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Pat and Mark Radtke — Clark Lake Farms

A farm started to help their son pursue his dreams of farming turned Pat Radtke, who owns Clark Lake Farms, LLC with her husband Mark, into accidental farmers – and regular vendors at local farmers’ markets.

“We began the farm about seven years ago, helping our son get started with his dream of having a farm raising animals for meat consumption,” she said. “He had gone to school for a degree in sustainable agriculture and farming, and was very interested in pursuing that.”

When an ideal property became available, Radtke said they jumped on it, and their son quickly started acquiring animals.

“He started with goats, and a llama for a guard. He planned for adding beef, ducks, chickens and lambs while sending them onto pasture.”

Radtke said she and her husband became farmers somewhat by accident, when their son’s life plans changed.

“Long story short, Michael met a sweet young lady who wasn’t a country girl. They have since been married and started a family,” she said. “This has made Mark and I accidental farmers.”

Although her foray into farming was not necessarily planned, Radtke said she feels fortunate to have loyal farmhands to care for the animals while she and her husband assist with the more behind-the-scenes elements.

“Funny or not, we do love the farm and the animals, and we have been fortunate to have employed some very caring lifelong farm help who live nearby and handle the daily chores of feeding and animal care and the daily demands,” she said.

At farmers’ markets, Radtke says Clark Lake Farms primarily sells lamb, goat and beef meat cuts, but the farm’s reach extends well beyond the markets.

“We also sell laying hens for chicken eggs and sometimes poultry,” she said. “We sell to individuals through farmers’ markets, vendors like gas stations, coffee shops, grocers, private chefs and restaurants as requested/needed.”

Radtke said some of their farmers’ market offerings are in high demand, while others are less well-known.
Our demand for eggs is intense, so the girls try to keep up with the ever-increasing demand that they have created… the demand for our beef has grown so much as to surpass our supply,” she said. “Some of the lamb and goat is new to many customers, so we are trying to help offer to educate those who are interested in the advantages of other meats like lamb and goat.”

The best part of farmers’ markets, according to Radtke, is helping customers make choices to suit their needs and learning from them in the process.

“What we love about the farmers markets is getting to meet individuals, families, & chefs and helping them select healthy choices for their individual needs,” she said. “We learn so much from our customers about their needs and what works for them to care for themselves, families, and/or their customers. It is rewarding to learn new applications for our products and how much they enjoy them.”

Clark Lake Farms can be found at the Jacksonport Market from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Market on Military from 2-7 p.m. on Thursdays.

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