2022 Nature-rich Business Spotlight

Shop Locally. Shop Sustainably. Celebrating the lakeshore's nature-rich business community.

What is a nature-rich business?

Nature-rich businesses support sustainability, resiliency, and livability. Together they help make our lakeshore communities the best place to live, work, learn, and play. Recognition in this publication is not a certification or ranking, but an acknowledgement of positive action and sustainable improvements.

How are nature-rich businesses nominated?

This year’s businesses were nominated and voted for by the public. Five organizations with the most votes within their category were selected to be featured in the spotlight.Previously recognized businesses can be found on the next page.Know of a business that should be featured in the next edition of the Nature-rich Business Guide? Tell us about it here!

Business to Consumer

Eighth Day Farm is a unique urban operation practicing regenerative agriculture in the Holland Town Center. Fueled by its mission to practice gospel-inspired creation care, this organization is working to build healthy relationships with food, community, and the environment. Their Certified Naturally Grown produce is grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or GMO seeds and can be found at the Holland Farmers Market or through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members can choose from two share options to receive fresh herbs and vegetables from June through October.
In addition to sharing its harvest, this farm offers a composting service to recover local food waste, hosts a plant sale each spring, and puts on a Farm to Fork fundraiser each fall to share a meal and its mission with the community.
Weaving sustainability and environmental justice into all aspects of their work, Eighth Day strives to share 10% of its harvest with those in need. This includes donations to local food pantries, Community Action House’s Food Club & Opportunity Hub, St Francis de Sales, Harvest Stand Ministries, Lakeshore Vineyard Church, and donated CSA shares to families struggling to make ends meet. They also partner with local schools, the OAISD, and organizations like Escape Ministries to teach students about farming and creation care.

Holland Bowl Mill is the largest producer of wooden bowls in the USA. Environmental impact is a key focus of their business and is considered in all decisions in the creation of wood products. The process used to create their functional and decorative hand-fashioned bowls is the same method used for over one hundred years and takes nearly a month to complete. HBM crafts bowls from American hardwoods using timber harvested from forests throughout Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. They’re also able to do small-scale orders for local individuals that lose trees to storm damage – making use of material that would otherwise be wasted. This dedication to local procurement results in lower emissions and healthier forests.

Holland Bowl Mill’s stewardship of the environment doesn’t stop with material sourcing. Their manufacturing process maximizes the use of each log and wood with imperfections that cannot be corrected or salvaged for other products is repurposed locally for heating and animal bedding. The inherent properties of wood, as a natural, sustainable, and renewable resource, make it a logical environmental choice. HBM prides itself in the quality of its products, offering a lifetime guarantee for all of its bowls. 

The longevity of their heirloom-quality pieces consumes fewer resources, creates less waste, and spreads the environmental impact of manufacturing over a longer period of time. HBM products can be found locally at the James St. location (free tours and engraving on-site) and in Downtown Holland at Seasoned Home and Cherry Republic.

 

Founded in 2013, the team of talented folks at The Farmhouse Deli and Pantry operate with a simple philosophy: fresh ingredients, served with a smile, using local options whenever possible. This humble approach supports area businesses, cuts down on emissions related to transportation, and provides healthier outcomes for patrons and the planet. On top of its fantastic selection of fresh juices, organic and fairtrade coffee, sandwiches, and breakfast offerings, this farm-to-table restaurant offers a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

The Farmhouse Deli & Pantry thoughtfully selects its containers and utensils, choosing compostable, biodegradable, unbleached, and printed with soy ink whenever possible. 

 

To encourage reuse, they’ve also introduced a program that offers .25 cents off for every container customers bring in for reuse at the time of purchase. Bring in your own coffee cup, deli containers, and food containers for desserts to save money and the planet! Farmhouse is also committed to sharing its thoughtful farm-to-table approach through cooking demos, community events, and culinary classes for all ages.

