Grand Valley to host first West Michigan food summit

Students and staff members working at Grand Valley's Sustainable Agriculture Project.
Students and staff members working at Grand Valley's Sustainable Agriculture Project.
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Community gardeners, educators, local farmers, and anyone interested in sustainable food systems will come together at a summit hosted by Grand Valley State University.

The West Michigan Growing Connections Food Summit will take place May 7, from 12:30-7 p.m. at the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Registration is open to the public and will include a locally sourced dinner. General admission is $25 and the student fee is $10.

West Michigan encompasses more than 200 diverse crops, agriculture is one of Michigan’s top three industries and less than two percent of the American working force is employed in agriculture, said Levi Gardner, manager of the Sustainable Agriculture Project at Grand Valley.

“In recent years, I’ve met many people from a variety of backgrounds who are really interested in gardens or growing food, and have questions about it," Gardner said. "This summit will bring together people with similar questions and ideas about how to advance sustainable food systems in West Michigan."

The summit will include working group sessions and the following guest speakers:
- Bill Bobier, senior policy analyst, state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Rachelle Boswick, founder and head farmer, Earthkeeper Farm and West Michigan Growers Association
- Anne Scott, Center for Regional Food Systems
- Levi Gardner, Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm manager and grower, Grand Valley State University

Gardner said there are similar food summits that take place in Ann Arbor, Flint and Traverse City, but this is the first time Grand Valley will host one for West Michigan.

Visit www.gvsu.edu/gcfs to register and for more information. Media can contact Andrea Marz in the Sustainable Community Development Initiative for a free pass at marzan@gvsu.edu.

The summit is sponsored by Grand Valley’s student Farm Club, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Community and Public Service, Sustainable Community Development Initiative, Business Ethics Center, Frederik Meijer Honors College, Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence, Environmental Studies and the Office for Community Engagement.