Benton Harbor breaks ground on urban farm

Opportunity farm is a project put on by students from the Opportunity Center in Benton Harbor. But these students, many thought, wouldn't have a future.

"I really had a hard life. I've been doing things I ain't supposed to, I really had a rough life coming up, but right now this program meant a lot. Because at first I saw no future, but now I see a future. So, it really meant a lot to me," said Lamar Moody, a graduate from the program.

Six graduated from the program today, but over 20 have completed the program in its yearlong existence. Those graduates spent their time learning about agriculture and landscaping, while getting hands-on skills at an actual farm they created.

"My favorite part of the program was really basically just working on the land and really coming up with a business goal. We finna propose a grant and trying to come up with a business so we can do something for the community," said Moody.

Another student, Adam Marsee said, "To beautify land, and to bring a community together," is why he participated. "The garden is for the community it's not just for us, we want to bring people in as an advisory board, just to help the community that's also a big part of what we do here."

Thanks to community donations, students and faculty cleared plots of land to create 4X16 raised beds with fruit and vegetable seeds that they say will be given back to their community.

"All of the fruits and vegetables that are grown out of all of these boxes can be sold at the farmer's market in Benton Harbor. And all of the students have decided to form a co-op, an entrepreneurial business of their own so that when they grow the fruits and vegetables here, they can sell it at the Benton harbor farmer's market," said Andrea Grabemeyer, a teacher in the program.

Everyone has high hopes for the graduates, including themselves.

"Graduating from this class and that's put a bright light in my future," said Marsee.

"I feel like I make a difference because things, because people just walk around and there's a lot of lands in Benton Harbor that ain't really getting used and I seen like we trying to do something for the community and try to show love towards the community," said Moody.

Another student says he plans to stay with the community project. "My future hold is staying in this program and making it a big business, big business," said Ivory Ward, another graduate.


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