Chocolay Township is looking at the prospect of adding a new feature to the Beaver Grove Recreation Area that might cultivate some local interest in farming.
The proposed plan would plant a farm incubator on a 14-acre parcel of Township-owned property to serve as an outdoor classroom for aspiring farmers. The previous renter’s lease recently expired and the planning committee thought it was the perfect setting for an entrepreneurial experiment that would utilize the land’s fertile fields while allowing residents to refine their agricultural abilities.
“We started thinking about whether this project could be a farm incubator that would help multiple farmers get started in the business and see if this career is right for them, but also have some community spaces (maybe a community center here) to build off this recreation area. People could learn about the importance of local food and see a hands-on demonstration of farming in action,” explained Kelly Drake Woodward, the Planning Director in Chocolay Township.
The scope of the project is still evolving, but the current trajectory would utilize the lot for both “you-pick” edible gardens and demonstration gardens, along with the farm incubator. The planning committee has been meeting with farmers and members of the community to hear their thoughts and concerns about the proposition and hone in on the best option.
“We want the community’s input because this is not going to work without community support from volunteers, the management board, or people helping these farmers be successful. We’ve got to have something going on the land by the spring. We don’t want it to sit fallow and not be taken care of. This whole thing is about taking care of the land, taking care of our farmers. and taking care of our community with healthy local foods,” Woodward added.
They are still seeking input from the community with the Township Board Presentation slated for September. If you can’t attend a meeting, you can still provide feedback by taking a confidential online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YM6VS7J.