PHOTO RELEASE: MDARD Director Gary McDowell tours the Cake Shop and ValleyHUB at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Food Innovations Center

Kalamazoo, MI – Today Gary McDowell, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), visited several local food and agriculture businesses in Kalamazoo, including the Cake Boutique and the ValleyHUB at the Food Innovations Center from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Throughout 2022, McDowell travels across the state to meet with food and agriculture businesses as they move forward during Michigan’s economic recovery and revitalization.

“Michigan food and agriculture businesses continue to succeed because they have embraced creativity, innovation and sustainability,” said McDowell. “In the field of food and agriculture, you can create award-winning cakes or learn agricultural and food skills to help get healthy food to Michigan’s kitchen tables. I’m proud that our food sector and agriculture offers so many different entry points for young Michiganders seeking jobs and careers in this burgeoning industry.

The Cake Boutique is an award-winning international baking studio in Mattawan. The shop specializes in high-end party cakes, handmade sugar flowers, specialty chocolates and sugar centerpieces. Cake Boutique owner Beth Meyer and partner MaryJo Dowling competed in Food Network’s The Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown and won first place, winning $10,000.

ValleyHUB is a farm, food hub, and education center based at the Food Innovation Center at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. ValleyHUB’s Urban Farm showcases a range of sustainable farming practices. The five-acre site includes an indoor grow room; a heated greenhouse, outdoor raised beds; and a passive solar hoop. The Food Hub is a licensed food processing facility equipped to produce fresh cut fruits and vegetables at a range of production scales.

ValleyHUB is focused on getting healthier food to more plates in Southwest Michigan by training, educating and supporting the fresh food supply chain. They have a range of educational programs, including working with Michigan State University Extension, Family Farmed, and others to deliver skills-based workshops to farmers and food processors. They offer fun and practical courses on sustainability and self-sufficiency open to everyone.

Throughout 2022, Director McDowell meets with Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses to discuss how they can continue to thrive in Michigan’s new economy and how MDARD can best contribute to their continued development.

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