Guiding Principles &
The following is the manifestation of several months of gathering input from our membership and reviewing and reflecting on this input at our innaugural Revival Meeting in June of 2010.
MYFC Statement on our Asset-Based Approach to Community Empowerment
The Michigan Young Farmer Coalition operates from an asset-based approach, rather than a deficit-based approach. This means, we value our coalition members for the skills, knowledge, they bring to the coalition as a whole, and for the local networks of which our members are a part. In order fulfill our mission, we start with what we all have, rather than focusing on what we lack. This way, as we begin to do the work of identifying the challenges and issues young farmers face, we already know what assets we have that can help solve these problems, and
We believe that the local-regional hubs that make up the MYFC are rich with resources, knowledge and skills specific to those regions. We do not aspire to “save” or dictate how local communities should organize, rather we aspire to develop leadership skills and a strong in-person and online network of farmers and our advocates.
As the average age of Michigan farmers has dramatically increased, the number of Michigan farmers has decreased. Michigan’s food security and economic recovery is dependent on increasing the numbers of working, viable farmers in our state. We need more well-trained, well-educated young food producers with access to affordable land for a food-secure, sustainable future. This transformation, of Michigan, of food, ecology and economy requires honest communication and cooperation between and within generations. We believe that new and Young farmers deserve a supportive response grounded in changes in the reality of our situation.
We believe that education is a vital part of our mission of empowerment. By providing learning opportunities and acting as educators, we better ensure that our members and local communities are able to make informed decisions, advocate for and affect change toward a sustainable, fair, local food system. To ensure that we increase the number of farmers in Michigan, we aim to provide access to formal apprenticeships and internships around the state.
2. PHYSICAL PRESENCE/HOMEBASE
As agricultural stewards, we recognize the importance of having an intimate connection to the land. We believe that it is necessary to have a homebase at which we can produce food, educate our members and community and model responsible stewardship. A sense of place occurs across generations and over the course of time spent working with, relating to and being sustained by the place in which you live.
3. RESEARCH & REPORTING: participatory action research
We believe that research is important to maintaining an understanding of local, regional and state needs. In conducting our own research and making a commitment to being informed, we create a foundation on which to base current and future decisions. Research conducted by the MYFC will be participatory, action- and community-based, seeking to understand, share with and benefit the social and ecological communities of which we are a part.
4. ADVOCACY: political and social
Using our organization to create political voice allows the MYFC to influence opportunities and political issues that directly and indirectly affect our members and communities. We strive to raise awareness of the needs and challenges that young farmers in Michigan face. By developing a strong presence in the political and social aspects of issues that affect us, we hope to form solidarity, not uniformity.
5. SUPPORT & NETWORKING
Now and for generations to come, our farming community must be able to rely on supportive local and regional networks. This is especially true for addressing the needs of young farmers in Michigan. As a statewide organization we recognize the need to maintain a diversity of tools that provide the types of support our members identify as imperative.
We believe in the power of forging long-term, meaningful relationships within and between the coailtion and local communities. Individual strength can be multiplied when many individuals join together. We believe this connection can only be done through consistent efforts to reach out to diverse communities, practicing open communication, and fostering collaborative relationships with other organizations that share in our endeavor.
The financial viability of our organization is vital to its longevity and effectiveness. In order to adequately support our membership and fulfill our mission and vision, we will actively pursue a diversity of fundraising strategies.
8. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: