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- 2021 Michigan Virtual CSA Fair on Friday, February 26th
The Michigan Statewide CSA Network, a collaboration between Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), MSU Extension, and Taste the Local Difference, is excited to announce their upcoming Michigan virtual CSA Fair on February 26th. Those that would like to learn more about what a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share is, what their options are, and even find a CSA program in their area are invited to join this virtual open house. The Fair will feature two different drop-in Zoom sessions - a “lunch hour”, from 12-1pm, and a “happy hour” session from 5-6pm - for participants to explore local CSA programs. Participants can join regional breakout rooms to learn more about offerings in their area, or join a general information room to learn more about community supported agriculture broadly. Those interested in participating should register through MSU Extension: https://events.anr.msu.edu/event.cfm?eventID=CF883E5B1EA654E1058FB0CFB4BDFBA7E730104902D5BC1BF230F7BBDF0029FA Kelly Wilson, the Director of Community Partners with Taste the Local Difference, says that “CSA programs are a unique opportunity for consumers to get to know a local farm while receiving a consistent supply of farm fresh produce throughout the growing season. Since shares are typically purchased in spring, they also help farmers with critical early season funds to purchase valuable inputs for the main growing season.” Kelly also adds that, “they are fun opportunities to try new-to-you foods and, while all CSAs are unique, many provide recipes and preparation tips to help you use your share.” Taste the Local Difference supports farms and CSA programs throughout Michigan. Their online directory of farms allows users to search for a CSA program by county, growing practices, farm certifications, and more. Additionally, their blog includes articles on seasonal recipes and how to make the most of a farm share. About Taste the Local Difference: Taste the Local Difference is Michigan’s local food marketing agency and media company. Since 2004, our mission has been to educate consumers about the value of local food, and support food and farming entrepreneurs in building successful, well-connected, and thoughtful businesses. Our passionate staff members provide curated marketing services to local food businesses throughout the state. Learn more at localdifference.org
- Staff Highlight: Jen Silveri
Jen Silveri is our Director of Field Operations at MIFFS and we would like to recognize all of her hard work to ensure our organization's mission. Read on to learn more about Jen and her constant work with MIFFS! "I have worked for MIFFS for 5 years as a Co-Director. Before working for MIFFS, I was actively engaged as a board member for an additional 5 years." "I am inspired by all of the amazing people I work alongside at MIFFS and all of the amazing and weird things I learn from them. I learn something new every day at work and get really excited to continue to learn more about our connections to the ecosystem. I love being able to exchange that knowledge, and get excited about it with people and cultures." "I believe climate change and land access are the biggest challenge facing agriculture today. I believe it is absolutely vital to work with the land, knowing its strengths and challenges and letting those guide what and how we farm. We need to think about how to leverage, incorporate and support the regeneration of naturally resilient features of the land that can support and enhance farming. We need to adjust our farming practices to be more in sync with natural systems rather than fighting against them. I strongly believe that one of the ways we do this is by looking to practices of other land stewards from different cultures and diverse climates, many of whom have lost access to the land or whom have had it stolen. Those voices usually have the most valuable things to teach us. We need to find better ways to support equitable access to land, seek opportunities to learn from each other and problem solve together." "If lawns were looked at as an agricultural crop, it would be the largest irrigated crop in the US. They are by large, managed by untrained homeowners who unlike farmers, are unregulated and often have no training/experience in nutrient or pest management." MIFFS would like to once again thank Jen for all of her dedication to help this organization run smoothly and thrive!
