GTPulse: Traverse City Couple Continues to Grow Solar-Powered, All Organic Farm
A meme about Michigan weather recently said that we are currently experiencing ‘fake spring,’ a deceptive week or so where more comfortable temperatures melt the snow and a little humidity seeps back into the air right before snapping back into freezing temperatures and more snow. Not that memes hold any merit, but it was nice to have sunshine and wear a lighter coat last week. When I woke up yesterday morning to a fluffy coat of heavy snow on my car I thought about that meme and took a moment to mourn the end of fake spring before brushing the car off and driving to Lakeview Hill Farm.
The farm is run by Bailey Samp and John Dindia and as soon as I walked into one of their greenhouses my fake spring woes were soothed by enveloping warmth, humidity, and the sweet smell of spring and green. The all-organic farm has a busy summer season but the couple works hard all year long to prepare for it.
Bailey was living in Traverse City when she met John who was living in Petoskey. However, they didn’t meet in northern Michigan, but while on separate, solo backpacking trips in Ecuador.
When they returned home they had already decided to be together. He had a farm in Petoskey that Bailey helped him with, and when John went to graduate school in Montana for an environmental studies program, they stayed together.
“I went out there for one semester,” Bailey said. “When he got back we bought this, it was his last semester in grad school and then we started building everything. We bought this property in 2017 and nothing was here.”
Everything on Lakeview Farm is built by Bailey and John. Three greenhouses, a large barn with a processing kitchen attached where they clean all of their produce, and even their home. The property is beautiful with rolling hills, woods and flatlands where their greenhouses are and where their seasonal outdoor produce grows.
“We do a little of both. We grow stuff outside like potatoes and carrots and beets, all our root vegetables,” she said.
When Bailey and John decided to start Lakeview Hill Farm they didn’t base their crops off of what they had a preference for growing, instead, they went to local markets and restaurants and asked what they needed more of.
They grow over 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes in their greenhouses, and they’ve become a staple at their Sara Hardy Farmers Market booth and on the shelves of health food stores like Oryana and Edson Farms They also grow a huge variety of microgreens with the tomatoes, and salad greens. The salad greens take shelter in a greenhouse all their own, and they like it there.
“We grow microgreens and shoots year-round and the same is true for baby leaf salad greens, kale, spinach,” John said.
The colorful pops of dark greens and purples cover the ground in their second greenhouse. The salad greens grow to a certain size, top out, but even when they stop growing they remain healthy and ready to eat until they’re picked.
They also put in solar panels on property and have been able to get grants to help them fund and support the farm through the FSA, USDA and others.
“We got grants for just solar, we’re 100% percent solar. We have grants for a wood boiler system, everything is heated from wood from our property. A lot of grants, a lot of loans, a lot of planning.
Their planning isn’t done, either. They have a few more things to finish inside of the barn.
“We’re adding, how many more greenhouses?” Bailey said grinning at John
“He has this big plan for how many greenhouses he wants. We can’t do them all at once, so I’m like…one a year,” she said.
They may have a limit on how many greenhouses they put up a year, but they haven’t limited their love for farming and each other and will only continue to grow Lakeview Farms through both.