Selling MAEAP at the Farm or at Market
Posted on 2012-8-31EDT1:31PM
Farm stands and farmers market tables are overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits, and more, as we hit peak season in Michigan. And nestled in amongst the brilliant colors fresh tomatoes, lettuce and melons, shoppers are seeing more and more signs that proudly say “This Farm is Environmentally Verified”.
Though the nation officially celebrated National Farmers Market Week from August 5 – 11, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) has been making a debut at farmers markets for years. And in a marketplace flooded with third-party certifications and labels, like Certified Organic and Certified Naturally Grown, MAEAP is holding its own and growing in customer recognition.
Sue Spagnuolo, who owns and operates Greenbush Farms and Dolce Vita Dairy in St. Johns, has been proudly displaying her MAEAP sign on her farm and at the Meridian Township Farmers Market for three years, since she was first verified in the Farmstead System in 2009. Last year, she received the Conservationist of the Year award from the Clinton County Conservation District. Now, she’s in the process of re-verification in the Farmstead System, as well as adding Livestock System verification.
“To me, it’s a good tool at market because consumers ask, and they want to know more,” she said. MAEAP helps her to show that her farm uses sustainable conservation practices. More customers are starting to appreciate the environmentally-friendly stamp of approval that her farm has achieved and increasingly recognize the MAEAP logo on her banner after picking up bookmarks at her table.
In addition to selling to restaurants and distributors, Sue sells her goat cheeses, soaps and gelato at farmers markets, including the Farmers Markets at the Capitol each summer. Last month, at the July 19 Farmers Market at the Capitol, Sue got a special visit from Governor Rick Snyder who came out to shop and promote Michigan agriculture.
“I was MAEAP-verified before you made it cool,” Sue told him, getting a good laugh. Since Governor Snyder signed Public Acts 1 and 2 in March 2011, codifying MAEAP into law, the program has grown in leaps and bounds, from about 880 verifications at that time to more than 1,100 verifications today.
Even the Green City Market in Chicago, one of the most visited farmers markets in the country, gave a shout-out to MAEAP in a recent article in The Chicago Sun-Times, as it is raising the “green” bar by requiring independent, third-party certification of its vendors. Three of its vendors are MAEAP-verified. And it’s not even in Michigan.
For verified farms that offer farm visits, have on-farm stands or sell at farmers markets, MAEAP has a variety of promotional tools to help “sell” the program as well, from signs and stickers to window clings to bookmarks and more. Visit www.maeap.org for the growing list of products offered, or contact the MAEAP office at (517) 373-9797 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get copies.
Wondering what MAEAP can do for you or what it takes to get verified? Contact your local Conservation District to get started today, or visit www.maeap.org to find a Phase 1 Educational Meeting in your area.
This article brought to you by MAEAP partner, Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS)