earthwork that I love, committing to farming as a sustainable venture to steward the land and build community around local food. I am grateful to join the movement to care for the earth and each other by growing produce sustainably.
In 2017 we planted our garlic crop on a beautiful farm northeast of Ann Arbor, Michigan. We were blessed with a great set of farming mentors who advised us on cultural practices and many aspects of family farming. Since 2009 their land has been farmed using organic practices. In the garlic fields, there is a four-year crop rotation to discourage pests and disease. Cover crops were planted on the fields to increase nutrient content, retain moisture, reduce weed pressure, add organic matter to the soil, and reduce soil erosion.
One of the joys of buying our own farmland in 2018 is the opportunity to become long-term stewards of the soil. We can create habitat for an abundance of biodiversity-- bees, monarchs, snakes, birds, toads, turtles, and earthworms everywhere. We can add important infrastructure to extend our growing season.
We consider ourselves to be caretakers of the soil first. If we do this most important job right, the produce we grow will be beautiful-- productive, nutritious, and more resistant to pests and disease. It is important to us to grow food in the cleanest way possible because we know that our agricultural practices impact the soil we eat from, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. We decided to show a public commitment to sustainable practices by applying for organic certification right away and working through the rigorous certification process with Oregon Tilth.