Michigan Organic Listserv

November 5, 2010


SAVE THE DATE: 2010 Michigan Community & School Garden Networking Meeting

When: November 13, 2010 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Where: Edison Environmental Sciences Academy, 924 Russell Street Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001

The Michigan Community & School Garden Coalition is for anyone involved in community and school gardening, whether volunteer or paid, working to support the gardens in our own communities and statewide. The 2010 conference will be a one day summit held in Kalamazoo. The time will be used to share information about the various work and programming we are facilitating in our communities.  There will be opportunities for attending gardeners to raise important issues to be discussed in small and interested groups. The day will also include an outing to visit local community gardening projects.

How: There may be a small fee to cover some expenses but this cost will be nominal. Details will be available soon. FOR UPDATES AND TO REGISTER:  Go to www.miyouthandfood.msu.edu for details and information under the Calendar and Events tab. Online registration is OPEN at www.miyouthandfood.msu.edu or by phone at (517) 353-0751.

    Fall fundraiser for the Institute for Sustainable Living , Art & Natural Design (ISLAND): Beans & Brownies Birthday Benefit Bonanza!

November 13, 2010 from 2-5 p.m.

Neahtawanta Inn, 13080 Neahtawanta Rd, Traverse City, MI

ISLAND is a non-profit arts and ecology center dedicated to connecting people with nature, art and community. Come donate to the cause and enjoy a wonderful evening including....
  • Heirloom bean tasting - sample 10+ varieties of heirloom dry beans grown here in Northwestern Michigan by Marty Heller.
  • Erica Bourdon's Gourmet brownie sampling
  • Featured bean delights prepared by local chef celebs
  • Live Music from some of Michigan's finest (stay tuned for the line-up, including Seth Bernard and May Erlewine!)
  • Locally made libations
  • Raffle drawings (guess how many beans in the jar!!)
  • Celebrating Marty Heller's 40th birthday!
  • Community, friends, family
How: $5 to $20 encouraged to benefit ISLAND. No registration necessary.

Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO 2010

Registration is limited! Great Lakes EXPO Farm Market Tour

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Where: Grand Rapids, Mich. Departing from the Amway Grand Plaza
Why: Come enjoy a day-long tour as you visit farm markets in the Grand Rapids area and experience farm marketing and agri-tourism at its best. Great opportunity to engage with other farm marketers as you share ideas, explore opportunities and discuss strategies during the one-day tour. Michigan Stave University Extension will serve as tour hosts and will share current research projects and help foster new ideas and implementation plans.
 The stops include:

  •  Critter Barn, Zeeland, MI
  •  Lubber's Family Market, Grand Rapids
  •  Moelker Orchards & Farm Market, Grand Rapids
  •  Post Family Farms, Hudsonville, MI
  •  Vander Mill Cider Mill & Winery, Spring Lake, MI
  •  Wells Orchard, Grand Rapids, MI

How: Cost: $149 (Includes transportation to all farm markets, lunch and snacks.)  Use the registration form for the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO to register for the Farm Market Bus Tour
http://www.glexpo.com/index.php. The registration fee for the bus tour is for the tour only. There are separate registration fees for the Great Lakes EXPO's education program and trade show.

More Information: Visit http://bustour.greatamericanpublish.com or call 616-887-9008, ext. 121.

While you’re registering for the farm market tours check out the 2010 Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo.

The 2010 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo

When: December 7-9, 2010

Where: DeVos Place Convention Center, Grand Rapids, MI

Why: The EXPO offers informative education programs for fruit, vegetable and greenhouse growers, and for farm marketers. This year there is 63 sessions and workshops over 3 days.

Topics include:
  • Fruit and vegetable commodities
  • Greenhouse production and marketing
  • Farm marketing ideas and issues
  • General topics of special interest to growers

Along with the numerous educational programs a Trade Show is offered during the EXPO. This includes 400 exhibitors covering four acres of exhibit space in one hall. To see list of exhibitors visit: http://www.glexpo.com/exhibit.php.

