April 7, 2017
The Michigan Farmers Market Association is celebrating its 10th birthday April 20. Since 2001, MIFMA has grown from 90 markets to over 300 across the state.
Through donations, MIFMA hopes to celebrate with parties across the state this spring. More information is on its website.
Over the past 10 years, MIFMA has helped make Michigan a national leader in the acceptance of SNAP benefits and pilot the use of incentive programs for food assistance benefits at farmers markets. MIFMA also introduced the first certificate program in the country to train farmers market managers.
As the organization has grown, its programs have expanded. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MIFMA launched a loan program to extend the growing season while connecting farmers with vulnerable families. This initiative, called Hoophouses for Health, allows farmers to purchase a passive solar greenhouse and pay back the loan by issuing coupons for their fresh produce to low-income families with young children.
The organization recently held the annual Michigan Farmers Market Conference with participants from as far away as Menominee. During the conference, Susan Smalley, Jim Bingen and Dan Keane discussed the origins of the organization. They recognized that farmers markets were serving a unique role in communities and decided that a statewide organization could better support and advocate for these community institutions. They also hired the first and only executive director, Dru Montri, who has grown the organization’s staff and membership in the last 10 years.
Michigan State University Extension and the Community Food Systems team of MSUE work to support the work of MIFMA by hosting webinars, providing technical support and sponsoring events.
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