Michigan: New Program seeks two Earn/Learn Farmers

24 Jan

We are looking for 2 participants for a new incubator farm program.  The participants will be able to operate their own businesses on a complete 4-season farm campus (that is being constructed in the next 2 month) just north of Ann Arbor.  The site is a 150 commercial agricultural property that is being re-purposed for sustainable ag.

A new program is launching this year in Washtenaw County, MI, just 1 mile north of Ann Arbor.  Though not a job per se, there are two positions open with earn/learn opportunities on this working farm.  The Four-Season Farmer Development Program (4SFDP) is funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA.  It has found a home on land owned by Ann Arbor Township.  Current and funded infrastructure development includes:
•       A large barn, under restoration
•       Water (well) and electrical utilities
•       Hoop-houses, a wash-pack facility and root cellar storage

The deliverables of the grant include the creation of this farm campus as well as a perpetual program to educate and promote four season agriculture in the community.  The program leaves a great deal of flexibility in how this resource is deployed for the assistance of those entering farming.  Participant farmers and others will have an opportunity to shape the program and its potential outcomes.

The site will initially support two participant farmers at a time for a two year period.  These individuals can develop their farming business with virtually no start-up costs.  The program allows for great innovation and diversity in market models, so each farmer will be able to pursue their own business aspirations.  An advisory team chosen for its farm and business expertise, as well as a large volunteer community will support the farmers while they begin operations.  Additional programs are in development to create permanent farm sites on leased or purchased land as well as other educational opportunities and shared resources.  Download the application here.

We will be leading a site visit and follow-up gathering Tuesday February 1.  Meet at the barn (4400 Pontiac Trail, .5 miles north of Warren Rd.) at 4:30 to hike around the property or at 5:30 to check out the barn and the initial fields to be farmed. We will meet at Jolly Pumpkin afterward (upstairs, 6pm) for pizza and conversation.  You can show up at Selma Café at4:15 or 5:15 if you would like to commute out to the farm together (rsvp to assure car space).

We look forward to your ideas and your assistance as we further define and implement this program.  Your expertise, your needs and your volunteer effort will create the maximum potential for those entering farming and the community in general.  A web site will be up in March that will communicate many more details of the program as they are defined.  In the meantime, please email jeff@selmacafe.org (Jeff McCabe) for information and your input.  Thank you.


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