Northeast Michigan Local Foods Summit explores long-term growth opportunities

More than 75 stakeholders attended Northeast Michigan Local Foods Summit to discuss community food systems work taking place in the region.

More than 75 local farmers, producers, buyers, and stakeholders had a great opportunity to learn about and discuss potential ways to increase profitability, additional channels to market, and some of the great activities taking place in and around Northeast Michigan that have aided them in sustainability and growth at the Northeast Michigan Local Foods Summit on March 23, 2013.  The summit was held at the Ralph A. McMullen Conference Center in Roscommon, Mich. 

The workshop was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Transformation Corp., Michigan State University Extension, and key partners focused individuals on long-term growth throughout the Northeast Michigan region.  According to Mark Rais, a consultant with Northern Transformation and coordinator of the event, “The summit theme was collaboration between farmers and institutions to begin the thought process toward the establishment of food hubs in our region.”

Presentation topics included food hub work in Michigan, understanding community food systems, community supported agriculture (CSA), Selling to institutions and school systems, food safety and the Michigan Agricultural Assurance Program (MAEAP certifications), farm markets: new market opportunities and incubator kitchens.

I had the honor of presenting the opening talk, Understanding Community Food Systems.  Myself and other community food system educators with MSU Extension focus on educating and increasing awareness of the many factions involved in a community food system and how everyone is vital to its existence.

The presentation is currently being offered free to any group interested in learning more about community food systems. To set up a presentation, contact your local MSU Extension office and they can assist you in contacting your local community food systems educator.

For additional information about community food systems, or any of the diverse programming and educational resources offered by MSU Extension, contact your local Extension office or visit the MSU Extension website.

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