Friends in need

The Poliches find strength in a community of farmers, in good times and in bad

“One thing you notice right away about the organic cows is that they hardly ever get sick,” says Mike Polich. “Farming organic seemed like the smarter method.”

Mike would know—he’s a fourth-generation farmer, and he has been around farms all his life. He met his wife Katie at college, and after they graduated, they traveled a bit. They were living in Florida when they heard that a family friend needed help on the farm back home.

That family friend turned out to be an Organic Valley farmer, and it was just the excuse Mike and Katie needed to head back to their roots in the Midwest. “Experiencing [organic agriculture] firsthand made it easier for me to make the decision to go organic once I started farming on my own,” Mike says.

The weather in this stretch of northern Wisconsin can be a challenge. Mike and Katie’s farm lies on a peninsula in Door County, Wisconsin, tucked between Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan less than three miles to the east. The summers are cooler here than in the rest of Wisconsin, and rains can be sporadic. Worse, the Poliches’ farm fell victim to a freak hailstorm in 2014, wiping out their hay, barley and winter wheat.

It was the worst hailstorm that anyone could remember, “a disaster hail” in Mike’s words. And in moments like those, Mike and Katie found strength in the community of farmers around them.

It’s a community they have come to know well over the years. “When I started out, I didn’t have a knowledge base to work with,” he admits. “I didn’t know who to call if I had questions or a problem to work through or to find out where to get this or that. Now I know where to go and who to call.”

With the help of their fellow organic farmers, the Poliches know that storms may come and go, but there will always be a friend nearby to lend a helping hand.

James Burkholder
Featured Farmer

James Burkholder

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