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      Longer fall harvest on a farm

      The change in weather that comes with fall creates some challenges for growing food in the Upper Peninsula. But the farmers at Seeds and Spores Family Farm in Skandia have some ways to extend their business.

      Jeff Chiodi, co-owner of the ten acre organic farm located on Greenfield Road, knows that farming in the U.P. is different every year.

      "It got a little dry in the summer, and we were hoping for a warm fall and it's changed a little," said Chiodi.

      The rain and cooler temperatures last week weren't exactly what Chiodi and his crew were hoping for. This week's conditions are a better fit for fall farming.

      "Since it is dry and a little warm, it's easier to work with our hands now outside," he said.

      Seeds and Spores grows over 40 different types of vegetables and herbs. Farm manager Carrie Whittaker said tomato crops are among the first to get picked, but plants like kale, with thick leaves and stalks, can survive the cold for much longer.

      "Throughout the rest of the season we'll be harvesting the brassica cold weather crops, like broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale," said Whittaker.

      To extend the growing season, Seeds and Spores uses five greenhouses that can be moved over different areas.

      "That allows us to plant outside in September, and then by the end of September, early October, when the weather might change, we can pull the whole greenhouse over the crops, and then we can continually harvest into November," Chiodi commented.

      Tender plants are covered with blankets at night, keeping them two to three degrees warmer. That expands the season and business.

      "We're continually going to the (downtown Marquette) Farmers' Market, that goes to the end of October, and then often times, we go until Christmas there," Chiodi said.

      Their produce is sold at the Marquette Food Co-op and is used in local restaurants.

      Seeds and Spores also has a Community Supported Agriculture program. People can subscribe to have fresh produce dropped off, or they can pick it up at the farm or a drop point in downtown Marquette.

      "We bring extra things there, so you can order eggs, meat," Whittaker added.

      That program finishes at the end of October. Full details are available on their web site www.seedsandspores.com.

      Another way to sample some of the produce from Seeds and Spores is a "Farm to Table dinner" happening this Saturday night. It is a benefit for the Marquette Regional History Center's new building campaign. Full details on that event are available at www.marquettehistory.org.