For more information on Lansing Roots, contact Program Manager Benjamin Sommers at
ben@greaterlansingfoodbank.org or (517) 853-7813.

Lansing Roots is a program of the Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB), designed to help beginning farmers from the greater Lansing area begin successful market gardening and farming enterprises through an incubator farm setting.Our primary purpose is to encourage beginning farmers to grow produce for sale in mid-Michigan. The GLFB has been supporting home and community gardens for more than 30 years through the Garden Project. With a network of more than 90 community gardens, the Garden Project served over 5,000 individuals in 2012. Lansing Roots serves as a complement to the GLFB’s ongoing support for community gardens by encouraging successful gardeners and interested entrepreneurs to develop farm enterprises, and by lowering the barriers to success.Designed to host new farm businesses for 2-5 years, the incubator plots for first year farmers are 100’ x 100’ (1/4 acre). With opportunities to expand in later years, participants will have the opportunity to scale up their farm production to support their new businesses.Lansing Roots is also home to a Demonstration Farm which grows donation produce for the GLFB to distribute to the 200+ agencies it serves. In addition, it provides an outdoor classroom for farmers, interns, and volunteers as it hosts workshops and showcases different styles of crop production.Lansing Roots focuses on limited resource and historically under-served individuals and is made possible through a Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Program grant through the USDA-NIFA. With an emphasis on refugee, immigrant, minority, low-income and women farmers, we accept applications from all beginning farmers. Applicants should have a background and strong interest in farming or gardening. Most successful applicants will have participated in a farmer training program, apprentice or internship, will have an agricultural background from their country of origin, or have completed multiple seasons of community gardening successfully.The Lansing Roots program offers participants space to grow at the Lansing Roots farm, as well as participation in training opportunities on growing techniques, business planning and marketing. Partners include Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm and it’s nationally recognized Organic Farmer Training Program, as well as The Lansing Urban Farm Project, which hosts an established apprenticeship program at Urbandale Farm on Lansing’s Eastside.Lansing Roots:• Improves the economic livelihood of low-income individuals and families through self-employment
• Increases the number of small-scale producers growing for market
• Improves community food security
• Generates fresh foods for donation to the GLFB

Socially-disadvantaged individuals looking to help themselves by starting a viable business by:

  • Receiving access to land
  • Accessing basic farm supplies, training, technical assistance and cooperative marketing
  • Gaining the ability to provide for themselves and their family

The Greater Lansing Food Bank:

  • Through a Demonstration Farm, produce will be grown and donated
  • Reduced long term need for assistance through the impacts of self-sufficiency and community support

The greater Lansing community through:

  • Food security by having more farmers
  • Health benefits of more access to fresh produce
  • Economic benefits of more and diversified food businesses

The Lansing Roots program will offer participants land to start a business at the Lansing Roots farm, as well as, opportunities for training workshops that will involve growing techniques, business planning, individual consultation, marketing and other such farm related services.

Lansing Roots will provide participants:

  • Plots up to ½ acre in size. 1st year plots will be ¼ acre (roughly 100’ x 100’)
  • One time annual field preparation as well as referral to additional tractor services (tilling, etc) for hire
  • Rototiller and other small engine equipment for rent
  • Access to hand tools, seeders, backpack sprayer, and other small-scale farming tools
  • Pooled resources for supplies at cost such as row cover, irrigation, mulch etc.
  • Access to water through a head-pipe for drip irrigation
  • Pre-season planning assistance and as needed consultation on growing techniques
  • Trainings and workshops on topics such as: proper tool maintenance, 4 season hoophouse growing, Integrated Pest Management, crop-specific growing, season extension strategies, marketing, crop planning, business and enterprise planning, food safety and proper handling techniques, etc.
  • Access to space within a shared hoophouse; beginning Fall 2013
  • Cooperative marketing opportunities through: food hubbing, shared market stands, wholesale, etc.

