Blog Archive

Monday, February 29, 2016

Reminder: Scholarship Deadline for National Farm to Cafeteria Conference TODAY 5 pm

A reminder that the deadline for applying for a scholarship to attend the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is TODAY at 5 pm!

The National Farm to Cafeteria Conference is a three-day national gathering of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement. This year, the conference will be held in Madison, Wisconsin from June 2-4. This is a great opportunity to develop new skills for farm to school programs, connect with others in your region (and nationally) doing amazing work, and offer space to collaboratively problem solve and develop creative innovations to add to your K-12 or early childhood program work! There are twelve different tracks, including one explicitly for early childhood programs, and a lot of great opportunities for networking. Scholarships can cover full conference attendance or short course participation, and are prioritized for farmers, farmer support organizations, youth, persons of color, food service professionals, farm to hospital/college practitioners, and early care and education providers.
Apply for a scholarship or register today at 
Hope to see many of you there!

Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kalamazoo/Battle Creek Area CSA Fair March 4!

Find Your Farmer

at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek Area Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Fair!

Part of Art Hop on Friday March 4, 2016, 6-8pm

Anna Whitten Hall, 202 North Rose Street, Kalamazoo MI, 49007


Michigan State University Extension is partnering with KVCC’s Bronson Healthy Living Campus to host a CSA Fair on Friday, March 4 from 6-8pm in the lobby of Anna Whitten Hall. CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and provides an opportunity to invest in a local farm by purchasing a share of its products at the beginning of the season and receiving regular portions of fresh food as it is harvested. This transaction helps the farm by providing income to cover operating expenses at a time of the year when cash flow is lower.


CSAs come in different sizes, season lengths, styles, and options. Kalamazoo Area CSA Fair attendees will have the opportunity to meet local farmers face-to-face, learn about CSA programs, and find out if a CSA is right for them. Participating farms have delivery or pickup sites in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Dowling, Galesburg, Lakeview, Marshall, Pennfield, Portage, Richland, and Texas Corners. A variety of CSA options are available for produce, meat, eggs and more.


The list of farms that will be attending in person includes Agropraxis Farm at Tillers International, Bonamego Farms, DeLano Farms at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, EarthSmith Food & Forest Products, Green Gardens, Lake Village Homestead, Molter Family Orchards, Scobeys Produce, Soil Friends Farm and Sprout. Information on CSAs from Koelbel Farm and The Organic Gypsy will also be available for attendees.


The fair is being held in conjunction with Art Hop and the KVCC Fretboard Festival at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. . This is a free event and anyone is welcome to attend. An educator from Michigan State University Extension will be on hand with information on factors to consider when shopping for a CSA and ways to use and store your fresh Michigan produce.



Mariel Borgman

Community Food Systems Educator


MSU Extension at the KVCC Food Innovation Center


Farm Food Safety Conference: Just a few days left to register + need-based scholarships now available!

Don’t miss this opportunity to get up to speed on FSMA regulations and appropriate-scale solutions for small to mid-sized farms.


Deadline for registration is 2/27/16. The fee to attend is $20. Lunch is included and need-based scholarships are now available. Please contact Darcy Soule at for information about scholarships and registration.


Mariel Borgman

Community Food Systems Educator


MSU Extension at the KVCC Food Innovation Center


From: Kalamazoo Valley Community College [] On Behalf Of Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 9:41 AM
To: Borgman, Mariel <>
Subject: Join us at the Food Safety Summit


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Please Join Us! 
You are cordially invited to attend the Food Safety Conference at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Groves Center, where the Introduction to Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will be discussed along with the possible effects that this legislation will have on local farms and food operators. 

Topics covering:

• FSMA Preparation - Appropriate solutions for small scale farms and food operators.
• Food Safety Manuals & SOPs - Importance of documentation for Good Agricultural Practice and Group Good Agricultural Practice.
• Panel Discussion - Good Agricultural Practice Certification and other inspections. 

Review the Program Flyer. Complete and print off a Registration Form.

Fee: $20
Time: Wednesday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Hours: 6

For More Information email Darcy Soule at


Kalamazoo Valley Community College

6767 West O Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49003-4070



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Kalamazoo Valley Community College · 6767 W O Avenue · Kalamazoo, MI 49009 · USA

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Free training videos, Grow Your Own Vegetables with BK FARMYARDS.

We didn't want you to miss the free replays of Stacey's Grow Your Own Vegetables complimentary video training series.

She always puts out a lot of great free info just before she launches her vegetable growing fundamentals online class each year. And this free training will be available for only two more days.

Check it out!

Register for your complimentary training here.

