It’s Not Just What You Do; It’s How You Go About It

All of us want to leave things better than we found them for future generations. It is important to recognize that some practices in farming can enhance our community, our economy, and our natural world long after we are gone while other ways of doing things are less helpful toward sustained viability. Here are some things we do here at Michael Farms to promote a sustainable approach to our efforts as farmers.
Soil Health, Erosion Control and Water Use
» Low pressure irrigation nozzles are used on center pivot irrigation systems at Michael Farms to provide the exact amount of water crops need while avoiding soil erosion or excessive use of water.
» Following harvests, the mineral rich glaciated soil is planted with cover crops of wheat, oats, or rye, to provide soil cover during the winter, control water and wind erosion, improve the soil structure, return nutrients to the soil, and improve crop yield.
» Minimum till practices such as strip tilling are used, where only seed rows are tilled by employing high-tech GPS instruments, leaving most of the plant material on the surface of the field, protecting and leaving soil undisturbed.
» To further manage erosion, the farm uses sod waterways for proper drainage and runoff.
Reduction of Chemicals
» Michael Farms implements integrated pest management (IPM) practices. This starts with the planting of disease resistant varieties of crops. Then we scout for pests and use insect traps to determine the timing and need for pesticides. This method of pest control reduces the use of chemicals while producing hardy, healthy crops.
»The farm also has programs that calculate weather factors such as dew point, temperature, day length and time of leaf wetness to determine the timing of fungicide applications to responsibly protect against disease.
Reduction of Fuel Use
» Ninety-five percent of what we harvest stays within a 200 mile radius of the farm. This means less fuel is expended in transportation, while consistently delivering the freshest products.
» On average, most of our vegetables travel no more than 100 miles to get to the store, a distance often considered an important benchmark for locally produced food.
» We recently upgraded our forklift fleet with new, all electric, ultra-efficient lift trucks for use in our packing facilities.
Reuse of Materials and Reduction of Waste
» Michael Farms separates biodegradable waste, metal items, discarded packaging materials, and other trash to reduce garbage going to landfills by recycling and reusing the materials.
» The farm also provides area livestock farmers with fodder from discarded plant material produced during the packing process. This healthy foodstuff for livestock is an all-natural bi-product of packing vegetables.
Community Contribution
» The farm makes produce available to our local community at our farm market store located onsite. The store is stocked daily with fresh-from-the-field snap beans, sweet corn, potatoes, cabbage and more. It is a favorite destination for fresh, locally grown vegetables for many area residents during the growing season. The farm market store helps keep us connected to our community.
» The farm employs more than120 full-time workers during our growing season, and up to 30 year-round, full-time employees. The seasonal workforce is provided with onsite housing in one of our four apartment buildings, complete with basketball courts, outdoor courtyards, a playground, and a recreation center. Our seasonal and year-round employment provides jobs that support families and has a positive impact on the local economy.
Awards and Recognition
Michael Farms has been a past recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Stewardship Award, a distinction granted to farms that work to make sure that their operations are sustainable with a focus on the environment as well as the consumer. In addition, the American Vegetable Growers in 2003, presented Michael Farms an award for excellence in food quality and safety procedures, industry leadership and community outreach.