Tilian Farm Development Center

facilitating year round farm development in Ann Arbor

2015 Brings New Things to Tilian!

There may be snow on the ground and an icy chill in the air, but here at Tilian Farm Development Center we are thinking Spring!  We are especially eager for spring this year, since we will welcome our largest cohort yet (BY FAR) to our Ann Arbor incubator farm. SEVEN farm operations will join our two returning farms, and we’ll have farmers organically raising a diverse array of products, including chickens, bees, fruit, and of course vegetables. The diversity doesn’t stop with the farm products either, as we are also welcoming  women farmers, farmers of color, and beginning farmers of all ages and backgrounds this year!

Big changes have also come to Tilian’s leadership for 2015! The Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP), a key player in Tilian’s creation and continued success, has invited Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS) to take over full leadership of our incubator farm. As a statewide, membership-based nonprofit organization, Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS) has been connecting farmers to resources and opportunities since 1998.  MIFFS is dedicated to supporting the many faces of farming, particularly beginning and historically underserved farmers, and we are very excited that their mission now includes Tilian Farm Development Center!

If you want to support the work we do supporting beginning farmers at Tilian, we have a few options for you:

1) We are always looking for volunteers to help out around the farm. Whether you want hands-on learning about organic agriculture and four season production, or just want to come pull weeds, we welcome you! We also love hosting volunteer groups, so if your workplace, student group, religious congregation, or community organization is looking for a site for service workdays, please contact our Farm Program Manager Stefanie to schedule your dates. Direct inquiries to: tilianfdc (at) gmail.com

2) Many of our incubator farmers rely on crowd-sourcing to provide the start-up capital and other financial resources needed to launch and sustain a successful farm. Two of our incoming incubators, Fervent Fields Farm and New Bee Apiaries and Pollinator Sanctuary, have crowd-sourcing projects in progress. Any donation can help go a long way towards supporting beginning farmers at Tilian!

3) Like and Share our Tilian Farm Development Center pages on Facebook and Twitter, as well as the pages of our incubator farmers, and send any prospective beginning farmers our way!

4) When the weather gets warm again, come take a TOUR of Tilian! Come learn about the history of our Protected Farmland, check out our extensive hoophouse infrastructure, and see what our beginning farmers have growing (and grazing!) in the field. Direct inquiries to: tilianfdc (at) gmail.com

5) Stay up to date with any future Tilian events and fundraising efforts. If there is enough interest we may even host Farm to Table dinners next summer with all proceeds going directly to our farmers!

Stay Warm & Think Spring!

Help Fervent Fields Farm Raise Farm Funds!

Our new crop of 2015 farmers have begun crowd-funding campaigns to fund their incubator farms at Tilian Farm Development Center! The Land Loom just secured their funding last week and Fervent Field Farms just began to inch towards their goal. Pledge your support and help us help beginning farmers to be successful at Tilian!


“Help Jared Talaga grow the most fervent and delicious vegetables at Fervent Fields Farm!

For the last five years I have surrounded myself with amazing farmers and farms, these people and places have taught me so much to get me where I am today as a farmer. From serving as AmeriCorps member at the Ingham County Land Bank where I helped other farmers gain access to land to co-owning a diversified vegetable farm in the City of Lansing, each experience has been unique in itself and furthering my overall education. It has been a wonderful journey thus far and the knowledge I have built and gained over the years has without a doubt landed me at this point in my farming career. My application has been accepted at the Tilian Farm Development Center in Ann Arbor Township, the first crops for 2015 have already hit the ground!

Being a young farmer who is only 25, I am not sure where I will end up in 5 years or beyond that. I know eventually I will settle down and find my forever farm, but until then I want to continue to learn and develop my skills as a business owner not working for someone else’s vision or dream. It is in working for myself that my true passion emerges and growth as a farmer and business are furthered.

Fervent Fields will exist this Spring on 5 acres, 4 of which will be in production and 1 which will be continuously cover cropped. I aim to specialize in growing high volumes of a small selection of specialty crops utilizing season extension in the form of hoop houses, low tunnels, and walk in cooler storage. My main focus will be on garlic, ginger, hot peppers, and potatoes.

Having invested my savings into Fervent Fields Farm this fall, I am asking for your help in getting a jump start this Spring. Certain crops I grow such as garlic have an extremely high start up cost when you have to buy seed stock, but after that first year your costs drop dramatically as you are growing your seed stock now.

If this campaign is successful I will not have to take out any loans to help with all the startup costs this first year, putting me in a much better place to expand and higher farm hands in the future.

Below is a detailed budget of where all the money from the indiegogo campaign will go to support.

