Brighton couple with no farming experience now donating thousands of pounds of food a year
BRIGHTON, Mich. (WJBK) - When it comes to the 10-acre Eden Ridge farm, it's not what they're growing -- but who they're growing the food for. Dave and Sherry McWilliam own the farm in Brighton where they produce crops for those in need.
An organic farm has been a dream of Dave's since he was a child growing up in Farmington Hills but both he and Sherry became pilots. He still flies, but now they have both become farmers.
"We have two horses, three cats and 10 chickens," Dave says. "And we grow on approximately two acres here as well for the food banks."
And that is the crux of the mission for Eden Ridge Farm, providing for the food banks for their neighbors in need. All the tomatoes, peppers, green beans and squash gets donated to those who may otherwise be without food.
Dave showed us the hoop house, which allows them to extend their growing season. He says they can start as early as March and grow generally until November or December.
Dave admitted they had zero farm experience when the project started.
"I always had a secret yearning to be a farmer but the opportunity never presented itself until a few years ago," he says.
That was when property near their home in Brighton went up for sale and they decided to go for it.
"We felt like it was a great way for us to give back to the community and a great way to bring in community," says Sherry.
They couldn't do it without the community, volunteers from businesses, churches, friends and family. Dave's mom and dad are constantly helping and the help is needed. At the peak of harvesting they are picking 150 pounds of tomatoes a day. They take most of it to Gleaner's Food Bank of Livingston County, which helps about 10,000 people throughout the year.
"It's amazing to see. People love them and we love them and they really have made a huge difference for us," says Bridget Brown with Gleaners.
And for the 10,000 people each year who rely on Gleaners for food, many of them children and senior citizens, Dave and Sherry say they feel called to serve and so they do just that.
They also contribute to other food pantries as well as their neighbors. Their roadside stand is free for those who need it. Others are encouraged to take what they need and leave a donation for Dave and Sherry.
"On average we have donated 3,000 to 4,000 pounds a year," Sherry said. In total, about 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of food have been donated.
"You can't change the world, but you can do your own small part to change the world," Dave said. "Every little bit makes a difference."
You can learn more at Eden Ridge Farm's website here, or on their Facebook page here.