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Grow Where You’re Planted

Jason Lundberg has always loved the outdoors.

Growing up in West Michigan, he spent endless hours enjoying the wilderness starting at just five years old.

As the son of a second-generation farmer, his childhood was also largely spent on a farm.

It was revealed early on in his life that Jason was destined to carry on the legacy.

“My father, Farmer Dave, really put down the footprint with me and taught me how awesome it was to be a farmer,” Jason said.

His first experience testing that theory was working summers on his family’s farm – Ingraberg Farms – alongside his brothers and a couple of friends.

“We would go out to harvest strawberries. We would eat them while picking and have strawberry fights,” he said. “When I eat a fresh, Michigan-grown strawberry, it still takes me back to those days.”

Days turned into seasons and eventually years as Jason continued his farming career working on his father’s land.

In 2018, when his father retired and sold his land, Jason started his own farm – Ingy Farms.

But despite the new venture, Jason felt an innate desire to not only grow healthy food for the community but to also educate and help the people he was feeding.  

So, when a Farm Manager position became open at Kids’ Food Basket, it seemed like the perfect fit.

In February 2020, Jason joined the team.

As part of a new permanent headquarters in Kent county, Kids’ Food Basket purchased some of the last remaining farmland in Grand Rapids.

The 10-acre sustainable, chemical-free urban farm provides access to healthy vegetables and fruits with the purpose of growing life-affirming food to help to nourish West Michigan children and families.

Jason, who quickly became known as Farmer Jay, adapted into his new role with ease with his years of knowledge and expertise on all-natural farming.

Specifically, he is a master of all things phytonutrients.

Food is medicine and phytonutrients are the keys to vegetables and fruits being as healthy as they can possibly be.

The human body destroys and regenerates thousands of cells every day – that is where the phytonutrients come into play.

They help aid our body in being healthy and promoting cell growth.

“Phytonutrients are the magic that goes on inside the plants and they exist only when produce are really fresh and alive because after 48 hours the phytonutrients drop off a cliff,” Farmer Jay said.

The Kids’ Food Basket Farm grows more than 30 types of vegetables and fruits. Farmer Jay has made it his mission to educate the community on the best ways to grow, prepare and eat these nutrient-rich foods while they are alive. 

“Grocery store food looks beautiful and it looks fresh, but it takes two weeks sometimes to get there and the phytonutrients are all but gone,” he said. “There is still some, but whenever there is a chance to support and eat fresh seasonal and local food, that is best for our bodies.”

Jason’s passion for eating healthy is contagious and in his months at Kids’ Food Basket he has spread his joy to the many Grow initiatives he has been a part of.

The goal of his work is to always inspire.

“I get to spread knowledge of what I have learned over the years. Even if a couple of people get inspired to grow a garden that did not before, that would really make my life,” he said.

This year Farmer Jay helped assemble Kids’ Food Basket’s inaugural Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program.

During CSA pickup, Farmer Jay takes the time to talk to each individual share member to have conversations of meal ideas, future harvests and farming Q & A’s to bring excitement to the community about fresh, healthy, nutritious food.

But at the root of the program comes the fulfillment of donating produce to community partners that serve families in need.

In July alone, Kids’ Food Basket donated over 8,500 servings of produce to the Community Food Club in Grand Rapids.

“I get to grow food for people who need it,” he said. “What is amazing is that sometimes these people are so used to the food they get out of the grocery stores that when you expose them to something as fresh as what comes out of our field, they are just blown away.”

Volunteers are another avenue where Farmer Jay is educating the community. The minimum age to harvest is five years old, so he sets a goal is to convert picky-eaters into vegetable lovers.  

“Food off the farm has the most robust flavor,” he said. “Say with carrots, it might be a little ugly looking or have a bug bite out of it, but it will be the best-tasting carrot you will ever get.”

“That is the best way to get kids to try vegetables. If you have them go pick that carrot themselves right out off the plant while it is still alive and the juices are still flowing inside of it then they love it.”

Farmer Jay has made an amazing impact in the community during his time at Kids’ Food Basket.

And through the community learning to love farming and eating healthy – the life of Farmer Jay is equally impacted.

“I get to be my true self. I absolutely love it,” he said. “Coming to Kids’ Food Basket has blossomed that for me.”