During my three years in Ithaca, New York (which must have one of the premier farmers’ markets in the country), I was spoiled by delicious organically raised dairy delivered to a porch around the block from where I lived every week, in addition to abundant options for nitrite-free, free-range, organic, pastured meats. When I first came to Benzie County and Elberta, I was encouraged by the Elberta Farmers’ Market and the variety of nearby local food producers. When I finally decided to make Elberta my home, the May Farm was a key factor. Knowing that I could find sustainably and humanely produced meat, dairy, and eggs within a couple of miles of my house made all the difference for me as I contemplated my decision. I think Paul May was actually one of the first Benzie people I talked to the winter after I bought my house in the Village. I didn’t even know any of my neighbors yet, but I knew I wanted to sign up for shares of some good wholesome food as soon as possible.
Seven years later, “community supported agriculture” is taking on a whole new meaning for me and for everyone who loves the May Farm and what they do. Paul May was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer. With treatments and surgery, the family is relying heavily on the help of friends, neighbors and customers to keep the farm running. To volunteer for a weekly farm chore shift or to pitch in at an upcoming work bee (August 10 & 17th from 10-12), call Sharron May at 352-3966. Or consider attending the Trinity Lutheran Church Praise Band Concert in the Park on August 27th. Dinner is at 6 pm, the concert starts at 7 pm and the proceeds will help offset medical expenses.
The following is a great article by Ann Sinclair that explains in some scientific detail exactly what’s special about Paul May’s grazing technique, and why it is truly revolutionary. It’s not the kind of farming you do if you want to get rich (not that many kinds of farming really are); it’s what you do when you’re thinking seven or more generations down the line and you want to do it right. As Annie writes, the May Farm’s work not only keeps the animals optimally healthy, it preserves and enhances the land—and that benefits us all. —Emily Votruba