June 30, 2014

Local, Healthy Food’s Growing Support Told In Video Series Debuting July 1

Farmers, Food Consumers Document What Sustainability Means To Michigan
Media Contact: Gail Philbin, gail.philbin@sierraclub.org, 312-493-2384

Lansing, Mich. As farmers markets kick into high gear this month, Michigan food consumers and farmers are voicing support for locally grown food and sustainable agriculture in Michigan and putting it into their own words and stories in a new video series debuting July 1, available at www.youtube.com/MoreForMichigan/Videos.

Michiganders from all walks of life discuss why meat, dairy, poultry and eggs that are locally grown under humane conditions are important to them, their communities and local economies in a series of one-minute video testimonials produced by the  Less=More sustainable agriculture coalition. The coalition is also asking people to contribute their own food stories to the series.  For more information on submitting a testimonial, email: Moreformichigansc@gmail.com

Jill Johnson and Mary Wills of Crane Dance Farm in Middleville will kick off the series with the release of their testimonial via Less=Mores Twitter account, @MoreforMichigan, and on its Facebook page. Jill, who studied agriculture in college, says "What I learned about our food system scared me and I knew at that point that if I was going to eat, I probably had to grow food. It's been a long journey to Crane Dance Farm."
Mary adds, "We've seen so many small farms go under because nobody subsidizes us. It's really very hard to be able to do what we do .Less=More is vital for the voice of the small farmer."

Crane Dance Farm is a member of Less=More, a sustainable agriculture coalition tackling the inequity of the subsidy system that favors polluting factory farms over safe, sustainable livestock farms at the expense of the environment and public health. In 2013, the coalition released a report, Restoring the Balance to Michigans Farming Landscape, that explores the relationship between Farm Bill subsidies and factory farm pollution in Michigan. To download Restoring the Balance, visit: .http://tinyurl.com/L-Mreport. 

The number of farmers markets in Michigan has grown from around 90 in 2001 to more than 300 today, according to the Michigan Farmers Market Associations website. This proliferation of markets as well as Community Supported Agriculture farms (CSAs) in Michigan is evidence of a growing demand from consumers for locally grown, healthy food.

And the passionate response of consumers and farmers to the Less=More testimonial series indicates that buying local food isnt a passing fad. Western Michigan University student Erin Denay, the series producer, has been collecting farmer and consumer videos throughout the month of June during trips to farmers markets and other locations in Frankenmuth, Kalamazoo, Boyne City, Lansing, Grand Rapids and other Michigan communities.

I am so happy to be part of the Less=More campaign, says Denay, a senior majoring in environmental and sustainability studies. I have learned so much about the support that small-scale sustainable farmers need. Particularly, it has made me more appreciative of the local farmers where I live who share my values and help give me more choices as a consumer."

At the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, Denay captured the thoughts of  several consumers and farmers, including Joseph Battistella of Sunshine Silo Farm, who says, "Smaller farmers are used to doing what they can with what they have so any sort of help like tax dollars can go a very long way on a small farm. See the full Sunshine Silo Farm testimonial here: http://youtu.be/QH83tD8s07c

Less=More is comprised of national, state and local organizations and farmers, including: Beery Farms of Michigan, LLC, the Center for Food Safety, Crane Dance Farm, LLC, ELFCO Food Cooperative, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, Food & Water Watch, Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, Groundswell Farm, Zeeland, Humane Society of the United States, Michigan Small Farm Council, Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, Michigan Voices for Good Food Policy, Michigan Young Farmers Coalition, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. 

Less=More is made possible in part by support from the Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation.

Less support for polluting factory farms means a more sustainable Michigan.  For more information, visit, www.MoreforMichigan.org.