ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – Partridge Creek Farms is providing free produce to families in Ishpeming this summer to help with the impact of COVID-19 on fresh food availability.
The program kicks off Friday, June 26, and will continue at least through the summer. If the program is successful and Partridge Creek can secure enough funding, the program will continue through harvest in October.
May Tsupros, Partridge Creek staff member, says the program is for people who can’t easily access fresh produce because of COVID-19 or other circumstances. After the first Friday, people will need to volunteer for two hours each week to get a produce voucher.
“We want to encourage those people to come out, volunteer for a couple hours, use their time helping us in our farms grow the produce and do the work in the farms and then in return get free produce during our ‘Farm Fresh Fridays,'” says Tsupros
The first volunteer opportunity is Wednesday, July 1 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Inspiration Orchard in Ishpeming. The location will change weekly. According to Tsupros, they will try different times during the day as well to figure out what works best for people who are volunteering. The schedule will be posted on their Facebook and Instagram pages when it is finalized.
In past years, Partridge Creek farm has sold their produce at farmers’ markets and to local food businesses. They would also provide activities for children as a part of the “Power of Produce” statewide initiative. Children would complete an activity at a farmers’ market in exchange for a voucher for free produce.
This year because of COVID-19 the activities kids would normally do at the farmers’ markets aren’t possible. Despite this, Partridge Creek Farm still wants to help their community access local fresh produce. May Tsupros, Partridge Creek staff, says the idea mainly came from interns from Northern Michigan University.
“We have six student interns and they’re really the heart behind this project,” said Tsupros. “It was a lot of their idea, their inspiration and they’re the ones going out and doing the work and harvesting the produce in a safe, compliant way.”
Tsupros hopes that they can also expand their farm to school program by getting more youth involved. This would allow the farm to continue forward with “farm fresh Friday” and expand its footprint in local school cafeterias.