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Photo essay: Harmony Brewing & Green Wagon Farm join forces to build strong community food landscape

Mike Rice, a local photographer, joined Harmony and Green Wagon Farm for Harmony's first-ever staff work day at the Ada farm last week, documenting the beginning of a longstanding relationship between the two groups. The following is a glimpse into a world of farming, food and community.

For Harmony Brewing and Green Wagon Farm, a new partnership between the two groups is about building a stronger community food landscape in which farmers, restaurants and consumers are connected, both in person and with the food they cook and eat. To grow that relationship, Harmony is bringing employees to work on the farm every month. Local photographer Mike Rice recently got to document Harmony's first-ever staff work day, giving us a glimpse into a world of farming, food and community.
Not long after the sun first peeks its head above the horizon last Monday, its rays warming a day perched on the edge of summer, employees from Harmony Brewing and Harmony Hall head, somewhat sleepily, to Green Wagon Farm in Ada to spend the day doing everything from harvesting and planting to weeding and mowing  with much laughing and eating mixed in  during Harmony’s first-ever staff work day at the farm.





Ten employees from the restaurants in Eastown and the Westside spend hours at Green Wagon, a small-scale venture that grows a diverse range of vegetables and herbs on an 11-acre plot of land situated about 20 minutes away from the center of Grand Rapids, as part of a newfound partnership between the farm and Harmony. Recently, Harmony announced it will be sourcing a variety of produce, from romaine lettuce and basil to spinach and arugula, from Green Wagon, but the relationship between the two organizations is proving to be about much more than a simple food transaction: it is, as Harmony co-owner Heather Van Dyke-Titus explains, a chance to build a stronger community food landscape in which farmers, restaurants and consumers are connected, both in person and with the food they cook and eat. To grow that relationship, Harmony will be bringing employees to work at Green Wagon once a month from here on out.



“This gives our staff firsthand experience working on a farm and, in a real, holistic, circular way, a chance to talk to people about the partnerships we’re creating,” says Van Dyke-Titus, who joined her Harmony colleagues for the work day that included such projects as harvesting kale and romaine lettuce, weeding carrots, planting basil, mowing the lawn, and more.



During the hours of work, Harmony employees and Green Wagon workers get to know each other well, bonding while sweating under the sun. Such a collaboration is one which the farm is well accustomed to, with Green Wagon describing its farmers as “a collection of friends, who plant and harvest and eat together for nine months of the year — friends who have become family to each other.”



And, now that Harmony has been welcomed into the Green Wagon family, that means they get to do what families often do best: eat together. Following the hours of work, the folks from Green Wagon whipped up a lunch spread, which was accompanied by beer from Harmony.



“Our natural instinct is to use our business to build community,” Van Dyke-Titus says. “Here, in the most real way, we’re building relationships. We worked together, shared a meal; we’re creating community; we’re getting a delicious, nutritious product; we’re keeping our dollars in the local community. There’s a story consumers can connect into; you can support something you feel good about.”



All photos by Mike Rice.
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