A Family-Run Farm in Michigan Since 2017
Rebel Farm is located on the traditional territory of the Myaamia tribes, where we wholeheartedly embrace the honor of working with the land to create an environment in which all flora and fauna thrive in harmony. With the help of family, friends, a few state programs (WRP, etc.), and mother nature herself, Steve and Suzie Lietz have successfully resurrected the land to be a space where the intrinsic existence of all can indeed thrive. Inspired by regenerative based practices, we hope to inspire a movement towards more holistic living.
The Rebel Story
Steve Lietz purchased the land in 2006. He intended to use it for hunting property and weekend relaxation, but for that first year, he leased it out to a local farmer who planted corn. Not long after that, he and his wife, Suzie Lietz, found out that the property was part of a critical watershed for the St. Joseph River and a possible wildlife migration stop. With the help of the Wetland Restoration Act, we gave up the idea of corn and beans and began to restore the property back to its natural state. We restored ponds that had been filled in, planted over 8000 native trees, and created a grass prairie out of the old fields. Our land is still being farmed, but only in small areas that are strategically placed to help with the wildlife corridors we are making. This is how it works: Of the 60 acres, only three acres are used for row crops, and those rows are not tilled. Instead, they have at least 40 varieties of companion plants growing along with our main crop, hemp. We also have a natural paw paw forest, sugar maples for syrup, and fields of medicinal herbs that grow in tandem with the prairie grass. The name "Rebel" came from the fact that most farm folk thought we were crazy. We think they still do. We do not conform to normal farming practices.
Our farm is sixty beautiful acres of land surrounded by a sea of monoculture. Instead of growing a single crop year after year, we grow a variety of Michigan native fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, syrups, hardwoods, pines, and more and care for our egg-laying chickens and grass-fed cows, who in turn care for our land! From this, we can produce hemp and a large number of market items.
We are proud to participate in the deep local movement and adhere to the 5 major principles of regenerative practice. And last year, we experienced the monarch migration, the return of the woodcock, pheasant and bittern, and so much more.
To sum it all up, we wanted to create something bigger than ourselves. We want to make an impact, serve as a model for living in harmony with nature, and leave a legacy that will be carried on into the future.
Why is Rebel different?
I guess what makes us different is the diversity of what we grow and how we grow it. You won’t see row crops with bare soil here.
Like most farmers, we are up with the sun. In most cases, we try to beat the sun, particularly in the hemp field. On a typical day, we know that if you are in the field by 7 am, you can water the hemp and be out by 10:00 am, just when the sun comes up over the hardwood forest.
Harvesting on this farm is a year-round event. We tap trees in February, boil syrup in March and April, then we clone hemp and prepare it for field planting in June. In May and June, we plant the seeds of our food garden. And the fall is harvest time for paw paw fruit and hemp.
We grow in cover, which means we sow seeds by drilling instead of tilling, which helps reduce compaction and soil erosion as well as increase organic matter. We seed edible cover such as kale and radishes, peas and beans, just to name a few. Their job is to improve soil structure and promote better water infiltration and feed us too!