An Agriculture Learning Barn Becomes an Oasis in a Bustling Neighborhood
Known in the community for their efforts to increase access to healthy food for children and families, Kids’ Food Basket started out as a provider of sack suppers for children who would otherwise go hungry outside of the structure of a school meal program. In the last five years, they’ve grown tremendously, moving their headquarters to nearly 10 acres of farmland on Grand Rapids’ northeast side, and expanding their reach, offerings, and educational programming.
When it came time to construct their Learning Barn, Honor’s owner Brad Laackman jumped at the chance. The commercially designed barn, now complete, is a hub for gathering and teaching, as well as a place where area children can come to learn about where their food comes from. It also serves as a utility space for those working on the farm and a meeting spot for the farm’s regular flow of volunteers.
The farm itself, as well as the on-site facilities, serves as a wide-open, hands-on classroom providing education on equity and barriers to healthy food, youth and adult nutrition, and sustainable urban farming.
Construction of this much-needed facility was rewarding, but not without its challenges. Because of its location on a busy stretch of Leonard Street, gaining access was difficult at times and was affected by heavy traffic flows. We also needed to connect with utilities from the main administrative building and coordinate with the contractor who was building the greenhouse. As always, weather is a factor, and we had our share of setbacks from unpredictable conditions!
All said, it was a project we were proud to be involved in, and we were honored to support Kids’ Food Basket in their mission to create a hunger-free West Michigan for all.
“Kids’ Food Basket had a great experience working with Honor Construction,” says Bridget Clark Whitney, Executive Director of Kids Food Basket. “Their team communicated efficiently and effectively throughout the whole project and were excellent partners in finding ways to meet the organization’s needs while staying within the budget. As a nonprofit organization, this kind of partnership was essential to us in meeting our mission and being good stewards of every dollar. Honor Construction’s leadership and team knew and understood that—which made them excellent partners in building this community resource.”