1) Certified Organic Ginger Seed Stock – 250lb. – $2,100

2) Tilian Rental Fees – 3 Acres, 30′ x 144′ Hoop House, Tractor Work – $2,820

3) Seed and Potato Seed Stock – $1,080

There are definitely other big costs that go into what I need to get going next year, but these are the most crucial. The three costs make up less than half of my budget that I will be raising myself. Some of these other costs include season extension supplies, gas to drive to and from the farm / wholesale deliveries, parts to build a cover crop crimper, parts to make the tractor drivable for someone in a wheelchair, among a much longer list.

Please contact me if you have any questions or want to help out in non monetary ways!”

Fall Brings Farmers to Tilian!


old Tractor early Fall 2014

As the harvest season winds down for our farmers growing out in the field, and the hoop houses are planted with cold weather crops, the fall is the perfect time to reflect on the past season and to plan for the spring. To take advantage of the great fall weather and relative lull in the production season, our Farm Program Manager Stefanie has been busy hosting tours of the property, securing markets for the Anchor Farm, building community partnerships, and recruiting new farmers to join the Tilian Farm Development Center in the 2015 season.

In fact, we’ve had quite a bit of interest in the program and will have many new faces at the farm soon. We even have two new incubator ventures already joining us this fall! One is “New Bee Apiaries,” a three acre bee project run by Germaine Smith, current staff at Cappella Farm and former staff at Growing Hope. The other is an 1-2 acre garlic, ginger, and hot pepper farm with name forthcoming, a personal project of Growing Hope farm manager Jared Talaga. Jared broke ground on October 10th and Germaine has begun to prep the area for the arrival of her bees!

In the spring, we will have two or three additional operations joining the program as well, including a boutique tomato variety trial, a vegetable CSA plus possible aquaculture, and likely a wholesale four season salad greens operation as well. We’ll have the most incubator operations on-site at once, with at least 6 incubator operations, if not more! Check back for more info in the spring. In the meantime, help us welcome our new crop of beginning farmers to Tilian!!

Tilian diving into the Digital Age! incubator farm Arbor Hills featured in Bitcoin Magazine

Arbor Hills Farm

Farm In Michigan Growing Local Bitcoin Economy

In Ann Arbor, Michigan there is a plot of land called Arbor Hills Farman organic farm that leases land from bigger property called the Tilian Farm Development Center, where vegetables and livestock are cultivated.

The products are then sold to members of the community through a system called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in which members, consisting of local citizens and local restaurants, receive fresh produce on a normal basis.

Arbor Hills is no ordinary farm, however. They lease out land and provide fresh produce and chickens for bitcoins.

Arbor Hills Farm is run by Katie Shafer, a yoga instructor/farmer who previously studied physics at Michigan State University, and Dan Till, who studied economics and Chinese at University of Michigan and currently runs a Bitcoin Consulting business: bitcointegration.com.

More recently,  Dan has been responsible for Tilian Farming Development Center’s “Bitcointegration.”

“After talking to the head of the organization that oversees the Tilian farm development center about Bitcoin, they loved it,” says Dan. ”I am paying the next Arbor Hills Farm Lease payment to Tilian Farm using Bitcoin,” he adds.

Arbor Hills is now raising funds in bitcoins for the Tilian Farm Development Center. The Tilian Center helps promote new farmers and experimentation with new farming technologies and practices; these include ideas like shrimp farming, a plan to farm llama to create local alpaca goods, and experimentation with innovative ways of heating the greenhouses on the farmland. This agricultural testbed, facilitated by bitcoin, will serve to introduce novel farming practices around the globe.

On a typical day at Arbor Hills Farm, the chickens get fresh food and water in the morning, then fresh water and watermelon throughout the day. Fruits and vegetables for the CSA are picked and delivered throughout the week.“We provide our community with the highest quality, best tasting produce, while utilizing farming practices that improve the health of the soil and the health of the people fed,” says Katie.

As Bitcointegration works to help local restaurants accept bitcoin, these locales will be able to use their bitcoins to purchase produce from Arbor Hills.

In addition, the yoga studio where Katie teaches plans to accept bitcoins as a form of payment; many of the individuals in this yoga community are members of the CSA that will also be able to pay for their produce in bitcoins.

Finally, these bitcoins will then move from Arbor Hills Farm to Tilian Farm Development Center for the lease payment.

This effectively creates small bitcoin economies that feed into one another.

“The farm will expand in many ways next year,” concludes Dan. “The size will increase to six acres, the number of workers will increase to five with rotational intern opportunities, and educational classes will be available to the community. We also plan on increasing the livestock numbers.”

This pioneering experiment will show how cryptocurrency can transform and disintermediate the farming industry.

This micro economy can serve as a model for functions of the greater bitcoin economy, and at the local level, communities can now benefit and create new forms of wealth, health, prosperity, and innovation for themselves.

