Michigan Organic Listserv

From the desk of Vicki Morrone ([log in to unmask])

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems


Whats up?

Organic news

Educational Opportunities

Employment Opportunity


Organic farming is on the rise

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) More and more farmers around the country are getting their farms certified organic.


The latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the number of organic farms in the United States increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2016.

Eric Seitz has been working a 17-acre organic farm in Burlington for 14 years. In the winter, he brings Pitchfork Farm indoors.  Seitz said going organic has really changed the bottom line.

"Our product was just not moving as fast. And so, just from an economic standpoint, spending the money to be certified organic has allowed us to increase our sales, particularly to the local grocery stores," Seitz said.

Seitz is one of the many farmers who has recognized the growing market for organic.

According to Pew Research Center, U.S. farms and ranches sold almost $7.6 billion in organic products in 2016. That's more than double the sales in 2011.

Vermont has the largest share of organic acreage, 11 percent of the country's 1.25 million farm acres. While California has the most organic farms, New York comes in second with more than 1,000 farms. Vermont is eighth with more than 550 organic farms.

Pitchfork Farm distributes its produce to many restaurants in the Burlington area including at The Great Northern.

"A lot of the public is looking for organic foods," bartender and manager Colin Walish said.

On top of being good for the environment, Walish said there's a practical reason for choosing organic.

"We like to ferment a lot of foods. And if there's herbicides or pesticides on the produce, it really inhibits fermentation," Walish said.

Seitz said the yearly inspections to maintain the organic certification is worth it.

"There's just no other way we would do it," Seitz said.



Resources to help organic farmers figure our crop insurance

Risk Management Resources

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), in cooperation with USDA-Risk Management Agency, recently published two guidebooks: Introduction to Crop Insurance for Organic and Transitioning Producers explains how crop insurance works for organic and transitioning farmers, as well as tips on working with crop insurance agent. Reducing Risks Through Best Soil Health Management Practices in Organic Crop Production explores research on best soil-building practices for resilience in the face of climate change. Both publications are free online as PDFs.


Educational Opportunities


Chestnuts and other tree crops for Northern Michigan

Saturday, February 9, 2019, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
North Central Michigan College, HESC (Science) building, 

1515 Howard Street, Petoskey, MI 49770

1:00 Registration

1:15 Speakers:
•    Erin Lizottte, MSU Extension; An Introduction to Chestnut Production in Michigan.
•    Roger Blackwell, Chestnut Growers, Inc.; Processing and Marketing Chestnuts
•    Northern Agroforesty film and discussion, moderator, Larry Dyer, Ecological Agriculture Consulting.

Business advisors will be available for consultation 

Register online

Fee: $20

For more information call or email Larry Dyer: 231-881-2784 or [log in to unmask]


This field day is a collaboration with Crosshatch,, and the Local Food Alliance with funding from the USDA Risk Management Agency. 

The USDA is an equal opportunity  employer and provider--

Larry Dyer



2019 MOSES Organic Conference

Feb 21-23, LaCrosse WI

The largest conference for and by Organic farmers in North America

Last Chance to Register

Advance registration closes Feb. 7 for the 30th Annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference, which takes place at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis., Feb. 21-23, 2019. The country's largest event focused on organic and sustainable production, the conference features 60 workshops, 9 intensive Organic University classes, a 2-floor exhibit hall with more than 170 vendors, plus great organic food.  

A lot happens at the MOSES Conference besides all the great workshops. The free conference app can help you keep track of all you want to do—set your daily schedule, bookmark must-see vendors or roundtables, and connect with other participants. Find the app in your app store by searching "MOSES Organic Farming Conference." NOTE: To use the scheduling feature and post in the social feed (we love seeing your photos!), create an account and enter the 4-digit code you'll receive by text or email. And, folks are finding the texted code gets through a bit better—just sharing that tip!


Hoophouse Management and Marketing

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

North Central Michigan College, HESC (Science) building, 

1515 Howard Street, Petoskey, MI 49770

1:00 Registration

1:15 Speakers:
•    Erin Caudell, MIFMA; Pricing for wholesale and market sales.
•    Brian Bates,  Bear Creek Organic Farm; Lean management for your hoophouse.
•    Susan Sharp, Open Sky Organic Farm; Flowers and specialty herbs.

Business advisors will be available for consultation 

Register online    Fee: $20

For more information call or email Larry Dyer: 231-881-2784 or [log in to unmask]

This field day is a collaboration with Crosshatch,, and the Local Food Alliance with funding from the USDA Risk Management Agency. 

Larry Dyer


Unlocking Healing with Real Food- Thursday February 28, 2019 7-9pm


Dan Kittredge, Executive Director, Bionutrient Food Association

Cross W Ranch, 3111 Pinckney Rd., Howell MI 48843

Cost: $10

Online Registration:  



Saturday/Sunday March 2 & 3, 2019 9 am - 4 pm

Principles of Biological Systems

Dan Kittredge, Executive Director, Bionutrient Food Association

Cross W Ranch, 3111 Pinckney Rd., Howell MI 48843

This two-day workshop is designed to teach the basic principles & practices of biological farming for higher

quality crops — for better taste, pest & disease resilience, and shelf life, plus higher levels of nutrients

beneficial to human health.

Learn more and register at


Cost: $200

Scholarships available for MI growers and gardeners!


About Dan:  Executive Director of the Bionutrient Food Association and son of prominent leaders in the organic movement, Dan has been an organic farmer since childhood. His experience managing farms and developing sustainable agriculture techniques has connected him with farmers around the world. Dan is passionate about raising the quality of nutrition in our food supply through collaboration with committed individuals and organizations who support growing and eating really good food.


