MSU TO HOST FIRST ANNUAL EARTH CAFÉ Public invited to free sustainable lunch and World Café style dialogue session For the first time in Michigan State history, an open event inspired to Create awareness around responsible consumerism and sustainable food systems will be held on campus April 22, 2006. The Earth Café will feature a free lunch composed of locally produced, sustainable foods, as well as a World Café dialogue session in which participants will get the chance to discuss in small groups their views about sustainability, and the variety of possible ways in order to become a more environmentally-conscious consumer. 1. A viewing of Chris Bedford's film "What Will We Eat" will also take place, which focuses on a case example of these sustainable practices as they develop in Muskegon, MI. Participants can expect to gain a sense of community with fellow citizens as they explore the sustainable choices available to all Mid-Michigan consumers, and become empowered to affect a change in their own lives and the world around them. There will also be sustainably-produced hemp shopping totes to commemorate Earth Cafe and promote reusable shopping bags rather than disposable plastic or paper bags. A suggested donation of at least $5 will help fund MSU's Student Organic Farm's new permaculture project, supporting the community and furthering education about positive food options! For more info about bags contact Mitra at [log in to unmask] The Earth Café will begin with lunch at 1:00 p.m. on April 22, 2006, in the East Lower Lounge of Shaw Hall on the campus of MSU. Interested members of The community are invited to participate in some or all of the day's events. For more information, please contact Kevin Geyer. Tel. 989-529-0915 Email: [log in to unmask] Hope to see you all there! 2. An article concern how ethanol will impact small and sustainable farmers: http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId=11322 3. Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality will be holding day-long Environmental Compliance Conferences in Gaylord, Livonia and Grand Rapids during early June. Sessions address a number of issues that can come up for farms and for food processing -- groundwater discharge permitting, air quality issues, emergency planning, etc. Conference details are available at: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3308_3333_4169---,00.html. 4. Farm Bill Comment Summaries Available Online The USDA series of Farm Bill forums, allowing vegetable growers and other farmers across the country to voice their concerns about what should be included in the 2007 Farm Bill, is now complete. For the full story go to http://www.americanvegetablegrower.com/veggie_bytes/page.php?page=news#farmbill <http://www.americanvegetablegrower.com/veggie_bytes/page.php?page=news#farmbill> 5. LANSING, Mich. This week in Lansing a House committee will start considering Senate-passed legislation that would block local regulation of genetically modified crops. The bill would pre-empt local governments from adopting ordinances that regulate or ban the planting of genetically modified organisms. Environmental groups and organic farmers plan to oppose the legislation during Tuesday's House Agriculture Committee hearing. Critics argue that genetically modified organisms threaten public health and organic farmers, who worry about losing their organic certification because genetically modified crops could contaminate their fields. But backers are worried that Michigan communities will start limiting farmers from growing genetically modified crops. Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. 6. Michigan Organic Food and Farming A News Group for April 2006 Join us as we celebrate Earth Day coming up on Saturday, April 22. Do something this month to show how local organic food makes a healthier, cleaner world for all of us-host a local food meal, ask your local store to carry Michigan organic products this summer and fall, give someone a copy of Eating Organically--our guide to local and organic farms around Michigan. WorldWatch Magazine features an article in its May/June 2006 issue that considers the issue of organics from a global view. "Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?" discusses two recent studies that reveal a global shift to organic farming would yield more food, not less, for the world's hungry. Participate in an online discussion about the issue on April 18, at Noon (EST) by visiting www.worldwatch.org/live/discussion/122/. Visit www.worldwatch.org <http://www.worldwatch.org/> to learn more. If you are a new or returning member to MOFFA, welcome! We met and were reacquainted with lots of folks at several events over the past few months-the Northern MI Small Farm Conference in Grayling, the Michigan Organic Conference in East Lansing, the Rooted in Community Conference in Grand Rapids. When you join or renew as a member, you help us strengthen our voice for the organic community in Michigan, so we thank you for your support. Upcoming Events Michigan Healthy Living Expo, Oakland University, Rochester Saturday, April 22, 10 am to 8 pm Join MOFFA and Maple Creek Farm at the Michigan Healthy Living Expo, a celebration of health and the earth. Visit our exhibit to take home a free organic tomato transplant (courtesy of Maple Creek