At LaFleur, we’re an outdoorsy group of hikers, bikers, farmers, gardeners, and houseplant aficionados. So when it came time to choose our July and August volunteering opportunities, we selected two great organizations that let us get our hands dirty and take care of the Earth — Schuler Farms and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.
Schuler Farms: How Does Your Garlic Grow?
Founded in 2004, Schuler Farms grows vegetables on a few acres in Caledonia, Michigan using organic sustainable practices. Their farming is driven by the belief that food should be local, diverse, fresh, safe, and accessible for everyone. They sell their produce at farmers’ markets and through their Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.) program.
LaFleur was connected to Schuler Farms through Slow Foods West Michigan — a nonprofit collaborative that supports farms, producers, and businesses that are working to preserve food traditions and make the food system more sustainable.
The crew at Schuler Farms, a Slow Foods member farm, needed help harvesting their fresh garlic — a labor-intensive process that involves hand-digging each bulb out of the ground with a pitchfork and then tying the garlic in bunches to cure. The Schuler Farms crew planted the garlic last fall, and it spent the winter in the ground before reaching maturity mid-summer, which was just in time for our trip to the farm!
We were happy to lend a hand on this project and watch rows of produce become furrowed earth after a few hours of work. According to farm owner Bruce, without our help, the harvest might have taken him a week and a half!
After we wrapped up the harvest project, we had the opportunity to tour the rest of the farm, sample the most delightful cherry tomatoes, and share a lunch with Bruce’s family. There was also an A+ farm dog that made sure to herd us around the farm.
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Greening Spaces With Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
In August, we had the opportunity to spend time in Roosevelt Park to help Friends of Grand Rapids Parks get ready for the annual Family Fiesta. Founded in 2008, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ mission is to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks, trees, and green spaces in the Grand Rapids community.
We spent a sunny afternoon refreshing the paint on picnic tables and helping staff care for the trees in the park. This included watering young trees, learning how to prune trees as they mature, and learning about the importance of biodiversity in the urban tree population.
At the end of our visit, the park looked sparkling and ready for the Family Fiesta. Our team left with a newfound appreciation for the “street trees” that make our community a more beautiful, bountiful, and verdant place to live, work, learn, and play.
LaFleur: Building a Better Community Through Volunteering
LaFleur is committed to making our community a better place for everyone, which is why we volunteer every month, build a pro-bono website for a great local nonprofit each year, and participate in the YOUR Compost program with Urban Roots. We also believe that “community” isn’t limited to the people we share West Michigan with. Our responsibility for creating a better world for all can (and should) include efforts to make parks cleaner, trees healthier, and farming more sustainable.
Research conducted by the University of Minnesota supports the idea that being outside and surrounded by nature boosts positivity and reduces stress. From a team standpoint, all of us here at LaFleur always look forward to spending time together outside of the office, supporting our vibrant Grand Rapids community, and giving back to great local organizations.
Whether you’re interested in working together on a community project or improving your digital marketing efforts, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact LaFleur today by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing this brief online form.
Larson, J., Kreitzer, M. J. How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? University of Minnesota. Retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing