December 05, 2017

Bear Creek Organic Farm Named 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year!

Today, on our farm’s 5th birthday, we got a VERY special present! Words can hardly describe how sincerely honored we are to be named 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce at the 2017 Breakfast for Champions!! We love this town, and we have worked tirelessly since Day 1 to build a business that we can be proud of and that focuses on serving our community. We are so fortunate to call Petoskey home and so humbled to be part of such a wonderful community of thriving businesses. We have always loved the term agri-preneurs and embrace the business side of farming - and after a whirlwind first 5 years, we can promise you, we are JUST getting started!! From the bottom of our hearts, thank YOU!
April 18, 2017


From Ghost Peppers to Strawberries, Sweet Basil to Sungold Tomatoes - if you want the best organic garden in 2017 - start your season at Bear Creek Organic Farm! 

Join us for our 3rd Annual Spring Plant Sale on the Farm! Come shop the largest 100% Organic Plant Selection in Northern Michigan with over 20,000 plants available! Our newly expanded greenhouse will be open for shopping for 17 days straight, with over 3300 sq. ft. of organic awesomeness ready to get your garden going!

We have:
Over 40 varieties of tomato, 20 varieties of pepper (including Ghost Peppers!), and over 30 varieties of herbs
1200+ Lavender plants
5000+ Tomato Plants
3000+ Pepper Plants
7000+ Potted Herbs

We will have growing tips, workshops & classes, organic compost for sale, and quantity discounts for large gardens.

Plant Sale Dates & Times as follows:


May 18th - June 3rd
Monday-Thursday 10am-6pm
Fridays 2pm-6pm
Saturdays 9am-6pm
Sundays 10am-4pm
Memorial Day 10am-4pm

**BYOB (Bring Your Own Bucket!) to take home some certified organic compost for your garden! Fill as many 5 gallon buckets as you like for $3 a piece :)


Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage (Red & Green)
Cauliflower (White, Orange, Purple)
Swiss Chard
Lettuce (Romaine, Bibb, Butterhead, Oakleaf)
Kale (Red & Green Curly, Dinosaur, Red Russian, Siberian)
Pie Pumpkins
Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Dumpling, Buttercup)
Summer Squash
Tomatoes (Cherry, Heirloom, Beefsteak, Grape, Pear, Roma, Paste)
Peppers (Hot, Bell, Sweet, Heirloom, Rare)



Perennial Sunflowers
Black-Eyed Susan
Purple Coneflower
Blue Hyssop
Germander Upright
Lemon Balm
Wild Bergamot

March 06, 2017

Kiva Loan #1 = Done! -- Kiva #2 = Funding Now!

For those of you that have followed us from the beginning, you may know we jumpstarted our farm with a crowd-sourced business loan for $10,000 through Over 200 individuals contributed to this loan with an average loan of $48. This helped us complete our first hoophouse.

It was a supposed to be a 3-year loan. We paid it off 10 months early. Why? The farm is growing at a rapid rate, and we wanted to show our lenders how much of a boost it provided. In addition, by paying that one off so quickly, we are able to apply for a 2nd loan. And we have! We are 2 days into the 30-day fundraising process and have already raised 20% of the total. Sound interesting?

You can see the full loan here:

Otherwise, just keep reading for a description of the business development over the last couple of years and what we intend to do with the loan funds!


Business Description

We decided to start this business to practice what we preach, become good stewards of the environment, and improve our local community. We started our business just about 4 years ago, and it has been one heck of a ride so far! Perhaps we were naive, but we did not realize JUST how much demand existed for local, organic farm goods. We thought we had some good ideas, but we did not realize just how fast we would need to run to keep up. We’re proud to have been profitable for the last 2 years, but our biggest challenge continues to be keeping up with demand.

This is actually our 2nd Kiva loan - we just finished paying off our first loan, in full and 10 months early. That trajectory is reflective of our business growth. The faster we can increase capacity and better serve our customers, the better.

Our future goals center around 2 things - our customers and our community. The better we can serve our customers, the more we can afford to take care of our community. Thanks to our 1st Kiva loan and our greenhouse and hoop houses, we have been harvesting fresh salad greens for 140 weeks straight. Continuously. This is what our customers want and we work tirelessly to make it happen. As our business grows, we are adding monthly farm tours, dozens of gardening and beekeeping workshops, and hiring more local talent.

We are proud to be our town’s first USDA Certified Organic Farm. We are proud to promote good business practices amongst our peers. And we are very proud that we have been able to help energize our community’s burgeoning local food scene.

What is the purpose of this loan?

