When it comes to the healthy, locally-sourced, organic foodie scene in Ypsilanti, Harvest Kitchen is one of the only places that offer some of the most fresh and enticing pre-made meal options in the area.
Located right off of Cross Street in Depot Town, Harvest Kitchen originally started in Ann Arbor as the Community Farm Kitchen and was founded by Mary Wessel Walker in 2007.
When working on a Community Supported Agriculture farm in Ann Arbor, Walker noticed that many members of the CSA didn’t know what to do with all of their diverse produce, which led to her idea of the cooking CSA.
Upon moving into their new location in Depot Town in 2010, Walker noticed that most of their members were families, young professionals and graduate students. For this year she decided to advertise specifically toward undergraduate students with the kitchen’s “Back to School” special, as an alternative meal plan that incorporates local, organic produce and ingredients.
“There are a lot of ways to eat at Harvest Kitchen that include stopping in and buying what we have on the menu, or preordering through our online store. We also have our subscription plan,” Walker said. “The ‘Back to School’ special is the same price and offers the same options as our other plans, but it’s specifically lined up with the semesters and school year.”
In addition, Walker said students don’t have to sign up for an entire semester subscription, but could try it out for a week or two, or just stop by to try something on the menu for that day. Because Harvest Kitchen participates in the Eagle discount plan, Eastern Michigan University students receive a 10 percent discount with their student ID. However, the discount is not applicable toward semester or weekly subscriptions.
“The thing with Harvest Kitchen, however, is that it is not a bargain and it’s not cheap because of the high quality food that we create. It’s more about convenience for students and offering alternative, healthier options,” Walker said.
By comparison to EMU’s basic “Silver 8” meal plan at $1,913 per semester, which includes eight meals per week, 250 flex dollars and eight guest meal passes, Harvest Kitchen’s individual subscriptions run either $585 for the omnivore option or $525 for the vegetarian or vegan option, which includes three meals per week.
In addition, another convenience Harvest Kitchen offers is delivery at a flat rate of $7 per delivery with an on-campus pick-up availability. Delivery is only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays with 24-48 hours advance notice.
“I feel like we’re a well-kept secret, so a lot of the time people wander in wondering what we are or already know exactly what we do, which is why we decided to offer delivery options this year,” Walker said.
Pick up times at the store for subscribers are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-7:30 p.m. If you happen to miss your pick up time or have an emergency, almost all of the menu items are freezable and are saved with a follow-up phone call as a reminder.
“We try to give people the benefit of the doubt, so we are really flexible in working with our subscribers,” Walker said.
By offering seasonable, fresh produce in their meals, Harvest Kitchen’s menu relies on the availability of those items through local farmers. Currently, they go through 16 farms ranging from mid-Michigan to southeast Michigan regions.
“We try to make something different every week, but we have some items we make on a regular basis like our baked mac and cheese that is really popular, as well as a seasonal quiche and curry chicken salad,” Walker said. “For next week we are going to be featuring our beet and carrot burgers again that we had on our menu earlier in the summer, because they were a big hit.”
Another popular item that Walker personally loves and has been making for years is their “rutaloaf,” which is their vegetarian alternative to meatloaf.
“Rutabagas have a nice, sweet flavor to them and a potato like texture. I don’t think most people have had them and don’t know what to make of it, but when they eat it they always love it.”
Next time you’re in a pinch and need a quick meal or want to try something new and interesting, stop by Harvest Kitchen or order online at www.harvest-kitchen.com to experience locally grown and Ypsi-made food.