Michigan is a state that is rich in agriculture, with an abundance of farms that produce everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats and dairy products. One of the best ways for consumers to access these local products is through farmers markets, which have grown significantly in popularity and number in recent years. The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) was established in 2006 to promote local food consumption in Michigan by connecting more farmers to consumers through farmers markets. Their recent announcement of Great Lakes Lavender Farm becoming a new member of their association highlights the importance of these community-driven marketplaces and their commitment to equity.
About the Michigan Farmers Market Association
MIFMA is a statewide association that promotes the growth and sustainability of farmers markets in Michigan. Since its establishment in 2006, the number of farmers markets in Michigan has grown from around 90 to nearly 300, making their work more important than ever. MIFMA places equity at the forefront of supporting the viability of community-driven marketplaces so that they can connect ALL consumers to local farms and businesses. Their mission is to advance farmers markets to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products, while their vision is to place farmers markets at the forefront of the local food movement and work to ensure all residents have access to healthy, locally grown food and that Michigan farmers markets receive policy support.
MIFMA defines a farmers market as a public and recurring assembly of farmers or their representatives selling direct-to-consumer food and products which they have produced themselves. In addition, the market may include a variety of vendors as determined by market management. A farmers market is organized for the purpose of facilitating personal connections that create mutual benefits for local farmers, vendors, shoppers, and communities.
MIFMA’s Core Values
As a statewide, member-based association, MIFMA believes in integrity and quality of each other and of our food sources, community and belonging by including, not isolating others, and diversity and unity working towards shared values and common goals while respecting differences. These values align with their commitment to racial equity and promoting the viability of community-driven marketplaces.
MIFMA’s Work on Racial Equity
MIFMA has been proactive in addressing racial equity, especially in light of recent events and the momentum of the anti-racism movement across the country. Their commitment to equity is an ongoing effort and integral to their work as an organization. They have established a Racial Equity Committee, which includes participation from board, staff, partners, and members. The committee is charged with guiding MIFMA in applying a racial equity lens to all of their organizational systems, internal and external, as well as all of their programming, events, and projects. MIFMA members can join this committee by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
MIFMA supports Michigan’s farmers markets in their goal to make fresh, local goods accessible to everyone through food access programs, including SNAP/EBT, Double Up Food Bucks, Hoophouses for Health, and Produce Prescription. Their staff and board have engaged in various trainings, conferences, webinars, and challenges to build their awareness, knowledge, skills, and capacity relative to diversity, equity, and inclusion work so that they can become leaders in moving MIFMA along the Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Organization. In addition, they have made revisions to their Event Details and Market Policies for the Farmers Markets at the Capitol to strengthen their anti-harassment policy and worked with their Racial Equity Committee to make an effort to recruit more businesses owned by people of color (POC) to participate in the markets as vendors.
MIFMA also holds racial equity sessions as a mandatory part of their annual Michigan Farmers Market Conference
part of their annual Michigan Farmers Market Conference. These sessions have become the highest rated conference component by participants. Additionally, during the Market Manager Mentorship Program in both 2019 and 2020, they held designated sessions designed as foundational work for future participation in racial equity dialogues through MIFMA’s events and work. When assembling their 2019 and 2020 Board of Directors slate of candidates, they made an intentional recruitment effort to ensure representation from POC in all three categories (farmers markets, farmers and vendors, and professionals) and a farmers market serving an indigenous community.
MIFMA’s commitment to equity and inclusion is evident in their work and initiatives. They understand the importance of diversity and are actively working towards creating an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all.
About Great Lakes Lavender Farm
Great Lakes Lavender Farm is a small, family-owned business that was founded in March 2023 by Sierra and Andrew in Rockford, MI. Sierra began cultivating her hobby farm with just 30 lavender plants in Traverse City in 2017. Over time, her love for lavender grew, and so did her collection of plants and handmade products. Andrew, an entrepreneur with a background in marketing and small businesses, including Gone Beachin’ Apparel Company and Great Lakes Made, became intrigued by Sierra’s dedication and immersed himself in the world of lavender.
With years of research, experience, and their shared love for lavender, the duo decided to combine their backgrounds to create Great Lakes Lavender Farm. Their idyllic 4+ acre property, complete with a greenhouse for year-round cultivation, provides the perfect environment for growing and nurturing their beloved lavender plants.
Great Lakes Lavender Farm produces an extensive range of homegrown and collaboratively crafted products, including lavender plants, essential oils, and shea butter to lotions, hand soap, bath bombs, and more. They also produce dried lavender bundles, buds, bug spray, linen spray from hydrosol, honey, lotion, shower steamers, lip balm, and an array of lavender-infused culinary delights such as lavender lemonade, sugar, and seasoning. To showcase their love for this versatile plant, they offer lavender apparel and merchandise as well.
As a small, family-owned business, Great Lakes Lavender Farm is committed to delivering exceptional products, fostering a sustainable approach to farming, and supporting their local community. They run the farm with the help of their four furry friends – two cats and two dogs.
The Michigan Farmers Market Association’s commitment to equity and sustainability aligns with Great Lakes Lavender Farm’s values of community-driven marketplaces and sustainable farming practices. The addition of Great Lakes Lavender Farm as a new member of the MIFMA highlights the importance of supporting local farms and businesses through farmers markets. By becoming a member of MIFMA, Great Lakes Lavender Farm is not only connecting with other farmers and vendors but also supporting the organization’s efforts to promote local food consumption and equity in Michigan. As a small, family-owned business, Great Lakes Lavender Farm is a testament to the power of dreams, dedication, and collaboration in creating a thriving, eco-friendly, and community-driven haven.