Rocky Top future blowing in the wind

Posted on September 19, 2009


I stopped at Rocky Top to buy some jam and ran into Tom Cooper, which was a good thing, as I had some questions.  Tom and Ruthie are the owners of Rocky Top Farms, so he was well supplied with answers.

Rocky Top - Tom Cooper

I wanted to know how “Busted Knee” Cherry Salsa got its name.  It seems that Jason Grzyk had been working there one summer.  Then he got hurt in a motorcycle accident up in the U.P., and was going to be laid up until his busted knee healed. Tom knew Jason could cook, and he suggested that he improve his enforced leisure time thinking up some new Rocky Top recipes. Voila. The spicy cherry and tomato concoction is a hit.  Tom says Jason has gone on to be the chef at Riverwalk Grill in Elk Rapids, but his Busted Knee Cherry Salsa remains a good seller in the Rocky Top lineup.

Then I wanted to know about the new cedar gift box design.  Instead of the loon or the owl or the lighthouse this one features a traditional farm windmill and a streamlined contemporary commercial wind turbine.

Rocky Top wind power box

I had asked the right question. Tom and Ruthie are excited about wind power as a way to keep land in farming and to increase the supply of sustainable energy in northern Michigan.  They have joined forces with Heritage Sustainable Energy and are working to develop the potential for big commercial farms along the high ridges of Antrim County.  We talked about the economics of farming, and how we value land at this particular point in our history. There are lots of interesting challenges. If I had the energy today I’d summarize the whole conversation for you but I’m going to leave you on your own with some good links if you want to learn more about it.

Heritage has its Stoney Corners wind farm up and running in Missaukee County:    

This summer it signed a new 20-year agreement with Detroit Edison:

I’m pretty sure that much of the North Country will be powered by wind energy within a decade.  I’m pretty sure, too, that the creative farmers of Antrim County will keep finding new ways to make agriculture pay.