Speaker Bios

Organized alphabetically, by last name. 


Alderman, Tony, District Supervisor with USDA Wildlife Services

His responsibilities include coordinating projects related to Bovine TB risk mitigation, feral swine removal,and double-crested cormorant control in the Great Lakes.


Arnold, Paul & Sandy, Pleasant Valley Farm

Pleasant Valley Farm, owned & operated by the Arnold Family (Paul, Sandy, Robert & Kim) in Argyle, is about 30 minutes from the Glens Falls or Saratoga farmers markets. where they sell fruits & vegetables year-round that are grown with organic methods.


Autenrieth, Ashley, Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Deer Program Biologist

Ashley has been the Deer Program Biologist for the Department of Natural Resources for the past five years overseeing policy and regulations for all deer management related topics for both the Northern Lower and Upper Peninsula. She has a small farm just outside of Gaylord where they raise organic beef, chicken and pork.


Baas, Dean, MSU Extension

Dean Baas is an Extension Educator in Sustainable Agriculture for Michigan State University Extension. Dean is involved in cover crop, soil health and organic agriculture research and education. Farmers and commodity groups are an integral part of his projects and programs. He is a member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council Executive Committee. He is the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Coordinator for the state of Michigan. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Geosciences and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from MSU. Prior to returning to MSU for graduate study, he had a 20-year career with the Kellogg Company.


Bates, Brian, Bear Creek Organic Farm

Brian Bates and Anne Morningstar own and operate Bear Creek Organic Farm in Petoskey, Michigan - a small farm that specializes in raw honey, organic greens, microgreens, potted herbs, and garlic. Brian is passionate about small farm finances, making a living doing what you love, and savvy marketing. Firm believers in transparency through the value chain, Anne & Brian have developed a philosophy called “Full-Transparency Farming” where the farm is an open book for customers, wholesalers, and fellow farmers. With no secrets, a lot of ideas, and some serious elbow-grease, Bear Creek has gone from $0 to $120k on 1.5 acres in less than two years.


Beals, Peggy & Ted, Farm-to-Consumer Foundation

Ted & Peggy are internationally known advocates for access to Fresh Milk. They are on the Board of the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation. They were on the Michigan Fresh Unprocessed Whole Milk Workgroup, which led to the policy on herd-share dairies.



Bingham, Sierra, Bear Earth Herbals

Raised in Northern Michigan, Sierra has studied plants and herbal medicine for 10+ years. She is now the owner of Bear Earth Herbals, a local herbal tea and salve company, and a Certified Herbalist. She is a certified herbalist, wildcrafter and lover of all things wild who teach classes in the area on wild harvesting and using plants as medicine.



Brandt, Katie & Cary, Tom, Groundswell Community Farm

Katie Brandt and Tom Cary grow 300 varieties of organic vegetables at Groundswell Farm near Zeeland, MI.  The farm supplies 180+ CSA members, 4 farmers' markets and several health food stores from just 7.5 acres.


Britton, Phil, Cherry Capital Foods

Phil is the GroupGAP Coordinator for Cherry Capital Foods, and the administrator of the MI GroupGAP Network.  Phil has been involved in GroupGAP since 2013, helping develop two MI pilot projects, as well as assisting other groups nation-wide.


Brower, Aaron, Bluestem Farm

Along with his family, Aaron Brower owns Bluestem Farm, a diversified organic farm that offers build your own CSA memberships, community events, and food outreach programs. Learn more at www.bluestemfarm.net.


Coveyou, David, Coveyou Scenic Farm

David Coveyou is the owner and operator of 142-year-old Coveyou Scenic Farm in Petoskey where he grows certified organic vegetables with his wife and four children.  His farm business and engineering backgrounds are part of his passions.


Crawford, Alisa, DeZwaan Windmil

Alisa has been working in the history field since the age of 15, and in mills since the age of 17. She has worked, studied or interned in a variety of states. In 2002, she returned to her love of mills by joining the staff of Windmill Island in Holland. In 2006, she began her training in the Netherlands, and in September of 2007 became the first overseas student to become a Dutch certified miller. In 2009, she continued on to qualify for the professional millers training and by 2010 completed the course and was admitted into the professional grainmillers guild as the only woman among 35 Dutch men.


DeDecker, James, MSU Extension

James DeDecker is an Agriculture Educator with Michigan State University Extension responsible for field crop outreach across eleven counties in Northeast Lower Michigan. Since joining MSU Extension in 2012, he has drawn on his background in crop production, integrated pest management and the human dimensions of natural systems to serve Michigan producers and agribusiness through partnership building, on-farm research and educational programming.