You can find more information about the Tilian Farm Program at their website here: http://tiliancenterorg.startlogic.com/about-us/farmland-history/

You can donate to this great project here, in bitcoins or fiat currency.

Original Article here: http://bitcoinmagazine.com/16135/farm-michigan-growing-local-bitcoin-economy/


MIFFS and FSEP come together to support Tilian Farm Development Center!

Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS) and the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) have come together to collaboratively support the ongoing work of the Tilian Farm Development Center. Tilian is a year-round farm, working with producers who wish to scale-up their businesses at a collective site that offers shared resources and farmer-to-farmer coaching. Learn more about Farming Centers…
Most recently, the FSEP Board and MIFFS Council have hired a new farm program manager, Stefanie T. Stauffer, PhD. Stefanie will work through August with Tilian’s current farm manager, John Ferree. Together, they will transition the management duties on the farm and the one-on-one relationships with the current four “freshman” farmers. Stefanie comes to this work with tremendous passion for local food system development as well as experience as an educator, researcher, activist, beginning farmer, and value-added producer and entrepreneur.
Over the next six months, MIFFS and FSEP will be discussing our collaborative Tilian management roles. Our common strategies to develop farm centers, such as Tilian, will enable us to expand opportunities where beginning farmers can grow their product, their businesses and themselves. Clearly, with the aging farmer population, MIFFS must engage in efforts that Support the Many Faces of beginning Farmers in our state! Stay tuned for more developments throughout the fall.

Original Article Here:

June 27th! Mechanical Advantage for Veggie Growers – Workshop June 7th, 4 PM @ Washtenaw Food Hub


Community Support Day at Whole Foods!

Shop at Whole Foods in Ann Arbor and 5% of your purchases will go to Tilian Farm Development Center!  Help support sustainable local food systems by supporting Tilian!

Sunday Dinner with Edible WOW Sunday, April 27, 2014 4:00 pm


We’re partnering up with our friends at Edible WOW magazine and James Beard award winning chef Alex Young of Zingerman’s Roadhouse for a very special Sundayafternoon dinner. Alex Young founded Zingerman’s Roadhouse as chef and managing partner. Serving really good American food, Alex is a 5-time James Beard nominated Best Chef in the Great Lakes Region, winning the title in 2011. The same year Roadhouse Macaroni and Cheese was named the Best Comfort Food in America by Alton Brown’s Food Network show “Best of.” In 2009, the Roadhouse was given the honor of being named one of the “Top 10 New Barbecue Restaurants” by Bon Appetit magazine. Alex’s passion for local agriculture and farming steered him to founding and opening Cornman Farms, what is now a 42 acre farm in Dexter, MI, eight miles from the Roadhouse. Growing more then 70 varieties of vegetables and caring for over 150 animals, Alex has made the farm-to-table dining experience come to life in Southeast Michigan. Educating the staff, the patrons, the community and local students on the importance of farming and knowing where food comes from earned Alex the honor of being one of twelve top chefs from around the country named a James Beard food activist. This dinner will benefit FSEP – Food System Economic Partnership. FSEP was established in 2005 to identify economic development opportunities and implement creative solutions to chronic issues relevant to the food system in southeast Michigan. The strength of FSEP comes from the combined effort of farm organization leaders, food industry heads, community groups, food system and economic development experts, and resource providers. The afternoon starts with wine tasting, Tapenade Canapés, and

Cheeses & Crostini

Dinner menu:

Bread & Butter
Radish Sprout and Asparagus Salad with Flax Seed Vinaigrette
Bronzed Walleye w/ Bald Mountain Mushroom-Farro Berry Risotto and a Ramp Pesto
Sur Lie Chardonnay
Sweet Cream Biscuits with Blueberries and Cream
Mood Indigo

$65 per person, includes starters, dinner, wine pairings, and donation to FSEP. Anyone attending the event will receive a special 20% discount on your wine purchase that day. The folks from Edible WOW will be on hand with lots of fabulous gift baskets that will be given away throughout the afternoon. Reservations available by calling 517.764.0679. Limited seating available.

