Right in time for fruit season, here’s a great overview of where to get the best local fruit from Vegan Kalamazoo member and permaculturalist PJ Chmiel:
- My favorite is grow-your-own! We don’t have a “farm,” but have planted a very diverse permaculture orchard that is inspired by nature and creates food, habitat and medicine for humans and wildlife alike. Our aim is to grow vegan staple foods in a no-till, wildlife-friendly system—chestnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, oaks, in addition to dozens of kinds of fruit and semi-wild vegetables. Not everyone has the luxury of having several acres of land, but even on a small urban lot, growing your own is easier than you might think and very rewarding.
For local farms, these are some of my favorites, look for them at the local Farmers Markets or contact them directly: Bonamego Farms (they don’t really deal in animal products and have a wonderful variety of chemical-free (and foraged!) veggies and mushrooms; Walker’s Fresh Veggies – CSA Farm in Paw Paw has a nice roadside stand and also goes light on the chemicals; EarthSmith Food and Forest Products raise animals but they are one of the most ecologically-minded farms in the area. Josh and Kerry are in the early stages of having an awesome ecological farm with blueberries and other lesser-known fruits, primarily for Josh to use in his wonderful creations as a vegan chef. Earthen Heart and Joe’s Blues of Moss Funnel Farms offer no-spray blueberries as well. Elder Fire Farm Arts makes amazing jams and fermented foods and are dear friends of mine. Blue Dog Family Farm grows awesome kale and other greens. Molter Family Orchards is one of the only certified-organic orchards in the region, also great people, though they’re more toward Lake Michigan and not so much in Kzoo.
Above all, visit farmers markets, get to know people, visit the farms, see how they do things. It’s a LOT of work growing food for market, most farmers are just barely making it financially and have to work insane hours. I know I’m forgetting a lot of people here, but this is a good start.
Reprinted here with permission–thanks, PJ! His comment, by the way, was originally published on the Vegan Kalamazoo Facebook Group, where you’ll find more than 570 of your fellow Southwest Michigan vegans and vegan-friendly folk, and all kinds of useful recipes and tips. So please join us. (We were even cited as a news source by K1025 radio when they reported on the new Trader Joe’s that’s coming to Kzoo!)