Boyne Valley Community Greenhouses Helping to Feed the Hungry
One Boyne City nonprofit is working to put more healthy options on the dinner table.
After working in a food pantry for ten years, Ruth Milks realized there was a big need for fresh produce in her community.
Instead of looking for help, Milks and her husband Mike, decided to create their own solution to the problem.
“It all evolved from that, when she left [the food pantry], she said, ‘well why don’t we just strike out on our own and we’ll get it done?’” said Mike Milks. “We got some donations from the community to help and we just went for it.”
After starting construction back in 2019, the Boyne Valley Community Greenhouses quickly grew. Now, they have two working greenhouses, staying heated and growing all kinds of produce year-round.
“We have asparagus, we have squash, we have watermelon, we have pretty much everything you can imagine,” said Ruth Milks.
Everything is harvested by the two of them and donated to food pantries, senior centers and veteran programs in need. Feedback from the community has been nothing but positive.
“I remember when I didn’t have money and I went to the food pantries—it was such a blessing to have fresh produce come in there, because it is all processed foods,” said Wanda Losher of Boyne City. “So this is really a great need that [Ruth] saw in the community, that her and Mike have worked together, tirelessly, to fill that need.”
With hopes to expand in the future and even add gardening and cooking classes, they’re in big need of volunteers right now.
“We are planning on putting up a hydroponics system, it will be a vertical system that will increase our growing space by ten times,” said Milks. “It’s going to be a big, hefty project, but I think once we get there, I think it will just overwhelm Northern Michigan with produce.”
The Milks simply hope their greenhouses will help less families go hungry, one vegetable at a time.
“This is something that every community can do,” said Milks. “It has taken us three years to get where we are, with very little help because of Covid, so imagine if communities actually pulled together and actually made this a project; we could take care of a lot of need in Michigan.”