- Insurance for Beekeepers
On October 7, 2020, MIFFS Veterans in Agriculture Network Coordinator, Nick Kaminski and GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Philip Preston discussed what crop insurance options exist for beekeepers and the benefits of insuring apiaries. Philip is a beekeeper and an Insurance Specialist for Greenstone Farm Credit Services in west Michigan. Philip discussed eligibility requirements for beekeepers to access crop insurance policies including: Apiculture RI (API), Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP), Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm Raised Fish (ELAP), and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP-2). A recording of the webinar can be viewed here. Check out the resources below to learn more! Other resources are available below: Greenstone Farm Credit Services Crop Insurance Guide USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Apiculture Website USDA RMA Apiculture Insurance Fact Sheet USDA Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) USDA Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) USDA Whole Farm Revenue Protection Fact Sheet
- MIFFS & Julian Samora Research Institute Awarded NCR-SARE Research and Education Award
The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (NCR-SARE) has awarded funding to Michigan Food and Farming Systems and Julian Samora Research Institute to collaborate on the "Strategies for Adaptive Resilience in Sustainable Agriculture for Beginning and Historically Underserved Farmers." This project focuses on three main objectives: increase sustainability of agricultural businesses operated by limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers increase trust and strengthen relationships between underserved farmers, educational institutions, government organizations and technical assistance programs and increase sustainable management of natural resources among socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers. Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and Julian Samora Research Institute (JSRI) will collaborate with Michigan State University Extension Staff, USDA NRCS, Conservation Districts, innovative partner organizations, and farmers in Michigan and other states in the North Central Region to deliver sustainable agriculture outreach and education that supports socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers in adapting to changing climates and markets, topics relevant to farmers in the region and country. Educational programming will support historically underserved farmers in operating resilient, sustainable agriculture business operations that are more adaptable to external risks and environmental factors. Programming will be developed in response to the needs identified and co-developed through long standing collaborations with Spanish-speaking Latino and African American blueberry farmers in Southwest Michigan. (NCR-SARE) Program is a nationwide initiative that provides funding and other educational opportunities to progress sustainable innovation in today’s American agriculture. The program offers these opportunities to producers, scientists, educators, institutions, organizations and others who are continuously exploring sustainable agriculture in the Midwest. NCR-SARE has established three programs which offer competitive grants for researchers, graduate students, organizations, agricultural educators, and many others. To learn more about this project, visit: https://projects.sare.org/sare_project/lnc20-442/ Want to learn more about NCR-SARE? Visit: https://northcentral.sare.org/
- Staff Highlight: John McCarthy
Hello MIFFS viewers! Continuing this month, we would like to highlight another staff member from our team to recognize them for all of their hard work to ensure our organization's mission shines through in all that we do. This month, we would like to acknowledge our Program Manager, John McCarthy! Read on to learn more about John and his constant hard work with MIFFS! "I started working for MIFFS in April of 2018, so a little over 2 years. I am the Program Manager for the organization which means that I make sure things are running as smooth as possible, helping out where ever there is a need in communications, marketing, and organizational needs. A large aspect of my role is in Food and Farm Safety, participating in many workshops and the GAP program." "The one thing that inspires me the most about MIFFS is when we have the opportunity to make connections between services and farmers. MIFFS has a wide scope of work and the individual connections are what makes the work the most valuable to me." "Challenges that I have seen include (but are not limited to) environment, fair pay, and the aging farmer. I would advise people to look at what they are doing to help farming become a more present aspect in their individual lives. Get to know a farmer and buy direct! The direct purchasing helps in many ways. For the aging farmer challenge, educating youth on agriculture and showing how valuable farming is now and in the future." "The fact that every living plant starts from one small seed." MIFFS would like to once again thank John for all of his dedication to help this organization run smoothly and thrive!
- Michigan Public Health Institute Partnership with MIFFS
MIFFS partnerships mean everything to us! But our collaboration with the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) is even greater! MPHI is a Michigan non-profit public health institute that is dedicated to building a healthier tomorrow. They work hard to work to promote health and well-being. Our partnership with MPHI started a few years when CEO, Renée Branch Canady,was the keynote speaker at the Michigan Family Farms Conference in 2016.MIFFS Council explored better ways to “Promote Equity, Wellness, and Economic Sustainability at a public health institute” while also maintaining our agricultural heritage. Current MPHI CCO, Michelle Napier-Dunnings, connected our two organizations when she was the MIFFS Executive Director through 2016. A Memorandum of Understanding was then developed and later signed 2017 that MIFFS would remain a separate 501C3 as well as administrative management.While still having an office at MSU in the Natural Resources Building, MIFFS is also housed with two offices and shared common spaces in Building 2 of the many MPHI buildings. Both of our organizations share strong core values that allow us to generate new work and innovative ideas to reach our common goals. MPHI values: Authentic Relationships Quality & Excellence Servant Leadership Health Equity & Social Justice MIFFS values: We value the land & people connections We advocate for the use of good science & cultural knowledge We demonstrate risk taking & relentless persistence We require listening & Teamwork We nurture creativity Our shared vision allows both organizations to answer questions like: What if our food was produced within 50 miles of our homes? Our shared answer: the costs of transporting our food across the country would decline significantly! What if farming was a profession that youth aspired to be? Our shared answer: children’s understanding of health & wellness would increase AND our national aging farmer crisis would be addressed! What if farmers were as diverse as our diets? Our shared answer: nutrient dense products would be grown and consumed within communities,engaging all in physical, social, and economically healthy activities! MIFFS would like to take this time to thank MPHI for working with us to build a stronger future!
