Michigan State PDP Plan of Work: 2023 – 2024

Progress report for NCMI22-002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2024: $139,943.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
State Coordinator:
Sarah Fronczak
Michigan State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Michigan Initiative 1: Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers

Michigan Initiative 2: Building Sustainable Agriculture Capacity with Historically Underserved Audiences

Michigan Initiative 3: Advancing Sustainable Approaches to Adapting to a changing climate and other food system disruptions.

Project Objectives:

Some specific (new and on-going) needs for 2023-24 identified by Michigan SARE Advisory Council members include: 

  • Supporting diverse and underserved audiences 
  • Translating/ adjusting SARE resources 
  •  Latinx farmers  
  • 3rd grade reading level 
  • Supporting beginning farmers  
  • Small-scale diversified farmers (mixed ag – livestock, veg, flower, direct markets) 
  •  Outreach- Real-world stories of success AND challenges, realistic expectations with real numbers, how you got started, examples of pathways, SARE resources and other resources. Media can include podcasts, video, documents, and conferences.  
  • Financial education- accessible for those without financial background, and fits the goals and scale of beginning farmers.     
  • Sustainable pest management- IPM programming for beginning farmers 
  • Silviculture- need more materials 
  • Legislation to support beginning farmers with novel crops, i.e. hemp 

 

  • Expanding the Face of SARE 
  • Educators- 
  • Conservation District technicians direct them to SARE materials and training on their use.  
  • Extension educators need to know about SARE programs and resources. 
  • Peer-to-peer skill building  
  • Supporting local food 
  • Sales at farmers markets  
  • Economic sustainability of CSA models 
  • Competition within these markets, community gardens vs market gardeners and community organizations giving away food. 
  • Land access- Generational transfer, farm succession, urban land access, leasing, farmland preservation, conservation easements 
  • Sustainability through diversification- education about how to improve profitability or satisfaction through diversification, sustainable practices, on-farm events/education and alternative incomes without increasing yield through lowering costs or selling directly to consumers 
  • Climate change, systems and infrastructure that supports small farmers facing climate change including issues facing beginning farmers, site selection, regulations, food safety, marketing, and insurance. 
Introduction:

Michigan’s state Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Professional Development Program (PDP) is supported by Michigan State University (MSU) Extension (MSUE) and AgBioResearch administration. The Michigan SARE Program has a long history of professional development support in organic and traditional agriculture, field crops, specialty crops, fruits, vegetables, agriculture educator capacity-building, local food systems and underserved audiences. The program is coordinated by MSUE Environmental Management Educator, Sarah Fronczak. KatieBrandt leads the MSU Organic Farmer Training Program and engages with educators and farmers statewide. Sarah and Katie work cooperatively with other university departments and related centers, non-profits, NGO’s, veteran farmer organizations, tribes and state/federal agencies.  

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Jason Rowtree (Educator and Researcher)
  • Julie Lehman (Educator)
  • Boyd Byelich (Educator)
  • Jeannine Schweihofer (Educator)
  • Jennifer Silveri (Educator and Researcher)
  • Abbey Palmer (Educator)
  • Naim Edwards (Educator)
  • Jeremy Huffman
  • Erin Satchell

Education

Educational approach:

The Michigan PDP target audience, the primary stakeholders, include: MSU Extension specialists and field staff; NRCS, Conservation District, Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDARD), Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance (MAEAP) and other agency personnel; and leaders/educators in Michigan’s non-profits, NGO’s, farmer mentors, and community-based organizations. The MI SARE coordinator provides and supports professional development training and shares SARE resources and information at local, state, regional and national conferences, workshops, and field days. With increased turn-over in many universities and agencies, MI SARE is a valued resource to train new staff with current science on sustainability.  

