Sunday, the Southwest Michigan Harvest Fest will be held at Tillers International farm near Scotts, Michigan. Attendees can explore the rural and sustainable life through speakers, demonstrations, food, crafts and music.
Mary Smith-Stokes is a guest instructor at Tillers International who is teaching a few women how to make a tightly woven and strong market or gathering basket. Kay Morris from Battle Creek says she signed up for the class after seeing it advertised. She goes to the farmer’s market and thought it would be good for produce.
“My daughter is close now. She’s just moved here. So, we came together and did a mom-daughter thing,” says Morris.
Morris’s daughter Heather Miller was making her basket with her seven-month-old daughter in a fabric carrier on her back.
“I wear many hats. I help with the maintenance of the house and cooking. Bookkeeping—I process donations. As a nonprofit, that’s a large part of our operation,” Katie Durham of Tillers International. “I am the caretaker at the Carroll Abbey farm. Carroll Abbey was the gentleman who collected our collection of American farm implements that Tillers is the manager of. I’m preparing lunch for 25 to 30 people. That includes students who are here for knife making, basket weaving and coopering buckets. And, we have employees of Tillers plus six to eight interns."
“Being a nonprofit, we all wear many hats," Durham continues. "Dick Roosenberg, who’s the Executive Director also doubles as part-time accountant, architect, teacher, instructor of the timber framing, instructor of the oxen-training classes. And, he also cooks on occasion.”
Dick Roosenberg says, “We created Tillers as a means to preserve the historical rural technologies, especially farming technologies. Then looking to study those, understand them and make them accessible to contemporary needs, both here in the United States in small-scale farming, but especially overseas in international development.”
“There are 430 acres here," Roosenberg continues. "Fields, forests, woods, farmsteads, shops and especially, it’s people. People working to innovate. Creatively sharing ideas with each other and trying put those back together in new forms."
"We have several events, including the fall harvest festival in September that are great opportunities for people to come out and see us and learn a little bit more about us," says Roosenberg. "Otherwise, you are most welcome to take a class.”