New ‘Michigan Fresh’ initiative starting to take root

I am excited and proud to spotlight the “Michigan Fresh” initiative, which launched May 1 and continues through October.

I am excited because it is a model for how Michigan State University Extension needs to approach issues in the 21st century – knocking down the silos to collaborate across institutes in important areas, meeting the needs of residents throughout the state both in person and via online channels, and spreading the message through a variety of media and technological outlets.

And I am proud because it is a truly collaborative effort involving members across institutes working together to share their expertise on an important topic – healthy, fresh foods.

Dr. Steve Lovejoy gave a terrific rundown of the program during our Director’s Update on May 7 (starting around the 40-minute mark), which everyone should watch if they were unable to participate in the live presentation. Michigan Fresh focuses on the healthfulness of fresh products. It will educate Michigan residents on tending a home garden and getting more bang for their bucks by growing their own vegetables and reducing spoilage.

Extension educator Kathe Hale sees the benefits of working across institutes.

“I think this has been great because we each come from a different background. Seeing the strengths of all the different people around the table and being able to come together on one project has been awesome,” she said.

Currently, we’ve released fact sheets on asparagus, rhubarb and starting seeds. Each week we’ll feature a new product or theme. We are also pushing this information out to a variety of venues, including Eastern Market in Wayne County where we will have a kiosk with the fact sheets available.

“The goal for Eastern Market is to have a team of individuals on hand at farmers markets to be sharing those weekly fact sheets but also nonfood fact sheets that are about lawn care, fertilizing, and caring for your bedding plants,” said Kathe.

Some of the key people involved in the project include Hal Hudson and Mary Wilson of the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute; Eileen Haraminac, Jeannie Nichols and Beth Waitrovich of the Health and Nutrition Institute; and Kathe Hale and Terry McLean of the Greening Michigan Institute.

County offices can order copies of Michigan Fresh fact sheets through the MSU Extension bookstore.

Find fact sheets in PDF format on the Michigan Fresh Web page at msue.anr.msu.edu/programs/mi_fresh.

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