New Growth Associates a food system consulting firm, in conjunction with Michigan State University and Fermenta, a women’s craft beverage trade group collective, received a seven-thousand-dollar grant from the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development to revitalize malting barley production in Michigan.
Megan Phillips Goldenberg, the owner and primary consultant of New Growth Associates (NGA), has been making the case for the re-localization of niche grains in the Ann Arbor area for almost three years. In conjunction with the Michigan State University, her female-owned consulting group has conducted research that showcases real economic opportunities for medium sized farms to diversify their income streams by participating in the craft beverage industry. “The local food movement has largely left out medium sized, commodity producing farms. This is one way for those farmers to connect directly with the craft food and beverage industry while also increasing their income and diversifying their crop plans. It’s a very exciting opportunity for our local farmers,” says Goldenberg. “Additionally, it’s great to partner with such knowledgeable women in fields largely dominated by men, like agriculture and brewing.” NGA will coordinate participating farmers and resulting workshops.
The Washtenaw County grant will be used for a number of on-farm variety trials in the county to further explore the suitability of winter grown malting barley for Michigan’s farmers, as well as field days and workshops for interested farmers. “The growing of different crops will allow more opportunities for new and established farms,” says Dave Steinhauser, owner of Steinhauser Farm. Steinhauser already grows spring barley for livestock feed, but is interested in exploring the potential of winter grown, malting barley in order to increase his income.
Pauline Knighton, founder and president of Fermenta, felt the partnership was a good fit for her organization’s principles and mission. “We are committed not only to female-based extensions of the craft beverages business but also to the use of Michigan-grown ingredients. We are thrilled to be a part of the this NGA & MSU barley initiative and look forward to hosting educational events next year once the grain is ready for harvest and malting.”
Watch for a special malting event sponsored by Fermenta in February 2017.