Faces of the Farm: David

“We’re literally creating food…this is a source right here. We’re growing it straight out of the ground. We’re taking soil, water, and air and creating food, and that’s amazing.”

Meet David!

David is currently one of the interns living at the Wesley House at the SAP. He had known of the farm for a while, but living directly within this agricultural environment has given him a new appreciation for the care and community needed to produce quality food. It was through the backpacking club and other socializing groups here at GVSU that David first learned about the SAP, and from there he eagerly took part in the regular potlucks held at the farm. Everyone is welcomed to these potlucks, so David was able to interact with many different people with different relationships toward food and the farm. His introduction to the farm highlights the close-knit and personable character of the SAP community while still demonstrating its welcoming atmosphere to newcomers.

FacesDavid4David enjoys both the remoteness of the SAP compared to the rest of the GVSU campus and the environments people have created here. The farm still certainly displays the GVSU spirit, but it’s nestled between acres of humbling farmland, and there are, as David will often point out, many excellent climbing trees in the area. The environment of the SAP is therefore one that emphasizes the land where plants and nature are the focus while also encouraging the social environments that make up this small community. Because David is living on the property, he continues to have opportunities to interact with and encourage the different faces and personalities that contribute to the farm. Farms and communities are more successful when they’re managed by people with shared goals, and that’s precisely where the SAP finds its strength. It’s an interdisciplinary haven, but also one that encourages a culture of interpersonal growth.

One of David’s goals in life is to simply make people happy, and he knows quite well that this can be done with food. There will always be relationships between communities and the land they live on, and food is the manifestation of that bond. If people are living happy and healthy lives, then the food they create and consume will reflect that healthy relationship. Furthermore, living directly on the farm has given David a new appreciation for the structure and dedication necessary to maintain effective farms. Ultimately, a farm environment offers more opportunities of socialization, and his love of food is entwined with growing it. David’s interests embody both the cultivation of crops and community, and David has, through building a bond with the SAP, witnessed the source of those materials.


Student Voice: A Community Within

20180523_104736.jpgHey everybody! My name is Emily, and I am a social media intern at the SAP this summer. After spending a couple weeks with the SAP, I have learned so much about it and about farming practices in general. Everything at the SAP is organized and planned out very well, however, we are constantly trying to better the farm with ideas from anyone and everyone. It is amazing to be a part of such a great community who all has a similar goal.

All of the interns this summer, even though most of us did not know each other prior to the start of the summer, have such a great time together. There is so much laughter at the farm that you can’t help but feel at home there. 

In just the couple weeks of being apart of the SAP, I have learned so much already. I truly never realized how much went into farming. It really puts into perspective mass production of produce and really food in general. It’s amazing to see how passionate people are about the SAP and farming, and I am well on my way to being one of those people.

Something that I am really excited to work on while at the SAP is bringing awareness to the community not just about the SAP but also about the community within the SAP. Everyone I work with brings something special to the SAP and has their own personal goal with what they want to accomplish this summer to better the SAP. Most people don’t even know about the SAP which has led to many misconceptions it, and I’ll admit that I believed them until I started interning there. I want to use Social Media to try to break down the misconceptions and bring forth the community that is the Sustainable Agriculture Project. I didn’t know what type of people I would meet during my time at the SAP, but in just the short time I’ve been involved I have met so many amazing people and learned so much that I’m very happy that I chose to get involved.

There are so many opportunities at the SAP for anyone. Whether you are an intern, a volunteer, on farm crew, or just want to learn more about farming and the SAP, there is a place for you.



Faces of the Farm: Melona

“I like having the opportunity to provide fresh food to those who do not have access to the time or resources to practice sustainable agriculture.”

Meet Melona!

Melona is a community development intern here at the SAP. She believes working in non-profit settings makes the product feel more collaborative. There is a passion in the people that work on small farms like this that cannot be found anywhere else. Food can bring more joy when you know where it comes from.

facesmelona3Being from Detroit, Melona has an appreciation for how much space good quality agriculture takes. There are some farmer’s markets and backyard gardens in Detroit, but the space available at the SAP allows for collaborative and sustainable opportunities at a different scale. To her, agricultural sustainability is about the reusing as much material as possible and being efficient with produce. She appreciates the way that even water can be reused to make a farm’s produce better.

The SAP is important to Melona because it invites a whole community to learn about the multistep process of seeding, harvesting, and selling produce. She particularly likes how peaceful and calm it is to harvest vegetables. Anyone can experience this calmness, and that’s just one of many ways a sustainable farm like this can unite a community.


Student Voice: Faces of the Farm Project

Greetings! I am Jared and I am an intern here for GVSU’s Sustainable Agriculture Project this Summer. It amazes me to see how detailed and well planned everything is here. Whether you’re looking at the choice of vegetables grown or the way SAP reaches out and connects with the community, you can tell a lot of thought is put into every aspect of the farm. It’s amazing that I can be a part of and help this meaningful facet of GVSU.