Join over thousands of growers from all around the world in a one-of-a-kind conversation about feeding ourselves locally - right in our own yards!

RSVP here

We're glad you're a part of a movement of people who enjoy home-grown, fresh, organic food for a healthy planet.

Peace & carrots,

Bee Ayer


Elizabeth Bee Ayer

Farmer, Floral Design, Teacher & Urban Farm Consultant

Need Chicken? Check out our new farm!


P:  917-589-6619

Follow Me Facebook Twitter  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

MI Farm to School Webinar Recordings

The first two in the Spring MI Farm to School webinar series are now available online at These webinars can be viewed at any time, and accompanying pdf of the slides are available as well.

Learn about federal and state food procurement regulations and how to properly procure local products for use in k-12 and early care and education meal programs.

This webinar covers the basics of connecting on-site gardens to meal programs, using the MSU CRFS Garden to Cafeteria Guide as a framework.


Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2016 Michigan Good Food Summit - Save the Date!

Please share with your networks! 
For more information about the Michigan Good Food Summits please visit:

The 2016 Michigan Good Food Summit
Good Food for All: The Road to 2020
October 28, 2016 - East Lansing, MI

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter
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MSU Center for Regional Food Systems | 480 Wilson Road | East Lansing | MI | 48824

Cultivate Michigan Recipes!

Hello Michigan Farm to Schoolers!

I wanted to reach out to all of you working on increasing local food in Michigan Schools and make a request for some farm-to-school recipes. I am working on building content for our 2016 Cultivate Michigan Featured Food Guides which include sourcing information and institutional scale recipes. This year we will be featuring Kale, Carrots, Potatoes, and Cherries (dried/frozen). If you have any favorite recipes that utilize one or multiple of these products please send them my way along with pictures, if available.

Recipes included in the guide will feature the institution that submitted them and can be a great way to show off the work your school food service staff is doing. We are requesting that recipes try to meet the following requirements:
  • Institutional scale (50 servings or more)
  • Include dietary/nutrition information
  • Meet/include USDA school meal serving/portion guidelines
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions and submit recipes to my email at

Thanks for your assistance!


Garrett Ziegler
Extension Educator, Community Food Systems
MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute

MSU Extension at the Downtown Market
109 Logan St. SW
Suite B102
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Office: 616.608.7436
Cell: 814.777.3562

Michigan State University Extension programs and
materials are open to all withought regard to race,
color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion,
age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual
orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status

FREE Online Training - Grow Your Own Vegetables this wee

Wanted to share this great online video training with yall. I think its a great training for school garden volunteers, specially those just starting a garden. Great tips on how to plan for the best garden! Please share

Grow Your Own Vegetables with Stacey Murphy

Free Online Video Training Series : Feb 16-27

This training walks you through the big questions: Do you have the right space to grow food and where can you find more? Can you actually shrink your grocery bill with a vegetable garden? What tasks should you focus on so you only spend 2 hours (or less) per week while growing lots of food.

You can check it out and sign up here.

If you have dreams of a vegetable garden, or you've been growing for a couple years and want to amp up your harvest, or anything in between, I highly recommend Stacey's work to help you live your dream of nourishing the planet while you enjoy fresh-picked, sun-kissed vegetables that you grew yourself.

Find out more and sign up now, for no charge.

Peace & carrots,

Bee Ayer

p.s. while growing zones are different around the world, there is something for every vegetable grower in this video series. Stacey's trainings have touched the lives of beginning growers, vegetable gardeners, homesteaders, and permaculturists, and help to start gardens and backyard farms across 4 continents.


Elizabeth Bee Ayer

Farmer, Floral Design, Teacher & Urban Farm Consultant


P:  917-589-6619

Follow Me Facebook Twitter  

Garden to Cafeteria Webinar TODAY - 2:00 - 3:30 pm

Hi all - 

A reminder about this afternoon's webinar on using on-site gardens in procurement strategies for k-12 schools and early childhood programs.

The webinar can be accessed at: 
Participant Code 738419

You need to connect BOTH via webinar and telephone to get both audio and visual.


Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Monday, February 15, 2016

National Farm to Cafeteria Conference - Early Bird Registration and Scholarship Deadline

Register Now! Early Bird Prices for National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. Don't miss the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Madison, Wis., June 2-4, 2016

This event is the only national gathering of stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement, making it a crucial leadership development opportunity to advance community health, build economic opportunities for farmers and producers, and ensure long-term sustainability for local food efforts nationwide. Early bird registration is open now, including pre-conference short courses and field trips. Event organizers expect more than 1,500 attendees, and the last event sold out before the registration deadline, so don't wait. Register today at

MSU CRFS Presents at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Over the course of two days, attendees will have access to 48 different workshops in 12 topical tracks, and your Michigan Farm to School team will be involved in a number! MSU Center for Regional Food System's Farm to Institution Specialist Colleen Matts will be co presenting on institutional sales for Farmers and Food Hubs, Farm to Institution alliances, and Hoophouses for Health, Farm to School Specialist Abby Harper will be co-presenting on local procurement in early care and education programs, and Cherry Capital Food's School Liaison Kelly Lively will be co-presenting on Farm to Cafeteria promotional events (and showcasing our Apple Crunch efforts!). With 12 different tracks, there truly is an opportunity of interest to everyone. Check out the full list of workshops, and start planning which ones to attend!

Scholarship Deadline Approaching
Finally, the Scholarship Deadline is fast approaching! Scholarships can cover full conference attendance or short course participation. To ensure the conference reflects the full diversity of the movement, scholarships are prioritized for farmers, farmer support organizations, youth (through age 22), persons of color, food service professionals, farm to college/hospital practitioners, and early care and education providers. Don't delay! Learn more and submit your application now until the deadline of Feb. 29 at 5pm ET. 

Apply for a scholarship or register today at

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Friday, February 12, 2016

MI Farm to School News

Greetings from Washington, D.C.!

I've been spending the last two days at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures summit, which is an opportunity for early care and education and public health practitioners to come together and strategize for integrating health initiatives into ECE settings. So many great ideas and collaborations coming out, but I am excited by the number of mentions of Farm to School as a strategy! Nutrition and healthy lifestyle promotion, family and community engagement, and opportunities for experiential learning – not to mention the opportunities to build economic opportunities for small farmers!

LOTS of opportunities this week, including our upcoming Garden to Cafeteria webinar (and some other opportunities to get involved in school gardens) and the approaching scholarship deadline for the Farm to Cafeteria Conference. 

  • What's for Lunch? Demanding Quality Protein in School Meals – Yahoo!
    • America's schools collectively spend nearly $1 billion per year on poultry and legumes. School Food FOCUS works with school districts to coordinate this purchasing power and put market pressure on food companies to provide healthier proteins for our nation's school children.
  • Michigan School Garden Newsletter
    • If you're interested in learning MORE about school gardens, be sure to sign up for this great newsletter out of MSU Extension! Additionally, attached is a flyer for the MSUE Starting and Sustaining a School Garden workshop, which can be registered for by April 1 here
  • Webinar: Garden to Cafeteria – Tuesday, February 16, 2-3:30 pm
    • Don't miss this opportunity to learn about garden to cafeteria programs and hear from practitioners in the field who are successfully using garden harvests in their procurement strategies. Webinar can be accessed at AND calling 1-719-234-7800 with participant code 738419
  • Job Opening: Detroit School Gardens Collaborative Garden Attendant – Deadline Wednesday, February 17
    • Detroit School Garden Collaborative is seeking five seasonal, part time staff to support their work. Interested applicants should email Monica Rischiotto at or call 313-651-3457 for more information
    • Fuel Up to Play 60 is providing $5 million dollars, in addition to the USDA's school nutrition equipment grants, to support equipment purchases to facilitate the use of fresh food

  • Farm to Cafeteria Scholarship Deadline – Monday, February 29
    •  The National Farm to School Network is now accepting applications for scholarships to the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which will take place in Madison, Wis., June 2-4, 2016. The MSU CRFS Farm to School team will be presenting in FOUR workshops this year. Come join us
  • 2016 National Good Food Network Conference – March 30 - April 1, Atlanta, GA
    • This year's conference theme is "Maintaining Values while Building Value," with a special daylong in-depth food hub training the day before. 
  • 2016 Good Food Festival & Conference - March 24 - March 26, Chicago, IL
    • Celebrate the region's growing local food community with three dynamic days connecting people active in the Good Food community.
Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834

Thursday, February 11, 2016

FW: Prima Civitas agri-talent and agri-employer surveys

Forwarding a request on behalf of Mary Zumbrunnen at Prima Civiitas to complete these surveys 

For Agri-employers…


Dear Agricultural Employers:


Prima Civitas, a non-profit statewide economic developer, has received funding from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to assist with the research and development of an agricultural talent pipeline and we need your help…


Specifically from employers, we are looking to gather feedback on: your organizational background, staffing and retention, employee skills and training needs, as well as interest in participating in a regional talent pilot model development. Please take 15 minutes to complete this survey.


