This year McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm at the Muskegon County Health Department site went into its 9th season of production. So what’s new under the sun? We are proud to announce through a partnership with AvaSure, a healthcare company, our 3rd farm site is being developed. A new 13,000 square foot farm will be ready for production come next spring at 1161 W. Southern Avenue in Muskegon, on the former site of Nims School grounds. “As a community-based entity, we will align with, support & grow established & sustained community-based organizations that inspire four values – early literacy, beautification, youth adventure, and sustenance. We choose Community enCompass because they were already doing these things. We together will be about doing more of all of them. And, it’s simply refreshing to have fresh produce grown in your backyard” states Brad Playford, founder & CEO of AvaSure. “The company will be a big customer.”
Ground is tilled, new soil brought in, irrigation is laid, fencing and shed is being put up. It’s a lot of work to build a farm! A special thank you goes out to our partners who played a crucial role in our expansion this summer: H&H Landscaping, Home Depot, Redi-Rental, Affordable Fencing, Brad and Kathleen Playford and the Avasure Company. Thanks to volunteer groups, Project Serve (partnership with Calvin Church) and Catholic Heart Work Camp, who organized a workforce of hundreds of volunteers over 2 weeks.
And of course, our YEPs (Youth Empowerment Project): 7 neighborhood youth were hired on the farm this Summer. YEP Amaria Longmire looks at her McLaughlin Grows experience as a way to expand her horizons: “I always wanted to see what farming and gardening was like…it’s important because it gives me a view on how it will be in the real world when I get older. It lets me see hard work…and how it pays off.”
Adam states: “I’ve watched Community enCompass up close over the last decade, as a pre-teen all the way into my mid 20’s. This is what I see: growth, engagement, numerous lives changed, and love shared over this land, this place. The meaning of it all? To make our core city neighborhoods a place of good that welcomes people in need, to make a beautiful space amongst blight, to give youth a haven to learn and grow and better themselves, and to be an example of how the community is built. The sweat, the time, the struggle, and the dedication that has gone into McLaughlin Grows Urban Farms by so many individuals who have at one time or another, given of themselves to make this place what it is today. From one neighbor to another: I thank you!”
By Adam Swanson, Farm Intern