Buena Vista High School is about to learn a new reorientation lesson.
The building that once housed educators nurturing young minds will one day be filled with farmers and vendors acting for Mid-Michigan residents. The school closed in 2013 and will reopen, once redeveloped, as a farmer’s market.
It is a huge goal to open a farmers market in this region.
“There is a lot of work ahead, but certainly not intimidated,” said Torrie McAfee, Superintendent of the Township of Buena Vista. “Very excited about the future and the desirability of what we can do with the space. I mean, we have 40 acres available and the building itself is about 20,000 square feet.”
Twenty thousand square feet of fresh food and great amenities designed by McAfee, much like the SVRC Market in Saginaw and the Farmer’s Market in Flint.
These markets, while excellent models, do not reflect the urgent need for more fresh produce and income for farmers in the region.
“We have been designated by the Ministry of Agriculture as a food desert. As everyone knows, our last major grocery chain closed in 2016, ”said McAfee. “We have a great partnership with Save-A-Lot, but we need more opportunities for our residents to receive fresh fruit, you know fresh produce.”
McAfee is seeking USDA funding and hopes for a response by the end of the summer. She is also seeking other project funding and is working with a designer architect and town planners to grow the project.
Buena Vista Township is also forming a working group of dedicated volunteers to get inside the building and help with all aspects of the reassignment of the old high school from top to bottom, from cleaning and mopping up the building to planning and to market development.
“There is a lot of garbage, but there are also some very good items that have been left in the building, which would like to separate the garbage from the treasury. We are planning to hold an auction with the items, ”McAfee said. “Buena Vista represents over 70% of agriculture here. We’re really big on corn, sugar beets, and wheat.
The vast majority of Buena Vista is dedicated to agriculture in particular corn, sugar beets and wheat. Finding a way to help farmers and to put more of their fresh food on local tables is totally appropriate.