Michigan Organic Listserv

September 2, 2010


Organic News Articles

Balanced' ecosystems seen in organic ag better at controlling pests

by David Crowder Washington State University.

More balanced animal and plant communities typical of organic farms work better at fighting pests and growing a better plant.

The researchers looked at insect pests and their natural enemies in potatoes and found organic crops had more balanced insect populations in which no one species of insect has a chance to dominate. And in test plots, the crops with the more balanced insect populations grew better.

"I think 'balance' is a good term," says David Crowder, a post-doctorate research associate in entomology at Washington State University. "When the species are balanced, at least in our experiments, they're able to fulfill their roles in a more harmonious fashion."

Crowder and colleagues here and at the University of Georgia use the term "evenness" to describe the relatively equal abundance of different species in an ecosystem. Conservation efforts more typically concentrate on species richness—the number of individual species—or the loss of individual species. Crowder's paper is one of only a few to address the issue. It is the first the first to look at animal and fungal communities and at multiple points in the food chain.

The researchers say their results strengthen the argument that both richness and evenness need to be considered in restoring an ecosystem. The paper also highlights insect predator and prey relationships at a time when the potato industry and large French fry customers like McDonald's and Wendy's are being pushed to consider the ecological sustainability of different pest-control practices.

Conventional pest-management on farms often leads to biological communities dominated by a few species. Looking at conventional and organic potato farms in central Washington State's Columbia Basin, Crowder found that the evenness of natural pests differed drastically between the two types of farms. In the conventional fields, one species might account for four out of five insects. In the organic fields, the most abundant species accounted for as little as 38 percent of a field's insect predators and enemies.

Using field enclosures on Washington State University's Pullman campus, Crowder recreated those conditions using potato plants, Colorado potato beetles, four insect species and three soil pathogens that attack the beetles. When the predators and pathogens had similar numbers, says Crowder, "we would get significantly less potato beetles at the end of the experiment."

"In turn," he adds, "we'd get bigger plants."

Crowder says he is unsure why species evenness was lower in conventional crops. It could be from different types of fertilization or from insecticides killing some natural enemies more than others.

Article can be found online at:


USDA bars organic certifier from operating in China

by The Organic & Non-GMO Report July/August 2010

The National Organic Program has barred an organic certifier from operating in China for at least one year after an audit revealed conflicts of interest with the Chinese government.

NOP said that Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) had Chinese government employees, not independent inspectors, performing inspections at state-owned organic farms.

OCIA was one of USDA’s 4top organic inspectors in China, responsible for certifying US bound fruits, vegetables, rice and other products from about 231 farms and processors.

OCIA can apply for reaccreditation as an NOP certifying agent in China after one year and must hire inspectors independent of the Chinese government.

In a statement, OCIA said “OCIA respects the decision of the National Organic Program and would like to thank the NOP for their willingness to work with OCIA through this process. Although OCIA appealed the findings of the NOP, we recognize that conflict of interest concerns can bring into question the entire certification process of an accredited certifier by the organic industry and by the general public.” (SOURCE: Vance Publishing)

Article can be found online at:


Heavy rains hamper organic grain production in Midwest

by The Organic & Non-GMO Report July/August 2010

Heavy rain in the Upper Midwest and Eastern Cornbelt has hampered organic farming, causing serious weed problems and damaging some crops. Crops further east saw drier weather which depleted soil moisture. Organic grain and feed prices in the Upper Midwest were steady with light demand throughout June. Stored supplies of organic wheat totaled 973 bushels, up 48% from last year. Organic feed corn prices were $4.15 to $5.00 per bushel, while organic food-grade soybean prices were $21.00 to $23.00 per bushel and feed grade soybeans were $16.15 to $17.10 per bushel. Organic grain prices in the Eastern Cornbelt were steady with light demand on moderate offerings. Prices for organic feed corn were $4.75 to $5.79 per bushel, while feed-grad soybeans were $16.20 to $17.00 per bushel.

What is MIFMA? (The Michigan Farmers Market Association)

The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) was started in 2006 as a statewide association to promote local food consumption in Michigan by connecting more farmers to consumers through farmers markets. MIFMA’s mission is to advance farmers markets to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products. Their vision is to place farmers markets at the forefront of the local food movement and works to ensure all residents have access to healthy, locally grown food and that Michigan farmers markets receive policy support.

To learn more about MIFMA visit:

Below is a article written for MIFMA’s August 2010 Newsletter by Kathryn Colasanti, CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems.


A Vision for Good Food in Michigan

By Kathryn Colasanti, CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food System

The Michigan Good Food Charter reemphasizing our local and regional food systems and by promoting “good food” – food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.
As farmers market managers, vendors and advocates, you know intimately the impact that building up a local food system can have in supporting farmers and creating new opportunities for residents to find fresh, healthy food. The Michigan Good Food Charter is intended to strengthen these connections by reemphasizing our local and regional food systems and by promoting “good food” – food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.

