Michigan Organic Community Mourns Loss of Farmer Educator Nancy Jones-Keiser

Paul Keiser & Nancy Jones-KeiserPaul Keiser & Nancy Jones-Keiser

The Michigan organic farming community has suffered a huge loss with the passing of Nancy Jones-Keiser on Monday, September 28th 2009.

Growing up on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Nancy was involved in organic farming and gardening for over 30 years and taught classes on these topics for more than 25 years. When she and her husband Paul came to West Michigan in 1996 to begin a CSA farm & charter school Nancy served as the bio-ag teacher. Called the West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science it lasted two years during which time students were involved with not only learning to grow their own food but also the preparing, processing and storing of the nutrient-dense foods grown on the CSA farm.

Nancy was also a certified English teacher & Reading Specialist, teaching classes at both Grand Rapids Community College and Baker College of Muskegon.

Ever the educator, Nancy was hired as an organic certifier for Organic Growers of Michigan until that program ended in 2001 and was a invaluable long-time board member of MOFFA (Michigan Food & Farming Alliance).

Nancy and Paul had a large collection of films concerning environmental awareness and they shared them with the public through two consecutive film festivals; one, a Winter Film Series & Farmers Market at the Wealthy Theater held two Wednesday evenings a month from October 2006 through June of 2007, and the second was begun in late 2008 and held weekly at San Chez Bistro right up until the time her health began to deteriorate.

Nancy was a farmer as well as an educator; she and Paul built the Ag & Health Alive business together on their farm in Marne, MI, raising breeding flocks of sheep, ducks & chickens as well as a large production garden and farming a piece of land owned by friend Bob Johnson for many years. Nancy was very proud of her lovely home garden and brought her produce to the Fulton Street Farmers Market, where she was a vendor. Last winter she accompanied Paul occasionally during the winter months of the Sweetwater Market. We remember her great grilled cheese sandwiches & squash soups!

That all of this work was accomplished by just one woman may seem impossible, unless you knew Nancy. She was a force of nature, a tireless worker and a tenacious activist on behalf of our planet. She was only 62 years old, and we will miss her greatly.

Note: If you would like to send a message of condolence to her family:

Paul Keiser, 2757 Hayes Rd., Marne, MI 49435