MSU Extension and WIC program collaborate to feed families

Garden maintained by MSU Extension Master Gardeners provides food and educational opportunities for clients of the federal supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as WIC.

A trunk filled with fresh produce and a sign that says Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program.
Freshly harvested produce. Photo by Lindsey Kerr, MSU Extension.

Michigan State University Extension staff and Extension Master Gardener volunteers worked hard to revitalize the food garden at the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Western Wayne office in 2023 to support the federal supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as WIC. Extension Master Gardener volunteers cleared the garden of weeds, put down yards of mulch, watered plants and helped to harvest. This initiative, under the management of consumer horticulture educator Lindsey Kerr, is making a positive impact on the community by providing fresh produce and educational opportunities. 

Gardening beds full of vegetables and plants at the WIC community garden.
WIC community garden early in the season. Photo by Lindsey Kerr, MSU Extension.

In 2023, the food garden at the MSU Extension Western Wayne office, 30330 Van Born Rd, Wayne, MI 48184, was rejuvenated with new herbs and vegetables. Gardeners planted a wide variety of vegetables including, beans, broccoli, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, three types of onions, snap peas, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, seven varieties of tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini. They grew parsley and basil alongside perennial herbs like mint, oregano, lavender and culinary sage. All the food grown in the garden was donated to WIC recipients. By mid-September, the garden had provided over 150 pounds of fresh produce to WIC clients.

The garden became a focal point for community engagement.

Kerr and community nutrition instructors with MSU Extension worked collaboratively with WIC management to organize events at the garden. Two summer programs were hosted, allowing WIC recipients to visit the garden, learn about the in-season vegetables and enjoy food made fresh from the garden. The community nutrition instructors discussed the concept of My Plate and the importance of vegetables in the diet, as well as the need to reduce sodium intake.

Jacalenne “Jax” Christian, community nutrition instructor, utilized freshly harvested vegetables and herbs to demonstrate delicious recipes for participants to sample. Ashly Nelson shared nutrition information and provided activities for children. Participants were enthusiastic about trying new recipes and were provided with free fresh vegetables to take home, encouraging them to share these nutritious foods with their families.

A woman stands at a table surrounded by produce and ingredients.
Jax Christian, a community nutrition instructor with MSU Extension, demonstrates a bruschetta recipe. Photo by Lindsey Kerr, MSU Extension.

This initiative not only supports the nutritional needs of WIC recipients but also promotes healthy eating, educates the community about gardening and nutrition, and strengthens community bonds. Through collaboration, MSU Extension and WIC are working together to benefit families and communities.

The WIC community garden is a project of MSU Extension. Its success depends on volunteers helping with maintenance and harvesting. If you would like to volunteer in the garden or donate to the garden, please contact Lindsey Kerr at

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