Community Celebrates Earth Day by Expanding Local Food Production
Partridge Creek Farms is celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, April 22 by building 50 raised beds across downtown Ishpeming. But they aren’t doing it alone. More than 70 volunteers are coming from across the Upper Peninsula to help as everything at Partridge Creek Farms is a community effort.
“We are an educational farm and we are trying to build an educational base for an expanding agricultural economy in the U.P., but we are also into promoting good nutrition and getting kids excited about eating good foods,” said Farm Director Dan Perkins.
In 2013 Dan decided to expand their backyard garden into something more after continued interest from neighborhood kids.
“They could feel like part of our group and we felt that that was a really good social model for community health in general, not just nutritional health but also in engaging people and having them be less isolated in society especially if they were at risk or marginalized already.”
Dan explained Ishpeming as a town continuing to decline in population from its mining peak with many now decrepit buildings.
“We import 92% of our food and that makes us a low fresh food access area. When you combine that with poverty or a low-income area, which we are both, you are going to get certain statistical outcomes which seem to go hand in hand with that which included diabetes, obesity, and drug addiction. All these can be combated with agriculture.”
Partridge Creek works with local schools, service groups, individual volunteers, and college interns to meet their goals of making Ishpeming a thriving and healthy community.
“The support from the community has been tremendous. It’s seen in the way the businesses have come together to support us. We’ve literally got 26 businesses in downtown Ishpeming who’ve given us money to build these beds around the town. We are getting a lot of support from the city and they see the future here.”
Each bed is sponsored by a local business. The beds all line the multi-use Iron Ore Heritage trail and are in downtown Ishpeming.
Some of the beds will be used for specific classroom education with food going into the schools, some will grow food sold at farmers markets to sustain the farm, and some will be grazing beds for the public to enjoy.
If you’d like to help out with the project, sign up on Partridge Creek’s website. You can volunteer as much or little as you are able and all experience levels are welcome. There will be a potluck lunch and music following the event.
Melissa Orzechowski is the Local Food Coordinator in the UP. Contact her at [email protected]