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Whitney Farmstead Newsletter March 2018

Greetings from the Whitney Farmstead. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter.  Below you will find information about our upcoming Open House, our upcoming Meat CSA, and finally the story of the Webster Farmers Market.

The cursive script above are entries from my great-great grandfather Horace Whitney's farm journal of 1914, during a sap season that began on February 28th and continued until April 16th. I intend to continue to share entries from these throughout the season, as they offer invaluable insight into the farming rhythms of a century ago.

Maple Syrup Open House

Sap Season is in full swing here on the farm. Our days are full to the brim collecting and boiling sap, canning syrup, gathering firewood, and preparing for our annual Maple Syrup Pancake Open House..which is coming up this coming Sunday! The first of our 2018 Syrup will be available at the open house, as well as at Argus Farm Stop, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, and the Webster Farmers Market.

This year our open house will be held on March 18th from 11-5 pm at our farm (5525 Jennings Rd, Ann Arbor, 48105). Our pancake lunch includes our maple syrup (of course), pancakes made with organic flour from Ferris Farms, scrambled eggs from 3 very local egg producers, our own maple pork sausage with herbs from Black Locust Gardens, oranges, tea and locally roasted coffee. 
 We ask for a suggested meal donation of $12 for adults and sliding scale for kids. To reserve a spot, RSVP to our email whitneyfarm.mi@gmail.com (if you responded via facebook, please also send an email).

We will have a Whitney goods table set up, where you can purchase Whitney Farmstead Maple Syrup, pork and beef, and rural heritage greeting cards. We will also have Maple Pecan Tarts, which have been a big hit at the Webster Farmers Market, made by Malaika's aunt Lynne Whitney, as well as body care products made by Malaika's sister Violet, of Tiani Body Care (tianibodycare.com). Last years Open House was the very first place Violet sold her Tiani Body Care goods. It is really exciting to see all she has accomplished this past year as her business continues to blossom, and her family continues to have cleaner and softer hands then ever before : )

We hope you will join us for this special event, during this special time of year when our farm revolves around that sweet sticky goodness called Maple Syrup, our local sugar from the trees! The event will go on rain or snow or shine, but please dress to be on a farm. It very likely may be muddy! 
Spring-Summer Meat CSA

Signups now open! Our Spring Summer Meat CSA includes Pork, Beef, and Chicken and runs for six months from April thru September. Pickups are from our farm the first week of each month and members choose what types and cuts of meat they want. We offer 3 share sizes, and a split payment option in which you pay half when you join and the remainder at the midway point in July. 

We started our CSA because it is simply impossible to bring everything we have to farmers markets, as there is such an immense variety of different cuts of meat. Our CSA members have access to the entire variety of all we have to offer. 

Learn more at whitneyfarmstead.com/csa

Webster Farmers Market

Each Sunday from 12-3 (except the 3rd of each month) you can find us at the Webster Farmers Market, held at the Crossroads Community Center, on 5501 Webster Church Rd in Dexter. As the founder of this market, I thought I would take a little time to tell you the story of how it began and why it so important to me. 

The Webster Farmers Market officially started on December 10th, 2017, but began as a little tinkering of an idea a few months earlier in mid-September. My brother-in-law Peter has been working as a Blacksmith in the historical Wheeler Blacksmith shop, which is part of the collection of historical buildings restored and cared for by the Webster Township Historical Society. As Peter spent time amidst this beautiful village which sits in the heart of Webster Township, he started to talk about how neat it would be to have a farmers market in this place. Working with the Historical Society, a market team formed (of myself, my sister Violet, and brother-in-law Nick) and a few months later the market began. As the market continues to grow and thrive, I continue to feel so grateful to be a part of this weekly community gathering in my home, Webster. 

Our farm is just a stone's throw away from the Community Center, where the market takes place. My family has been a part of this small rural community since 1900 and for 5 generations the Whitneys have been ingrained in nearly every aspect of this special place. Most of the people who were a part of my childhood, can be found sitting in the pews of the Webster Church on Sunday mornings, or buried in the Cemetery outside the church, or else at home somewhere nearby, their place in the community taking shape in some other way. Webster has always been the kind of place where even if you don’t someone directly, you know about them and they know about you, and if you were to find yourself conversation, you could talk for a very long time about all the ways your families paths have crisscrossed in the past and present.

Webster Township, like many of rural townships surrounding Ann Arbor, is increasingly under development pressure. The population is growing, but the number of farmers and the amount of farmland is decreasing. The Webster Township that my grandfather knew is very different from the one where my father was raised, which is turn is different from what I know, and what our kids will come to know. Despite the good work of land preservation programs in this area, for sale signs and houses popping up out of nowhere is becoming the norm. In the past 6 six months we have watched 5 houses pop up across the field from us, transforming generations and generations of farmland to lawns and driveways. To say this trend is heartbreaking, is an understatement, but I have come to accept as best I am able, that by choosing to live and farm in place that is so beautifully rural and yet conveniently close to the city, I will continue to see this happen for my entire life. 

Starting the Webster Farmers Market, for me, is in part a way to remind our community that Webster was once a place that revolved around the ebbs and flows of farming. It is up to everyone who lives here to decide what a being a part of a rural community means to them. 

Having a weekly community event that is centered around food and farm goods, located in Webster’s own beautiful historical village, seems like a good place to start in celebrating and preserving our rural heritage. The Historical Society, the Webster Church, the Webster Corners Village, the Scadin Farm, and the Webster Fall Festival are pillars of Webster. They have brought people in Webster together for many, many generations. 

Already in the short time the farmers market has been up and going, I have met dozens of neighbors for the first time. I have seen people multiple times that I usually only see once a year at the Webster Fall Festival. It is my hope that the farmers market continues to bring people together, to build community, and remind us all that Webster is special and beautiful rural place and if we want it to stay this way, we have to keep working on it. 
It is not the new houses that make Webster a special place, it is the fields and woods, the barns and the schoolhouses, the creeks and winding dirt roads, the history, the stories and the people who tell them. Webster is full to the brim of elders who know this place like the back of their hand and if you live here, and don’t know them, you should try to get to know them. They, along with the oaks, the walnuts, the hickories, the barns, the farmsteads, and the prairies, are the heartbeat of this place. 
(pastures waiting beneath the snow for a bit of sunshine and warmth)

Thank you, as always, for reading our newsletter.
We hope to see you soon, 

Malaika and Matthew






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Whitney Farmstead · 5525 Jennings Rd · 4 · Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105 · USA

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