 

Discretionary budgets and funds for professional development continuing to experience pressure, the MI SARE PDP program is a valued resource to fill this gap for educators. COVID-19 restrictions have encouraged a reevaluation of program delivery to include some virtual or non-synchronous educational activities. Retooling of program delivery and evaluation will diversify the types and availability of sustainable agriculture professional development and the use of MI SARE PDP funds for the near term. The MI coordinator is working with the MI SARE Advisory Committee to creatively address the challenge of sustainability in Michigan. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers
Objective:

One of our initiatives will focus on “beginning farmers and ranchers.” The 2022 MSU Beginning Farmer Survey of over 400 beginning farmers stressed that the 3 highest rated ways to learn about farming are from mentors, farm visits and farmer networks. SARE will fund mentor trainings and mentorship activities. SARE will offer travel scholarships for farm visits and support farmer networks with mini-grants. SARE will work with MSU programs such as the Beginning Farmers DEMaND series, Farm Recordkeeping for the Global Majority, as well as non-profits throughout the state that support beginning farmers. SARE will also support SARE grant applicants working on projects important to beginning farmers, including those to create apprenticeship opportunities and train farmers.

Description:

During the two-year plan of work period, we will offer SARE-funded travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant support to further educational programming that increases the sustainability and success of beginning farmers and ranchers.

Outcomes and impacts:

During the two-year plan of work period, we will offer SARE-funded travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant support to further educational programming that increases the sustainability and success of beginning farmers and ranchers. 

Activities 

  • Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs to: 
  • Identify, compile, and promote on-line resources for educators and beginning farmers. 
  • Marketing mini-grants to small nonprofits and other organizations with train-the-trainer focus, conference track, peer-to-peer networking, and mentoring  
  • Develop and implement on-line and in-person education for the professional development of beginning farmer educators and food hub leaders. 
  • Sponsor activities that promote beginning farmer networks, mentorship, peer networks, and regional workshops (trainings for MSUE and other educators to manage networks and working with farmers to fund the direct work of peer-to-peer networking) 
  • PDP for educators of beginning farmers and food hubs through meetings and workshops. 
  • Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships: 
  • One regional delegation planning meeting per year. 
  • Two educators/year to attend a national or regional beginning farmer conference. 

Expected Outcomes 

  • 25 educators will be trained in beginning farmer development topics 
  • 20 educators will use new information to answer client questions and address local issues. 
  • 20 educators and farmers will develop new contacts and partners for work. 
  • 50 beginning farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their production system. 
  • 25 beginning farmers will make a change on their farm to increase their sustainability 
Building Sustainable Agriculture Capacity with Historically Underserved Audiences
Objective:

Interdisciplinary, multi-organizational collaboration, and coordination are essential to promote sustainable practices among diverse audiences in Michigan’s food and agriculture system. These underserved audiences include BIPOC, veterans, Hispanic and women farmers. The history of systemic racism within US agriculture has impacted circumstances, policies and practices for farmers of color and tribal communities. Understanding and acknowledging these inequities is essential to engaging these groups. With Detroit as a national leader in urban agriculture led by farmers of color, Michigan is uniquely poised to uplift the voices of urban farmers and urban farm educators and to create professional development opportunities for farm educators. In addition, SARE can support urban farm and tribal educators in their work through professional development, mini-grants and travel scholarships.

Description:

While many individuals within Extension, NRCS, and MDARD use SARE resources, many in these groups are unaware or have lost sight of the breadth of SARE and its resources. Professional development to re-engage these groups in mass by targeting their unique needs will strengthen the sustainable agriculture community in Michigan’s Historically Underserved Audiences.

SARE has an extensive list of sustainable agriculture resources for educators and stakeholders. These resources, while readily available, are not being fully utilized due to language and literacy barriers, cultural impediments, or a lack/loss of knowledge of their existence. Latinx farmers are one of the fastest growing farmer demographics and translation of additional existing SARE materials is a very important way to engage this community.

Outcomes and impacts:

Educators would benefit from understanding the unique needs of veterans and veteran families when working with them around sustainable agriculture. Veterans can benefit personally from the financial and wellness opportunities in agriculture. 

