Food is medicine: Leelanau volunteers help Buckets of Rain supply fresh produce in Detroit

From staff reports

Buckets of Rain, a Leelanau-based nonprofit which aims to “support the rebuilding of Detroit by transforming blighted areas into agricultural oases” will hold a work bee on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 8:30 a.m. at the Empire United Methodist Church. Volunteers will make smoothies using locally picked apples and produce donated by Kroger.

The smoothies will be frozen and delivered to the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic in the city’s Highland Park neighborhood as part of Buckets of Rain’s new “Clinic to Farm to Patient” program. The initiative allows the nonprofit to help people with diet-related health issues, said Buckets of Rain president Chris Skellenger.

“We’ve been able to serve 45 patients who come over from the clinic and get free food out of the garden,” said Skellenger. “We give them a week’s worth of food at a time. It’s literally a physical prescription from the doctor.”

The point of freezing the apples and smoothies is to get patients in the habit of eating good throughout the year, said Skellenger.

“Food is medicine, and medicine is food,” he quoted Hippocrates.

Bucket’s of Rain’s motto is “Growing hope, feeding lives one garden at a time.”

The nonprofit held two previous work bees at the Empire Methodist Church. Both times about 12 citizens showed up to make apple sauce from the remaining 160 bushels of apples that volunteers picked this past fall from Sleeping Bear Orchards and an orchard owned by Randy Lord. Most apples were given to shelters in Detroit.

Skellenger credited Bill Lyon, a former custodian at Glen Lake School, for opening the Methodist Church for the project.

So far the volunteers have produced 80 gallons of apples.

To join the team of volunteers on Wednesday morning, contact Skellenger at