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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!



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

ARTDES 300 - Sustainable Food System Design

Art & Design 300.012, 3 credits

M/F 8:30-11:30am

Professor Joe Trumpey | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This course explores a wide variety of contemporary and historic food systems at several scales including conventional, organic, and permaculture. Weekly site visits include trips to a dairy farm, a beef operation, a small permaculture farm, a CSA, a farmers market, a community farm in Detroit, the MSU student farm, and a slaughterhouse. Students will read and present work from a range of contemporary farm / food literature and will work on completing a series of original designs. Early designs will be on assigned topics and a final design project is self-directed. Graduate students and non-A&D students will need overrides to register. Enrollment is limited to 25 students. 

Topics: Open to a full array of upstream to downstream topics

  • Soil Science
  • Water and nutrient cycles
  • Seedstock
  • Livestock
  • Organic Ag
  • Conventional Ag
  • Michigan Ag
  • Student / Campus Ag
  • Urban Ag
  • Food Justice

Course Goals:

  • Develop a working definition of Sustainable Food
  • Deepen your knowledge of a particular aspect of Food Systems
  • Develop a research process focused on site evaluation and critical reflection
  • Enhance and embrace your creative process
  • Develop a focused design process
Sustainable Food Program | University of Michigan
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