Great Lakes Incubator Farm Receives Nearly $700K Grant
By Beth Milligan | Nov. 29, 2022
The Great Lakes Incubator Farm (GLIF), a new program of the Grand Traverse Conservation District, has received a $695,617 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant is part of a $24 million investment from the USDA distributed across 45 organizations and institutions that teach and train beginning farmers and ranchers.
The GLIF is an "active, land-based agricultural program that fosters the growth and development of new and beginning farmers in northwest lower Michigan who will, in turn, assist in the succession of local farmland, create local farming models based on principles of regenerative agriculture, build resilience in the local food economy, and foster a lasting culture of health and wellness," according to a Grand Traverse Conservation District release.
Utilizing the historic Meyer Farm property through a lease with Grand Traverse Couty, GLIF will "reduce the risk to an agricultural start-up by providing business development services and agricultural management, mentoring, and training," according to the release. "We know that feeding our communities mindfully is important for both human and environmental health," says Grand Traverse Conservation District Executive Director Koffi Kpachavi. "It then stands to reason that working with new and beginning farmers, giving them the tools and resources to do the important work of regeneratively growing our food should be a priority. Programs like the Great lakes Incubator Farm, with the support of this USDA grant, are a critical part of a sustainable path forward."
In the five-county area where GLIF operates, 47 percent of farmers are older than 65. Many are anticipated to cease farming in the next decade. In northern Michigan, 83,000 acres of farmland will transition hands in the next 10 years, according to an estimate from the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. "Yet, it has become increasingly difficult for retiring farmers to transition their land to new farmers, adding to the growing pressure to convert farmland to development," according to the release, noting the GLIF was launched to address that challenge.
The grant was made possible due to private donors and matching funds from local groups incluidng the Oleson Foundation, Lemcool Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Allen Foundation, and Hagerty Corporate Giving, according to the release.