This loan, in conjunction with other funding, will allow us to increase our greenhouse growing space by 50% (1200 sq. ft.)! It will help us accommodate more farm visitors by tripling our parking area, and improve our receiving area so we can receive truckloads of compost year round, as well as an increasing flow of deliveries by semi. Furthermore, this loan will support an enhanced farmers market presence as we continue to grow to serve our customers.

Estimated expenditures: Greenhouse Expansion (trolley system, benches, fans, labor, etc) - $5000 Parking/Receiving Expansion (7500 sq. ft. gravel lot, labor, landscaping) - $4000 Market Improvements (bigger tent, signage, trailer modifications) - $1000

We expect these investments to increase our business revenue by 25%, with greenhouse revenues almost doubling this season. We continue to see increased demand for our products, with our ability to keep up being our main obstacle. This is a good problem, and a call we plan to answer!

In the last 3 years, our farm has gone from $0 in sales to almost $200,000 on less than 2 acres. We see this greenhouse expansion and increased operational capacity as a way to increase our labor force from a husband/wife team to adding 2 year round employees and another 1-3 seasonal workers. We’ve been growing quickly, but with intention - and we can see the path forward and this loan will help us get there.

November 15, 2016

Bear Creek's 'Boyne Honey' Named 2017 Good Food Award Finalist!

We are humbled, excited, and honored to be among the 2017 Good Food Award Finalists for our limited-release Boyne Raw Honey. The Good Food Awards are the pinnacle of what it means to be a wholesome, pure food producer in the 21st century. We've dreamed of producing a product that merits Good Food status and are humbled that we have achieved such an honor only five years into our beekeeping enterprise. As the only honey selected from the state of Michigan, it is hard to express the renewed sense of pride, mission, and dedication we have to maintaining the healthiest honeybee hives in one of the most pristine environments in the world - northern Michigan!

Boyne Honey:

This is our 2017 Good Food Award Finalist Honey! Selected as one of the best honeys in the nation, and the only official selection from the state of Michigan, our Boyne Honey is unfiltered, unheated, and never-blended!

Boyne Honey boasts diverse flora from a thousand acre forest preserve, located in the middle of Boyne Country. These bees were invited to this preserve as part of one of the largest native habitat restoration projects in the area. The evolving forest landscape has created a floral buffet ripe for the picking and that diversity is on full display in this honey. Boyne Honey is a dynamic woodland honey, naturally complex and earthy. 

Flavor Notes: Oak, Pine, Walnut, Grass, Mint



San Francisco, CA (November 14, 2016) – The Good Food Awards could not be more proud to announce the 291 Finalists of 2017, representing not just the best of America’s growing food movement, but the best of America. At a time when the values our country stands for are in question, they exemplify all that is right from coast to coast: our proud immigrant history, stewardship of a rich and fertile agricultural landscape, a spirit of innovation and the daily choice to balance personal gain with the wellbeing of the commons.

Representing 14 categories and 38 states, all Finalists rose to the top in a blind tasting of the 2,059 entries from nearly every state and passed a rigorous vetting to confirm they met specific Good Food Awards standards around environmentally sound agriculture practices, good animal husbandry, sourcing transparency and responsible relationships throughout the supply chain. Amongst their ranks are Nadia Hubbi in California, a Muhammara crafter keeping her Syrian family’s tradition alive; Nacxitl Gaxiola in Brooklyn, whose company was created to honor the traditional salsas, moles, escabechese and adobes of Mexico; Paul Lieggi in Oregon working with the fishermen and women of the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakima and Warm Springs tribes to source hoop caught Chinook Salmon for his aromatic hardwood smoked salmon; and Ann and Dan Trudel, a husband and wife farmer and preserver growing and pickling organic brussels sprouts in the heart of rural Ohio. These 291 Finalists - and the hundreds of farmers, ranchers, fishermen and colleagues they collaborate with - are actively building the sort of world we want to live in.

The 200 Good Food Award Winners will be announced Friday, January 20, 2017, at a gala Awards Ceremony at the historic Herbst Theater in the San Francisco War Memorial, on the same stage where the United Nations charter was signed, and will be followed by two more days of celebration. Medals will be bestowed by renowned chef and activist Alice Waters and organics pioneer Nell Newman, tipping their hats to these exceptional food producers. A reception with the winning food and drink will follow the ceremony, offering both regional ‘tasting plates’ and small bites created by local chefs.

October 09, 2016

Bear Creek Featured on National Farmer-to-Farmer Podcast!

To listen - Click Here!
Brian Bates is a first-generation farmer at Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan. He and his wife, Anne Morningstar, started farming in 2014, and have rapidly grown their business to anticipated 2016 sales of $180,000.

