Nick Oomen of Hart, in Oceana County, is 27 years old. He is a fourth-generation farmer, and the family business, Oomen Brothers Inc., grows diverse vegetables and some fruit on approximately 1,800 acres. He serves on his county Farm Bureau board, is part of a Farm Bureau leadership training program, and serves on the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board and Michigan Asparagus Research Committee.
This year, Oomen Brothers plans to plant at least 5 acres of broccoli specifically for a new business called Farm to Freezer. Demand has grown so much for broccoli in schools that Farm to Freezer’s current farm suppliers could not supply the growth. Oomen anticipates expanding the acreage.
“If I can do 50 acres, then I have a considerable field and I can justify hiring a few more people at harvest,” he said. “I think 10 Cents* is a good program. I think it is beneficial to get better, more sustainably produced food into the school systems at an affordable, fair price. And it is helping drive Michigan’s economy instead of supporting foreign interests or even California’s economy.”
—Nick Oomen, Oomen Brothers
*Michigan’s 10 Cents A Meal for School Kids & Farms is a successful state pilot that provides schools with up to 10 cents a meal in match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Originally a $250,000 state pilot in prosperity regions 2 and 4, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder expanded 10 Cents A Meal for the 2017-2018 school year to also include prosperity region 9 with an increased budget of $375,000. The is one in a series of stories documenting 10 Cents A Meal for School Kids & Farms.