Matt Hall is encouraging people to get back to basics with his Traverse City business Midnight Harvest. The Traverse City native constructs, installs and maintains raised garden beds for people who are looking to garden but might not have the time, the skills, etc. In exchange those customers enjoy freshly grown veggies without a lot of work on their end.
Midnight Harvest offers options for gardeners of all levels from black thumbs to green ones as well as consultations, installations and more. MyNorth’s Eliza Foster checked in with Matt about what Midnight Harvest has planned for 2015, how he’s selling the modern day Victory Garden and more.
What is Midnight Harvest?
Midnight Harvest is my LLC formally, and I construct, install, and maintain raised garden beds (predominately veggies) in people’s yards.
Where did this idea come from?
I wanted to show and teach people how great home grown food can be. The idea of getting into agriculture came to me a few years back while I was working in Grand Rapids for a local company called Bistro Bella Vita who really prided themselves on farm-to-table produce. Even in the dead of winter they still source through local farms rather than big suppliers. It was then I really had this moment of “I want to grow my own food.” But being a “farmer” was not my initial passion – I wanted to show people how to grow their own food like me. So, I came up with a business idea to do vegetable garden installations in order to get people excited about good whole foods again without the use of any chemicals.
Another inspiration came from the victory garden era which I found to be an interesting time in history. Victory Gardens we’re started during WWI and continued through WWII and people were planting gardens because – they had to! But the inspirational part of that is that the government was behind them and supporting the notion of yes – grow your own.
Who are the people behind Midnight Harvest?
Myself of course but also I am very fortunate that my girlfriend, Heather Witkop, is my designer. She has a degree from SCAD university in Georgia in industrial design and currently works for Four Winns in Cadillac as one of their lead boat designers. So, she has not only an eye for design, but an actual degree and job in design already! It’s just us two! I stick with the plants, installs and the online (social media) fun stuff!
On your website you talk about the era of the Victory Garden. Are you selling “the modern day Victory Garden?”
In a way you could say it’s the modern day Victory Garden. We’re fighting much different things now here in the USA, with food systems, with what goes in to our food and on our food. With the battle of GMO (genetically modified organism) on the table, chemical application and of course preservatives in our food, I wanted to give people the option of at least experiencing homegrown tomatoes, beans, fresh herbs and so on. With our busy lives who has time to garden let alone learn about all the techniques in gardening. With my setup – I make it easy. I want people to succeed and learn and one day become an informed home gardener. These gardens might not supply people with a substantial amount of food that will offset grocery costs or even be a regular part of diets, but it’s a chance to eat real food!
What is “Michigan Grow”?
Michigan Grow is my initiative, brand and “call to action” to hopefully inspire more people to take up gardening. It is also my farm-starter as it’s been called! I hope to buy land and start the makings of a farm within the year from the money we get back from my garden installations and Michigan Grow line. We’re going to be really doing our best to be putting the logo/brand on relevant items. We started with shirts, but now we’re applying it to 100% biodegradable planters made from bamboo and we’ve got it on a 100% organic cotton tote bag. One thing we wish companies would think about – beyond being a “user” or “buyer” is its effect on our earth. The planters will biodegrade within five years versus plastic pots, which we think is awesome! The tote bag encourages less plastic and to buy from roadside stands, markets, and co-ops. Michigan Grow is all about starting new gardens so with every product we sell, we also give away seeds, hoping people will start even the smallest garden.
So, I am someone who has checked out your site and I like what I see, what’s the next step?
Well, if you were interested in a garden there is a contact form on my website you can fill out which will send an email to me. From there we set up a consultation and time to go over the garden, veggies and installations. If people want to find me and talk in person or buy anything they can visit the website or right now I am at the Village Farmers Market in the Mercato in Traverse City every Saturday from 10 am—2 pm. Just look for my sign!
Do I have to have a yard to be eligible for a home garden? Are there options for those in apartments or condos?
Container gardening is nothing new and I wouldn’t say no to anyone who wanted a home garden, even if it’s on a patio. Granted there are a lot more restrictions to patio gardens, I would approach it as a custom garden and not a package so we can tailor it to the environment.
Who’s the audience for these home gardens? Do you have to have a green thumb for one of these? Are they pretty easy to maintain?
I am hoping the audience is everyone one day! I am aiming for everyone who has a desire to eat healthy and learn about food. As a culture we are slowly learning that our food is the key to our health and more and more in the media people seem to be making that connection of healthy food = healthy life. The days of microwaves, packaged and processed and my favorite. “enriched” are starting to slow down. Gardens offer more than fresh food, they’re a chance to get outside and breathe fresh air and move around by weeding, harvesting and planting.
No green thumb required! The beds come fairly equipped with organic nutrients perfect for the veggies and by design easy to maintain! Yes, people will have to water and weed them but you will find the harvest outweighs the small burden of weeding.
What else should people know about Midnight Harvest?
We are applying for a Crowdfunding site called Barnraiser, which specializes in helping farms or new farms with projects. We’ll be launching the campaign in June to raise more funds to start the farm. We’re gathering all the necessary details to put out to the public because it is important to me that if someone donates just a dollar or one thousand dollars – we do right on our part and succeed.
The farm concept is to do more than just grow produce. We also want to utilize it as a learning environment. We hope to bring people to the Midnight Harvest farm by having workshops and seminars that are all about home gardening. I also hope I can create a place of extended education for schools (no matter the age) to inspire more generations about how amazing food really is! We take it for granted that someone grew our food, that we rely on and that keeps us healthy and whole and provides us with nutrients.
Learn more about Midnight Harvest on their website, follow them on Instagram or like them on Facebook.