 

Activities 

  • Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs: 
  • Sponsor activities that promote the understanding and needs of a diverse range of audiences. 
  • PDP for educators targeting the needs of historically underserved audiences through meetings and workshops. 
  • Deliver an MSU Extension Workshop program to reach a broader educator audience about SARE and SARE resources.  
  • That train Extension educators, USDA personnel and others concerning land access specifically generational transfer, farm succession, land access for 1st generation farmers, farmland preservation, and conservation easements. 
  • Funds will be used to facilitate urban farm learning opportunities and offer support for farm educators working with urban farmers  
  • Funds will be used to plant cover crop demonstration plots at urban farms and hold soil health field days. 
  • Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships: 
  • Three educators/year to attend a national or regional agricultural diversity conference 
  • Funds will be used to purchase and distribute SARE resources (books, bulletins, thumb drives, etc.) to educators across historically underserved audiences. 
  • Walk-in Clinic working directly with stakeholders to understand their sustainability needs and creating opportunities for interactions and environmental experiences for urban citizens. 
  • Funds will be used to advertise the virtual tour of marketing and business structure options that work 

 

Expected Outcomes 

  • 50 educators will be trained in the availability and use of SARE resources 
  • 50 educators will use SARE information to answer client questions and address local issues. 
  • 20 educators and farmers will develop new contacts and partners for work. 
  • 100 farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their production system. 
  • 50 farmers will make a change on their farm using sustainable agriculture practices.
Advancing Sustainable Approaches to Adapting to a changing climate and other food system disruptions.
Objective:

In order to participate in the NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2023-24, one of our state initiative focus areas will be “Adapting to a changing climate and other food system disruptions.” Agriculture in Michigan is faced with a variety of current and on-going production, environmental and climate issues including soil health, water quality, pest resistance, changing markets, energy, and resilience to extreme climate events.

Description:

Sustainable approaches to these issues are increasingly seen as a part of the solution. Agricultural educators are critical to advancing and fostering sustainable approaches to agricultural issues at all scales and across sectors. Professional development that provides current and science-based research and educational information for educators and support for dissemination to other educators, farmers, agri-business and service providers will advance the use of sustainable practices and approaches in Michigan. Agriculture educators need to be current on these issues and efforts taking place in their regions. Farmer partnership in program delivery is more effective as farmers learn from other farmers through experience and educational and networking opportunities. 

 

Outcomes and impacts:

Activities: 

  • Funds will be used to support conferences, workshops, and field days through mini-grant projects and programs related to climate change and other major food system disruptions: 
  • Support walk-in clinics for municipalities and farmers concerning best practices for water use, discharge fees and a possible discount for reduction of wastewater through infiltration  
  • Support field days and workshops sponsored by MSU Extension, Conservation districts, NRCS, non-profits and other partners.  
  • Support for educator on-farm demonstration projects to support educational objectives, specifically climate adaptation. 
  • Funds will be used for support of listening sessions in order to develop best practices for water on urban farms. 
  • Funds will be used for the development of educational materials on sustainable approaches to production, environmental and climate issues especially related to water management and heat stress through examples from farmers in regions with more/less water or severe heat.  
  • Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships as they meet the educational objective.  

 

Expected Outcomes 

  • 50 educators (Extension, NRCS, MAEAP, agriculture instructors) will continue to enhance their knowledge about sustainable solutions to agricultural issues. 
  • 25 educators will use this information to answer client questions. 
  • 50 farmers and educators will develop new contacts and partners for work. 
  • 200 farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their production system. 
  • 100 farmers will make a change on their farm to reduce production, environmental or climate challenges. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

40 Consultations
6 Minigrants
1 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
9 Published press articles, newsletters
1 Tours
8 Travel Scholarships
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
6 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

43 Extension
12 NRCS
2 Researchers
65 Nonprofit
8 Agency
43 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
260 Farmers/ranchers
47 Others

Learning Outcomes

230 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
197 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

2 New working collaborations
260 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
263 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers  

Funding Your Farm: Selling Your Story in a Business Plan 4 webinars + 1 in-person event; 142 registered (average 48 live attendees per webinar, additional views by video).  Katie attended multiple planning meetings, co-coordinated 1 of the 4 webinars and spoke at 1 of the webinars, sharing SARE information with lenders and educators. SARE info was included in a slide in all 4 webinars.   

 Mini grant: Perennial Farm Ecosystem Conference 

A diverse group of experts will discuss the importance of integrating native beneficial habitat for pollinators and soil invertebrates, how to improve soil health and its benefits, the impact of alley vegetation management, and the value of sap analysis for nutrient balance. This event provided valuable educational sessions to tree fruit and vineyard growers. It offered alternatives to conventional growing practices and tools to implement alternative practices that could benefit their bottom-line and the environment. This was done with 4 speakers from Cornell University Soil Health Program & School of Integrative Plant Science Soil and Crop Sciences, New Age Laboratories, University of Missouri - Plant Sciences and Technology, and The Xerces Society. 

