Tilian Farm Development Center

facilitating year round farm development in Ann Arbor

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.


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

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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!

1/4 Acre Incubator Program

quarter acre flyer copy 1/4 Acre Incubator ProgramThe ¼ Acre Incubator Program encourages beginning farmers with access to land, educational opportunities, production assistance, and marketing help while they start their own farm enterprises on a limited acreage. Tilian provides the opportunity for beginning farmers to take their dreams and make them realities. The smaller program provides start-up experience to new farmers, and after demonstrated proficiency, farmers may successfully apply to the larger farm incubator program.

What Tilian Provides

  • Access to land, irrigation, technical assistance, training, and equipment
  • Growing supplies that include fertility, transplant production space and optional hoophouse space
  • Educational opportunities through mentoring and workshops
  • Assistance with marketing

What the Farmers Provide

  • Energy, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn while working to build their own businesses
  • Vision that can be translated into a plan, and then a productive season
  • Demonstrated knowledge in the agricultural products they wish to produce
  • Small-scale capital for basic supplies including seed, irrigation lines, hand tools, and harvest containers

The ¼ 1/4 Acre Incubator Program Acre Incubator Program Serves

  • Urban and SPIN Farmers
  • Farmers who wish to implement intensive, small acreage models
  • Farmers who want to gain experience, but who lack farm management experience

Nuts and Bolts

The beginning farmers in the ¼ acre program will receive compost and fertilizer, cold storage, and potential access to 720 sf of hoophouse space. Tilian will provide all necessary tractor work including tilling, and mowing. ¼ acre incubators will have access to a walk behind tiller for their purposes @ $10 an hour. Educational opportunities include twice monthly workshops, access to the program manager for mentoring and problem solving. 

How to Get Started

If you are interested in joining the Tilian Farm as a farmer for the 2014 season, please fill out an application. Also, download and review the program manual for more detailed information about the program.

1/4 Acre Program Manual

Application – PDFDOC


Seeking Farmers for 2014!

 Seeking Farmers for 2014!Tilian Farm Development Center is currently seeking potential and beginning farmers for the coming season!

The program encourages beginning farmers with access to land, educational opportunities, production training, and marketing possibilities.  Tilian provides the opportunity for beginning farmers to take their dreams and make them a reality.

What Tilian Provides

  • Access to land
  • Technical assistance for farmers on their business and production plans
  • Help ordering seeds, equipment and supplies
  • Farmer training
  • Assistance getting insurance
  • Equipment, irrigation, hoop houses, heated greenhouse space

How it Works

  • Farmers at Tilian have at least three years to get their operations up and running before transitioning to an independent farm.
  • What is grown at the Tilian Farm belongs to the farmer.  We provide assistance in finding retail and wholesale markets.

What the Farmers Provide

    • Energy, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn while working to build their own businesses
    • Vision that can be translated into a plan, and then a working farm
    • Enough capital to get their farms started

How to Get Started

If you are interested in joining the Tilian Farm as a farmer for the 2014 season, please fill out an application.  Also, download and review the program manual for more detailed information about the program.  Please submit an application.

2014 Application:

Feel free to contact our program manager with any questions.

MSU Farm Succession Study & FSEP Farmer Survey

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) announces the release of The Michigan Farm Succession Study: Findings and Implications, produced by Steven Miller, with the Center for Economic Analysis at MSU, and Susan Cocciarelli, of CRFS. The first of its kind in Michigan, this report details findings about Michigan farm operations and farmers’ retirement and succession plans.  With over 750 Michigan farmers responding to the 2011 survey, the report provides information useful to those working to maintain farming livelihoods and Michigan’s prominent role in the country’s food production.  It also confirms a sense of urgency to answering the question of who will farm in Michigan in the coming years.  The report is available here.

On a related note, FSEP distributed, collected and aggregated this survey to Michigan farmers.   Check it out!

Tilian Autumn Update & October Open House

There is a chill in the air. Pumpkins are peering out from under wide heirloom cucurbit leaves and there is a new-found hum of quiet in the fields.

Seeley Farm has stretched plastic over a quick hoop house in the middle of their plot, transitioning from the shade cloth that kept lettuces alive in the summer heat. Change is the season, and along with reds and greens accenting the treeline along Warren Road, so are two farms who will be moving from 4400 Pontiac Trail to soil they are enriching across the road behind Tilian.  Mark & Alex of Seeley Farm are covering fields on the acres they  leasing with crops that will nourish the soil when tilled under come Spring.

Green Things farmers, Nathan & Jillian Lada are stretching their fingers into the soil of two farms as well, building storage and gaining access to water and electricity at their farm’s new home at the corner of Warren and Nixon Roads, while still growing Fall favorites for CSA members at Tilian. This is the busiest they have ever been as farmers: building their dream farm and maintaining their accounts and relationships established in their first growing season.

Deepening his roots as the call of Winter whistles through the frosty mornings, Bill Bass of Honest Eats Farm is expanding his volunteer base and increasing opportunity for a beautifully successful second season. He is preparing a 30′ x 144′ hoop house, built in the Spring, to fill with winter greens, primarily Spinach, and doling out the last of his hearty 2-handful red-yellow-orange patterned tomatoes.

Tilian’s Residency Farm’s expanse holds the attention of the onlooker as does the natural beauty of our favorite Pickerel Lake or the calm of the Leslie Park woods down the road. Brick-red okra edged with lime and olive, brassica leaves standing tall and reaching out to capture the shortened days’ sun reflect the dedication of the farmers crouching in the rows weeding, and harvesting, who from a distance are like flowers themselves, blessing the future food with tender care and love. The CSA distribution fills the barn on Thursday evenings, and children help their parents by selecting a favorite sweet red pepper and  recalling the warming of the chamomile tea made from the fresh white petaled flowers the week before.

On Sunday, October 7, from 1-4PM, at our Fall Open House, you can witness the serenity of summer fruits to the brisk call of cool that brings forth sweet kales and scrumptious squashes. You can walk the rows of the flowering farmer, and peak in the houses stretched with plastic and warming winter opportunities. We look forward to seeing you there!

Bring a few dollars, we hope to have some produce for sale, so you can make your memories last through suppertime, if not longer:)

tilianopenhouse 10 7 12 Tilian Autumn Update & October Open House

Bending Sickle Community Farm, settling in Stockbridge, MI continues to serve the Ann Arbor Community. Be sure to “Like” them on Facebook, and sign up for a winter share (which begins in January 2013), at bendingsicklecommunityfarm.com



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