Marti Calderone’s presidency atop the Ingham County Farm Bureau is characterized by an approach other counties might do well to consider if theirs, like hers, contain a good-sized urban center.
“Our focus this year is really on building bridges,” said Calderone, a first-time president whose extensive connections within the local ag-education scene are proving an effective springboard for raising the profile of local agriculture.
Unity within the farming community is a priority for the matriarch of a Dansville-area clan closely entwined with the local farm scene. Younger daughter Olivia is currently president of the Dansville FFA chapter; her big sister Emily is active in Farm Bureau as the county’s Young Farmer chair and as a recent graduate of MFB’s Academy for Political Leadership.
Marti herself is a 4-H leader to Dansville's FFA club, and taps those networks to enrich cross-generational activities comingling farm-curious youth with Collegiate Farm Bureau, Young Farmers, active commercial farmers and the community’s agricultural elders.
“Our focus is on partnering with different groups like that—bridging the old and the new,” Calderone said. “Now some of those youth groups are reaching out and are asking us to come judge their competitions.
“We’re trying to show them how and where Farm Bureau is relevant to them.”
Not all the focus is on young people, however. Programming planned for more production-minded members will examine topics such as precision planting and cottage food regulations.
“Ag is ag and it comes in so many shapes and sizes—traditional or niche markets—and they all have needs and priorities we need to consider.”