Center for Regional Food systems

Organic Listserv

January 28, 2020


Information to help you grow

What’s on offer?

MSU Student Organic Farmer Training Program has open enrollment

Upcoming Educational Programs

New research on green leafy vegetable in indoor production systems

Microloan opportunities for your farm business

Seeking your 2c input on these surveys-dry beans and water quality



Questions or ideas: Send to Vicki Morrone [log in to unmask]


Seeking training and guidance to become an organic farmer?


MSU Organic Farmer Training Program

The MSU Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP) teaches aspiring farmers in a 50/50 mix of field and classroom activities every Monday from 9am to 5pm at the MSU Student Organic Farm. In the field, everyone participates in hands-on activities, farm walks and equipment demonstrations. In the classroom, we focus on small group activities, full group discussions, guest speakers and participant presentations. You will also visit over 20 Michigan farms! Outside of class, video lectures, readings and practical assignments, like writing a Farm Business Plan will connect learning themes from the class to YOUR farm goals. The OFTP is a vibrant, diverse and positive learning community where students learn from each other and share their unique skills, experience and goals



~March 16th-November 9th (NO CLASS May 25 & September 7

~Mondays 9am-5pm @ the MSU Student Organic Farm in East Lansing

~$3,900 plus required books (scholarships of $500 to $2,000 available

~2020 Organic Farmer Training Program Application is HERE and the Scholarship Application is HERE. You can find out more about the 2019 OFTP by visiting our updated website.

~Contact [log in to unmask] with questions



Upcoming Educational Programs


The GREW Project invites you to our upcoming webinar:

The Development and Use of Outcomes to Evaluate Beginning Farmer and Rancher Training Programs -WEBINAR

 RESCHEDULED to Monday, February 3 – 11:00 AM-12:00 PM PST / 2:00-3:00 PM EST. 

Offered by the GREW project

Register here:

Identifying and tracking outcomes is a key piece of evaluating the impact of a program, and is almost always required by funding agencies. Beginning farmer and rancher (BFR) training staff have frequently requested more assistance with developing and using outcomes. The goal of this webinar is to provide some of this assistance. 

Want to learn more?
Check out the GREW Project website ( or join the GREW

The webinar will cover:

  • Different methods for identifying outcomes using theory of change models, educational theory, evaluation frameworks, GREW tools, etc.
  • Examples of outcomes and measures for different types of BFR programs
  • The value of using outcomes for strategic program development, program improvement, and continual learning – not just accountability

Presenter: Thomas Archibald – Associate Professor and Extension Evaluation Specialist in the Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education Department at Virginia Tech.

This webinar will be recorded. If you cannot attend on February 3, register now at and we will send you a link to the recording of the webinar.

listserv ( for updates and announcements.



Horticultural Days 2020 – MSU

February 5&6th

Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, MI


Two full days of education information for specialty crop growers and consultants. There was a hemp session that was also added.


Here are details on the full program:





Join MIFFS for their Annual Family Farm Conference Feb 8 In Kalamazoo at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Texas Township CampusA screenshot of text

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Join us on February 8, 2020 for this dynamic conference!!!

Register Here!


Van Buren Conservation District’s Farming for the Future

March 10th- 8:30- 3 PM

Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence MI


4 RUP credits available. Phase 1 MAEAP. Exciting program welcoming Gabe Brown, Author from Dirt to Soil!





Register for the 2020 Indiana Organic Grain Farmer Meeting Today!
Feb. 19 and 20, 2020


2020 Indiana Organic Grain Farmer Meeting

Feb 12
Beck Agricultural Center, West Lafayette, Ind.

Register today for Indiana’s only conference geared toward organic grain producers!

Reserve your spot by February 12 for this two-day education and networking event catering to ag professionals and organic grain farmers at all levels of experience. 


Whether you have several harvests under your belt or are just considering organic grain production, Purdue Extension’s 2020 Indiana Organic Grain Farmer Meeting connects you to peers, best practices, industry professionals, more than a dozen experts and more.

Day One
Curious about organic grain production or how to start? This full-day workshop of presentations and farmer panels offers best practices for your transition. Topics include:


·         Certification and transition process

·         National Organic Program regulation

·         Organic and transitional crop budgets and markets

·         Basics of organic grain production

·         Transition strategies

Day Two
Expand your knowledge of organic grain farming through breakout sessions and farmer panels, network with fellow producers and professionals, and enjoy an industry trade show. Topics include:


·         Diverse cropping systems

·         Managing parallel production

·         Organic no-till research update and farmer panel

·         Growing high-yield organic corn

Keynote Speaker
A trailblazer in America’s organic farming industry, Klaas Martens and his wife, Mary-Howell Martens, farm 1,600 certified-organic acres of grains and vegetables at Lakeview Organic Grain in New York. Martens, a third-generation farmer, will discuss intentional biodiversity and whole-farm systems thinking as keys to successful, resilient organic farming.


Interested in being an exhibitor?  Visit the event page to register and for details about how to support this event as an exhibitor. Only a few exhibitor spaces are still available.



