Bronson donates land for KVCC food, health and wellness campus

Sustainable food, its production, distribution and preparation, and its role in wellness will be part of a new curriculum being developed to be taught on a new Kalamazoo Valley Community College campus in downtown Kalamazoo on property donated by Bronson Methodist Hospital.

Construction of the $42 million campus is expected to begin in 2014 and courses will be offered during 2015, KVCC officials say.

Bronson Healthcare has made available three parcels of property for the campus: 8.4 acres along Crosstown Parkway east of the City of Kalamazoo’s Crosstown Center, 3.6 acres between Walnut and Dutton Streets, and 1.3 acres north of Crosstown Parkway and south of Dutton Street.

Most of the land donated by Bronson runs along Portage Creek and is not suitable for hospital development. Bronson Senior Vice President Mike Way says the hospital look sforward to having urban farming and production facilities nearby along with training programs. "Bronson Methodist Hospital currently sources about 30 percent of food locally.  This initiative could help us hit our goal of 50 percent or greater within just a few years," Way says.

Three buildings are planned--one for food production and distribution; a second for nursing, allied health and culinary programs; and the third will be a new psychiatric clinic for Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, a partner with KVCC and Bronson in the project.

As part of the project, a complete redevelopment of the property is planned. Landscaped walkways and an environmentally sensitive design will support other activities in the area, says Mike Collins, Kalamazoo Valley’s Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Services. "Conversations are under way with the City of Kalamazoo regarding the city’s plans for improvements to the Bank Street Farmer’s Market, which will complement the project.”  

Kalamazoo Valley President Marilyn Schlack says the new campus will improve the health of the community by providing "next generation of culinary and agricultural leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to work at the intersection of health, environmental, and social concerns."

The new campuses come about as KVCC and its partners work to develop strategies and solutions to address health concerns in the region, including obesity, diabetes, and cancer and mental health therapies.

"This collaborative venture is a very positive step toward a more healthy community that will provide a new state of the art psychiatric clinic along with opportunities for those we serve and the community as a whole,” says KCMHSAS Chief Executive Officer Jeff Patton.

And Frank Sardone, President and CEO of Bronson Healthcare, puts it this way: "Being a partner in this initiative aligns with Bronson’s mission and values which include a commitment as a locally owned and managed organization, to help sustain the quality of life essential to a healthy regional community."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Dawn Kemp, Kalamazoo Valley Community College