StrEATS taco kitchen prides itself in being a nontraditional street taco kitchen with “authentically in-authentic tacos from street corners around the globe”. But their nontraditional approach doesn’t stop with Korean-inspired beef short-rib tacos or American Traditional Cheeseburger Tacos. They’re also breaking the mold with sustainable business practices and healthier ingredients for people and the planet. At StrEATS, they believe that many small steps make for a big impact. To reduce their environmental impact, this taco kitchen uses locally sourced produce whenever possible and is committed to serving high quality meats. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options support those with dietary restrictions and earth-conscious eating habits. In alignment with their “Taste Without the Waste” sustainability motto, all food and drinks are served in compostable containers. Educational signage throughout StrEATS’ eco-friendly space helps customers easily understand what can be composted and recycled to minimize waste.

Michigan Forestry Co. is committed to helping landowners sustainably manage their woodlots in order to conserve one of Michigan’s most valuable resources – trees. 

Ecosystem integrity is upheld through forest management planning, wildlife and habitat conservation planning, strategic harvests, invasive species eradication, and enrolling landowners in the state Qualified Forest Program and Forest Stewardship Program. Since 2017, they have managed over 15,000 acres of privately owned forests, sustainably procured over 15 million board feet of timber product to positively impact local jobs and industries directly in Michigan, and enrolled over 6,250 acres of non-industrial private forests in state forest programs.  

They also serve on the Ottawa Area ISD advisory board for outdoor education, speak at local conservation clubs and municipalities, and build forest management plans for civic and county spaces.

Business to Business

This custom woodworking shop operates with a simple yet effective motto: “Best idea wins”. Doing so has brought about significant benefits for Cento Anni’s business, the community that it serves, and the environment. This custom woodworking shop takes pride in being a locally-focused zero-waste facility. Its working materials include “rescued wood”- wood given a second life after being used or rejected elsewhere, logs provided by customers after storm damage and other incidents, and timber sourced from local mills. Once it’s in the shop, every bit of wood is put to use from full length slab to the last scrap of saw dust. Cento has achieved roughly 95% material efficiency thanks to an innovative milling process and broad product range that begins with massive conference tables and scales all the way down to cutting boards and even bookmarks. Scraps that can’t be sold are offered for free to the public and utilized in projects by other local craftsmen, home heating, animal bedding, and soil amendments.

Keeping with its name which translates to “100 years” in Italian, Cento Anni’s attention to detail and precision craftsmanship results in products built to last for generations. This longevity lends to yet another reduction in material waste beyond the showroom.

Cento Anni also strives to live into its downtown community. Operating out of a carefully chosen and restored building on 6th street, Cento Anni offers its showroom as an event space for the community and engages with a variety of its neighbors and local organizations including Freedom Village, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, various woodworking classes, and the Careerline Tech Center. 

With over 50 years of combined solar experience, this company is committed to reducing carbon emissions with best-in-class American-made solar street light technology. By providing a renewable alternative to traditional lightning, Solar Street Lights USA helps power our communities in a practical, sustainable way. Offering both grid-connected and grid-free packages, this company helps customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and save on energy and maintenance costs while providing high-performance lighting solutions. Their systems are engineered for longevity and reliability in even the harshest of environments. Solar streetlights are well-suited for a variety of applications and can be found in and along roadways, parking lots, trails, sports facilities, and emergency/security applications in rural, suburban, and metropolitan areas alike. The company has even gone so far as to develop lightning solutions that are designed to mitigate the dangers of light pollution toward vulnerable and endangered animal species. Around town and across the country, this Holland-based company is literally lighting the path to a sustainable future with its innovative and earth-friendly technology.

Volta Power Systems is a producer of Li-ion energy systems that eliminate generators and vehicle idling. RV-makers and fleets chose Volta to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving safety, comfort and experience for their customers. In total, there are about 5,000 Volta-equipped vehicles on the road to-date, which prevent an estimated 23 million pounds of carbon emissions each year. Volta also promotes environmental responsibility in their manufacturing processes, employing practices such as comprehensive waste reduction and recycling programs, food waste composting, 4kWh of rooftop solar generation, and energy capture and reuse during battery testing.

