Michigan State PDP Plan of Work: 2021 - 2022

Progress report for WNC20-105

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University Extension
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 Diverse Audiences

  • Michigan Initiative 3: Advancing Sustainable Approaches to Address Production, Environmental and Climate Issues

Project Objectives:

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

In order to continue the NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2021-22, one of our initiative focus areas will be on “beginning farmers and ranchers.” We will work with members of our state delegation who attended the regional training in Indianapolis on October 1-2, 2019.  The Michigan Co-coordinator will lead and coordinate the delegation to develop a database of Michigan beginning farmer and rancher educational programming to directly support beginning farmers and ranchers and/or educators working with these stakeholders. This can include a website, workshops, study tours, webinars or other educational programming. As identified by the Advisory Council: The economic sustainability of CSA models, declining farmers market sales, financial literacy, on-line marketing/connectivity and urban agriculture are issues to address. 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.
    • Develop and implement on-line and distance education for the professional development for educators of beginning farmers and food hubs.
    • Sponsor activities that promote beginning farmer networks, peer networks and regional workshops.
    • 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

Evaluation

  • Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information.
  • Educators will complete Michigan SARE PDP post-event evaluation 1 - 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

Michigan Initiative 2: Building Sustainable Agriculture Capacity with Diverse 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 barriers, cultural impediments or a lack/loss of knowledge of their existence. It is understood within Michigan’s sustainable agriculture community that interdisciplinary, multi-organizational collaboration and coordination is essential to further the implementation of sustainable practices among diverse audiences in our food and agriculture system. Latinx farmers are one of fasting growing farmer demographics and translation of additional existing SARE materials would be a very important way to engage this community. 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. Veterans are uniquely positioned to benefit personally from the financial and wellness opportunities in agriculture. Educators would benefit from understanding the unique needs of veterans and veteran families when working with them around sustainable agriculture. Finally, while many individuals within traditional constituent groups (i.e. Extension, NRCS, MAEAP, etc.) use SARE resources, in aggregate, many in these groups are unaware or have lost sight 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.

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 diverse audiences through meetings and workshops.
    • Deliver an MSU Fall Extension Conference program to reach a broader educator audience about SARE and SARE resources.
  • 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 a sample SARE resources (books, bulletins, thumb drives, etc.) to educators across diverse audiences.

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.

Evaluation

  • Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information.
  • Educators will complete Michigan SARE PDP post-event evaluation 1 - 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

Michigan Initiative 3: Advancing Sustainable Approaches to Address Production, Environmental and Climate Issues

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. Sustainable approaches to these issues are increasingly seen as a part of the solution. Agricultural educators are critical to advancing and fostering of 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 of the state. Support of the educator/farmer partnership in program delivery is more effective as farmers learn from other farmers through experience and educational and networking opportunities.

Activities:

  • Funds will be used to support conferences, workshops, and field days through mini-grant projects and programs:
    • Development of educational materials on sustainable approaches to production, environmental and climate issues.
    • Support field days and workshops sponsored by MSU Extension, Conservation districts, NRCS and other partners.
    • Support for educator on-farm demonstration projects to support educational objectives.
    • Support for travel to educational events.
  • Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:
    • Two educators/year to attend the Soil Health Nexus Conference or equivalent
    • Three educators/year to attend the Midwest Cover Crops Council Conference or equivalent

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.

Evaluation

  • Post-event evaluations indicating change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information will be conducted by sponsoring organizations/events.
  • Educators will complete Michigan SARE PDP post-event evaluation 1 - 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

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)
  • Marilyn Thelen (Educator)
  • Jennifer Silveri (Educator and Researcher)
  • Abbey Palmer (Educator)
  • Nathan Pufpaff
  • Filberto Villa-Gomez (Educator)
  • Naim Edwards (Educator)
  • Jeremy Huffman
  • Erin Satchell

Education

Educational approach:

A similar educational approach and similar resources were proposed for the three major initiatives, consisting of the following:

  • Identify agricultural educators to provide professional development on sustainable agriculture topics.
  • Support workshops/conferences to train educators about sustainable approaches to address issues.
  • Provide mini-grant support for event planning, promotion and implementation.
  • Provide support through sponsorship for recurring conferences in Michigan that provide sustainable agriculture sessions and presentations.
  • Provide participant travel to professional development events.
  • Provide speaker travel to present at sustainable agriculture events in Michigan.