While Michigan grows an amazing array of fruits, vegetables and other foods, 59 percent of our residents still live in places with inadequate access to healthy food. And while there is growing interest in local foods, we are still losing too many farms and are still failing to provide a reasonable income to too many farmers, who must support themselves through off-farm work.

If we really want Michigan to be a place where our people are healthy and our communities are prosperous, we need to enact policies that assure all Michiganders have access to good food and all Michigan farmers and food businesses have opportunities to be profitable. The Michigan Good Food Charter lays out a vision, a series of goals, and a set of specific policy priorities to get us there.

Many of these policy priorities could support farmers markets, including:

Maximizing public benefit programs by supporting matching programs like Detroit’s “Double-Up Food Bucks” and encouraging foundations to assist with funding to enable more farmers markets to accept Bridge Cards.

Urging local officials to include farmers markets in comprehensive planning and zoning.

Establishing food business districts that would enable farmers markets to locate near other food based businesses and foster a hub of economic activity connecting farmers, buyers, processors and retailers.

Committing additional resources to increasing the number of farmers markets in under served areas.

Creating a Michigan Food and Farming Corps program, similar to Americorps, that would enable recent graduates or others interested in serving their community to help develop or expand farmers markets.

Highlighting farmers markets, and other Michigan food and agriculture places, in state marketing and tourism promotion efforts.

Ensuring that Michigan’s food- and agriculture related laws and regulations do not create unnecessary transaction costs and regulatory burdens on low-risk businesses, like many farmers market vendors.

Whether you are a farmers market manager, market vendor or community advocate, you can advance the vision of the Michigan Good Food Charter.

You can familiarize yourself with the charter at and then talk to candidates in your district or officials in your city about the priorities that are important to you.

You can sign the Resolution of Support form at as an individual, farm or market. Several farmers markets have already done this!

You can register for our upcoming webinar (September 7th noon-1pm) on how to take the charter to state and local decision makers and signup for the FoodSpeak listserv to stay up-to-date on other opportunities. See

You can request copies of the Michigan Good Food charter or executive summary to hand out to customers at your market, link to from your website or organize citizens in your community to discuss how to make the charter priorities a reality where you live.

Let’s work together to create a system based on good food in Michigan and achieve a healthier, more prosperous and more equitable state!

For more information, contact Kathryn Colasanti at 517-353-0642 or [log in to unmask].

Current News Articles for Cover Crop & Vegetable Production

Alfalfa- A crop for hay or building soil

This is a crop that can be grown on a field for hay, pasture, or even as a cover crop. If land will not be used for crop production for more than a single season-alfalfa can be grown, harvested a couple times, then turned into the soil (probably a couple of passes) a season prior to planting (need at least 3 weeks for crop to break down prior to planting). Alfalfa is a perennial crop that does well in Michigan and the seed is readily available. It is a legume so it “fixes” nitrogen. It provides a good cover for weed competition and has deep roots to help mine nutrients, mellow soil as well as produce nitrogen through nitrogen fixation.  The table offered in this report is also available on the Michigan organic web site ( It contains data on alfalfa varieties as well as red clover and rye-all good crops for multi purpose use.

Summer Seeding Alfalfa
by Phil Kaatz, Michigan State University Extension

Opportunities for planting alfalfa typically are done in the early spring or during the summer. The following recommendations are the result of research done at Michigan State University. Successful summer seedings can be established, however, timely seeding is important.

As you plan your new alfalfa seedings, consider the following basic principles:

Select the appropriate alfalfa variety for your soil and management system. Improved varieties have been tested by Michigan State University to provide information on yield, persistence, and forage quality as the primary considerations for highly productive stands. Improved varieties can yield up to 144% of public varieties such as Vernal. For details, refer to MSU Bulletin, FORAGE VARIETIES FOR MICHIGAN IN 2010 at

Consider the options for diseases and insects based on variety selection. Potato Leaf hopper (PLH) is an insect that reduces alfalfa yield each year in Michigan. The use of insecticides to control PLH at thresholds is recommended or another alternative is to plant PLH resistant varieties.

Soil testing should be required. Alfalfa is well adapted to soils that are well drained and have good moisture retention. The time and money spent to collect soil for testing can quickly be recovered in savings on fertilizer or lime and improve productivity. If lime is needed, start working the lime into the field 6 months before seeding. If this isn’t possible, try to apply half of the lime at seedbed preparation and half at planting. Either method is better than waiting to apply lime after the seeding has been planted. Alfalfa has an optimum soil pH of 6.8 but will grow at soil pH 6.0 with reduced yields.