Farm) and other goodies. Michelle Lutz from Maple Creek will be speaking about organic food and farming at 11 am, and there are speakers on other topics throughout the day-green building, alternative fuels, natural healing, stress management, etc. The event is co-sponsored by Natural Awakenings Magazine, Whole Foods, Upland Hills Ecological Awareness Center and Oakland University. Admission: $10 adults, $7 students (pre-school aged kids are free). Check out MichiganHealthyLivingExpo.com for more info, or call 248-693-1021. The event is at the Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion; take Adams Road north of M-59, and turn left (west) on Meadowbrook Road. If you'd like to volunteer at the MOFFA exhibit, we have some complimentary passes so you can get in free. We're looking for volunteers to help in 3 hour blocks from 10 am to 1 pm, 1 pm to 4 pm, and 5 pm to 8 pm. Contact Carol Osborne at [log in to unmask] or 313-881-2980. MOFFA Annual Membership Meeting, MSU Student Organic Farm, Holt Saturday, April 29, 10 am to 2 pm Members will receive notice about the annual meeting in the soon-to-be-delivered Michigan Organic Connections newsletter. Members and others are welcome. The meeting includes a tour of the exciting Michgian State University Student Organic Farm, a community supported agriculture farm that provides vegetables and other foods for 48 weeks a year. Bring a dish to share for our potluck lunch. The meeting includes our annual business meeting where we'll announce our 2005 MOFFA Board Awards for Community Service, Volunteer of the Year, Public Service and Lifetime Achievement. Following the business meeting, take an optional tour of the MSU vegetable farm research fields. The Student Organic Farm is located as part of the MSU Horticulture Teaching & Research Center at 3291 College Road, south of the MSU campus and just south of I-96. Contact MOFFA with questions at [log in to unmask] or call 810-659-8414. (RSVP please so we know how many to expect for lunch and the tour.) Michigan Organic Advisory Committee, May 9, East Lansing The next meeting of the MOAC is from 11 to 3 pm in East Lansing at the USDA offices on Lake Lansing Road. Find out what's going on with plans for Michigan's organic law and efforts to get USDA approval for the Michigan Dept of Ag (MDA) to administer the NOP here. Read minutes from past MOAC meetings and find out more about the MOAC at the MDA website: http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1567_1600---,00.html <http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1567_1600---,00.html> For more information, contact Colleen Collier, Organic Program Manager at MDA, 517-373-0280 or [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> . MOFFA welcomes three new committee members: Jim Koan of Almar Orchards in Flushing; Cheryl Kobernik of North Star Organics in Frankfort; and Chris Dilley, People's Food Coop in Kalamazoo. MOFFA Volunteers Wanted Our office is located in Grosse Pointe Farms, and we are looking for volunteers. If you could help on occasion with bookkeeping tasks, database entry, membership contacts, requests for information, copying and mailing projects, etc. please contact Carol Osborne, Office Administrator, at 313-881-2980 or [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> . Office experience and/or knowledge of Excel, Word, Access and/or Quickbooks would be helpful. Some work can be done from your home. MOFFA Membership Renewals Members should receive a copy of our latest newsletter issue of Michigan Organic Connections in the next few weeks. If you don't receive your copy, please contact our office to make sure your membership information is up to date. Check the label on your newsletter to see if your annual membership is due or overdue-you can help us save money and paper resources by sending your renewal before we send out a renewal reminder. Cool Food Stamps at USPS Check out the new Crops of the Americas 39 cent stamps issued recently by the US Postal Service. Now you can add a little local food (and flowers) to your envelopes. Mark Your Calendars * Southwest Michigan Community Harvest Fest. September 17, 2006, Tillers International, Scotts (near Kalamazoo) * Growing Connections 2006 Conference & Organic Harvest Festival*. September 30, 9:30 to 6 pm, Springfield Oaks County Park, Davisburg (northern Oakland County) *Featuring Certified Organic & Local, Environmentally Conscious Grown Foods & Products * Bridging Borders Toward Food Security--Annual Conference of the Community Food Security Coaltion. October 7-11, Vancouver, British Columbia. www.bridgingbordersconference.org <http://www.bridgingbordersconference.org/> * 5th Great Lakes Bioneers Conference. October 20-22, Traverse City. www.GLBconference.org <http://www.glbconference.org/> * Raising Vegetables and Civic Values-Conference for Community Support Agriculture. November 10-12, Tustin, MI (south of Cadillac). www.csafarms.org/csaresources.asp ________________________________ Compiled by Carol Osborne, MOFFA volunteer. The MOFFA News Group is distributed about once a month to members of the MOFFA News Group and the MOFFA Board of Directors. It was prepared by the author(s) listed above, who are responsible for the news and views expressed here. We welcome your suggestions for events, news and other items. If you'd like to be removed from this email list at any time, please let us know. Contact MOFFA at PO Box 36880, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236, 810-659-8414, [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> , or visit www. <http://www.moffa.org> moffa.org <http://www.moffa.org> . 