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Tag Archive | "Plainsong Farm"

Plainsong Farm and GRCC partner to provide students fresh produce

Ashley Fox, Student Resources Coordinator for GRCC, readies Plainsong Farm produce for curbside distribution.

More than one in three U.S. college students faces food insecurity every day. This problem is projected to worsen as the pandemic lingers into the school year and continues to particularly affect low-income and ethnic minority-households. According to a recent report from the American Psychological Association, students who are food insecure experience “significantly higher rates of depression, loneliness and anxiety.” They also have “lower self-esteem and lower grade-point averages and were more likely to withdraw from the university before earning their degrees.”  

To help address this critical community need, Plainsong Farm in Rockford has entered into a unique partnership with Grand Rapids Community College to provide students with farm-fresh produce at their campus food pantry. Ashley Fox, GRCC’s Student Resources Coordinator, says, “When we were linked with Plainsong, we were able to source food more consistently. It’s local, it’s fresh…it’s been hard to have enough for everybody!”  

Over the 2020 growing season, the farm was able to supply GRCC with 400 pounds of fresh produce, enabling the college to give it out to 20 students a week. But responding to student requests, both partners hope to do much more. During month of August, the Plainsong Farm GROW HOPE Campaign is raising $7,800 to purchase and install two additional hoophouses to expand their capacity and extend the short Michigan growing season. After these are at full production, Plainsong Farm will be able to triple their current contribution, providing the GRCC pantry enough produce to serve every student.

According to Nurya Love Parish, the farm’s Executive Director, “We need to get the hoophouses ordered by early September to install them this fall, extend the current growing season and start contributing earlier next spring.” Individuals who would like to donate to the Hoophouse Fund can send a check to GROW HOPE, Plainsong Farm, 6677 12 Mile Rd., Rockford, MI 49341. All donations are fully tax deductible. 

For more information about Plainsong-GRCC partnership and the GROW HOPE campaign, please contact Nurya Love Parish, Executive Director of Plainsong Farm, at nurya@plainsongfarm.com.

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Plainsong Farm introduces household gardens opportunity

Funded by a grant from United Way of Kent County, Plainsong Farm in Rockford, MI, is enabling 25 local households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to grow vegetable gardens throughout the 2020 growing season.

Each participant in the initial growing group will receive a garden pack of 18 seeds and seedlings, enough to fill 75-square-foot garden. Growers will also receive online garden education from Plainsong Farm’s expert Farm Manager, Mike Edwardson, from late May through late September. No prior garden expertise is needed; Farmer Mike will walk participants through every step in their gardening adventure.

To sign up for a garden, register at www.plainsongfarm.com/good-news-gardens. In order to qualify, a household must reside in Kent County, be economically impacted by COVID-19  and able to prepare, plant and tend a vegetable garden. Only 25 garden packs are available for 2020, so residents are urged to apply quickly. With Farmer Mike’s online assistance, garden beds will be prepared immediately, in anticipation of seedling pickup and planting during the last week in May. 

All Kent County churches and social service agencies are welcome as distribution partners for household gardens. Contact hello@plainsongfarm.com to become a distribution partner.

For more information about the household gardens initiative, please contact The Rev. Nurya Love Parish, Executive Director of Plainsong Farm, at: nurya@plainsongfarm.com.

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North Kent Connect hosts third annual Farm to Pantry program

2017 North Kent Connect’s Farm to Pantry participants visit Plainsong Farm to pick up their CSA share.

One local nonprofit organization takes healthy food initiatives to a deeper level. North Kent Connect, a Rockford based nonprofit committed to improving the lives of all people in northern Kent County, offers its clients a hands-on opportunity to learn about eating and shopping for healthy foods through its Farm to Pantry Program.

“Through our Farm to Pantry Program, clients learn various skills including how to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, properly store and cook them, and so much more,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director of North Kent Connect. “Clients also visit Plainsong Farm where they receive Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to take home and apply their learnings to fresh produce of their own.”

“Since attending Farm to Pantry, I now know how to can my own vegetables as well as use unique spices that I wasn’t aware of before,” said Amy, frequent Farm to Pantry attendee. “I look forward to receiving fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach from Plainsong Farm. The farm also introduced me to lemon thyme and oregano which I now cook with and use to add flavor to meals.”

North Kent Connect is using certified health experts to teach health-related topics focused on canning, container gardening, cooking with unfamiliar spices, preparing meals using the CSA shares, food justice, agriculture, and local food systems.

“Farm to Pantry has transformed my life,” said Addie, NKC client and program participant. “I have gained so much knowledge about healthy eating over the years of attending, and the confidence to experiment with different foods in the kitchen to share with my family. It’s

neat going to Plainsong Farm, meeting the farmers, and having access to locally-sourced produce.”

Partners of Farm to Pantry include Plainsong Farm, Access of West Michigan, Kent County Health Department and Heart of West Michigan United Way.


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Grant awarded for hands-on environmental education program


Students will experience it at Plainsong Farm

Raking mulch on the Plainsong farm. Courtesy photo.

The Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW), in collaboration with Plainsong Farm, Trout Unlimited and the Kent Conservation District, has received a $38,000 grant from the Wege Foundation for a pilot program that exposes middle-school students to sustainable agriculture and land/water conservation. The two-year curriculum will provide practical, immersive farm-based environmental education for middle-school students in the Rogue River watershed. Students from Sparta Middle School and East Rockford Middle School will participate in the program.

This project connects to the Wege Foundation’s long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability by cultivating a new generation of watershed stewards who are knowledgeable about land-use practices and sustainable food systems. Plainsong Farm, at 6677 12 Mile Rd NE, will provide a place where teachers from the watershed can bring students of different backgrounds for shared experiential learning and practice. Specifically, they will learn about: soil health, water conservation, integrated pest management and pollinators, sustainable food systems, and agroecology. Student learning will be connected to real-life conservation taking place in the Rogue River and Indian Mill Creek watersheds under the $8 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council received from the Natural Resource Conservation Service in 2017.

Planting crops at the Plainsong farm. Courtesy photo.

“Sustainable food production and rural land use are important to maintaining and improving watershed health. We’re excited to nurture practical skills and a stewardship ethic in local students through this program,” said Eileen Boekestein, Environmental Education Coordinator at GVMC.

Upon completion of the pilot program, the collaborative organizations will develop a strategic plan for Plainsong Farm to be used for ongoing, year-round environmental education programming, including demonstration workshops highlighting student-led stewardship projects. 

“When we began Plainsong Farm, we hoped to create a location for environmental education for students, faith groups, and all members of the community. It’s exciting to see this program begin,” said Nurya Love Parish, Executive Director of Plainsong Farm.

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