While the approach describe above was anticipated at the submission of the 2021-22 Michigan State Professional Development Program Plan of Work, the subsequent COVID pandemic limited many of the professional development events that were funded by mini-grants and travel scholarships. Some in-person events returned in 2021, but many remained virtual and travel to in-person events remained quite limited. Virtual programming was supported with SARE mini-grants as appropriate, although required much less support that in-person events. Some funds were re-directed to fund contractor or staff time for the development of on-line webinar training. It is anticipated that there will be a return to professional development travel in 2022, although on-line/virtual trainings will continue to be a component of many events.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers
Objective:

Increase the sustainability of beginning/small farms and therefore the local food system and supply through facilitate discussions, assist issue identification and definition, strengthen networks and support the development of collaborative programs to increase the sustainability of small/beginning farms and local foods in Michigan. 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.

Description:

2021 Outcomes and Impacts:

Restrictions and hesitations due to COVID continued to impact travel scholarships and mini-grants for in-person events. While university policies eased, many educators, individuals, organizations and conferences were varied on their comfort level with in-person events resulting in a mixture of formats. The Michigan SARE PDP program pivoted to soliciting proposals for on-line training to continue the professional development of ag educators for beginning farmer support. Programs included:

  • Mini-grant: Sell More Local Food Online: SEO Best Practices webinar. Taste the Local Differences, a Michigan local food consulting, media and marketing agency specializing in communication strategy for Michigan’s local food businesses, was contracted to create a webinar on search engine optimization (SEO). They provided an extensive training to TLD staff that provides Technical Assistance directly to local farmers and provided an education webinar training directly from the experts to the farmers in a virtual setting. The expected outcome was to increase understanding of Search Engine Optimization and provide minimum baseline competency, deliver resources for implementing SEO improvement strategies. The webinar was presented live and the recording is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKc5SuanE-w.
    • The webinar was attended live by 5 Extension educators, 17 ag consultants, 13 Non-profit/NGO representatives, 32 farmers and 5 others. To date, another 59 have watched the video.
    • Even though only 23 of the 72 participants completed the survey. 8 participants knew nothing about SEO, and over 15 only new the basics at the beginning of the webinar. By the end, all but two had improved their understanding by at least one level.
  • Online tool highlighting Michigan Beginning Farmer Resources. Katie Brandt, Educational Programs Manager, MSU Student Organic Farm was supported with funds to identify and categorize beginning farmer resources in Michigan and create an on-line tool to locate and disseminate this information. The result is an on-line tool using google maps to locate and learn about resources. The map is available at https://www.canr.msu.edu/sof/map.html. A number of activities supported the release of the map including:
    • MSU Virtual Fall Extension Conference - Tour a Map of Michigan's Beginning Farmer Programs – 10 attendees.
    • 4 ‐ Educator Training Webinar ‐ 58 registered/19 live attendees
    • 9 ‐ Farmer Training Webinar ‐ 40 registered/21 live attendees
    • 10 ‐ MI LandLink Conference ‐ 71 attendees
    • 8 ‐ Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable EXPO ‐ Beginning Organic Track ‐ 41 attendees
    • 13 ‐ Included in Jobs & Opportunities email to 180 Organic Farmer Training Program graduates
    • MSUE News article titled “Online tool highlighting Michigan Beginning Farmer Resources released” with 744 views in 4th quarter of 2021
    • Facebook
      • 312 visits, 11 reactions, 5 shares, 32 site clicks to a post on Sep. 28
      • 229 visits, 5 reactions, 1 share, 3 site clicks to a post on Nov. 2
    • Video views
      • YouTube ‐ 15 views
      • MSU Mediaspace ‐ 52 Views
Outcomes and impacts:

