Today at Hope Farms

West Michigan Growers Group gathering TODAY, potluck at 6pm and tour at 7pm at Hope Farms,1364 Maplewood Dr., Jenison, MI 49428.

Surplus Produce Donations 

Feeding America West Michigan will pick up surplus crops at your farm. They like to have about 200lbs of donations to come pick them up. Contact Katie Auwer 616-432-6961 or Ron Groen 616-432-6963. Details at https://www.feedwm.org/donors/

Emma Garica from Access of West Michigan can also help facilitate local food pantries picking up donations. Her email isEmma@accessofwestmichigan.org

Good Food Summit

“Michigan Good Summit Registration Now Open!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, East Lansing, MI

 

Register at:  www.michigangoodfood.org/summits  The full conference agenda can be found there, along with hotel and other Summit information.  Registration for farmers, students and community members is $30; for all organizational affiliates, it is $50.  Fees include continental breakfast, lunch, breaks, all sessions and materials.”

 

Organic Certification Cost Share Now Available!! 

“The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is pleased to announce the availability of organic cost share assistance for handlers/producers who have incurred certification expenses during the period of October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016. The program is offered on behalf of the USDA National Organic Cost Share Program which is authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill.  Enclosed are the cost share reimbursement instructions and application as well as guidance on  how to register as a vendor for the State of Michigan. Your operation must have been inspected and certified by a National Organic Program (NOP) accredited certifying agent during this specified time period in order to qualify. MDARD is authorized to pay 75% of the certification
and user costs up to $750 per certification. Allowable costs are indicated on the enclosed instruction pages. You must register as a vendor with the state of Michigan and sign up to receive your payment via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). If you do not have access to the internet and cannot register with the state as a vendor, you will need to complete the enclosed form W-9; if you are
currently registered with the state as a vendor you do not need to fill out the W-9.
Failure to do provide any of the required documentation will result in rejection of your application. Your application along with all required supporting documentation must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2016.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Josh Grant at (517) 284-5789 or via email at grantj5@michigan.gov.”  http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-1568_37188-333288–,00.html

Growers News

Reminder: West Michigan Growers Group is this Thursday at Pleasant Hill Farm, 5859 124th St, Fenneville, on Thursday, July 7th with the potluck at 6pm and tour at 7pm.
 
Pizza Oven Building Workshop at New City Farm
“New City Farm will be hosting a pizza oven building workshop on Friday August 5 from 8am-4pm. The workshop will be a hands on building of our brick and mortar oven core. We will also explain how we built our oven foundation and answer questions about food safety and beginning value added production. We will continue working on the oven on Saturday the 6th from 8am-3pm and people are welcome to join us then as well. This is a free event. If anyone would like to attend please RSVP to lancek@newcityneighbors.org.”
Farmer Field School 
“AUGUST WORKSHOP, Summer Fruiting (Vegetable) Crops in High Tunnels: Tomatoes & More…
Monday August 1st 8am-5pm, $150 for 1 person ($40 additional for a 2nd person from the same farm)
at Green Gardens Farm – Battle Creek, MI (morning) and Ten Hens Farm – Bath, MI (afternoon)
Workshop Leaders: Trent Thompson – Green Gardens Farm, Adam Montri – Ten Hens Farm
If you are looking to…
    … start or improve summer production from your hoophouse
… get tips on successful varieties to grow in the hoophouse
    …get ideas on successful, time tested production schedules
…see all the aspects of summer tunnel farming – from pests issues to harvest and sales possibilities
…this workshop is for YOU!
Registration Limited Sign up Now
For Workshop Questions & Help:
Megan DeLeeuw – Farmer Field School Program Manager handsownfarm@gmail.com  734-718-5506
Tom Cary – Farmer Field School Program Manager carythom@msu.edu 616-916-9823
Help Wanted at Baxter Community Center Greenhouse
“The Baxter Community Center Greenhouse is hiring! We have two exciting new positions opening up. These positions will be posted until filled.
Greenhouse Program Specialist 20hr/week
Greenhouse Program Assistant 10hr/week for a one year term (a Baxter neighborhood resident who has Baxter Greenhouse programming experience is preferred)
Descriptions of the positions can be found at our website: http://www.wearebaxter.org/employment/
Please share widely.
Anna Johnson
Greenhouse Program Coordinator
Baxter Community Center
office (616)456-8593″
Juice bar looking for chemical-free produce
Sip Organic Juice Bar is looking for certified organic or chemical-free fruit and vegetables for their shops in Forest Hills/Cascade and East town. Contact
Geof Harrington geof@siporganicjuicebar.com for more information.Need extra volunteers?
Earthkeeper Farm has some wwoofers who would like to see and volunteer on different area farms. If you would like extra help on your farm for the day, please email Rachelle@earthkeeperfarm.com. It would be great if you could provide lunch and a little bit of gas money to the volunteers, but its not required.Donation request from Sacred Heart Parish and Academy
“I hope you are well! My name is Sam Surrell, I am helping procure items for Sacred Heart Academy’s auction in Grand Rapids this coming September and I am wondering if you would be able to donate to our auction? We are hoping to auction off a few CSA Farm Plots as our families would go crazy for these!Our Academy is 100% independently funded and these events are essential to raising money for our kids. We believe that teaching our children the virtues of hard work, truth, beauty and goodness will make the world a better place. We strive to instill in them the desire to live these virtues throughout the school day and in the community. We believe in teaching our young people manners, respect, and that you must work hard for what you earn in life.Thank you very much for taking the time to read this request and thank you for any support you may be able to provide. Your donation is tax deductible and I have attached a receipt form. Please call or email me with any questions!

