Growing the Good in Battle Creek

Fair Food Network (FFN) has been busy in Battle Creek, Michigan working with the newly formed organization Good Food Battle Creek (GFBC). GFBC is comprised of close to 40 organizations and individuals whose collective mission is to promote healthy food choices through education, support local producers, and create access to good food for all people. The work ranges from supporting urban gardening and farmers’ markets to food safety and food justice. FFN has had the opportunity to support GFBC in organizing to accomplish their work and has also been able to provide financial assistance in the form of grants through a program funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

To date in 2011, grants have been issued to the following organizations active in GFBC:

  • Food Bank of South Central Michigan  for their Growing Hope – Garden in a Bucket project, which provides access to fresh vegetables in 5-gallon bucket ‘gardens’ for households that do not have access to land or lack the financial means to grow their own food.
  • Sprout Urban Farms for their GreenFist program which employed a group of youth, ranging in age from 17-22, to work on various projects to improve fresh food access in the community.
  • Battle Creek Urban League to provide GFBC with communications and awareness support.
  • Burmese Community Gardens to erect fencing at three garden locations, install a freeze-free water source, purchase a commercial mower, and support youth through the Free to Be Me Youth Garden.
  • Leila Arboretum for a well that will irrigate neighboring community gardens.

This past spring and summer, GFBC has been engaged in numerous activities. More than 60 GFBC members and community residents participated in a site visit of key Detroit urban agricultural sites, Gleaners Community Food Bank, and Detroit’s historic Eastern Market.

GFBC has also hosted two community movie nights with more than 75 residents in attendance at each, the most recent featuring a viewing of “Fresh” followed by a group discussion. GFBC participated in Battle Creek’s annual International and Black Arts Festival, bringing awareness of the value of local produce and providing healthy recipes. GF BC has also been working with the C. S. Mott Group at Michigan State University to complete a Community Food Assessment of the Battle Creek area to pinpoint where the group’s efforts can have the most impact.

On October 10, FFN had the opportunity to join members of GFBC on a local television show, “Be Scene on Air” with host Sherii Sherban. “Be Scene on Air” is a public affairs program that airs on Battle Creek Access Vision. Winona Bynum, a program assistant at FFN, joined GFBC members Kathy Antaya and Carlton Lartigue to discuss the work that the group has been engaged in over the past year. Watch the video from “Be Scene on Air” here.