Examine the conventional methods for seeding (plowing and tillage before drilling) before choosing no-till (drilling seeds directly into sod). In either case the results can be excellent, but it takes planning. In some cases, you’ll need to work the field a full season ahead of planting. Brush and weeds such as quackgrass should be dealt with using treatments of herbicide and/or tillage the year before you seed. Plow and work the field to destroy weeds before seeding, especially to kill quackgrass. If necessary, use an herbicide such as Roundup, following the label directions on rates and waiting time before seeding.

For summer seedings, seed between July 15 and August 1 in northern regions of Michigan and August to August 15 in southern regions. If the weather late in the summer is very dry, wait until next spring. It’s important for the young seedlings to have adequate moisture for continued growth into the early fall period to insure good winter hardiness.

Seedings should be shallow. To establish a pasture or hayfield, use a drill that places the grass and legume seeds not more than ¼ to ½ inch below the surface. On most soils you’ll need to pack the surface with press wheels, a roller or a cultipacker. On small acreage, much of the equipment used to establish lawns can be used to seed pastures or hay fields.

The use of a cover crop such as oats should not be used in summer seedings because of strong competition for water and nutrients. Alfalfa should not be seeded with wheat in the fall because of the danger of winter injury.

Taking the time to plan and implement these steps prior to planting can provide the opportunity for long-lived alfalfa stands. Many Michigan farmers are faced with equipment, land and labor costs that are increasing exponentially, while the value of the products sold off the farm gain slowly, hold or decline. Increasing the profit margin requires good management and improved varieties to increase yields.

Summer Seeding Alfalfa was published in The Crop Connection (A MSUE Greater Thumb Area Ag Team Publication)


Lessons from the 2010 Wheat Season
by Martian Nagelkirk, Michigan State University Extension

Before this year’s wheat crop is put to bed, it may be a good idea to jot down the experiences from yet another unique season. While this is best done on an individual field or farm basis, this observer can offer some suggestions, albeit only one person’s perspective

Relative to wheat performance there were two factors that stole 10 or more bushels of yield on many, if not most, acres. The first is last fall’s delayed planting. Granted, there is little one can do where the preceding crop is slow to mature. However, the fact remains that yield potential tends to slip approximately a bushel for every day planting is delayed into October.

The other significant drag on this season’s grain yields were leaf diseases. In the spring, Powdery Mildew became aggressive where there were thick stands of a susceptible variety. Thanks to some warm and dry weather in mid May, the disease was largely arrested and rarely advanced up unto the flag leaf. Because of this, the yield loss to mildew may have been limited to 2 to 6 bushels an acre. The other disease that was a factor in all Thumb wheat fields was Leaf Blotch. It thrived under the relatively warm and damp conditions following Memorial Day and readily made its way up unto the flag leaf. In fact, in some fields it continued to climb to the head causing Glume Blotch. This single disease, plus a sprinkling of leaf rust and striped rust probably caused yield losses in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 bushels per acre where untreated.

Foliar fungicides made a significant difference. Although they cannot rescue all the bushels that are lost from any disease, they can significantly protect some of the yield. Grossly generalizing the results from one trial near Sandusky, a single application of a strobilurin or triazole fungicide at full-tillering resulted in a yield advantage of approximately 5 bushels; applied at flag leaf resulted in a 3.5 bushel advantage; and applied at flowering resulted in a 6 bushel advantage. In a second trial where fungicides were applied across several varieties, the average yield increases were twice that of the first trial. The lesson being, fungicides can make a significant difference to the bottom line in years where foliar diseases are abundant.

Another lesson (or reminder) from the 2010 season was that predicting Fusarium Head Blight is still extremely difficult. During early flowering, the weather was warm and dry prompting many to forego the use of a fungicide on white wheat. This concurred with the national scab model. Unfortunately, the weather soon took on a damp pattern encouraging flag leaf diseases and, especially where flowering began following Memorial Day, some Head Scab. The experience here is a reminder that Head Scab predictions need to incorporate a weather forecast and that disease development happens very quickly once the weather environment favors the pathogens.

There is cause for optimism as one looks to the 2011 wheat season. Besides a boost in crop price, a timely planting is much more likely this fall and the experience of this year’s disease challenges should serve growers well in managing the new crop.

Lessons from the 2010 Wheat Season was published in The Crop Connection (A MSUE Greater Thumb Area Ag Team Publication)

Celery leaf tier are present
by Zsofia Szendrei, Entomology

Celery Leaf Tier Moths are on the rise. The larva attacks many species of cultivated flowers, weeds and vegetables including beets, spinach, beans as well as celery.