Savannah Institutes is offering apprenticeships and recruiting mentor farmers!


Agroforestry, the practice of managing trees together with other crops and animal production, is an important  key to mitigating climate change while providing environmental and socioeconomic benefits. In order to change the agricultural system here in the Midwest through agroforestry, we need to train a new generation of agroforestry farmers. Are you ready to be part of this transformation?


Savanna Institute is recruiting apprentices and mentor farmers. More information and applications can be found here:





New Research that will support leafy green production

This is Very relevant upcoming research at MSU for Hightunnel and Greenhouse growers

MSU Leads Study to Explore Viability of Growing Leafy Greens Indoors

A multi-university team of horticulturists, engineers, and agricultural economists led by Michigan State University (MSU) has received a four-year, $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study indoor production of leafy greens.

Leafy greens include commonly consumed vegetables such as lettuce and kale. Production challenges outdoors have led to interest in growing these specialty crops hydroponically in controlled environments, however there is little information on whether this is economically viable. Read the full MSU news article.


MSUE offers Farm Bill spreadsheet decision tool

Bob Battel, MSUE Field Crops Educator

Published 12:33 am EST, Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The 2018 Farm Bill gives participating farmers the choice between the Agricultural Risk Coverage program (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program.

The MSU Farm Business Management team has developed a spreadsheet to help producers make the decision between ARC and PLC by crop and farm. The decision tool has built in information from each county and helps farmers make decisions for each individual farm for corn, wheat, and soybeans. The ARC/PLC calculator can be found at

MSU Extension is offering interested farmers appointments at the MSU Extension Office, 1142 S Van Dyke, Bad Axe to run the ARC/PLC calculator for their individual FSA farm numbers. Interested participants must bring in their FSA CCC-861 form that contains base acres and PLC yields, and their farm's yields for corn, soybeans, and wheat for 2013 - 2019.

Appointments may be made on Fridays in January and February -- Jan. 31, Feb. 7, 14, and 21. Appointments will take approximately 45 minutes.


Seeking loans for your ag business?

Lake Trust Credit Union is offering low interest loans not requiring business credit. The loans range from $500 - $50,000 and use personal credit, rather than business credit history for financing considerations. Approval can be as quick as 1-2 days. The credit union also offers trainings on credit scores and credit repair. For more info visit,  Note their interest rates varies, depending on your credit rating from ~ 4-12%.

We are not endorsing this business, just sharing resources.



Crosshatch is offering an opportunity to apply for Microloans for Michigan farmers seeking to build their food production system. Apply with them and see if you qualify. From coolers to packing sheds, all of it is critical to meet your customers demand, so check it out.


One week left to apply for microloans. Reach out to us so you can reach your customers better in 2020!


Harvest Thyme Farm and Vineyard LLC invested in a mobile refrigeration unit that they deliver to a central location in Cheboygan for easier CSA share distribution - saving everyone time and money. They were a 2019 Grain Train microloanrecipient.




Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology Grain Train Natural Foods Markets and Oryana Community Co-op have teamed up to offer no-interest loans for farms and food-related businesses in 13 Northwest Michigan counties.

Farmers, agribusinesses and food business entrepreneurs are invited to apply for this microloan program. This funding is specifically aimed at enhancing the innovation and diversity of food systems in this region. Ideal candidates will propose an idea that would enhance new efforts for their farm or food business and which would also have broader community and economic impact.

For more information and to apply for a loan, visit or contact Daniel Marbury at [log in to unmask] or 231-622-5252.




Seeking Your Input

This is the time of year when educators are seeking to realign their work plan to better meet needs of farmers like you. Can you help us please?


What are your concerns about water use and safety in your work and in Michigan?


I am conducting an informal survey of water resource concerns in agriculture.  I would really appreciate it if you would take a moment to complete this survey, it will take less than 5 minutes.  The information collected will help instruct a regional project on water quality and future work MSU Extension does around water quality and usage in our Great Lakes State. Farming perspectives are key to guide us in the right direction so please take 5 minutes out of your day and complete this easy survey. Just click on the link below, no need to register or sign in, just click your responses.


Thank you, 


Sarah Fronczak, M.Sc.

Michigan State University Extension

Environmental Management Educator

20 Care Drive, Suite B

Hillsdale, MI 49242




Dry Bean Production Survey-Please share your thoughts

Do you grow edible dry beans? Help to guide upcoming research and variety development for organic and specialty dry bean production by completing this short survey (Est. time to complete: 7 minutes).
The purpose of this survey is to seek input from dry bean growers producing for organic, specialty and/or direct markets. Topics include current growing practices, agronomic challenges and needs for variety improvement. To our knowledge, this type of needs assessment has not previously been completed.

The survey is being conducted by researchers in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section at Cornell University, but the results will be shared with growers, public bean breeders and Extension specialists across the United States as well as Canada.

Follow this link to the Survey:
Dry Bean Grower Survey

Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:

Many thanks for taking the time!


Kristen Loria

M.S. Student + Research Assistant
Plant Breeding and Genetics
Cornell University







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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