Waishkey Bay Farm receives USDA grant
Jan. 12, 2023
BAY MILLS — Bay Mills Community College’s Waishkey Bay Farm has been awarded a Tribal College Equity in Education: Meat and Poultry Processing Project Grant through USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture. The five-year, $950k grant project will begin in early 2023 and allow the farm to increase poultry production and add a mobile poultry processing unit.
“These investments will enhance equity and capacity across the food supply chain by supporting meat and poultry research, education and training at the local level. USDA will leverage its robust regional education and Extension networks and establish new, or supplement existing, Centers of Excellence at Minority-serving Institutions to support this capacity-building effort,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. “Workforce training will increase the resiliency and competitiveness of our local and regional supply chains and support the industry’s urgent need for highly skilled talent to meet labor demands across the country.”
“Next year our efforts will be focused on how to ramp up poultry production, and lots of learning about best practices, which includes policy work and water discharge planning.” said Farm Manager Kat Jacques.
In year two of the project the farm will begin working at a capacity to provide their product to local retail operations for sale, with the priority being given to Four Seasons Market and other local restaurants and meal programs. Years 3-5 of the grant include community workshops, mentoring students, implementing marketing plans, and reinforcing traditional Anishinaabek community values in poultry processing work.
“We are looking at ways to best support food sovereignty in our local community,” added Jacques. “Since COVID-19 and issues with avian flu, it is clear now, more than ever, that healthy food access is essential. We are looking to bridge the gap."
The grant will also provide for an additional full time livestock educator to join the BMCC farm team. The new livestock educator will work with local partners to increase access to local, sustainably raised protein.
The Waishkey Bay Farm was founded in 2010 and includes 280 acres being developed as an extension, teaching, research, and incubator facility focusing on sustainable agriculture and strengthening the local and tribal food system. Current operations include season extension crops with 2 hoop houses and a greenhouse, a community garden, pasture-based chicken production, an apiary, a small apple orchard, industrial hemp variety trials, cultivated blueberries, and grass-based beef production.
Waishkey Bay Farm is verified through the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). Waishkey Bay Farm staff currently includes a farm manager, two farm technicians, and seasonal youth workers; the Farm is part of the BMCC Land Grant Department.