Strengthening the Connection between Farm and Community, Urban and Rural

By Dennis Archambault

Credit Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities in Traverse City for fostering the vision and advocacy to create a healthier environment based in the preservation and distribution of locally grown food. Authority Health and the MOTION Coalition supported its “10 Cents a Meal” program, which began as a way of incentivizing school systems to purchase Michigan produce. Schools receive financial support from the state to buy locally sourced produce: a win-win for child nutrition and the farm economy. In urban Detroit, where small-scale growers are struggling to achieve sustainability, this offered an additional market for their goods.

The nearly 30-year legacy of Groundwork, featured in a book entitled,  Shared Abundance, inspired the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to create a “Farm to Family” program. Gov. Whitmer has proposed $4 million in the fiscal 2025-26 budget to fund this initiative which will “support regenerative farming, agriculture supply chains, and promote Michigan food products in the home through a cooperative, which will generate direct economic impacts,” according to Tim Boring, MDARD Director. The goal, he says, is to use this program to create a food economy in Michigan that can give consumers better access to Michigan-grown and Michigan-made products. “We want to be making sure that in underserved communities across Michigan – rural areas or urban areas – we’re getting Michigan food on family plates in a way that feeds families,” Boring says. “We see that as an investment in our long-term future healthcare costs in the country. And of course, we also see it as a way to drive demand for food products that are made here in Michigan.”

The state is already encouraging Michigan families to purchase shares in locally offered Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) services through a 75 percent financial incentive. The Michigan Fitness Foundation is the intermediary for this aspect of the Farm to Family, which is operating in eight Michigan communities. In Detroit, Deeply Rooted Produce and Eastern Market are affiliated with this program.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs at Authority Health.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,