Bear Creek Organic Farm
Brian Bates owns and operates Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan with his wife Anne Morningstar and son, Griffin. Brian is passionate about small farm finances, making a living doing what you love, and savvy marketing. With no secrets, a lot of ideas, and some serious elbow-grease, Bear Creek has grown dramatically in five years adding 7 employees, 9 greenhouses, dozens of wholesale accounts and being honored as Entrepreneurs of the Year and Local Foods Heroes by their community. When not on the farm, you can find Brian eating, napping, beaching, and traveling.
Conservation District Forester
Nia is the Conservation District Forester for Clare and Gladwin counties under the Forestry Assistance Program. She provides information and one-on-one technical assistance to private landowners and local governments about forest management, health, and game and non-game wildlife habitat. She has been with the district for almost 3 years and her free services are supported by grants from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
Two Sparrows Farm & Dairy
Dan and Whitney are beginning their 8th season as owner-operators of Two Sparrows Farm & Dairy where they produce fresh milk, grassfed beef, pastured pork and poultry. Starting out on a 12 acre farm in West Michigan, they scaled up to 40 acres and now live on a picturesque 80 acre farm in the middle of the Mitten. Through direct marketing, Two Sparrows Farm was able to double their annual sales every year for the first 6 years of their business. In addition to farming full time, Dan and Whitney are annual presenters at the MSU Student Organic Farm and Farmer Field School in addition to hosting various educational events and tours at their farm.
Marguerite is the Hemp Extension Specialist at Purdue University in the Department of Agronomy. Marguerite received her M.S. in Entomology from Purdue University, and her B.S in Entomology from Michigan State University. Her research has focused on hemp-insect interactions and plant chemistry. She is interested in the secondary compounds that hemp produces and how they affect insect pests, although she has had to shift her focus to agronomic production questions surrounding hemp. Her position is new to Indiana and she is serving as a catalyst to link growers to production facilities and the research community through online resources, field days, and workshops.
MSU Student Organic Farm
Katie teaches the MSU Organic Farmer Training Program for aspiring and beginning farmers at the MSU Student Organic Farm. Half the time is spent in the field with hands-on farmwork and farm walks with the balance in classroom activities and guest speakers. Katie also organizes Farmer Field School, workshops on farms, taught by farmers. She co-owned Groundswell Community Farm for 10+ years and enjoys hiking and playing with her son Leland.
Phil is the Chief Ruckus Maker at Fresh Systems, LLC, an endeavor focused on creating niche projects designed to catalyze, strengthen, and grow the local food economy. These projects often serve as the “connective tissue” between different pieces of the food system. The main project Phil has been involved in for the last 7 years is the Michigan GroupGAP Network, a statewide collaborative food safety certification program for small/mid-scale producers.
Rock River Farm
Rowan and Shailah both grew up in the Upper Peninsula. They established Rock River Farm in 2009 as a market farm growing produce and raising livestock. The farm has evolved in many ways over the years including the introduction of cut flowers in 2011. In 2019 Rock River Farm made the complete transition to specialty cut flower production by planting two acres of perennials with an additional two acres for annual production. They are the largest cut flower farm in the Upper Peninsula.
GreenStone Farm Credit
Nate Buning has been a traditional lender in Cadillac, MI for 2 years, working primarily with full-time farmers. Prior to that, he worked as a Credit Analyst for GreenStone in the Grand Rapids office. He graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness Management in 2016. Nate grew up on a 600 cow dairy farm in Falmouth, MI. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and cheering on the Spartans.
James is Director of the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center and a Specialist in the MSU Extension Community, Food and Environment Institute. He earned a BS in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, as well as MS and PhD degrees in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois. James specializes in soil health and fertility, integrated pest management and the human dimensions of agriculture.
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
After developing agricultural programming at Western Michigan University's Office for Sustainability, William Derouin moved to the Grand Traverse region to become involved in the area’s diverse agricultural production. Will now is developing the agricultural programming with the GTB community. With degrees in Illustration, Geography: Natural Resource Management, and Environmental Studies, Will offers the ability to visualize, facilitate the development of, and provide boots-on-the ground experience for sustainable land use changes related to agriculture and property management.