2022 Outcomes and Impacts:

To be completed during 2022

Building Sustainable Agriculture Capacity with Diverse Audiences
Objective:

Increase dissemination to and collaboration between Michigan’s sustainable agriculture community leveraging interdisciplinary, multi-organizational collaboration and coordination to further the implementation of sustainable practices among diverse audiences in our food and agriculture system. These audiences include Latinx farmers, farmers of color, tribal communities and Veteran farmers. Provide professional development targeting their unique needs to strengthen the sustainable agriculture community in Michigan. During the two-year plan of work period, we will offer SARE-funded travel scholarships, mini-grants and sponsorships to further educational programming that increases the sustainability agriculture opportunities for diverse and under-served audiences. Solicit and support Michigan tribal colleges in applying for NCR-SARE 1994 Land Grant Colleges and Universities grant funding.

Description:

2021 Outcomes and Impacts:

Restrictions and hesitations due to COVID continued to impact travel scholarships and mini-grants for in-person events. Underserved audiences, in particular, were adverse to in-person events, while acknowledging the importance of in-person networking to their programs and professional development. This led to the cancellation of all in-person events serving these audiences in Michigan. Some, but not all were replaced with virtual events, albeit most were abbreviated in nature. The Michigan SARE PDP continued to support these events and programs where possible, however the need for funds were minimal with virtual formats. Travel scholarships were non-existent for this initiative in 2021. Support was provided for the following:

  • Michigan SARE Collaborated with Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) to hold a virtual SARE Farmers Forum. MIFFS mission is “Connecting beginning and historically underserved farmers to each other and resource opportunities; ensuring social justice, environmental stewardship, and profitability.” This event had 48 registrants, 22 views on youtube and 316 views on Facebook. The event included the following SARE presentations:
    • Organic IPM for Swede Midge on Small-Scale, Diversified Vegetable Farms
    • Intercropping Systems for Small Scale Vegetable Production
    • Designing a Mobile Milking Parlor for a Multi-site Educational Goat Farm
    • Bees, Pleeze! - Adding an educational component to a wildflower field at a Midwest blueberry farm
    • SARE Grant Programs
  • Baas served on the planning committees for the Michigan Family Farms Conferences (MIFFS) and the Food Sovereignty Symposium (Kewanee Bay Indian Community) both in-person events were cancelled in 2021 due to Covid. These serve under-served and indigenous communities and will be returning either in-person or virtually in 2022 with MI SARE collaboration and support.
  • Baas contacted and supported the three 1994 tribal colleges in Michigan in applying for the NCR-SARE Food Sovereignty/Sustainable Ag Funding.
    • Bay Mills Community College applied for and received funding from both the first and second calls for proposals.
    • Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College applied for and received funding from the first call for proposals.
    • Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College has been contacted numerous times, but as yet have not applied for funding.
Outcomes and impacts:

2022 Outcomes and Impacts:

To be completed during 2022

Advancing Sustainable Approaches to Address Production, Environmental and Climate Issues
Objective:

Increase the sustainability of agriculture in Michigan that is facing 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. Foster sustainable approaches to these issues at all scales and across sectors through professional development of agricultural educators. During the two-year plan of work period, we will offer SARE-funded travel scholarships, mini-grants and sponsorships to support 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 advancing the use of sustainable practices and approaches in Michigan.