Evesque, Lori, Tillers International and Board Member of Michigan Fiber Cooperative

Lori, natural dyer, teacher, & food activist, expanded fiber classes & market opportunities for Tillers’ merino wool.


Ferris, Monique, Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Hunting Access Program Coordinator

Monique Ferris joined the DNR Wildlife Division in March as the HAP Coordinator. During this time, she has expanded HAP into the northern lower peninsula and also manages habitat projects funded by the DNR on HAP enrolled lands. Previous to this, Monique worked as a Farm Bill Biologist for the conservation districts. Monique also gained valuable experience while working for the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and with the National Wildlife Federation.

Gould, Charles, MSU Extension

Charles Gould provides relevant expertise in the areas of bioenergy, bioproducts, and energy conservation to Michigan farmers that enable them to be sustainable now and in the future. He has been with Michigan State University Extension since 1995.


Gould, Kevin, MSU Extension

Kevin Gould serves as the MSU Extension Beef Educator for West-Michigan. He and his family own Gould Cattle, a medium sized cow-calf operation near Ionia.


Holmes, Cody, Rockin' H Ranch

In the Fall of 1975 Cody Holmes, at the young age of 17 years old, left the family farm with seven of his own cows to begin building his ranch.  This was the beginning of the Rockin' H Ranch.  What started out as a typical, high input, cow/calf ranch morphed into a modern, multi-species, Holistic, diversified, and regenerative dairy, meat, and vegetable company serving about 30 grocery stores, hospitals, schools an upbeat home delivery net-work, and e-commerce direct food company.  This food company and label is known as Real Farm Foods.  Real Farm Foods has grown into a Cooperative Food Hub which markets not only food raised on the Rockin' H Ranch but the foods raised from over 50 other farmers in the region. Fast forward to today on his 1100 acre Missouri ranch in the Ozarks where mob grazing is the day’s business, reside about 400 cows, 600 hair sheep, 1000 meat goats, 150 pastured hogs, 25 jersey herd dairy, 600 pastured laying hens, several hoop tunnels of pastured chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese, produce gardens and year round high tunnel vegetable production.  


Jovanovic, Jevon, Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator

He is a founding partner of the Watson Intellectual Property Group. He focuses his practice on U.S. and foreign patent, trademark, copyright and unfair competition matters. His practice is heavily involved with patent and trademark prosecution as well as patent interpretation, analysis and design-around. Additionally, Mr. Jovanovic is actively involved in litigation matters, transactional projects, as well as post patent issuance review and opposition matters.


Kavanagh-Patrick, Bridget, Happy Goat Lucky Ewe Fiber Farm and Board Member of Michigan Fiber Cooperative

Bridget, long-time spinner & fine fiber producer, started MFC with alpaca & sheep growers in 2011 to get fair value for their fiber.


Kraai, Lance, New City Farm

Lance Kraai has directed New City Farm for five years and partnered with Joel Schramm in 2015 to begin on site soup and pizza production.


McCabe, Jeff, Nifty Hoops

Jeff McCabe is co-founder of Selma Cafe and the Tilian Farm Development Center.  Jeff is passionate about building resiliency and capacity in local food systems.  In 2011 Jeff launched Nifty Hoops to further innovation in hoophouse design and use.


Moghtader, Jeremy, MSU Student Organic Farm

Jeremy has been the Farm Manager for the SOF and its 48 week CSA since August 2004, and has been teaching & coordinating the certificate program since 2007 and now serves as the Director of Programs for the Organic Farmer Training Program.


Moje, Ellen, MSU Student Organic Farm

Ellen came to the Student Organic Farm in 2013 to complete the Organic Farmer Training Program and joined the team in 2014 as the CSA Manager and Assistant Instructor. Ellen manages the day to day operations of the Year Round CSA program and the 20-week Summer Harvest CSA.


Morgan, Brad, Morgan Composting

To solve a manure management problem at his dairy farm, Brad decided to try composting his manure.  Brad has successfully found markets for quality compost, and is helping farmers who have had some of the same issues.


Morningstar, Anne, Bear Creek Organic Farm

Anne Morningstar owns and operates Bear Creek Organic Farm with her husband, Brian Bates in Petoskey, Michigan. A Full-Time Instructor of Design at North Central Michigan College, Anne is the marketing and design mastermind at Bear Creek Organic Farm. With a camera always by her side, she has built a significant social media presence and online following for the farm, translating “likes” and “shares” into real sales and customers. A believer in the power of storytelling, Anne helps other farmers and business owners find their voice and share their stories.