Thank you very much for your consideration,

Sam Surrell

Sacred Heart Parish and Academy
1200 DAYTON SW. GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49504
Ph. (616) 459-0948 | Fax (616) 459-0899
Tax I.D. #38-1366944”

July Meeting

West Michigan Growers Group

Thursday, July 7th, potluck at 6pm and tour at 7pm

Pleasant Hill Farm 

5859 124th Ave, Fennville, MI 49408

Pleasant Hill Farm was started in 1976. They grow 40 acres of organic blueberries, as well as strawberries, peaches, and other fruit. They also produce maple syrup, raise some vegetables, and have oxen, milk goats, and chickens. They mainly sell through u-pick, online orders, and frozen berries year-round. Find more details at http://www.pleasanthillblueberryfarm.com/

Please bring a dish to pass for the potluck. These events are family friendly. Feel free to invite other growers.

 

Notes from WMGG’s May Meeting on Food Safety 

“Dear West Michigan Growers,

Below are some summary points about on-farm food safety that came up in our June 2 discussion at Groundswell Community Farms. Thanks very much to them for hosting!

Best regards,

Ben Werling, Phil Tocco, Mariel Borgman and Garret Ziegler

 

MSU contacts: Please feel free to contact us with food safety questions!

 

Group GAP

  • This program helps spread the cost of GAP certification amongst groups of small growers
  • Contact Garret Ziegler if you want to learn more: zieglerg@msu.edu

 

Hand wash stations

  • It’s key for harvesters and anyone handling harvested produce to wash hands after the bathroom, eating or smoking
  • A simple handwash station should include disposable paper towels, a container with water, a catchment for the water, soap (it need not be antibacterial), and waste receptacle.
  • The water container should have a sign posted on it indicating it’s for handwashing

 

Wash stations

  • The main thing is that food contact surfaces are cleanable
  • One way to achieve this is to cover wood frames with formica.
  • Plastic and stainless steel are also cleanable
  • A very simple wash setup can consist of washed and sanitized plastic washbasins.

 

Birds and harvest areas

  • If your wash station is outdoors, consider a simple canopy
  • If it’s enclosed or partially enclosed, try to keep birds from getting into nooks by, e.g., placing strawberry netting over them
  • Strawberry netting hung under a roof in an opening is one cheap way to keep birds from flying into partially enclosed packing areas (e.g., with a roof but one wall)

 

Keeping harvest containers off non-food contact surfaces

  • Ideally harvest contianers should not touch the ground or floors of truck bed, etc. that are not washed and sanitized regularly
  • In the field, keeping havest containers in a pull cart, on a piece of plywood on the ground, or on top of a smaller container is sufficient
  • In truck beds, clean pallets are one example of a way to keep harvest containers off floors

 

Washing and sanitizing harvest containers

  • The key is to have a schedule
  • For busy growers, one option is to wash them ahead of each harvest, but only sanitize once a week.  Best practice to wash and sanitize before each use.  Do your best to work toward best practices.
  • Washing = removing dirt (visible filth, ie.If you can see dirt, you’re not done)
  • Sanitizing = killing bacteria with a sanitizer like bleach or Sanidate

 

Recycling wax produce boxes

  • No problem if you use food-grade plastic liners, which will keep produce out of contact with the box
  • Don’t use household trash bags, which contain antimicrobial compounds that can contaminate produce
  • One example shared by a farm is the use of plastic bun tray covers, available from suppliers like GFS.  Whatever you use, it needs to be food grade.

 

 

Using Sanidate as a sanitizer

  • Pros

o   Breakdown products are safe, just carbon dioxide and water

o   Compared to chlorine, it does not lose efficacy in dirty water as fast

o   No rinse required after sanitizing produce, no chlorine smell

o   Safe once diluted

 

  • Cons

o   Dangerous in concentrated form

o   Don’t store in another container than the one it came from

o   Will etch concrete and remove the galvanized coating of metals, so not good for floors or galvanized surfaces.

