HOLLAND, Mich — As a gentle wind blows through the breezeway between a barn and a greenhouse, Jason Lundberg and a few other staff members from Kids' Food Basket are wrapping up a productive day at the KFB Farm - Ottawa + Allegan on the Ridge.
The 10-acre farm is fairly new. This is its first full season of growing fresh food to make an impact in the community.
"Next to me here in this large barn, or Learning Barn as we call it, is where we wash, pack, and store our produce. Then on the other side is really special. We have a classroom. That classroom is where we bring students on site to engage with them with an educational curriculum that is about nutrition and agriculture. It's about where our food comes from," said Lundberg, who serves as the farm manager.
The farm helps stock local food pantries with fresh produce. Kids' Food Basket also uses the farm to grow food for its sack supper program.
"A lot of things are done daily by volunteers. We can have up to 30 people every day, and it's the community coming here to help the rest of the community," Lundberg said.
"Our first couple of weeks, we were a little short on volunteerism, but not everyone knew we were here yet. We've really pushed it out through social media, and we've been able to start seeing those numbers increase. We're getting more popular. We're not hitting our 30 volunteer mark yet, but we may have 15 every now and again."
Now that harvest season is upon Kids' Food Basket, Lundberg says he's hoping more people will step up and volunteer.
"When we get into August, this is a time of year when we start to see numbers drop a little bit, and we completely understand. We know a lot of people are getting in the last few vacations of the summer. We know school is about to start," he said.
"But I need you! I need all of you! I need you to come out here during August to help us get through these big harvests. The busiest time on the farm is August. We have lots of food available for our community partners, but have to get it out there. We have to get it picked, and wash it and pack it inside of our building."
There are a few different options Monday through Friday. People who show up for an 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. shift are going to be harvesting. People who show up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. are going to be washing and packing the fresh produce.
Lundberg calls working on the farm his "dream job," and he says the volunteers he works with get as much out of the experience as the people actually receiving the food.
"In the world that we're in right now, if you pay attention to how crazy it is everywhere, a farm is a beautiful place to take the time away from that and to relax, and to focus in on yourself, and to just enjoy life at its purest form - being one with nature, connecting with the crops, the plants, harvesting the food, knowing that it's going to a great place," he said.
Lundberg says many of the people who volunteer at Kids' Food Basket learn a lot about how to best grow food in their own gardens at home.
If you'd like to volunteer at the farm, or explore any of the organization's other volunteer opportunities, you can visit their website.
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