Newman, Trevor, Roots to Fruits Ecological Design

Trevor is an avid horticulturalist and amateur pomologist. He has co-taught Permaculture Design Courses and given lectures to various universities, garden clubs, and community groups on topics such as edible landscaping, agroforestry, and uncommon fruits. He owns and operates Roots To Fruits— an edible landscaping and ecological design firm based in SE Michigan. Trevor is the president of the Michigan Nut Growers Association and co-chair of the North American Fruit Explorer’s permaculture special interest group. He writes about and explores growing fruits and nuts on his blog, The Fruit Nut.

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Palmer, Abbey, MSU North Farm at UPREC

Abbey Palmer grows food in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. At the Marquette Food Co-op and the NMU Hoop House, she works to educate people of all ages about the benefits of choosing local food—and how to grow it themselves.

Peters, Jim, Straits Area Grape Growers Association

Commercial wine grape grower and home wine maker.  President of Straits Area Grape Growers Association.  Hobby farmer and gardener.


Phillips, Michael, Lost Nation Orchard

Michael Phillips is known across the country for helping people grow healthy fruit. The “community orchard movement” that he helped found provides a full immersion into the holistic approach to orcharding. His Lost Nation Orchard is part of a medicinal herb farm in northern New Hampshire. Michael’s newest book, Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility, will be available in March 2017.

Ranger, Kristine, The Learning Connection

Kristine consults with Ag of the Middle to develop team, leadership and management effectiveness.  She offer business planning and coaching and Virtual HRM and facilitation services to assist businesses with structure, strategy and succession


Raudenbush, Jesse, Starr Valley Farms

Second of three generations of worm farmers, with 33 years in the business. Certified Advanced Michigan Master Gardener, Certified Master composter and program instructor. Board of Directors at Project Grow Community Gardens


Sachs, Paul, Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator

Paul Sachs is the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator and the Director of the Ottawa County Planning and Performance Improvement Department.  In his spare time, Sachs serves on the Wheatland Music Festival Board.


Schramm, Joel, New City Farm

Joel, kitchen director at New City Farm, has been working in the food service industry for 17 years.  His interest in local and organic caused him to concentrate on farm-direct food and eventually brought him to small farming. For the last 5 years Joel has been working as a hybrid farmer/chef to provide value added products directly from the food he grows.



Schulte, Mike, Narrow Gate Farm

Along with a full time job at the Alpena, MI CRTC, Mike comes home to manage the general maintenance of the farm and skillfully executes the rotational grazing system incorporated into our management practices. He is THE fence, hay, water, tractor, and finance guy! And on occasion, available to help pull a calf too.


Schulte, Stefani, Narrow Gate Farm

Narrow Gate Farm is the embodiment of a long aspired for dream. Taking a deep seated love for the animals, Stefani has diligently worked and studied to understand the cows (and horses too) on a level that meets their needs, outside the conventional approach to handling. Techniques borrowed from her PNH certification and other methods have combined to develop a successful program of taming and hands-on handling of the herd, putting a visual to the aspect of Humane Treatment. Her program becomes a study in herd dynamics, group and individual needs. Additional experience obtained through the MSU SARE Grant three year grazing school, and the farm is CNG Certified.


Sheick, Kalin, Sweetwater Lavender Farm and Stems & Sprigs Floral Design

Kalin Sheick is the owner of Stems & Sprigs a boutique floral design studio and Sweetwater Lavender Farm, both in Petoskey. Kalin specializes in event floral design for weddings. With a style that is garden fresh, natural, whimsical and a little weird, Kalin is best known for her bridal bouquets & blog that tells the story of buying an abandoned farm and making it their home.


Tennis, Brian, Michigan Hop Alliance, Old Mission Organics

Organic farmer for the past decade. First organic hop grower and processor in Michigan. Owner of New Mission Organics and the Michigan Hop Alliance.


Thompson, Collin, MSU North Farm at UPREC

Collin has been involved in small-scale diversified agriculture as a farmer, builder, educator, researcher, volunteer, and consultant. He is farm manager at MSU North Farm, above the 45th parallel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


Tocco, Phil, MSU Extension

Phil Tocco serves as an educator in food safety on the farm for fruit and vegetable farmers statewide. He has functioned as the state coordinator in on-farm food safety since 2009.     


Walk, Michelle, MSU Extension

Michelle has been working in Community Development for over 20 years and with MSU Extension for 12 years.  Her work focuses on community food systems, including food hubs, regional food systems, farm to school, farmers markets, and agritourism.