Posted by John Ester on Feb 06, 2018
A graduate of Benzie Central and CMU, Josh Stoltz became Grow Benzie's first Executive Director eight years ago.
Grow Benzie was founded 10 years ago by people with various passions and visions for the future. Since Josh became Executive Director, he has worked to maintain those passions and to keep everything afloat.
Grow Benzie has four primary areas of focus:
  • Healthy food
  • Jobs
  • Life skills
  • Connecting people with each other
With respect to food, gardening has been one of the principal uses of the Grow Benzie facility from the beginning. The facility is now considered an incubator farm, and it is being run by an MSU grad who wanted to farm in this area.  Part of this operation is a farmer's market offering healthy locally-grown healthy produce with alternative payment plans available.
Grow Benzie also has partnered with Goodwill Industries, furnishing an incubator food truck and a driver. This serves two of Grow Benzie's goals--healthy food and jobs.
Grow Benzie also promotes jobs, as well as life skills, by such things as its "Hive-Minded" after-school program. That project saved the Benzie Central wood shop and taught students woodworking and beekeeping skills. Grow Benzie also  has established a Beekeeper's Guild, as well as a Seed Guild and Fiber Guild.
With regard to collaboration Grow Benzie has worked with other non-profits such as the Benzie Central Schools and Sunrise Rotary on the "Extreme Makeover" of the food concession stands at Benzie Central athletic events. Grow Benzie also has made its facility available for the local Days for Girls organization.
Josh noted that much of Grow Benzie's financial support comes from memberships, which are available to individuals and groups.  Upcoming events include its 10th Annual Water Festival on February 13.