Mick Klug Farms

Mick Klug
St. Joseph, MI
Fruit & Vegetables
Integrated Pest Management

The Mick Klug Farm, in St. Joseph Michigan, is one of three farms in the Klug family. Mick’s father purchased the land over 70 years ago and when he passed, Mick bought the land from his mother. Since 1980, Mick and his wife Cindy have been overseeing all 120-acres, situated in the southwestern part of Michigan, just 5 miles east of the lake.

The Farm 
Lake Michigan lends favorable weather to the crops - warmer in the fall and winter & cooler in the spring and summer. The lake effect protects the crops against frost and allows more time for the fruits to ripen and mature. The farm yields apples, pears, plums, asparagus, green beans, rhubarb, strawberries, juice and seedless grapes, blueberries, and sweet and sour cherries.  But the Klug’s may be best known for their hand-picked red and black raspberries and his 15 varieties of peach trees.  Twelve employees help harvest the crops and their two daughters, Amy and Abby, help work the land and participate at the various markets.  Cindy does a little bit of everything from plowing the land and harvesting crops to supervising the markets and making decisions behind the scenes.

Farm Practices 
Mick just recently completed an inspection on the farm in an effort to obtain Food Alliance third party certification.  Food Alliance is a non-profit organization that certifies farms and food handlers for sustainable agriculture and facility management practices.

One of the ways Klug practices sustainable farming is with integrated pest management (IPM).   IPM is an ecological approach to pest management that considers the life cycle of pests and their interaction with the environment. By trying different levels of control over time, Klug discovered his fruit was more flavorful with less chemicals sprayed.  Fertilizers and sprays that are used are made of organic compounds and as much natural material as possible goes back into the land to replenish the nutrients.  Minimal spraying is done when needed during the development stage of the plant so the fruit is not affected. IPM is not only economical, but it poses fewer hazards to people and the environment.

Typical Farm Day 
The week is generally divided between market days and farming days for the Klug’s.  Much of the preparation is done the day before the market.  Mick is up by 2am loading the trucks before making the 2 hour drive to Chicago and his day does not end before  9pm. Farming days begin at 5am and Mick is busy inspecting his crop for the best quality, packing customer orders, and getting ready for the markets.

Growing the freshest and healthiest produce is a core value at Mick Klug Farm.  Fruits are fully ripened before they are gently plucked, rather than picked green and forced to ripen in a crate on a truck.  This may cause some fruits to over ripen, but the taste is well worth it in the end.  You can find Mick’s delicious produce in markets across the city.

It was at the farmers market 25 years ago that Mick was first introduced to Chef Rick Bayless.  It wasn’t long before Mick was supplying Chef Bayless with produce orders for his restaurant, Frontera, in downtown Chicago.  Their relationship continues today and through word-of-mouth the demand for sustainable fruits and vegetables in the restaurant sector grew steadily.  Mick now delivers produce to well over a dozen restaurants that span the city and suburbs.

Best of Farming 
Weather is often Mick’s greatest challenge and has been particularly rough this season.  But the sense of independence that farming offers and the special relationships with customers cultivated at the farmer markets are rewarding for everyone on the farm. 

Last Updated July 2012

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