Over the last month growers, consultants and agronomists have called to report large numbers of the celery leaf tier moth throughout the state. They noticed the moths rising up in great numbers as they moved through fields. The little moths are everywhere, since the larvae of the celery leaf tier attack many species of cultivated flowers, weeds and vegetables including beets, spinach, beans and celery. This insect is not a pest of soybeans or corn. Another generation will occur in fall, closer to harvest. As a larva, this insect is a small, greenish-yellow and three-quarters of an inch-long caterpillar that lives in the upper leaves of plants. It gets its name from rolling and then tying together the leaves with silk in order to make a protective shelter. Small larvae feed on leaves, but as they grow, they move to the upper portions of the petiole. Adult celery leaf tier resembles European corn borer on first look, except that it is smaller and has a “snout” mouthpart appearance. Photos can be viewed at this website: Its wingspan is about 0.75 inch compared to the European corn borer’s at 1.0 to 1.25 inch wingspan.

Petiole damage looks like cutworm or looper damage with circular depressions and hollowed out tissue. Tied leaves, webbing and the presence of the larvae are contaminants at harvest. Small larvae can be controlled with BT products, but larger larvae may be more difficult to control. Because this pest is sporadic (meaning that it only occurs in large numbers in some years and not in others), there is no treatment threshold developed specifically for Michigan. According to a recommendation from Virginia Tech, the following treatments threshold is recommended: at five different locations in a field inspect 20 plants for larvae on a weekly basis. Treatment is warranted if there are more than four weeks before harvest and there are two or more larvae per 100 plants. (

Article can be found online in the MSU Vegetable CAT Alert newsletter

Cold Frames

Start gardening early and keep on growing later in the season with a simple soil warmer you can build yourself.

You might think that the growing season has a finite beginning and end: the last frost in spring and the first frost in fall. But, in fact, many gardeners try to start planting and harvesting when frost still threatens. With a simple cold frame, you can extend your season by a month or more on either end—in some climates, you can grow right through the winter with one. A cold frame is an ideal place to gradually acclimate tomato or pepper seedlings grown indoors to conditions outside.

What is a cold frame? Nothing more than four walls to trap heat and shelter plants, and a transparent lid that admits light. You can make the walls from any sturdy material—plywood, concrete, even bales of hay. An old window works perfectly as a lid, but you can also use Plexiglas or plastic sheeting tacked to a frame.

The lid's size usually determines the dimensions of the cold frame. Still, you'll want it to be larger than 2 by 4 feet to make it worth your while; you don't want it much larger than 3 by 6 feet, so that you can reach all the plants inside. Build the back 4 to 6 inches higher than the front to maximize the amount of light that reaches the plants inside and to allow water or melting snow to drain off the top easily.

The best site for your cold frame, according to Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, is a south-facing, sunny spot with good drainage and some protection from the wind. Ideally, the site should get full sun from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. You can set up a cold frame permanently in your garden, or make one that you put away when you're not using it.

Before you set up a cold frame in a permanent spot, dig out the top 3 or 4 inches of soil inside the frame and replace it with a layer of coarse gravel. Then put 6 inches of topsoil back. This will ensure good drainage.

You can grow cold-frame plants in pots, flats or, if you're growing just one type of plant (say, salad greens) plant right in the soil.

The key to using a cold frame successfully is paying attention to the temperature—and the trick is in keeping it cool rather than warm. The temperature inside the cold frame should stay below 75 degrees F for summer plants, below 60 degrees for plants that normally grow in spring and fall. The way to keep temperatures cool inside a cold frame is to lift the lid. A good rule of thumb: when outdoor temperatures are above 40 degrees, prop open the lid 6 inches; when the outdoor temps clear 50 degrees F, remove the lid. Be sure to restore the lid in late afternoon to trap the heat inside for the cool night. You can also buy automatic venting devices in some gardening catalogs.

On frigid nights, the plants inside the cold frame may need a little extra protection to keep from freezing. Most heat escapes through the glass, so pile insulation on top. You can use old blankets, straw, newspaper or whatever is handy. Snow insulates well, too, but brush heavy snow off the glass so it doesn't break.

Cold Frame article can be found online at:,7518,s1-5-19-106-1-1-2,00.html

Michigan Regional Reports Available on Vegetable Production, August 25, 2010

The MSU Crop Advisory Team Vegetable Alerts (CAT Alerts) Regional Reports are out for the following areas. In these reports you will find information on weather, growth stages, small and tree fruits. To view reports visit:

Resources on Organic Farming

The new Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual is now available online

The purpose of this manual is to provide an overview of the concept of soil health. It provides guidelines on how to conduct in field qualitative and quantitative soil health assessment. It includes a how-to guide for proper soil sampling, an overview of laboratory methods used to assess the health status of soil, the soil health report and their interpretation, and identifies management strategies for improving soil health based on measured constraints.

The Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual can be found in pdf format at under the Soil Building and Compost Tab. Or visit the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences web page


Job Opportunities

Nutrition Education Project Coordinator at Springport Public Schools

Position:  Nutrition Education Project Coordinator

Description:  Springport Public Schools is seeking a candidate for the position of Program Coordinator to manage Springport’s Nutrition Education through Gardening program.  The Coordinator’s responsibilities in this area will include:

This is an excellent opportunity for the ideal candidate with a combination of education and/or experience in agriculture and/or nutrition and/or education.

Anticipated Salary and Benefit Package:
$60,000 (Based on an academic year, plus 2 days/week throughout the summer months)

Apply to: 
    Randall Cook, Superintendent

                   Springport Public Schools

                   300 W. Main Street

                   Springport, MI 49284


Growing Hope is seeking an Outreach & Volunteerism Manager

Position Title:
Outreach & Volunteerism Manager

Growing Hope is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals, groups and communities through community gardening and increasing access to healthy food.

Position Description:
Growing Hope is seeking an experienced and dedicated full-time manager to oversee the Outreach, Volunteerism, and Communications at Growing Hope. This position will both oversee inquiries (volunteers, program participants, partners, et al) to the organization and manage external communications. This includes management of the organizational website, publications, e-newsletters, social networking, program & event promotion, educational signage, press relations, and outreach at community events. S/he will oversee the utilization of volunteers throughout the organization, focusing on effective volunteer training, retention and evaluation of volunteer efforts/impact, and tracking. S/he will be a lead in targeted and ongoing community assessment and gathering stakeholder feedback, and may serve as an organizational liaison in local and regional coalitions, including some involved in public policy. S/he may also oversee implementation of social enterprise strategies. This person will be responsible for supervision of Americorps*VISTA members, seasonal/temporary staff and interns, and volunteers.
Qualified candidates will exhibit the following:
Compensation: Mid-$30K’s, partial benefits available

To apply:
Resume & 2 page cover letter, complete with references, to Amanda Edmonds, Executive Director at [log in to unmask]. Samples of written or visual work also welcome, though not required. Position open until filled.

National Service AmeriCorps*VISTA Positions At Growing Hope and Local Partners in Washtenaw County, Michigan

Position Overview:
Growing Hope is currently recruiting applicants for VISTA positions for 12-month terms of service, to begin in November 2010 and run through November 2011. However, prospective members who are willing to commit to a two-year term of service will be given some preference. Growing Hope is a community-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to help people improve their lives and communities through gardening and healthy local food systems.

To Apply::There are two steps to the application, and until both are completed, we will not review your application.

1) Go to to enter the Americorps online application website. Create your online Americorps application. Once completed, you still need to submit your application to Growing Hope. Do a search for Michigan and Growing Hope you’ll find us among the results—from there you should be able to submit the application to us. Note: until your references have completed their sections describing you on the Americorps website, your application is not complete.

Submit a resume and 2-page letter describing your interests and qualifications by September 10th, 2010 at the latest—but applications will be reviewed and selections made on a rolling basis, so it is helpful to get yours completed right away. Electronic applications encouraged; please email (as attachments) to [log in to unmask]. If mailing, please send materials to Growing Hope, PO BOX 980129, Ypsilanti, MI, 48198, or drop off at our office at 32 North Washington, Suite 11, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. After receiving materials and completing online application above, applicants will need to be available for interviews in person or by phone (in-person preferred). Please read on for position areas, and specify in your letter which position( s) you are interested in, and how your qualifications match that/those position description(s).

Vista Position Descriptions:

Volunteer Coordinator: The Volunteer Coordinator will work to recruit, implement, and retain volunteers for Growing Hope and its programs, with an emphasis on building volunteer capacity and retaining volunteers from our target audiences. This VISTA will work with other Growing Hope staff to implement effective volunteer opportunities in Growing Hope’s programming. Strong interpersonal and outreach skills are a must, as are organizational and management skills.

Youth & Education Coordinator:
This VISTA will work to spread the word about Growing Hope in the community, growing the next generation of healthy eaters and gardeners, with a focus on youth and young adult programming in schools, after school, through youth volunteerism and internships, et al. This VISTA member must have experience leading children and youth in classroom and other settings, and be able to balance a flexible attitude with the necessary structure and discipline for documentation and planning. This member also helps develop and maintain partners and collaborations with other youth-serving organizations. Among the dynamic programs this position works with are Seed2Plate—middle school after school clubs—and teen interns who act as peer educators.

Farmers’ Market & Food Stamp Outreach Coordinator: Work to build capacity of a five-year old urban farmers market in Downtown Ypsilanti with a focus on increasing access to healthy food for community members, while mentoring other markets in the area to begin to accept food stamps/EBT. Beyond general management duties, primary emphasis will be on recruitment of and outreach to low-income community members, including Project FRESH participants, EBT consumers, seniors, and youth. The Market Manager will also work to build the capacity of volunteers, interns, and others to create a sustainable market. During non-market season, Market Manager will take leadership in other Growing Hope health & nutrition initiatives and being a peer mentor to other markets.

