Michigan's Emerging Farmers
The goal of Michigan’s Emerging Farmers was to keep farmers farming, farmland in production, and food local and regional. It was a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Project, funded for three years by the United States Department of Agriculture. Although the grant has ended, the work begun during the grant continues at the organizations listed below.
The project focused on increasing new farm success by working to make farming a more prosperous, secure, and sustainable career choice for Michigan’s many beginning and emerging farmers. It supported collaboration among the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS), Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), and Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm (MSU SOF) to provide training and develop tools for beginning farmers.
Each partner organization contributed specialized expertise to the project.
- MSU SOF built on its established farmer training program to offer intensive workshops co-led by experienced farmers and experts and targeted in areas with high potential to increase farm profitability. Get information about upcoming workshops from the MSU SOF Farmer Field School webpage.
- MIFFS provided workshops designed to support women, Spanish-speaking and beginning farmers through the development of farmer-to-farmer networks and Michigan-specific resources on land access for beginning farmers. Find information about and land access resources and upcoming events on MIFFS' website.
- CRFS developed training and tools to help beginning farmers gain access to capital. View and download these tools from the Michigan’s Emerging Farmers resources page.
Read more detail about each organization and their roles in this project below.
MSU Student Organic Farm
The MSU Student Organic Farm (SOF) is a 15-acre, certified organic year-round teaching and production farm. Markets include a year-round CSA, 7-month on campus farm stand, and sales to MSU campus dining and other wholesale buyers. The farm collaborates in creating learning opportunities for other students at MSU through interdisciplinary experiential educational activities and research opportunities.
At the farm, hoophouses are used to produce and distribute fresh produce all year long. The farm operates an 8-month Organic Farmer Training Program in year-round organic farming, focusing on diversified production of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets. The program is designed to give participants a strong background and working knowledge of farm production, management, marketing, and business planning necessary to run a small-scale farming operation.
The MSU Farmer Field School is comprised of intensive one and two day hands-on workshops. These are tailored to deliver in-depth, practical information built upon the foundational work of the Organic Farmer Training Program and the wealth of knowledge in Michigan’s farming community. The Field School is designed to help improve the profitability of diversified, sustainable, Michigan farmers in their first 10 years of farming who serve local and regional markets.
Michigan Food and Farming Systems
Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) is a statewide, membership-based nonprofit organization. MIFFS mission is to connect beginning and historically underserved farmers to each other and resource opportunities; ensuring social justice, environmental stewardship, and profitability. Evolving from a foundation-funded project into a non-profit organization in 1998 allowed MIFFS to expand the work of promoting diverse community efforts.
MIFFS is dedicated to supporting the many faces of farming, particularly beginning and historically underserved farmers. We work closely with vibrant farmer-to-farmer networks to increase their chances of success by offering services, opportunities, and resources. Through this collaborative project MIFFS aimed to expand the MIFFS Women-in-Ag Network and our Spanish-speaking Farmer Network and connect those two underserved constituent groups to educational resources as well as capital and land resources.
MIFFS is also focused on new strategies for developing long-term farmland access to publicly and privately held land, as well as strategies for farmland succession, from retiring farmers to new-entry farmers.
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) works toward a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for Michigan, the nation, and the planet. CRFS cultivates regionally-rooted local food systems that yield Good Food: food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable. CRFS unites the expertise of community partners with that of MSU faculty and staff to advance understanding of, and engagement with, regional food systems through applied research, education, and outreach.
This material is based on work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2015-70017-22856.