While we certainly enjoy some of the perks of the globalized market place, we strive to preserve, and in some cases, reintroduce forgotten traditions of farming and cooking. Skills taught in this living classroom will include kitchen & ornamental garden design, permaculture, seed saving, herb use and application, butchery, butter and cheese making, preservation, foraging, and weekly meal planning.
We aspire to forge a new intersection of kitchen IN the garden. We will have some of the more traditional farm offerings, like organically grown produce from a farm stand on site, we will also offer a kind of new model for agribusiness - one that focuses on the educative experience of the guest, and what we like to call ‘health empowerment’. While there are many fine farm to table establishments, nothing beats experiencing food at the source, and creating a truly complete meal, from garden to kitchen. We want to show how to do just that. Starflower Farm not only sells a great product, but also a holistic farming and cooking experience that guests can take and use in their daily lives.
Ryan Beck’s initiation into the world of horticulture came about while he was studying anthropology and earth science at the University of California, Santa Cruz and working for 4 years at the school’s prestigious arboretum.
He traveled to Central America where apprenticed with bush doctors in the rainforests of Belize. There he collected and learned the use of tropical medicinal trees and plants through his time with community healers.
Beck has also spent time working for some of Chicago’s premier garden nurseries and landscaping groups. Returning to the urban landscape of Chicago but still desiring to focus on organic and sustainable farming practices, Beck was tasked with starting an urban farm for the Jane Addams Hull House at UIC. This iconic Chicago institution with a history of advocating for human rights and food justice/hunger issues provided the blueprint for the farm, which educated students and visitors regarding current issues in the American food systems.
Beck continued on as Agriculturist Gardener Foreman for UIC to focus on organic pest management and native plant propagation. Beck and Corey came to Fennville, MI to oversee the farm at Virtue Cider. Ryan combined his passion for native plants, knowledge of intensive vegetable farming and eye for landscape design to create memorable spaces, edible gardens and healthy orchards. He hopes to further promote sustainability and education on herbaceous and edible plants.
Missy Corey is a Chicago native, growing up on the city’s South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park. After entering into the restaurant scene in Chicago at former Ambria, Corey decided to return Maine (where she had studied) to work on a farm and learn hands-on how good food is organically grown. New Leaf Farm in Durham, Maine was a gateway into the Portland food scene where Corey trained with James Beard Award winners Sam Hayward (Fore Street) and Rob Evans (Hugo’s/Duckfat). Fore Street taught Corey the value of product and how to work with farmers. However, it was at Hugo’s where Corey first learned how to butcher and develop charcuterie skills and technique. Evans was a defining mentor for Corey and eventually pushed her to go on the Food Network show “Chopped,” where Corey competed and won $10,000 by creating a meal around challenging ingredients.
While Portland helped Corey to define a personal style centered around seasonal eating and whole animal cookery, Chicago beckoned. Hoping to continue on the path of “nose to tail”, Corey landed at Publican Quality Meats. While there, she worked as a butcher and eventually took over as Chef de Cuisine. Working closely with Executive chef Paul Kahan, Corey continued to explore inventive seasonal cuisine and whole animal butchery. In 2015, she was also named one of Chicago’s top female chefs. Her cooking focuses on using seasonal farm produce and teaching others to eat and grow with the seasons. Corey hopes to train future eaters how to cook with the fruitful abundance that Southwest Michigan offers. She and her partner, Ryan Beck purchased the farm, Starflower, and are working to open a small seasonal restaurant concept in the near future.