Description:

2021 Outcomes and Impacts:

Restrictions and hesitations due to COVID continued to impact travel scholarships and mini-grants for in-person events. While university policies eased, many educators, individuals, organizations and conferences were varied on their comfort level with in-person events resulting in a mixture of formats. Travel scholarships were non-existent in the initiative. Support was provided through mini-grants for both virtual and in-person programming. The following support was provided:

  • Mini-grant: Michigan Ag Ideas to Grow With Virtual Conference. SARE helped sponsored this event which was the combination of three Southwest Michigan annual events into one week-long virtual conference. Those events were Branch County Farm Days, Ag Action Day and Southwest Michigan Horticulture Days. The online conference included:
    • 60 hours of group instruction
    • 55 Educational sessions
    • 43 Extension Educators and 5 Specialists
    • 449 participants attending a total of 1040 sessions
    • Evaluation data supported the success of this program with attendees indicting the following:
      • 85% of the attendees indicted that the quality of the programming with Excellent to very good.
      • 2% of the attendees shared that the program provided excellent and useful information.
      • 5% of the attendees indicted that the speakers providing the presentations were extremely knowledgeable in the subject matter.
      • 4% of the attendees shared that they gained knowledge from the program.
      • 70% of attendees will be able to better manage risk because of the program.
      • 41% of attendees intend of change a management practice because of information learned at the program.
      • 83% of the attendees shared that they will be able to increase profitability because of the information shared at the program.
    • Outreach for this event included attendees that had not participated in the traditional in-person programs with 55.71% of attendees having never attended Ag Action Day, 70.25% of attendees never participating in Branch County Farmers Day and 77.15% of program participants never attending Southwest Michigan Horticulture Days.
  • Mini-grant: Soil Health Nexus Regional In-Service. On September 13 – 15, 2021 a regional professional development in-service was held on the latest research on soil health and water quality by the Soil Health Nexus Team at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. This training included:
    • 5 hours of group instruction/discussion
    • 2 hours of on-farm/experiential learning
    • 3 hours of team building
    • 14 Extension Educators
    • 10 Specialists
    • 4 Other University
    • 3 Non-profits/NGOs
    • 3 Agency Representatives
    • Evaluations indicated that participants increased there knowledge of and intent to use sustainable agriculture information.
  • Mini-grant: 2021 Beginning Grazing School. Michigan State University Extension offered the Beginning Grazing School online with an in-person component this year. The eight-week course was designed for beginning farmers and livestock owners who graze dairy, beef, and small ruminant animals and want the latest animal and forage research on grazing management. The on-line portion of the event was each Tuesday and Thursday starting September 21 and ending on October 14. The in-person session, will be held in two locations on Friday October 22, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.
    • On-line sessions held were:
      • September 21: Introduction to school and overview of grazing terms
      • September 23: Graziers are Grass Farmers!
      • September 28: Soil Health and Fertility
      • September 30: Nutrition, Health and Welfare of Grazing Animals
      • October 5: Pasture Establishment and Renovations,
      • October 7: Fencing & Water
      • October 12: Pasture Allocation, Stock Density, Costs
      • October 14: Designing a Grazing Plan for your farm
    • In-person sessions held were:
      • October 22: In-Person Session Covering Various Topics (9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) Participants chose the location that best fit them. MSU W.K. Kellogg Biological Station or MSU Lake City Research Center.
      • 33 attended the program
        • 1 – MSU Specialist
        • 2 – Agency representatives
        • 30 – Farmers
      • 9 Michigan State University personnel were involved in program delivery
        • 6 – Extension Educators
        • 2 – Professors/Researchers
        • 1 – Specialist
Outcomes and impacts:

2022 Outcomes and Impacts:

With restrictions and hesitations due to COVID easing, the use of travel scholarships and mini-grants for in-person events returned. A mixture of formats continues to exist and may be the new normal going forward. The following support was provided:

