Ishpeming farm plan has potential to better area food

It doesn’t take a large piece of land in the country to plan a farm, just ask Dan Perkins of Ishpeming.

Perkins came up with the idea to set up Partridge Creek Farm on an 8.25-acre strip of land in Ishpeming and while the tract may be small as farms go, his plans are far from small.

Located in Ishpeming’s Seventh Addition – the neighborhood bordered on the south by Greenwood Street and on the west and north by North Washington Street – Perkins started a produce garden on a portion of the tract a few years ago.

He said it’s producing quite a bit of good, healthy produce now, but he wants to expand it so it can become a “food hub” providing locally grown produce to restaurants, stores and perhaps even schools in the area.

The land is city owned and the city council recently approved developing a lease agreement with the non-profit Partridge Creek Farm that Perkins created with help from a board formed to steer the proposal.

One of the keys to the success of the plan is to develop sustainable greenhouses that can extend the short Upper Peninsula growing season to a full 10 months. In addition, the group plans to build a teaching center and use passive house engineering developed in Germany that would require very little fossil fuels to operate the farm.

The group has also received support for the concept from the Michigan State University Extension Service, as well as worked with the U.P. Food Exchange to create a database of local producers and vendors to determine what produce is most in demand.

The project as envisioned will undoubtedly require a good deal of financial investment, as well, and Perkins and the farm board are planning to seek funding, including from a Cliffs/Rio Tinto Legacy grant they plan to apply for by the end of the month.

It certainly appears Perkins has already put a lot of work and investment into the farm proposal, and we hope he can garner enough support from others to make the Partridge Creek Farm flourish for many years to come.