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Sturgis gardener prepares for ribbon-cutting to promote local produce
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Sturgis gardener prepares for ribbon-cutting to promote local produce

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-STURGIS | What began as a self-described mid-life crisis has turned into a new business featuring a produce stand, commercial kitchen and vacation rental.

Michelle Grosek, owner of Bear Butte Gardens, and her husband, Rick, will host a ribbon-cutting and open house for the new facility Friday off Highway 79.

“For several years now, I’ve been having people pick up their produce each week out of our garage,” Grosek said. “I knew eventually we’d need to do something more professional than that.”

She said she originally thought of having a true farm stand off the side of the road with a fold-down door on the front.

As she and Rick talked about it, though, they discussed value-added products like fresh salsa with extra tomatoes or pickles made from leftover cucumbers. That’s when the commercial kitchen was added.

Grosek said local chefs or other producers could rent the kitchen for their own needs, use it as a cooking class space, or it could be used by caterers who may not have regular access to their own commercial kitchen.

“We want it to be well-used and to have a lot of cooks and growers be able to take advantage of it,” she said. “We’re hoping to have it used constantly and not just have a fancy kitchen.”

Then they thought about the vacation rental. Grosek said when she and her husband travel they like to be able to cook their own meals, so they wanted to make that a possibility for others.

However, Grosek said she doesn’t want the kitchen or the vacation rental to distract from the real goal: promoting local foods.

“There’s a lot more local food awareness growing — the pandemic kicked that into high gear,” she said.

Grosek started gardening in 2010 after working at a desk job. She said she figured she may as well make the transition into gardening since she wasn’t getting any younger.

She said she started small with just an outdoor garden. Then it expanded to a starter greenhouse, another garden or two and a big greenhouse, so the gardening space takes up about an acre of the Groseks’ 120-acre property.

Grosek said she mostly does the gardening, although she sometimes has help from her sisters and other family members, along with an apprentice.

She said she now grows enough produce for about 25 families and sells at weekend farmer’s markets. Now, the produce stand is added to the list.

The produce stand will feature not only vegetables and other items from her garden but from her neighbors and other local producers as well, whether it be honey and beeswax products, herbal teas, local mushrooms, or embroidered towels and aprons.

Grosek said the facility could also be used as an educational tool. Although there aren’t plans for working with local schools at the moment, she would be open to it.

She said in the past she’s gone into classrooms to discuss germination and the biology of growing vegetables.

Grosek said there are still some things that need to be completed before the ribbon-cutting and mixer Friday, but it’s ready to go for the most part.

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