The sun is shining, the weather is sweet yeah, makes ya wanna move ya dancing feet yeah
— Bob Marley, Sun Is Shining

Spring is officially here!

After what feels like an eternal winter, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the grass is growing back from beneath the snow. The birds are out singing, people are back out in the streets, and we’re looking forward to many great things!

Farmer Laurie planning where to plant a years supply of seeds.

Farmer Laurie planning where to plant a years supply of seeds.

As the seasons changed, here at Community enCompass we have experienced a large shift too. Laurie, our hardworking Urban Farm Manager for over 4 years, has moved on to greener pastures in a new career as a Community Health Worker.  “We accomplished so much McGrows over the last 4 years,” Laurie reflects. “Vertical growing, building a greenhouse, developing a children’s corner, nurturing greens through the winter months, bringing vegetables into the food desert, and so much more.”

For Laurie it was always more than just fresh veggies. “It’s really all about the people. From faithful volunteers lending a hand every season…. generous supporters, committee and CSA members (who were so patient with abundant Swiss chard)…. youth who became family as we labored through the summer… neighbors who stopped by to buy tomatoes and pass the time… Gage, my farm hand and partner through the good and trying times. The heart of the farm is and always will be those who rally around when things need to be done, and those who pull in the gates to see what’s growing today. I treasure every moment spent at McGrows and remember with pride all our accomplishments. But I will carry in my heart the friends and farm family cultivated along the way…for they are truly what makes McLaughlin Grows special.”

Farmer Laurie helping Neighbors plant herbs.

Farmer Laurie helping Neighbors plant herbs.

We wish Laurie all the happiness and success in her new role and thank her for the years of selfless dedication to McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm and all of us neighbors who came to love her joy, warmth, and passion. She will be missed tremendously!

But as they say “every cloud has a silver lining”, and the farm’s silver lining is Courtney Baker, our NEW farm manager!

“My name is Courtney P. Baker, I am from the Eastside of Lansing Michigan, and I am a farmer outstanding in his field.

Yes, Courtney has a sense of humor, which will be much needed as he tackles the long hours of Urban Farming. He also has a passion for getting his hands dirty and stretching his green thumb. “I have been gardening since I was 6 and market gardening since 2013. My great-grandmother was an avid gardener and encouraged me to learn plant care and gave me space and the tools to do so.”

Farmer Courtney, out standing in his field.

Farmer Courtney, out standing in his field.

Like most farmers, Courtney is also a foodie. He’s a cook, a preserver, canning his own pickles and is passionate about foraging local varieties of garlic, mushrooms and other edibles that naturally grow right here in West Michigan. But why would a life-long Lansingite move west to Muskegon? “I applied to be the McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm Manager because there’s a great opportunity to develop efficient food systems in Muskegon, and McLaughlin Grows has more than its foot in the door. I would like to expand its four-season capacity and always be there to offer fresh foods to the community and really show people the diversity of foods available on the local level.”

Courtney moved into the McLaughlin neighborhood at the beginning of March and is excited to be here. “I feel its a ‘bottom-up’ community and things seem to be happening organically as opposed to imposed. I really want to show neighbors the economic opportunities of small-scale farming and encourage neighbors, that if you have a good idea for a really helpful business, do it! There is small-scale support and partnerships with friends and neighbors, because when you belong to true community, no one has to do it alone!”

We’re really excited to have Courtney on the farm and look forward to what 2019 has in store with him at the helm. One more random fact about Courtney to leave you with:  He can start a fire... by rubbing two sticks together! Did someone say bonfire and s’mores at the farm?

Want to join Courtney in stretching you green thumb, why not VOLUNTEER, we even have some great farm INTERNSHIP opportunities coming up this summer too!