Your responses are completely confidential. Your identity and organizational data will not be shared. Prima Civitas has requested this information only in the case that we need response clarification or to follow-up on your interest in participating in a regional talent pilot model. Please click on the link below and submit responses by Friday, February 26, 2016 by close of business. If you have any questions, please call us at (517) 708-4240.


SURVEY LINK:   Your response if very important. Thank you for your participation.




For Agri-talent…

"The purpose of this survey is to assist statewide economic development non-profit, Prima Civitas, to better understand what would draw those not currently interested in the field of agriculture to agribusiness, as well as to understand what would help those currently working in this sector to improve their experience. Your response is greatly appreciated and will help inform strategy to improve Michigan's workforce experience. Your comments are confidential and no one outside of Prima Civitas will review individual response information. This survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. Thank you very much for your time and reflection. Your thoughts are important to us!"

Please complete this survey by February 26, 2016 at:






Mary ZumBrunnen

Director, Talent Initiatives

Prima Civitas

Catalyst for a Competitive, Innovative & Global Michigan

325 E. Grand River ISuite 275 I E. Lansing, MI 48823

Cell: 810.553.7389 I Office: 517.708.4240 I Fax: 517.999.3196 I





Registration now open for All About Food Conference



Registration is now live for the All About Food Conference: From Farm to Fork, hosted by the Macomb Food Collaborative. The conference will be hosted on Tuesday, March 15th from 8-3:30pm. The event will be located at the Macomb Community College University Center, 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township, MI 48038.


The early bird pricing of $20 is applicable now through February 15th. A locally sourced and prepared lunch is included in the cost of registration.


See the attached registration brochure for more information on the wide variety of food related sessions, our speakers, and further details. Registration is available online at, or by mail.


Apologies for any cross-postings. Please feel welcome to share this announcement widely.


We hope to see you there!


Kaitlin Koch Wojciak

Michigan State University Extension Educator

Community Food Systems

21885 Dunham, Suite 12

Clinton Township, MI 48036

Work: 586-469-6088

Cell: 313-695-7746

Please note my new email address:



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Monday, February 8, 2016

RSVP Deadline Extended - Breaking into Institutional & Wholesale Markets


We have extended the registration deadline until 5 pm on Wednesday, February 10th for the Breaking into Institutional & Wholesale Markets Winter Workshop in the Battle Creek area. See details below and a link to register for this unique workshop!


Announcing Breaking Into Institutional & Wholesale Markets Winter Workshops!

Institutional and wholesale markets can be a key component of a successful farm business and an important part of a plan to expand. At these workshops you’ll learn from farmers and food hub staff who have experience selling to institutions and wholesale markets about how to best present yourself and your business, quality standards buyers are likely to expect, products of interest, and how to price your products. The workshops are free to attend! Please register online at the links below.


February 15, 2016 from 2:30 - 4:30 with reception to follow until 6 pm

Territorial Brewing Company in Springfield/Battle Creek


  • Trent Thompson, Green Gardens Community Farm
  • Brennan Dougherty, Sprout Urban Farms
  • Tyler Vuillemot, Hoophouses for Health
  • Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist at CRFS and co-lead of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network (MFIN)


Workshop hosted by Sprout Urban Farms, Michigan Farm to Institution Network, the Michigan Farmers Market Association and MSU CRFS.

Register to attend here.




Colleen Matts

Farm to Institution Specialist | Michigan Lead for National Farm to School Network

Center for Regional Food Systems | Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd | Rm 311C Natural Resources Building | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517.432.0310 |



Friday, February 5, 2016

MI Farm to School News

Greetings, and happy Friday!

Here are the updates on the MI Farm to School front:

  •  National Farm to Cafeteria Conference Scholarships – Deadline: February 29
    • The National Farm to School Network makes it a priority to keep conferences affordable and to offer scholarships to make events more accessible. Now is your chance to apply for a scholarship award to attend the conference in June!
  • Webinar: Garden to Cafeteria – Tuesday February 16, 2-3:30 pm
    • Interested in getting more of your on-site garden's harvest into your school and/or early childhood program's meals? Join us to learn about garden to cafeteria programs and hear from practitioners in the field who successfully use garden harvests in their procurement strategies.
  • Everybody Eats: Cultivating Food Democracy – Saturday March 19, Lansing, MI
    • Everybody Eats is a one day conference poised to energize food system awareness and reform in Mid-Michigan communities.
  •  Safety in Agriculture for Youth – MSU Extension
    • Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) is a grant project funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute for Food and Agriculture to develop a sustainable and accessible national clearinghouse for agricultural safety and health curriculum for youth.

That's all for this week! Hope everyone stays warm!


Abby Harper
Farm to School Specialist
MSU Center for Regional Food Systems
480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824
(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834