Tag Archives: detroit eastern market

Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference in Detroit

Each spring, educators from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension with support from MSU AgBioResearch and the Michigan Brewers Guild host the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference. For the first time, this year the conference was held in downtown Detroit. March 2-3, over 300 agricultural producers, processors, vendors, brewers and others attended, coming from 15 states and multiple countries. The conference offered both basic and advanced sessions for hop growers, and a barley session and malting tour for both growers and brewers.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, stands at the front of the room at a podium giving a presentation to a ballroom filled with seats and participants.

Kevin Riel, Owner of Double ‘R’ Hop Ranches, Inc. and President of Hop Growers of America, addresses a near capacity crowd at the 3rd annual Great Lakes Hop & Barley Conference in Detroit, MI. Photo credit: Rob Sirrine.

The conference incorporated elements that are unique to the area. For example, Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Corporation, described Detroit’s increasing demand for local food and craft beer. Another Detroit highlight for participants was the evening reception held at the Detroit Beer Company. Participants left rave reviews of the location and the experiences that they had.

The conference is an important way to support all of the participants in the growing craft beverage industry. According to the national Brewers Association, Michigan ranks sixth in the United States in the number of craft breweries, and the industry creates an economic impact of $1.8 million. MSU Extension is proud of our educators who are at the forefront of education and working with this evolving industry.

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Speaking of our educators, we’d like to send a huge thank you to the conference planning committee, made up of Ashley McFarland, Erin Lizotte and Rob Sirrine, and Scott Graham from the Michigan Brewers Guild. Also, thank you to MSU Events Management (Betsy Braid and Megghan Honke) and MSU county-based staff members Annette Kleinschmit and Michelle Coleman, who helped behind the scenes.

As soon as it’s posted, I’ll link to Rob, Ashley and Erin’s news article about the conference so that you can read more about all of the opportunities that participants had, the tours and the speakers.

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Something to talk about: The 100-year anniversary of MSU Extension

One hundred years ago this May, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act into law. The act established a system of cooperative extension services connected to land-grant universities. The idea was to take all the wisdom and knowledge from the land-grant institutions and make that available to people in their everyday lives – out on the farm, in their homes, in their businesses and in their communities. That was 100 years ago and here we are – we’re still at it.

From its beginning, Michigan State University Extension’s emphasis has been on agriculture. Well over half of our federal and state funds go into agricultural programming. Our network of Extension educators makes faculty expertise and university research available to communities.

We’re still involved in the same areas today but we’ve also evolved. We’ve looked for new ways to reach people where they are. We now have a presence at Detroit Eastern Market and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market where we educate the public on nutrition, gardening and food safety. We will soon have a footprint in the Flint Farmers Market. Our Michigan Fresh campaign further educates on fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals as well as food safety, food storage and preservation, and gardening.

We’ve found new ways to reach out to youth. Michigan 4-H Youth Development has grown in one year from 175,000 to 200,000 youth. We are over halfway to our goal of reaching 20 percent of Michigan youth by 2020. We’re getting kids interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) outside the classroom. We’re also helping kids ‒ through a multitude of project areas ‒ develop life skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. These skills will help them become the leaders and successful, resilient adults of tomorrow.

Our placemaking team and community food systems team help communities discover how to attract people.

Any challenges we do have, we turn to opportunities. You may want to listen to my conversation with Kirk Heinze that took place March 21 on Greening of the Great Lakes on News/Talk 760 WJR. I talk about how our Michigan State University Extension programs are still life changing and relevant after 100 years. You can read the MLive article here: http://www.mlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2014/03/as_msu_extension_celebrates_it.html. At the end of the article, you’ll find a link to the broadcast.

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What’s new with Michigan Fresh?

Can Michigan Fresh get any fresher? Apparently so. The Michigan State University Extension program that helps people explore the state’s fresh locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals has updated its website with a fresh new look.

The program, which involves MSU Extension staff members collaborating across institutes, launched May 1, 2012. Back then, we offered three Michigan Fresh fact sheets – on asparagus, rhubarb and starting seeds. Today, we offer nine fact sheets on fruit, 31 on vegetables, nine on general gardening tips and three on food preservation. In addition, we’ve produced five fact sheets in Spanish. Extension educators write the facts sheets designed by Alicia Burnell, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications graphics artist.

We’ve been promoting the fact sheets and the Michigan Fresh program at the Detroit Eastern Market, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market and across Michigan.