Cooperative Extension Service Field Staff (Educators/Agents) 1 

Cooperative Extension Specialist/State Staff 3 

Other University/College 2 

Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organizations 2 

Agriculture Consultants/For-Profit 9 

Farmers/Ranchers 30 

Other 14 

Evaluation data supported the success of this program with attendees indicting the following: 

  • Participants’ awareness or knowledge of sustainable agriculture increased. 
  • Participant’s content knowledge or skill (specific content associated with event/project) with increased. 
  • Estimated (intent) to conduct individual farmer/rancher contacts individual farmer/rancher contacts (telephone contacts, farm visits, etc.) on general sustainable agriculture information in the next 12 months increased to 100% likelihood. 

The SARE mini-grant program was the catalyst for the planning of this small conference to begin. The application process was user friendly, and Sarah Fronczak was very accessible and helpful with the application process. Thank you very much for the resources to help our Conservation District put on this event. 

Travel Scholarship: Great Lakes Expo 

The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo and Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo includes 70+ education sessions and workshops will be offered over the three-day period. SARE sponsored the attendance of one farmer at this event. 

Travel Scholarship: American Specialty Cut Flower Growers Conference (ASCFG) 

The conference supports specialty cut flower growers by creating accessible educational opportunities and research for growers at every stage in their development of financially sustainable businesses. They share an interest in environmental sustainability and the pursuit of personal and financial well-being and success. 

Building Sustainable Agriculture Capacity with Historically Underserved Audiences  

Mini grant: MOFFA Organic Intensives 

The Organic Intensives are a daylong event during which three separate sessions are presented giving the attendees an opportunity to acquire practical, detailed information with fellow Michigan farmers and gardeners. The selection of courses this year included Keeping Outside the Box: A Comprehensive Understanding of Sustainable Beekeeping in Today’s Declining Environment; High Costs and Supply Scares of Nutrients: Overcoming Organic Crop Fertility Challenges; and Diverse, Vigorous, and Hardy Fruits and Nuts - Native and Beyond. 

Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organizations 4 

Agriculture Consultants/For-Profit 3 

Farmers/Ranchers 31 

State/Federal/Tribal Agencies 2 

Other 28 

Travel Scholarship: Climate, Water, Equity, and Opportunity Workshop 

One educator attended this workshop in Denver, Colorado lead by the North Central Region Water Network.  

Advancing Sustainable Approaches to Address Production, Environmental and Climate Issues 

Mini-grant: Biochar workshop-LTAR. The Michigan Organic Food and Farming Association's (MOFFA) Organic Intensives was a full-day, intensive program in a single topic area. In 2022, sessions were held on three topics (see below). This program included: 

2.5 hours of group instruction/discussion 

1 hours of on-farm/experiential learning 

1 hours of networking 

88 participants attended three topic sessions: 

Participation Summary: 

12 Extension 

 5 NRCS 

3 Non-profit 

20 Ag service providers (other or unspecified) 

5 Farmers/ranchers 

5 Others 

Learning Outcomes  

Evaluation data supported the success of this program with attendees indicting the following: 

  • 100% of participants’ awareness or knowledge of sustainable agriculture increased. 
  • 100% of participant’s content knowledge or skill (specific content associated with event/project) with increased. 
  • Speakers for the event were rated at an average off 87% by attendees. 

This event was the first of what we hope will be many future in person Biochar themed educational events. This was a collaborative effort of individuals representing KBS LTAR, KBS LTER, Michigan State University, Michigan State University Extension and the Great Lakes Biochar Network. The event was attended by a broad cross section of stakeholders interested and engaged in the biochar industry which included representative from NRCS, Soil and Water Conservation districts, Academia (MSU, UofM, ISU, MTU), farmers, consultant/agronomists, large and small scale biochar producers, biochar manufacturing and sales, biochar researchers, investment and venture capital.  

