Century-old Grand Rapids farmers market to run program providing fresh produce to neighborhoods

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids neighborhoods, food pantries and meal programs have long been supported by the Heartside Gleaning Initiative.

Since 2014, 240,714 pounds of fresh produce has been collected and delivered to groups through free fresh food markets, Good Food boxes and distribution programs.

Starting in June, those programs will continue under the direction of the century-old Fulton Street Farmers Market (FSFM), operating as the Market Gleaning program.

Gleaning is “simply the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need,” according to the US Department of Agriculture .

That’s precisely the purpose of the Market Gleaning Program, officials say.

This summer, FSFM will collect excess produce from farmers at the end of the market on Saturdays, to be distributed to the Heartside Neighborhood, God’s Kitchen, The Other Way Ministries and the Community Food Club.

Some of the farms that the new Market Gleaning Program will utilize this June are Green Wagon Farm, Meza Farm, Visser Farm and Nyblad Orchards.

The program will help carry out FSFM’s mission by increasing access to fresh, healthy foods, promoting sustainability by lowering food waste and strengthening community connections, according to a news release.

This will be the first program, outside of food assistance on market days, that the Fulton Street Farmers Market will be running under its operations, something long-awaited by Executive Director Dana Eardley, the news release said.

“We are all focused on food access,” Eardley said. “Heartside is walking alongside us as we take it on the tools and resources we need to move forward.”

The idea has been talked about over the past year.

Eardley said Heartside set the foundation for the gleaning program that got its roots eight years ago. A board member, she said they’ve been “in communication about what it would look like for the market to take it on as Heartside goes a different route.”

Gleaning and Good Food Box Coordinator Emily Brink said that she helped Heartside transition the program over to Fulton Street once Heartside started down its path with the Good Food Box Program in 2020.

The program works to deliver boxes and bags of “good food” full of nourishment from the Fulton Street Farmers Market or other local sources every Saturday year-round.

Each box or bag is delivered to homes in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood to aid in accessibility to fresh produce.

RELATED: Groups partner to provide fresh food to Grand Rapids Latino community

“The gleaning at the farmers market can be taken over by the staff,” Brink said. “That way, the farmers can be more connected and the staff can as well. It just makes more sense to have the Market Gleaning Program be directly affiliated with the farmers.

For the first couple of weeks of June, Eardley said Heartside will help the farmer’s market to make sure they fully understand the process.

“We are all focused on food access,” Eardley said. “Heartside is walking alongside us as we take it on the tools and resources we need to move forward.”

The program will go until the end of October for FSFM’s main season every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm For the second season, they will be open to the community from November through April, from 10 am to 1 pm

“Our community members have been thrilled to see us expand in this way,” Eardley said. “Gleaning is a way for us to live out our values ​​of ensuring that this food is not wasted and demonstrates our commitment to food access.”

The Market Gleaning Program will require ten to 12 volunteers every Saturday to assist its operations. To get involved, see the link to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market volunteer form here.

More on MLive:

New Rockford business provides fresh-farm produce, jobs for those with cognitive differences

East Grand Rapids students celebrate prom 2022 at DeVos Place

As prosecutor reviews the killing of Patrick Lyoya, here’s how he ruled in 11 previous police shootings

Comments are closed.