Renegade Acres is a Howell-based organic farm that comes to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market with a bevy of heirloom fruit, vegetables, herbs and seeds. This tomato and pepper-specializing farm recently expanded from the markets in Howell and Brighton to Ann Arbor.
The following Q&A was provided courtesy of Market Manager Stephanie Willette in an ongoing effort to acquaint Ann Arbor residents with the vendors who make farmers market so special.
Tell us a little bit about how you choose your business name.
We chose Renegade Acres to reflect our farming style. We do things differently than the mainstream. We buck the trend and farm our way. We are an organic heirloom seed and produce farm, growing an array of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.
What is the history of your business?
In 2010, we started Garden Hoard – an heirloom seed company that grew everything at 6 different Urban Farm locations in southeast Michigan. As our business and seed collection grew, so did our need for space. This lead to the search and eventual purchase of the 7 acre farm in 2015 that is now Renegade Acres.
Who makes your business run?
Katie. Katie is the soul, the blood, the sweat, the tears, and the life of Renegade Acres. She works on the farm and all related tasks of the farm business nonstop. Her husband, Christian, is the technical- engineer-unpaid- laborer on the farm. He helps after his day job during the week and every weekend. Katie’s love for saving seeds and growing unique varieties of produce and flowers is what makes this business run.
Tell us about your products and what makes them unique.
We grow over 200 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 100 varieties of peppers, and a variety of other fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. This alone makes us unique because along with the standard heirloom varieties, we have things that no one else grows for market. Our labeling during harvesting is very tedious. We may only have a few of something rare because we can only grow so much of each type, but it is worth it to our loyal customers. Not only do we grow the produce, we harvest the seeds from them as well. Our seeds are available on our website, GardenHoard.com. Seed saving alone takes an enormous amount of time on top of regular farm maintenance, especially when working to keep seed strains pure. We also use our own seed whenever we can. Many of the items we grow have been grown from our own seed for 7 years, which makes the seed uniquely adapted to our microclimate here in Michigan.
Can you share a fun fact about your product/business?
Katie graduated from college with a completely different career in mind, but once working on creating a home garden, she switched gears. We started our business out of a community garden in Livonia, MI. Our locations more than doubled in size and revenue each year until we decided it was time to purchase a farm.
Is there any other information about your product or business that you would like our customers to know about?
We grow everything we sell from seed or cuttings. We start the seeds, transplant them, grow them, harvest them, and sell them. Our business is truly OURS, from start to finish.