Dan Bewersdorff is the Organic Grain Program Director at Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, MI. Originally from Michigan’s Thumb, Dan spent his first career in a family meat packing business and later moved his focus to conservation and environmental issues working with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs in the mid-90s. This involvement let to an unsuccessful but rewarding State Senate candidacy in the 1998 election cycle. He began his career in organic agriculture with the Organic Farmers of Michigan in 1999 as an assistant marketer. “I didn’t know a soybean from a navy bean when I started but I had a sincere interest in organic agriculture,” he stated. In the early 2000s he joined the SunOpta Food and Grains Group as the Great Lakes Regional Grain Procurement Specialist, working with growers in Michigan, Ontario and throughout the mid-west marketing organic and Non-GMO grains domestically and internationally. He joined Herbruck’s in 2012. Dan received his BA in Public Relations from Wayne State University in 1994. He joined the MOFFA board in 2014.
Dr. John Biernbaum is Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University. He currently teaches courses in organic farming principles and practices, passive solar greenhouses for protected cultivation, compost production and use, and organic transplant production. John does outreach on year-round diversified organic farming, high tunnels, and composting for small-scale farmers and urban agriculture. Since 2010 his research has been related to working with MSU Residential and Hospitality Services and the MSU Recycling Center and Surplus Store to compost and vermicompost preconsumer kitchen preparation food scraps year round. He joined the Board in 2009 and served as Chair 2016-2017. He continues to serve as chair of the Education committee.
John Hooper After graduation from Central Michigan U. with a B.S. in Ed. (Biology, Sociology), John had a brief stint as teacher for the Detroit Public Schools before spending the next few years traveling the globe. The next decade, spent primarily in Washington State, was committed to a partnership in Upper Valley Reforestation, a LLC devoted to work in the Cascade Range restoring plant and animal habitat after extensive logging operations; while simultaneously operating as an independent contractor in the orchards of the Wenatchee Valley. For 20 plus years John was Senior Manager of Living Foods Inc. in Ionia, Michigan, one of the nations largest purveyors of hydroponic sprouts and one of Michigan's first large scale greenhouse herb producers. After a few years studying landscape architecture in eastern Pennsylvania, John accepted the position of Manager of the Lansing City Market. Currently John is devoting his energies to local non-profits and cooperatives focused on equitable food distribution and food justice. For 40 years an advocate and practitioner of the organic method of food production John's special concerns involve the benefit of a better life experience for all through proper and wholesome nutrition. He joined the Board in 2009, served as Chair from 2011 through 2015, and is our current Secretary.
John Edgerton joined Harvest of Joy Farm in west central Michigan in 2013. His forty years of growing experience includes market gardens, preservation gardens, and community gardens. He's passionate about preserving the diversity and deliciousness of our vegetable heritage and saving seeds from heirloom varieties that grow particularly well in Southwest Michigan. His current interests include trials of small grains, including rice, which are adapted to Michigan growing conditions. He was elected to the Board in November, 2017.
Emily Nicholls served for seven years as Farm Manager of CBI's Giving Tree Farm, a certified organic diversified vegetable farm in Lansing, Michigan. The farm provides vocational training for people with traumatic brain injuries and markets its produce through a CSA, local farmer's markets, and numerous wholesale and restaurant accounts. While at Giving Tree, in addition to maintaining organic certification, Emily enrolled in several NRCS programs, became MAEAP certified, and was Conservationist of the Year for Clinton County in 2013. Before moving to Michigan, Emily volunteered, interned and worked on several large and small vegetable farms in California, Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. She has a BA in Anthropology from Grinnell College in Iowa and a Master's degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois. She also owns a certified organic coffee roasting company with her husband, Rust Belt Roastery, the only wood-fired coffee roaster in the midwest. She is very excited to join MOFFA's mission to promote healthy, sustainable and just food systems in Michigan. Emily joined the board in 2016 and was elected Chair in April, 2018.
