Oct 13, 2023
24 Michigan food processors share $1.8M in state ag grants
Two-dozen Michigan food producers, processors, and community development organizations are sharing more than $1.8 million in state grant funding to invest in their operations. The funding, from the
Two-dozen Michigan food producers, processors, and community development organizations are sharing more than $1.8 million in state grant funding to invest in their operations.
The funding, from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Value-Added and Regional Food System Grant Program, will go to help expand access to healthy food by supporting technological and equipment upgrades for farms, healthy food access and regional food systems.
Kids’ Food Basket, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit, was one of the 24 award recipients this year. The organization, which addresses child hunger by increasing access to healthy food through its farming and outreach programs, received $100,000 to help promote its operations.
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According to Jason Lundberg, farm manager at Kids Food Basket, the nonprofit was “thrilled” with the funding award, which will go toward drilling a new well at Kids Food Basket’s Grand Rapids farm and supporting the farm’s new second location.
Kids’ Food Basket Farm – Ottawa + Allegan, the organization’s new 10-acre farm in Ottawa County which broke ground last spring, is currently in its first full growing season.
Located at 340 104th Ave. in Holland Township, the farm is a partnership with Ridge Point Community Church. It will be gaining a new hydroponic growing system for growing tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables.
In addition to the hydroponic system, the Holland-area farm also plans to invest in various new equipment such as greenhouse supplies, a trailer to move heavy equipment between locations and a new utility task vehicle (UTV) to help move produce and small equipment pieces.
“These are (items) that we must have,” Lundberg said. “We have to have these to really operate smoothly. We’re so appreciative of MDARD for this opportunity and the support given.”
With the boost from the MDARD grant and the nonprofit’s volunteer base, Lundberg hopes the Lakeshore farm will match the production capabilities of the Grand Rapids operations.
On a smaller scale, Shady Side Farm in nearby Olive Township received a grant for $30,000 for a color sorter for its beans, replacing an operation previously done by hand. The sorter will help the farm double production next year, owner Mike Bronkema said.
“The sorter is going to help us get our beans cleaned once they come out of the field and get them ready for our consumer,” Bronkema said.
The sorter, which will cost around $37,500, is an essential part of helping bring the farm’s approximately 15 acres of beans to market in good condition. Sorting out discolored and misshapen beans and other debris makes them ready for customers to purchase.
“As we came through COVID, we had a lot of consumers that all of a sudden found us,” Bronkema said. “We have a bigger market, so we need some way to get those beans cleaned and presentable for consumers.”
Shady Side Farm currently operates on 123 acres and harvests around 12,000 pounds of beans yearly.
MDARD also awarded grants to the following organizations:
In total, MDARD received more than 100 eligible proposals from operations across the state with requests totalling over $8.6 million.
“These investments highlight the unique opportunities available to our local food and agriculture businesses while allowing companies to increase capacity, secure supply chains, and implement climate-smart practices,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring in a statement.
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