Spring Garden Farms is based out of Sturgis, Michigan and is owned and operated by Jonathon Yoder. Jon is a third generation potato farmer and has been growing potatoes since he began helping his father about 10 years ago. He started his own operation in 2010 by renting 25 acres of land and planting potatoes. After a few years, Jon was able to increase to 100 acres and continued to increase to his current 275 acres.
Today, partnered with his father’s operation, Meadowbrook Farms, there are five full time employees that assist in day to day operations on the farm. Spring Garden Farms currently grows fresh market and potatoes for chips. These include whole russet potatoes that can be found in stores along with some specialty reds and whites that the farm has started to experiment with.
One of the most important aspects of Spring Garden Farms is environmental stewardship in the form of soil health. The farm performs soil tests year-round in order to accurately predict the right food for the plant. By collaborating with neighboring farmers, Spring Garden Farms is able to which helps limit disease pressure and increase soil fertility. The farm also uses cover crops to help replenish nutrients in the soil.
Another thing that Spring Garden Farms is doing to improve their environmental stewardship is testing the use of GM Innate potatoes. In fact, Jon notes that “The Innate variety yielded better than our standard variety.” He mentioned that he is hopeful that future advances can result in even more benefits such as reductions in pesticide and water use.
Community involvement is also an important aspect of Spring Garden Farms. The farm is currently involved in a program called Project Connect where they donate potatoes to the local church who works to both feed people in need and connect them with other service agencies. Working with the Salvation Army and United Way, Project Connect has impacted over 400 families and nearly 1,200 people in the area. Jon mentioned that the farms involvement in this organization is something that he and his employees take pride in.
Jon’s passion for growing potatoes can be seen throughout Spring Garden Farms. Jon reflects that “Farming is definitely hard work but the benefits far outweigh the difficulty. Growing potatoes is really what makes me tick and is what I enjoy. I could not imagine a better place to raise my family than in the countryside on a farm.”
In his professional opinion, Jon mentions that the best way to eat potatoes is “Pretty much anyway but the best is my wife’s cheesy bacon mashed potatoes.”