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Staff Highlight: Lauren Marquardt

Hey MIFFS viewers! Starting this month, we will be highlighting one staff member from our team to recognize them for all of their hard work to make sure MIFFS runs smoothly each day. This month, we would like to acknowledge one of our Co-Directors, Lauren Marquardt! Read on to learn more about Lauren and her work with MIFFS!

Pictured: Lauren, far right, at the 2020 Michigan Family Farms Conference with keynote speaker, Pakou Hang, Farmer of the Year Award winners from Ziibimijwang Farm, and Food System Leader of the Year Award winner, Vanessa Garcia Polanco

"I’ve been working at Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) for almost three and half years as the Co-Director, which requires me to wear a variety of different hats. While some hats are more fun than others, I think they are all equally important! A few primary things I focus on include overseeing operations (finance, internal policies, our on-site staff, Board management, etc.), fundraising (co-writing and managing grants, coordinating events and campaigns, etc.), helping plan the Michigan Family Farms Conference, plus some general programmatic and communications-related work. There is no typical day for me at MIFFS which is part of what I like, because it means I get to be challenged and have the opportunity to learn something new almost every single day."

"The parts about working at MIFFS that are most inspiring to me are always connected to the communities of growers who we have the privilege of working with who are knowledgeable, generous, passionate, and resilient beyond belief. Whether I am participating in a volunteer hoophouse build day with the Vets-in-Ag Network, harvesting worm castings with the Women-in-Ag Network, or in a workshop being held in Spanish with Red de Productores Hispanos (Spanish-speaking Farmer Network), I am inspired by the comradery, peer-to-peer learning, and dedication to producing nutritious and culturally appropriate foods while caring for the land and water by using ecologically sound and sustainable methods."

Pictured: Lauren taking a break from helping to build a hoophouse at Huffman’s Homestead in Swartz Creek.

"A major challenge facing agriculture is the same challenge we are facing in every aspect of life – COVID-19. As with most challenges, there are accompanying opportunities, but given the fragility of systems in the U.S. things will get harder before they get easier. The advice I have to offer is what I see from my position at a farmer support nonprofit, not as an agricultural expert or a farmer on the ground. I see so many community organizations, nonprofits, and MSU Extension staff participating in stakeholder conversations, listening to webinars, consulting experts, and sharing resources, so for the producers out there my advice is that if you have any trouble navigating  support programs, new marketing channels, food safety regulations, etc., this is exactly what MIFFS and these other groups are here for. I strongly encourage you to reach out to MIFFS and whoever you see as your local resource whenever you need something, and we will continue to do our best to get relevant information out to you as well."

"One of my favorite facts is that honeybees communicate through dance and other movements. How cool is that?! Some of the dances include the “waggle” dance, “tremble” dance, and “shake” dance. That’s the extent of what I know, but maybe we can invite one of our beekeeper or entomologist friends to write a guest blog post about this topic!"

MIFFS would like to thank Lauren once again for all of her dedication to this organization!

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