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      Facebook Story of the Day: Local Farming

      For Joe Wixtrom, farming started as a simple hobby--just a few cows and a few veggies. It was a way to feed his growing family of nine. But after 10 years, his small family food source grew to become Blueberry Knoll Cattle Company.

      The 80-acre Sands Township farm is now home to chickens, sheep, and a decent herd of cattle. Wixtrom sells his goods at the Marquette Farmer's Market each spring and summer.

      On behalf of our Facebook viewers, I had to ask: What's the secret to a smooth start in farming?

      "Start small with something like chickens," said Wixtrom. "You can just get a couple of female chicks to raise to laying hens in your backyard and town, and that's a good way to start to see if you like it."

      And, of course, there are a few zoning requirements when it comes to raising livestock. Each Michigan township has its own laws. Contact your township to find out what they are in your area.

      As for financing, Jason Asselin posted on Facebook: "While food prices continue to sky-rocket, we can keep our prices down by growing our own products."

      Wixtrom disagrees. He says keep your day job since there isn't much profit in small farming. He says people need to do it because they love it.

      Wixtrom says one of the biggest misconceptions about small farming is the reason people get into. He says people shouldn't get involved if they're looking to make a profit or to save money, but rather to know where their food is coming from.

      "We know what we put into our garden or into our animals, so there's no hormones or pesticides or herbicides," Wixtrom said.

      If you're not ready to get in the saddle with cattle, the Marquette Food Co-op suggests veggies. They say hearty greens are a great place to start.

      "Spinach is an exceptional plant that grows here very well," said Natasha Gill from the Co-op. "I would say any of the cold, hearty greens; they grow very well in the Upper Peninsula."

      The Marquette Food Co-op buys produce from more than 70 small, local vendors. If you are interested in getting started as one or want more information about zoning regulations, visit Michigan Department of Agriculture website .