Michigan Organic Listserv

July 7, 2011

Note that the info shared in this newsletter has been collected from many sources; the sources are reported at each article.

MSU or Vicki Morrone do not endorse what is being reported, but simply to share with you.


Agriculture and Organic Production News

Integrated management of asparagus following the end of the harvest period

After harvest, a vigorous and healthy fern is necessary for carbohydrate recharge in the crown and optimum yield next year.  http://expeng.anr.msu.edu/news/article/integrated_management_of_asparagus_following_the_end_of_the_harvest_period Go to this web site to see the annual growth cycle of asparagus.

Published June 29, 2011  By: Mathieu Ngouajio and Norm Myers, Michigan State University Extension, Department of Horticulture; Michigan State University Extension

Asparagus is an interesting vegetable crop because of its perennial nature, physiology and growth cycle. Management practices in any given year have significant impacts on spear production and yield the following year. As the 2011 harvest period winds down, this is the time to adopt management strategies that will optimize yield in 2012 by utilizing your understanding of the asparagus growth cycle.

The diagram in Figure 1 shows a simplified growth cycle of asparagus with special emphasis on carbohydrate dynamics in the crown. It is important to remember that a key factor contributing to yield in asparagus is the amount of carbohydrates stored in the crown (root system) at the moment when the crop goes dormant. Some people have referred to that amount of carbohydrates as the “energy of the crown.”

During the harvest period, the amount of carbohydrates stored in the crown is depleted to sustain continuous spear production. Therefore, a crown fully charged with carbohydrates is necessary for optimum yield. Dan Drost at Utah State University has compared the asparagus crown to the gas tank of a car, and the carbohydrates to gasoline. Just as a large and full tank is necessary for a long trip, large crowns full of carbohydrates are necessary for optimum yield.

Following the end of the harvest period, asparagus spears are allowed to develop into fern. During the initial phase of fern development, there is further decline in the carbohydrate content of the crown. However, once the fern has reached maturity and photosynthesis is fully operational, the crown is recharged rapidly with carbohydrates. The tiny “leaves” called cladophylls on the fern are responsible for most of the photosynthesis in asparagus. The amount of sugar produced during photosynthesis depends on light and temperature, and varies among cultivars. However, there are several management practices that can easily be manipulated by growers to improve photosynthesis and the amount of carbohydrates stored in the crown. These factors include

·         The length of the harvest period

·         The fern development period

·         The total photosynthetic area (fern) of the crop, and

·         Fern health.

The length of the harvest period determines the amount of carbohydrate left in the crown. In regions with a temperate climate like Michigan, there should be an adequate balance between the length of the harvest period and that of fern development. The length of the fern development period should allow the crop to fully recharge the crown with carbohydrates before the dormancy period that follows fern kill by frost.

The total photosynthetic area of the crop depends on both the number of shoots and the size of individual shoots. Once the first spears are allowed to develop into fern, there is a feedback inhibition to the crown that prevents subsequent spear formation. Therefore, it is important to prevent shoot death or poor growth during the fern development phase of the growth cycle.

In conclusion, a vigorous and healthy fern is critical for adequate carbohydrate content in the crown at the time when the crop goes dormant. The carbohydrate content of the crown is the driving factor for yield the following year. To optimize yield, growers should adopt management practices that promote vigorous and healthy ferns. Any abiotic stress, such as drought and low fertility, or biotic stress, such as weeds, pests, and diseases, during fern development can compromise next year’s yield.


Input source verification: Tracing food one step back

Produce growers who are looking to become GAP compliant need to document inputs are free of foodborne contaminants. Know which input suppliers are most critical and what’s needed in implementing input source verification.

Published June 28, 2011

By: Phil Tocco, Michigan State University Extension

The theory behind due diligence in food safety for produce is being able to track the produce one step forward and one step back. In the case of growers, this one step back is all the suppliers you purchase inputs from. Most Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits require that you have a letter from these suppliers stating that the supplier took all precautions necessary to limit contamination of the input to mitigate the risk of contamination.

One section of your food safety plan should be devoted to cataloging these documents that are commonly in the form of a letter from the supplier. Listed below are some of the input suppliers from whom documentation may be required. Some or all may apply to your operation.