Resources for Farmers

February 2014

Having trouble viewing this? Read it online here

In this issue

  • Upcoming eOrganic farming and research webinars
  • Organic farming and research webinars from other organizations
  • New Organic publications
  • Recent NOP news
  • eOrganic mission and resources
Upcoming eOrganic Farming and Research Webinars
Feb 25, 2014 and Feb 27, 2014 2 Part Webinar Series on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil Quality in Long-term Integrated and Transitional Reduced Tillage Organic Systems Ann-Marie Fortuna, North Dakota State University, Craig Cogger and Doug Collins, Washington State University Puyallup
March 4, 2014 Using Contans (Coniothyrium minitans) for White Mold Management on Organic Farms Webinar Alex Stone, Oregon State University
March 13, 2014 Organic Blackberry Production Webinar Bernadine Strik, Luis Valenzuela, Oregon State; David Bryla, USDA-ARS Corvallis, O
March 25, 2014 Breeding efforts and cover
crop choices for improved organic dry bean production systems in Michigan
Erin Hill and Jim Heinig, Michigan State University

Recordings of all eOrganic webinars and live conference broadcasts are available in our archive at http://www.extension.org/organic_production, and on the eOrganic YouTube channel. If you missed our live broadcast of selected presentations of the Organic Seed Growers Conference, you can find them on our YouTube channel as a playlist

Weed Management Webinars, NRCS Organic Webinars

Other organizations offering webinars on organic farming and research include the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which is holding an organic farming webinar series in partnership with Oregon Tilth. Also, the Organic Thinking group, a multi-institutional weed management research project led by Douglas Doohan of Ohio State University has organized a series of webinars on organic weed management. Find out more about these programs and register at the links below:

New Organic Publications

  • Fire Blight Control Program in Organic Fruit. Harold Ostenson, Tree Fruit Consulting and David Granatstein, Washington State University have written a report on grower lessons and emerging research for developing an integrated non-antibiotic fire blight control program in organic fruit. The publication was funded by the Organic Center and is available at this link, and it will also be published on the Organic Center website.
  • Oregon Tilth has produced a series of documents which provide technical guidance to conservation planners working with organic producers. This project is the result of a partnership between Oregon Tilth’s Organic Conservation Program, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the Xerces Society and NRCS; it is funded by a grant from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE).
    Available at: tilth.org/education-research/organic-conservation-program/wsare-project

    • Resources for Conservation Planning on Organic and Transitioning-to-Organic Operations
    • Common NRCS Practices Related to Pest Management on Organic Farms
    • Cover Crop in Organic Systems
    • Conservation Buffers in Organic Systems
    • Nutrient Management
  • The CERES Trust has issued its 2014 report on Organic Research and Outreach in the North Central Region, which identifies and catalogs organic research and outreach activities at the thirteen Land Grant Universities in the North Central Region. The report contains brief descriptions of recent and current organic research projects, peer-reviewed papers, and extension publications, dating back to 2002, when US National Organic Program (NOP) regulations took effect. In addition, the report lists key contact people and describes academic courses, degree programs, and hands-on learning opportunities, such as student organic farms, and gives the number of acres and animals used for organic research in each state. Read and download the report at http://cerestrust.org/organic-research-outreach-north-central-feb-2014/

Recent National Organic Program News

Who Needs to Be Certified Organic

The NOP has released a new instruction on who needs to be certified organic to remind certifiers that organic agricultural products must be produced and handled exclusively at certified organic farms and handling operations to ensure organic integrity throughout the product’s lifecycle. The new instruction can be found here: NOP 409: Who needs to be certified and Questions and Answers

Apply for Improved Crop Insurance by March 15

Federal crop insurance provides the risk management tools necessary for American farmers to protect themselves against unexpected difficult years. To better support the growing organic agriculture sector, USDA’s Risk Management Agency has taken steps to offer more options for organic producers under the Federal crop insurance program for the 2014 crop year:

  • Elimination of 5 percent surcharge for all crops insured under organic farming practices.
  • Organic price elections for 8 additional crops (now 16 total): oats, peppermint, apricots, apples, blueberries, almonds, pears, and grapes for juice.
  • New contract price option for organic producers who grow crops under guaranteed contracts (available for 62 organic crops).
  • Phased in changes to organic transitional yields (t-yields) to better reflect the actual organic farming experience.

Learn More + Apply

Deadline for Most Programs is March 15, 2014. The sales closing date is the last day to buy a new policy or change an existing policy’s coverage level. For most crops, the sales closing date is March 15, 2014. View Deadlines in Your State

Subscribe to the NOP Organic Insider to stay current on NOP news and activities. To find out more about the NOP, go to the NOP Homepage, the Organic Literacy Initiative, and the Organic Agriculture Web Resource Center on the USDA website.

eOrganic Mission

eOrganic is a web community where organic agriculture farmers, researchers, and educators network; exchange objective, research- and experience-based information; learn together; and communicate regionally, nationally, and internationally. If you have expertise in organic agriculture and would like to develop U.S. certified organic agriculture information, join us at http://eorganic.info.

eOrganic Resources

Find all eOrganic articles, videos and webinars at http://extension.org/organic_production

Connect with eOrganic on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Have a question about organic farming? Use the eXtension Ask an Expert service to connect with the eOrganic community!

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