Last week, we interviewed Fiona Thornton of Grass Lake Organics Farm. (Bellaire) Fiona is ten years old and is a very confident and knowledgeable 5th grader. She helps her mom to sell eggs, chicken, and vegetables at the market. Her mother, Joanna Claire, and her stepdad, Lukas Hamilton are co-owners of the farm business. The farm was started three years ago when the family moved to Bellaire, but Joanna is a native of the Traverse City region.
Fiona explained that in the first year they raised vegetables on ¼ of the farm in raised beds. Last summer, they raised about 100 free-range meat chickens and 160 laying hens. Their products include frozen fryers and broilers, eggs, and pumpkins. Joanna’s tomatoes and peppers were also available past the last freezing dates this fall due to her carefully harvesting, storing and controlled ripening on a belated schedule.
When asked what her favorite thing on the farm is, Fiona said “Fresh tomatoes that I can go out and pick from the garden for tomato sandwiches (butter, salt, pepper and tomato on bread).” She also enjoys picking and eating stalks from the Licorice plant in the field (which are grown for teas). Her favorite farm chore is picking and washing fresh lettuce and planting seeds. “But not the lettuce seeds – those are too small. I don’t like planting those seeds,” says Fiona. She prefers planting pumpkin seeds.
Both Joanna and Lukas have employment off the farm. When asked why they farm, Joana stated, "we farm to localize our economy and expand our connection to the community. I like that it keeps me physically fit and enjoying the outdoors as well as being able to work at home too.” Joanna and Lukas are members of the East Bay Farm Guild, sponsored by Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology. Grass Lake Organics farm also has its products available on the Torch Lake Co-op Food Node website (https://localfoodnodes.org/node/torch-lake-co-op). Torch Lake Co-op is a locally organized co-op of farmers who have started a local food “node”. Customers place their order from one or more farmers and then pay and pick them up at a mutually agreed upon location.