Sr. Remote Inspect

Blandford Nature Center Farm

Owner: Liz Visser

1715 Hillburn Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Kent County

daytime phone: (616) 735-6240
evening phone: (616) 460-0639
Web site:

Application Date: 2020-11-10

Farming History

Your Name *
Elizabeth Visser
Please check all that apply. *

For how many years have you managed or worked on a CNG-certified farm? *
How many years of experience total do you have managing a farming operation that’s managed according to CNG/organic principles (whether certified or not)? *
Please indicate the place/s where you have farmed, including farm name, town, state, and country. *
While I have 3 years of farm management experience, I have 7 total years of experience working on farms. I participated in the WWOOF program, and over the course of a year I worked on farms across they country: a dahlia farm in Ventura, CA, an organic vegetable farm in Oxford, MS, and a sheep farm in Sumner, ME. I interned on an organic farm in Mayville, MI, which was the experience that solidified my desire to farm vegetables. Now, as a resident of Grand Rapids, MI, this is my 5th year working on and 3rd year managing a small scale farm on behalf of the Blandford Nature Center. We are Certified Naturally Grown, MAEAP certified, and have a Slow Food Snail of approval.

Types of Farming & Expertise

Please check the box corresponding to the types of operations with which you have at least three years of experience.

What type of training have you received in farming practices (on-farm and off-farm)? *
All my training comes from hands-on experience and reading books. My go-to books have been "Managing Cover Crops Profitably," "The Market Gardener," "The No-Till Revolution," as well as a few books on maple syrup making and native pollinators. I also get a lot of information from university ag extension websites, and my community of farmers in the area.
Please briefly describe your experience with mentoring, training, or advising other farmers, if any.
I have had several seasonal employees who want their own farm, and I try to give them tasks that allow them to practice skills they'll need for their own farming ventures. For example, last year I had one of my seasonal staff plan out our cut flower patch as practice for planning crop rotations. She got to pick all the flowers we ordered, and we seeded, potted up and planted according to the schedule she created.
What aspect of your farming operation are you most proud of? *
I am proud of the garlic we grow: we have been saving seed over the past 10 or so years, a practice that began with the farm manager prior to me. I feel proud to be carrying on the tradition of growing garlic ever more suited to our micro-climate. I'm also proud of the amount of food we're able to grow on 2.5 acres. We sustain a 100 member CSA in the summer (between half and full shares), two stalls at our local farmers market 3 days a week for 6 months of the year, and a 25 member winter CSA. All that is done by me and two seasonal staff, and I'm proud of what we're able to contribute to the local food system.
What aspect of your farming operation are you most known for? (This could be a particular crop beloved by customers or an uncommon production method that other farmers would appreciate.) *
We like to try 'unusual' things, like cucamelons, jerusalem artichokes, and radicchio. Folks seem to really like our tomatoes, garlic and lettuce as well. We are also well known for our maple syrup. Sugarbush is a huge season for the nature center, full of educational programming, and (usually) a huge festival at the end of March. The sugarhouse is usually open to the public during the month of March, so anyone visiting can visit and learn how syrup is made.
What do you appreciate about Certified Naturally Grown?
I have gotten to meet some amazing farmers and tour farms that I otherwise would not have, so I appreciate the opportunity to expand my community and learn from the farms that I inspect and that inspect me. I also strongly feel that it is important to be accountable for my growing practices, and third party inspections are a great way to do that.
You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know.