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Slagle’s Family Farm opens commercial kitchen

Our Town Channing, Felch, Foster City, Hardwood and Sagola

FROM LEFT, LOREN POTTER of Breitung Township chats with farm co-owner Jennifer Slagle while Angie Mattson helps at the stand at Slagle’s Family Farm on Metropolitan Road in Felch Township. (Betsy Bloom/Daily News photo)

FELCH TOWNSHIP — While this COVID-19-altered year would seem a difficult time to expand a business, the Slagles know how to carry on through adversity.

In 2017, Jennifer and Jason Slagle secured a $84,110 Rural Development Fund Grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to convert part of the old Steinbrecher potato warehouse at N7705 Metropolitan Road into a 2,800-square-foot commercial kitchen. Adding in their own funding, they expected to invest almost $118,000 on the project.

But taking that next major step at Slagle’s Family Farm had to wait after their son, Justin, was seriously injured in an ATV accident. Then Jennifer’s mother died in Ohio in September 2018.

Finally, the COVID-19 situation played havoc this year with lining up contractors to work on the kitchen, Jennifer Slagle said.

But everything finally came together earlier this month, when the Michigan Department of Agriculture inspected the new facility and “we passed with flying colors,” Jason Slagle posted Sept. 14 on Facebook.

The new commercial kitchen opened earlier this month that will allow the Slagles to widen the variety of products they can offer, much of it produced on the farm.

“It has been a long time in the making, with countless setbacks, years of burning the candle at both ends and many mountains to climb,” he said, “but we have finally achieved our dream.”

The commercial kitchen expands what the Slagles can do: processing meat — including making sausages and lunchmeats — and fruits and vegetables; canning salsas and sauces, pickles, baby foods and other products made with its home-grown fruit and vegetables; and preparing full meals a couple nights a week for takeout.

The meals already have been offered at the Felch Township and Iron Mountain farmers markets. Saturday in Iron Mountain, they served smoked pork loin sandwiches with homemade barbecue sauce, smoked mac and cheese with bacon, and cowboy beans.

The Slagles next hope to open a storefront at the Metropolitan Road location in November for selling their products year-round. They primarily in the past relied on community supported agriculture, or CSA, arrangements and farmers market sales.

The store would mean “we can make income in the winter,” Jennifer Slagle noted, adding, “we’re very excited.”

ABOVE, 5-YEAR-OLD Megan Story helps her mother, Taylor Story of Channing, in the pick-your-own pumpkin patch Sunday at Slagle’s Family Farm on Metropolitan Road in Felch Township. (Betsy Bloom/Daily News photo)

The Slagle family includes sons Cody and Justin and daughter Lauren, who still works in the business. Along with the Metropolitan Road location, they have a property at W4563 M-69 just west of Norway Lake Road where they make their home.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, the Slagles raise sheep, hogs, cattle, ducks, chickens and turkeys for meat, plus laying hens for eggs and goats to discourage predators.

They also have a vocal and friendly donkey who greeted customers Sunday as they opened their pick-your-own pumpkin patch on Metropolitan Road for the season. It drew a steady stream of customers despite being a gray day, including a couple and their son from out of town who came to do some grouse hunting, saw the sign and could not resist.

The patch has a stand for those who don’t want, or aren’t able, to walk the pumpkin field. Sunday’s selection included some bell peppers, watermelons and late sweet corn that had been picked that same day. Squash, gourds and cornstalks are available in the fields as well.

The pumpkin patch was closed Monday, but will reopen today from 1 to 5 p.m. For updates on what Slagle’s Family Farm has available, check their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/slaglesfamilyfarm/.

LAUREN SLAGLE OF Slagle’s Family Farm with some of the fresh-cut flowers she arranged to sell at a recent Iron Mountain farmers market.

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