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If you’re curious about transitioning to organic production practices and/or certifying organic, this will be a great year to find out what is involved. The new Michigan Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is organizing three field days, six webinars and a workshop at the Great Lakes Fruit & Vegetable EXPO. The field days include tours of a no-till organic vegetable farm near Ann Arbor, a Detroit farm and compost facility, a blueberry farm in Bangor and an organic vegetable farm in the Upper Peninsula. In addition, TOPP network partners Keep Growing Detroit, Michigan Food and Farming Systems, Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance and Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology are planning for events to connect farmers in their networks to learn more about transitioning to organic.


Is Organic Right for Me?

When: Friday, April 5 from noon to 1 p.m.

Where: Webinar

What: Learn from a panel of farmers who are currently certified organic, or have been in the past, about their decisions to certify. The panel will feature a mix of farm types, including livestock and crop production. The farmers will discuss why organic certification, Certified Naturally Grown, Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program or not being certified is right for them.

Speakers: Shara Trierweiler of Agape Organics, Alex Cacciari of Seeley Farm and Andy Chae of Fisheye Farms in Detroit

Register for the Is Organic Right for Me? webinar

Organic Recordkeeping

When: Friday, April 19 from noon to 1 p.m.

Where: Webinar

What: Learn from Joannée DeBruhl about key components of organic recordkeeping and how to be prepared for an organic inspection. Example recordkeeping systems and templates will be shared with participants.

Speaker: Joannée DeBruhl of One World Center, former owner and manager of Stone Coop Farm and TOPP mentor

Register for the Organic Recordkeeping webinar

Organic Soils and Compost Field Day

When: Saturday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (van transportation from 7:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.)

Where: 9 a.m. to noon at Green Things Farm Collective, 3825 Nixon Rd, Ann Arbor, MI 48105; 1 to 4 p.m. at Sanctuary Farms, 3171 Lakeview St, Detroit, MI 48215

  • Detroit van from Sanctuary Farm in Detroit leaves at 7:45 a.m. to go to Green Things. Both vans and solo drivers will leave Green Things at noon to get to Sanctuary Farm by 1 p.m. Ann Arbor van will leave Sanctuary Farm at 4 p.m. to return to Green Things by 5:15 p.m.

What: Learn about soils and composting from two different farm systems in a single day.

Speaker: jøn kent of Sanctuary Farms and Nate Lada of Green Things Collective Farm

Register for the Organic Soils and Compost Field Day

Marketing Organic Blueberries Field Day

When: Monday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: 65220 Co Rd 380, Bangor, MI 49013, 49013

What: Join this field day focused on organic blueberry marketing. Kyle Mitchell will showcase his growing spaces and post-harvest setup while sharing about his unique marketing strategies for organic blueberries.

Speakers: Kyle Mitchell of Mitchell’s Patch of Blue and other blueberry farmers from the region who practice sustainable blueberry growing but are not certified organic will provide insights from their businesses.

Register for the Marketing Organic Blueberries Field Day

Organic Inspection Field Day in the Upper Peninsula

When: Friday, Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Education Center, North Farm, N5431 Rock River Road, Chatham, MI 49816

What:  Walk through a certified organic farm and see what records and practices are needed to sell your goods as organic and ensure food safety.

Speakers: James Dedecker and Sarah Hayward of the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Education Center North Farm. We hope to also have a certification inspector.

Register for the Organic Inspection Field Day in the Upper Peninsula

The What, Why and How of Organic

When: Friday, Sep. 13, 20 and 27

Where: Webinar

What:  This three-part webinar series is primarily focused on training individuals who provide services to farmers, such as MSU Extension staff. However, the program is open to all, including organic-curious farmers.

  • Sept. 13 – What: Learn about United States Department of Agriculture organic rules, approved products and participate in an organic system plan interactive activity.
  • Sept. 20 – Why: Learn from a variety of farmers the reasons why they chose to pursue organic certification for their farm, a different type of certification or no certification at all.
  • Sept. 27 – How: Learn all about getting certified, including the process of choosing a certifier, the organic system plan and recordkeeping.

Speakers: To be announced

Register for The What, Why and How of Organic webinar series

Farmer and Community Input Session

When: Friday, Dec. 6 from noon to 1 p.m.

Where: Webinar

What: You can share your insights and ideas for 2025 workshops, field days and webinars for farmers transitioning to organic. Join this interactive webinar to let your voice be heard.

Register for the Farmer and Community Input Session webinar

Transitioning to Organic

When: Thursday, Dec. 12 (time to be determined)

Where: Great Lakes Fruit & Vegetable EXPO, Devos Place, 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

What: To be announced

Speakers: To be announced

Register: Registration coming soon.

Download flyer of 2024 TOPP events


Michigan’s TOPP has paired 24 transitioning farmers with experienced organic farm mentors. Apply now to be a mentor or transitioning farmer mentee. Mentors will be paid $3,000 and mentees will receive a $500 stipend upon completing the mentorship. Mentors and mentees meet for 40 hours each year, including visiting each other’s farms at least once per year, monthly meetings, attending an educational event together and answering questions as needed. Mentors and mentees also commit to onboarding, trainings, evaluation, quarterly check-ins with the coordinator and tracking meeting hours. Mentees commit to pursuing organic certification and creating an organic system plan.

The program welcomes farmers from all backgrounds and encourages farmers of color, veterans, women, Spanish speakers, lower income farmers and young and beginning farmers to apply. All crops, livestock species and farm types qualify for this program.


Michigan State University Extension, the Michigan State University Organic Farmer Training Program, Grand Traverse Conservation District and Washtenaw County Conservation District are working together to co-lead this project until 2027. In addition, Keep Growing Detroit, Michigan Food and Farming Systems, Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance and Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology are TOPP network partners who will each host two community-building events to connect with farmers and answer questions about organic farming and certification.

More information

Contact: Katie Brandt [email protected] or Mariel Borgman [email protected]