Community Organizer & Community Health Organizer:
Up to two positions will be recruited. These VISTA members will expand community-based garden peer education, develop organizational models for community & school garden development and partnership, facilitate our training program for community garden organizing, and work heavily with volunteers. The health organizer will work to fulfill outreach and other strategic organizing objectives of the Ypsilanti Health Coalition, by developing information-sharing resources and being a strong presence throughout the Ypsilanti community—public health or social background preferred for this slot. Both VISTA members in these roles need to be exceptionally skilled at relationship building and follow through, to support developing and new gardens and teams of garden planners. Public speaking, comfort in communicating with many audiences in a variety of settings, and excellent follow through are essential. Experience in community organizing and outreach are also key.

Organic Farm & Garden Manager:
This VISTA member will work to develop Growing Hope’s new urban demonstration farm & garden by organizing and leading volunteers to carry out the work. The goal of this position is to both develop the infrastructure of the new site and to set up appropriate tracking, management, and evaluation systems so that the farm can be effectively and efficiently managed by volunteers and used as a community training space. This position will also expand the educational signage and opportunities as the site develops. A farm in the city means more than just growing food—it means keeping a site to good neighborly standards, prioritizing volunteer training, organizing logistics of site development, managing community relations for the site as people drop in, and serving on the site development team. This position may be involved with the development of job training programs for future urban farmers, both youth and adults. Farming & gardening experience required, as well as a high degree of self-directedness, proactive communication skills, a high degree of organization, and creative resourcefulness.

Urban Agriculture Social Enterprise Coordinator:
This VISTA member will work to expand Growing Hope’s social enterprise efforts, from business planning and thorough documentation, to marketing, to carrying out plans for earning revenue in ways that also further the organization’s mission. Specifically, it will involve expanding our raised bed kit programs (including leading volunteers and training employees in how to build the kits), overseeing the development of a market garden growers co-operative, and coordinating plant sales. It will be a balance of planning, research, and marketing with hands-on work building, growing, and selling. Skills in carpentry & gardening/farming are important, coupled with strong inter-personal skills and a business-savvy mind.

Local Partner Positions:
The following positions will be housed at and supervised by partner organizations, though all VISTA members will do some joint community projects and training:

Living Stones Community Farm Executive Assistant:
Living Stones Community Farm is a faith-based non-profit social enterprise which provides training and support to Washtenaw County residence newly released from prison or jail, by providing vocational training in urban organic agriculture. This VISTA will promote LSC through social media networking, sales to area restaurants, and local farmers markets, and develop and initiate a CSA program in Spring of 2011. She / he will coordinate volunteer opportunities involving area residents, as well as those enrolled in the Washtenaw County Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative (MPRI). The VISTA will also assist on days we have community workshops, events, and fundraisers, as well as occasional farm workdays, and administrative tasks. She/ he will also be involved in grant and collaboration development with area organizations and foundations.

Edible Avalon Program Assistant:
Edible Avalon is an urban gardening program through Avalon Housing, a non-profit affordable, supportive housing provider. The VISTA member will assist in program planning and implementation, coordinating with the program leader and team of on-site volunteers. The position also includes work involving our community center based food pantries. Edible Avalon is much more than a gardening initiative – it also provides educational opportunities for our tenants around health, nutrition, cooking skills and food preservation. Strong inter-personal skills are required as the VISTA member will be directly working with our tenants, neighbors and volunteers.


Expectation of Service: AmeriCorps*VISTA members serve full-time, for one year with varying work schedules. VISTA members are not allowed to be in school or have other employment during their term of service. VISTA members may be eligible for Food Stamps, child care subsidies, or other forms of public assistance.

QUESTIONS? More information about Growing Hope is available at More information about VISTA and other Corporation for National and Community Service programs see Additional questions about Growing Hope or these positions, please call us at 734-786-8401 or email [log in to unmask]t

Growing Hope Center Development Intern

Growing Hope seeks a volunteer (unpaid) Development Intern for 10-20 hours/week to help us gain the material and financial support to build our demonstration sustainable urban farm. The Growing Hope Center will house the organization's offices in a green remodel of an old house, and the 1.4 urban Ypsilanti property around the house is being developed into a demonstration urban garden & farm.

This intern will write and submit proposals for donation of products, services, and sponsorships that will bring the Growing Hope Center to fruition, crafting each as appropriate for the prospective donor. S/he will make cold calls and follow up calls to companies and service providers. S/he will research online and also visit stores, manufacturers, and other demonstration green buildings or gatherings (e.g. green remodeler’s convention, etc) to identify prospective donors and talk about the project. She/he will ensure proper documentation, follow-up, and recognition is done for any products, services, or sponsorships secured.


Ideally, candidate is available on Fridays from 8:30-10 am to attend site planning team meetings. This intern will work mostly independently, but be available for meetings on site and in the office at pre-determined times. At least some availability during the business day/business week is a must to return relevant calls and emails; other work can occur outside of normal business hours. Minimum commitment: 6 months from start date, which is the earliest date available by the selected person.

