Student Operates Local Farm
Interview conducted by Emily Mydlowski
Prepared by Mackenzie Myers
NMU environmental studies and sustainability major John Frye is not your typical college student. Not only is he married and a returning older student, but he owns a farm and a small coffee business in Marquette.
“I was not considering a farm ever before coming to school up here,” said Frye during an interview with NMU biology student Emily Mydlowski. “My hope was to come up here and actually get a job like that, but I wanted to go back to school because I had the opportunity. And I just wanted to reinforce some of the things that I thought I was lacking in.”
Frye and his wife, Wendy, own and operate Dancing Crane Farm, a 20-acre operation in Skandia, Mich. They grow eight different crops and are looking to introduce small livestock like sheep and chickens into the farming process as well. On top of all this, Frye is a full-time NMU student.
Though Frye says he’s “maxed out right now,” he says his courses at NMU have helped him both inside and outside the classroom. Human geography (GC 164) was the class that helped him shape his practices the most.
“That was the first class that I had on the first day, and I knew right away it was going to change how I looked at things.”
Frye says that GC 164, in particular, has helped him learn about agriculture in other places of the world and how much impact a small group’s efforts can have on the land around it. Because of this, Frye wants his farm to not only be a resource for his own family, but for the community as well.
“I’ve got to be able to run a successful garden so I can show people how to compost, how to till soil using things naturally and/or organically, teaching people how to can, how to dry preserve [their] own stuff,” he says. “That would provide people with tools […] which makes them a little more independent and less financially burdened.”
Frye says that making his job fun makes it worthwhile, and that this kind of operation can be a reality for anyone, even students. He said farm internships and volunteer opportunities are a good place to start for anyone who is interested.
“It’s all very purposeful stuff and I think that is the key for yourself or for anybody else,” he says. “You can do a whole lot more as long as you’re interested and motivated in what it is. As long as you believe in it, it’s fun.”