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Spearheading the local supply of fresh lettuce, kale, and more for the past several years at the Co-op is Boersma Family Roots, operated by Matt and Nichole Boersma. Located in Calumet, Michigan, nestled between Sevenmile Creek and Muggun Creek, the Boersmas' farm currently spans 2.5 acres and several greenhouses. Their day-in, day-out work revolves around providing the community with fresh produce, driven by their commitment to the community and a healthy lifestyle.
Matt's involvement in market gardening dates back to his childhood, as he started attending farmers' markets with his grandfather when he was just six years old. He later distanced himself from the farm lifestyle but found himself returning back to his roots.
“As an IT guy, I spent a lot of time working with computers in my twenties, and my back pain became unbearable. I just got generally health-conscious, and there was no food up here. I was like, man, I had such good food when I was growing up. And it’s missing. So we gotta fix that.”
Now, the farm is at maximum capacity, with 95% of the land in use and no soil left bare. Matt comments that the farm has essentially doubled in size every year since the beginning.
The Boersmas embrace regenerative farming methods. Matt describes their methods as tried and true techniques that have been used for centuries. The farm avoids chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Instead, they rely on composting, cover crops, rotating garden crops, and rotational grazing from their chickens and pigs to maintain the land and ensure future harvests.
The responsibility of maintaining and expanding their cultivated land is shared among the family members, with Matt managing the soil and Nichole managing task delegation, transplanting, and maintenance like weeding. Their two boys, Jonah and Oliver, assist with harvesting and transplanting, collecting and caring for the chickens and pigs, and gathering eggs.
Nichole appreciates the ability to work from home, allowing her to spend more time with their children. Her favorite aspect is being involved in the community. "I've met so many people in the last seven years, and it's truly motivating. I think that's my favorite part, along with enjoying good food."
Matt comments that Nichole adds a certain flair to life at the farm.
“She keeps things interesting around here. There's never a dull moment,” he says.
When it comes to kale, lettuce, and other seasonal produce, the Boersma family has mastered the art of cultivation. Their kale leaves boast a vibrant shade of green, bursting with flavor and packed with nutrients. The lettuce varieties they offer range from crisp romaine to tender butterhead, ensuring that customers can find their perfect match for salads, sandwiches, and more. The Boersmas' meticulous attention to detail, from seed selection to harvest, guarantees that every bite is a testament to their dedication and passion for farming. Their partnership with the Co-op enables them to bring their farm-fresh offerings directly to our tables, fostering a stronger connection between the land, those who work it, and those who enjoy its bounties.
Matt adds, "It's rewarding. It's really hard work, but at the end of the day, you look at what you've accomplished, like 'Wow, I painstakingly weeded this 180-foot row of vines, but I got 30 bins of beans out of it!' That's no joke, you know. You feel good. You might shed a tear on your way in, but you're celebrating on your way out."
Boersma Family Roots
Photos & Article by Lily Venable