Everyone waits for the time in their life where they can relax, take vacations, sun tan, and sleep in every day. Most people cannot wait for the day they can spend time slowing down. John Maahs and Edythe Hulbert had a different plan in mind. After moving from the city, John and his wife Edythe bought 80 acres in rural Dewitt, MI naming it Three Ponds Farm.
Together they raise sheep, dairy and meat goats, pigs, and poultry. They also grow a large garden, pick fruit, tend beehives and pollinator habitat, make cheese, manage forest, and work 65 acres of pasture and hay. They sell their eggs locally to different restaurants and stores wholesale as well as retail at the farm. Whether they are collecting dozens of eggs from the free-range chickens and ducks, kidding newborn and lambs, or enjoying the daily chaos. Each day on Three Ponds Farm is filled with life and adventure.
Before they bought the farm, John worked as a builder in the city. Edythe worked in the medical field. Together they made the decision to move onto the farm to spread out, enjoy their hobbies, live off the land, and be in nature. Today they have been on Three Ponds Farm for 30 years, growing food for themselves and their community.
As they both share a great love for the land, they were drawn into the local conservation district office through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, or MAEAP. Creating a sustainable farm is important to them. It’s something they say everyone should be doing anyway.
Since they first came into the conservation district, they have been working with the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office to improve the farm through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). They started a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan written to better manage their growing operation. This plan gives a complete inventory of the farm, including needs, goals, and conservation concerns. They used their CNMP as a starting place and applied for the EQIP program to put some conservation practices into action.
One of the first projects completed was nine acres of pollinator habitat specially designed for bees. Although it took a few years to establish, this year they completed their first prescribed burn to help maintain the habitat naturally. This is a healthy grassland management practice that encourages and accelerates the growth of wildflowers.