Picture a farmer. Is this person you imagined a little older? That’s not surprising. Almost a third of farmers in Ottawa County are over age 65, and less than 10% are under 35. 


In the 21st century, few choose farming as their livelihood. It’s hard enough for a daughter or son to take over for aging parents; it’s exponentially harder for someone without a farming background to break into the business. The good news is there’s a slew of resources available to help those who want to farm.

Enter MiFarmLink Project, which aims to help shepherd prime farmland from its current stewards into the hands of the next generation, and help these new farmers fill this vital role and be successful. With funding from the USDA, the County is developing this local support system for new and prospective farmers.

Our Partners


The MiFarmLink Project is a collaborative project spearheaded by a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant administered through Ottawa County. The project partners listed below have made a commitment of time and resources to help address some of the factors affecting the transition of farmers out of the industry and the land to new farmers. If you are interested in being a part of this project, email us at hello@mifarmlink.org.

  • Becky Huttenga | Ottawa County

    Economic Development Coordinator

    Becky Huttenga

    Ottawa County

    Economic Development Coordinator

    A lifelong resident of Ottawa County, Becky grew up as a 4-H kid on a 24-acre hobby farm in Spring Lake Township before heading off to Michigan State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science.  
     
    After college, she developed a diverse resume, including nutritional sales at Purina Mills and Program Assistant for MSUE’s 4-H program. In 2011, she became Executive Director at the Ottawa Conservation District, which set her on the path of bridging the worlds of natural resources and agriculture. She continues this vital work today leading Ottawa County's brownfield redevelopment and farmland protection initiatives. 
     
    Becky is a Farm Bureau member, currently serving on the Promotion and Education Committee. She currently resides in the City of Grand Haven. In her free time she enjoys volunteering at local festivals, fostering rescued puppies, watching Spartan basketball, reading, and playing league soccer. 

  • Michelle Anthes | McShane & Bowie PLC

    Managing Partner

    Michelle Anthes

    McShane & Bowie PLC

    Managing Partner

    Business and estate planning attorney Michelle Anthes has practiced law for nearly two decades in the Grand Rapids area. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Michigan State University, and went on to earn her Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.  

    Today, Michelle concentrates on physician practices and farming. For agriculture clients, Michelle acts as outside general counsel, serving as a trusted advisor to multiple generations and owners. 

    Michelle belongs to many law- and business-related organizations, including the Business Law, Elder Law & Disability Rights, Health Care Law, and Probate & Estate Planning sections of the State Bar of Michigan, and is a member both the American Bar Association and the Grand Rapids Bar Association.  Additionally she is active in the West Michigan Estate Planning Council and Inforum, an organization that works to accelerate careers for women and boost business talent initiatives. 

    Michelle also sits on the board of directors for the Ottawa County Chapter of the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC).

  • Adam Dietrich | Homestead Orchards, LLC

    Member

    Adam Dietrich

    Homestead Orchards, LLC

    Member

    Adam Dietrich has farming in his blood. An Ottawa County native, Adam is a partner in Homestead Orchards LLC, a family owned fruit-growing and packing operation in Conklin, Mich. After majoring in horticulture at Michigan State University, he chose to return home and to join his brothers, father and uncle as a 6th-generation farmer on their 500-acre apple and cherry orchard. 

    Besides actively farming, Adam is a member of the Ottawa County Farm Bureau, where he has served as the Young Farmer Rep to the MFB Board of Directors,  and also as the Young Farmer Chair at the County level. He previously served on the MFB State Young Farmer Committee for two years. Outside of MFB, he also serves as treasurer for the Michigan Pomesters, a community of fruit tree growers, marketers, and industry professionals.  

  • Tony McCaul | Careerline Tech Center, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District

    Agriculture & Animal Sciences Instructor

    Tony McCaul

    Careerline Tech Center, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District

    Agriculture & Animal Sciences Instructor

    As head Agricultural & Animal Sciences instructor at Careerline Tech Center, Tony McCaul equips the next generation with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the agricultural sector. Tony has been instrumental in establishing and growing this program, which teaches basic agriculture, natural resources concepts, and critical thinking skills to middle and high school students. 

    Tony attended Michigan State University, where he studied agriculture education, and went on to earn a master’s degree in agriculture extension education from Colorado State University.  

    In 2017, Tony won the Michigan Farm Bureau’s Agriscience Educator of the Year Award. This honor recognizes an educator’s efforts to incorporate agriculture and natural resources into the school curriculum both in K-12 classrooms or in Agriscience Career and Technical Education programs. Winners receive grants to further ag education opportunities in their schools and communities.  

    Additionally, Tony is a longtime member and now president-elect of the Michigan Associations of Agriscience Educators; a member of the National Associations of Agricultural Educators; and is a Future Farmers of America advisor. 

Other Collaborators

The ag industry practitioners below also provide support for MiFarmLink Project activities and beginning farmers in Michigan.

  • Clarence Rudat |

    MSU Institute of Ag Technology,

    Program Coordinator

  • Erin Moore |

    MSU Extension,

    District Director

  • Kristin Hibbard |

    Deboer, Baumann & Company, PLC,

    CPA

  • Lori Schrauben |

    Michigan Farm Bureau,

    West Regional Manager