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Kindred Spirits

Willow Garden and Ad Astra Roasters had a connection long before Willow Garden began selling our coffee in their store in May. Kristi Whalen, co-founder of Ad Astra, discovered Willow Garden when she moved to Hillsdale in 2015 (before Ad Astra was founded). During this time, Patrick was deployed with the Marines and Kristi was looking for a farm where she could purchase fresh produce. One day she happened upon Willow Garden, owned by Jason and Seraina Killoran.

Farming has always been a part of Jason’s family. Jason’s grandfather owns Snick’s Farm near Jonesville, MI, and gave Jason the opportunity to try his hand at it with a small garden. After returning from a 2 year stint in the Peace Corps, Jason worked on a produce farm in Adrian, MI to learn all that he could about market gardening. Market gardening is the commercial production of fresh produce on a scale larger than a home garden, yet small enough that the principles of gardening still apply. It is a popular way to sell organically grown vegetables directly to consumers. When he completed his year on the farm in Adrian, he planted a small garden on his grandfather’s farm and began selling his produce at local farmers markets.

Seraina came to Snicks Farm in 2011, a year after Jason planted his first garden. She came from Switzerland through a program called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). She wanted to improve her English, while spending her summer working on a small organic farm. Through WWOOF, she was placed at Snick’s Farm, where she and Jason immediately hit it off. By the end of the summer, they knew they wanted to do this life together!

Jason and Seraina soon decided it was time to start a garden on their own land. North of Snick’s Farm, they bought 8 acres with several barns, while continuing to grow produce at Snick’s. After years of hard work and preparation, they broke ground on a 2-acre garden on their own land and named it Willow Garden.

The Killorans knew that the soil where their produce grew was quite possibly the most important part of the whole process, so they invested in it. They brought in incredible amounts of manure, compost, and mulch to give the soil the organic matter it would need to produce healthy vegetables year after year. It took time, but after three years, Jason and Seraina began to see their investments in soil pay off. They were finally able to hire a seasonal farm crew, which helped them expand the production on the farm. In 2020, they adapted their business model, offering home delivery to the Hillsdale and Jackson area. They also wanted to help support other local businesses, including Ad Astra, so you can now add items from those businesses to online orders.

But why do we believe that Willow Garden and Ad Astra are kindred spirits? Because we agree that where our food comes from matters, local supply chains matter, and local community matters. We are careful to source our coffee from farming families and co-ops in coffee producing countries who operate like the Killorans. We understand that mass produced coffee is often not fresh and can have negative health effects. Most commercially available coffee is heavily chemically treated and flavored. When you invest in freshly roasted, local coffee, you are investing in your own health and local supply chains.

We never anticipated that our chance encounter with Willow Garden years ago would lead to a beautiful partnership. But, as Hillsdale’s only local coffee roaster, we are proud to partner with kindred spirits in serving the freshest and best to our neighbors.

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