11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE 49506
This Saturday at the Southeast Area Farmers Market: Urban Core Collective is providing voter information!
Stop by the Southeast Area Farmers Market Saturday Oct. 24 for organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm, tasty cottage kitchen goods, and handcrafted personal care items and crafts. If you have Double Up Food Bucks left, now is a good time to spend them! (Our market warmly welcomes SNAP, EBT, WIC and many other assistance and coupon programs.
When a farmer’s first full year on the land falls in the midst of a global pandemic, that’s a pretty rough row to hoe. However, BruceMichael Wilson, owner of Groundswell Community Farm in Zeeland, has a rich history to fall back on. For one, he grew up on his family’s 160-acre farm in neighboring Allegan County. For an African American, this was a rarity. During the 20th century, as farmers became more dependent on credit to get started each spring, racist lending policies put Black farmers across the United States off their land. In fact, in 1920, 14% of all U.S. farms were owned by Black farmers. By 2012, that number had fallen to 1.4%. Sad to say, Michigan’s history tells the same story.
Wilson’s father purchased his farm in 1970. To ensure he would be allowed to do so, he kept his race a secret until he signed on the line at closing. Happy on the family farm, Wilson wrote, illustrated and published his first book, “Our Big Farm” at age six.
“My earliest recollection of being on the farm was helping with chores, gardening, and feeding livestock,” Wilson says. “Farming has always been in my DNA so when the opportunity presented itself [at Groundswell], I made it happen.”
Originally founded by food justice activists Katie Brandt and Tom Cary, Groundswell has a history that lends itself well to Wilson’s next endeavor: Dunyun, an enterprise that will train Black youth to be the farmers of a more equitable future. Named for the nickname his late brother gave him, Dunyun will transform the farm into an educational center where Black children from throughout West Michigan can dig into their African American agricultural heritage as well as into the soil.
“I’m going to promote being excited about being Black,” Wilson says. “Being proud of who you are is the single most important step. I’ve learned to be proud of myself and proud of my people.”
Wilson wants Black youth to grow up knowing about successful Black Americans in agriculture like Daniel Webster Wallace, who was born a slave in 1860, ran away to become a cowboy, and ended up owning his own ranch, where white ranchers stopped by for frequent advice.
BruceMichael Wilson, owner of Groundswell Community Farm in Zeeland“There are a lot of untold stories that young Black kids have never heard They need to picture themselves doing the same kinds of things to feel some worth,” Wilson says. “Learning about our people in general will move them one step further ahead.”
Being a Black farmer in Michigan has not been easy for Wilson. He feels that others in the farming community do not take him seriously. And, when a series of thefts happened on the farm, he chose not to report them for fear of the reaction he might get when law enforcement came out to take a report.
“I might get shot or killed,” he says. “I am afraid I would have a hard time convincing police that I was the farmer if they were to show up after daylight hours.”
The hope is that Dunyun will free future Black farmers from those very real fears.
“If you are designated a Black farm hand or laborer, then you earn more respect than being a Black farmer. That’s where most people feel you belong,” Wilson says. “Our mission to stay in business long enough to get the winning hand and change that narrative.”
When Dunyun starts bringing busloads of African American children to Groundswell Farm from Grand Rapids’ and the Lakeshore’s urban communities, that change will begin. Wilson concludes, “I can tell people that I might be the first Black USDA organic grower in the area, but I don’t have to be the last.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Interim Innovation News Editor Photos courtesy Groundswell Community Farm
Southeast Area Farmers Market
12 – 2 p.m. Saturday Aug. 22 MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller Ave. SE 49506 Stop by for organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm, tasty cottage kitchen goods, and handcrafted personal care items and crafts.
Did you know that many of the native species we see around us (and label as weeds) once were a prize source of both food and medicine? On Saturday August 24, citizen forester and urban forager, Laura Casaletto, will share how to identify the edible plants growing in your Grand Rapids neighborhoods. She has been using foraging as a means to supplement her family’s food budget for many years.
Stop by for organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm, tasty cottage kitchen goods, and handcrafted personal care items and crafts.
