On November 20, ACD interviewed Tori Kowalski of Lel’s Lil Acre Farm in Bellaire, MI. On the first market date of the winter, Nov. 8, Lelianna, for whom the farm is named, was present with her mom at the market as Bellaire Schools were closed. Lelianna is a great spokesperson for the farm, and they have been raising chickens for eggs and meat for about three years. This past year, they started growing strawbale vegetables which Tori hopes to bring to market next summer. Tori explained that due to the very poor soil on her property, she purchased straw bales and “conditioned” them, which will decompose and provide the necessary nutrients needed by the plants.
When asked what she likes best about being a farmer, Tori replied, “The freedom to work my own hours, and eat fresh, healthy food.” She also enjoys the therapeutic effect her chickens have on her. “They are so interesting, each with their own personalities. They are really fun to watch.” Tori also likes being able to provide a humanely raised, healthy, fresh alternative to factory farmed eggs. She states that although Michigan passed the cage-free law, that does not mean the chickens will be raised in a humane manner, nor that the eggs will be any healthier or fresher. Chickens raised on factory farms will are only given a tiny space in which to live and are confined with hundreds of other chickens (spreading diseases that require antibiotics). Tori is collaborating with other egg farmers in the area to establish an Egg Co-op which will raise funds to build an egg processing facility. By law, she can only sell her eggs directly to customers and cannot sell to restaurants, unless the eggs are washed, graded (for size), and certified through a certified egg processing facility.
Tori stated that about half her income comes from her farming activities, and she hopes that in five or six years, 100% of her income can be generated from Lel’s Lil Acre Farm. The Bellaire Winter Farmers Market helps support the farm during the long winter months.