June 19, 2009
The C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems (now CRFS) at Michigan State University has been collaborating with the Van Buren County MSU Extension since 2004, to utilize an Assets for Independence grant it received from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the grant was to increase the viability of small farm start-ups through the provision of a cash match to personal savings, based on the principles and practices of microenterprise, micro-finance, and asset-building methods for small- and mid-sized entrepreneurial systems. The grant was used to develop the Emerging Farmers Initiative (EFI), through which beginning farmers completed a year-long instruction program focused farm production and management classes. Upon course completion, the farmers had the opportunity to participate in a matched savings program (called Agriculture Individual Development Accounts) to generate equity in their farm businesses. Information on EFI and the success of the program can be found below.
Southwest Michigan Beginning Farmer Entrepreneur Initiative, 2005-2008 Program Evaluation
Susan Cocciarelli, Kathryn Colasanti & Laura Goddeeris