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Environmental Assurance Program Verifies Local Farm
Benzie County Farm Recognized by MAEAP
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is recognizing Blue Sky Hops, of Honor in Benzie County, as a verified farm in Farmstead and Cropping Systems for implementing appropriate pollution prevention practices. The program assists farmers to comply with state and federal environmental regulations and with Right to Farm practices. Technical assistance was provided by the Benzie Conservation District.
“By taking the steps necessary to become an environmentally verified operation, this Benzie County farm has contributed to the assurance of sustainable farming practices,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “Michigan is leading the national agriculture community in effective stewardship practices with the voluntary, incentive-based MAEAP program. The continued success of the program demonstrates that environmental sustainability and economic development are not mutually exclusive.”
MAEAP is a collaborative effort of farmers, MDARD, Michigan Farm Bureau, commodity organizations, universities, conservation districts, conservation and environmental groups and state and federal agencies. More than 100 local coordinators and technical service providers are available to assist farmers as they move through the MAEAP process toward verification. An average of 8,000 Michigan farmers attend educational programs annually, 10,000 Michigan farms have started the verification process and there are more than 4,000 verifications to date.
To become MAEAP verified, farmers must complete three comprehensive steps which include attending an educational seminar, conducting a thorough on-farm risk assessment, and developing and implementing an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. MDARD conducts an on-farm inspection to verify program requirements related to applicable state and federal environmental regulations, Michigan Right to Farm guidelines, and adherence to an action plan. When completed, the producer receives a certificate of environmental assurance. To remain a MAEAP verified farm, inspections must be conducted every five years and action steps must be followed.
MAEAP is a multi-year program allowing producers to meet personal objectives, while best managing both time and resources. The program encompasses four systems designed to help producers evaluate the environmental risks of their operation. Each system – Livestock, Farmstead, Cropping, and Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat – examines a different aspect of a farm, as each has a different environmental impact. By participating in all four systems, producers can comprehensively evaluate their entire farming operation for potential environmental risks.
For more information, visit the MAEAP website at www.maeap.org, contact Benzie Conservation District's MAEAP Technician, Lizzy Freed, or contact Joe Kelpinski, MDARD’s MAEAP Program Manager, at 517-284-5608.
Sap dripping from the sugar maple is one of the surest signs of early spring in Michigan. The main sap flow occurs in March. This sweet nectar of spring is boiled over steady fires until it is concentrated into a golden syrup. As soon as the buds begin to swell in April, the sap becomes off-flavored or "buddy" and collecting is discontinued. If care is taken, no permanent damage is done to the tree. While it may yield sap for 100 years or more, a tree is usually not mature enough for permanent tapping until it reaches 45 years old.
The Benzie Conservation District is pleased to invite the public to tour a working sugar shack, and taste delicious maple syrup treats! The farm visit is scheduled for Saturday, March 26th, from 10am to 12pm, at The Ant and the Grasshopper Farm, 4758 Joyfield Rd, Frankfort. This is a free family event, but please dress accordingly for spending time outdoors! The talented folks at Grow Benzie are providing the tasty refreshments. Donations are suggested.
Contact Aimé Merizon, outreach coordinator, for more information: 231-882-4391 x11; firstname.lastname@example.org.