Zingerman's renovates Dexter's Hoey Farm, opened for school tours and catering

The distance between farm and table is being measured in feet rather than miles, with Zingerman's Roadhouse chef Alex Young's recent purchase of the Hoey Farm property on Island Lake Road in Dexter Township.

The 27-acre property at 8540 Island Lake Road adjoins Young's Cornman Farms, a sustainably raised livestock and vegetable supplier to Zingerman's Roadhouse. Over 27 types of vegetables comprising over 130 varieties are grown at Cornman Farms.

Young's new farm purchase accompanies his recent participation in the James Beard Foundation Food Activist Boot Camp, whose goal is to "try to effect more positive change in terms of agriculture in this country."

Hoey Farm will be used for school tours, as a catering destination, and for livestock raising. "We have a small dairy goat herd," Young says. "We're going to be milking goats there as well. And we're going to grow some pigs. A small herd of pigs, a medium-sized herd of goats, and then a handful of cattle."

On the near-term horizon is a major restoration of an 1854 farmhouse on the property, a couple of barns, and a smokehouse. "They haven't received any love or care in 20 years, probably," he notes. One building will be converted into a dairy parlor, another is to be a shelter for school tours and a place to eat.

Cornman Farms currently has five people on staff. "We'll probably be nearly double that next year," Young says. He plans to open the property to the public in the spring of 2013.

"My work through Cornman Farms has been very rewarding, and being able to share it with kids and make great food for the restaurant is fun."

Source: Alex Young, chef, Zingerman's Roadhouse
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar
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