Maynard Kaufman, founding father and tireless supporter of MOFFA, passed away on July 11, 2021. He was 92. He leaves behind his wife Barbara Geisler and sons Karl Kaufman, Jon Towne, and Conrad Kaufman.
Maynard Lee Kaufman was born on February 6, 1929 and raised on a small farm in a Mennonite community near Freeman, South Dakota. Although he cherished many cultural aspects of his religious background, he did very little to practice it or pass it on. He did, however, affirm and respond to its moral and ethnic values.
He was the second of six siblings: Lorraine Ortman, Alice Suderman, Anette Eisenbeis, Lawrence (deceased) and Roy. His education in a one-room country school and in a Mennonite high school and colleges was minimal but adequate for him to maintain an excellent record at the University of Chicago where he received a Ph.D. from the Divinity School. After graduate school he taught in the Religion Department at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Although he began teaching courses on Religion and Literature, he ended as Associate Professor of Religion and Environmental Studies, an interdisciplinary program he helped to organize. He retired from teaching in 1986.
Maynard was married three times. His first marriage was with Marian Kleinsasser in 1951, and they were divorced in Chicago in 1961. They had one son, Karl Morgan Kaufman, born in 1958. In 1962 Maynard married Sally Wright Towne and became a step-father to the three children she brought into that relationship, Mary Michal (deceased), Jonathan and Nathan Towne. Before she died in 1990, they had two sons, Conrad Wright Kaufman in 1963 and Adrian Lee Kaufman in 1966, who died November 29, 2019. After Sally died he and Barbara Geisler were married in 1991.
Very early in his teaching career in 1963 Maynard took his family to live on a small farm near the city of Kalamazoo. This kind of living arrangement may have been an attempt to recover the joy of a childhood on a small farm and it was decisive in shaping the direction of his career. At a time when his departmental colleagues asked him to accept the chair of the department, Maynard decided to start a School of Homesteading instead. This was in 1972, when the first energy crisis was perceived as a threat to the basis of industrial society and many people were moving back to the land.
In order to conduct a School of Homesteading Maynard sought and received a half-time leave of absence from classroom teaching, at half of his regular salary. In 1972 he also moved his family to a 160 acre farm he purchased near Bangor, Michigan which was suitable for a residential learning facility. He had lived on this land since then. His work at the school led to working with other organic farmers and eventually Maynard was recognized as a leader in the organic farming movement in Michigan. He was co-organizer of Michigan Land Trustees in 1976 and organized a state-wide group, Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance in 1991. In 2003 he organized the first organic harvest festival in Southwest Michigan.
In 2000 Maynard and Barbara began building a house they called Sunflower on a part of their land. It was totally dependent on renewable energy for heat and electricity. This allowed for the sale of other parts of their land and buildings to three different organic farmers and retirement from the more onerous farm activities. During this time Maynard published a book, Adapting to the End of Oil: Toward an Earth-Centered Spirituality. He also published several articles on agrarian issues in the context of the end of oil and global warming. In 2008 he ended his work with the Green Politics movement and organized local groups of the Transition Towns Initiative which was designed to help people recognize the threats of peak oil and global warming and prepare for them. He considered these activities as a continuation of his work on homesteading and organic farming. He self-published Autobiographical Fragments in 2011 which includes records of his thoughts and activities.
In 2017 a book he co-edited, The Organic Movement in Michigan, was published. This was followed in 2018 with his Memoir, From James Joyce to Organic Farming; in 2019 with his Collected Agrarian Writings; and in 2021 with Evolution of a Post-Christian Theology, a selection of his theological works.
Although Maynard often worried about whether his farming activities distracted him from achieving his academic potential, he ended up feeling he had done the right thing in the face of the hard times that are coming at the end of cheap oil and the beginnings of climate change. Beyond this, he ended up satisfied that he had done what he enjoyed. The main regret he had in his final years was the fact that he could not live the life he had chosen over again.
Maynard departed this life on July 11, 2021. He has asked that any memorial donations be directed to the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA).