 

  • Tips on safe use
  • Need a face shield, chemical resistant gloves, closed toed shoes, long pants, read label for more
  • Mix in a well ventilated area.  Fumes are not good in an enclosed space.”

 

***************************************

Ben Werling, PhD

West Michigan Vegetable Educator

Michigan State University Extension

210 Johnson St.

Hart, MI 49420

Office: 231-873-2129

Juice bar looking for chemical-free produce
Sip Organic Juice Bar is looking for certified organic or chemical-free fruit and vegetables for their shops in Forest Hills/Cascade and East town. Contact Geof Harrington geof@siporganicjuicebar.com for more information.
 
Need extra volunteers?
Earthkeeper Farm has some wwoofers who would like to see and volunteer on different area farms. If you would like extra help on your farm for the day, please email Rachelle@earthkeeperfarm.com. It would be great if you could provide lunch and a little bit of gas money to the volunteers, but its not required.
 
Donation request from Sacred Heart Parish and Academy
“I hope you are well! My name is Sam Surrell, I am helping procure items for Sacred Heart Academy’s auction in Grand Rapids this coming September and I am wondering if you would be able to donate to our auction? We are hoping to auction off a few CSA Farm Plots as our families would go crazy for these!
Our Academy is 100% independently funded and these events are essential to raising money for our kids. We believe that teaching our children the virtues of hard work, truth, beauty and goodness will make the world a better place. We strive to instill in them the desire to live these virtues throughout the school day and in the community. We believe in teaching our young people manners, respect, and that you must work hard for what you earn in life.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this request and thank you for any support you may be able to provide. Your donation is tax deductible and I have attached a receipt form. Please call or email me with any questions!
Thank you very much for your consideration,
Sam Surrell
Sacred Heart Parish and Academy
1200 DAYTON SW. GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49504
Ph. (616) 459-0948 | Fax (616) 459-0899
Tax I.D. #38-1366944″

Feb Updates

Reminder: The next growers group is on Thursday, Feb 4th at 6pm at New City Farm/4th Reformed Church, 1226 Union NE, GR. We will be holding our first annual business meeting. Farmers are strongly encouraged to come, as we will be voting on topics effecting the long-term direction of the group.

Home and Garden Show Booth – Cultivating Change

It is time again for the West Michigan Home and Garden show and we have

again been given a booth this year, March 3-6. The booth is a 20×30
which is the same size as last year but this year it is an island (no
sides) so I am looking for input on what type of display we would like
to do. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas

Thanks,
steve@mudlakefarm.com

Growers Fare Sign up- DUE FRIDAY!

We would like you to join us in a grant-funded CSA promotion initiative. Sign up https://msue.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5u758UeZcUvhGbH

This year’s CSA Open House Growers Fare Event will be on Saturday, March 19th, at Downtown Market, Grand Rapids.

Please contact Rachelle@earthkeeperfarm.com or zieglerg@anr.msu.edu with any questions.

Tater Tats accepting project proposals 

Tater Tats gives 10% of it’s sales to sustainable farm projects.  We’re now accepting proposals from farms for 2016. If you have a project that we could help you fund, let us know. We don’t ask anything from you except a few pictures that we can post/use to show the customers what they helped to fund. To apply email us a project explanation and cost. What does your farm wants to do? Examples of past funded projects include an electric fence and winter growing supplies. And how much it would cost (ideal projects for us are in the $100-$300 range). Email Jenna if you have any questions at all.

Email: info@tatertast.com

Internship at Baxter

From Anna Johnson <ajohnson@baxtercommunitycenter.org>

Baxter Greenhouse Programs is currently seeking applicants for the Neighborhood Garden Program Internship. The intern will be assisting with the implementation of the Garden Program; responsibilities include recruiting new gardeners, organizing garden workshops, facilitating the building for 20-30 raised beds, and follow up with gardeners. The internships is 24 weeks between Feb-July 10-15hr/week with a $2000 stipend. Please share with anyone who might be interested in this opportunity.

The full job description and list of qualifications can be found on our website:

http://baxtercommunitycenter.org/?page_id=1436

MOFFA’s Organic Intensives – Thursday, March 10th 

On Thursday, March 10th from 8:30am to 5pm at Brody Hall on MSU Campus in East Lansing will be MOFFA’s organic intensives. There are three courses to choose from: Wild Edibles with Lisa Rose, Seed Saving with Suzanna Ashworth, and Organic Certification for Field Crop Farmers.