- May MIFFS Newsletter is now available!
Hello again MIFFS viewers! This month's MIFFS newsletter highlights: New Resources! Grants and Funding Opportunities Available Be sure to check it out! Click here to read out May newsletter! If you wish to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter through email, click here.
- 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!
- WISEWOMAN Program
Hello MIFFS viewers! The WISEWOMAN Program stands for Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation. It provides free health screenings for low income women 40-64 years old and follow-up support from a health coach to help the women make and sustain a healthy lifestyle and better understand their risk for getting a chronic disease. Funded by the CDC, the Michigan program has a focus on empowering participants through programming such as gardening, financial and stress management as well as community advancement. Over the past 15 years, this program has supported nearly 22,000 women in effort to improve their health. The WISEWOMAN program connects well with our blog on gardening from last week. The Entrepreneurial Gardening Program was started in 2008 with only three women being supported and now serves over 75 women in growing and selling produce from their garden to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in their homes as well as the food access in their own communities. MIFFS partners with the WISEWOMAN program by pairing participants with women farmer mentors who live in their communities. The women farmers host workshops on their farms and visit the participants’ gardens to offer advice and support. With this support, the women are empowered to not only grow healthy food for themselves and their families, but to also earn additional income by selling their products.It is a real joy for MIFFS to partner with the WISEWOMAN program, and we’ve been fortunate to witness some beautiful relationships develop, confidence increase, and gardening skills expand! Kathy Antaya talks about operations at the 365 Urban Farm at Leila Arboretum during the 2018 WISEWOMAN Conference in Battle Creek. To learn more about the WISEWOMAN Program, visit https://www.cdc.gov/wisewoman/
- Planning your Garden
Hello MIFFS viewers! This week, we thought it might be fun to share some garden planning resources for the upcoming year. Planting and harvesting a garden in your backyard can be extremely rewarding! What's more amazing than fresh produce that you grow yourself? Michigan State University Extension has a great checklist to keep you on track. It shows what gardeners should be doing each month of the year to get the most out of their garden: Site Location It is essential for gardeners to understand the importance of having good soil, proximity to a water source and the correct amount of sunlight in order for their plants to thrive. When starting a garden for the first time, think about where your garden is located in proximity to your kitchen and how easy it would be to run out to the garden for a quick vegetable. If you are a new grower, it might be smart to start small and grow more once you get the hang of it. Gardens can take up a lot of time, so it's important to know how much you can handle. Your plants need lots of sunlight to create carbon dioxide and water through photosynthesis. Make sure that you pick an area that gets about 8 to 10 hours of sun every day. Plants also need water for optimum growth so it is important to have clean water that is easily accessible to your garden. Along with sunlight and water, soil is equally important for your garden. Having fertile and well-drained soil is essential for a successful garden. Growing and Harvesting in Michigan Since Michigan's weather can be unpredictable in all areas of the state, it would be smart to learn about the USDA plant hardiness zones. Our state has 4, 5, and 6 zones. Here is the map to see what zone you live in: ZONE 4 Can withstand temperatures on average between -30 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. ZONE 5 Can withstand temperatures on average between -20 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit. ZONE 6 Can withstand temperatures on average between -10 and 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Reasons to create your own Garden Planting a garden can have many benefits to your overall health and well-being. Here is a list of reasons why planting and harvesting your own garden can help you in your everyday life: Gardening is a meditative practice We learn how to be patient We have the opportunity to build strong relationships with others Provides a sense of achievement and satisfaction Improve our problem-solving skills Ability to increase one's self esteem Gardening is an easy and fun way to express your creativity! Rise Up & Dig In!
