Well House, a group of homes on Grand Rapids’ southeast side that provide safe, affordable housing for people who have been homeless, is expanding its gardening program at 600 Cass Ave. SE and will sell produce at the 2013 Southeast Area Farmers’ Market. According to Jeff Smith and Camilla Voelkers, Well House’s urban farmers and food justice educators, the garden program continues the legacy of its founder, Miriam Clemens, to engage in self-sufficient practices such as growing food, saving seeds and canning. “These activities support Well House residents, the adjacent neighborhood and, to some degree, the community at large,” Smith says. (He is also an OKT collaborative partner.)
“Were working on creating a … closed loop garden where wastes are composted and put back into the garden,” Voelkers adds. “We’re planting fruit trees and berry bushes, too.”
The community that frequents the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market will benefit from a wide variety of Well House produce: greens, heirloom tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs and two varieties of mushrooms—shiitake and oyster.
Profits from market sales will go back into the Well House garden program and its other projects. “Selling at this market in parts of the city where there is the least amount of access to fresh produce is a food justice matter,” Smith says. “(and it will) spread the word about what we’re doing here at Well House. Smith and Voelkers invite community members to join them for Well House garden activities. For information, call them at 616-245-3910.