We have a new Michigan Fresh flier that explains the program and lists the fact sheets available. It gives some interesting facts about our great state. For example, did you know that Michigan is the leading producer of dry beans and several varieties of annual flowers including geraniums, petunias and Easter lilies? And we’re No. 1 in the nation in production of blueberries, cucumbers for pickles, Niagara grapes and tart cherries. Check out the flier for more Michigan facts as related to food and agriculture.

The Michigan Availability Guide lets us know when to buy fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables.

So fresh we’re still working on putting it up on the Michigan Fresh website, a new Michigan Fresh fact sheet gives fresh produce donation guidelines for gardeners. Authors and Extension educators Kathe Hale of the Greening Michigan Institute and Eileen Haraminac of the Health and Nutrition Institute let us know helpful tips for donating that extra zucchini to food banks and pantries.

In addition, Steve Evans, ANR Communications multimedia production team leader, produced all of the Michigan Fresh videos starring MSU Extension educators and program instructors. Watch them for some great recipes and tips on cooking Michigan produce. In this week’s featured video, Extension nutrition program instructor Maggie Kantola focuses on kale.

Kathe Hale coordinates the Michigan Fresh program. Visit the updated Michigan Fresh website at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh.

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Moving into the possibilities at Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Sometimes we have a good idea, it works out well so we branch out and use that same idea elsewhere. Actively promoting our Michigan State University Extension programs at the Detroit Eastern Market proved successful. We had a great reaction and so when the opportunity came to join the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, we were ready and excited to be a part of it.

In the June13 Spotlight, I mentioned plans to house MSU Extension staff in office space in the new indoor market. The plans are now a reality. Community food systems educators Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler are officially moved in as of Sept. 1 and are working on site full time. Diane Smith, innovation counselor from the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio, joins them one to two days a week.

Our presence at the market is a great opportunity to educate the public and establish relationships with people who produce local food as well as those who buy it. The way I think of it is although market shoppers may not expect to see MSU Extension at the market, when they do see us, they immediately “get it.” In a way, it’s a place where we belong because it’s a place where people are seeking information along with their food, and we can help them whether it’s in providing nutrition, cooking, food safety or gardening information and education. And we want them to associate us with receiving access to dependable, unbiased, research-based information concerning food as well as other issues that affect their families and their communities.

The market has both an indoor market open every day and an outdoor market open two mornings and one evening a week. The indoor market officially opened on Labor Day, Sept. 2. According to WZZM ABC News, nearly 30,000 people showed up for the grand opening.

 We’ve already been active in the outdoor market since it opened May 4, promoting our Michigan Fresh campaign and educating about healthy eating, and safe food preparation and preservation.

In addition, we’ve used the indoor facilities for educational sessions. In the Aug. 15 Spotlight, I wrote about two health and nutrition educators, Jeannie Nichols and Rita Klavinski, who facilitated a ServSafe class to 23 participants.

We intend to continue offering educational programs using the indoor facilities, which include demonstration and teaching kitchens, greenhouses and a commercial kitchen incubator.

Jeannie will hold a Cooking for Crowds session on Oct. 9. Cooking for Crowds is an educational program focusing on food safety for nonprofit groups who prepare food for their members or for the public as fundraisers.

Jeannie and Diane will co-teach “Starting a Successful Cottage Food Business in Michigan” on Nov. 7. The program combines the business and food safety aspects of preparing and selling cottage foods safely and successfully.

Extension educator Glenda Kilpatrick reports that Kent County 4-H program coordinators Kristi Bowers and Christine Mickelson have been offering youth programs on Tuesdays at the market as well.

Expect many more programs to come.

Read more here: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/extension_moves_into_new_grand_rapids_downtown_market

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Market space will lead to learning

We’ll be part of the excitement when the Grand Rapids Downtown Market indoor section, currently under construction on Ionia Avenue in Grand Rapids, will open later this summer. The market will promote healthy lifestyles and serve as a community gathering space.

We’ve leased office space for two Michigan State University Extension educators Kendra Wills and Garrett Ziegler. Additionally, Extension and MSU Product Center – Food, Ag, Bio staff members will be presenting workshops and demonstrations at the location throughout the year. We’ll share expertise with growers and business owners.

We have a similar agreement with Detroit Eastern Market. The popularity of that program encouraged us to look at other venues that could help connect people with our experts. The Downtown Market presents a perfect opportunity to be in the middle of a growing, thriving regional food system.

