Mike Jarvi was born in 1954 in Humboldt, Michigan, in the state’s upper peninsula. Following graduation from the local high school, he enrolled at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where he majored in music and played trumpet and guitar. Family resources required him to work nights in construction in order to cover college costs. In his own words: “At the time there was a five-dollar bill in the Upper Peninsula, but I never got my hands on it.”
Thereupon means took over from ends, as he mastered the building trade—plumbing and electricity as well as carpentry. With his marriage at 26, Crab Tree Farm appeared on his horizon, since his wife’s father occupied the position of farm manager for the then-owner, William McCormick Blair. By the time Jarvi’s father-in-law retired, new owners, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Bryan, had taken over the farm and asked Mike to be the new farm manager. The offer was accepted on a non-contractual basis, as both parties tested the water. During a year-long hiatus in 1996 Jarvi and his family moved to Austin, Texas, where they entertained locally, he on the guitar, his daughter on the mandolin, and his son on the bass. They later decided to return to Crab Tree Farm, where Bryan noticed that Jarvi had shown a flair for woodworking. The perception prompted Bryan, who knew of John Makepeace’s school, to persuade Jarvi to inenroll there while maintaining his employment at the farm.