Ford is turning a surplus of food into a donation of more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce for the most vulnerable members of the community in Southeast Michigan. The surplus is the result of the remote work arrangements of thousands of employees.
Ford Land recently gave more than 200 pounds of green beans and more than 900 pounds of fresh sweet corn to Gleaners, a local food bank. The crops were grown at Cherry Hill Farm as part of a pilot program, intended for use in Ford cafeterias throughout Southeast Michigan.
The 880-acre Cherry Hill Farm is located near Ypsilanti, Michigan. It has a long history with the company – Henry Ford acquired 26,000 acres of farm property in southern Michigan and Ford still has about 2,000 acres across southeast Michigan actively being farmed – as it was once used to test Ford tractors. The land is currently managed by Ford Land, the company’s real estate arm, and farmed by the VanWashenova family. The land is also the site of Ford’s Heroes to Hives beekeeping program.
“This donation is a perfect combination of Ford’s farming legacy and philanthropic heritage,” said Stephen Battersby, Ford Land grounds manager. “Working with Ford Fund, we were able to make use out of all of these crops. We look forward to being able to share healthy and sustainable produce options with our employees in the future.”
Gleaners provides more than 45 million pounds of food to those in need through its five distribution centers and to more than 500 soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and agencies in Southeast Michigan. Ford Fund’s long-standing relationship with Gleaners, which also operates the food pantries at both of Ford’s Detroit Resource and Engagement Centers, helped facilitate the donation.
“We realized that in the situation we’re in because of COVID-19, we had all of this produce growing and we weren’t sure what we were going to do with it when it became fully grown,” said Mark Freeman, Ford’s head of Food Services. “It’s great to be able to provide support for the community.”
Ford Land hopes to expand the program at Cherry Hill Farm once employees return to work and the demand for produce in cafeterias increases.