MOFFA Board Members

 

 

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 on two separate ballet proposals 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 the 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.
 

photo of John Biernbaum Dr. John Biernbaum is Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University.  He teaches courses in greenhouse management, passive solar greenhouses for protected cultivation, organic farming principles and practices, compost production and use, culinary and medicinal herbs, organic certification, and organic transplant production.  John has worked with students and colleagues to start and develop the MSU Student Organic Farm and the Organic Farming Certificate Program that operate a 48-week CSA program, a 6-month campus farm stand and provide salad greens for campus using passive solar greenhouses and cold storage methods. He does research and outreach on year-round diversified organic farming for small scale farmers, urban agriculture, community and school gardening programs.  He joined the Board in 2009 and was elected Chair in December 2015.


photo of John Hooper 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 Mi., 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 as 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.


photo of Vicki Morrone Vicki Morrone is an outreach specialist for organic vegetable and field crop systems at Michigan State University. She is a member of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems since 2005, connecting her to organic farmers and food systems of Michigan. Her work includes on farm research, speaking with farmers to assist with transition to organic and more sustainable farming and provide educational programs and documents to assist new and experienced farmers implement a more productive and sustainable farm plan. Vicki has gained her agriculture knowledge through a broad range of experiences including servingas a volunteer in Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa working on rain-fed systems and pest management, teaching and working with communities in Malawi, SE Africa and assisting with on-farm research on organic tomato systems while taking classes at UC Davis, California in the plant protection pest management. Despite her professional life revolving around agriculture, she still loves to garden with her partner, 2 daughters, and protected by 2 rambunctious Australian Shepherds. Her annual goal in the garden is to grow enough tomatoes, onions and garlic to can enough spaghetti sauce to last the family throughout the year. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Delaware in Plant Science and a Master of Science degree in Plant Pathology from The Pennsylvania State University.  Vicki joined the MOFFA Board in 2009.


photo of Amy Newday in hoophouseAmy Newday grew up milking cows on a family-run dairy farm in Southwestern Michigan. After earning a BA in Biology and English from Adrian College and an MFA in poetry from Western Michigan University, she returned to her family’s farmland to start Harvest of Joy Farm LLC, a diversified vegetable CSA committed to organic growing practices which she runs with her partner John Edgerton. She’s especially interested in exploring ways that organic agriculture can deepen relationships between people and the biotic communities that sustain them. When she’s not farming, Amy teaches and directs the writing center at Kalamazoo College.  Amy joined the board in June, 2016.




photo of Emily NichollsEmily Nicholls is presently in her sixth year 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.  Emily volunteered, interned and worked on several large and small vegetable farms in California, Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota before relocating to Michigan.  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 June, 2016.


photo of Dan Rossman 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 Crops 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 currently serves as Vice-Chair.




photo of Emily Shettler Emily Shettler is the Procurement Specialist in the mid-eastern / Canadian regions for SunOpta Grains and Foods Group. She and her husband, along with their two children, run a cash crop farm in Bancroft Michigan. They bought their first 60 acre farm over ten years ago and have been increasing acres ever since.  With a passion for wellness and sustainable agriculture they decided to transition their first piece of land into organic in 2012.  Currently half of their acres have been transitioned into organics with additional acres being transitioned every year. Emily graduated with honors from Lansing Community College in 2012 and is currently finishing her BA in Human Resource Management from Ferris State University. She proudly supports 4H and FFA, and realizes the importance of preserving the land for future generations. Emily was elected to the board in 2016.



 

photo of Jessie SmithJessie Smith grew up on a small farm in Barry County, Michigan called Nodding Thistle.  She attended Michigan State University and completed a Bachelors of Science in Crop and Soil Sciences and a Masters in Entomology where she studied 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.

 

photo of Julie Studier 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.


photo of Dane Terrill 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.


photo of Collin ThompsonCollin Thompson is a Community Food Systems Educator for Michigan State University Extension. He manages the MSU North Farm, a certified organic education, research, and production farm located in the central Upper Peninsula. He works to identify preferred production methods in the challenging UP climate through production and research of vegetables, fruits, and small grains. His background is in season extension technologies and organic production systems, allowing him to explore farm viability in northern climates through winter production and market extension with cold storage. He holds a degree in biology from Luther College in Decorah, IA and a Masters in sustainable food systems from Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT.  Collin was elected to the board in June, 2017.

 


Please join us!

MOFFA members are welcome at any board meeting during the year.  Our tentative schedule for 2017 is below, but if you're interested in joining us please email us at moffaorganic@gmail.com.  Meetings are sometimes rescheduled due to schedule conflicts.

Tuesday, November 2nd, face to face in Kalamazoo
Tuesday, December 5th, by conference call

The time of the meeting varies with the agricultural year; in winter it tends to be in the late afternoon; in summer it's more likely to start at 7:00 pm or later.  Check with us near the date of the meeting for the time and location details.