Farm ministry receives $45K grant

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Courtesy Plainsong Farm & Ministry

Two partner organizations received a grant to expand food equity.

Plainsong Farm & Ministry and Kent Conservation District (KCD) recently received a $45,000 Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) implementation grant, the second grant the partners have received of this type.

The goal of the grant, of which Plainsong will receive $35,000, is to enable conservation districts and their partners to address multiple resource concerns, while supporting underrepresented clients and addressing important themes like local food security.

Plainsong Farm & Ministry, located three miles east of Rockford, is a “living laboratory” for farm-based environmental education where volunteers and staff grow healthy food for neighbors, including people who can’t afford to buy it. Part of the organization’s mission is to teach how food connects people to the earth and to one another.

The farm started as the brainchild of Episcopal priest Nurya Love Parish, along with Mike and Bethany Edwardson, who live on and tend the farm.

“We’re seeking to shift our culture toward equity and resilience. In a time of disconnection and disease, Plainsong seeks to be a place of hope and healing,” according to the organization’s website.

Over 70% of Plainsong’s revenue comes from donations.

Situated on 12 acres, with two houses and historic barns, one of Plainsong’s goals is to increase food equity for urban and rural low-income families in the greater Grand Rapids area. North Kent Connect in Rockford, Community Food Club in Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Community College food pantry are some of the groups Plainsong works with to provide food.

Plainsong and KCD have decided to enter a longer-term partnership. Love Parish said she is hopeful this will allow Plainsong and KCD’s impact to grow in the community.

“Kent Conservation District’s work to tend soil for the health of future generations is directly aligned with our mission to cultivate connections between people, places and God. I’m looking forward to what we can do together,” she said.

The UAC grant will help Plainsong sustain its mission to feed people who cannot afford food and provide funds needed to continue ongoing conservation efforts, including the removal of invasive species, the planting of hundreds of trees and the development of several pollinator habitats on the property.

The impact of the grant will extend to the 30 small urban and rural growers of the West Michigan Growers Group through conservation education. This outreach will continue through a three-way partnership which includes KCD, Plainsong and the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds. Together, they will host two environmental education programs for members of the Community Food Club, with the goal of fostering sustainability practices and home gardening.

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