Oryana Natural Foods Market
Oryana Natural Foods Market
260 East Tenth Street | Traverse City, MI 49684 | (231) 947-0191

To place Café orders call (231) 346-2852 
Monday - Saturday 7:30am-9:00pm | Sunday 9:00am-7:00pm

Providence Farm

Providence Organic Farm

Location: Central Lake
Items supplied to Oryana: carrots, salad greens, cooking greens, turnips, cabbage, beans, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, peppers, beets, strawberries, cauliflower, leeks, spinach, onions, herbs, cucumbers, broccoli, radish, broccoli and more
Farming practices: certified organic
Website: Providence Farm

By Andrea Romeyn

Ryan's been growing organic food since 1996, at the age of 22.  Neither of us had any background in farming, but he was a member and volunteer at the Oryana Community Co-op back then and appreciated being able to find better and unusual foods.

We were newly married and pregnant when family and friends asked, "What's ‘Organic' ?"  We heard well-meaning comments like, "Why don't you build a career... and garden as a hobby when you get home from work?" & "You know, farmers are going out of business…"

Going to school for organic / sustainable agriculture back then meant eventually leaving Michigan with our almost one-year-old baby.  We were planning to tour different successful farms before choosing some internships.  Believe it or not, we endured a painful family "intervention" just as we were about to leave on our adventure!  (Thankfully, our family soon realized that we were not crazy, irresponsible, nor about to join a cult, and came to fully support our unconventional path as the years went by… touting an organic lifestyle to boot!)

Ryan's driving motivation during that time endures to this day.  He has always had a deep love for the natural world and the mysteries it holds. Sifting rich soil through fingers, planting seeds and nurturing the life that springs from them... helps him connect to creation, and to the Creator, in a way that other jobs cannot.

Fast forward to 2017… We are in our 11th season operating Providence Farm.  Here we’ve grown to an over 20 acre garden of vegetables, 60 acres hay and another 50 or so in pasture and woods… all certified organic.

We offer in-season, local organic produce, pastured meats and CSA shares to our community year-round.  I hold a teaching degree from Michigan State University, so offering tours of our farm, classes, and a free e-newsletter featuring nutrition in-season recipes, helpful tips is a natural way for me to share the benefits and deliciousness of clean eating.

A typical day on the job at Providence Farm?

Depending on the time in our growing season, Ryan’s mind is on managing the gardens and our farm team: cultivating, planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, tilling, etc.  Depending on the day, he may be fixing equipment, planting, cultivating, directing and participating in the harvest, washing and packaging of shares, market, restaurant and grocery store produce, attending to our animals needs, repairing or ordering equipment, researching products or equipment and more...

Our kids may be with him in that work or the younger two are with me at one of our four farm markets.  I, like many other moms, balance mothering/homemaking with my jobs on the farm: handling correspondence, publishing the newsletter & website, marketing, attending 4 markets a week, and hosting 2 CSA pick-ups at our farm a week. I also enjoy hosting many on-farm events such as tours for all ages, CSA pot-lucks, and classes about various topics.

Biggest Challenges?

Creating balance for our family amid the work.  While our children are learning the value and challenges of good stewardship of the land, hard work and healthy food… we want to be able (and our children to be able) to look back at this time in our life as a mix of an adventure, rewarding hard work, and fun.

Finances have been tough as we’ve grown from a 5 acre operation to an over 20 acre operation (in vegetables, not including pasture and hay.)  There are a lot of upfront costs in farming that aren’t necessarily appreciated at the market place.  Food-safe infrastructure, efficient equipment and fair wages all cost money.  That’s one reason why we’re glad to be partnering with Oryana, who strives to pay a fair price to northern Michigan farmers.

Perks of the Job?

  • Connecting in an authentic way with many different wonderful people in our region.
  • Living and playing in Northern Michigan.
  • Working outside & seeing a bit of Torch Lake every day.
  • The satisfaction of hard work.
  • Bringing up our children in this unique farm life-style.
  • Our increased faith in God as He has answered our prayers over and over again, (We accept "yes", "no", "wait", and "watch this!"), guiding our journey to this point, providing the wisdom, soil and tools that we need among many many other blessings in love, family and friendships along the way.

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

Thanks for reading our story.

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