Michigan Farmers Market Association to celebrate 10 years with birthday parties across the state
Celebrating 10 years of growth and achievement.
The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) is celebrating their tenth birthday on April 20, 2017 to promote their mission to “Work with and for farmers market organizers, managers, farmers, vendors, and friends to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products.”
When the organization was founded market managers didn’t have an official way to connect with each other and since 2001, MIFMA has grown from 90 markets to over 300 across the state. Over the past ten years, MIFMA has helped to make Michigan a national leader in acceptance of SNAP benefits and helped to 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, their programs have expanded as well. With support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MIFMA has launched a loan program to encourage season extension 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 just held the annual Michigan Farmers Market Conference with participants from as far away as Menominee. During the conference, a group who assisted with the founding, Susan Smalley, Dr. Jim Bingen and Dan Keane, was part of a panel discussing 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, PhD, 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 works to support the work of MIFMA by hosting webinars, providing technical support and sponsorship of events. We are proud of our continuing partnership with this valuable organization. There will be birthday parties across the state this spring to celebrate with cake or pie – look for more information on the MIFMA website or their Facebook page.