To apply: Please submit resume & cover letter to: Amanda Edmonds, Executive Director at [log in to unmask]. Open until filled.

Policy Program Organizer, Organic Farming Research Foundation

Santa Cruz, CA

August 31, 2010

Application Deadline:
September 21, 2010

Competitive salary and retirement and health benefits for non-profit position in Central California. This is a full-time, exempt position located in Santa Cruz, CA.

Job Description: OFRF seeks a Policy Program Organizer (PPO) to develop and implement OFRF's grassroots advocacy strategy to effect policy change, primarily at the federal level. An integral member of the policy team, the PPO ensures that organic family farmers participate in the policy process. OFRF is gearing up for its 2012 Farm Bill campaign, and the PPO will be responsible for building our national network and strategically engaging organic family farmers throughout the farm bill debate. The Policy Program Organizer is a full-time, exempt position based in Santa Cruz, CA -- the heart of organic farming country with access to several farmers' markets, fine art and music venues, quality restaurants, the Pacific Ocean, and redwood forests.

Job Responsibilities:


To apply: please send a resume, cover letter, the contact information for three references, and three short, advocacy related writing samples (no more than two pages each) to [log in to unmask] with "Policy Program Organizer Application" in the subject line. Electronic applications only. Incomplete applications will not be
considered. No phone calls please.


Policy Intern, Organic Farming Research Foundation

Location: Washington, D.C.

Posted: August 30, 2010

Application Deadline:
Applications accepted on a rolling basis until
position is filled.

: Modest stipend

Job Description:
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) seeks a Policy Intern to support our policy program activities in our Washington, D.C., office. This fall, OFRF is gearing up for its 2012 Farm Bill campaign, and the Policy Intern will be responsible for certain policy-oriented research projects relevant to the development of that campaign. Additionally, the Policy Intern will support general policy program activities and have the opportunity to attend meetings, events, and hearings on Capitol Hill, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and at other agencies.

Desired qualifications:

To apply, please send a cover letter, a resume, and a writing sample to [log in to unmask]  with "Policy Intern Application" in the subject line. Electronic applications only. No phone calls please. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Opportunities for Farmers

Organic Cost Share Application Due September 15, 2010

The cost share that is available through the 2008 Farm Bill will be available to all organic certified farmers. The purpose of these funds is to help offset the cost of certification paid by farmers. This service is being administered by Michigan Organic Food and Farming Alliance this year. Due to budget cuts the Michigan Department of Agriculture will not be providing this service but they will oversee the work conducted by MOFFA non-profit 501-3c organization. (

To qualify for this cost-share program, organic growers must be certified by a USDA accredited organic certification agency. The program authorizes a payment of 75% of the certification costs, up to $750. Growers must provide a copy of their organic certification dated between October 1, 2009 and September 15, 2010, and a receipt for payment for certification. MOFFA will confirm these documents with organic certifiers, then send the check for a percentage of the cost of certification to those applicants who qualify.

How to apply: Michigan farmers can apply by accessing the application form through or the MOFFA web site ( or calling MOFFA to have an application sent to you (248-262-6826). The deadline for applications September 15, 2010. It is important to send in all needed documents with the completed form as there will not be adequate time to do follow up due to the short window of time.

2010 Farmer Rancher Grant Call for Proposals

DEADLINE for PROPOSALS: December 2, 2010

WHO: Any farmer/rancher or group of farmers/ranchers who farm or operate a ranch in the North Central Region may apply. The North Central Region consists of 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

WHAT: NCR-SARE has allocated about $400,000 for the 2010 Farmer/Rancher Grant Program. Competitive grants of up to $6,000 are available for individual farmers and ranchers, and grants up to $18,000 are available for groups of three or more farmers from separate operations who are interested in exploring sustainable agriculture. NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grants provide opportunities for farmers and ranchers to use Sustainable Agriculture practices and their own innovative ideas to solve problems on the farm or ranch, and to share their ideas with others.

Since the start of  the Farmer/Rancher Grant Program in 1992, over 700 grants have been awarded to farmers and ranchers studying topics such as holistic management, rotational grazing, livestock and crop production systems, waste management, weed control, alternative uses for CRP land, biological weed and pest control, organic farming, marketing, quality of life issues, water quality, and soil conservation.

HOW: Download grants application at

For more information or to receive a hard copy or e-mail file of the application, contact:

North Central Region SARE

c/o Lincoln University

900 Leslie Blvd, South Campus Bldg, Rm 101

Jefferson City MO 65101

Phone: 573-681-5545

Email: [log in to unmask]


New One-time Market Opportunity in Grand Rapids Michigan

10 vendors from the extended Grand Rapids area to sell at festival!