As an intern, my focus is on the writing and social media side of the SAP’s operation. I can see how vital it is for everyone to know about all the interesting and cool things going on at the SAP. (By the way, I hear there’s going to be a neat gardening plot demonstration at noon on May 17 near the Arboretum and the blue “Transformational Link” sculpture. You should check it out!) But it’s also important for you to get to know the ambitious and hardworking people that make up the faces of the farm.

Thus, one of the projects I look forward to working on here as an intern is a series of blog posts that focuses on the different “faces” that interact with the SAP. The SAP is community driven, and all the individuals that make up this community enjoy the SAP for different reasons. Some people are interested in the cultivation of the best produce possible while others are interested in the ways that high quality food can bring people together at the dinner table. Everyone has a story, and I’d like to capture the personal side of things.

Whether you’re an intern, a volunteer at the farm, or simply enjoy the farm’s lush vegetables, I’d love to hear what the SAP and agricultural sustainability mean to you. I’ll be down at the farm throughout the summer, or you can find me selling the SAP’s produce in front of Lake Michigan Hall on Wednesdays from 10 to 1. (We’ll be moving to the farmer’s market in GVSU’s parking lot G when that starts in June.)

This is your chance to let your voice and story be heard. It’s good to share the unique ways the SAP has played a role in your life. If you’re reading this, then GVSU’s SAP probably means something to you already. You are part of this community and you’re one of these friendly “Faces of the Farm.”



Student Voice: Overseas with Hannah

I apologize for the delay in responses. My time in Lyon has been busier than I expected. It is now spring break for us, and I am currently doing a farm exchange in northern Spain. I have the afternoon off, so now I will update you on some things I have been learning! 
In Lyon, I have gotten involved with an association called GROOF (Green on the Roof). Their aim is to increase the amount of rooftop gardens in Lyon! Looking at Paris as an example, we are conducting interviews with successful rooftop programs to figure out what is working well, and what are the biggest obstacles in creating the rooftop gardens in the first place. I recently learned that the city of Paris created a program which will install 100 rooftop farms in the next 5 years to come. (Exact details are missing because this was explained in french and he was speaking very fast.. ha!)
The rooftop garden that I visited last week was actually on top of a large postal office, right next to the train station, in a busy part of the city (Pictures included below). Alain, one of the old mail carriers that now is managing the garden, explained to me that they grow all sorts of greens, potatoes, and herbs.  They even have 10 chickens and are planning on expanding with bees next year. It was really incredible to view Paris from up above. It was also nice to hear Alain explain that many parisians are excited to have food being grown in the heart of the city.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As of now, working on a small farm in the rural country side, the air is a lot freshier and the energy a lot calmer than the city. The farm is complete with many animals (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese,  pigs, goats, dogs, cats and even a donkey), a small orchard, and small plot of land for growing vegetables. They even have a hoop house, very similar to the SAP, where they can keep their vegetable production going all year round. It’s interesting to see small examples of permaculture every day. The extra vegetables feed the animals, the manure helps provide nitrogen to the plants, etc. and my favorite, calma the donkey eats a new section of the grass each day so there is no need for a lawn mower. It is very beautiful here, and I am excited to come back to Michigan,and put some of these new skills into practice at the SAP.
Oh, I almost forgot. Yesterday I butchered my first chicken. I could say much about how this experience provoked many reflections on our disconnect in the United States between the animals we see and what we eat on our plate, but maybe I will save these thoughts for a book in the future!
Will send another update in a few weeks.
Have a good day,

From the Office: Sustainability Champions

DAHThe Office of Sustainability Practices has over the years celebrated the sustainability champion award to highlight some of the tremendous work being done by individuals within the GVSU community and beyond in various ways that engages the triple bottom line of sustainability; social, economic, and environmental. This year marked the 10th year since the award’s inception of recognizing worthy sustainable ambassadors. The event took place at the Kirkoff Center and brought together faculty, staff, and community members including President Haas as the guest speaker. With flower decorations from our farm, a slideshow of major highlights of the year visibly projected on the screens and solemn music playing in the background, the ceremony set out to be an eventful one. Guests treated themselves to food and drinks which was essentially a zero waste event with the food sourced from the classic fare catering services on campus. The event recognized over 50 personalities for their respective roles in ensuring sustainability. We have captured some of the major highlights below:

WPWooden pen award with a story! A unique feature of the event was the awards presented which had an incredible story to tell. The wooden pen and base were made out of recycled wood from fallen ash trees on the Allendale Campus. How cool! Its natural beauty and flowing grains tell a story that many other artifacts aren’t capable of. The base has a butter-smooth surface with an amazing grain pattern. The color and grain vary, but each one is uniquely beautiful. Lending itself to a blue stylish Grand Valley State University tag boldly plated on the base. This award speaks to our place. It gives rise to the function of our immediate environment and meaningful rather than simply existing. This opens up a conversation on upcycling and embracing sustainability opportunities amidst the current wave of discussion on circular economy.  We are particularly grateful to university arborist Steve Snell and Dave Faulkner of Kent Design and Manufacturing, whose ingenuity has given life and purpose to our dead trees. Come on Lakers, we have a story to tell!

Students as the fulcrum of Sustainability Culture. As President Thomas J. Haas remarked, “the university’s commitment to sustainability stems from students. We listened to our students and now faculty, staff and students are driving a culture of sustainability on campus”. 324565u7Over the years, students have been at the full helm of sustainability affairs breaking all sort of barriers and making a difference in their respective fields. Students were awarded for their efforts in striving to make an impact in this challenging times. Among the highlights were videos that emphasized student’s innovation in breaking boundaries. The mobile market for the Sustainable Agricultural Project came to being through an array of innovative approaches by Ottawa area middle schoolers (ichallenge youth) and SAP interns. The Green team also received honorable mention and applauds for their role in waste auditing and their recent impact on our Recyclemania campaign on campus. Among the SAP interns honored, was Benjamin Hunt for his incredible role of inculcating communication and video production in the Sustainable Agriculture Project. His efforts within a short period saw his video presented at the national AASHE conference in Austin and creating an Instagram page for the SAP that has gained over 400 followers to date. As part of our dedication to global sustainability, students of Environmental and Sustainability Studies showcased research presentations and posters across so many global issue areas both in the country and internationally.

Quadruple bottom line sustainability. The Sustainability manager of the City of Grand Rapids discussed among other things, ongoing partnerships with GVSU and the City. While the conversation on sustainability has been centered on the triple bottom line; social, economic, and environmental, it was inspiring to hear of accountability as the fourth piece the City of Grand Rapids has its focus on. The commitment to transparency is vital to improve corporate governance and thereby help shape programs to deliver increased sustainability in our society. The government, public administrators and the business world, still has a long way to go, but the strides being made today will only make it easier for future sustainability initiatives to excel. We are happy for the city in prioritizing accountability that leads to improved sustainability performance along with equally pressing needs.  

Celebrating our heroes. “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” –Benjamin Disraeli.

The Dave Feenstra award continues to remember Dave’s wisdom and thoughtfulness, and honor his legacy by supporting an intern, who exemplifies Dave’s natural leadership and mentorship skills at the Sustainable Agriculture Project. This year’s awardee, Michael Hinkle believes that “a good leader understands that the goal of a project is beyond them, rather the goal is the sum of conjoined efforts across the team, culled together by the leader’s ability to lead.” As we honor this year’s recipient, it is our own way of paying homage to Dave and to serve as a remainder of the impact we can make through dedicated leadership in sustainability.

TTMGeorge Heartwell, John Koches, and James Moyer received Leadership Awards for their lifetime honorable roles in which they championed various sustainability initiatives in their respective fields. This award will help to support scholarships for students who embodies their leadership quality in the future.

Congratulations to all award winners and to everyone committed to making a difference in sustainability. We are thrilled by your efforts in selflessly thinking about the future. We hope your dedication continue to guide our community to a more sustainable lifestyle! Thank You

Blog post by: Samuel Afoakwa
Photo credit: Valerie Wojciechowski

Student Voices: A Meal with Farm Crew

farm-crew-recipe.jpegOn your feet all day, maybe all night too, running around campus with very little down time? Don’t let your appetite suffer. Dedicating time to preparing and enjoying good meals can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here is some motivation for preparing meals:

Take a break! Take advantage of downtime, or simply take a break from your busy schedule. It’s important to take time for yourself to relax and prepare a good meal.

Host a potluck. Do you hang out after classes? If not, perhaps you should. Consider hosting a potluck with a group of friends. This is a great way to catch up and enjoy a variety of dishes not to mention there are usually plenty of leftovers that could be eaten for lunch the next day.

Learn something new. Read or flip through a cookbook, Pinterest, your Grandma’s recipe box and prepare a new dish or meal. This is a sure way to keep things interesting in the kitchen.

Get inspired. Maybe you need some kitchen inspiration. Don’t hesitate to branch. Try eating out at a restaurant to inspire your cooking, watch a cooking/baking show, or consider introducing a new vegetable, fruit, or legumes to your diet.

Stay motivated with a recipe from the SAP Farm Crew: Savory Salad with Sap Crack Fries

*Serves 2 people*

6 cups chopped greens of choice (here we have red leaf lettuce and spinach)
1-2 medium chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage 
1-2 stalks of celery 
1 cup cooked and rinsed black beans 
1/4 of cilantro 

SAP Crack Fries:
2 large russet potatoes (or 4-5 gold potatoes)
1-1.5 tablespoons coconut oil melted 
1/4 tsp chili powder 
1/8 tsp paprika 
1/8 tsp cumin 
1/4 tsp sea salt or garlic salt 

*cut into fry sized slices of your liking and cook at 420 degrees for 20 minutes*

Salad dressing:
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon of vegan mayo
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Dash of salt