GreenStone Farm Credit
Ann has worked for GreenStone Farm Credit Services for 10 years. She started as a traditional lender out of the Cadillac office, working primarily with full-time farmers. She has been in her current role as Regional Vice President of Sales and Customer Relations for the North Region for 2 years. Annie graduated from Michigan State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. She grew up on a dairy farm in Traverse City, MI. Ann currently resides in Cadillac, MI with her family, where they enjoy spending time camping, kayaking and other outdoor activities.
The Coney Garth
Julie is the creator of "The Coney Garth," an alternative method of raising meat rabbits in a cage-free, hare-pen-free, pellet-free, Management Intensive Grazing pasture colony. She was awarded a SARE grant in 2010 to refine her system and continues to experiment with different pasture settings, recording the effect on rabbit performance. She is the owner/operator of The Pasturage, LLC, a diversified grazing operation in Claybanks Twp, Oceana County that produces rabbit, lamb and pork.
Circle F Ranch
Jacob is the fifth generation to farm on his family's land in Fowler, MI. Having grown up farming, Jacob attended the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm OFTP in 2013, and began Circle F Ranch the same year to raise pastured and grass fed livestock.
Birch Point Farm
Michelle began farming just outside of Traverse City in 2007 after working on farms in Massachusetts, SE Michigan, and managing the MSU Student Organic Farm. Her farm, Birch Point, is a CSA and market farm that specializes in heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs. When she's not farming, Michelle shares her passion for food, serves as a board member of Crosshatch and enjoys time with her husband and their 4-year-old.
Paul has been an MSU-Extension Field Crop Educator for 28 years and has published extensively in bioproducts and bioenergy as well as food and animal systems. His expertise spans multiple crop systems and all regions in Michigan. Paul has maintained a keen interest in, and written about, conditions affecting the viability of Michigan farmers. He has been an active contributor to the MSU-Extension Farm Stress team.
Superior Kettle Corn, and Haynes Dairy Farm
Troy’s family owns and operates a second-generation dairy farm near Middleton MI. They milk 200+ cows and grow crops on approximately 650 acres. In the fall of 2016, they made the decision to start making Kettle Corn as an income supplement. What started as a sideline business has become a large part of their summer and fall schedule. Their farm and business is operated with one employee and minimal other part-time labor and enjoy the opportunity to work with their four children.
Abigail is a Community Food Systems Educator with MSU Extension based in Ingham County. She has worked at the nexus of agriculture and public health for over 10 years, spending 4 years on a diversified vegetable CSA farm. Her current areas of focus include farm to school and farm to institution, local food policy councils, and urban agriculture support and education.
Michigan State University
Ana joined Michigan State University in January 2019 as a Research Technologist to support pollinator education initiatives, honey bee research, and implementation of policies to protect pollinators. Heck learned how to keep bees in Nicaragua while apprenticing on an organic farm and working with a women's beekeeping cooperative from 2011 through 2013. She joined the University of Minnesota Bee Squad in 2014, where she managed apiaries, provided hands-on and classroom training to beekeepers, and managed Bee Squad outreach and Extension programs. Heck holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Spanish from Creighton University and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota.
USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service
Scott is the district conservationist for the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service in the Bear Lake Field Office, serving Benzie and Manistee Counties. Scott assist farmers and other landowners with conservation on their land. He has worked for the agency for 18 years, the last 10 in the Bear Lake Field Office. NRCS specializes in one-on-one technical assistance at no cost to the landowner, right on their farm.
Bee Wise Farms
Dr. Ingrao has a rich professional and research background in commercial agriculture, and is nationally recognized for his efforts to assist military veterans in entering the ag industry. He holds a BS in Agriculture and Plant Science from California Polytechnic State University and a PhD in Agricultural Entomology from Michigan State University. As the previous owner/operator of MMI Apothecary in California and current owner/operator of the HI Hemp Co. in Michigan, Ingrao has extensive experience working professionally as a grower and operator in the medical marijuana and industrial hemp sectors over the last 12 years. Ingrao and his wife also own and operate Bee Wise Farms LLC in Newberry, MI where they keep bees and produce cut flowers. Additionally, Ingrao is the Veterans’ Liaison and an agricultural entomologist at MSU Extension.
