As we continue to grow as a farm and a business, one of the areas we have started to explore is the new farm-to-institution movement. Across the country institutions control an enormous percentage of the food system as they feed millions of people per day. Locally thought leaders helped develop the Michigan Good Food Charter – which in short states that by the year 2020 Michigan institutions will purchase 20% of their food from Michigan producers.
Bronson employees on their lunch break
One of the local institutions that is leading the way is the Bronson Healthcare Group. With main campuses located in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek they were an ideal partner for the farm. This week I visited the hospital located in Battle Creek and participated in their monthly outdoor bbq and farmers market.
Each month during the summer months the culinary team at Bronson creates a special menu for an outdoor bbq. Also during this time the employees are able to purchase fruits, vegetables, and a variety of items produced in Michigan at a pop-up farmers market. Additionally the culinary team makes a weekly CSA box available to their employees utilizing as many locally produced items as possible.
Whenever I am able to travel to a new town I always try and visit as many members of the local food system as I can. In Battle Creek I found a number of exciting places that are continuing to explore local food in different ways.
First up was Horrocks Farm Market – part greenhouse, part grocery store, and part craft beer bar – this place is definitely worth a visit.
Next I talked with Chef Dan at The Fire Hub – a community center owned and operated by the FireKeepers Casino. Part pizza shop and part food pantry – this investment in the local community will put back 80% of their profits into programs, including the food pantry that will help distribute food from the casino. Really excited to see what they do in the future!
Finally I stopped at Territorial Brewing – a small craft brewery focused on authentic German style beers and food. I enjoyed their sampler platter – “The Best of the Wurst” – and it was….