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Weed It and Reap 

2023 Kitchen Garden Underway at Copper Country Senior Meals

Copper Country Senior Meals employees doing garden workAfter every long and bitter winter, spring eventually rolls around in the Copper Country, and with it comes the growing season. Whether it’s native plants that somehow survive the winter with no jacket or mittens, or the produce and flowers our resilient residents plant, spring is the time to get going on our gardens.

Here at Copper Country Senior Meals (CCSM), staff are hard at work preparing for the warmer months, and implementing a home-grown way to feed seniors fresher and more nutritious food. The kitchen garden sits just outside the front doors of CCSM, and could not bring fresh produce closer to home. The herbs and vegetables being grown in-house will be implemented into the menu as soon as they are ready.

The kitchen garden focuses on healthy garden staples, including kale, potatoes, radishes, and popular herbs like garlic and sage. In addition to the basics, the garden includes exciting specialities like lavender and the edible flower nasturtiums.

Growing some of our food in-house is one of many projects CCSM is working on to better serve the seniors in our community and give them fresh and nutritious food. Seniors and community members are encouraged to enjoy the garden as it grows this summer.

CCSM staff took the time to rake, weed, and sow seeds on Wednesday, May 10. It seems the vegetables are just as excited to feed seniors as the staff are, as some are already sprouting. 

The garden also works as an educational opportunity. Kathleen Harter, executive director of CCSM has taught new staff how to garden and take on self-sustaining practices. She believes that anyone can garden with a little help and a patient mentor.

In a few weeks time, the staff will be able to reap the benefits of their hard work and put the produce and herbs straight into their cooking, for the freshest flavor possible. With whole heads grown from just one clove of garlic and pounds of potatoes right outside, seniors are sure to love the food.

Seniors love the food not only because it’s healthy, but because it’s beautiful. The rich colors on fresh, whole foods are much more enjoyable than a highly processed meal.

Copper Country Senior Meals is available to all homebound residents of Houghton and Keweenaw counties. To learn more and get started receiving meals daily, visit or call 1 (906) 483-1155. 

Tribin Holbrook Takes on Kitchen Manager Position at Copper Country Senior Meals

Copper Country Senior Meals (CCSM) welcomed Tribin Holbrook to the role of Kitchen Manager in April. Holbrook is excited to help create even better food for seniors and find ways to continually improve nutrition and flavors, as well as revamp the menu and expand it to include bakery.

“His enthusiasm and ability to work in a team is perfect for this environment,” CCSM Executive Director Kathleen Harter said. “We have a strong positive working environment and he fits in extremely well.”

Holbrook’s role will be varied on a day-to-day basis, including tasks like reviewing the menu to ensure that it’s nutritionally balanced, helping train new staff, scaling meals, ordering food and supplies, overseeing kitchen operations, and supervising kitchen staff, including cooks, packers, and food preppers. In addition, Holbrook steps in wherever and whenever he is needed, taking on routes when regularly scheduled drivers are unavailable, doing dishes so the others can continue to work, and adjusting plans effectively on the fly due to inclement weather.

Holbrook has nearly a life-time of experience, starting as a dish boy at 12 years old, and later cooking through his teens. Nineteen years ago, after a decade break to pursue other careers, Tribin moved to the Copper Country and took on a variety of jobs including cooking for local restaurants, Baraga Correctional Facility and Finlandia University before being hired full-time as the CCSM Kitchen Manager.

“When I first started working here, I asked myself ‘Is this all true, are all these people really this nice?’” Holbrook said. “It really is the way it is. We’re doing something more than just making a living. They’ve made it easy to really buy into the mission.”

It is clear that through his time in the Copper Country Holbrook has truly connected with people in the food industry and displays an enthusiastic desire to provide the best for seniors.

Copper Country Seniors Meals serves Houghton and Keweenaw counties with meal deliveries and congregate meal sites throughout the region. If you’re interested in learning more about Copper Country Senior Meals, signing up for services or seeing employment opportunities to join the team, visit


Homemade Happiness

The sky is still dark, the roads are yet to be filled with cars, and only the birds dare break the silence of the early morning. Every day before the sun rises over the valley, Copper Country Senior Meals staff are in the kitchen cooking homemade meals for hundreds of people.

Not only does Copper Country Senior Meals (CCSM) have a team of dedicated delivery drivers who trudge through the snow and rain to bring food to seniors, but they also have a team of cooks who wake up every day before the sun to make homemade meals for local residents.