With just an acre and a half of cultivated ground, Bear Creek makes most of its money from greenhouse and high tunnel crops, and Brian breaks this down for us. We get an in-depth look at the tools Brian uses to track wholesale and retail sales, and to track those back to the enterprise they’re a part of – something that gives him insights into where he’s earning most of his returns, which in turn drives his business decision-making.

Bear Creek sells half of his produce wholesale, mostly to grocery stores, and Brian shares how his work in the back end of his local natural foods store informed the ways he has structured his production and marketing efforts.

We also explore how Brian and Anne financed the startup of their operation, and how they’ve used debt as a lever to both enable and drive the rapid growth of their operation.

The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.


Vermont Compost: Founded by organic crop growing professionals committed to meeting the need for high-quality composts and compost-based, living soil mixes for certified organic plant production.

Quotes from the Show

We were never going to have a CSA… we didn’t want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

If it didn’t have to do with garlic, greens, and honey, it didn’t get a loan.

The farm works for us, we don’t work for the farm… if something about the farm is not working for us then we have the power and authority to change that.

The debt has done a great job of making the business have to answer to a third party that’s not just us.

Less than fifteen percent of [last year’s gross income] came from our field production… I think the field’s an expensive place to operate.

What matters so much more than a perfect field of carrots is what your spreadsheets look like and what your margin is.

Following that money is the only reason that I know the greenhouse is as important to our farm as it is.

These [financial choices] are the kind of decisions that let me sleep at night – comfortably.

A produce buyer is buying from you, but each time they buy a product from you, it is very inconvenient for them. Because unless your product comes with a barcode in a standard measured unit the way they order things from California, then it’s inconvenient.

Everybody’s buying their salad greens at the store in a plastic container anyway. The best thing local food producers can do is make an equally well-designed and packaged product that we all know is going to taste better and be thousands of miles of fresher.

​If you can normalize the shopping experience, then your market gets a lot bigger.

Show Links

Brian is a big fan of the Fearless Farm Finances program.

The USDA Beginning Farmers Microloan provided an important part of Bear Creeks’ startup capital.

Bear Creek took advantage of the EQIP High Tunnel System Initiative in their startup years.

Fundraising through Kiva provided a microloan to Bear Creek.

Bear Creek bought their greenhouse structures through Jeff McCabe at Nifty Hoops.

Michigan’s Hoophouses for Health program also provided funding for high tunnel construction. The funding is repaid by providing food to disadvantaged families and schools.

Richard Wiswall’s book, The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, was “transformational” for Brian.

Bear Creek invested in an e-commerce website by Shopify, which offers an iPad point-of-sale tracking app.

Bear Creek uses Wave, a free, web-based accounting program that facilitates credit card payments, for their invoicing.

GS1 barcodes  are an important part of Bear Creek’s packaging and marketing.

Brian says that if you’re thinking about going to a field day or a conference – go! Two conferences that Brian highlighted are the MOSES Organic Farming Conference and the Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference.
March 01, 2016

Bear Creek Loyalty Program 2016 - Details Inside!

What is the Bear Creek Membership Program?

Like a membership to an exclusive farm club - this program is for folks who want access to special offers, discounts on their farm market purchases, and want to support a thriving local farm!

For only $15 you can join the loyalty program. You will immediately get a custom Bear Creek reusable shopping bag (pictured), with which, you gain access to discounts when shopping at the farmers market, on our website, buying in bulk, or pre-ordering.

When shopping with the Bear Creek Bag, you will receive:

10% off of your produce purchases

10% off of potted herb and cut flower purchases

Buy 3 jars of honey and receive a 4th one free (a savings of 25%)!

10% off spring transplants for your garden

Special wholesale pricing on all bulk orders 

**NEW** A special 10% coupon code to use for all online orders

There is no limit to these savings.

Additionally, by becoming a Bear Creek member, you will join our members-only email list and be the first to know about bulk veggie availability (tomatoes, basil, kale, etc).

All this for only 15 bucks?! It's true.

Shipping is only if you would like the bag shipped to you pronto! Otherwise, select "on-farm pickup" and we will get it to you at a time that is mutually convenient!



Link to Sign up here:

November 30, 2015


For our farm's Official Birthday this Saturday, we wanted to do something truly special to celebrate. That's why we've invited YOU to a 5-day birthday extravaganza! From December 1st - 5th, we will be offering a different deal each day! These offers are only valid for 24 hours each, with each day bringing a different feature!

In addition, we will be holding a Facebook guessing contest on each of the five days to win fabulous Bear Creek prizes straight to your doorstep! Featuring trivia from the 2015 farm season - the questions aren't easy, but the rewards will be worth it!


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