At a fraction of the cost of a full-EV, Volta micro-hybridizes vehicles with the same high-performance, EV-grade lithium technology, making eliminating vehicle idling environmentally and financially sustainable. By integrating a Volta system into one of their utility vehicles, the Holland Board of Public Works was able to take advantage of cost savings while eliminating approximately 70% of the vehicle’s emissions. Utility workers can access all-day power without the noise of a generator and charge up while driving. This represents another positive step toward the City of Holland achieving the vision in the city’s Community Energy Plan.

This wholesale seedling nursery grows and sells a variety of native plants for habitat restoration and improvement projects throughout the midwest and beyond. Specializing in bare-root trees and shrubs, Alpha boasts a selection of over 250 unique species and ships over a million plants per year. Customers include wholesale landscapers, conservation districts, non-profits, and bulk-scale private orders.

Although Alpha’s plants can be found in projects as far away as the Dakotas, Georgia, and Maine, the business’s restorative work truly begins within the borders of its 40-acre production site. The staff pays close attention to soil biology, using compost to return key nutrients to the ground, practicing crop rotations, allowing land to lie fallow, and limiting the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Keep an eye out for Alpha-grown trees at local tree sales and giveaways, they’ve supported numerous local events including those held by Ottawa and Allegan Conservation Districts, the ODC Network, and Herrick District Library.

Agritek exists to provide innovative solutions in engineered metal components. In addition to serving a variety of local industries, the business is intentional about reducing negative impacts on the environment and doing right by the earth. In 2014 Agritek installed the biggest non-utility solar project in West Michigan at the time through a partnership with Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) and Chart House Energy, LLC. The 525-kilowatt project included 3,740 solar modules and has provided roughly one-third of Argitek’s total annual power usage for the past 8 years.

The array features a tilting ground-mount solar racking system, fabricated by Agritek. This system allows for quicker panel installation and improved power production through optimization of panel orientation throughout the year and reduced snow load.

 By offsetting utility-generated power, Agritek saves as much fresh water as is used for drinking water in the entire City of Holland each year.

On top of its investment in renewable energy, the company has forgone traditional lawn maintenance around its manufacturing facility allowing nature to reclaim the land. Doing so avoids fertilizer runoff, conserves water, and supports native pollinators all while saving money on labor costs for maintenance.

Community & Non-profit

Amidst its many initiatives to end poverty and help families prosper in our community, Community Action House continues to implement nature-rich practices and policies that support the triple bottom line. Food Club, a newer program to the organization, is successfully fighting hunger and providing affordable access to healthy options while fighting the food waste problem. Just a couple of years ago, Action House’s food programs were able to ‘rescue’ and redistribute close to 20,000 lbs of healthy, perishable food per month. With the expansion of services (and food handling and repackaging space!) at Food Club, they are now recovering more than that amount every week! So far this year, (January-August) they’ve rescued 751,000 pounds of food, an average of 94,000 pounds every month. Sources include local grocery and retail partners, restaurants, the farmers market’s food donation program, Pick For Pantries (an Ottawa Food initiative), and direct farm donations. Staff prioritizes efficient routes for donation pickup and drop-offs to minimize costs and transportation-related emissions.

 

Food safety is of utmost importance and food is carefully inspected. Over 90% of rescued food is wholesome and happily shared through their Food Club & Community Kitchen, as well as through other partner food pantries, and the less than 10% that is not fit for consumption is sent to partners such as Eighth Day Farm and the Holland Community Garden to be composted or distributed to local farmers for animal feed. Partnerships with Padnos, Paper Gator, and Perfect Circle Recycling among others ensure packaging from Food Club and other Community Action House materials are recycled properly. Keeping with its commitment to earth-friendly practices, Food Club has incorporated a rain garden and native plantings around its facility and is equipped with highly efficient lighting, heating, and cooling systems.