Register on-line or download the EXPO registration form at http://www.glexpo.com/index.php. Pre-register by November 12 to save money.

Great Lakes Expo Features Organic Educational Sessions: Thursday Dec. 9, 2010

ATTENTION ORGANIC FARMERS! Special Thursday Registration Fee of $35 is available for admission to the trade show and education sessions. This is good for Thursday ONLY.  Thursdays spotlights organic educational sessions on organic vegetable production, current issues in organic fruit,  Farmers Markets and Organic Opportunities: Extending the Season on the Farm and at the Market. The trade show will be open from 8a.m.-1p.m Thursday-only registration does not include the free subscription offers that are included with the regular registration fees. It also does not include membership in the Michigan State Horticultural Society of the Michigan Vegetables. 


Midwest Fruit IPM Course for consultants, extension agents and NRCS staff

posted on November 03, 2010 09:34

We are offering an in-depth course to train new Fruit IPM coaches and consultants to fill a growing need in the Midwest. Please read the brochure for the Midwest Fruit IPM Course scheduled to begin January 2011 for more information. We are looking for participants who can attend all four sessions.

The first session, held in Madison, WI from January 10-14, will cover the basics of Fruit IPM in the Midwest, business planning, and the NRCS conservation programs requiring IPM plans. During the second session participants will attend the Michigan State Tree Fruit School; held from January 24-26 in Hickory Corners, Michigan. In the third session, held at various farms in Wisconsin June 22-24, participants will gain experience in the field with growers and learn about biocontrols; effective use of spray equipment, and early season pests and diseases. The fourth session, held at various farms in Wisconsin July 13-15, will provide participants with more field experiences with late season pests and diseases as well as extensive work on writing IPM plans for both growers and NRCS.

We seek candidates with flexible schedules that will allow them to fully participate in all sessions. Candidates should be professionals with crop consulting experience. Candidates should be interested in gaining knowledge that they will then apply in the field. This knowledge will include the skills necessary to assist farmers in implementing IPM on their farms as well as the ability to write IPM plans for farmers and NRCS Conservation Programs (EQIP and CAP).We are specifically interested in individuals who are crop consultants interested in expanding their services to include fruit; new Fruit IPM consultants, County Conservationists; and Extension and NRCS field staff.

For more information
Contact Jane Kleven 608-262-5200, [log in to unmask]
or Regina Hirsch 608-265-3637, [log in to unmask]

Event announcement found at the New Agriculture Network web site http://www.new-ag.msu.edu/.


Year Round Farm Manager Wanted for the Giving Tree Farm, Lansing, MI

Farm Manager Position Description:

Identifying ways for vocational program clients to participate in the daily farm work:
  • Finding and adapting jobs for the clients, explaining tasks to the program coordinators daily, managing timing of projects and year round activities for the clients.
  • Communication and coordination with CBI directors, and office staff.
  • Farm planning, and season extension planning of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and some fruit with needs of the clients and accessibility in mind.
  • Seed and supply inventories and orders.
  • Promotion and marketing of CSA and additional produce.
  • CSA distributions.
  • Budgeting.
  • Scheduling of crops and harvests, accessing needs of crops, managing and maintaining soil fertility, irrigation schedules, input applications, weed control, integrated pest management, and cover crop management.
  • Monitor food safety issues and maintenance of farm infrastructure and equipment.
Managing farm staff:
  • Prioritizing labor needs daily, weekly, monthly.
  • Finding and hiring summer farm staff.
  • Directing seasonal farm staff.
  • Approving scheduling, hours, and mileage.
Record keeping for certification and produce sales:
  • Complete application to be certified organic.
  • Seeding, transplanting, and harvesting records.
  • Compost, amendments, and IPM records.
  • Monthly farm expenses.
  • Weekly farmer’s market and restaurant sales.
  • CSA payments.
Education and Experience: Training in horticulture and experience in management of year round organic production, CSA programs, marketing, and staff management desired.

Type: Full-time


To Apply: Email cover letter, resume, and references to the current farm manager at [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask]. Last Day to apply: November 10th, 2010.

