Building Capacity for Agricultural Education and Resource Professionals to serve sustainable urban agriculture producers and organizations

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $119,881.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2026
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University Extension
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Garrett Ziegler
Michigan State University Extension


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: demonstration, focus group, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: land access
  • Production Systems: other
  • Soil Management: toxic status mitigation
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, partnerships, sustainability measures, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    We propose a comprehensive training program for agricultural service providers from federal, state and local agencies as well as Michigan State University Extension. This program will be place-based in four prominent urban agriculture regions of Michigan and developed in partnership with urban farmers from each of those locations. Project outcomes for service providers will include:

    1. A deeper understanding of unique urban agriculture needs and the historical and racial context of urban agriculture that has previously hindered access to resources and services,
    2. Established relationships and trust between urban growers and service providers and
    3. Increased services provided to urban growers.

    We will achieve these outcomes by establishing an urban farmer advisory team, hosting a series of regional listening sessions and using feedback from the farmer advisors and listening sessions to develop online and farm-based workshops for agricultural service providers to learn about urban agriculture production, challenges in accessing resources and services, racial equity, relationship building, and program adaptation to meet the needs of urban growers. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Partnerships With Farms in Urban Areas Across Michigan

    A larger output of this grant will be the establishment of partnerships between grant project coordinators (MSUE & NCN) with regional urban farmers from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and Flint. By engaging six urban farmers in a grant advisory capacity as well as hosts for urban farm listening sessions and workshops we will establish stronger ties between MSUE and the urban farming community. We also expect partnerships and connections to be developed between the urban farm partners involved and stronger linkages between urban agricultural work between Michigan urban areas. 


    Farmer Listening Sessions

    As a result of hosting regional urban farm listening sessions around the state, we expect to produce additional educational materials for planned workshops and training that are specific to the needs of that urban farm community. We also expect the listening sessions to highlight other opportunities for collaboration, partnership and educational program development and will be sharing the results in a variety of ways during the grant project. This includes a written report outlining the challenges and opportunities facing urban farmers in Michigan


    Educational Program Curriculum and Presentation Development

    As described above, the main activities of the grant project include development of in-person workshops and web-based training sessions. These workshops and training will include the development of new presentations, content and programs that provide an innovative and farmer driven approach to professional development for ag educators and resource providers. While the workshops will be regional and place-based in nature, we expect there to be opportunities for the presentation material and curriculum that is being developed to be utilized in other urban communities across the North Central Region. The web-based trainings will however, focus on education that is relevant and relatable to ag educators and service providers in areas across the country


    Planned Project Participation Outputs 

    This project will only be successful with the engagement and participation of both the urban farming community and the ag educators and resource providers the professional development workshops and training will be designed for. Farmer engagement is a key piece in ensuring the material for the professional development opportunities is relevant and impactful for the audience. We estimate that we will have 50 urban farm participants in the four listening sessions planned during year one of the grant. For the ag educator and resource provider web-based training we expect 75 participants across the three sessions and for the workshops we expect to reach an additional 40 ag educators. 

    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.