There is a dedicated team of people preparing food in the kitchen every morning at 6 a.m. It is vital for them to start early, allowing them enough time to cook for around 150 people. 

Home cooked meals are a cornerstone of what Copper Country Senior Meals offers everyday,” said Executive Director, Kathleen Harter. “In addition to the daily check-ins with our seniors, kitchen staff prepare each day’s meals from 6 to 9:30 a.m. All of the meals are prepared with love, planning, and care.” 

CCSM believes it is important to offer home cooked meals, made fresh every day. This is not true of all Meals on Wheels programs, and thus a point of pride for CCSM. 

“Staff work hard to make sure the meal is presented in the best way possible and is as full of flavor while still being low in sodium and sugar,” explained Harter. “Most of our meals are home made and take one-to-two days to prepare.” 

The cooks research and test every recipe before serving it to seniors. After finding a good recipe, they adjust it to serve 300 people. It’s not just about taste, distributing proper nutritional health is also a large focus for CCSM.

“Menus are reviewed by our in-house nutritionist to ensure they meet the recommended dietary allowance for seniors,” said Harter. “All of these steps take time, but it’s something the kitchen staff take pride in. It’s vital to ensure that area seniors receive nutritious, home-cooked meals.” 

If you would like to see what else Copper Country Senior Meals has to offer, visit us online and subscribe to our monthly email newsletter.

Partnership with Ghost House Farm Blossoms

Copper Country Senior Meals Partners with Local Farm to Provide Fresh Food

Ghost House Farm is a locally owned farm that has partnered with Copper Country Senior Meals in order to provide fresh food for seniors. Though originally started unexpectedly, this partnership has blossomed into a cherished relationship.

Drew Cramer and Allison Mills, owners of Ghost House Farm, believe that healthy and accessible food begins with healthy soil. They practice sustainable farming techniques such as crop rotation, crop covering and raising livestock.

These practices help ensure that the nutrients necessary to grow food are always present in the soil they grow in. In order to keep food, resources and money in the local economy, Ghost House Farm provides subscription services for eggs, fresh produce, flowers and local meats through a partnership with Frozen Farms.

A balanced diet is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, it is much more difficult to sustain healthy eating when the ingredients are not accessible. Ghost House Farm is focused on providing food accessibility to citizens of the Copper Country.

Last year, Ghost House Farm partnered with Copper Country Senior Meals (CCSM) in an effort to reduce food waste while simultaneously offering the seniors fresh produce. Ghost House Farm ended up with 100 extra winter squashes, and that led to a partnership that offered seniors financially and environmentally sustainable produce.

“I thought it was a little thing when I donated the squash, but there were seniors in tears because they hadn’t had squash in decades,” said Cramer.

As the partnership continued, Ghost House Farm supplied fresh salad mix, which was greatly appreciated by the seniors. Kathleen Harter, executive director of CCSM, explained that this is not a food that seniors will typically buy for themselves.

“If you think about everything that goes into making salad… this is something they don’t buy because it often goes bad before they can eat it all,” said Harter. “If you are one person eating by yourself, which many of our seniors are, it’s going to go bad.”

Offering one portion of salad as part of a daily meal has allowed many seniors to start eating salad again. Not only is it good to have fresh food, but the salad also offers more color and new tastes to the menu. For many seniors, the salad ingredients are reminiscent of the gardens and farms that were once a part of their daily lives.

Though Cramer and Mills were just looking to help an old friend and former boss, Harter, they helped kick-start programming that they hope will help finance more fresh, local produce.

In March, Ghost House Farm launched a Copper Country Senior Meals donation subscription, in which people can choose to sign up and donate weekly towards providing seniors with fresh produce. Though this feature is brand new to their online store, their goal is to reach $50 per week this summer. Within a week they were up to $6. 

“That would enable us to donate five pounds of salad mix and a couple of pounds of other seasonal produce to Copper Country Senior Meals every week,” said Cramer. “I’m hopeful we’ll get there.”

CCSM and Ghost House Farm plan to grow their partnership to address community needs.

“I am so grateful and appreciative of their community focus and wanting to help serve seniors with fresh foods as much as possible,” said Harter.

If you would like to support Ghost House Farm and Copper Country Senior Meals, consider subscribing to the donation program. The default donation is $1 per week, but if you wish, you can order multiple $1 subscriptions to donate more than $1 per week.

You can sign up today by visiting Ghost House Farm’s online store. To keep up with us at Copper Country Senior Meals, sign up for our monthly email newsletter.