Jason Stanton is the seventh generation to farm his family’s fields, located on 3,000 acres outside Athens, Michigan. Founded in 1835, Stanton Farms today grows mainly cabbage, tomatoes and kale (with corn and soybeans in rotation) for sale across the U.S.
Jason and his wife Taylor work almost 24/7 throughout the year to ensure their produce is safely planted, harvested and sold. And for the last eight years, part of that work has included ensuring surplus produce is donated to food banks across the country, including Feeding America West Michigan.
The farm was originally connected with the Feeding America National Organization eight years ago after cabbage didn’t sell well one summer. Now, they donate thousands of pounds of surplus produce each growing season.
This past year, their support has included packing produce boxes for distribution at Mobile Food Pantries.
Like farms across the country, Stanton Farms is contracted through the Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Feeding America National Organization to provide produce donations to food banks. This is beneficial for farmers because they are compensated to harvest surplus produce that would otherwise go to waste — and it’s beneficial for food banks because they receive surplus produce that’s perfect for neighbors in need.
Jason acknowledges this program makes financial sense, but he’s also glad that his produce is put to good use once donated.
“Feeding America has the right view on humanitarian efforts,” he said. “Getting someone fresh produce they can use is the right way to do it.”
A lot goes into running a farm that many people may not realize. From making sure food is as safe as possible to playing Tetris with what produce is planted where, farming is hard work during the growing season and takes up much of the family’s time even through the winter. It doesn’t leave too much time for vacation, but they find a way.
“We have a camper and when we have a minute that we can get away, we hook our truck to the camper and tell the kids to get in!” Jason said.
All this hard work results in 30 to 40 million pounds of produce each year.
Feeding America West Michigan is grateful for the dedicated farmers across our service area who help ensure that our food system is full of enough healthy food for all. Thank you, Jason and Taylor!