Our second session with the 2018-19 National Farmers Union’s (NFU) Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) took us into the country’s heart of organic produce, the salad bowl of America, the sunny Salinas Valley, California. Again, we were the last to arrive late at night, and a bit jet-lagged. For the first day of training, we participated in a hands-on learning session, hosted in partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), an organization dedicated to creating economic opportunity for limited-resource and aspiring organic farmers through land-based education. ALBA creates farming opportunities while providing education and demonstration of organic farming, conservation, and habitat restoration. About 35 farmers operate their small organic farm at ALBA on an annual basis.
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.