On Saturday, October 2nd, Calvin College in Grand Rapids is putting on a food-themed festival where primarily students of all classes at Calvin, as well as faculty, staff, and Grand Rapids community members come together to engage in conversation about food. The focus is specifically on promoting just and local food choices.

One part of this festival is a mini-farmers market brought to campus, and currently, there is a need for 10 vendors from the extended Grand Rapids area to sell their product at this festival. This will be the third year, which has in the past been quite successful and a lot of fun. It gives many first-time farmers market shoppers exposure to this type of shopping, and will give vendors exposure to a great pool of potential customers. So by participating, you will not only make some sales, but also make a difference in the lives of students by taking part in their education on just and local consumption patterns.

If you are a farm or other farmers market vendor from the West Michigan area and interested in more information on participating in this unique, fun event, please contact Emma at [log in to unmask].

Gotta Farm in Akron, OH is for lease

The Franchis of Gotta Farm are moving to California at the end of the month. Ben has seasonal work on an organic farm, and Nika will be setting up her bread business at their new location.

Gotta Farm is for lease. They are renters, and the property is managed through Century 21 Twin Oaks. They have six months left on the lease. It would be ideal if they could find someone to take over the lease, and take over the nascent farming operation.

The property consists of: 2-bedroom house, 2 full baths, nice kitchen, fireplaces upstairs and downstairs,  hardwood floors in living/dining area and hall, picture windows overlooking property, walk-out basement level with den/office area and 2-car garage. House is electric heat (heat pump) and central air. Possibility of supplementing with wood heat.

2-3/4 acres with small barn (formerly for 2 horses) with electricity and water line, about half an acre front and side yard, huge yard behind with 2 garden spots, one 36'x36' fenced, the other 25x50 unfenced (yes, the deer ate everything). 1 acre+ of woods, much in ravine land. Most of the property is surrounded by Sand Run metro park's Schumacher Run area..  Great hiking and mushrooming in the woods. Plenty of room for chickens and rabbits. Facilities sufficient for 2 sheep, subject to Akron Health Dept. permit.

The rent is $900/mo plus utilities. The electric bill averages about $300 a month, but that includes Nika's commercial bread baking, large freezer, second fridge, and our grown kids coming over to do their laundry :) Akron City water/sewer/trash is another $75 a month. There is no gas service available here. 

The property is at 1666 Cuyahoga Street, Akron, OH 44313. Please give Ben a call at 330-920-1115 for more info.


Events for Organic Farmers and Enthusiasts

4th Annual D-Town Harvest Festival

When: September 25, 2010, from 12-6 p.m.

Where: D-Town Farm - 2 acre model urban farm located in Rouge Park in Northwestern Detroit.

Come hear keynote speaker: Andrea King Collier. She has been writing and speaking about health and health policy issues for the past 20 years. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Lansing State Journal and the Post-Tribune.  Also enjoy:

Cost: Free of Charge. For more information visit: or call (313)-300-4347.

Homegrown Festival 2010 at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market

When: Saturday September 11, 2010, from 6-11 p.m.

Where: Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Come celebrate Ann Arbors Food, farms and community! Chefs are working with nearby farms to create affordable tasting portions of the best of our region's harvest. There will be dozens of local libations (beer, wine, mead and hard cider) for grown-ups to enjoy. Project Grow will be back with their astounding heirloom tomato tasting - over 50 varieties to try.  Other attractions include kids activities include mural arts and music-making, a huge silent auction, a "Know Your Farmer" farm stand, dozens of artisan vendors, and a fantastic lineup of music.

Entry to the Festival is FREE, and food and drink are available to purchase. For more information on the festival visit:

2010 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference

When: November 1-3, 2010

Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont

Come celebrate farm women's accomplishments and help us set the stage for further success.

The conference will feature:

How: Registration opens September 7. Cost:  Range between $100 and $150, depending on the conference options you select. Early registration discounts are available through September 30. Sign up to receive email updates about the conference at: Visit and click on "2010 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference" in the green "Quick Links" box for more information. For questions, please email [log in to unmask].

Making it in Michigan specialty food show and conference

When: October 26, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI

Why: This is the one day that every entrepreneur, producer, buyer and processor in food and agricultural businesses needs to attend. In the morning come hear keynote speaker Harvey Hartman, Founder, Chairman & CEO  of The  Hartman Group,  Inc. Harvey   is  a nationally recognized  expert  on  American  cultural change  and  the consumer  activities  that  impact  daily  business  products and services. Product Center awards will be presented to those succeeding in product development. In the afternoon breakout sessions learn how to market, develop, and make your product safe. The day concludes with a Marketplace Trade show giving participants an opportunity for one-on-one time with the Product Center Team and business development resource providers.

Cost: $60 per person   Registration includes continental breakfast and walking lunch during Trade Show.  Register online:


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