Upper Peninsula Food Exchange
e-Newsletter - The Plowshare
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A Letter from Michelle Walk -
UPFE Co-Lead

Dear Plowshare Readers:

I would like to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to Natasha Lantz as she leaves her role with the U.P. Food Exchange.  For those that aren’t aware, she left the Marquette Food Co-op in early October to pursue other interests.  The two of us together, along with many other individuals and partner organizations, have worked to build what UPFE is today and continue to work in supporting community food system work through our respective roles.  The Marquette Food Co-op is committed to continuing to support a lot of the back end functions of UPFE, including the online marketplace, the website and our monthly newsletter, The Plowshare. Event and workshop coordination will be handled more by MSU Extension.  At least in the short term, I will likely play a larger role as a point of contact, but the contact number at the Co-op for UPFE will continue to be active.  Sarah Monte, who many of you are already familiar with, will be taking leadership of the Outreach Department at the Co-op.  Look for more information in future issues of the Plowshare regarding how we will be moving specific projects forward.  For now, please feel free to contact Sarah or myself if you have questions.  As we wish Natasha well in whatever she does next, we are also looking forward to what is next for UPFE.

Michelle Walk


USDA Loans for Portable Farm Storage and Handling Equipment 

Portable Equipment Can Help Producers, including Small-Scale and Local Farmers, Get Products to Market Quickly

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide a new financing option to help farmers purchase portable storage and handling equipment. The loans, which now include a smaller microloan option with lower down payments, are designed to help producers, including new, small and mid-sized producers, grow their businesses and markets.
The program also offers a new “microloan” option, which allows applicants seeking less than $50,000 to qualify for a reduced down payment of five percent and no requirement to provide three years of production history. Farms and ranches of all sizes are eligible. The microloan option is expected to be of particular benefit to smaller farms and ranches, and specialty crop producers who may not have access to commercial storage or on-farm storage after harvest. These producers can invest in equipment like conveyers, scales or refrigeration units and trucks that can store commodities before delivering them to markets. Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply.
Earlier this year, FSA significantly expanded the list of commodities eligible for Farm Storage Facility Loan. Eligible commodities now include aquaculture; floriculture; fruits (including nuts) and vegetables; corn, grain sorghum, rice, oilseeds, oats, wheat, triticale, spelt, buckwheat, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas, sugar, peanuts, barley, rye, hay, honey, hops, maple sap, unprocessed meat and poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and renewable biomass. FSFL microloans can also be used to finance wash and pack equipment used post-harvest, before a commodity is placed in cold storage.
To learn more about Farm Storage Facility Loans, visit or contact a local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visit

Making It In Michigan 2016 

Conference and Marketplace Trade Show 
Wednesday, November 16th at the Lansing Center

The 2016 Educational Sessions will feature leading experts, retailers and successful entrepreneurs that will be covering the following subjects:

Starting Your Business
• Regulatory and licensing for the beginning food entrepreneur
• Farmers markets – what do they offer to my business
• Preparing for sound record keeping
• Keys to FSMA compliance in putting together a food safety plan
• Branding your product and marketing your image

Growing Your Business
• Making sense of social media and other communication innovations jargon
• Becoming retailer savvy to meet customer needs
• Financing beyond the bank loan – alternative choices

The Mature Business
• Determining if imports and exports will be a good fit for your food business
• Navigating legal issues in hiring employees

Follow this link for more details and to register.

Seasons of the UP

A Family Nutrition Exploration
November 19th in Brimley

Join MSU Extension nutrition educators and local wild food experts in this foraged food adventure. Featuring seasonal topic and location-specific food.  For more detailed information or to register contact the Mackinac County MSUE Office at (906) 643-7307 or email

Swine Expert Offers Veterinary Answers

Dr. Madonna Benjamin from MSU-CVM along with MSU Pork extension team is willing to make a trip North in November if they can find 10 swine invested parties.  Time and location TBD based on interest.  If you or someone you know is looking for information on: basic pig ownership, vaccinations, when to call the vet, etc. please email or call (906) 341-2813.

MSU North Farm Seeking Apprentice Farmers

The Michigan State University North Farm is an education, research, and production farm located in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula. The goal of The North Farm is to promote sustainable agricultural practices to ensure a robust food system in and around the UP. We utilize organic production practices, emphasize food safety, and work to grow in our challenging northern climate. We are dedicated to providing the training opportunities and resources necessary to help beginning farmers realize their farm dreams. 

Apprentice Farmer Program Description:
The Apprentice Farmer Program is a farm incubator program that aims to serve as the launching point for individuals interested in starting their own farming enterprise. This two-year, residential program provides farming entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and assistance needed to ensure a solid start to their farming career. 

Land, equipment, tools, and mentorship are provided to qualified applicants so they can develop a business plan, establish accounts, build capital, and fine-tune skills. The farmers will grow alongside the talented North Farm staff and other farmers, sharing ideas, techniques, and labor.

Program runs for two growing seasons, beginning in March. 
Apprentice Farmers Will Receive:
  • Access to organically managed land – 1/4 acre plot for the first year, 1/2 acre for the second year.
  • Access to shared infrastructure – storage space, walk-in cooler, root cellar, hoophouse space, washing/packing shed
  • Access to equipment and tools
  • Mentorship from the North Farm staff and other stakeholders
  • Opportunities to network with other area growers and food enthusiasts
  • Opportunities to participate in competency-based workshops and trainings
  • Optional housing at the North Farm
  • Assistance in developing a transition plan off the North Farm after the two-year program
Cost of Participation
  • $700 per growing season for land and resources.
  • Optional on-farm housing provided at $175 per month.
  • Optional custom tractor work as needed is also available for a small fee.
For more information, please visit:

Central Food Hub Upcoming Meetings

UPFE Policy Committee Meeting

Tuesday, November 1st at 9:00 am at MFC Classroom

The group meets the first Tuesday of every month in MFC Classroom
Contact Sarah Monte for more information at or (906) 225-0671 x 723

Western Food Hub Upcoming Meetings

WUP Food Hub Steering Committee

Meetings are held at the Hancock Health Department, 540 Depot Street, behind McGanns Hardware.  Contact Ray Sharp at (906) 482-7382 x 163 for more information.


Eastern Food Hub Upcoming Meetings

EUP Food Hub Steering Committee

Third Wednesday of every month
Contact Michelle Walk at or (906) 6368 or Heather Hemming at for more information.

More to read. . .

Check out UPREC's monthly newsletter here

Check out MFC's newsletter here

Check out UPFE's website here

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