Mini grant: Underground Innovations 

Featuring information on cover crops, strip-till, no-till, relay cropping, food grade grains, intercropping, new crops, precision technology and new crop markets. Speakers shared how they’ve come to adopt new practices on their farms, how they’ve gotten to this point, and where they are looking to go in the future. 

Cooperative Extension Service Field Staff (Educators/Agents) 4 

Cooperative Extension Specialist/State Staff 3 

Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organizations 10 

Agriculture Consultants/For-Profit 5 

Farmers/Ranchers 61 

State/Federal/Tribal Agencies 3 

NRCS 1 

Minigrant: Hillsdale County Nutrient Management Field Day  

The Hillsdale County Nutrient Management Field Day was created as a hands-on educational day for local farmers and ag professionals to learn more about soil health and conservation practices. This event is coordinated through a partnership with the Hillsdale County Conservation District, Farm Bureau, NRCS, and MSU Extension. Topics addressed at this event are also focused on water quality and management practices within the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed. Soil Health has been chosen as the most important topic to be presented at this event, and the committee strives to bring in reputable keynote speakers. 

Cooperative Extension Service Field Staff (Educators/Agents) 9 

Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organizations 38 

Agriculture Consultants/For-Profit 12 

Farmers/Ranchers 114 

NRCS 5 

Evaluation data supported the success of this program with attendees indicting the following: 

  • Participants’ awareness or knowledge of sustainable agriculture increased 20%. 
  • Participant’s content knowledge or skill (specific content associated with event/project) with increased. 

 

Mini grant: Tools at Twilight.  

Michigan State University Extension in partnership with the Monroe County Conservation District held an evening event for farmers and ag professionals in Monroe County on September 13, 2023 at the Horkey Brothers Farm in Dundee, MI. The program featured a combination of university researchers, equipment dealers, and farmers, covering important developments in the “tools” commonly used for conservation agriculture in both vegetable and field crop systems, including strip till, no till, and cover crops. The sessions were designed to stimulate conversation between participants and the presenters. –  

Cooperative Extension Service Field Staff (Educators/Agents) 9 

Cooperative Extension Specialist/State Staff 2 

Other University/College 0  

Non-Profit/Non-Governmental Organizations 1 

Agriculture Consultants/For-Profit 3 

Farmers/Ranchers 19 

State/Federal/Tribal Agencies 3 

NRCS 1 

Other  

90% of respondents felt their knowledge of conservation agriculture management increased at least slightly. – 

As a result of attending this event, 80% of the respondents managing farmland intend to implement a change aspects of their operation (or recommendations to farmers) as a result of information presented. – 

These changes are expected to impact 6100 acres of field production. - Those who do make changes based on information from the event, expect to save $66,000 in total ($13,200 average per participant) 

Travel Scholarship: Ohio Organic Grains Conference 

One farmer and two educators Attended the conference. SARE paid for their registration and for travel for the educators. One educator said, “This meeting not only provided me with technical experience but also was a great networking experience. I met many people within the organic community from Michigan that will help me to better serve the organic community within Michigan”.   

Travel Scholarship: Conservation Tillage Conference 

Several educators attended CTC in 2023 and one educator requested funding from SARE.  

Travel Scholarship: CTIC Conservation in Action Tour 

One educator from the University of Michigan attended this tour. She said, “It was very interesting to hear about what "conservation agriculture" means to different organizations and groups of people through the CTIC tour and then be able to reflect on how those ideas do or do not align with my own work and understandings. I also appreciated the opportunity to visit different farms and hear from producers about their perspectives and experiences.” 

Travel Scholarship: Soil Health School 

Two educators attended the Soil Health Nexus Soil Health School. One educator said, “I like to learn from other educators and growers about what has been successful for them and anything that they did that they wish they did not do.” 

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

SARE leadership in Michigan changed in 2022 with the retirement of Dean Baas. Sarah Fronczak has been leading SARE since May 2022. Reported below are events in Michigan where SARE was promoted with the type of event noted. 

January – Dec. 2023; BFRDP Beginning Farmer Educator Curriculum meetings -28 people – creating curriculum for beginning farmer educators – Katie Brandt is leading the Mentorship curriculum and co-leading the Land Access curriculum.  Shared SARE opportunities with __ Michigan Educators, __out-of-state educators and __ farmers (MSU, MSUE, MIFFS, Crosshatch, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Eastern Market, etc) 

January – Dec. 2023 Michigan Sustainable Farm Mentors – 9 farmers and 42 beginning and aspiring farmer mentees  

1/7/2023 - MOFFA Organic Intensive – Katie coordinated an informational booth and attended a session on “Diverse, Vigorous, and Hardy Fruits and Nuts - Native and Beyond” 

1/9/2023 to March 2023- Michigan Family Farms Conference 2023 Planning Team Meetings-12 with 23 people and 7 committee meetings with 6 people, often sharing SARE information   

 1/19/2023 Community Food Systems Team Meetings Katie was a speaker at 1 with 24 Extension educators, she shared SARE information frequently, one was a 2-day in-person meeting  

 1/24/2323 Michigan Agricultural Advancements- Sponsored and attended this meeting focused on sustanibility and innovations in row crops. 70 farmers, 5 extension, 8 consultants. 

2/22/2023 MI CSA Network Virtual Meetings – Katie attended 4 meetings and shared SARE information with farmers and educators  

 3/2/2023 Beginning Farmers DEMaND Series – Katie attended 4 Quarterly Meetings with about 8 people.  

 3/3/2023 Michigan Soil and Water Conservation Society- 45 people attended. I gave 2 talks and mentioned SARE in both. I gave away 6 SARE books. 

 3/11/2023 Michigan Beekeepers’ Association- 470 attendees SARE material shared during a session and at a table. 

 4/18/2023 Joined the Board for Michigan Organic Food and Farm Association (MOFFA) and attended Board meetings, conference planning meetings and planned a conference session. 

 4/27/2023 Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference attended planning meetings. 

 5/2/2023 Detroit Water Consortium - Leadership Team to advocate for water access for Detroit farmers and collaborated on an initiative where we met with the Detroit Water and Sewer Department to advocate to make fire hydrant access legal for Detroit farmers and community gardeners. Attending meetings of this team.  

  5/19/2023 Michigan Good Food Summit- The booth was set up and attended as a facilitator that was viewed by hundreds of attendees. They spoke briefly at a session with 70 participants, then led a breakout session of about 15 people. They attended 2 facilitator training sessions and a debrief after the event.  

 5/27/2023 Farm Business Recordkeeping for the Global Majority- 11 farmers, 3 Extension, 5 other + spouses and children that were not counted.  

 6/12/2023 Interviewed in a video about beginning farmer opportunities and sustainable farming with Taylor Reed of Crosshatch. 

 6/27/2023 Interviewed as a guest on the Produce Bites podcast “Beginning Farmer” Episode and discussed SARE, the SARE funded Map of Michigan beginning farmer resources as well as other beginning farmer opportunities 

 7/15/2023 MOFFA tour at a beekeeping farm - Stellaris Farm –shared SARE flyers and took photos of this sustainable beekeeping operation 

 7/17/2023 Coordinated tours of 5 farms, including a native plants nursery, a vegetable farm, an urban farm, an educational farm in a city park and a sheep farm.  

 9/9/2023 Katie attends the MOFFA tour of the Long-Term Ecological Research & Long-Term Agro-ecological Research Site at Kellogg Biological Station  

 10/27/2023 Katie led an Edible Forest Garden Tour at the MSU Student Organic Farm with GFWC-Charlotte Environment Committee 

 11/1/2023 Katie attended a 3-day online Urban Agriculture Conference to collaborate on grants between researchers and Extension – shared SARE information in 2 breakout rooms (19 people) 

 11/9/2023 Pollinate-spoke about SARE and other sustainable agriculture projects and beginning farmer opportunities at a Pollinate event to bring together women in conservation and agriculture at Mid-Michigan college on grazing + farm to institution    

 11/15/2023 Fruit Team Informal Coffee hour – Katie shared information about organic farming and beginning farmers with ~10 Extension educators 

 12/7/2023 GLEXPO –Coordinated the Organic and Small-Scale Marketing session and also was a speaker by video for a live session attended by 40 farmers.   

 12/13/2023 Katie coordinated the Farmer Brain Trust where farmers helped to brainstorm ideas for field days, workshops and webinars about transitioning farms to organic certification.  

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.