The current outdoor market boasts fresh food grown and prepared in Michigan. In the past, MSU Extension had an information kiosk at the market with staff members available at the market to provide information about Michigan Fresh, our educational program that helps people explore our state’s fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamentals.

Read more in this ANR Communications article: http://anrcom.msu.edu/anrcom/news/item/msu_extension_teams_with_grand_rapids_downtown_market

Also check out this June 11 MLive article: http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2013/06/downtown_market_to_provide_hom.html

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A look at our future

At a new staff orientation that took place on January 30, I had a chance to meet some great new colleagues. During my comments to the participants, I tried to convey what I think makes Michigan State University Extension professionals special people. The curiosity to gather all the information you can before offering advice, the innate response to teach and facilitate in any setting and with any resources, and the drive, the insistence to make a difference in the lives of others – all of these are what I see as defining an effective Extension professional. I told them that I consider myself extremely fortunate to get to work with a group of colleagues who fit that description.

Then I went to lunch and got a dose of what makes Extension professionals special in our discussion around the lunch table. I heard some fascinating life stories, and I want to share some of those in MSUE Spotlight over time because they are instructive and inspiring for me and I think they may be for you as well.

The first story I want to share is from Margaret (Maggie) Kantola. Maggie joined MSUE in August 2012 and works as a nutrition program instructor in our Nutrition and Physical Activity work group, based in Detroit. When Maggie moved to Detroit earlier last year, she rented an apartment. The landlord asked her if she had any ideas about what to do with a 1/4-acre parcel of land next to the apartment building. Maggie asked if the landlord minded if she made money from the land and he said it was fine.

In short order, Maggie converted the vacant lot into a beautiful market garden called CommonHarvest and produced a bounty.

Vacant lot in Detroit, spring 2012, will become CommonHarvest.

Vacant lot in Detroit, spring 2012, will become CommonHarvest.
Photo credit: Margaret Kantola.

In her words, “We sold the variety of produce at Eastern Market at the Grown in Detroit table in addition to some wholesale to local restaurants. And of course we had plenty of fresh food all season long and froze, canned and dried plenty of the vegetables that we are now enjoying during these winter months.”

I was impressed by the story and impressed even more by the photos she shared with me after our luncheon discussion. I share them with you here.

Soil prepared for planting in the CommonHarvest lot.

Soil prepared for planting in the CommonHarvest lot.
Photo credit: Margaret Kantola.

I shared Maggie’s story in a presentation I gave two weeks ago at the Agricultural Outlook Forum 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. The forum is an event hosted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack each year. I was invited to speak about the work of Cooperative Extension in fostering the development of local food systems – growing, distributing, processing and marketing food for consumers who live near the producers. Much of the media attention has focused on food systems developing in urban communities. Our MSUE Community Food Systems work group is working in urban and rural communities, and they provided valuable stories for me to share in my presentation.

Janelle Palmer plants crops in the CommonHarvest lot.

Janelle Palmer plants crops in the CommonHarvest lot.
Photo credit: Margaret Kantola.

I began my presentation with Maggie’s story as a way to convey what I see as the key driver behind the success of local food systems. I explained that this garden was something that Maggie did on her own, not as part of her responsibilities in MSUE. She was entrepreneurial in her approach, had technical knowledge that she could apply, and used her skills and knowledge to improve her community, and to improve her life and the lives of others. She made a difference in the lives of others.

CommonHarvest shows steady growth.

CommonHarvest shows steady growth.
Photo credit: Margaret Kantola.

That energy – whether it comes from Extension professionals or others – is making new neighborhoods, new economic activity and new ways of living in our urban communities. If you go to a meeting of people involved in local food systems, if you shop at a farmers market, if you hang around Extension professionals like Maggie, you can feel the energy and take hope from the fact that THIS is what is helping to create our cities of the future. Creating the parts of new food systems won’t solve all of our challenges in urban and rural communities across Michigan. But it sure will help move us in a productive direction.

Urban garden nears harvest.

Urban garden nears harvest.
Photo credit: Margaret Kantola.

It’s easy to show photos of urban decay and ring our hands. It’s easy to read stories of urban violence and run away. It’s easy to read about government financial distress and give up. In the midst of that, the human spirit needs to grow something, and Maggie showed me how simple that can be and how much it can change perspectives on vacant lots, stressed social interactions and hopeless financial circumstances. I don’t know the answers to those challenges, but I’m willing to bet that the work of young and old in constructive ways like Maggie’s CommonHarvest is laying the foundation for the solutions we’re seeking. Thanks, Maggie, for giving me a story that illustrates what we do as Extension professionals.

