MIDLAND, Mich. (WJRT) - A community farm that was created a few years ago continues to provide fresh produce and learning opportunities for people living in the Midland area.
Phoenix Community Farm is located just off M-20 near Windover High School. It was founded by Beth De Vries and the story of how it came to be goes back a few years.
“Back in 2018, I worked in women’s health and I talked to a lot of women about wellness and about heating unhealthy foods and some women really said, well that’s great information but I can’t afford the food,” De Vries said.
De Vries, a nurse practitioner, said she began growing some food on her own and found out more information about some of the problems people face in Midland County. This led to her coming up with the idea for the farm.
“I couldn’t believe when I found out the information that one-in-three households in Midland County struggled to put food on the table, struggled to meet their basic needs,” she said. “I was shocked by that and I didn’t want anyone in our community to be without food, without the opportunity to have fresh vegetables.”
De Vries said that her family also played a big role in her deciding to create this farm.
“I have four kids and I want them to grow up knowing that we don’t just take care of ourselves and be selfish but that we also service our community,” she said.
The farm started out in a rural area outside of Midland but was moved to the location near Windover High School in October.
This was an area that was impacted by last year’s flooding.
“This community was deeply affected by the catastrophic dam failure and most of the houses in this neighborhood had water,” De Vries said. “To have it go from that devastation to this healthy thriving garden that the community is very involved with is a huge blessing.”
The Phoenix Community Farm is now an official 501(c)(3) and it consists of an acre of all types of plants.
De Vries said when she set out on this mission, she never expected it to become what it is today.
“I never imagined the amount of support we’d have from the community, the number of people who want to get involved and how inspired the community is to care for each other so that’s been a huge blessing for me to see,” she said.
A number of groups and organizations volunteer at the farm as well. The food is donated to a number of organizations. De Vries said that a produce stand is also set up at the farm Thursday mornings.
Recently, the farm received a $10,000 grant from The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation. De Vries said the money went towards building a fence around the farm so that critters can’t get inside.
Nearly 500 volunteers hours were made at the farm since the spring and more volunteers and donations are always welcome. To find out how to donate or volunteer and for more information, visit the farm’s website.
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