For more information about registration and scholarships, contact Cliff Scholz  [log in to unmask] 248.410.1762


Katherine Alaimo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

(517) 353-3412 (w)


Field Crops Webinar Series starts February 2019

Field crop producers and agribusiness professionals who are unable to attend Michigan State University Extension’s traditional winter programs will once again be able to access the expertise of MSU specialists and educators from the comfort of their home or office. The 2019 Field Crops Webinar Series will include a selection of topics that will be presented at both the Field Crops Pest Management Update and the Field Crop Production Update series.

The live webinars will run on Monday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m. EST beginning Feb. 18 through April 1, 2019. Topics will include:

·                  Feb. 18: Drainage Management for Nutrient Retention – Eshan Ghane, MSU

·                  Feb. 25: Tillage in Michigan Soybean Systems – James DeDecker, MSU

·                  March 4: Herbicide Efficacy Under Weather Stress – Erin Burns, MSU

·                  March 11: Cover Crop Profitability – Kim Cassida, MSU

·                  March 18: Improving Crop Production Income – Mike Staton, MSU

·                  March 25: Tar Spot in Corn & Other Emerging Diseases – Martin Chilvers, MSU

·                  April 1: Crop Marketing Outlook & Strategies – Jim Hilker, MSU

Participants can register for the entire series at $20 per person or for individual sessions at $5 per person per session. Those attending the live webinars will be eligible to earn one MDARD Pesticide Recertification (RUP) credit per session for application to one of the following categories: Private Core, Commercial Core or Field Crops. Each webinar will also be recorded and archived, and participants may choose to view the recordings at a later date.

To register for one or more webinar programs in the series, visit the Field Crops Webinar Series event page. Prior to each webinar, registrants will receive an email containing a link to connect to the webinars. The webinars may be accessed on a computer or mobile device with a stable internet connection—no other equipment is necessary.


8:30 a.m. Registration / Continental Breakfast

9:15 a.m.  Opening Remarks
Dan Bewersdorff – Herbruck's Organic Grain
Program Director

9:30 a.m.  Herbruck's Welcome / Outlook for the Organic Egg Industry

9:45 a.m. Herbruck Pelleted Poultry Fertilizer Program--Brian Geerlings – Fertilizer Sales Manager

10:00 a.m. Weed Control in Organic Systems
Dr. Joel Gruver - Western Illinois University
Associate Professor of Soil Science

10:45 a.m.  15 minute break

11:00 a.m.  Soil Health - Building the Foundations for. Success--Dr. Joel Gruver - Western Illinois University, Associate Professor of Soil Science

12:00 p.m. Lunch at Brody Square
Brody Hall, Michigan State University

1:00 p.m. Organic Farmer Panel Discussion Moderated by Dan Rossman - Retired MSU Extension & Paul Gross - MSUE

2:00 p.m. Open Discussion for the Good of Organic
Agriculture Vendor Presentations, Closing
Archived recordings from previous seasons will be accessible free of charge from the For additional information or assistance, contact Eric Anderson at 269-467-5511 or [log in to unmask]. Call by Feb. 4 to request accommodations for persons with disabilities. Requests received after this date will be fulfilled when possible.

2019 Organic Seminar

Sponsored by Herbrucks

Thursday, March 7, 2019 – East Lansing, MI - MSU campus

Presentations on soil science, market trends, and a quick review on keeping your organic product delivery paperwork organized and up to date.


Connect with other organic growers, share tips of the trade throughout the day and participate in our Organic Farmer Panel Discussion.


Register online for Herbruck's Organic Seminar at


Registration fee is $20.00 pre-paid or $25.00 at the door and includes continental breakfast, lunch, program, and parking.


For More information or to register, contact

*Dan Bewersdorff at 616.902.8623,

[log in to unmask] or

*Sherrie McKinch at 616.642.3016,

[log in to unmask]


Please RSVP by February 22. This seminar fills up fast so register early to reserve your seat.

Reserve your spot today registering online at



Brody Hall – Room 112--Michigan State University Campus--East Lansing, MI 48824


PARKING LOCATION (do not park in lot next to building as you could be ticketed

Kellogg Center- Parking Garage (not in restricted spots)

219 S. Harrison Road--East Lansing, MI 48824






How To Start A Cottage Food Business seminar

Mark your calendars! On April 4, a This educational program will be held St. Louis Michigan, hosted by MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center. Thursday, April 4, 6-8 pm at St. Louis Township Hall, 1495 W Monroe Rd, St. Louis, Michigan. Cost is $20. Click link to register:



Employment Opportunities


Please have any interested students contact David Jones ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>) by February 8 with a resume if they are interested in an MSUE internship opportunity working with fruit and vegetables here in Oceana County (see the attached job description). This would be a great opportunity to network with ag-professionals to get a flavor for different potential ag-careers.


Specifically, David Jones (MSU Extension Tree Fruit Educator) and I shared a summer intern with John Bakker last year, and plan to do so again this year. It will be a paid internship, funded through MSUE's intern program. The individual would be asked to live in Oceana County for the summer. The intern will begin the season (May-June) helping harvest asparagus from research plots at the Michigan Asparagus Industry Research Farm, and then help with data collection and pest monitoring in tree fruit (4 days/week) and vegetables (1 day/week; July-Aug).


Please have any interested students contact Dave with a brief resume. We realize this is a late ask, but wanted to extend the opportunity to you in case you know of students who might benefit.


Ben Werling


West Michigan Vegetable Educator

Hart, MI  49420

Phone: 231-873-2129

Fax: 231-873-3710






Vicki Morrone

Organic Farming Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-282-3557 (cell)

[log in to unmask]

sorrone11 (skype)





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