Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance Records, 1973-2017


The Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA) evolved from two earlier organizations: Organic Growers of Michigan (OGM) and Michigan Organic Growers Advancement Project (MOGAP).

The Organic Growers of Michigan (OGM) started at a meeting in Decatur, Michigan, on January 30, 1973, called by John and Judy Yeager. The group began to draft organic certification standards, and began certifying growers later that year. OGM incorporated and chapters in other areas of the state formed, in addition to the original Southwest chapter. A State Council of chapter heads met in March 1975, and at the end of the year agreed to publish a newsletter. After some expansion followed by a fallow period in the 1980s (no newsletters were published from 1984 to 1985), Len Prelesnik and Lee Purdy, two volunteer executive directors, guided the organization as it regrouped from 1986 to 1991. During this time, Maynard Kaufman, Merrill Clark, and other members worked on revising the by-laws to allow fundraising from charitable foundations. This work eventually led to the formation of a separate organization, Michigan Organic Growers Advancement Project (MOGAP). Part of the funds to establish the new organization came from memorial gifts in honor of Sally Kaufman, after her death in 1990. Maynard and Sally Kaufman, longtime practitioners and supporters of organic agriculture, had run the School of Homesteading on their farm in Bangor, Michigan since the early 1970s.

In January 1992, MOGAP was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to provide consumer and producer education about the benefits of organic agriculture. While OGM continued to focus on certification, technical aspects of production, marketing, and legislative lobbying on behalf of organic growers, MOGAP focused its efforts on education and sought assistance from foundations to achieve this mission. It also assumed publication of Michigan Organic News with distribution to OGM members across the state. MOGAP hired Lynne Blahnik as Executive Director. In September 1993, MOGAP changed its name to Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA), while still maintaining ties to its parent organization, OGM.

Major MOFFA projects included participation in and sponsorship of the Michigan Organic Harvest Festival, which started in 1995, and the publication of Eating Organically: A Guide to Michigan's Organic Food Producers and Related Businesses, a directory that first came out in 1995 and is periodically updated, as well as being available online on the MOFFA website. MOFFA members Merrill Clark and Carol Osborne also served as co-chairs for the first Michigan Organic Conference, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), in 2001. The Michigan Organic Conferences continued through 2011, when MOFFA discontinued this project.

Other MOFFA projects included collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU), such as an on-farm research and demonstration program (1998-2001) and a survey of organic farmers and processors in Michigan (2006). A Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) risk management grant in 2003 provided funding for other activities, including a series of roundtables with certified organic farmers and a workshop on organic farm plans.

Merrill Clark, a MOFFA founder and board member, served on the first National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in 1992, and as a NOSB board member worked on developing a national organic standard. With the implementation of a national organic standard in 2002, Organic Growers of Michigan found the steps to becoming an official certification agency too onerous, and abandoned the accreditation process in 2006. In spring 2009, OGM formally dissolved, and MOFFA received some of its assets.