7. Legislation connects local farming to schools
A package of bills introduced in the House this week would open the doors
for more school districts to consider local options for food, which is a
growing national trend.
Rep. Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City), chair of the House Agriculture Committee and
sponsor to one of the measures in the package, said Thursday the legislation
is intended to remove barriers for schools so they can match up with
Michigan farmers to produce healthy food options for kids.
The package thus far includes HB 6365 , HB 6366 , HB 6367 , HB 6368 and HR
409 . In a nutshell the bills increase the competitive bidding threshold for
school districts purchasing food to $100,000 or more, codify the "Select
Michigan" program run by the Department of Agriculture and require the state
to create a farm-to-school program and disseminate information about growers
Mr. Mayes said the benefit to the state is two-fold: schools will get
healthy, locally-grown food for the kids while at the same time supporting
the state's second largest industry. He said current law makes it hard for
local producers to compete with large distributors for school food
contracts, but the legislation would change that.
"We want to grow our economy. This is one way to do that," he said, adding
that he thinks all types of schools could participate in such a program, not
just in rural areas, because Michigan crops can travel all over the state in
a relatively short time.
Rebecca Park, associate legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau,
agrees, saying the legislation is good for the industry and schools.
Don Wotruba, legislative affairs director for the Michigan Association of
School Boards, said the legislation would give schools flexibility when it
comes to food options for students.
But he, along with Ms. Park, expressed concern over how the measures would
be implemented should they become law. For one, Ms. Park said the creation
of a farm-to-school program would require more regulatory functions for the
department at a time when budgets are strained by the tasks already on the
Mr. Wotruba also said that when it comes to schools, officials are looking
at the volume of food available to fit their needs and a local grower might
not be able to meet that requirement. He also said many schools with the
free lunch program receive federal funding and already get discounted food
through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
However, both he and Ms. Park said the legislation is an important
opportunity for both schools and farmers.
Nationally, there are about 1,000 farm-to-school programs in 32 states,
according to the Community Food Security Coalition.
Nancy Nyquist, legislative liaison for the Department of Agriculture, said
they think a farm-to-school program (which has been developed by the
Michigan Land Use Institute) is an interesting concept, echoing sentiments
about the opportunity it presents.
As for the budgetary effect of a new program, she said that's something the
department would work on, but the legislation "is a good start."
Jan Ellis, spokesperson for the Department of Education, said they were
still looking over the bills dealing with competitive bidding on food
contracts and couldn't comment further. She did note the bill splits up
provisions provided in HB 5967 , which was introduced back in April but has
not been taken up by the committee.
Mr. Mayes said he hopes to hold a hearing on the legislative package
sometime this fall.
8. University of Wisconsin-Madison organic workshop and field tour
September 4, 2008, 1:00- 5:30 pm
Arlington Agricultural Research Station
This event will include three workshops held indoors featuring speakers
discussing issues concerning weed management, soil fertility management, and
minimal till organic agricultural using cover crops. Fields stops will
include research investigating the relationship between soil fertility and
insect feeding, as well as feature research projects focusing on the crimped
rye/soybean production system. Please contact Erin Silva (608-890-1503,
[log in to unmask]) for further information.
You can read more about the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for
Integrated Agricultural Systems at their website, http://www.cias.wisc.edu
9. Entrepreneurial Farm Tour
September 9-11, 2008
Tour area: Indiana & Western Ohio
If you would like to register, please call 989-875-5233 or e-mail
[log in to unmask] If you would just like more information, you can email
[log in to unmask] call Dan Hudson at 517-676-7207.
A three-day, entrepreneurial farm tour is planned for Sept. 9-11, 2008.
This tour will be similar to past multi-day farm tours to Iowa, Pennsylvania
and other states. This year's tour will showcase farm families who have
successfully explored and seized opportunities to enhance the profitability
of their operations. The stops will possibly feature sustainable farming
systems, diversified enterprises, bio-energy projects, organic operations,
alternative energy generation, fruit and vegetable production, greenhouses,
farmer-owned processing facilities, livestock for specialty markets,
farmer-owned retail markets, cooperative ventures, value-added enterprises,
manure and compost utilization, cover crops, strip tillage and no-till
systems, and direct marketing strategies, as well as many other examples of
how family farmers are finding ways to be more profitable while enjoying it
as well. We are working on getting the cost for this program well below
$200/person (including meals, lodging, transportation) for this three day
Indiana Farm Tour
Tuesday September 9, 2008
7:00 am leave 27/57 park and ride
8:00 am leave Charlotte park and ride
10:00 am arrive at an Amish Vegetable Auction in LaGrange County Indiana,
meet with organizers and selected producers and buyers.
