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PHOTO RELEASE: MDARD Director Gary McDowell Visits the Cake Boutique & ValleyHUB at the Food Innovations Center at Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Kalamazoo, MI – Today, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell visited several local food and agricultural businesses in Kalamazoo, including, the Cake Boutique and the ValleyHUB at the Food Innovations Center at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Throughout 2022, McDowell is traveling across the state meeting with food and agricultural businesses as they advance during Michigan's economic recovery and revitalization. 

"Michigan's food and agricultural businesses continue to succeed because they've embraced creativity, innovation, and sustainability," said McDowell. "Within food and agriculture, you can create award-winning cakes or learn farm and food system skills to help get healthy food on kitchen tables across Michigan. I'm proud that our food and ag sector offers so many different entry points for young Michiganders looking for jobs and careers in this thriving industry.”

The Cake Boutique is an award-winning international cake studio in Mattawan. The Boutique specializes in high-end center-of-attention celebration cakes, handmade sugar flowers, specialty chocolates, and sugar showpieces. Beth Meyer, owner of the Cake Boutique, along with her partner MaryJo Dowling, competed on Food Network’s The Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown and took home 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. The Urban Farm at ValleyHUB showcases a range of sustainable agricultural practices. The five-acre site includes an indoor grow room; a heated greenhouse, outdoor raised beds; and a passive solar hoophouse. The Food Hub is a licensed food processing facility equipped to produce fresh-cut fruits and vegetables at a range of production scales.

ValleyHUB focuses on getting more healthy food onto 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 offer skills-focused workshops for farmers and food processors. They offer fun, practical classes about sustainability and self-sufficiency that are open to all.

Throughout 2022, Director McDowell is meeting with Michigan’s food and agricultural businesses having conversations focused on how they can continue to thrive in Michigan's new economy and how best MDARD can assist their continuous development.