Around the corner near the railroad tracks in Depot Town you’ll find a sanctuary operating as a non-profit beer and coffee bar called Cultivate. Their name refers to developing connections and facilitating relationships within the neighborhood as much as it describes the gardening done on site that benefits local food charities. All profits and tips go toward fighting hunger.
From the moment the idea was planted they’ve involved the community, opening after a successful crowd-sourced campaign through Patronicity raised more than the original goal. Volunteers helped transform the space inside and out during the summer of 2015 leading to a soft opening serving coffee and tea in September. Approvals to serve beer came shortly after, and they celebrated their first anniversary of being fully open in October 2016.
Cultivate’s thirty six taps dispense some of the most sought-after brews and include a dedicated mead faucet featuring a selection from Schramm’s. In addition to generous pours at reasonable prices, a flight of 4 tastes is available for most of the offerings with the exception of certain high gravity or limited releases. Crowlers and growlers are available to go, as well as prepackaged bottles and cans from time to time. The latest listings can be found on BeerMenus.
Mug Club memberships are available for beer, coffee, or both. The beer program is $50 per year and entitles the holder to $1 off each beer ordered plus access to monthly interactive events with experts. February’s featured event is a Goose Island vertical tasting with a short discussion about cellaring and aging beer.
The knowledgeable staff behind the bar consists of paid employees and volunteers led by three directors who each bring an aspect of the vision to life; Bekah Wallace in charge of Community and Connections, Ryan Wallace taking care of the Beer and Business aspects, and Billy Kangas leading the Coffee and Causes portion. “We invest a good amount of time in training volunteers, helping them to get employment, and empowering them in the areas they are passionate about that help our city,” said Ryan Wallace.
People young and old flock to Cultivate for a wide range of reasons, from the impressive beer offerings to the ever-evolving list of activities and opportunities that take place there based on what the community desires. You can learn about year-round gardening, be tutored in physics, play chess and other board games, or simply sit and knit with others.
While there, you may hear jazz from local musicians, poetry and curated readings, or a group practicing conversational French. There’s a new moms meet up, an empty-nesters gathering, and one for the generation who are acting as caregivers for their aging parents. Planned events can be found on the large wall calendar in the taproom or on their Facebook page.
There are a variety of baked goods and sandwiches available onsite to enjoy with the beverages. An expanded menu with larger artisan sandwiches and small plate offerings featuring up to 90% Michigan made and produced ingredients will be launched in March.
Recently the beer garden was transformed from a summer-only space to an enclosed area with patio heaters to accommodate the swells of patrons wishing to enjoy the sense of community while having a beer or two.
As Cultivate grows it is finding new ways of evolving and adapting to fulfill their mission of feeding the hungry. Over the summer the volunteer-tended garden in the back grew vegetables that were donated to Food Gatherers. Current projects include creating a “Hunger Map” for Washtenaw County, “which is a full assessment of both needs in our county and what non-profits are doing to meet those needs in what areas,” Ryan Wallace said. “Our goal is to create something that everyone can use in order to address the issue of hunger and to help us know what solutions we need to create moving forward,” he added.