Potential input source suppliers

·         Seed dealers

·         Transplant dealers

·         Nursery stock dealers

·         Fertilizer suppliers

·         Chemical suppliers

·         Biosolids suppliers

·         Manure suppliers

·         Compost suppliers

If a grower has specific questions about input source verification or has difficulty tailoring GAPs to their farm, they are welcome to contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at [log in to unmask] or

517-788-4292 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting. To obtain a sample supplier input source verification letter, ask for guidance document AFSM005-01.


Food entrepreneurs worry - Cottage food industry rules may stunt growth



DETROIT — Michigan's rules governing the cottage food industry may be stunting business growth, according to some small-scale entrepreneurs.

The law that took effect in July 2010 allows people to make certain food items in their homes, rather than in a commercial kitchen, for sale to the public. It was designed to make it easier for home cooks to sell jams, jellies, baked good, pies and some other food items.

Limitations on what can be made and a $15,000 cap in annual sales for a home-based producer are key issues, The Detroit News reported Tuesday. Some say the rules essentially keep home food businesses at the hobby level and hurt potential growth.

"The cottage food law has been very helpful and very gray at the same time," said Phil Jones, general manager of the Colors of Detroit restaurant, a new eatery planned for downtown Detroit that wants to use as many local, organic food suppliers as possible.

"The law is already clashing with the reality of what people want to do," Jones added.

The law, according to state officials, has opened the market for home-based producers. It was signed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

"The cottage food law is meant to be a steppingstone, and while the state doesn't keep count of how many small entrepreneurs it has created, clearly, from anecdotal evidence, many people are using it," said Jennifer Holton, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Blair Nosan, creator of Suddenly Sauer in Detroit, said rules on what's prohibited — such as canned fruit and pickled products — have led her to look into renting a commercial kitchen.

Nosan has made dishes such as maple gravlax — salmon cured with maple syrup and juniper berries — and pickled cauliflower and radishes and preserved lemons. Last year, she sold pickled beets, butternut squash kimchi and turnip pickles to friends.

"I really want to be part of the group of people that brings quality food to the city and helps educate people how to make some on their own," she said.


Kathleen Merrigan: Produce myth buster

06/24/2011 10:46:29 AM
Tom Karst http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/Kathleen-Merrigan-Produce-mythbuster-124492219.html



Produce is too pricey? No way, says Kathleen Merrigan.

Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture, believes she can play the role of a myth buster when it comes to policymaker and consumer perceptions that fruits and vegetables are too expensive.

“I’ve been really on a campaign as deputy and as a promoter of fruits and vegetables to get out the word that it is not too expensive to eat healthy,” she said.

Merrigan said she often mentions in interviews that she shops on the perimeter of supermarkets, to the displeasure of her colleagues in the processed food industry.

“But that’s where I spend the majority of my food dollar, and it is a very good value nutritionally,” she said. “So we are trying to get that word out the best way we can.”

Merrigan said there is “very ingrained thinking” that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption costs more money.

When food policy is being discussed in Washington, she said that issue is often the objection raised when efforts are put forward to promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

“People say, ‘Oh what is going to be the attendant costs?’” Merrigan said.

Consumers also have that perception, she said.

“We are really trying to get the message out, and we are talking numbers, because it is a real challenge,” she said.

Industry-friendly remarks by Merrigan, who also has been quoted supporting increased fruit and vegetable consumption in media reports about the Environmental Working Groups’ Dirty Dozen list of produce with pesticide residues, haven’t gone unnoticed by industry leaders.

Members of the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association’s government affairs staff met with Merrigan on June 22.



“We wanted to thank her for her support of the produce industry, and in particular her efforts at debunking the idea that fresh produce is too expensive,” said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public relations for PMA.

Means said Merrigan recently appeared on CNN talking about the affordability of fruits and vegetables, citing both USDA and PMA studies that found consumers could eat recommended levels of fruits and vegetable for less than $2.50 per day.

Much work has to be done to change consumer perceptions, Means said. A recent PMA survey indicated 55% of consumers believe expense is a barrier to more fruit and vegetable consumption, she said.

“We know this is an issue and that it is not founded in fact,” Means said.

