Meet Your Farmer
APPLE ACRES FARM
- Est. 2020 -
Thanks for stopping by to see what we're all about here at Apple Acres Farm.
The idea of starting a small-scale, regenerative family farm was slow to germinate but really took root after finding almost 14 acres of amazing land just minutes from downtown Houghton. Most people wouldn't look at our mostly wooded and sloping piece of land dominated by ridges and swales and think "what perfect farming land". We however, are not your typical farmers!
We believe that small is not only beautiful but also sustainable and inspiring. Our farming practices are guided by what our land needs and can support. With training in permaculture design, our farm design and operations are based on permanent + agriculture principles to improve our topsoil to help sequester carbon, infiltrate rain water, prevent erosion and runoff, and increase our farm's overall resilience to a changed and changing climate. Rather than focusing on growing bigger, each year we look for ways to grow better and more ecologically diverse.
To further improve the health and vitality of the land, we are gradually incorporating the natural behavior of livestock into our farming practices. We aim to leave our soils healthier and more productive than we found them while also raising happy and healthy animals on pasture. A nice outcome of our efforts is nutritious and delicious local foods grown, foraged, and raised without chemicals or synthetic inputs.
Currently, Apple Acres Farm is home to our resident honey bees (along with native pollinators) that are essential for pollinating our crops, including our heritage apple orchard. We are also pretty smitten with our free-range chickens that not only lay beautiful orange-yolked eggs but are also fantastic nutrient recyclers + manure spreaders. Our mixed flock of friendly brown egg layers love to spend their days free-ranging around the farm under the watchful eye of our rooster and Fabian. Finally, two cute Nigerian dwarf goats help us manage less desirable vegetation found in areas previously grazed many decades ago.
Despite our desire to remain small while sustainably diversifying our farming operations, we have some big dreams! In the near future we look forward to expanding our fruit orchards and other perennial food and forage crops as well as constructing a barn and possibly adding ducks to help us manage slugs.
Heather and Caleb
Heather is an environmental engineer turned first generation female farmer. She first fell in love with the Houghton area as a Michigan Tech student. After completing her PhD in 2011 and moving to Minnesota for work, her and Caleb knew deep down that they would find their way back to the UP one day. Luckily during their time away Heather discovered the joys of growing and foraging food, including using hugelkultur raised beds that are now the backbone of our food production success.
While sustainability has been a long-time passion of Heather's, she never imagined it would lead her into farming! Especially not after her first failed gardening attempts back in her student days.
Apple Acres Farm was borne out of Heather's desire to create a simpler, healthier, happier, and more sustainable lifestyle. She figures that if a small vegetarian from the suburbs with no farming experience can grow or forage surplus healthy and nutritious food, then anyone can! Part of the appeal of starting a small-scale, regenerative farm has been sharing it with others who desire a greater connection with their food and the natural world.
Most days you can find Heather hanging out with her chickens, tending to her crops, foraging for wild mushrooms or herbs, or riding her ebike (with trailer!) to run errands around town.
MEET BUILDER CALEB
Caleb is the farm's resident builder, tinker, and bike guy. He is also a Michigan Tech alumni and a long-time fan of the Keweenaw Peninsula thanks to his early days building and vacationing at his family's cabin near Eagle River. He definitely never saw farming in his future but is slowly warming up to the idea... very slowly!
Our dream of building an off-grid, passive-solar, super efficient home (as well as the other beautiful buildings around the farm) would not have become a reality without Caleb's hard work. His nerdy interest in high-performance green building design combined with his talents for turning an idea into a beautiful, functional, and efficient structure has been a major bonus for our farm.
Caleb is truly a jack-of-all-trades while also somehow managing to master many of them. This includes sizing, installing and maintaining our solar system (which as of 2022 now includes a small solar system for our barn!).
When he is not helping around the farm, Caleb can be found slinging bikes at Rhythm Bike & Board in downtown Houghton.