12:00 noon arrive at Cooks Bison Ranch in LaGrange County. and eat chuck
wagon lunch, tour ranch (bison)
4:00 pm arrive Shuter Sunset farm Madison County. Strip tillage, certified
freezer beef, rotational grazing, precision ag tech, efficiencies in grain
6:00pm Smith farm and supper, agri-tourism, dairy replacements, pumpkins,
3000 acres cash crop
8:00pm Hotel in Area
Wednesday September 10, 2008
7:00am breakfast at Hotel
8:00am board bus
8:30 am Moody Meats, Adam Moody, Lone Pine farm pastured poultry and beef on
250 acres plus processing and unique market.
10:30 am Langeland Farms, Decatur County. Organic corn, soybean, dry bean,
wheat & popcorn production and processing plus 249 acres of intensive
grazing of cattle, chickens, and goats.
12:00 noon Shane Meier Farm, Columbus: long-term continuous no-till corn;
building soils with cover crops
2:30pm Dale Brown, Cover Crops
4:00pm Strangers Hill Vegetable Farm and Market, Bloomington area
6:00pm Swiss Connection, Clay County. Chuck wagon style supper, Creamery,
cheese production, pastured based dairy
Thursday, September 11, 2008
7:00 am Breakfast Hotel
8:00 am board bus
8:30 am Wind Energy Farm, Benton County
9:45am Biodiesel on farm production, White County
11:00am Biotown USA, Reynolds, Indiana, lunch with participating farmers
2:00pm Fair Oaks Farm, Large Dairy, Tourism, Ag Promotion, Methane Digester
4:00pm leave for home
6:00pm supper somewhere
8:00pm arrive Charlotte
9:00pm arrive 27/57
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dan Hudson:
Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator
Ingham County MSU Extension
121 E. Maple Street
P.O. Box 319
Mason, MI 48854
Office Phone: 517-676-7207 ext 729
10. Growing Hope’s Tour de Fresh
September 16, 5 – 8:30 pm
Garden and sustainable food system tour
Come learn, eat, and tour with Growing Hope!
In many communities, including Ypsilanti, barriers in access to healthy,
fresh food are
being overcome by people working towards strong, sustainable local food
Community & school gardens, urban micro-farms, local groceries, food co-ops,
farmers’ markets are some of the ways people in our community are creating
opportunities for food production & healthy food access, all while
supporting our local
economy. The Tour de Fresh will exhibit a few of these inspirational efforts
Sign-in begins at 4:30pm at our Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers’ Market (MI Ave
& Hamilton), tour
leaves at 5:00pm, ending with a light meal made by local gardeners! Rain or
shine, all ages welcome!
Requested Donation $1-20
Join us on either the driving or biking tour by calling (734 786 8401) or
([log in to unmask]) to reserve your spot today!
Details at www.growinghope.net or by calling us at 734.786.8401.
11. Gearing up to increase production: An equipment field day for vegetable
farmers September 18, 2008, 9:00 - 4:00.
This event, sponsored by the USDA’s FSA, will be held at Michigan State
University’s SWMREC (Southwest Michigan Research Center) in Benton Harbor.
The event will feature exhibitions and demonstrations of equipment (brought
both by vendors and local farmers) in the morning. We will then provide
lunch, and will then allow participants the opportunity to speak with
representatives from FSA, credit unions, and equipment vendors in a trade
Cost is $25 per person before September 12 and $30 per person after this
date. A box lunch is included.
Trade booths are available for $50 until September 12 and $75 after this
date, including walk-ins. Price includes registrations for two people, a
table and two chairs.
You may register online at http://web2.canr.msu.edu/mottgroup/ where you
can pay securely by credit card, check, or MSU account. If you prefer to
register by mail, instructions for doing so are found on our event flyer.
The flyer can be found at:
For more information, visit www.MichiganOrganic.msu.edu or contact: Vicki
Morrone, (517) 353-3542. This program is sponsored by the USDA Farm Service
Agency and the CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State
12. Intro to Permaculture: Ecological Edible Landscapes
An OEFFA workshop
Saturday, Sept 20 - 9am-5pm
Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Classroom A
1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle, Cleveland OH 44106-1767
Join us as we explore the basics of permaculture, a system of design
that uses principles and processes found in nature to create food, fuel,
and fiber for people, while caring for the earth and its inhabitants.
We’ll focus on edible forest gardens; gardens which look and function
like forests and provide food for people in urban and rural homes alike.
From the design through planting and care, expert designers Josh
Beniston of Habitats Landscaping and Brett Joseph of Conneaut Creek Farm
will teach us how to create such a garden anywhere. We’ll top it all off
by getting our hands dirty and installing a garden within walking
distance of the workshop. $45 OEFFA members/ $60 non-members. Class size
is limited so sign up early! Please bring your own brown bag lunch.
To register, send your check, along with your name, address, phone
number and email to: OEFFA Workshops, 41 Croswell Road, Columbus OH
43214. Questions can be directed to [log in to unmask] or 614-421-2022.
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