Local farmers ready for DMFM despite cool, wet spring weather

CHOCOLAY TWP, Mich. (WLUC) - Below-average temperatures and above-average March, April and May rainfall may wreak havoc on farmers’ bottom lines later in the year.

Jeff Hatfield at Seeds & Spores Family Farm says that’s because tractors can damage the soil if conditions are too wet.

"For farmers all over the Midwest it’s been such a wet spring it’s hard to get equipment into the fields to do their planting. So all over Lower Michigan and Wisconsin, especially grain farmers have had a hard time," Hatfield reasoned.

Hatfield runs the 120 acre farm and rents out 40 more acres.

"On that land we raise eight acres of produce and we raise pigs, chickens, cows and shiitake mushrooms as well as a number of medicinal herbs," Hatfield boasted.

He says despite the less-than-ideal start to the season, his crops are right on schedule.

“Normally this time of year we're starting to put chard and kale and lettuce out into the field and this week we did that. We got a little rain. So things seem to be right on schedule," Hatfield advertised.

Thanks to the 12 hoop houses on the property, Hatfield says he and his crew will have abundant fresh, local, organic produce like spinach, lettuce, scallions, parsley and Asian greens ready for the Memorial Day weekend kick off to the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market.

"It’s all made possible by the hoop houses. We've already planted and harvested and tilled in a number of those crops and are ready to move on to warmer season crops like pepper and tomatoes and basil.

Hatfield says they’ve also just planted 20,000 onions, some garlic, lots of chard, kale, lettuce, spinach, seeded carrots and beet, cabbage and broccoli. Those crops will become ready throughout the summer.
But if you’re looking for some fresh local shiitake mushrooms, they're just starting to sprout.

"Shiitake mushrooms are growing on logs and the mycelium needs some 60 to 70 degree days to get going," Hatfield reckoned.

Ryan Leary at Tonella Farms in Skandia says his mushrooms have also had a bit of a slow start but they show promise.
"Some are just starting as far as the outdoor mushroom logs. My shiitake logs are just starting to fruit and I expect the next good rain hopefully more will continue," Leary calculated.

Several farms like Seeds and Spores also offer a community-supported agriculture program. Click here to learn more.

Hatfield also says to look for more and more products to take root this year.

“One thing we're gradually building on is our products that are coming out of the kitchen. We're doing some things like fresh made jams, and sauerkrauts and pestos, and also at the Farmer’s market you'll find some ready to eat items like a frittata or muffins as well as a number of other things," Hatfield announced.