Katie Brandt teaches the Organic Farmer Training Program, a 50/50 mix of field and classroom activities where beginning and aspiring farmers build skills and a plan for their future farms. She also teaches HRT251 "Organic Farming: Principles and Practices", an introduction to organic agriculture for undergraduates. She leads the Michigan Sustainable Farm Mentors Program, which connects beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced Michigan farmers through a series of phone/zoom meetings. Katie is also working with the USDA-SARE State Plan to develop a map of beginning farmer training programs in Michigan.
Katie grew up on 80 acres of woods and wetlands in Michigan and continued to enjoy nature when she moved to Ann Arbor for college. This led her to work at organic farms in Tennessee, southern Michigan, Lansing, Grant and Jenison and to co-found Groundswell Community Farm in 2006. The farm grew from 2 farmers tilling bare land with hand tools into a viable business employing 10 farmworkers and 3 tractors to grow over $200,000 of vegetables annually from about 7 acres. During that time, she also attended GVSU where she completed her MS in Biology and designed an on-farm research project about organic controls for Striped Cucumber Beetles. After much thought and introspection in 2016, Katie listed the farm for sale, to pursue opportunities in farm education and advocacy.
Teaching allows Katie to expand on the farmworker trainings she developed at Groundswell. She especially enjoys working alongside aspiring farmers to translate their skills and vision into attainable goals for real, working farms and agricultural endeavors.