HOMER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The owner of a Homer-area farm where human waste was found in a field of produce told News 8 that it was a “complete accident” and “honest mistake.”
Owner Andy Stutzman declined to comment on camera Wednesday, but said his farm Kuntry Gardens does not use human waste as fertilizer. He said that five-gallon buckets of waste from an outhouse were mistakenly dumped in the field.
Stutzman said the farm is “not trying to hide or do anything that (it) shouldn’t.”
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development put out a warning this week telling people not to eat the produce from Kuntry Farms, saying it may be contaminated with human waste, which can spread bacterial and viral infections — though no illnesses have been reported in this case. The use of untreated human waste as fertilizer is illegal in Michigan.
“Regardless of whether it’s organic or traditional, we’re looking for the same basic things: Is the product being produced in a safe manner and in accordance with the state’s food laws? When that doesn’t happen, we do put out consumer advisories,” MDARD spokesperson Jennifer Holton told News 8 over the phone.
MDARD said Stutzman voluntarily told inspectors about the waste during a routine inspection of his farm on R Drive South near Van Wert Road in Homer Township.
For now, the farm isn’t selling anything. MDARD issued a cease-and-desist order, confiscated the affected produce still on the farm and is working with Kuntry Gardens on corrective action. There is no set timetable for that process.
“Ultimately, we want to continue to make sure that we’re seeing food and agriculture businesses grow and thrive, but it needs to be done in a way that protects the safety of our food supply, protects public health, and is done in accordance with state laws,” Holton said.
The Calhoun County Health Department said the waste did not affect any drinking water wells, surface waters or other properties.
On Wednesday, the affected field was marked off by red tape stamped with “restricted.”
Stutzman said he is truly sorry and “sad that this happened” and is working with the state and Calhoun County to make sure it never happens again. He said he is ready to move on next season.
—News 8 digital executive producer Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.