Early registration ends Feb 9th. Fee is $75 before Feb 9th, and $95 after.

http://www.moffa.net/OI-2016.html

Box Truck for Sale

From Emma Garcia <emma@accessofwestmichigan.org>

“1999 GMC C5500

Bed is Approx 104 sqft

(or eight 48”x40” pallets)

Asking $5,500 OBO

Contact Frank if interested

fsiegel@olcparish.net

 

Matching Funds for beginning farmers

Michigan’s Emerging Farmers – Strategies and Tools to Enhance Success

Matching Funds Program Application

Through a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS), Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and MSU Student Organic Farm will provide a limited number of $2,000 stipends to beginning farmers in Michigan. Each $2,000 stipend requires applicant matching savings of at least $1,000 intended for farm-related costs. The stipends are designed to help people in their first years of farming to develop and stabilize their farming business, increasing its long-term viability.

The application is attached. For questions and comments, please email Shakara Tyler at tylersh1@msu.edu. ”

Slow Food Biodiversity Micro Grant- Due Feb 19

Details at: http://www.slowfoodwestmichigan.org/micro-grant-application/

Biodynamic Winter Intensive at Hawthorn Valley Farm, NY

Course runs from Feb 14-19th it is presented by the Institute for Mindful Agriculture at Hawthorn Valley Farm, NY.

http://hawthornevalleyfarm.org/place-based-learning-center/vocational-programs/biodynamic-winter-intensive/

November Gathering

West Michigan Growers Group
Monday, November 2nd, Potluck at 6pm, Discussion at 7pm
CSA Evaluation at MSU Extension
775 Ball Ave, Grand Rapids, 48503
    Let’s talk CSA evaluation. A large part of creating successful CSA program is evaluating the satisfaction of your customers. Considering this, and the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the collaborative marketing and retention building aspect of the USDA Farm Market Promotion Program Grant, The November Growers Group meeting will be a time to meet and discuss strategies around CSA evaluation including both satisfaction of current members as well as a retention survey aimed at past or previous members. Please come equipped with past surveys that you have used and any questions about evaluation that you might have. As part of the Grant project we have been given access to the MSU online survey software program called Qualtrics which we can utilize to gain valuable information about your farm customers.
    The conversation will be lead by Garrett Ziegler from MSU Extension, zieglerg@anr.msu.edu
    Please bring a dish to pass. Feel free to invite other growers. If you know others who would like to be this mailing list, please let me know. 
Strategic Planning
The West Michigan Growers Group will be doing its strategic planning during November and December. We are working on clarifying our mission, structure, and making a plan for the next few years. This is a really important and exciting time for our group, and I would love your input!
The dates and locations are below. Please try to come to both meetings is possible. 
Session #1: Tuesday, November 17th from 1 to 5pm at Blandford Nature Center
Session #2: Monday, December 7th from 1 to 5pm at MSU Extension on Ball St
Some questions we should be thinking about before the planning meetings are:
-What changes would we like to see in the food system in our region and/or Michigan?
-What would we be willing and able to do to make these happen?
-How should we organize ourselves in order to make it more feasible for us to take these actions?
Please RSVP with Rachelle@earthkeeperfarm.com if you are planning to attend. 
Food & Faith Series
“To Satisfy the Hungry with Good Things”: food, faith, and our future.
Tuesday, October 27th, 12-1:30pm at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1025 Three Mile Rd NE.
Speaker Justin Fast. Sponsors are Access of West Michigan, Plainsong Farm Center for Renewal, and St Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Free event- optional $5 lunch. RSVP with emma@accessofwestmichigan.org
Midwest CSA Conference
from Erika at FairShare CSA Coalition
“Midwest CSA Conference
Dec. 3-4
Eau Claire, WI
With the continued growth of the CSA movement in the Midwest comes opportunities and complexities. The conference will provide a forum for CSA farmers and advocates to come together for deliberative discussion and peer-to-peer learning. Full-group sessions, including a keynote by Steven McFadden, author of the newly released Awakening Community Intelligence: CSA Farms as 21st Century Cornerstones, will discuss shared values of the movement and strategies for promoting cooperation and shared risk among farms and communities.”
Equipment for Sale
From Earthscape Farm, earthscapefarm@gmail.com:
Plastic Mulch Lifter
Nolts Model 500
3-5 ft wide plastic
Cat. 1 or 2 3pt.
Nearly New $1200.
Plastic Mulch Wrapper
Nolts Model 250
Stand on Cat. 1 3pt
Hydraulic reel speed control
Great Shape $800.
Earthscape / Full Circle Farm 
Patrice and Bill Bobier
4220 E. Loop Rd.
Hesperia, MI  49421
231-861-2234
From Infinity Farm, infinity.farms@gmail.com:
Greenhouse
Small scale livestock supplies
Sheep
contact for details