Good Stead Farm
Sarah has been farming for twelve years now, including stints at farms in Minnesota, Maine and the Middle East. In 2014 she started Good Stead Farm becoming the first certified organic producer in Midland County, Michigan. She, with the help of her dedicated crew, produce certified organic vegetables, pastured eggs and 100% grass-fed lamb for on-farm CSA, local farmer’s markets and home delivery.
Dan founded Michigan SoilWorks to modernize the equipment used in commercial vermicomposting. His continuous flow systems require less labor and are well suited for small businesses and institutions. Dan is a mechanical engineer and retired as a department head in the truck and agriculture vehicle industry. He grew up in a family-owned farm supply business in Iowa and has lived in Southeast Michigan for 25 years.
Jay has been a dealer of organic or biological fertilizers for 40 years. One of his soil classes included information on how fertilizers influence crop and weed growth. That lead to a series of books. The last—When Weeds Talk—helps people understand they can reduce weed growth with proper fertilization.
Michigan State University
Dr. Milbrath began working bees with her father as a child over 20 years ago, and now owns and manages The Sand Hill Apiary, a small livestock and queen rearing operation in Munith, Michigan. She studied biology at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and received degrees in public health from Tulane University and the University of Michigan, where she focused on environmental health sciences and disease transmission risk. Meghan worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University, studying nosema disease, and is currently an academic specialist at MSU, where she does honey bee and pollinator research and extension and is the coordinator of the Michigan Pollinator Initiative. Meghan is active in multiple beekeeping organizations, writes for multiple beekeeping journals, and speaks about bees all over the country. She currently runs the Northern Bee Network, a directory and resource site dedicated to supporting queen producers, and she is passionate about keeping and promoting healthy bees.
Morgan Composting Inc.
Twenty years ago, suffering from a manure management problem, Brad decided to look for alternative ways to dispose of residuals on his 200 head dairy farm. After many struggles, Brad and his father Dale created a signature compost that we know today as DAIRY DOO®. Looking for ways to diversify, to continually create better quality composts for farms and homeowners, Brad took his business to the next level with potting mediums, his newest venture into the liquid amendment world. Morgan Composting, Inc. is now a sound business, and employs 30 full time positions, and 5 seasonal positions.
Sharon is a fourth-generation farmer and the proud owner and operator of Sharkar Farm in China, Michigan. Sharkar Farm is an eighteen-acre operation with 12,400 square feet of greenhouses (hoophouses), which is helping to extend her vegetable growing season. Sharon sells a variety of crops, everything from watermelon cucumbers to 200+ varieties of succulents, at six different farmers markets in southeast Michigan and at the SharKar Farm Store. In addition, Sharon is also the mother of 7 children, all of whom have or continue to help on the farm.
Michigan State University Extension
Abbey coordinates education for people of all ages at the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center. She works with people who are curious about where their food comes from and want to learn more about how it is produced.
Heartsong Farm and Wellness Center
Nancy is an herbalist, holistic health coach, educator, author, and small scale farmer. She and her husband, Michael, have lovingly tended Heartsong Farm and Wellness Center, an herb farm, organic orchard, and educational center for over 30 years. She is passionate about growing and using herbs for food and medicine and teaching others to do the same. She and Michael co-authored The Herbalist Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines.
Jamie supports good food entrepreneurs in the Michigan Good Food Fund at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and the MSU Product Center. Jamie has worked in public health issues including nutrition, food insecurity, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
Ryan, Andrea and their team grow organic vegetables on over 20 acres, organic strawberries on 1 acre, and raise approximately 30 Idaho Pasture Pigs each year, 30 Belted Galloway beef cattle, and 50 Katahdin lamb, (with the help of 1 working Border Collie named Blue). Farm products are marketed through CSA, farmers markets and wholesale markets in northern Michigan. Andrea enjoys communicating with CSA members, hosting tours, and community classes at the farm, especially focusing on the joy of eating well to feel amazing.
RMG Family Sugar Bush, Michigan Maple Farms, CDL of Michigan
Mike started making maple syrup in 1988 as a hobby producer with 25 taps. RMG Family Sugar Bush currently taps 12,500 trees on 140 acres of private land north of Rudyard. They also produce many value added products from their own syrup and syrup purchased from other producers. Mike also owns and operates CDL of Michigan, one of the largest maple equipment and supply businesses in the Midwest. Mike and his staff have been involved in setting up maple operations ranging in size from 50 to 250,000 taps. They recently expanded their operation with the addition of a new automated bottling line capable of packaging 60 containers a minute at their USDA approved facility.