Position posting found at beginningfarmers.org

Apprentice Farmer at Sunseed Farm

Dates:  May 2 - October 14, 2011

Compensation: $10/hour, 1/4 - 1/2 acre cropland for personal farming business development, limited access to farm machinery, tools and infrastructure, guidance and consultation from the Senior Farmer.

Hours:  24 hours/week

The Apprentice Farmer's primary responsibilities will be to work 3 days per week assisting the Senior Farmer in running the day-to-day operations of Sunseed Farm, including all tasks involved in vegetable and fruit production and marketing.  In addition, the Apprentice Farmer will have access to between 1/4 and 1/2 acre of cropland to pursue the development of their personal farming business, which, subject to the approval of the Senior Farmer, could include the production of any horticultural crops for sale or processing.  The Apprentice Farmer will have access to the Senior Farmer for consultation and guidance during a weekly meeting, and will have access to farm machinery, tools and infrastructure, secondary to the production needs of Sunseed Farm.

This position is a unique opportunity to gain knowledge of Sunseed's farming system and to gain experience running one's own farming business while receiving mentoring and guidance from the Senior Farmer.

Although all applications will be considered, preference will be given to candidates who anticipate a desire to live and farm long-term in Michigan.  Excellent candidates for this position will possess solid previous experience and a commitment to organic or ecological vegetable growing, a strong, self-motivated physical work ethic, a desire to discover the best and most efficient farming methods, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Sunseed Farm is a year-round diversified vegetable farm just northwest of Ann Arbor, Michigan, entering its second full year of production in 2012.  We will be offering 60 CSA shares year-round, and we work in local farmers markets and with area restaurants and grocery stores.  We are committed to being the best example of professional, educational and community-enriching ecological vegetable production in southeast Michigan.  For information on the farm or for questions regarding the position, please email Tomm Becker at [log in to unmask].

To Apply: Send your resume and a cover letter along with three professional references to: Sunseed Farm, 716 Fountain St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

For more information on the farm visit the website http://sites.google.com/site/farmsunseed/.

Assistant Farmer at Sunseed Farms

 Beginning May 2, 2011, continuing year-round

Compensation:  $10/hour starting wage, with raises based on demonstrated skill, diligence, efficiency and initiative.

Hours:  40 hours/week during warm season, 20 hours/week during cool season.

Description: The responsibilities of the Assistant Farmer will be to work full-time during the warm season and half-time during the cool season assisting the Senior Farmer in running the day-to-day operations of Sunseed Farm, including all tasks involved in year-round vegetable and fruit production and marketing.

Although all applications will be considered, preference will be given to candidates who anticipate a desire to work at Sunseed for more than one season. Excellent candidates for this position will possess experience and knowledge of organic or ecological vegetable growing, a strong, self-motivating physical work ethic, and a desire to discover the best and most efficient farming methods.

Sunseed Farm is a year-round diversified vegetable farm just northwest of Ann Arbor, Michigan, entering its second full year of production in 2012.  We will be offering 60 CSA shares year-round, and we work in local farmers markets and with area restaurants and grocery stores.  We are committed to being the best example of professional, educational and community-enriching ecological vegetable production in southeast Michigan.  For information on the farm or questions regarding this position, please email Tomm Becker at [log in to unmask].

To Apply: Send your resume and a cover letter along with three professional references to: Sunseed Farm, 716 Fountain St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

For more information on the farm visit the website http://sites.google.com/site/farmsunseed/.

Ferris Farms Seeking Spring Help!

Ferris Farm is just outside Ann Arbor, MI in Dixboro. The farm is on 120 acres, about 60 is pasture and one fenced acre is the vegetable garden. There's also a double layer glass greenhouse loaded with tropical’s like banana plants, hibiscus and lime trees all winter.  

Duties:  Tend to tropical glass greenhouse, a hoophouse, and an acre of vegetables and an acre of fruit.

Compensation: $9 to start, this number could change.