MyPlate progress

Merrigan said she is pleased with public reception to the MyPlate icon. That icon, with its “half a plate” message, combined with increased funding for school lunches, the ongoing Let’s Move campaign and revised school nutrition guidelines, appear to set the stage for greater consumption of fruits and vegetables, she said.

“If there ever was ever a time for the produce industry to stand tall and move forward with their agenda, it is now,” Merrigan said.

Another misperception Merrigan involves the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Imitative.

In its June 16 passage of the 2012 agricultural appropriations bill, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved an amendment that prohibits funds from being used for the initiative.

Merrigan said that lawmakers shouldn’t find fault with what she called a management initiative.

“I was mystified by the debate on the House floor because clearly I need to message better on some of these management initiatives,” she said.

Merrigan said both the Healthy Food Financing Initiative — which has not yet been funded by Congress — and Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food are meant to cut across the department bureaucracy.

Merrigan said Know Your Farmer has no office, no full-time staff and no budget.

“It is about efficiencies and breaking down government silos,” she said.

For example, in school food procurement, three agencies can be involved in setting the rules and buying commodities.

Means said the industry believes the USDA’s initiative can be helpful as long as it does not promote one type of producer over another.

“It can’t make distinction of small versus big, or organic versus conventional,” Means said. “It is going to take everybody to get to half a plate.”



Fun and Educational Events



TONIGHT!!  The Mid-Michigan Food System Workgroup presents the Summer 2011 Film Series featuring: “Vanishing of the Bees”


WHEN: Thursday, July 14 at 6:00 PM

WHERE: Foster Community Center

200 North Foster Avenue

Lansing, MI 48912


FREE POPCORN Thanks to East Lansing Food Co-op!


FREE ADMISSION with donation of any non-perishable food item to be donated to Greater Lansing Food Bank!


Find us on Facebook:


Watch the trailer: http://www.vanishingbees.com/trailer/

To learn more about this film: http://www.vanishingbees.com/




Good Agricultural Practices: An Overview and Update from CAN

Join us for a Webinar on July 15 Join us for a Webinar on July 15


What do the USDA's Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) standards mean to farmers in Central Appalachia? How will the new Food Safety Modernization Act affect GAP standards and who needs to follow them? Where and how can you find information and answers about this confusing topic?

Join CAN, the Central Appalachian Network, on Friday, July 15th for an overview of what is happening today with food safety legislation and industry trends, as well as information about how we are working to educate and support Central Appalachian producers. Presenters will include Anthony Flaccavento of SCALE, Inc., Hal Kneen of the Meigs County OSU Extension and the Ohio State University Food Safety Team, Robin Robbins of Appalachian Sustainable Development, and Laura Hartz of Downstream Strategies.

This webinar is sponsored by the Central Appalachian Network -

You are receiving this invitation because of your relationship with CAN. If you would like to be removed from the invitation list for future CAN events, please let us know by replying to this email.


Good Agricultural Practices: An Overview and Update from CAN

Friday, July 15, 2011-12:00 PM - 1:30 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:



Ag Expo-A tour to see fruit and vegetable MSU research

This year, at the Ag Expo we are offering a tour on July 20 from 11 A.M. -12:30 P.M. to visit organic fruit and vegetable trials. You are invited to see research in the making and ask the research questions about the work while you glean ideas for your farm. This tour will include a 1 acre, 3-season hightunnel (hoophouse) planted in raspberries and cherries used for season extension, increased yields, and pest and disease management; a blueberry plot where we will talk about pest and disease management; a pepper and cucumber research project using black plastic mulch and multiple combinations of vetch and rye cover crops for fertility and weed control, and how mustard cover crops can be used to reduce soil pests such as plant disease and nematodes.  A bus at the Ag Expo will be available to take you to the research site (10 minutes away) at the MSU Student Organic Farm and the Horticulture Crops Research Farm.  On the guided tour you will be able to see the trees, bushes and crops in the field and have the opportunity to ask the researchers questions following their introduction of the work they are doing with their students at Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture. These research projects are supported by USDA Organic Research Extension Initiative (OREI) and Ceres Trust (a private non-profit supporter).