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Leah is the Education Director/Research Agronomist at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, WI. She earned a B.A. in International Agriculture at Truman State University, M.S. in crop management at the University of Missouri, and a PhD in Botany from Purdue University. Her prior work experiences include the Greenely Research Farm, a 1000 acre research farm in Northeast Missouri, vegetable production in Emilgia-Romagna, Italy, and before undertaking her doctoral degree, a position with AgriCorps in Eastern Region Ghana working in agricultural development. The last four years Leah has dedicated her work to the agronomics of industrial hemp conducting field research on hemp production and working with farmers to strengthen their understanding of the crop.
MSU Student Organic Farm
Daniel is the Special Projects Manager at Michigan State University's Student Organic Farm. After taking their Organic Farmer Training Program in 2016, he was excited to join the staff team and take over management of their Farm Stand and some of their specialty crops.
Leelanau Specialty Cut Flowers
Michelle owns Leelanau Specialty Cut Flowers in Cedar, MI. She has been growing cut flowers for seven seasons now. Her life-long obsession for flowers and plants lead her to a degree in plant science with a certificate in Landscape and Nursery. She truly enjoys teaching others about growing flowers commercially.
Michigan State University Extension
Allison has worked on several farms throughout Michigan, and her love for the Mitten State brought her all the way to Chatham, where she manages vegetable production and research at Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center.
Presque Isle Farm
Dion and Molly have owned and operated Presque Isle Farm in northeast Michigan since 2014. Presque Isle Farm is a small, certified organic farm that focuses on direct to customer and restaurant sales. Both Dion and Molly had little farming experience before getting started but have used their entrepreneurial drive to build a successful farm business in rural Michigan. While Dion manages and oversees all the production needs of the farm, Molly leads the way in marketing and sales. Molly also works for Taste the Local Difference, coordinating and building the local food system throughout northeast Michigan.
Sweeten Farm/Cisco Seeds
Jeremy is a first generation farmer and also a Forage Agronomist for Cisco Seeds. He and his family live on a small forage-based farm in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They produce about 500 acres of hay, as well as custom graze grassfed beef. Jeremy has a passion for raising improved forages, helping fellow producers, and educating others.
Far Hills Maple Syrup LLC
Craig is a third generation syrup maker who started sugaring with his father in 1976. He currently owns and operates Far Hills Maple Syrup LLC, a 20,000 tap operation on 560 acres located between Indian River and Petoskey. 2019 was their 44th season and they processed 550,000 gallons of sap into 9,300 gallons of pure maple syrup. Craig recently purchased Drost's Chocolates in Indian River where they retail syrup as well as incorporate it into various products such as truffles, brittle, fudge and a custom made ice cream. Craig is also the Chairman of The Commercial Maple Syrup Producers of Michigan.
Chris is a Business Advisor with Northern Initiatives, a Community Development Financial institution based (CDFI) based in Marquette, Michigan. Northern Initiatives provides funding and assistance to businesses throughout Michigan. Wendel has worked with hundreds of business owners in the areas of finance, marketing, and management. A native western New York and a graduate from the University of Colorado, Wendel has direct business experience in retailing, publishing, and manufacturing. He previously worked with a business consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center and is a regular contributor to the Traverse City Business News and other regional business publications.
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
Delora has worked for several years to develop community garden spaces within the GTB community. When the new GTB Agriculture & Food Sovereignty Dept was formed in the spring of 2019, the GTB Human Resources Department allowed Delora to be hired as a trainee as part of the Agriculture & Food Sovereignty Department. Since being hired she has been involved with the annual crop management, has learned how to safely and confidently operate farm equipment, and she has witnessed how organically grown produce items can be distributed to the tribal community.
Harvest Energy Solutions
Ken has a bachelor's degree in mathematics with a physics minor from Eastern Michigan University. He started working for Harvest Energy Solutions six years ago as an engineer, and now is part-minority owner and manages all of Michigan and Indiana. He has built a great reputation helping farms and rural businesses implement solar energy projects.