It’s a Wednesday morning at the Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace and the room is fragrant with fresh, cut flowers overflowing in buckets. There’s dahlias from Luella Acres, zinnias from Fresh Cut Detroit, and eucalyptus from Seeley Farms. Now in its second year, the Michigan Flower Growers’ Cooperative is creating a new model for local flower growers to sell to florists and other wholesale buyers.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) was founded over 110 years ago and advocates for grassroots policy change that supports the welfare of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and consumers. NFU writes, “We promote sustainable production of food, feed, fiber, and fuel and work with our 200,000 member families nationwide to support smart farm policies, educate the public and develop the next generation of farm leaders.” To achieve this mission, the nationwide organization coordinates legislative fly-ins in the spring and fall every year as critical issues come before Congress for a vote.
The days are getting shorter and the smell of drying leaves and woodsmoke is in the air. Fall is here and that means it’s back to school for Michigan’s 1.5 million public school students. For many of us, back to school conjures up a variety of images and smells: freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks, new backpacks, and the infamous mystery meals served in the cafeteria. For many of Michigan’s students, however, the school year also brings with it the tantalizing smells and flavors of locally sourced, and carefully prepared, food.
Registration is now open for the fifth biennial Michigan Good Food Summit! The Summit will be held on Monday, October 22, 2018 at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center on Michigan State University’s campus. New this year, the conference will be a Certified Local Food Event with at least 20% of all ingredients coming from local producers.
Here are a few July job postings for organizations in Southern Michigan that support the local food and agriculture movement.
Michael Timmins was initiated into the world of food at a young age. His parents owned three bakeries in metro Detroit. And since that time, although Timmins has traveled the world and garnered gastronomic knowledge from the best of the best, from Japan to Germany to Israel, he sticks to his Michigan roots.
All your friends beg for your famous granola for holiday and birthday gifts. You find yourself spending hours in the kitchen and everyone encourages you to start selling your granola at the local farmers market. Thanks to the Michigan Cottage Food Law, you’re able to make your granola in your kitchen and sell it at the farmers market. However, your kitchen is quickly becoming too small to keep up with production demands and you want to start selling to the local grocery store. In order to grow your business, you need commercial kitchen space. Constructing a commercial kitchen that meets state licensing requirements, however, is more than your small business can afford. Fortunately for you, there is a shared kitchen space in town: Proud Mitten Shared Kitchen!
The Farm Bill is a large piece of legislation that is renewed every 5 or so years. It includes funding for a wide range of programs (SNAP, crop insurance, conservation, local food promotion, farmer training, and more) that impact everyone in the United States. This year, The Farm Bill is up for renewal and its current draft would fail family farmers and ranchers, hungry Americans, and the environment. It is important that we all take the time to reach out to our Congress people and ask them to support a stronger Farm Bill for farmers, ranchers and consumers.
Spring has officially sprung and that means it is time to hit the farmers markets! Southeast Michigan boasst a large number of farmers markets and 15 of these are in Washtenaw County. As you plan your spring and summer schedule, make sure to include visits to the Washtenaw County Farmers Markets. You can find more details about these markets at washtenawmarkets.org.
As awareness of local food grows, more people are becoming interested in understanding the economic impacts of local food systems. While many of us may be motivated to buy local food by values like preserving farmland, supporting small businesses, and expanding access to fresh, healthy food, these goals are economic development goals. Economic growth is a much narrower measure centered on increases in jobs and sales, or monetary value. To be sure, economic growth is a limited way of judging success, but there are times when it is helpful to justify food system initiatives in terms of economic growth to decision-makers like funders or local government officials.