Participants in Lansing Roots will:

  • Commit to paying minimal rental fees for space and services
  • Commit to attempt growing for commercial sales
  • Participate in at least 75% of major monthly workshop sessions
  • Alternative trainings will be offered frequently to supplement options
  • Follow all farm guidelines and follow the farmer manual
  • Meet with staff to review successes and challenges and plan for future production changes
  • Participate in Lansing Roots farmer meetings
  • Maintain accurate and detailed farm log of production and costs, with support
  • Grow in accordance to NOP (organic) standards

Lansing Roots will charge a nominal fee for a plot at the incubator farm, which will allow access to water, basic field prep, access to basic tools, workshops and trainings, and a fixed amount of in-field technical assistance. Some additional services will have a fee associated with them to help teach good business practices. The fees will be scaled depending on income, length of time in the program, and other important factors. Participants will have the option to assist with the Demonstration farm to cover some of their costs.

A large component of Lansing Roots is creating viable farm enterprises. It costs money and time to run a business and by charging a small fee for services, Lansing Roots will teach business planning, budgeting and time management.

The farm is at 1084 S. Hagadorn Rd., Mason, MI 48854. We are located within the larger property of Der Happy Hallow, a site managed by the Hunt Holt Kiwanis Charity.

Lansing Roots program is intended to serve primarily limited resource and socially disadvantaged (as defined by the USDA) populations such as refugees and immigrants, low-income farmers and beginning farmers. A minimum of 70% of participants must be from these groups.

The ideal candidate for the program and to access land at the Lansing Roots farm:

  • Farming background or training
  • Farmer training program, intensive apprentice experience, agricultural background from country of origin, multiple seasons of successfully growing in community gardens, etc.
  • An interest in developing an independent small scale farm enterprise, yet needing some technical and business assistance
  • An interest and desire to grow for sales and market
  • English proficiency or access to reliable translation services

An application is being developed for those interested in the program. Please note, the above are examples of ideal traits, but are by no means all-inclusive or necessary. If you are interested in the program and are not sure if you’re a good fit, please contact us.

The Demonstration Farm is located alongside the incubator farm plots and
grows food bank donation produce for the GLFB to distribute to the 200+ agencies it serves, increasing access to fresh healthy food for the community.In addition, the Demo Farm provides a critical experiential learning environment for Lansing Roots participants, interns, volunteers and the community as it hosts training sessions, workshops and discussions. As a showcase for different styles of crop production, portions of the Demo Farm site will be used to encourage innovative growing practices. As a result, farmers have access to information about different techniques, tools, crops, and ideas as they develop their own farm business.The Demo Farm is also a great place for volunteers to lend a hand!

The Lansing Roots program will provide farmers with assistance finding markets and selling their crops. All farmers will be invited to participate in marketing workshops, learn about legal requirements and insurance, and offered technical assistance from the program’s Marketing Coordinator. Lansing Roots will support the local food system by facilitating direct sales of crops to local consumers, restaurants, and institutions.

Farmers are hosted at the incubator farm site for one to five years as they develop the skills and experience to start their own farm enterprise. Lansing Roots will provide informational support for individuals who participated in the program as they seek out their own land and financing options.After 3 years of farming, participants could become eligible for financing through the USDA Farm Services Agency or other institutions.
The Greater Lansing Food Bank has always been a pioneer of innovative techniques to address hunger in our community and Lansing Roots is a natural next step. By encouraging more small-scale farm enterprises we are ensuring food security for the region, now and in the future. The average Michigan farmer is 57 years old and it is important that we have an adequate supply of new farmers to meet our increasing needs for food production.Many under-served constituencies are looking to start farming; these include immigrants and refugees with agricultural backgrounds, legal farm laborers, farm interns and farm apprentices working on commercial and community farms, and career changers. By lowering the barriers for historically under-served populations, the GLFB promotes self-sufficiency amongst people that typically access more traditional food bank services. The GLFB sees farm business development as another effective tool to eliminate hunger in our community.

For over thirty years, the Garden Project (GP) of the Greater Lansing Food Bank has been supporting local community and home gardens. With a network of over 90 community gardens, the GP served over 5000 gardeners in 2012. For years some gardeners have been looking to scale up their production space, and learn to market and sell crops. At the same time, the GLFB recognizes the increased demand for local produce. Lansing Roots will serve as a complement to the Garden Project’s on-going support for community gardens by encouraging successful gardeners and interested entrepreneurs to develop farm enterprises, and by lowering the barriers to success.


Yes, always!

Lansing Roots hosts individuals and volunteer groups at the demonstration farm. We also provide opportunities for interested individuals to volunteer or intern on a longer-term or seasonal basis.