Agenda & Speakers

Purpose: The summit will focus on attendee participation in crafting goals and steps to further advance sustainable food systems in West Michigan. We'll convene at the end of the summit over a delicious locally sourced dinner to celebrate new relationships, collaborations and actions to move our local food system forward. 


  • Participants have opportunity to network and make connections
  • Participants gain knowledge of history and trends of the sustainable food system in West Michigan
  • Groups explore key questions that will result in direction for forward movement
  • Identification of action steps


12:30pm Registration
1:00pm Welcome and opening remarks
  4 Brief (12 minute) overview talks
2:00pm Working groups by issue area
2:45pm Break with snacks
3:00pm Report out
3:20pm Working groups reconvene
4:20pm Report out
5:00pm Networking with cash bar
5:30pm Locally sourced dinner, closing remarks and action steps


Proposed Working Group Topics:
  • Food Access 
  • Food Justice and Sovereignty 
  • Farming mentoring, incubator and internship programs 
  • K-12 Agro-ecology education 
  • Healthy, local food in schools and institutions (public schools, higher education and hospitals) 
  • Food, culture and tourism on the West Side 
  • Agritourism 
  • Entrepreneurism and food systems
Policy Perspective
  • Bill Bobier - Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, State of Michigan
    • Bill Bobier is a life-long Michigan resident, born in Coldwater and residing in Oceana County with his wife Patrice. Interest and many years of service in local government eventually led to his election to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1990.  He served 4 terms focusing on agriculture, conservation and other land-based issues.  He served 6 years in leadership on the ag and natural resource budget committees.  Term limits forced him from office at the end of 1998, after which he reestablished his consulting business, Earthscape Resource Management, and served as a consultant and lobbyist specializing in those land-based issues. In early 2011, Bill went to work for MI Dept. of Ag and Rural Development in the Quality of Life group which includes DNR and DEQ. Here he focuses on those issues that overlap the departments dealing with land use, forests, and water strategy. Through the years the farm has always been central to the reality of a very busy life. It has continued to grow in fertility, productivity, and size. The Bobiers now run about 80 head of beef on their 260 acres, have a large market vegetable garden and sustainably managed forest.
Local Grower Perspective
  • Rachelle Bostwick - Founder and Head Farmer, Earthkeeper Farm and West Michigan Growers Association
    • Rachelle grew up in the greater Grand Rapids area. She graduated from University of New England with a bachelor in Sociology, minor in Biology. She started farming in New York state in 2005 on small-scale organic CSA farms. Her farm training included a full season internship, assistant farm manager, CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance of Farmers Training), multiple WWOOF experiences, and many conferences, workshops, and farm visits. In 2008, Rachelle and Andrew started Earthkeeper Farm, with the help of family.  In 2009, their son, Liam, was born.  Rachelle’s hobbies include growing food, cooking, preserving, and pretty much all things farm and foodie.  
Farm-to-Instituion and Regional Food Systems Perspective
  • Anne Scott
    • Anne Scott is a specialist of the Center for Regional Food Systems focused on youth engagement and public health. A lifelong Michigander, Anne earned her BS in urban and regional planning with a specialization in community development from MSU, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health at MSU. During her time as Project Director of the Youth Farm Stand Project, Anne facilitated with community partners the start-up, development, and sustainability of youth run farm stands in sixteen communities across Michigan. In her current role, she provides outreach and technical support to youth development and community gardening programs, develops garden and food system based curriculum for educators, and engages in participatory research around community food system issues.

Framework for Summit 

  • Levi Gardner - Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm Manager and Grower, Grand Valley State University

Who should attend:
Farmers, community gardeners, educators, advocates, business owners, students, non-profit organizations, and anyone else with a vested interest in local food systems is invited.





Page last modified May 6, 2013