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Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Minor

https://safs.msu.edu/blog/a-visit-to-faivor-farm

A Visit To Faivor Farm

Faivor Farm exemplifies farming principles rooted in family, community, ingenuity, and sustainability. Rebekah, Louis, and their kids walk the road less traveled defying the norm.

Standing sentry at the end of the drive is Faivor Farm’s trusty farmstand enduring all forms of weather for the sake of the farm. The stand gave us a hearty welcome while the warm sun radiated down as we drove in, admiring the once majestic vegetable garden now blanketed in dying weeds. The weed seed bank in this garden is full since tilling is nearly impossible in spring due to the garden’s low-lying location. As young adults poured out the parked MSU vans, Louis and Rebekah were there to greet us with smiles and enthusiasm though both looking rather worn out. Though maybe a little tired, the couple stood with pride while we observed the farm and began to entertain our fatigued curiosity.

Both Rebekah and Louis are Michigan State graduates, and they manage their farm raising conventionally grown cash crops as well as vegetable crops. Louis raises the cash crops on over 1000 acres and Rebekah manages their horticultural crops ranging from vegetables to flowers to culturally specific crops like bitter melon. Amazingly, they both work jobs as well as raise a family. Louis works for MSU while Rebekah works for the Clinton conservation district. They both lead busy lives yet somehow, they find the time to manage their vegetable garden as an experiment.

Faivor 1

Any farm is like an ongoing experiment. Each year the farmer must make decisions to improve or sustain the farm. Many times, this involves testing new equipment or raising new and diverse crops. The Faivors experimented with biodegradable row covers in the vegetable garden this past growing season, and Louis planted food grade soybeans that will most likely be used to make tofu in Asia. Rebekah also experimented with growing bitter melon and obtained her greenhouses at little cost in previous years from the USDA Landscape Conservation Initiatives established in 2008 under the Farm Bill. Keeping in mind land sustainability and soil health, most of their cash crop fields have gone no-till for years. They also plant cover crops making sure the ground is covered year-round to avoid erosion and nutrient leaching throughout the farm.

Faivors

Community plays an important role in sustaining the farm. Many of their customers are from local businesses, families, or individuals. Rebekah recognizes the importance of community support and has become the manager the Dewitt farmers market on top of her job responsibilities ensuring a place exists where local farmers can sell their produce. She also sells her vegetables and flowers at the market much of which is grown in her two large hoop houses. I personally appreciate her use of skills learned at MSU not only to help support the farm, but also because she has a passion for it. Many farmers have a passion for farming, but farms have been disappearing for a while now.

With the average age of U.S. farmers climbing into the upper 50’s, finding a farm owned and ran by a younger generation is next to impossible. Many challenges arise as a farmer but passing the farm on to the next generation is one the biggest reasons farms keep disappearing. Also, being able to sustain a family solely on farm income is unattainable for most, so many work full time jobs too. One must be capable of juggling many responsibilities to become a farmer, yet somehow Rebekah and Louis manage to work full time jobs, raise a family, have a social life, and manage a farm. Farming is a lifestyle they love, and though it’s not practiced by many, it is certainly respected by most. Our nation could use a lot more farmers like the Faivors to uphold our communities rooted in farming and families.

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