  • Mini-grant: 2022 Organic Intensives. The Michigan Organic Food and Farming Association's (MOFFA) Organic Intensives was a full-day, intensive program in a single topic areas. In 2022, sessions were held on three topics (see below). This program included:
    • 18 hours of group instruction/discussion
    • 5 hours of on-farm/experiential learning
    • 88 participants attended three topic sessions:
      • Organic Mushroom Cultivation and Management – 34 participants
      • The Farm Ecosystem: Managing for Pollinators, Beneficials, and Pests – 21 participants
      • In-Row Weed Control Strategies: Fine Tuning Equipment . . . The Details for Success – 33 participants
      • 56% identified as farmers (69% of whom were certified organic)
      • 16% identified as gardeners
      • 12% represented a food or farm related business or non-profit organization
      • 7% were educators (including MSUE and Conservation District personnel)
      • 9% fell into other categories
    • The summary report the workshop is available at 2022 Organic Intensive Report.

Educational & Outreach Activities

30 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
5 Minigrants
4 On-farm demonstrations
4 Published press articles, newsletters
77 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

68 Extension
3 NRCS
20 Researchers
10 Nonprofit
5 Agency
137 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
514 Farmers/ranchers
653 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

484 Farmers reached through participant's programs

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

SARE leadership in Michigan changed in 2021 with the resignation of Adam Ingrao, Michigan SARE Co-coordinator, from MSUE.

Face of SARE outreach efforts in 2021 continued to be impacted by COVID19. Early in the year, major winter conferences were cancelled or converted to virtual. By summer there was a return to some in-person events while others continued with virtual programs including a few hybrids. Reported below are events in Michigan where SARE was promoted with the type of event noted.

  • 1/15/20 Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District Sustainable Pest Management in Livestock Systems event (presentation): 7 participants
  • 1/13/21 Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) SARE Virtual Farmer Forum, Virtual Presentation, 20 participants
  • 1/22/21 Farmer Veteran Coalition Michigan Annual Meeting, Virtual Presentation, 15 participants
  • 1/23/21 IHemp Midwest Conference, Virtual Presentation, 35 participants
  • 2/15/21 – 2/19/21 MI Ag Ideas to Growth Virtual Conference, SARE sponsorship, 449 participants attending 1040 sessions
  • 3/23/21 USDA Upper Peninsula Listening Session, Virtual Presentation, 32 participants
  • 6/25/21 Small Grains for Brewing and Distilling Field Day, In-person, 21 participantd
  • 6/30/21 Heroes to Hives Program Resources for Veterans lecture, Virtual Presentation, 4,345 participants Note: This is the total number of students taking the course and this is a required lecture
  • 7/8/21 W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and Herbruck’s Organic Field Day, In-person, 75 participants
  • 8/17/21 – 8/18/21 AgroExpo Farm Show, In-person, SARE Booth, approximately 2500 show participants, 80 participants
  • 8/25/21 Cass County MEAEP Field Day, In-person, 44 participants
  • 8/26/21 Cultivating Resilience Field Day - Ottawa/Allegan Conversation Districts, In-person, 101 participants
  • 8/27/21 Bracy Ag Services Field Day, Branch County, In-person, 129 partcipants
  • 9/1/21 Demonstration Field Day - Monroe Conservation District, In-person, 20 participants
  • 9/15/21 Gaining Ground, Soil as a Renewable Resource Field Day, Eaton County, in-person, 26 participants
  • 12/8/21 Michigan Thumb Virtual Field Day, Virtual Presentation, 121 participants
  • 12/20/21 Integrated Crop and Pest Management Update, Hybrid: In-person and Virtual, 146 in-person and 281 virtual participants

Face of SARE outreach efforts in 2022 continued to be impacted by COVID19. There was a return to in-person events, while others continued with virtual programs including a few hybrids. Reported below are events in Michigan where SARE was promoted with the type of event noted.

  • 1/26/22 – 1/27/22 Great Lakes Crop Summit, SARE booth, In-person, Over 1000 attendees, 150 participants
  • 2/2/22 – 2/6/22 Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference, SARE sponsorship, Virtual, 250 attendees
  • 2/8/22 Southeast Michigan Crop and Pest Management Update, In-person, 33 participants
5400 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
400 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
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.