40 hours a week.  If you're available weekends, you might be asked to come in and water and/or roll up sides, vent houses, feed animals, etc.

How to Apply: Send your resumes to me via email [log in to unmask].

For additional information call or text Mikey , 313-530-5820.


Now accepting applications for 2011 Cohort of the Organic Farmer Training Program at the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm!

The Organic Farmer Training Program offers nine months of intensive instruction in year-round organic farming.  The program focuses on diversified production of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets.  Students manage all aspects of a 10-acre certified organic farm, including passive solar greenhouses used for year-round production in cold climates.  Students also manage the SOF field production. Produce is grown for the farm’s primary markets, including a 48-week CSA, six-month on-campus farm stand, and sales to campus dining services.  Students develop competencies in farm skills through trainings and engagement in the daily operation of the farm.  Hands-on training is combined with workshops, lectures, readings and assignments that build participants’ knowledge and understanding of organic farming principles and practices.  The program is designed to give participants a strong background in production skills as well as the knowledge, management, and decision-making skills necessary to operate a diversified small farm.  

Program participants include new and beginning farmers, urban and community farmers and gardeners, educators, and those interested in local or organic agriculture.

Visit The Student Organic Farm website for full program description and application, www.msuorganicfarm.org  or contact us at [log in to unmask], 517-230-7987.

Register today for MIFMA’s Market Manager Certificate Program

The Market Manager Certificate Program is a voluntary program designed to encourage farmers market managers to pursue education, leadership and skills development in topics essential to market management.  Market managers will be recognized with a certificate upon completion of the full program.

The six day-long sessions will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on January 12, 26, February 9, 23, and March 8, and 9 at the Michigan Municipal League conference room in downtown Lansing.
Topics include:

  • Business Planning and Market Growth Management
  • Human Relations and Conflict Management
  • Market Governance, Rules and enforcement
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing and Outreach
The fee is $200 for all six sessions for MIFMA members and $500 for all six sessions for non-MIFMA members. Single sessions will be $50 for MIFMA members and $85 for non-MIFMA members. Individuals can register for single sessions, but will not receive certification.  Program registration closes December 31, 2010. Individual session registration closes two weeks before the session. Please call 517-432-3381 with any questions.

Register online today <http://www.mifma.org/market-manager-certificate-program-registration/>

Real Time Farms is here to help you know your farmer and find their food!

Real Time Farms http://www.realtimefarms.com is a national online food guide. You can discover nearby farms, farmers markets, and locally-sourced restaurants in your area and we encourage you to participate by sharing photos and information on your local farms and farmers markets to help us build the most transparent food guide available.The mission of Real Time Farms is to excite and educate people about where their food comes from and to connect them to fresh, local sources of food.

You can add your own farm or farmers market! Here are the steps...

1. Visit the Real Time Farms web page http://www.realtimefarms.com and click on create new account at the top right hand corner of the page. Here
you'll also be able to participate by adding pictures of your farmers market or farm.
You can also enter in the location, website, and a short blurb about your farmers market or farm. In the future restaurants will be able sign up online too.

USDA Announces Loan Program for Natural Resource Conservation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the launch of a Conservation Loan (CL) program that will provide farm owners and farm-related business operators access to credit to implement conservation techniques that will conserve natural resources.

“This will give farmers who want to implement conservation measures on their lands a chance to do so by providing assistance with their up-front costs,” said Vilsack. “In return, these producers will help to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and promote sustainable and organic agricultural practices.”

CL funds can be used to implement conservation practices approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), such as the installation of conservation structures; establishment of forest cover; installation of water conservation measures; establishment or improvement of permanent pastures; implementation of manure management; and the adaptation of other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques or technologies.

