Sharing the Harvest Year-Round

It’s a surprising pairing: Wintertime in Michigan and fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.

Summer’s harvest will be enjoyed through these winter months, thanks in part to teaching and programming about food preservation techniques provided by Phoenix Community Farm in Midland County.

For this nonprofit association, winter is the time to reflect on the previous season’s harvest. It’s also time to prepare and plan for the next growing season so they may continue their mission: community growing and eating healthy food together.

A study released several years ago indicated that one in three households in the county struggles to meet basic needs, forcing families to make the difficult choice between paying bills and purchasing food. Unfortunately, the food security struggle has only worsened in 2020 and 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19.

The plans for this year include increasing production and providing greater access to produce, according to founder and executive director Beth DeVries. Successful fundraising over the winter will enable season-extending low tunnels and row covers to keep the farm growing into late fall.

In addition to growing and distributing fresh produce, the Phoenix Community Farm strives to empower residents of Midland County by educating them about growing, harvesting, preparing, eating, and preserving produce. The farm and its team of volunteers have partnered and built positive community connections to assist with access.

A collaboration with Windover Huge School was solidified in 2020. The farm moved to a larger location, allowing greater opportunities to work with students from the school, the local Head Start Preschool, and volunteers in the neighborhood and around Midland.

“As a result of the new location, the farm donated 9,231 pounds of produce. That’s no small feat when you consider that establishing the garden space, planting, weeding, and harvesting is all done by volunteers, Windover students, and participants from the Arnold Center in Midland,” state DeVries.

In early spring 2021, the culinary students at Windover High School learned about growing microgreens and used them in their school lunch menu.

“Fresh lettuce made a great addition to our summer lunch menu. We are excited about continued opportunities for district-wide access to the farm through our Culinary Arts Program,” said Marcella Mosqueda, Principal/CAO of Windover High School. The Culinary Arts Program is part of Windover’s Career and Technical Education programming and added curriculum providing hands-on training in a commercial kitchen.

“We are grateful our students can gain access to healthy, local foods through our collaboration with Phoenix Community Farm,” Mosqueda said.

Produce raised at the farm is also donated through the Midland Fresh Mobile Farm Stand (run by the Arnold Center, an organization for people with disabilities) and a “Pay What You Can” produce stand located near the farm. Families in the community can also participate by adopting garden rows and growing food for their own tables.

The farm was founded in 2018 and established as a nonprofit organization in 2019. That year, they donated 1,420 pounds of produce and nearly 1,400 eggs to people in need in Midland County. The following year, the farm donated over 800 pounds of produce and 2,394 eggs. In 2021, they donated over four tons of produce.

Since its founding, Phoenix Community Farm has built a reputation of dedication to community service, a willingness to partner effectively, and commitment to those most in need.

Phoenix Community Farm
919 Smith Road, Midland MI 48640
(989) 627-8505 l PhoenixCommunityFarm.com