Economic Development

Growing Hope contributes to a vibrant community by providing access to an equitable, sustainable, food secure economy. Growing Hope is dedicated to empowering the community through economic development.

Besides providing a forum for local small businesses at our Farmers Markets, we also aim to provide the community with needed items and knowledge. Our garden store YpsiPlanti is a one-stop shop where aspiring and current gardeners can purchase anything they need for their own garden. Discounts and sliding scales are offered so that everyone has the opportunity to grow healthy food for themselves. Our Building Blocks workshops educate current and potential vendors in the best practices needed to grow their businesses. Finally, Growing Hope works to create an environment conducive to fostering and supporting local food businesses through our work in policy advocacy, kitchen incubator development, and job and internship training programs. Growing Hope envisions a community with a strong economy that offers room for food entrepreneurs and businesses to grow and develop, making both the community and the people in it healthier.

For questions concerning our Economic Development initiatives and Business Navigation Services, please email our Economic Development Manager, MaryAnn Nielsen-Nisley at or call at 734-707-7442

Food Business Navigation Services Intake Form

Growing Hope offers local food businesses (and businesses to be!) in and around Ypsilanti, Michigan– including vendors at our Ypsilanti Farmers Markets– navigation services to start or grow your enterprise.  We specialize in those new or small businesses and helping them know about the resources in the region– workshop and training opportunities, business development agencies, available kitchens, lending programs, licensing agencies et al– to help them take their next step.  We do not act as a business coach, but as a navigator to help entrepreneurs find the resources they need.
Sign up here to get started!

Building Blocks for Local Food Entrepreneurs 2017

Building Blocks for the Food Entrepreneur is a series of free workshops put on by Growing Hope, with partnership from the MSU Extension Service, the Michigan Small Business Development Center, SCORE – Washtenaw County, the Entrepreneurship Center at WCC, and SPARK East Incubator.  Support comes from Growing Our Local Economy: Washtenaw County Act 88 funds.


Monday, October 16, 2017 6:30-8:30 pm

Building Blocks for Local Food Entrepreneurs:  Defining the Cottage Food Law  and Becoming a Farmers Market Vendor.

Thinking of starting a food based business or selling produce you grow? This workshops will answer many of your questions. What does the Cottage Food Law allow you to do produce and sell to consumers?  What items can you sell at farmers market and other venues? What niche can you fill at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market?.

Speakers, Amanda Cooley Senior Safety Food Inspector MDARD,Dayna Sprental, Ypsilanti Farmers Market Manager and Cottage Law  Baker Gretchen Kopmanis


Wednesday, October 25 , 2017 6:30-8:30 pm

Becoming a Commercial Vendor

Learn what you have to do to expand  beyond the cottage law into commercial food production. Get details on what is required for commercial kitchen space. Find out what is required to sell to large or small grocery companies, restaurants and schools.

Presenter: Becky DeYoung MSU Product Center,


Building Blocks Sessions Location: SPARK East, 215 W Michigan Avenue, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

734-707-7442 for questions and register at

Location for Building Bloicks Class Series: SPARK East, 215 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197,   734-707-7442 for questions. All classes are free but registration is required. Registration at 


List of Shared Kitchen Spaces

Growing Hope supports food businesses and food entrepreneurs find the start-up resources they need. If you’re looking for a commercial or shared kitchen space check out this list of Shared Kitchen Spaces


January 27, 2018
  • Farm Volunteer Days Restart
    January 27, 2018 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    See more details

April 14, 2018
November 5, 2018
  • International Volunteer Managers Day
    November 5, 2018
    See more details

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