Heirloom tomatoes from CommonHarvest offered for sale in fall 2012 at the Detroit Eastern Market.

Heirloom tomatoes from CommonHarvest offered for sale in fall 2012 at the Detroit Eastern Market.
Photo credit: Margaret Kantola.

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Reaching consumers where they shop: MSUE launches new presence at Eastern Market

One of the striking things about the growth of farmers markets and interest in locally grown and produced foods is how closely those movements align with some core programmatic strengths of Michigan State University Extension. Consumers at farmers markets are interested in nutrition, food safety, gardening and even small business success. We offer programs intended to help consumers better understand how to ensure a nutritious diet; how to use, preserve and prepare food safely; how to grow productive (and colorful) plants in gardens; and how to develop a business that starts with growing things and creating added value by processing them.

A year ago, that realization struck me as I visited the City Market in Kansas City, Missouri. (I was taking my own field trip at the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.) It was not a market day, so I was poking around in the resident shops at the market and some of the vacant public places. I came across a very simple sign that pointed to a small kiosk that University of Missouri Extension staffed on market days and the logic of what they were doing struck me as one of those “why didn’t we think of that” moments. I inquired a bit more from colleagues at Missouri, and they shared that nutrition education staff and volunteers attended the kiosk on market days and used it as a platform for educating consumers about nutrition choices they can make with their purchases at the market.

University of Missouri Extension kiosk in Kansas City, Missouri.

University of Missouri Extension kiosk in Kansas City, Missouri.

I made a few inquiries back here about the idea and learned that we have had Master Gardener volunteers attend some farmers markets to educate consumers about gardening, particularly in Oakland County, led by environmental science educator Carol Lenchek.

A team quickly formed in District 11 to apply the concept of the kiosk to the Detroit Eastern Market as a pilot from which we could learn about providing programming at farmers markets. Extension educator Eileen Haraminac has provided leadership for the team that developed a plan for and purchased a moveable kiosk that we now use as a base for offering information to market consumers. On July 10, we launched the kiosk, located at the north entrance to Shed 2, the open-air marketplace where vendors sell at the Tuesday markets. Of the 3,000 consumers who came to the market that day, Eileen estimates that more than 10 percent stopped by the kiosk for information, and they quickly filled her sign-up sheet for food preservation classes. Eileen has coordinated staffing the kiosk with MSUE staff and volunteers who have expertise in nutrition and food safety.

Extension educator Kristine Hahn has led recruitment of volunteers with expertise in gardening to serve at the kiosk. She anticipates using the kiosk as a platform to demonstrate skills and information useful to gardeners.

Eventually the kiosk may be useful in recruiting clients of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio and in sharing other information from MSUE. The launch of the Michigan Fresh campaign, which provides up-to-date bulletins of interest to growers and consumers of fresh Michigan fruits and vegetables, complements the physical presence that the kiosk provides us at Eastern Market.

MSU Extension educators Eileen Haraminac (left) and Kristine Hahn

MSU Extension educators Eileen Haraminac (left) and Kristine Hahn pose in front of the MSU Extension kiosk in the Detroit Eastern Market July 2012.

Eileen, Kristine and their colleagues and volunteers also staff the kiosk on Saturdays at Eastern Market, days at which tens of thousands of consumers descend on the market. That’s a pretty bold approach for a pilot project meant to explore how we can effectively connect with consumers at farmers markets. I’m not sure that a kiosk is needed at every market, but what the experience at Eastern Market has shown us already is that consumers welcome the information we have available for them there, and vendors appreciate being able to refer customers to our staff and volunteers. Each market presents a unique opportunity to reach residents with our programs. It’s overwhelming to think of serving every farmers market in the state. Yet at locations as large as Eastern Market or as small as the Wednesday markets in Manistique, market consumers find it helpful to have access to their cooperative Extension system as they shop.

I want to thank Eileen, Kristine and the many others who have helped to develop, test and pilot this idea we borrowed from our colleagues in Missouri. It’s been a tremendous effort, and as you can see , they’ve made us look really good at the market!

MSU Extension educators educate consumers

MSU Extension educators educate consumers at the MSU Extension kiosk at the Detroit Eastern Market July 2012.

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