Join the 2024 MSU Organic Farmer Training Program in Detroit or East Lansing

Create a plan for your farm, educational garden or homestead.

People standing and watching a farming demonstration
Angela Lugo-Thomas learning to use a wheel hoe to manage weeds as part of the MSU Organic Farmer Training Program.

Make your farm dreams a reality! Apply now to join the 2024 Michigan State University (MSU) Organic Farmer Training Program. This collaborative learning community connects farmworkers, educational gardeners, farmers, homesteaders and food system changemakers each Monday from late February to November. Applicants can look forward to these shared learning experiences:

  • Tours of 20-plus farms in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Flint (five days plus one weekend).
  • Hands-on learning at Keep Growing Detroit or the MSU Student Organic Farm in East Lansing (10 days).
  • Interactive online learning to build your farm plan through group conversations, brainstorming, peer input and guest speakers (17 days).

Plan to graduate with a farm plan that fits your values, goals and community needs along with the practical skills, allies and resources to make it happen.

Hands-on learning sites in Detroit and East Lansing

The Keep Growing Detroit learning site is a great opportunity for urban farmers and growers near Detroit who are interested in neighborhood revitalization, teaching youth and managing hand-scale gardens and farms. Keep Growing Detroit is a model urban farm growing hundreds of thousands of vegetable and herb transplants for over 2,200 gardeners and farmers in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. Keep Growing Detroit also supports farmers and gardeners with workshops, site visits and the Grown in Detroit shared stall at Eastern Market. Four Keep Growing Detroit farmers collaborate to teach the Organic Farmer Training Program theme days, so Detroit Organic Farmer Training Program participants get to learn from Rosebud Schneider, Akello Karamoko, Kido Pielack and Molly Hubbell.

The MSU Student Organic Farm is a tractor-scale organic farm offering immersive, hands-on farming experiences for undergraduate crew members, Organic Farmer Training Program participants, volunteers and interns. The farm also collaborates with MSU professors to host classes and research. East Lansing participants learn from Organic Farmer Training Program facilitator Katie Brandt and Student Organic Farm manager Darby Anderson. Learning opportunities at this 15-acre farm focus on activities in six hoophouses, outdoor vegetable fields, cover crop plantings and diverse fruits, nuts and more in the permaculture-inspired Edible Forest Garden.

Growing a farm vision!

Each Organic Farmer Training Program graduate creates a viable farm plan that aligns their values, goals and skills with local community needs. Participants choose one of three farm plan types that best fits their goals and then build their plan through several assignments that are like stepping stones toward articulating a holistic vision. As shown below, all the farm plans include values and goals, site plan, soil management plan and a farm/garden production plan. Check out the plan sections below to see what makes each plan type unique:

  • Farm business plans focus on selling farm goods and services: Assignments build from values and goals to marketing plan, site plan, soil management plan, farm/garden production plan, labor plan and financial plan.
  • Community farm plans focus on positive community change through educational gardens and non-profit projects: Start with values and goals, then create your community engagement plan, site plan, soil management plan, farm/garden production plan and sustainability plan.
  • Homestead plans focused on growing for home use include values and goals, self-sufficiency plan, site plan, soil management plan, farm/garden plan and sustainability plan.

Many Organic Farmer Training Program graduates choose to share their farm plan with future Organic Farmer Training Program participants, so you will be able to see over 50 farm plan examples as part of class activities as we dig into each section of the plans.

Field trips

The field trips are a real highlight for everyone in the Organic Farmer Training Program. Farmers have been so generous to welcome us onto their farms and share their growing practices, marketing strategies, successes and challenges. Some even share about their work/life balance and financials. Getting to see real farms and hear from farmers gives Organic Farmer Training Program participants real-life farm models that inform their vision for their own farms.

Interactive online learning

This is not your typical webinar! The Organic Farmer Training Program focuses on peer-to-peer learning, which means we are digging in for deep conversations that welcome perspectives from everyone in the Zoom room. A typical online day includes one or two farmer guest speakers, vision sharing presentations from Organic Farmer Training Program participants and a chance to dive into the day’s theme with solo brainstorming, full-group discussions, breakout room activities and shared documents where all can contribute.

To apply

Apply online or email with questions. The 2024 Organic Farmer Training Program fee is $3,900, but a scholarship fund supports farmers and educational gardeners from Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck.

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