Food system organizations in Michigan

January 8, 2013

Several organizations throughout Michigan play an important role in the establishment of thriving local food businesses and the development of community food systems. Here are some key regional partners:

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) works in a dual role as regulator and marketer of the agricultural industry. It provides Michigan citizens with quality services and information by working cooperatively with many state, federal and local agencies and other organizations including universities, colleges and associations.

The Michigan Farmers Market Association works with and for farmers market organizers, managers, farmers, vendors and friends to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products.

The Michigan Land Use Institute has a Food and Farming program that began a regional local food and farm initiative in 2004 called Taste the Local Difference in northwest Lower Michigan. This is a project designed to grow jobs, save farmland, increase the viability and number of farms, and increase the amount of regionally produced food available to the region’s residents. Taste the Local Difference works to address the business and marketing needs of local food and farm entrepreneurs and promote local food.

The Michigan State University Product Center helps Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer-responsive products and businesses in the agriculture, natural resources, and bioeconomy sectors. The Product Center is a single gateway to generating success for Michigan entrepreneurs.

The Center for Regional Food Systems works to engage the people of Michigan, the United States and the world in applied research, education and outreach to develop regionally integrated, sustainable food systems. Its vision is to see a thriving economy, equity and sustainability for Michigan, the country and the planet through food systems rooted in local regions and centered on food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.

The Starting Block is West Michigan's nonprofit regional kitchen incubator and entrepreneurial center. It is a place for small business owners to learn more about the technical aspects of food production. The Starting Block's kitchen is a home for individuals who want to take a special recipe to market or create a food or natural resource business. It provides:

  • A commercial test kitchen for start-up and existing food processors
  • Low-cost office rent including computer, internet access, phone and office support
  • Expert resources through Michigan State University's business, food science, and food packaging schools, and MSU Product Center and the University of Michigan

The MSU Student Organic Farm is a 10-acre, certified organic year-round teaching and production farm. Our markets include 48-week CSA, Summer CSA, 7-month on campus farm stand, and sales to MSU dining halls. We use passive solar greenhouses or hoophouses to produce and distribute fresh produce all year long. Winter production includes saladmix, spinach, kale, collards, chard, choi, napa cabbage, komatsuna, cilantro, parsley, radishes, carrots, beets, and more. These fresh items are combined with storage crops such as squash, garlic, potatoes, onions, cabbage, rutabaga to create bountiful shares throughout the winter.

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