If you walk by the Nelson’s Herbs booth on a Saturday morning when Jason Nelson is cutting microgreens for a customer, stop and take a deep breath. You will find the fragrant, fresh smells of cilantro, mustard and other herbs and will likely find yourself craving some to take home. Nelson’s Herbs began humbly in the 1990s selling herbs and plant starts out of a hay wagon and through fits and starts has developed into a multi-faceted educational farm in Edwardsburg, Michigan.
Nelson’s Herbs joined the Goshen Farmer’s Market in 2018 because of the way the Goshen area cares for local foods and local farmers. “The city of Goshen is one of the best towns around for supporting local agriculture,” explained Nelson. Typically, Nelson’s booth features vats of still-in-the-soil micro greens stacked high and sold by the ounce, succulent plants grown and propagated by his mother, and occasional features like sunchokes or huge heads of mild roasting garlic. If you are unsure what something might be used for, just ask! Nelson is a bit of a foodie and will happily recommend meal pairings with some of his greens and share his ideas for how to prepare sunchokes (did you know you can substitute them for nuts to make pesto!?).
Nelson might also share details about his growing practices and thoughts about the community need he seeks to fill. Studying the relationship between farming and beneficial pollinators living in prairie landscapes, Nelson attended graduate school at Miami University of Ohio in the slim years of The Recession. Upon his return to the region in 2015, Nelson put his learning into practice developing a sustainable farm alongside his mother in Edwardsburg, where he grew up. Nelson grows his herbs and vegetables using pesticides and fertilizers certified for organic use, uses compost as fertilizer in his beds, and generally seeks to use sustainable methods whenever possible. Nelson originally established the farm to address the food desert he saw develop in his lifetime as new economic forces slowly closed small grocery stores in the region. A visit to the farm shows the ways he is accomplishing this goal.
Today, Nelson welcomes visitors to his farm that sports raised beds, green houses, a small storefront selling locally sourced goods, and a conservation prairie complete with nature trails. Educational opportunities abound at the farm including guided prairie tours, growing workshops, and a unique, high-engagement CSA model. Summer CSA participants can exchange volunteer hours for food and pick or dig up their produce share directly from the vine or ground during a weekly harvest walk with Nelson. Friends, participants, and visitors may also be invited to attend farm parties complete with craft beer from Heavenly Goat Brewery in Granger where Nelson also works as a brewer. Check out the Nelson’s Herbs Facebook page for events, CSA details, directions, and more!
Thanks for being a part of our Goshen Farmer’s Market Jason!