On a plot of 80 acres on County Road 651 in Cedar, Jason Roggensee and Junie Zou founded Farm 651, or what they refer to as an “eco-agricultural concept.” The two traveled from their home just southeast of Phoenix, Arizona for a peninsula wine event during the autumn of 2008 and fell in love with the area. They purchased the farmland, hired excavators and contractors, and went to work planting. Roggensee states that Leelanau County is the ideal place for their farm because of the fertile land and changing seasons.
For the growing farm, 2011 was a year of tremendous successes. One of Farm 651’s greatest achievements of the year was the establishment of their non-profit organization, The 651 Project, which assists Michigan students in their pursuit of agricultural skills and knowledge. Farm 651’s will serve as a learning campus for these students, with focuses in organic farming, construction technology, agritourism, viticulture, responsible landscape design, and green energy technology. Besides being available to students, fellow non-profits will have use of the land as well. What’s more, Farm 651 is hoping to create a “smart house,” a super efficient farmhouse for student accommodations. The farm is seeking out contractors and agricultural professionals to be project mentors and teachers.
Also in 2011, Farm 651 constructed a 20×14 chicken coop made entirely out of recycled pallets. Here, they raised 30 free-range chickens–only four of which were lost to the wild and the friendly–albeit hungry–farm dog. The year also saw an organic garden placed adjacent to the farmer’s market, which carries the freshest produce found in Leelanau County. Additionally, a recently built 14×32 cedar-sided livestock barn will be the home to many future goats and cows. To round out the year’s successes, the kitchen modifications in the Farmer’s Market were completed, providing an area for students to create masterpieces with the farm’s fresh produce.
Farm 651 is Community Supported Agriculture, which means that in exchange for purchasing shares of the farm, shareholders receive a basket of fresh vegetables, fruit, and other goods during the growing season. One of the benefits to participating is the variety of produce shareholders receive–each week promises pleasant surprises.
To keep the community up to date with their adventures on the farm, Roggensee has created a blog, which he updates regularly. Their Facebook page is also an excellent source when trying to find out what they are currently growing and selling and their daily hours during the changing seasons. ~Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer