Meet the Romeyns of Providence Farm

Posted on April 17, 2008

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Wagbo bounty August 2002One year a neighbor and I joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at the Wagbo Peace Center in East Jordan, managed by Ryan Romeyn. This is a picture of one week’s bounty in August, 2002. Think about that for a moment. I took a picture of my produce. That’s how fresh and lovely it was. Still, East Jordan was a long way to go. Imagine my enthusiasm when I heard that Ryan and his wife Andrea have started their own CSA right over on M-88 and Farrell Road. I asked for the details. Andrea emailed me the brochure, and this note:

We’ve just been here since mid-February, and really are enjoying the land, the lake, and the people we’ve met so far. We all got the chance to go kite-skating on Torch last week with Daugherty Johnson. (Sailboats on ice skates . . . I never knew they existed!) That was a first for us and an incredible experience. Ryan and I walked onto the lake on Friday and heard it and felt it crack under our feet. We all feel unbelievably blessed to be here. The kids love the creek, the land, and just the feel of the area.

In 2007, Ryan and Andrea had four children, six years of experience running a CSA, and the urge to own their own farm. They found good land on M-88 just east of Farrell Road, but couldn’t afford the whole 115-acre parcel. Then a longtime Wagbo volunteer stepped forward. She loves the woods and water and farmland of Antrim County, and she knew what Ryan could accomplish. She bought the land and sold 20 acres to the Romeyns. When the leaves fell, they discovered that they had a splendid seasonal view of Torch Lake. The closing attorney told them “These are 1986 prices.” Andrea says simply, “It was Providence.” And that is how the Romeyns came to live in Central Lake.

April and RockyIt’s been a busy time at Providence Farm. Ryan framed a barn, and made plans: The new house will go there, the pens for raising piglets there, over here there’s a pasture for April the milk cow and Rocky, her calf, there is where the herbs will grow. The kids explored the fields, the ice caves down by the creek, the woods. Andrea taught pre-school at Ebeneezer Christian School in Ellsworth, worked on the Providence Farm website and wrote the brochure. Ryan enclosed the barn, bought equipment, and ordered seeds: salad greens, cooking greens, onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, green onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers, melons – over 40 varieties in all. Daugherty Johnson – Eastport’s sculptor of wolves and sled dogs – dropped by often to lend tools and a helping hand.

All this I learn as I sit at the Romeyns’ table sipping tea and eating muffins baked by their oldest son. Their little girl shows me her book, her brother tells me about his sports medals, the youngest nestles in his mother’s arms. We go for a walk, inspect the barn, admire the view, meet April, traipse through the woods. It’s a beautiful piece of land. A fine farm. I expect I’ll be taking pictures of my produce again this summer.