Farming is more than just a business for Matt Carpenter. It’s a way of life. His family has been farming the same land for more than 100 years. Matt enjoys sharing his love of the land and farming with others. That’s what drove him to begin inviting the community to visit Carpenter Farm 20 years ago.
Agritourism is why Matt got involved in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). A voluntary program, MAEAP helps Michigan farmers adopt cost-effective practices that reduce erosion and runoff into ponds, streams, and rivers.
Matt strongly believes in educating the public about the realities of farming. Having MAEAP recognition gives visitors a chance to ask questions about the program and how farms are protecting the environment.
“My wife and I don’t work off the farm, this is our livelihood,” said Matt. “We’re the first farm outside of Adrian, located on the busiest road in the county. Our farm is very visible to the public. To make a go of it, we need to invite the public out to our farm and make a living out of agriculture.”
When Matt first heard about MAEAP, he knew right away that he needed to participate. He met with a local technician to find out what he needed to do to get recognized. As they reviewed his operations, Matt was happy to learn he was doing many of the right things. In fact, most of the issues he needed to address, like setting up a containment center for his fertilizer, were things he knew had to be done. He just hadn’t taken the initiative to follow up and do them. Matt earned all three of his MAEAP recognitions in 2013. He saw MAEAP as a way to talk to the public about farming practices and the environment. So he got busy, quickly fixing the issues on the farm and earned Carpenter Farms’ MAEAP recognition in record time.
“I have seen other farms that were verified. When you go by, you know there is pride that they are doing things correctly. I wanted to get to that stage,” he said.
Earning MAEAP recognition is something that Matt encourages all farmers to look into. “Have that initial meeting and sit down with one of the technicians. Go through the checklist and see what you are doing. Be open to doing something a little bit differently…and definitely look into and apply for funding.” For Matt, participating in MAEAP is about showing pride for farming and passing that along to the next generation. “We all want to take pride in what we are doing. With MAEAP recognition, we can talk to the public, we can talk to other farmers. When they drive by our sign, we can explain to others what it means to be recognized,” said Matt. “There is pride in MAEAP and in educating the public about what it is.”