Direct CLs can be obtained through local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices with loan limits up to $300,000. Guaranteed CLs up to $1,112,000 are available from lenders working with FSA.
Source: For more information on the Conservation Loan program, contact a local FSA office or visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov. For more information about this announcement please see the notice which will appear in the September 3 edition of the Federal Register: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/federalNotices?area=home&subject=lare&topic=frd-ii


Sweet Onions Are a Potential Crop for Michigan by Dr. Ron Goldy, MSUE

Vegetable Production Educator

Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center



Onion consumption in the United States has increased primarily due to popularity of sweet onions.  Sweet onions have lower levels of pyruvic acid then cooking onions and a more desirable flavor for fresh or slightly cooked products.  Low acidity also reduces eye irritation when peeling.  Onion storage ability is directly related to pyruvic acid levels so sweet onions do not store well causing production areas to move seasonally.


Michigan’s onion industry consists almost solely on direct-seeded, pungent, long-storing cooking onions.  Production systems and infrastructure are well established and are somewhat easier and less expensive then sweet onions.  However, this does not mean Michigan growers should not explore sweet onion production since Michigan could be a supplier during August and September or longer at a time when they are sourced from western states or imported.


Research at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) has investigated sweet onion production including variety adaptability, direct seeding, harvest period and others.  This report summarizes those efforts.


Onions bulb in response to day length and sweet onions adaptable to Michigan need to be either intermediate or long day onions, with long day-types being more successful in our trials.  Thirty varieties from several seed companies have been evaluated and Table 1 gives yield data on the better performing lines.  Of those listed, Ovation and Western Giant have been the most consistent in size and yield.  White varieties in general have poor performance due to greater disease susceptibility.


Sweet onions are transplanted which adds to production expense.  In Michigan, transplants are started in the greenhouse mid- to late February and transplanted late April or early May for harvest in early August.  Beginning in 2008, trials at SWMREC were conducted to determine if direct seeding was possible.  The 2008 trial was planted April 7 and found better direct seeded performance with Ovation then Western Giant.  Montero, Desperado, and Red Fortress were also among the better performers.  Harvest of the direct seeded trial occurred early September – a month later then transplanted trials.  Bulb size was generally smaller and less uniform and some entries performed poorly.  However, results appeared promising so the trial was repeated in 2009.  The 2009 transplanted trial again performed well; however, performance of the direct seeded trial was so poor it was not harvested.


Weather during 2008 seed germination was different then 2009.  The average April 2008 temperature was 50.6oF compared to 47.3oF in 2009 and precipitation in 2008 was 1.77 inches while in 2009 it was 4.13 inches.  So temperature and rainfall may have contributed to poor performance in 2009.  April weather during 2010 was more like 2008 with an average temperature of 54oF and 2.01 inches of precipitation.


The 2010 trial evaluated six varieties planted at five dates starting April 1 and ending May 10.  This was designed to try to avoid poor weather during seed germination and to see how late seeding could be done without seriously affecting yields.  Data for this trial has yet to be fully analyzed but direct seeded Ovation again appeared to perform better then others in size and yield at the earlier planting dates.  Bulbs from seeded plants were again less uniform and smaller then transplants.  Later planting dates did poorly for all entries.  Results from the 2008 and 2010 trial indicated there may be potential for some varieties of sweet onions to be direct seeded.  Trials on direct seeding will continue in 2011.


These trials indicate certain sweet onion varieties can be grown successfully in Michigan from transplants (Table 1, Figure 1 visit www.michiganorganic.msu.edu).  Transplants increase production costs but large, sweet onions also bring greater return.  Transplants should be planted in the greenhouse in February for planting late April or early May for harvest in early August.  They could be sold soon after harvest or sold through November if held in common storage.  This is a time when sweet onions sold in Michigan are being sourced from a considerable distance.  Direct seeding can not be recommended but this may change with further research.


Table 1.  Yield and size grades of in hundred weight per acre of transplanted onion varieties at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center, Benton Harbor, Michigan.  Plant population was approximately 95,000 plants per acre.










Solid Gold
















Western Giant
























Bello Blanco
















































Colossal = 4.0 – 4.5”; Jumbo = 3.0 – 4.0”; Medium = 2.0 – 3.0”; Small = 1.0 – 2.0”.


To see pictures of onions visit www.michiganorganic.msu.edu under the vegetable production tab.
If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html