Through a partnership with a Rockford farm, patrons of a nonprofit grocery store in Grand Rapids will have expanded access to organic produce.
The Rockford-based nonprofit Plainsong Farm said Wednesday, Nov. 17, it will begin donating produce to the nonprofit grocery store Community Food Club, at 1100 S. Division Ave. in Grand Rapids, beginning in the spring.
The partnership will allow patrons of Community Food Club to select from a variety of familiar, easy-to-prepare, organically grown vegetables harvested at Plainsong Farm, at 6677 12 Mile Road NE in Rockford.
“Plainsong Farm has grown and distributed fresh produce through food pantry partners as long as our organization has existed,” said Nurya Love Parish, executive director of Plainsong Farm. “During, the pandemic, we saw how essential food access was to health equity, and we committed to increase our work in this area. Our new partnership with the Community Food Club helps us achieve that goal.
“We’re filled with hope and excitement as we work alongside the incredible team at Community Food Club to be a catalyst for greater health in West Michigan.”
Founded in 2015, Community Food Club focuses on providing and expanding access to healthy food for people in Kent County. Serving families at or below the 200% poverty level, the club operates on a membership model with a sliding scale pricing structure. For $11-$15 a month, members get an allotment of points they can use. As an incentive for patrons to choose fresh options over shelf-stable food, produce is available for the lowest number of points.
“From our initial conversations with Plainsong Farm, it was clear there was a strong synergy in our missions and vision for food equity in our community,” said AJ Fossel, executive director of Community Food Club. “We are all about dignity and choice, which often depends on our partners. Plainsong will allow us to work on a new level to be intentional with people who, for so long, haven’t had a voice in their food choices.”
Plainsong Farm previously offered its produce to the public through a community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program, but it was discontinued so the nonprofit could focus on supporting community outreach programs. Leaders at the organization cite the impact of longstanding health inequities made more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons they sought a new partnership to share their produce.
“Typically, access to healthy produce is directly related to income,” Love Parish said. “The last two years have made that even clearer. We very much don’t want that to be true. Everyone deserves the option to put nourishing food on their table.”
While this is the largest-scale partnership Plainsong Farm has undertaken, it’s not its only one. The farm regularly works with Grand Rapids Community College Student Resource Center’s pantry, the Pantry at North Kent Connect, the Kent County Health Department and South East Market.
Community Food Club also partners with New City Neighbors, Kids’ Food Basket, Heartside Gleaners, Crane Farm and Little Red Market.
Plainsong Farm and Community Food Club rely on financial and volunteer support to provide nutrient-dense, culturally appropriate food to the underserved.