Farms of any size or commodity can be verified in the Farmstead System demonstrating their investment to environmental stewardship. The Farmstead System addresses environmental risks on the entire farmstead.
The Farmstead category looks at activities performed on the entire farm with a focus on protecting surface and groundwater. Michigan farms of all sizes and types can apply under this category.
To earn recognition, invite a MAEAP technician to visit your farm. He or she will help you assess your farm, develop a plan of action, and fill out paperwork. He or she will also provide you with information on financial and technical assistance that you may find helpful. You are free to implement your plan’s recommended steps on your own time.
Once the work is complete, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). A verifier from MDARD will visit your farm to ensure the recommended practices are in place and address erosion and runoff risks on your land.
Once your farm is “verified,” you will receive a sign to display on your farm. You can buy a second sign if needed. You will also receive preference for cost-share, tax credits, and other financial assistance.
Your MAEAP recognition is good for five years. To maintain MAEAP recognition, you must review your plan with a MAEAP technician and request a farm visit from MDARD.
Megan DeLeeuw of Hand Sown Farm- Washtenaw County
Megan DeLeeuw started Hand Sown Farm in 2010 as a first-generation farmer. Although she scaled back in 2017 to focus on raising hoop house heirloom tomatoes, her commitment to farming remains strong. She shares her passion with others through her job with the Washtenaw County Conservation District.
Megan’s work with farmers is a major reason why she chose to participate in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). A voluntary program, MAEAP helps Michigan farmers adopt cost-effective practices that reduce erosion and runoff into ponds, streams, and rivers.
“I wanted to know how MAEAP might affect someone like me who doesn’t fit the stereotype of most farmers who get verified,” says Megan. “Plus, I want to speak from experience with other farmers when I promote the program.”
Megan earned her first MAEAP recognition in 2018 in the Farmstead and Cropping categories. The process was easy, and she appreciated that her MAEAP tech was willing to work around her busy schedule. Her experience convinced Megan that all farmers should give the MAEAP program a try.
“It’s a nice check,” says Megan. “It gives you a reason to look at your farming practices and make sure everything is on track.”
Going through the MAEAP process can also be an important first step for new farmers.
“Folks who grow up on a farm can take for granted the simple things that beginning farmers are just learning to do,” says Megan. “Getting MAEAP verified sets yourself up so you can start off on the right foot.”