2020 Michigan Family Farms Conference 

"Nurturing Resilient Farms - 2020 and Beyond"

Workshop Descriptions

Session I 9:00 - 10:10 a.m.

Continuous Improvement Through Corrective Action
Phil Britton, Fresh Systems, LLC
Let’s face it, not everything goes as planned. This session will look at how you can turn errors, customer complaints, and other problems into fuel for continuous improvement by showing you how to build a Corrective and Preventative Action (CAPA) system. Learn how to use this simple framework to better your business, and better serve your customer.

Farm Bill Update: New Programs, New Opportunities*
Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
It’s tough to follow all the zigs and zags of federal policy and untangle what each piece means for the future of sustainable agriculture and family farmers. Want to learn about what changes were made to key programs and policies in the 2018 Farm Bill and how these changes support resilience in our food system? In this session, we will cover topics affecting local food, healthy food access, soil health and beginning & socially disadvantaged farmers. Join the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for a clear breakdown of what is in the 2018 Farm Bill, how it builds on previous farm bills, and how farm bill programs contribute to agriculture’s resiliency.
* workshop repeated in Session III

Solving Your Manure Mystery Mess!
Christine Skelly & Erica Rogers, MSU Extension
Use all of your senses (including taste!) to crack the case of manure management on your farm. With horses as a model, you will discover how much manure large livestock produce and learn manure management strategies that will help reduce your farm’s environmental foot print. Join us for some fun hands-on activities!

Building Resilience Into Your Farm Through Beekeeping and Wild Bee Conservation
Dr. Meghan Milbrath & Dr. Rufus Isaacs, Department of Entomology & Michigan Pollinator Initiative, MSU
This workshop will be delivered by MSU staff and will be designed for conference attendees to improve their knowledge of crop pollinators, understand how best to work with honey bees and beekeepers, develop habitat on farms for supporting pollinators, and manage pests while minimizing harm to pollinators.


Managing Farm Stress
Eric Karbowski, MSU Extension
Taking care of crops and animals is hard on farmers and agribusiness professionals. Caring for your own health and wellness in this high-stress profession is often overlooked but is just as critical as caring for your farm business. Join MSU Extension in learning about managing farm stress.


A Path Towards Financial Resiliency*
Becky Taylor & Chad Zager, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
GreenStone representatives present how the new tax laws can impact family farms along with how to manage through effective accounting procedures.
* workshop repeated in Session II

Session II 10:40 - 11:50 a.m.

Scaffolding Community Support for Small Farms
Daniel Marbury, Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology; Mindy Taylor, Grain Train;  John Dindia & Bailey Samp, Lakeview Hill Farm and MI Farm Coop

Community partnerships can help to decrease risk and kickstart opportunities for small farms. Northwest Michigan partners including nonprofit, business and farm entities will share successes and promising practices to support small farms through community microloans, renewable energy grants, and shared use processing equipment.


Farm Viability Round Table
Christine Quane, Eastern Market Partnership; Evan Smith, Alden Services
Changing climate, markets and regulations are major challenges facing agriculture across the US. Join us in a discussion about strengthening farm sustainability, building stronger and more resilient local food systems and supporting the long term profitability of Michigan farms.


Design Your Vegetable Crop Rotation!
Katie Brandt, MSU Student Organic Farm
Work through the crop rotation design process for YOUR farm. You will receive a handout to 1. List crop amounts; 2. Group crops; 3. Measure & map your land; and 4. Divide into equal-sized plots. We’ll focus on step #5, Prioritizing crop rotation needs, like weed control, disease prevention, fertility, planting times, drainage and/or double cropping.

Growing Industrial Hemp in Michigan*
Gina Alessandri, Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD)
It’s been more than 80 years since the federal government put an end to growing industrial hemp in the United States due to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 and its classification of hemp as a Schedule 1 drug. That changed in 2018 when the federal farm bill reclassified industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, allowing farmers to once again grow it, as long as its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level was below 0.3%. THC is the chemical compound found in cannabis that causes the psychoactive or “high” effects associated with marijuana. In April 2019, MDARD implemented an Ag Pilot program that allowed Michigan growers to plant industrial hemp. This presentation will provide an overview of MDARD’s Industrial Hemp program, will summarize the results of the 2019 Pilot program and discuss future opportunities to grow, cultivate and market industrial hemp.
* workshop repeated in Session III


Re-Imagining the Family Farm

Claire Smith, Tenera Grains; GreenStone Farm Credit Services

Changing and diversifying farm production can be an intimidating process, but can ultimately lead to a more economically resilient business. Hear from a corn and soybean producer who became a teff farmer in West Michigan and GreenStone Farm Credit Services about the challenges and opportunity through transitions in your business model.

Session III 3:15 - 4:25 p.m.

Engaging Youth in Agriculture and Natural Resources
Addell Austin Anderson, Michigan FoodCorps; Stephanie Chau, MSU; Phillip Seaborn, MSU; Alexis Horton, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Matthew Hargis, Detroit Public Schools Community District
The agricultural and natural resources sciences are critical to our world and to our survival. World population is projected to be 10 billion by the year 2050. We need farmers, scientists, educators, consumers, policy makers, and government officials who are knowledgeable about agriculture and natural resources, and we need scientific discoveries, practices, and management that will help us feed, house, clothe our world and protect our environment. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that agriculture and natural resources are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines that have numerous career opportunities and not enough graduates to meet scientific and workforce demands. Come learn about programs designed to provide middle school, high school, or young adults with hands-on experience and exposure to career opportunities in agriculture and natural resources.


Sheep and Goats for Small Farm Success
Aimee Swenson Buckley, Overland Lamb/MSU
Learn easy, non-intimidating ways to add ruminants to your system, or to make the most of the ones you have. The workshop will provide problem solving scenarios and participants are encouraged to bring farm system descriptions/drawings to learn the basics of how small livestock can work the best for your specific system. Management handouts included.


Creative Intercropping Ideas
Lance Kraai & Ayanfe Jamison, New City Farm
This session will look at several intercropping systems trialed at New City Farm in 2019. These systems include garlic with winter squash, onions with sweet potatoes, and broccoli with lettuce. The presenters will share lessons learned and the return on investment for each system. These systems can benefit growers of all sizes and levels.

USDA Round Table and Listening Session 

Jen Silveri, MIFFS

Join Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) for a USDA round table and listening session where we will share experiences working with  Farm Bill programs & USDA services, get to know USDA staff, learn about existing technical support programs in Michigan, and constructively discuss additional technical support needs for farmer success.


2438 Woodlake Circle, Building 2

Okemos, MI 48864


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