By hosting multiple volunteer organizations and having a free food forest open to the public, the farm strengthens relationships. Most importantly it functions as an educational platform for various youth programs to learn more about the food system, environmental stewardship, and fresh produce.
When our board and staff attempt to identify the reason why Community enCompass exists, we end up with phrases like “Neighborhood Transformation,” and “SHALOM in the City.” Lofty dreams for a rag-tag team of people who are often stumbling towards good. The year-end process of digging through data always makes me wonder..... how will we know once we’ve arrived? How will we know when our neighborhoods have been transformed and we taste SHALOM?
Dozens of neighborhood teenagers spent their summers doing internships through the Youth Empowerment Project. The PAID internships created an opportunity of high school students to gain experience in the fields of youth work, agriculture, construction, and gardening, building interpersonal skills and developing their resumes
We are proud to announce through a partnership with AvaSure, a health care 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
15% of Muskegon County residents have a certified disability, 25% higher than the national average. 41% of Muskegon county residents live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty level, 22%* higher than national average. These numbers alone are sobering, so this month we are taking the opportunity to educate ourselves about the links between poverty and health, health and poverty.
Despite the heavy snow, spring always comes early at Community enCompass bringing with it the promise of opportunity. The opportunity to bring our fresh organic produce to more of our core city Muskegon neighbors. The opportunity to engage children and families in our learning garden. And the opportunity to help more people transform their lives through our farm-based job training program for core city youth.
When the last grocery store moved out of the downtown area of Muskegon, we were left with a “food desert,” a low-income area, that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Many neighbors in the core city neighborhoods are without transportation, so access to fresh fruit and vegetables is difficult. The result of this has been an increase of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, fueled by the mix of unhealthy food and lack of exercise. Through efforts of groups like McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm and the Muskegon Farmers Market (open 3 times a week through the summer months), affordable, healthy, fresh produce is becoming more available to the community.
The farm’s produce is grown clean, using organic practices and no harmful chemicals. We fertilize with locally produced compost (much from our own compost bins) and treat for pests with either soapy water, natural oils, natural predators, or by hand picking pests. Weeds are pulled by hand or hoe. No pesticides, herbicides or growth enhancers will ever be used at McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, so your family receives the safest produce available.
But there is so much more that you support by participating in McLaughlin Grows CSA program:
McLaughlin Grows employs local youth throughout the growing season. High-school students participating in the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) have the option of working on the farm, learning leadership skills, cooperation, patience, and earning practical work experience. By working on the farm, these youth learn the very basics of self-sufficiency…how to grow their own food.
McLaughlin Grows employs college-aged students as interns. They not only hone existing skills, but learn management and organizational techniques too, as they work with every aspect of farm operations.
The farm also helps middle school students in summer school who are in danger of not passing to the next grade level. Through “Growing Goods,” middle-schoolers learn about eating healthy, gain knowledge about growing their own food and build self-confidence and self-esteem. They also learn first-hand that they can make amazing things happen when working together as a team.
We are growing educational programs at McLaughlin Grows too! Preschoolers, elementary school-aged students, middle-schoolers, and high-schoolers come to the farm on field trips and for community service projects to learn about what it takes to put food on their tables. Programs are being developed so that teachers can find farm-based lessons in a variety of subjects such as math, history, language arts, art, and the sciences that help teach their classes about farming and growing food using these different venues. It is a wonderful way to bring students onto the farm and the farm into the classroom!
Special needs students come to the farm regularly to learn practical life skills, how to grow food, and to gain hands-on work experience through everyday activities. These young adults are given the opportunity to grow and stretch their abilities beyond what can be done inside the four walls of a classroom. We are also developing programs to bring senior citizens and youth together. Having multi-generational activities where those with experience guide their young neighbors through the steps of sowing seed, growing and caring for plants creates bridges of understanding and fosters a greater sense of responsibility for each other.
All of these things and more are what purchasing a CSA share through McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm supports. Neighbors coming together, children learning where food comes from, elders passing skills on to their littlest neighbors, people learning to eat and live healthier and happier, and so much more! We are one community…growing healthier, growing stronger, and growing together!
McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm is currently hiring interns. If you want to get involved in community farming check out the oportunities HERE
Stay up to date on all the farm activities on FACEBOOK
...or in this case, a GREAT deal on Community Supported Agriculture shares!
CSA shares allow people to purchase a season’s worth of produce in the spring. They then pick up fresh, locally grown produce each week that is harvested and rinsed just for them! To be certain, buying a CSA share from any organization is a guarantee that your family will be eating the freshest food available. But it goes much deeper than this, especially when buying from your neighborhood urban farm, McLaughlin Grows. By purchasing a McGrows CSA share, you will be supporting programs that employ our local youth, promote healthy eating and teach our community how to grow their own food, support education for young and old, and bring access to fresh food into the neighborhoods where there are no grocery stores.
The farm’s produce is grown clean, using organic practices. We fertilize with locally produced compost (much from out of our own compost bins) and treat for pests with soapy water, natural oils, or hand picking. Weeds are pulled by hand or hoe. Nothing unnatural will ever be used at McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, so your family receives the safest produce available. And all produce in your CSA share is grown at the farm. There is no doubt where this food is coming from…you know the place it is grown AND who grows it!
But wait…there’s more! If you purchase your CSA before March 1st, you will receive a special EARLY BIRD rate! There are several different CSA options…follow this link for more information and to find the perfect McGrows CSA for your family.
If you would like to become more involved with the farm, watch for volunteer days to be posted on our Facebook page. McGrows also has many internship opportunities available; descriptions can be found here.
All of these things and more are what purchasing a CSA share through McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm supports. Neighbors coming together, children learning where their food comes from, elders passing skills on to their littlest neighbors, people learning to eat and live healthier and happier, and so much more! We are one community…growing healthier, growing stronger, and growing together!
Changing seasons are shifting the focus at McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm. The atmosphere from March well into October centers on growing, growing…..and more growing. But late in autumn, the focus moves towards “putting the farm to bed.” Those working with McGrows are pulling the spent plants from the fields, removing the trellises to make room for tilling, pulling up plastic to fertilize for next years’ produce, spreading wood chips and mulch to build new soil. It is time to prepare for the hard, killing frosts….the first blanket of snow.
But something very special is happening INSIDE the hoop house on the Hackley farm site. New seeds are sprouting and transplanted greens are finding their second wind under the plastic at McLaughlin Grows! The sunny days of winter will allow the air in the hoop house to become much warmer than the outside, sometimes pushing temperatures well into the sixties. This warms the soil, which allows the greens and herbs to flourish, allowing the farm to bring fresh, clean produce to the farmers’ market during the coldest days of the year. Even when the nighttime air temperatures dip well below freezing, the warmth of the soil under the plastic dome keeps the plants comfortable enough to continue producing food for the community.
McLaughlin Grows is looking to grow BIGGER! The hoop house has enabled us to produce food year round, but with the help of a generous donor, we have an opportunity to build a green house that will allow us to control every piece of the growing process, from seed to plant. Because of this donor, every one of your dollars will be matched, $1 for $1 up to $5,000 towards the green house build. Be part of the local food systems change that is happening in Muskegon, feeding our core city neighborhoods, from the inside out
Soon the call will be going out for volunteers to come and help tuck in McLaughlin Grows for the winter. But don’t think this little farm will be going to sleep completely. Under that big plastic hoop on Mercy’s Hackley campus, there will be an amazing amount of activity. The spent warm weather plants of this past growing season will be giving up their space to an abundance of cool crop greens and herbs. The farm may be settling down for the season, but it will continue to grow food for our friends and neighbors even as the snows pile up outside the gates!
You love fresh vegetables in your cooking, right? Even better if they are grown organically? And even better if they are grown locally?
What if you could get all of these things---- fresh, organic veggies that were grown right here in the neighborhood, in Muskegon's first urban farm and hoop house---weekly AND on top of that you knew that buying these vegetables was employing core city youth that were learning job skills while they were farming?
You wouldn't be able to say no, right? ;-)
Check out our McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program (you can actually order right on line). Just think how you could brag to your dinner guests about how your dishes are not only delectable, not only environmentally sound, but also socially responsible! Triple bottom line, right there.
McLaughlin Grows CSA's: It's worth every penny.