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Supporting the Washtenaw Food Hub at the Public Hearing!

UMSFP was recently contacted to help enlist help from our members in supporting a zoning change that would enhance the capabilities of the Washtenaw Food Hub ~~ here's a message from Deb Lentz from the local Tantre Farm about what positive changes the zoning modification would bring:

On June 1 the Ann Arbor Township Planning Commission is holding a public hearing at 7:30pm to decide whether to recommend changing the zoning designation of the Food Hub from a “Minor” to a “Major” agricultural education facility. We are hoping that you will come to speak in support of this change, or mail comments of support to us.

This zoning change would allow the Food Hub to have events with more than 50 people on site without special permission, and would help us decide how extensively we should renovate Building 1. For example, rather than just a few cosmetic improvements we would like to develop a full-fledged classroom, presentation, demo kitchen, and community gathering space. Some of the activities we’ve asked to be allowed to do include things like: 

- Monthly calendar of workshops (e.g., vermi-composting, organic gardening, beekeeping, etc.)

- Farmer, educator, and non-profit meetings (e.g., Food safety, Connecting to new markets, Business planning, MIFFS annual meeting, UM researcher and class meetings, Farmers Market managers, etc.)

- Film screenings (e.g., Food Inc., Fed Up, Food Chains, etc.)

- Annual CSA Fair promoting local farms and healthy eating

- Summer camps, for example for school age children a “Summer Farm Camp”

- Cooking classes and demonstrations (e.g., How to cook what’s in your CSA box this week, tomato canning, etc.)

- Seed swaps

- Educational events, lectures and conferences for participants from around the country and around the world

Our understanding of the June 1st agenda is that the Food Hub will present our case, then there will be time for community input, and finally the commissioners will debate whether to recommend this change to the Township Board. 

Ann Arbor Township’s position toward the Washtenaw Food Hub has been positive overall, but they need to hear if there is support from neighbors and community members before they will recommend this requested change.

If you are willing to come to speak in support or send comments of support, we would be glad to send an outline of talking points if that’s helpful (contact Deb Lentz from Tantre Farm at tantrefarm@hotmail). 

Time: June 1, 2015 at 7:30pm

Location: AA Township Hall, 3792 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI

Lentil Underground Book Tour & Dinner

Monday, April 20th, 6pm at the Trotter Multicultural Center

Author Liz Carlisle and "renegade farmer" David Oien visit the University of Michigan Campus to share about Carlisle's recent book, Lentil Underground. The event will include a book talk, Q&A with the author and farmer, and samples of David's lentils. Thanks to the Student Sustainability Initiative, we plan for this to be a zero waste event!

A PROTÉGÉ OF MICHAEL POLLAN TELLS THE REMARKABLE STORY OF AN UNHERALDED GROUP OF MONTANA FARMERS WHO HAVE DEFIED CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS BY LAUNCHING A UNIQUE SUSTAINABLE FOOD MOVEMENT.

lentil_underground

Liz Carlisle is a fellow at the Center for Diversified Farming Systems at the University of California, Berkeley.  She holds a Ph.D. in Geography, also from Berkeley, and a B.A. from Harvard University.  A native of Missoula, Montana, Carlisle is a former Legislative Aide to United States Senator Jon Tester.

Forty years ago, corporate agribusiness launched a campaign to push small grain farmers to modernize or perish, or as Nixon Administration Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz put it, to “get big or get out. But twenty-seven year-old David Oien decided to take a stand.  When he dropped out of grad school to return to his family’s 280 acre farm, Oien became the first in his conservative Montana county to seed his fields with a radically different crop: organic lentils.  A cheap, healthy source of protein, rich in fiber, folate, Vitamin B1, and amino acids, lentils are drought tolerant and don’t require irrigation.  And unlike the chemically dependent grains American farmers had been told to grow, lentils make their own fertilizer and tolerate variable climate conditions, so their farmers aren’t beholden to industrial methods. Today, David Oien leads a thriving movement of organic farmers who work with heirloom seeds and biologically diverse farm systems. Under the brand Timeless Natural Food, this “lentil underground” has grown into a million dollar enterprise that sells to hundreds of independent natural foods stores, and a host of renowned restaurants.

Set in the farm belt of red state America, far from the farmer’s markets and haute cuisine of coastal cities, Lentil Underground confronts the global food system in one of the little known rural communities that will determine its fate. From the heart of Big Sky Country comes this inspiring story of a handful of colorful pioneers who have successfully bucked the chemically-based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness’s one percent, by stubbornly banding together. Unearthing the deep roots of this movement, Lentil Underground introduces readers to a memorable cast of characters, from gun-toting libertarians and Christian homesteaders to peace-sign-waving environmental activists.  Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves an eye-opening and richly reported narrative that will be welcomed by readers of food and farm memoirs, as well as everyone concerned with the future of American agriculture and natural food in an increasingly uncertain world.

This event is sponsored by the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program, the UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative and Program in the Environment with support from Students for Community-Based Social Work.

Harvest Festival

It's that time of year to celebrate the fall harvest! Come out to the Campus Farm on Sunday, October 5th, between 1 and 5pm for food, music, farm tours and fun! This year at the Festival we'll be enjoying seasonal foods and local music by the likes of Magdalen Fossum, Abigail Stauffer and The Appleseed Collective's dynamic duo, the Time Travelers! Free buses will be running between the Rackham Building and the Campus Farm on an hourly loop throughout the event, departing Rackham on the 45's from 12:45pm on, and departing Matthaei on the 15's until 5:15pm. There is also parking available at the farm. Proceeds from the event will benefit the innovative work of UMSFP's member groups. Donations can be made before the event via the "Giving" tab on our website, as well as in person at the festival. 

RSVP to our Harvest Festival facebook event here!

Volunteers needed:

If you're interested in donating your time to help our event run successfully, sign up here! You'll get to be a part of something great!

First Planet Blue Ambassador Appreciation Day Held on May 10

May 21, 2013 | by Graham Sustainability Institute

Read the full article at the Planet Blue website

"Nearly 50 certified Planet Blue Ambassadors (faculty, students, and staff) participated in the first annual Planet Blue Ambassador Appreciation Day on Friday, May 10, 2013 at U-M's Matthaei Botanical Gardens. 

The Ambassadors began the afternoon by being introduced to the U-M Campus Farm by leaders from the U-M Sustainable Food Program (UMSFP). While at the Campus Farm, Ambassadors volunteered to help prepare the garden for spring. Ambassadors weeded the plot, mulched, picked winter crops from the greenhouses, and planted the first crop of the season: potatoes."

Strengthening Communication within the UMSFP

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