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Plainsong Farm partners with Community Food Club

To expand access to fresh produce

Plainsong Farm is bringing fresh produce to people coping with poverty in Kent County by teaming up with the Community Food Club.

Beginning in spring of 2022, the new partnership will allow patrons utilizing nonprofit grocery store Community Food Club to select from a variety of organically grown vegetables harvested at Plainsong Farm. Crop selections are being purposefully chosen to be familiar and easy-to-use for the patrons of Community Food Club.

“Plainsong Farm has grown and distributed fresh produce through food pantry partners as long as our organization has existed,” said Nurya Love Parish, executive director of Plainsong Farm. “During, the pandemic, we saw how essential food access was to health equity, and we committed to increase our work in this area. Our new partnership with the Community Food Club helps us achieve that goal.

“We’re filled with hope and excitement as we work alongside the incredible team at Community Food Club to be a catalyst for greater health in West Michigan.”

Founded in 2015, Community Food Club, located at 1100 South Division Ave. in Grand Rapids, focuses on providing and expanding access to healthy food for people in Kent County. Serving families at or below the 200% poverty level, the club operates on a membership model with a sliding scale pricing structure. For $11-15 a month, members get an allotment of points they can use. As an incentive for patrons to choose fresh options over shelf-stable food, produce is available for the lowest number of points.

“From our initial conversations with Plainsong Farm, it was clear there was a strong synergy in our missions and vision for food equity in our community,” said AJ Fossel, executive director of Community Food Club. “We are all about dignity and choice, which often depends on our partners. Plainsong will allow us to work on a new level to be intentional with people who, for so long, haven’t had a voice in their food choices.” 

Plainsong Farm previously offered its produce to the public through a community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program, but it was discontinued so the nonprofit could focus on supporting community outreach programs. Leaders at the organization cite the disturbing impact of longstanding health inequities brought forward through the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons they sought out a new partnership to share their produce with.       

“Typically, access to healthy produce is directly related to income,” Love Parish said. “The last two years have made that even clearer. We very much don’t want that to be true. Everyone deserves the option to put nourishing food on their table.”

In 2021, Plainsong Farm provided fresh produce through partnerships with Grand Rapids Community College Student Resource Center’s pantry, the Pantry at North Kent Connect, the Kent County Health Department and Southeast Market.

Both Plainsong Farm and Community Food Club rely on financial and volunteer community support to provide nutrient-dense, culturally appropriate food to the underserved.

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