27427 M-60 West
Cassopolis, MI 49031
John and Merrill Clark have been farming their corner of southwest Michigan for just over 25 years. Today they share farm life and experience with their three grown children and grandchildren.
This 1,800-acre farm was certified organic by Indiana Certified Organic (ICO) in 1999, but the Clark family’s dedication to organic farming began long before. In 1985, the farm was certified by the Organic Growers of Michigan. Both John and Merrill were instrumental in writing the national organic production rules for the 1990 Organic Food Production Act. Merrill served as chair of the livestock committee of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). John assisted her in this work while managing the farm and was present at various NOSB meeting across the country.
John and Merrill’s three children, Merry, Toby, and Lincoln, all share in the work and rewards of running Roseland Organics. Toby is resident cattle herdsman and does hay work and shipping. Lincoln manages the crops (soybeans, oats, rye, flax, etc.) and does some cattle handling. Daughter Merry and grandchildren Emily, 9, Landon, 6, and Gracie, 4, also chip in around the farm with production and odds and ends. The Clarks lost their main farm dog, Handel, a year ago, and he both has not and cannot be replaced.
Roseland Organics Farms grows squash, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, strawberries and other fresh produce, as well as watercress, paw paw, and various grasses. They keep about 300 head of cows for beef and, something rather unique, raise largemouth pond bass in their own sequestered pond.
Why have you chosen to grow organic? Why is it a priority for you?
We are environmentalists and “anti-pesticide,” first of all. We are also activists with Michigan environmental groups and writers on the subjects of the environment and organic. Organic food production is the only way to create healthy food that does not harm the environment, water, air, etc.
What are your favorite parts of being an organic farmer?
Being out on the farm, nourishing the earth and creating nourishing foods. Photography of farm, crops and natural habitats. Bringing great food to market for people who are thankful for it!
What’s your least favorite part?
Bill paying and struggling with costs, weather and the attitudes of others who disparage organic. Watching lack of rain or tornadoes take out crops and rip up trees.
Why should people buy organic products instead of other options?
Organic agriculture promises the best in holistic food and also protects air and water for many more people. These are life-giving forces that people should cherish and find a way to support financially.
What makes your farm special?
It is a large portion of a Michigan township, attesting to the fact that “large-scale” organic can work, and work well. It represents an amazing ecosystem, all protected in perpetuity due to organic production methods.
Where to you want your business to be in the next year? 5 years? 10 years?
More in the hands and hearts of our children, more financially successful so our children are relieved of the agony of staying afloat.
Where can consumers get your products?
We sell our products at our on-farm market, deliver and ship to regional natural food stores, and exhibit at Chicago’s Green City Market.
To contact Roseland Organic Farms call (269) 445-8769 or email John and Merrill at MacMerrill@aol.com.