Jim and Kelly Lively began their life together in the 1990’s. They raised four children on a 5 acre parcel of what was many years ago the Bow Farm (originally about a 200 acre plot with orchard, horses, and who knows what else). By the late ‘90s, Kelly followed her heart and began The Lively Gardens at Leelanau Flowers -- a flower farm and floral business -- determining she was happiest when working outside, particularly with flowers. Eventually, about ⅓ acre of land was fenced and worked to grow flowers. At first only selling at farmer’s markets, eventually Kelly became a designer for weddings and special events.
For several years Kelly operated the one-woman farm. She grew the flowers, arranged, and did many wedding flowers throughout the summer months while her younger children were in school. In 2009 she fell into a part time job with Cherry Capital Foods and began working on her passion to build a local food system. By 2010 she had gone full time and the challenge of farming, designing with long weekends of work, and a family were too much so she suspended the Leelanau Flowers Business.
Eventually, Jane (child number three) took charge of a few beds during the summer to grow cutting flowers for the roadside farm stand, and in 2015 (following Jane's graduation from high school), Jim and Jane raised four pigs in a section of the garden. This made a significant dent in the plant population in that area but, truly, much of the garden was fallow and growing some of the healthiest ‘weeds’ around.
It wasn't until 2017 that Jane relocated to the Lively property and sought to re-establish the entire fenced in lot for growing vegetables and, of course, flowers. She sold a small amount of vegetables to community members and fed her family, but mostly continued dreaming up the farm.
Jane’s relationship to farming stems from growing up on the flower farm and helping with production, an iconic visit to Greenfield Village in Detroit, and mostly from her time spent working on nearby organic vegetable farms. For two summers, while in high school, Jane worked at Sweeter Song Farm in Cedar, Michigan, where she fell in love with the beauty of the open sky above the serenely vast fields of vegetables and fruits. She knew, following that first summer, that she wanted to be a farmer. Following Sweeter Song, with two seasons at Meadowlark Farm in Lake Leelanau, Jane felt equipped with knowledge to serve in the creation of her own operation.
In 2018 The Lively Farm launched their first CSA season with 8 proud customers. As it is, the farm offers CSA shares, farm membership, attends farmers markets, sells to restaurants, and employs Jane full time and two other part time employees. The expansion and growth of the farm has been slow but steady and with each passing year it begins to feel more and more like the home we have all always wanted and dreamed of.
Jane is managing the vegetable operation at the farm! She works rather full time with all things farm (in the summer) and off farm in the winters.
Kelly still works a "regular" job in public service, but she also manages all of the flower things in the operation. Jim has "retired" from his career of 22 years and has joined the family businesses: supporting the farm and Backyard Burdickville (as well as being our general "Lively-Up-er"). All four sisters now live in the region again, and additions of little Lively's are mixed into the pot. With so much going on, so much family to love, and so much community to thank, we are so very grateful to be here.
There is so much more to really tell the full story of how we've gotten to where we are today. This endeavor has been and will always be a labor of love and an exercise in learning as you go and accepting that life has the propensity to live.
We thank the land, we acknowledge it was stolen years ago from the native people of this place, and we take great responsibility for regenerating the microorganisms as well as the spirit of this place.