Watermelon at Local Yokels' Farm Stand | Jane Boursaw Photo
Watermelon at Local Yokels' Farm Stand | Jane Boursaw Photo
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This week’s OMP Farm Stand “Pick of the Week” goes to Local Yokels’ fantastic watermelon. It’s not only sweet, but boasts a beautiful ruby color inside and doesn’t have a lot of seeds to sort out while you’re eating it.

If they don’t have watermelon at the stand when you stop by, you can’t go wrong with anything from Local Yokels’ farm stand. I’m guessing they’ll have a good crop of fall produce coming up.

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Everything that owners Ben and Jen Bramer grow and sell at their farm stand is top notch. They offer a huge variety of fruits, veggies and herbs, along with tasty jams made with their own crops.

Earlier in the summer, I raved about their strawberries on Instagram and the post went a little viral – which is just what I hoped would happen (even though it meant getting there early in the day to grab those luscious strawberries!).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzG0CcTBAi8/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

“We are very picky about our quality standards,” the Bramers note on their website. “If we wouldn’t want to eat it ourselves, we won’t sell it.” They start 98 percent of the plants they grow from seed in their own greenhouses, which allows them to offer their OMP customers specific varieties with the best flavors.

But high quality produce is just one reason why I love this farm stand and these OMP farmers whose clever tagline is “Old Mission • New Standards.” Having grown up on a cherry farm (Johnson Farms), I hope that we’ll always have cherries on the Old Mission Peninsula. But we’ve seen some of the struggles that farmers like Rocko Fouch have faced this year, forced to sell farmland due to competition from Turkey imports and other factors.

As OMP farmers adjust, re-assess each year, and figure out which crops will keep the family farms humming along, small farms like Local Yokels could represent the future of farming on the Old Mission Peninsula (along with, I hope, bigger farms like my brothers, Dean Johnson and Ward Johnson, run!).

Ben and Jen are not only great at what they do, they’ve also embraced new forms of social media marketing, which is so important to my generation and the youngsters coming up behind me. Local Yokels’ Facebook and Instagram accounts take us behind the scenes of their farming operation and let us know what’s at their farm stand on any given day.

And they’ve been building the idea for Local Yokels for a while – since 1998 when Jen was working at L. Mawby Winery and Vineyards. The initial idea was for a restaurant that only used locally sourced ingredients, including local produce, grains, eggs and dairy products. The Bramers still embrace that idea, except that the locally sourced ingredients are now grown and sold by them exclusively.

Ben grew up working the land at his parents’ farm out towards Mission Point Lighthouse. His love for equipment and constant drive to improve his farming practices through innovation have earned him the respect of many of his farmer friends and mentors, all of which have contributed to the success of Local Yokels. “It really does take a village!” they note on their website. “Or at least a tight knit farm community like Old Mission.”

Tilling and planting on land rented from a farmer friend allowed the Bramers to open their own farm stand in 2007. In 2015, they were able to purchase 6.5 acres of tillable land, working the land to improve soil health and farming practices.

“We are committed to sustainability and remaining local,” they note. “We grow our produce as organically as possible, always opting for an organic chemical to spray if needed, rather than a synthetic pesticide.” From their website…

“We are lucky to be able to live and work in this dynamic community which has a pretty unique mix of farmers and also newer residents that are attracted to the beauty and offerings that the Peninsula provides. Some of the best farmers we know live and work here with us, and I am always very proud to have them stop at our stand and buy our produce. I know how picky they are. We are farmers but also greatly enjoy the finer things in life like fine wine, gourmet food and travel.”

For more information, visit Local Yokels’ website, stop by their farm stand at 13130 Center Road (the old Dohm farm near the Township Hall, for longtime OMPers), call them at (231) 223-7900, or email them at [email protected].

Thank you for supporting Local Yokels and other Old Mission Peninsula farmers! You’re not only helping to sustain their business, but you’re ensuring that we will always have farmland on the Old Mission Peninsula.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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