The Cooperative at Dawn Farm is a diverse group working to co-utilize the 64 acres of Dawn Farm’s land in an ecologically and economically responsible way. The Cooperative’s first priority is a commitment to the stewardship of the the land and its relationship with Dawn Farm. Secondly, the Coop works to creatively and collaboratively utilize the resources of the land and each other to contribute to local resilience and food security through projects, businesses, and various stacked activities.
Membership in the Cooperative is on an individual basis instead of organizations or groups. We do this specifically to call each member into full ownership of their part in this project. This whole project is based on a mutually beneficial partnership between the group of farmers/gardeners/etc that make up the Cooperative, and Dawn Farm. Dawn Farm provides a gift to us through land sharing and enthusiasm for our projects. The Cooperative in turn serves Dawn Farm in specific ways based on the nature of each individual project. The cooperative encourages each member to give back to Dawn Farm in an appropriate way of their own choosing- whether it be through homegrown food, education, system design, community outreach, etc. This unique set up based on a gift/service model, allows us all the freedom and flexibility to really grow into a mutually beneficial partnership that’s generated out of creativity and sustainability, rather than obligation and debt.
The cooperative is an emergent dynamic force- We don’t fully know where we are headed yet! And that’s a scary but cool place to be. We are looking to use that uncertainty to our collective benefit, so that we can generate really interesting projects that *work* and *serve* everyone involved.
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Our Core Team:
Milton Dixon is an permaculturist, forager, educator, and and all around computer savvy guy, Milton recently relocated to Ann Arbor from urban Chicago and is syncing with the rhythms of his new location. His involvement with Dawn Farm began as a garden volunteer but quickly morphed into co-organizer of The Cooperative at Dawn Farm. He also teaches Permaculture classes in Ann Arbor and Chicago, works with Polliwog Farm to grow microgreens, provides tech support for Midwest Permaculture, and develops permaculture media and concepts. You can read about this and his other projects at http://permacultureproductions.com, or can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773.789.8887.
Grace Yoder is passionate about growing food and community, and has had her hands in the dirt for 9 years now. She is a certified Organic Gardener and a student of permaculture. She started Polliwog Farm in her urban backyard in Ypsilanti, converting half of their .19 acre lot into productive gardens. She also grows a variety of microgreens for the Ypsilanti market and local grocers and restaurants. From 2010-2014 she worked part-time at Dawn Farm managing a vegetable garden for the clients on-site. The Cooperative at Dawn Farm is the next step in the project, working to responsibly steward the land by engaging the larger community. She and her family (partner, Jeff, and kids, Vera and Asa) recently bought 6 wooded acres just outside of Ypsilanti city, and are in the process of building their home and farm there.
Kirk Jones – Kirk has a long interest in flower gardening and in 2004 approached Dawn Farm about growing cut flowers on Farm property. The Farm allowed him to use the area southeast of the turkey shed that is now an extension of the pasture He sold subscription cut flowers part time from 2004 until 2007 and then full time from 2008 to 2011. In 2011 Kirk was hired as Managing Director of Project Grow and shut down the flower business, but continued to use a small section of the land used for flowers to grow fruits and vegetables for his family and friends.
“Growing flowers commercially really helped me understand the value of improving the soil. The area by the pasture contained quite a bit of clay and was poorly drained. These problems were greatly improved by adding large amounts of compost annually.”
John Champion – Born and raised in Ypsilanti, John recognizes and supports the excellent services provided at Dawn Farm. He feels particularly inspired by the permaculture concept of establishing, growing, and sharing abundance. He has been instrumental in helping to plant over 1,000 trees, seed more than 16 acres, and feed dozens of chickens.
John has experience in a variety of trades, serving in commercial construction and residential home improvement projects. One of his more unique endeavors has been to scale 40 foot scaffolding to prep and paint the ceiling in a huge automotive factory.
Always keeping a low profile, John is tireless in completing projects that demand a strong arm, a good eye, or massive extension ladders. In his spare time, John leaps tall buildings in a single bound, changes the course of mighty rivers, and bends steel in his bare hands.
Chuck and Jessica Goerlitz – Chuck and Jessica are local folks, who lived in Ypsilanti for over ten years and recently moved south of Milan where they hope to grow a small food forest and raise some animals.
Chuck is most interested in raising animals (chickens, goats, burros, etc.) and Jessica loves plants, soil, compost, and all things that allow her to be outdoors. Both enjoyed the learning experience of raising meat chickens and organizing the hoop house at Dawn Farm and the community-feel of the program at Dawn Farm.
When not working on their hundred year old farmhouse, Chuck welds, builds motorcycles, and fixes things as they break while Jess is a public school teacher and cooks, bakes, and cans when she is able. They both love to travel to new places; their favorites at the moment are Utah and New Mexico.
Douglas Stout – Douglas, originally from the Detroit area, graduated from Eastern Michigan with a degree in Secondary Education and spent over twenty years teaching. Doug’s passion revolves around restoration of our soil, local sourcing of food, and creating abundance in cooperation with the environment. He helped build a safe enclosure for our broiler chickens, created an environment to attract beneficial insects, and established pollinator gardens.
Always impressed by the wonderful work of Dawn Farm, Doug looks forward to learning more about developing food forests, bringing in more livestock, and continuing to help support a healthy and healing environment for residents.
Jesse Tack – Jesse, a musical therapist in Ann Arbor, also a Permaculture Designer, has created a legacy of promoting the concepts of healthier environment, including food production, better utilization of our natural resources, reduction in harmful chemicals and wasteful practices, and taking advantage of natural methods. Through ongoing, monthly meetings, Jesse has influenced the lives of hundreds of local residents.
Jesse’s leadership has inspired the development of an eight-acre food forest at Dawn Farm that includes over 1,200 trees and numerous other food producing perennials. Jesse’s wide variety of interests includes: mushroom production, beekeeping, grape and nut production, among others. A strong supporter of the work at Dawn Farm, Jesse has helped guide the vision of a healthy, productive, and innovative permaculture environment.
Yuko Frazier – Native of Japan, Yuko always dreamed of leading an agrarian, self-sufficient life. Yuko and her husband Chuck keep a small homestead just outside of the Ypsilanti city limit that consists of vegetable gardens, fruit trees, chickens, ducks, a goose, pigs, beehives, dogs and cats. Her flock of sheep has a home base at the Dawn Farm’s Farmers Cooperative. These Katadhin sheep are raised for meat, as well as to work them as mowing crew for Project Mow.
Yuko’s hope is to be a steward for more local, resilient and sharing community through her sharing of harvest and sheep shepherding services.
Matt Kadwell – Growing up in a gardening family, I have always had an interest in the art of plants. I have a large vegetable garden at our small farm, as well as keeping chickens and bees. I also help with the bees at Dawn Farm that my wife Lora keeps. I am excited to join the Co-op this year and see what I can add to the group! I am hopeful that the Co-op can evolve into a vibrant community of food growers that can be an asset to the community.