-Many of those working with this research will be available to answer your questions and guide you on the field tour:
 Department of Horticulture - Greg Lang, Eric Hanson, Dan Brainard, Mathieu Ngouajio, Zack Hayden, John Biernbaum, Josh Moses
 Department of Plant Pathology - Annemiek Schilder
 Department of Entomology - Matt Grieshop, Rufus Isaacs
 Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies - Vicki Morrone


For questions call Vicki Morrone

[log in to unmask]


Starting a Small-Scale Food Business – Part 2

 Preparing and Selling Foods that are NOT Cottage Food: What You Need to Know


Are you interested in starting a small-scale food business preparing and selling foods not covered under Michigan’s Cottage Food Law? Examples are items such as meats (or products containing meat), salsa, milk products, canned low acid fruits and vegetables and other canned foods. A panel of experts will present and answer your questions at a session to be held on Wednesday, July 20th from 7-9 pm at the Neighborhood Empowerment Center, 600 W. Maple Street, on the grounds of the former School for the Blind in north Lansing.


Panelists participating include: Diane Gorch of the Ingham County Health Department, Becky Peterson of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Marcy Bishop Kates, owner of Incu-BaKe, a shared-use commercial kitchen, soon to be opening in Holt. Each participant will present their agency/organization’s roles regarding licensure, inspections, legal requirements, etc. Ample time will be provided for questions and answers.


Seating is limited. To reserve a space, call 517-887-4588. For more information, contact Randy Bell, Extension Educator at [log in to unmask]


This event is organized by Ingham County MSU Extension with support from the Ingham County Land Bank, the Entrepreneur Institute of Mid-Michigan and NorthWest Initiative.


Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.


Sowmya Surapur
Lyman Briggs College
Michigan State University
[log in to unmask]
Tel. 616 540 8343



We’re in the beginning stages of planning a day-long

Hops Field Day & Tour for Friday, August 5, 2011.

In the next week or so we’ll have a registration form available with all the details including schedule, which hop yards and processing facility we’ll be touring, cost, etc.  Some costs are being defrayed by a USDA OREI Grant and MDA Specialty Crop Grant.  We will likely keep the agenda similar to past years; meet at the NW MI Horticultural Research Station, board and travel by bus to different hop yards, have lunch, and return to the Station for an educational session.  Space is limited and pre-registration will be required. 


When the details are available, a registration form will be posted on our website at www.msue.msu.edu/leelanau and emailed out to this same e-list.


Stay tuned!


Dr. Rob Sirrine

& Annette Kleinschmit


Young Farmers Conference in New York at the Stone Barn Conference Center

They are now accepting proposal to present at the conference.

Deadline for proposals is Aug 12. Conference will be held on December 1-2, 2011.

The request for proposals for the 4th annual Young Farmers Conference is now available. The proposal period ends on August 12. Follow this link for more info and to apply:



Feel free to be in touch with any questions or for further information.



Nena Johnson



Nena Johnson

Growing Farmers Initiative Director

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture 630 Bedford Road Pocantico Hills, NY 10591

Tel: 914-366-6200 x112

Fax: 914-366-7905





The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service invite you to attend the Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course in Ohio. The content of the course is tailored to the needs of NRCS, SWCD, Cooperative Extension, and state department of agriculture employees as well as crop consultants, natural resource specialists, non-governmental conservation organization staff, and producers of bee-pollinated crops. This full day training will provide you with the latest science-based approaches to reversing the trend of pollinator declines, and will equip you with the recipes necessary to protect and manage habitat for these vital insects.


In: Newark, Ohio

On: August 16, 2011

At: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm EDT


To view more information about the course or to register, please copy and paste the entire URL into your web browser:





Ashley Minnerath

Pollinator Program Assistant



Opportunities for Farmers

Farmers Market at the Capital-Register to sell now!! Deadline July 22

This summer’s Farmers Markets at the Capitol will take place on Thursday, August 4 and September 15, so get ready to celebrate!  Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS) and the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) will be hosting these two special farmers markets for the fifth year on the Capitol Building’s East Lawn in downtown Lansing to raise awareness about the many benefits of fresh, local food to our economy and communities.


Here is the link to the application online. You can pay through Paypal using a credit or debit card or you can print and fill out the attached application and mail it in with a check to our office. The deadline for accepting applications is Friday, July 22.  Be sure to send in all materials before that date. We will have room for roughly 50 farmers and vendors from across the state selling their Michigan-grown and processed goods.


