By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.-Green peppers, summer squash and oblong radishes with a thin root still attached fill clean white boxes. Onions, garlic bulbs and small red potatoes overflow paper quart containers.
The vegetables stand of Scott Farms.
“We love it,” laughed Vernon Scott, 61, the fifth generation to farm the Seymour Lake property. “You have to love it to do it. It’s about being your own boss and working with nature. It’s not an easy life—never has been. This year Mother Nature is not being really good to us. No rain. She’s our worst enemy sometimes or our best friend—we can combat disease, but we can’t make it rain.”
In 1849, Scott says the 600 acre farm was originally taken up from the government by his great, great grandfather Robert Ramsey. Today Vernon, his wife Cheryl and their two sons Adam, 36 and Andrew, 31, work the land of their ancestors.
“The horses have been gone since 1961,” recalls Scott. “My dad told my grandfather we have to feed horses, but we don’t have to feed a tractor.”
Today the farm covers about 100 acres—about 20 for produce with the remainder set aside for corn to feed the 400-600 hogs and beef cattle that graze much of the farm.
Much of the land was sold in the 1960s due to taxation of road frontage.
“At one time we farmed more than 1,800 acres back in the 1970s,” he said. “We’re at a pretty good size right now—we could use a few more acres. My dad and grandfather were one of the largest potato growers in the state. Much of the ground is black sand—excellent for potatoes, but that was sold off and it’s houses now.”
Scott started raising hogs when he was 14 years old. Hogs are at a 15 year high, he said.
“It’s the highest I’ve ever had—it’s been about 55 (cents per pound) now it’s hit 65 cents,” he said. I think they’ll go higher, but the price of corn may bring them down.”
The Scott’s have their own boars and sows for breeding.
“It’s the cheaper way to do it,” he said. “You’re at the risk of everyone’s animals not being healthy. Our pork is excellent. It’s all non GMO corn, no antibiotics. People today want to know how the pork is cared for.”
Local home grown is important to Scott.
“Today you’re not finding home grown Michigan produce in the stores as much,” he said. “There are some but you really have to look. If you go to Oakland County farmers markets today there are maybe two farmers from Oakland County. People want local. And they want to support you as long as you support them—we do.”
Scott has been traveling to the Eastern Market in Detroit since he was 3 years old.
“The farmers go to the (Eastern Market) in the middle of the night,” he said. “We go and barter. We take produce down and buy from them. Cash is still used, but most is barter. Peppers, tomatoes. We raised a lot of sweet corn but it’s hard to find people to pick it. You have to go out there very early in the morning when it’s the sweetest. We buy our corn from Ypsilanti.”
Look for Scott Farms to push on for a few more years.
“I’m going to work forever,” laughed Scott. “When you love what you do it’s not a problem.”
In September 1999, the Scott family farm, located on Ramsey Road, was designated a Centennial Farm by the Michigan Historical Commission.
A centennial farm is classified as a working farm of 10 or more acres that has been continuously owned by the same family for at least 100 years.
At the time of designation the farm was owned by Sarah Scott and has been the family since 1849.