Through farm partnership, Wolverine State brewery becomes a produce pickup spot

Drinking a beer while you shop for produce isn't just for Ann Arbor's Whole Foods shoppers anymore.

Members of Sunseed Farm's community supported agriculture (CSA) program can now make their weekly produce pickups at Wolverine State Brewing Co. on Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. thanks to a new collaboration between the Ann Arbor brewery and the Dexter farm.

Wolverine State marketing manager Mackenzie Meter pitched the idea to Sunseed owner Tomm Becker as a way to engage the community and promote health and wellness in the taproom.

Meter says the new collaboration helps promote the farm's CSA program to tap room regulars and gives existing CSA members "a nice, relaxing environment where they can come in and have a beer and pick up their veggies."

"It really reinforces the 'community' aspect of community supported agriculture," she says.

The new pickup location also helps introduce CSA members to the brewery's lagers and recently expanded tap room, which is tucked behind Big George's Home Appliance Mart on West Stadium Boulevard.

"There are lot of people who, since we're a little bit off the beaten path, might not have had a decent excuse to come in here for a while, and now they have their Tuesdays," Meter says.

CSA members of drinking age can get discounted pints on Tuesdays, and there are plans to offer CSA and Mug Club bundle deals in the spring and summer.

Sunseed had already been hauling away the brewery's spent grain — which the farm uses to fertilize its fields — for several years. The symbiotic arrangement helps the brewery unload thousands of pounds of waste material produced while brewing.

Future collaborations could include a spring beer dinner made exclusively with Sunseed produce and hosted at the brewery.

"The fun thing about experimenting with a partnership like this is it really opens up a lot of doors," Meter says.

The brewery also hosts several fundraisers throughout the year, including Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's Annual Chili Cook-Off, which is coming up this weekend.

"For whatever reason, [breweries] have just morphed into these community gathering spaces," Meter says. "It's a relaxed environment, and it's about as local as you can get, especially considering a place like this. We brew and bottle and package and ship and serve right on site.

"I think that kind of hyper localness is really appealing to people. And, yes, we are drinking beer and eating nachos, but this is not an anti-wellness culture here."

For example, Meter notes that Wolverine State often partners with Ann Arbor road-race and triathlon organizers Epic Races.

"You can relax [and] have a couple of beers, but you still get to be a part of this very active community-oriented lifestyle," she says.
 
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
 
All photos courtesy of Wolverine State Brewing Co.
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