This summer’s markets will also accept Bridge Cards, WIC Project FRESH, Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH and Double Up Food Bucks, ensuring that all Michigan residents have access to the fresh, local fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods that the markets have to offer.


The vendor fee to participate in these markets is $40 per 10 foot by 10 foot space for MIFFS and MIFMA members and $60 per 10 foot by 10 foot space for non-members. Vendors may have up to 40 feet of frontage or four continuous spaces. Vendors requiring electricity will be responsible for an additional $15 fee. Nonprofit organizations working with the local food movement may also apply for a vendor space for $15.


These markets are an excellent venue for getting Michigan agriculture and local food out in the public eye, and especially in the eyes of legislators and the media. Farmers and vendors at last year’s  events  averaged $975 in sales per vendor in July and $615 per vendor in September (we had record setting rain), ringing up more than $80,000 in total sales for the two markets held at the Capitol in 2010.


We look forward to seeing you at the market! For more information, contact Maggie Smith, market coordinator, at 517-432-3381 or [log in to unmask] or visit www.mifma.org.



Maggie Smith 
Administrative Assistant
Michigan Farmers Market Association


Funding Opportunities


A total of $37 million in competitive grant funds are 
available to independent producers, farmer and rancher 
cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups through the 
USDA Value-Added Grant Program
Applications are due August 29, 

2011. Details are outlined on the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center's web site at:  http://www.agmrc.org/  


A special note for those who are developing a new product:  If you are planning to write the grant to create or identify the need for a new product you may want to include the Michigan Product Center. 


The Michigan office of USDA Rural Development can also provide a preliminary review 30 days prior to the application date.  Funds are expected to be awarded by November 30, 2011.


As in the past, you can apply for a planning grant or a working capital grant.  The maximum for planning grants is $100,000 while the maximum for working capital grants is $300,000.  Projects can run up to 3 years.  The total amount available is $37 million.  This is considerably higher than previous years because funds for the VAPG were not awarded last year and were combined with this year’s program.  Matching funds are required. i.e. the grant will pay up to 50% of the total cost of a projectWorking capital grants of more than $50,000 require a completed feasibility study or business plan.


Note that 10% of the funds are reserved for beginning farmers or socially-disadvantaged farmers.  Another 10% is reserved for development of mid-tier value chains (Local and/or regional supply networks that link independent producers with businesses and cooperatives that market value-added agricultural products). 


You should read the NOFA carefully to make sure your application complies with all the requirements.  Pay very close attention to the eligibility information and application scoring sections.


The MSU Product Center can assist with feasibility studies for the working capital grants.  However, if you have not already started this process it is not likely that it can be completed before the deadline.  Your Innovation Counselor can also help you find marketing data to support your project through resources such as Mintel.  However the Counselors cannot write your grant for you.


Tom Kalchik, Associate Director

MSU Product Center

Venture Development Office

101 Farrall Hall

East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: 517-432-8752

Fax: 517-432-8756

Cell: 517-256-7968

E-mail: [log in to unmask]

Website: http://www.productcenter.msu.edu/


Employment Opportunities

Green Mountain Farm-to-School has several openings

a nonprofit organization in northern Vermont seeks dynamic, mission-driven food systems professionals with strong communication and organization skills to support the growth of our organization:


The Farm-to-School Program Director will manage our local food distribution system, develop, implement and evaluate Farm to School program activities such as taste tests, farm field trips, nutrition education, and supervise the day to day operations of the Farm-to-School Coordinator team. Start date: August 1, 2011. 


Assistant Education Director will develop, grow, and deliver GMFTS' educational programs including school gardening, taste tests, farm field trips and in-class workshops and support and supervise the day to day operations of the educational team. Start date: August 1, 2011. 


Complete job descriptions are available at http://greenmountainfarmtoschool.org/employment.php

To applySubmit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample (non-fiction, 3 pages or less) to [log in to unmask]. Position opened until filled. EOE.


Katherine Sims, Executive Director

Green Mountain Farm-to-School

194 Main Street, Suite 301

Newport, VT 05855

[T] 802-334-2044

[E] [log in to unmask]






Vicki Morrone

C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems

Outreach Specialist for Organic Vegetable and Field Crops

303 Natural Resources

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-353-3542/517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (Fax)




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