Be sure to say hello to our new farmers market manager, Belinda Henderson. Ms. Belinda also serves as an Our Kitchen Table Food Garden Coach in the Program for Growth at MLK Jr. Leadership Academy. Special thanks to vendor Yvonne Woodard for stepping in as manager in the interim!
Southeast Area Farmers Market: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday July 25 MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller SE 49506
In addition to local, fresh organic produce from Groundswell Farm, home baked cakes, and craft items, this Saturday’s market hosts Friend of Grand Rapids Parks. Stop by and chat with them about free trees, how to plant and care for trees, and why trees are such an important Grand Rapids infrastructure.
You may have seen FGRP Green Team youth caring for trees around town. This paid summer youth employment program in collaboration with the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Urban League, employs four youth from the Roosevelt Park area to help water nearly 300 trees planted by Friends and volunteers during the 2019 Mayor’s Greening Initiative.
The next Southeast Area Farmers Market will take place 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday July 25 at MLK Jr. Park. Along with our neighborhood vendors, Groundswell Community Farm will again join the market with a truckload of fresh, local, produce sustainably and fairly grown in Zeeland.
According to the Michigan Farmers Market Association, farming and food production are not stopping during this pandemic! Michigan farmers continue to grow and produce a wide variety of food and farm products. Follow their easy tips as you support your farmers markets this season.
Be prepared and be patient! When you’re getting ready to go to the market, make sure you bring your face mask, shopping list, and an insulated tote bag. Plan ahead for longer lines and maybe some waiting. Use the time to look up new seasonal recipes!
Enjoy your personalized shopping experience! Share the items on your list with your vendor and they’ll grab it for you to minimize risk of contamination. All the tables in front of you will be clean and clear so they can easily be sanitized.
When it’s time to pay, ask your vendor about low touch or touchless payment options! They say cash is king, but this summer, card is preferred.
Finally, stay informed! Some markets have created drive-thru or traffic flow instructions, so keep an eye out for signs, maps and chalk arrows. Others have started online marketplaces for even easier shopping.
Now that you’re ready to shop, find a farmers market near you! Markets are adapting quickly to an ever-changing landscape, so be sure to contact your market directly or follow them on social for the most up to date details on their hours and operations.
The Southeast Area Farmers Market. takes place at Joe Taylor Park today at 6! Stop by for organic, fresh, local produce from Groundswell Farm, tasty cottage kitchen goods, and handcrafted personal care items and crafts.
The market had a great debut last Saturday at MLK Jr. Park. Join the excitement! And eat healthy! We warmly welcome SNAP, EBT, P-EBT, Double Up Food bucks, WIC Project Fresh and Sr. Project Fresh.
Southeast Area Farmers Market opens 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday July 11 MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller SE 49506
Our Kitchen Table is thrilled to announce that Groundswell Farm will be a vendor on alternate dates at the Southeast Area Farmers Market. In addition to selling produce in Holland and at the Fulton Street Farmers Market and now our market, Groundswell offers a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, model of agriculture that connects them directly with local consumers. Customers purchase a “share” of the farm at the beginning of the season and receive fresh, produce weekly during the growing season. Groundswell offers share via SNAP.
Its website says, “Joining a CSA lets you reconnect with the food you eat. You will notice a difference in the taste, flavor and nutritional value of your ingredients. You think about meals in reverse by cooking with what you have and what’s in season. You might even help to plant or harvest some of your food as a member during various farm events!”
Groundswell is run by African American farmer, Bruce Michael-Wilson. A graduate of Central Michigan University, Wilson was raised from a toddler on the 160-acre family farm where he grew up in Hopkins Michigan. At age six, he wrote his own book, “Our Big Farm.” As he grew older, he also worked for neighboring farmers in the hay fields, gardens, and milk barns honing his skills and developing his agricultural acumen.
Please visit the market Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and purchase your fresh produce from Groundswell! OKT has long hoped to add a CSA farmer to our vendor list and ask for your support in making this a successful strategy for the market and the farm.