MFMA Empowers Emerging Farmers Through Tier 1 Cottage Food Training at the 2023 Conference
The 2023 Emerging Farmers Conference at the Mounds View Community Center, Nov. 3 and 4, brought together a diverse group of organizations and individuals, focusing on empowering emerging farmers. Organized by The Food Group & Big River Farms, the event was a result of dedicated planning by Sina W.P., MFMA Director of Engagement and Inclusion, and the EFC planning committee since January 2023.
A workshop-style session, led by MFMA Executive Director Kathy Zeman & Sina W.P., guided farmers in creating value-added products through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Cottage Food certificate program. Their expertise was complemented by the contributions of Amy Johnston, MS, CFPM, a Regional Extension Educator in Food Safety, and Janice Cheng, an M.S. student in Food Science at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities Graduate Research Assistant in the Ubbink Lab. Together, these specialists shared their knowledge and insights, enhancing the educational experience for all participants.
The conference's commitment to inclusivity was exceptional, offering in-person training translated into multiple languages, making it accessible to a diverse group of farmers. Those who complete the certification test will receive continuous support from MFMA during their cottage foods entrepreneurship.
MFMA is proud to provide this valuable training and will continue to offer more inclusive training opportunities in the future, promising a brighter future for the farming community.
In addition, Sina W. P. collaborated with the Midwest Farmers Of Color Collective to host a listening session titled "Grounding Policy in the Voices of Farmers." During this event, farmers shared their experiences and presented policy-related requests and questions to a listening panel comprising elected officials.
The primary focus of this special gathering was to enable farmers to share brief one-to-two-minute accounts of their experiences while conveying their policy requests or questions. The listening panel had approximately 2-3 minutes to respond to each inquiry. This platform aimed to empower farmers by engaging with influential figures and articulating their needs and desires regarding policy decisions.
MFMA is eager to continue its partnership with the Midwest Farmers of Color, ensuring that the voices of our farmers reach our elected legislators. Listening Session with Emerging Farmers with State Legislators, and Representatives from US Congress members for Minnesota and government agency staff MDA, USDA/FSA.