Letters 10-17-2016

Here’s The Truth The group Save our Downtown (SOD), which put Proposal 3 on the ballot, is ignoring the negative consequences that would result if the proposal passes. Despite the group’s name, the proposal impacts the entire city, not just downtown. Munson Medical Center, NMC, and the Grand Traverse Commons are also zoned for buildings over 60’ tall...

Keep TC As-Is In response to Lynda Prior’s letter, no one is asking the people to vote every time someone wants to build a building; Prop. 3 asks that people vote if a building is to be built over 60 feet. Traverse City will not die but will grow at a pace that keeps it the city people want to visit and/or reside; a place to raise a family. It seems people in high-density cities with tall buildings are the ones who flock to TC...

A Right To Vote I cannot understand how people living in a democracy would willingly give up the right to vote on an impactful and important issue. But that is exactly what the people who oppose Proposal 3 are advocating. They call the right to vote a “burden.” Really? Since when does voting on an important issue become a “burden?” The heart of any democracy is the right of the people to have their voice heard...

Reasons For NoI have great respect for the Prop. 3 proponents and consider them friends but in this case they’re wrong. A “yes” vote on Prop. 3 is really a “no” vote on..

Republican Observations When the Republican party sends its presidential candidates, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people with a lot of problems. They’re sending criminals, they’re sending deviate rapists. They’re sending drug addicts. They’re sending mentally ill. And some, I assume, are good people...

Stormy Vote Florida Governor Scott warns people on his coast to evacuate because “this storm will kill you! But in response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Florida’s voter registration deadline be extended because a massive evacuation could compromise voter registration and turnout, Republican Governor Scott’s response was that this storm does not necessitate any such extension...

Third Party Benefits It has been proven over and over again that electing Democrat or Republican presidents and representatives only guarantees that dysfunction, corruption and greed will prevail throughout our government. It also I believe that a fair and democratic electoral process, a simple and fair tax structure, quality health care, good education, good paying jobs, adequate affordable housing, an abundance of healthy affordable food, a solid, well maintained infrastructure, a secure social, civil and public service system, an ecologically sustainable outlook for the future and much more is obtainable for all of us...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The World According to Werp
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The World According to Werp

Kristi Kates - June 9th, 2014  

A little plot of land in Buckley has got sophisticated diners in Chicago and Detroit tucking in to something special in July … and January too.

With its high-end heated greenhouses, Werp Farms ships out hand harvested micro-greens and custom organic produce from their heated greenhouses year-round.

The high demand keeps Tina and Mike Werp busy, but it’s worth it to the Werps, who believe in making the most of the land they live and work on.


Tina Werp runs the farm alongside her husband, Mike Werp. His great-grandfather founded Werp Farm after bringing the family to Chicago from Central Europe in the early 1900s.

“As the family grew, they heard reports of the rich farmland up here, and believed it was a better place to raise the boys than the city,” Tina Werp said.

Mike Werp’s grandfather and two of his brothers would stay on the farm, while a third brother left to become a postmaster. His mother was raised on the farm, as well.

When Werp himself grew up, he departed for other ventures, studying physics, joining the Army, and later becoming a Dow Corning Corporation engineer.

By the mid-70s, the 80-acre farm was calling him back.

Tina Werp, meanwhile, was working in high-rise offices and taking correspondence courses from Pennsylvania State University. But farming spoke to her too, so she joined her husband in the business.


Though Mike Werp’s plan was to grow field corn, a call from an Alden fine dining restaurant in the mid-80s set the family on a new trajectory, Tina Werp said.

“Mike knew the chef at Spencer Creek Landing, and over time, one chef referred us to another,” she said. “We learned from all of them as we went along.”

By the late ‘90s, the Werps saw value in growing produce during winter. They constructed their first greenhouse, and over time built seven more.

Their hoop-style structures use dual layers of heavy-duty specialized greenhouse plastics that resist degradation by sunlight. They’re heated by wood-fired hot water boilers that use the dead wood from around the couple’s land.

While other farms use greenhouses in the off-season, most aren’t heated. The Werps’s approach yields more product, Tina Werp said.


Farming life – never easy – has its own complexities in the winter, Tina Werp said.

“When it’s very cold, we fill [the furnaces] four times a day,” she said. “It’s quite brisk going out at midnight, and again at 6am, or in rough weather. But on clear, cold nights, it’s actually quite beautiful.”

The first greenhouse they built used a peat substrate and a fertilizer solution in a modified hydroponic system. Later, the Werps moved to using garden-type beds and compost inside the greenhouses.

Organic had long been their goal. “Both Mike and I knew of the health and environmental problems that could be caused by chemicals,” she said. “We both grew up watching the news about the long-term effects of DDT, thalidomide, PBB, and lead.”

Being an organic grower turned out to be less complex than the couple imagined, she said.

“Since we were selling directly to the end user, the produce did not need to withstand shipping injury, and then be picked over by shoppers looking for perfection,” she said.


The Werps grow various types of lettuces, greens, chicories, and Asian greens, plus root crops like carrots, turnips, and radishes. A few of their other specialties include most of the common culinary herbs as well as a few more obscure ones like Sweet Cicely and Burnett.

The differences between growing outdoors and indoors are very specific, Tina Werp said.

“Growing outdoors provides a light show of sunrise, sunset, clouds, vultures, and hawks,” she said. “There is also more room for big crops like squash and tomatoes. But it’s also more difficult for us because we have to plant double to account for the share that the deer take, as we’re surrounded by beautiful woodlands.”

Growing in the greenhouses, they can obviously avoid the deer, as well as insects. And they don’t have to harvest in rain or mud.

But there are still problems to be solved, she said.

“The management of humidity, air circulation, and temperature make fungi and bacteria more of a challenge when growing indoors,” she said.


Either way, restaurants in Northern Michigan, Detroit, Ann Arbor, New Buffalo, and even as far as Chicago now depend on the Werps to deliver produce to them every single week, all year long.

It’s a labor-intensive process – using scissors to clip the produce – that keeps the couple busy.

“We hand-harvest to order, cool and package the produce,” Tina Werp said. “Someone leaves here three times a week to do deliveries; we spend two days alone on the Chicago trip.”

Despite the work, it’s rewarding to the Werps, whose reputation for standout organic produce is becoming a secret staple for several restaurants.

A surprise side benefit for Tina Werp?

All the weeding she gets to do.

“You are at eye level with the plant and see the busy life that is going on in that space between the bottom leaves and the soil,” she said. “[It’s] my favorite job.”

Werp Farms is located at 7625 Davis Rd. in Buckley. Contact Mike and Tina Werp at (231) 263-7239, or email werpfarms@gmail.com.

Werp Tips for the Good Life

Buy less, eat more. Think about how much you put in the disposal.

This also applies to buying organic food. If it costs more, just make sure you’re throwing less away and it’ll even out.

If you’re buying frozen, buy organic frozen.

Don’t worry about slight flaws in organic produce, or if the oranges aren’t really orange. Some non-organic produce is sprayed to enhance the color.

Follow the French provincial method of cooking, which makes use of a little of this and a little of that. Stale bread equals French toast. A couple of potatoes and a couple of leeks: Vichyssoise soup.

Make a point to stop at the organic section of the grocery and buy something.

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