8. Agricultural risk-takers help grow, diversify Michigan's economy JAMES PRICHARD Associated Press DURAND, Mich. - Frank and Kay Jones have big plans for their small agricultural operation. At their 10-acre Earth Shine Farm in Shiawassee County, they raised and processed 2,400 organic chickens last year. Most were served in Flint-area restaurants. The Durand couple hopes to expand their niche business to 15,000 birds this year and perhaps to 40,000 in 2007, which will mean moving somewhere with more room to grow. If all goes according to plan, their 2.5-person operation - a part-time employee helped with the processing last summer - will require dozens of additional workers within a few years, Frank Jones says. The Joneses are among an increasing number of agricultural entrepreneurs whose successful ideas not only let them diversify their operations but also help diversify the state's economy. "Whenever you diversify, it allows you more opportunities," says Stephanie Gambrell, a domestic policy economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington. "Diversifying a farm operation is like diversifying a stock portfolio. Whenever things go bad in one area, hopefully you've got your bases covered in another area." The state's new 21st Century Jobs Fund, overseen by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., offers inducements to leading-edge entrepreneurs of all kinds, including those in Michigan's burgeoning agricultural and food-processing industries. Over the next decade, the fund will provide more than $2 billion in incentives to high-tech companies to spark new investment and create new jobs, says MEDC spokesman Mike Shore. A Michigan State University report released in January estimated the current and potential impact of agriculture, food processing and food sales on the state's economy to be $60.1 billion annually - and growing. The sector, directly and indirectly, employs over 1 million people. The 51-page study, performed at the request of state Agriculture Director Mitch Irwin, examined economic activities associated with food and non-food uses of Michigan's agricultural commodities. Some non-food uses include leather processing, ornamental plant production and ethanol output. "The system is likely second only to the automotive industry as a primary production sector," according to the report, which was produced by the university's Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources. That gap is likely to narrow if the auto industry continues to cut jobs, close plants and move work out of Michigan. The center, part of the school's Extension office, was established to help risk-taking farmers, companies and others develop and market products with what the center calls "added value." Some corn growers, for example, are processing their grains especially for use in corn-burning stoves while a few asparagus farmers are switching to a purple-colored variety that has become a favorite garnish in some upscale restaurants. The center also provides customers with access to Michigan State's educational materials, research data and technical expertise. Since the East Lansing-based center started accepting customers in January 2004, it has had a role in 44 business launches that have created at least 221 jobs. It has provided assistance - ranging from a single phone call to extensive business planning - to about 700 people and businesses, says Tom Kalchik, the center's associate director. The center's report estimates that between 12,000 and 23,000 new jobs will be created each year in Michigan as a result of more farmers and food processors selling products with added value. "When you begin to think about 12,000 new jobs, that's a lot of jobs," says H. Christopher Peterson, the center's director. The Joneses, who were among the center's first clients, raise only barred rock hens and roosters, a large breed that fetches the couple about $15 for a processed, four-pound bird - more than three times the price they would receive for a regular, whole chicken. Besides being fed organic corn, oat and soy meal, the Joneses' chickens are allowed to roam in a pasture, where they nibble on grass and clover. The carcasses of the processed birds are kept fresh by chilling them in a special air cooler, not by tossing them into vats of cold water, like most chickens. "We won't do it unless we can produce it this way," says Kay Jones. She and her husband are looking for a larger farm - perhaps around 80 acres - in the Marshall area where they can raise and process more chickens. The couple also wants to contract with a few farmers to do the same on their land, and to set up a delivery system. Working with other growers is critical to many agricultural businesses. For example, Michigan is one of the nation's largest producers of corn, with about 250 million bushels per year. Great Lakes Ethanol LLC, a farmer-owned startup company that also has done some planning with the center, will use locally raised corn at its ethanol-production facility under