Dan Rossman was raised on a cash crop family farm in Montcalm County. He graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Crop and Soil Science and a Masters degree in Education. Dan completed a 34 year career with Michigan State University Extension as field crops agricultural extension educator and retired in 2014. As an extension educator he was a member of the MSU Extension Field Crops team and is a counselor for the MSU Product Center. Since 1995 he had been actively assisting organic farmers by conducting on farm research, organizing field days, facilitating workshops, and counseling individuals. He is now an organic farm inspector. His family’s farm has been certified organic since 2002. Dan joined the board in 2015 and served as Vice-Chair from December 2015 through March 2018.
Jessie Smith grew up on a small farm in Barry County, Michigan called Nodding Thistle. She attended Michigan State University and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Crop and Soil Sciences and a Masters in Entomology, studying nematode community structure with Dr. George Bird. The family farm was certified organic by the Organic Growers of Michigan and the OEFFA from 1984-2009. Centered around a 4-5 acre mixed vegetable garden, the farm is also home to an egg laying flock of chickens and a small beef/dairy herd. The vegetables and eggs are sold at local farmers’ markets and to local businesses. There are also several small fields that grow small grains and hay to feed the livestock. In addition to working on the farm Jessie is also writing articles for agricultural publications and recently coauthored a chapter for The Organic Movement in Michigan with her sister, Leah Smith. Jessie joined the board in June of 2017 and was elected Vice-Chair in April, 2018.
Julie Studier and husband Michael bought the last 16 acres of Tower Hill Farm in Sodus in December 2006, which included 6-1/2 acres of apples. Over the next five years, the overgrown orchard was topped and pruned, while transitioning it and surrounding acres to organic and becoming certified in 2010. "Help from MSU’s Extension and Research station in Benton Harbor taught us many things and helped connect us to NRCS, MAEAP, MIFFS and MOFFA. Through NRCS and MAEAP’s conservation and environmental programs, we learned the importance of being organic. Today, we also have a two-acre vegetable plot including hoophouse for extended season growing, one acre of blueberries, and have replaced 1/3 of the orchard with new varieties of apple trees with more resistant rootstock. Finding a Michigan organic group, MOFFA, was a huge boost to our education as new farmers. In 2013 we finally produced eating apples in addition to cider apples. I bring to MOFFA optimistic enthusiasm and look forward to working with and learning from this esteemed group." Julie joined the board in 2014 and served as Secretary 2016-2017.
Dane Terrill joined the board as an advocate for providing non-toxic environments for kids and pets to play on, and to grow healthy nutrient dense food. His work supports his advocacy as he is the Director of Sales/Marketing and Soil Consultant for Crop Services International (CSI) and Flowerfield Enterprises (FE) in Portage, MI. FE is a leader in the small scale vermicomposting industry, and for the last ten years Dane was employed to develop a compost tea program. He attended the Sustainable Studies Institute in Corvallis, OR to study compost, compost tea/extracts, soil biology and direct microscopy methods. With his previous experience designing and maintaining an environmentally-friendly golf course, what evolved was an organic lawn care business that brews and applies compost teas to residential yards, gardens and athletic fields eliminating the need for toxic rescue chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. The interest in compost tea and soil biology from a few local farmers prompted Dane to seek out a strategic partnership with CSI, a soil testing, consulting and product brokerage business started by Dr. Phil Wheeler. This success of this relationship blossomed to the point that Dane brought both businesses under one roof in July 2014. Utilizing the concepts of balancing minerals and bio-activating microbes, he and the staff at CSI/FE specialize in the education and transition of farmers, gardeners and landscape professionals to more sustainable, biological, and organic paradigms. Dane is an avid golfer and fisherman and raises vegetables in his hoop-house and raised bed gardens. He joined the board in 2012 and has served as Treasurer since 2015.
Please join us!
MOFFA members are welcome at any board meeting during the year. if you're interested in joining us please email us at email@example.com. Currently meetings are planned for the following dates, but the dates may change depending on external factors, so be sure to contact us to confirm meeting dates, times, and locations.
- February 26 by conference call
- April 9, in person, likely in Lansing
- June 4, by conference call
- July 28 (?) - planning session and picnic
- September 10 by conference call
- October 22, in person, likely somewhere in Southwest Michigan
- December 3, by conference call