A Farewell to Ivan Morley
by Vicki Morrone
Many of you may have known Ivan Morley, an ambitious organic field crop farmer from Standish, Michigan. He passed away August 31, 2015, at age 71, at his home in Standish with his wife Diane and other family members by his side. He was a fun loving guy and took great pride in his crop yields, often surpassing his conventional neighbors. He will be missed by all of us for his ideas, energy, wit, and of course strong opinions. You could count on Ivan to always cut to the chase when he had a position about anything, whether it was farming, the government, Michigan State University, or the color of the walls!
I got to know Ivan when I rounded up him and two other organic farmers to be part of a Farmer/Rancher SARE grant to test organic soybean and corn varieties. A few years later I asked him to give a talk at the Organic Reporting Session, an annual program that shares research that relates to Michigan organic production. He gave a talk that I will not forget, expressing how he managed the medium red clover, often called Michigan red clover. Of course when I asked if he wanted any help to put it together, I expected to get an email. Well emails were not his thing. If he needed help he may call you, but I didn’t count on it so I persisted to call him until I was lucky enough to get him, often on the combine when neither of us could hear one another. His presentation was all written out by hand, probably on his grandkids' school paper. He shared a good account of building his soil and how “hurting” the clover in the winter allowed him to get it incorporated sooner in the spring, as soon as Mother Nature would let him get on the field.
So Ivan created a fun memory for me as a rabble rouser, always game for a lively conversation and a chance to share his passion for his farming, his family and for Michigan State University. He was a graduate from MSU’s Agriculture Short Course and was very proud to be an alumnus of the home of the Spartans.
Lloyd Hammond was born in St. Johns, Michigan, October 24,
1927. He died December 26, 2012, at age 85, in Traverse City, MI. His wife, three children, 9 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren survive him.
After graduation from high school in 1945, Lloyd attended Michigan State University as an agricultural student. At the same time he began his career as a farmer. He married in 1948 and in 1958 he bought a large farm north of East Lansing, farming there until the mid 1980s.
Lloyd was awarded the honor of Onion King in 1960, and he was runner-up for this category in several other years. This award was given to the grower who produced the most onions per acre nationwide. He was also recognized for his production of carrots, radishes, and potatoes he grew for Campbell's and Heinz. His produce was also sold at farm markets throughout mid-Michigan.
Susan Houghton, Organic Farmer and True Innovator
It is with great sadness that I share this news. Our friend, Susan Houghton shared her life with many of us, teaching, organizing and innovating. She was one of the very early adopters of hoophouses. Below is her obituary and note that memorial donations are being accepted by Giving Tree Farm in Lansing, where she developed a program of vegetable, herb and flower production that aided (and still does today) persons who were impacted by an injury and then need assistance to regain occupational skills. Not only did she develop a profitable organic produce business but also served many persons with the opportunity to engage in the healing virtues of growing food while they grew in confidence and ability. I will miss Susan—her wisdom, enthusiasm and sense of adventure.
Sturgis Journal, 15 May 2012
Susan Houghton, 69, of White Pigeon passed away at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, May 13, 2012, at her home, surrounded by her family.
She was born May 17, 1942, in North Canton, Ohio, to Arthur James and Rosemary (Garrison) Shahan.
She is survived by her children, Carla Bordine of White Pigeon, Cynthia Ernst of Decatur, James Houghton of Sturgis, William Houghton of Goshen, Ind., and Cathy Houghton of Three Rivers. Also surviving are 15 grandchildren, Michael Warren of Kalamazoo, Samantha Plank of Constantine, Brandi Clewell of South Bend, Ind., Shannon Clewell of Auburn, Ind., Christopher Houghton of Decatur, Amanda Houghton and Mark Houghton, both of Middlebury, Ind., Laura Workman, Jacob Houghton and Kelsey Houghton all of Goshen, Aiden Houghton of Ohio, Scott Fox of Kalamazoo, Reggie and Nathan Jones of Three Rivers and Cassie Crill of Canton. She is also survived by 15 great-grandchildren; a sister, Rosemary Shahan of Davis, Calif.; and two brothers, John Shahan of Claremont, Calif., and Arthur Shahan of Norco, Calif. Susan was preceded in death by her parents.
She loved gardening, fishing and spending time with her family and friends.
Memorials for Susan may be given to The Giving Tree in Lansing.