- Easter Lily Production
Hello again and welcome back to the MIFFS blog! With the Easter holiday right around the corner, MIFFS thought it might be interesting to learn more about Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) production in Michigan. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), Michigan is the highest producer in the US followed by California, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. History of the Easter Lily When found growing in the wild, Lilium longiflorum are native to Japan, introduced to the United States in 1919 after the First Wold War. Louis Houghton (US Soldier), brought bulbs to Oregon and growers quickly realized the excellent growing conditions on the border with California (known as the Easter Lily Capital of the World). After Pearl Harbor in 1941, shipments of the bulbs from Japan were halted, which created an opportunity for Oregon and California growers as demand increased greatly. Growing and Caring for Lilies While they can be difficult to grow, the outcome of all your challenging work is well worth it! Easter Lilies in pots prefer bright, indirect sunlight. It is critical that these plants are protected from any drafts or heat sources in your house. The yellow anthers in the center of the lily should be removed as this will prolong the blossoms and prevent the anther pollen from leaving stains on the flowers or other surfaces. If you do get the pollen on your clothes, do not rub it in or get it wet as this will make the stain worse. If you have cats, Easter Lily plants, although they are beautiful, are extremely poisonous to cats! Eating even tiny amounts of any part of this plant can have a dangerous effects on cats and often lead to death from kidney failure. So, watch out for your furry friends and place all lilies in a location that will not affect your cat (which can be a challenge in itself!). Transplanting your potted lily outside is the next step to continue to grow your lily. The best time to transplant is when the flowers have withered and fallen. Lilies like full sun in a cool area, so location is important! Before transplanting, keep the plant watered and in indirect sunlight until the danger of Spring frost has passed. Plant the bulb 4 to 6 inches deep and layer organic mulch around the roots. The plant should foliage the first year but will typically not flower. In the fall, this growth will turn yellow and die back and at that time you can cut the plant down to the soil. Top-dress the soil and apply a few more inches of mulch to protect your lily from cold temperature throughout the winter. In the spring, you can remove the mulch as it warms up and apply a balanced fertilizer when you see new growth. It is important to be very patient when planting to continue to grow your lily, this process may take a few years to see results. Lilium longiflorum do not like warm tropical climates, so Michigan is great for growing where they naturally bloom in June or July. Significance of the Easter Lily This traditional flower is known as a joyful symbol of elegance, hope, new life, and purity. The Easter Lily is also known as a spring time essential, with the strong fragrance reassuring us that warm weather is on the way!
- MIFFS Newsletter is now available!
MIFFS has been creating monthly newsletters for their readers for years. This newsletter is made to update viewers on what the organization is doing to continue to provide resources to farmers and producers. If you wish to sign up to receive this monthly newsletter in the mail or through email, click here. To read this months newsletter on our website, click here.
- Celebrating the Many Faces of Farming -- Today and Every Day!
Happy National Ag Day and welcome to Michigan Food and Farming Systems’ blog! We’re excited to start sharing some fun and informative blog posts with you regularly, and to keep you in the loop on what MIFFS’ is up to! In light of the current situation we are in with COVID-19, we want to acknowledge the importance of our food system and supporting local producers who will provide us with critical fresh, nutrient-dense food to support our health in these challenging times. What is National Ag Day? In 1973, the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) started the National Ag Day program. National Ag Day is a day to not only recognize, but to celebrate and thank those who are involved in the agriculture industry. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, universities and many others join together to continue to remember the many past, present and future contributions of agriculture. It encourages every American to understand how food products are produced and by whom, the value of agriculture in maintaining a strong foundation in our economy, as well as to appreciate the huge role that agriculture plays in providing safe, healthy, and affordable food and fiber products. Since we believe in the future of agriculture, today is our chance to celebrate the industry, spread awareness about agriculture, and to think critically about how we can make the system work better for all of us. What does National Ag Day mean to MIFFS? At MIFFS, we approach every day as a celebration of producers and the land. We work daily to identify gaps in education available for beginning, small-scale, limited resource farmers, and work with communities to adapt programming to be most relevant and easy to learn. We celebrate diversity and shared learning through farmer networks, workshops, and peer-to-peer demonstration field trips. We strive to build awareness about local food and encourage consumers. We also advocate for local, state, and national policies that can better support beginning and historically underserved farmers. In these ways and more, MIFFS is excited to continue to celebrate agriculture today and every day, and we are extremely thankful for everyone who dedicates their lives to make sure that everyone has food on the table day and night and clothes on their back. As we face the many unknowns of the current health crisis, we continue to rely on farmers, farmworkers, transporters, assemblers, manufacturers and retailers just as much as ever. It’s critical that we recognize all players of the agri-food system and the important role they play in our daily lives. On this National Ag Day, we encourage you to celebrate the soil, water, seeds, producers, processors and the whole community who is dedicated to agriculture. What are some of the ways you have benefited from agriculture today? Do you know a farmer who grew or raised something you consumed or used today? If yes, please take a moment to thank them! If not, we encourage you to do research and make it your goal to build a relationship with a local producer. What is something you can do to spread awareness about the importance of agriculture in your daily lives? In your culture, how do you celebrate agriculture? Share your experiences with us!