Black River’s students are encouraged to follow their passions, one such passion led to the establishment of Green Team in 2014. This important student group has led several campaigns in recent years, including sponsoring a school-wide paper recycling contest that recycled almost 5000 pounds of paper. They led the charge in 2019 to teach students what lunchtime items could be recycled and composted. Collected compost was then taken to a local CSA. Green Team was also instrumental in replacing the styrofoam trays with biodegradable trays in the lunchroom. For Earth Day, the group developed teaching materials for use in the classroom and sponsored beach clean up days. At Tulip Time, Green Team member, Hannah Huggett, set up and coordinated the recycling efforts at the race.

During Project Term 2019, a 4-week May term consisting of hands-on, experiential learning, Black River offered a class that created raised garden beds on campus. With a natural butterfly habitat by the west parking lot as well, students, staff, and parents are able to be involved in maintaining these spaces. Pollinator gardens and butterfly habitats grow in both areas and the raised beds also grow vegetables. Kale, tomatoes, and arugula are growing with the plan of distributing the vegetables to members of the Holland Community. These gardens are incorporated into botany and biology lesson plans from Kindergarten to High School.

Hope College continues on its journey toward creating a more sustainable campus by constantly evaluating new opportunities for improvement in regards to the triple bottom line. Nationally recognized for its sustainability efforts by organizations including the Arbor Day Foundation and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the college is investing in areas such as energy and water conservation, waste reduction, campus and community education, transportation options, and social justice issues.  During the 2021-2022 academic year, Hope hosted 5 cleanup events, a move-in cardboard/plastic film/Styrofoam collection event, a move-out collection/donation event, reusable silverware/bag giveaways, monthly campus sustainability events, and Earth Month events, along with increasing outdoor meeting and eating spaces, planting more trees on campus, and launching a new Global Water Research Institute. Additional efforts include the installation of three bee hives on site in partnership with Creative Dining Services, a solar charging station for maintenance equipment on top of Carriage House, and calculating the college’s carbon footprint back to 2005 for benchmarking.

Velo Kids is on a mission to get kids outside and on bikes. The organization seeks to promote and cultivate healthy, active, outdoor lifestyles while teaching bike skills, safety, and trail stewardship. In 2022 coaches rode bikes with over 500 kids ages 2-18 throughout West Michigan! Velo Kids strives to spread the joy of a simple bike ride and give kids the opportunity and the skillset to fall in love with the outdoors and promote sustainable transportation through biking. They offer a diverse variety of programming including urban and mountain bike camps and clubs, community rides and partners with local entities including Leisure Estates Meet Up & Eat Up events, Ottawa County Juvenile Court, Ready for School, Boys & Girls Club of Holland and more! In addition to their adventures, participants learn about the importance of being good wstewards of our natural resources and caring for the places that they love.

 

A popular feature of Velo Kids’ offerings is the Hudsonville Ice Cream Bike Library, a trailer full of children’s bikes of various sizes that can be ‘checked out’ during rides by riders in the community, breaking down a key barrier for kids who might otherwise not be able to participate. 

All of these programs are only possible with Velo Kids’ incredible coaches leading the way. They complete First Aid Training, Sensitivity Training with the Children’s Advocacy Center, Concussion Training and a specific Velo Kids Coach Bike training. All of the program’s coaches are passionate about kids’ health and safety, and also want to see kids have fun while doing something they themselves love.

Friends of Ottawa County Parks is an organization dedicated to connecting people with nature, recreation, and community by partnering with the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission. Organized in 2005, the group sponsors programs and represents the parks at various community events including Holland’s Pride Festival, Juneteenth Celebration, Macatawa Water Festival, Sportsmen for Youth, and the “Step it Up” fitness program. Volunteers work to build public awareness and provide information about Ottawa County Parks system and open spaces. 

Their goals include protecting natural spaces and helping community members to enjoy them. The organization also supports teachers and youth group leaders interested in leading stewardship programs in the parks through its Statema Stewardship Fund. Community members can get involved through memberships, by attending a Grand Lady river cruise fundraiser, or by joining the organization for its Outdoor Holiday Luminary event happening on December 10.