construction near Riga in Lenawee County. Ethanol is a corn-based type of alcohol that usually is mixed with gasoline to create a 10 percent ethanol blend of motor fuel approved for use in gasoline-burning vehicles sold in the United States. Larger amounts of ethanol or methanol, an alcohol usually derived from natural gas, can be burned in "flex-fuel" vehicles that automakers are starting to build in greater numbers. The Great Lakes Ethanol plant will have 60 employees and an annual production capacity of 50 million gallons, says Ken Lake, vice chairman. One of four plants scheduled to open in Michigan within the next two years, it's tentatively set to start operating Jan. 15. Michigan Ethanol LLC in Caro is the only other ethanol-production operation in the state. Its capacity is 45 million gallons per year. The new ethanol plants are "of huge importance" to the state's agricultural economy, says Lake. "What we are doing (at the Riga plant) is keeping 600 farmers in business." Grand Rapids Area 9. UPCOMING FOOD, FARMING, GARDENING & COMMUNITY EVENTS * LABEL ME CONFUSED: WHAT ORGANIC, FREE RANGE AND ALL THOSE OTHER WORDS REALLY MEAN - April 19, 2006 * YOUTH GARDENING 101 WORKSHOP - Saturday, April 22nd * ORGANIC VEGETABLE GARDENING - Tuesday, April 25, 2006 * GRAND RAPIDS AREA GARDENERS SEED SWAP & POTLUCK - Sat. April 29, 2006 * HERBS IN YOUR GARDEN - Wednesday, May 3, 2006 * LABEL ME CONFUSED: WHAT ORGANIC, FREE RANGE AND ALL THOSE OTHER WORDS REALLY MEAN Date: April 19, 2006 Time: 7PM Location: Wealthy St. Theater, 1130 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 A panel of small farmers will discuss the mind-numbing array of food terms used at the supermarket. The evening will begin with a screening of the award-winning documentary, My Father's Garden www.bullfrogfilms.com <http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/> Email [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> for details. YOUTH GARDENING 101 WORKSHOP??(SEE ATTACHMENT) Date: Saturday, April 22nd Time: 8:00-12:30 (Registration begins at 8am) Location: Metro Health Corporate Office, 1925 Breton SE Grand Rapids MI Cost: $15.00 (Scholarships are available) Who should attend? Educators, PTA members, parents involved in volunteering at schools, school administrators, youth organization leaders, and school nurses/school health professionals are all encouraged to apply.? Student leaders who will be involved in the project are also welcome. This workshop is designed for attendees to gain knowledge about the importance of schoolyard and youth based gardens and is intended to inform the public about existing gardens and types of garden programming in West Michigan. Attendees will also leave the workshop with a basic knowledge toolkit that includes ideas and resources to get gardens growing at their own schools and sites. Register NOW! Space is limited CONTACT: Lisa Rose Starner, MPA(o) 616.301.3592/ (f)-3429? (c) 616.240.6480 website: www.mixedgreens.org ORGANIC VEGETABLE GARDENING Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 Time: 7PM ? 9PM Location: Calvary Christian Reformed Church, 35000 Byron Center Ave. SW, Wyoming MI 49519 (1 block N of 36th & Byron Center Ave) Cost: $10 Learn to plan, plant, pick and prepare your nutrient dense produce. Learn steps to build healthy soils without using (synthetic) chemicals and fertilizers. Do it naturally. To register contact: Margaret Vavere 616-530-7500 (for credit card orders) or send check to Wyoming Community Ed. c/o Margaret Vavere, 2950 Clyde Park SW, Wyoming, MI 49509 GRAND RAPIDS AREA GARDENERS SEED SWAP AND POTLUCK Date: Saturday April 29, 2006 Time: 11AM ? 1PM Location: Hillcrest School, 1415 Lyon St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 (Located across from Hillcrest School) Cost: FREE with something to pass Come & celebrate the arrival of SPRING! Join us for this fun event to bring together area gardeners for learning, story telling, sharing and an exchange of seeds, starters, and good food. Find out about the many community, school and home garden in west Michigan. Bring your extra seeds or what ever you might want to share. Please RSVP by April 27 to Sally Triant @ 540-7236 or [log in to unmask] to let us know you are coming or with questions. Organized by the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council Community Garden Committee. HERBS IN YOUR GARDEN Date: Wednesday, May 3, 2006 Time: 7PM - 9PM Location: Calvary Christian Reformed Church, 35000 Byron Center Ave. SW, Wyoming MI 49519 (1 block N of 36th & Byron Center Ave) Cost: $10 Learn to plant and raise 13 different herbs for your kitchen garden? To register contact: Margaret Vavere 616-530-7500 (for credit card orders) or send check to Wyoming Community Ed. c/o Margaret Vavere, 2950 Clyde Park SW, Wyoming, MI 49509 Vicki Morrone Organic Vegetable and Crop Specialist C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems CARRS Departent of Community, Agriclture, Recreation and Resource Studies 303 Natural Resources Bldg Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-1222 Phone: 517-353-3542 Cell: 517-282-3557 FAX 517-353-3834 E-Mail: [log in to unmask] Don't forget! A carrot a day may keep the doctor away but an ORGANIC carrot a day, grown locally will taste good, support your farmer neighbor AND may keep the doctor away!!!