Incubator Project Farmers have access to land and resources at Tilian for two years. During this time they will develop the knowledge and resources to move offsite and continue their farm business on their own land, ideally in the Ann Arbor area.
Check out Tilian’s current Incubator Farms: Bending Sickle, Green Things, and Seeley Farms. Click on a farm name below for more information.
Bending Sickle Community Farm is run by Benjamin Fidler. After gradating from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Literature and Poetry, Ben was a guest student at Colorado University’s Agricultural Research, Development and Educational Center. With stops in New England, California and Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ben worked and apprenticed on farms, ranches, and vineyards. Having done everything from wine making, grain growing, raising livestock and horse husbandry, in 2011 Ben began his own meat CSA in Ann Arbor, MI, at the Tilian Farm Development Center. Bending Sickle offers a meat CSA that focuses on sustainably raising heritage breeds of livestock. In July of 2012, Bending Sickle Community Farm moved to Stockbridge, MI! CSA shares are still available for pick up at Tilian, and you can purchase goods from Ben at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market on Saturdays in Kerrytown.
Green Things Farm is owned and operated by recent University of Michigan grads Nate Lada and Jill Sweetman Lada, and is in its second year of operation at the Tilian Farm Development Center. Year one was a great success feeding 30 families in a 3 season diverse vegetable CSA, attending the Kerrytown Farmer’s Market, and selling to local restaurants. In 2012 Green Things Farm purchased over 60 acres on Nixon Rd adjacent to Tilian, and has just completed their first hoop house! As the farm continues to grow, the farmers have built important relationships with even more Ann Arbor community members through their CSA. They are working with a Haisley Elementary School parent to sell shares to families on the West Side of Ann Arbor, and have a strong connection to Emil Bach of University of Michigan Hillel.
Honest Eats Farm: When Bill was a child his earliest memories were of watching in awe as the northeastern Ohio dairy and grain farmers planted, tended, and harvested their crops. He would use his own farm equipment (toy tractors and implements) in his grandparent’s garden to “harvest” green beans and prepare them for freezing: snapping beans, putting them on the elevator and sending them up to Gram waiting at the kitchen table. His passion for farming followed him as he moved around the country: the suburbs of southeast Michigan, East Lansing, Michigan, Memphis Tennessee, and now to Ypsilanti, Michigan. He always considered being a farmer and owning his own farm as just a dream. After being laid off from his position as a software developer in 2011 and, with the support and encouragement of his wife and family, he enrolled in Michigan State University’s Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP). Now it is time for him to make his dream come true! In 2012 Honest Eats Farm if offering an 18-week CSA share to families across southeast Michigan. One CSA member, Chef Rebecca Wauldron, held a cooking demonstration at the farm to show other members many creative ways to eat the vegetables and fruits they would receive each week.
Seeley Farm, LLC, a second year business at the Tilian FDC is farmed by Alex Cacciari and Mark Nowak. Prior to starting Seeley Farm, Alex had been working and learning on farms from Oregon to New York and most recently, Michigan. Locally, she worked on Tantre Farm, an organic CSA in Chelsea, and Brines Farm, a winter-season CSA based in Dexter. Mark started farming in Guatemala with the Peace Corps 2003, and has since worked on farms on both coasts. Upon returning home to Ann Arbor he worked at Braun Farm before starting Seeley Farm. Together they are transitioning to 15 acres adjacent to Tilian on Warren Road to continue their business in Ann Arbor after departing form Tilian in the Spring of 2013. In the past two years, Seeley has expanded its sales to include many restaurants downtown Ann Arbor, as well as grocers including Arbor Farms, The People’s Food Co-op, Ypsilanti Food Cooperative, The Produce Station, and Plum Market. You can also buy Seeley Farm greens at the Cobblestone Market on Tuesdays and the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Kerrytown on Wednesdays and Saturdays.