CHATHAM, Mich. – A Michigan State University researcher plans to establish a farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as part of an effort to improve food options in the region.
The project backed by a roughly $500,000 grant is led by Michigan State AgBioResearch scientist Matt Raven. The farm will be based at its Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center in Chatham, a more than 1,200-acre research site, the East Lansing school said.
The so-called incubator farm will be an educational hub focusing on local, nutrient-dense food and technologies relevant to producing that food, according to Raven’s plans. The project is one of several at the Extension Center aimed at boosting food options in the U.P.
Parts of the Upper Peninsula lack convenient access to fresh, healthy and affordable food, the university said. The area faces high costs of importing supplies and food, lower-quality soils in places and a cool northern climate with a short growing season.
“In this project, we will mindfully and holistically look at food systems, soil health, and ways to optimize hoop houses and other season-extension practices for vegetable production in northern latitudes,” Raven, a professor of community sustainability, said in a statement.
Several other Michigan State faculty members are involved. The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was one of four recently awarded to the university to help small-scale agricultural producers improve offerings.
“This programming will supply beginning and established farmers, avocational gardeners, youth and community members with important knowledge and skills in entrepreneurial, four-season food production,” Raven said.