The Frog Holler story begins in 1972 when Ken King was co-owner and head cook at Indian Summer Natural Foods Restaurant in Ann Arbor. Ken had already been thinking of having a farm to grow food for the restaurant when word came that an elderly lady was selling a 165 acre parcel located 30 miles from Ann Arbor. This turned out to not actually be a farm, but an irresistible piece of wilderness snuggled into the Irish Hills of southeast Lower Michigan. Irresistible at least to Ken and his partners who, with a promise to owner Mrs. Cora Lees Gesell that they would maintain the farm in an environmentally sensitive manner (and to keep the name Frog Holler), were in fact able to buy the land.
One of the partners, by the way, was Rick Peshkin, who was then the food purchaser for Indian Summer and who was already looking for ways to develop and expand in that area. Rick did go on to create what is now Ann Arbor’s premiere produce wholesaler, Frog Holler Produce, and also The Produce Station. Rick’s trucks are visible around Ann Arbor and it seems an endless source of confusion (but certainly not ill will) as each business goes on trying to explain two Frog Hollers.
Anyway, as Rick’s business began to develop and expand, and as another partner took on more restaurant responsibility, and as Ken felt a deepening connection and commitment to the farm, it was inevitable that the original partnership would break up, as it did around 1975. From that time on, Frog Holler is the story of Ken and his wife Cathy (former Indian Summer salad maker) and their three sons Billy, Kenny, and Edwin.
During their first years as organic farmers, Ken and Cathy experienced the proverbial steep learning curve. While they learned how to garden, Ken purchased an old cider press and made apple cider for natural food stores in Ann Arbor. In 1975 they took their first crop of lettuce to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, and soon became established as the first organic growers at the market. In 2008 they added a CSA to their marketing options so that shoppers could enjoy their produce using the “Share box” model.
Ken King passed away in 2009. Frog Holler is now held in trust by Cathy, Billy, Kenny and Edwin, who continue to farm organically and share the beautiful piece of land with the community through farm events, their farm festival, Holler Fest, and the fresh organic produce they bring to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market.