2020 was about survival, especially as a non-profit organization, but 2021 brings hope and new beginnings. So, although our country and community is climbing out of a challenging year in many ways, Partridge Creek Farm is poised to grow and thrive. It is our deepest hope that you all, our supportive partners and stakeholders, continue to grow with us as we continue to build a more resilient and prosperous future for Ishpeming and the Upper Peninsula. Here is a recap of the programs we implemented in 2020, all of which will grow in 2021!
Our Farm to School program has proven to be exactly the kind of education children need during this time of isolation. By working in the gardens, we get the kids away from their desks, out of their masks, and into hands-on experiential education. 88% of our students in our fall farm to school program reported trying a NEW vegetable. 70% reported liking a fresh vegetable that they previously thought they disliked. 62% reported “liking” or “LOVING” fresh salad. All the students participated in growing and harvesting these vegetables and when the school was shut to the students for Covid-19 isolation, 100% reported that they missed our Farm to School program most above all else in their school experience.
Our Farm Fresh Fridays Program was initiated this year. We distributed 1592.18 pounds of our freshly harvested food to 338 Ishpeming residents for free. We are now engaging our students in Farm to School in this program so that they can work and bring home fresh food to their families. We did all this with the help of our NMU interns and special volunteers who clocked over 2000 hours with us this year.
Our Resiliency Garden Bed Project put 24 raised bed gardens in the hands of local residents this Spring and was so successful that most of the people who purchased one have expressed interest in buying another one for their yard next year. Eagle Mine provided funding to sponsor 5 families in need with free beds for their yards.
Our weekly Great Lakes Recovery Youth Services collaboration continues to have a deep impact on kids in addiction recovery. We have grown, harvested and prepared hundreds of pounds of fresh food on the GLRC campus with these students and helped them discover healthier ways of self-medicating with food.
The momentum of this vital food movement is growing in Ishpeming and we are thrilled to share some exciting news: in 2021 we will begin plans for a 2-acre, inter-generational farm next to Ishpeming School and the Jasperlite Senior Housing. This site will be the foundation of an elevated and expanded Farm-to-School and Ag Tech program, in partnership with Ishpeming School District, MARESA, MiSTEM, NMU, GA HAAN and more. We are calling it, “Growing Future Farmers, Eaters, and Leaders”.
Friends, there has never been a more important time to invest in our food system and our communities health. We invite you to join the movement, whether it is donating a Resiliency Garden Bed to a family in need, Sponsoring a Farm-to-School Class or investing in the plans of “Growing Future Farmers, Eaters, and Leaders” curriculum no gift is too small to make great change today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support—it means the world to our kids and community.
-Your Friend, Dan Perkins