Eastern Market Profile: Hay Creek Heritage Farms
Hay Creek Heritage Farms display their wares a table at Eastern Market.
As a regular feature of Detroit City Limits, we’ll profile a vendor at Detroit’s Eastern Market, focusing on some of the lesser-known vendors and products. This week: Hay Creek Heritage Farms.
Vendors: Nate Oswald and Nicole Robidoux
Products: Produce, including heirloom vegetables, pasture-raised duck and chicken eggs, cut flowers
Location: Farm in Pinckney, Mich., vending at Shed 2 at Eastern Market
Q&A with Nicole Robidoux
DCL: How did you get started farming?
NR: Growing food sustainably and raising animals in a humane manner are very important to us. As our home garden kept expanding, we eventually decided to start our own small farm. We moved to Pinkney five years ago. We started with chickens and ducks and a large garden. We added more livestock and did a pilot CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. We’ve continued to grow, and our CSA now has about 60 member families who receive our produce, all grown on our farm using organic practices, weekly for 26 weeks per year. We sell our produce, cut flowers, and eggs at the Ypsilanti Farmers Markets, as well as through the Mighty Microform program at Eastern Market this summer.
DCL: Why did you focus on heritage livestock and heirloom produce?
NR: We focus on heritage livestock and heirloom vegetables because we want to conserve and promote these unique varieties of produce and animals. We grow all our produce and flowers using sustainable, organic practices, though we are not certified. We believe that preserving biodiversity is essential to a healthy and sustainable food system. We love learning about the traditional uses of heritage livestock or the history of how heirloom seeds were passed down through generations. Plus the taste of an heirloom tomato or heritage turkey can’t be beat.
DCL: How did you get involved with Eastern Market, and can you tell us more about participating in their microfarm program?
NR: An Eastern Market staff member met us at one of our meet-and-greet events, where we talk to prospective members about our CSA program. She invited us to apply for the Mighty Microfarm program that aims to promote small local farms. Through the program we vend four Saturday markets during the summer. We’ve had a great experience at Eastern Market. We’ve met so many people who are enthusiastic about our farm and what we do. We’ve had a chance to introduce new customers to our pasture-raised eggs, cut flowers, and produce. We have one more Saturday left in the program, Sept. 2.
DCL: What are some of your most popular offerings?
NR: Our chicken and duck eggs. We’ve sold out of eggs at each market. Our heritage breed ducks and chickens are pasture-raised, which means they have access to more than six acres on the farm, including a pond and wooded areas. We put them in a coop at night to protect them from predators, but during the day they free to forage for food and explore.
DCL: What do you like about Detroit?
NR: There is so much to do and explore in Detroit. Although the farm keeps us pretty busy, we enjoy visiting local restaurants and venues in the city - including Eastern Market, of course. If you haven’t experienced a Saturday at Eastern Market, you should come down.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hay Creek Heritage Farms owner Nate Oswald with heritage breed turkeys. Photos courtesy of Hay Creek
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