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Jen Schaap

Amy MacKay

JEN SCHAAP
LOCAL FOOD POLICY SPECIALIST

Jen Schaap studied Industrial Design at University of Michigan, which gave her an intimate understanding of how things get made, how things get done. But studying modern mass production and ideas of planned obsolescence also enhanced her appreciation of the opposite: craft, community, and things that endure.

“I walk to work, which I love. I advocate for affordable housing and smart towns and clean energy. I'm so impressed that the City of Petoskey now offers renewable sources for our utility bills!“

Jen is the point person in Groundwork’s Petoskey office, pushing forward with our lead initiatives there, like improving access to fresh local foods, expanding farm to school programs and finding new ways to get more money in the pockets of farmers.

Food programs in the area’s schools are changing, she notes. Helping speed change is 15-plus years of farm to school ideas incubated and nurtured in the Grand Traverse area; that’s experience to borrow and learn from in the northern counties. “You can see cafeterias in Emmet, Antrim, and Charlevoix counties transforming, students getting excited about eating real food, and an understanding of where food actually comes from,” Jen says.

Beyond her efforts at Groundwork, Jen plays bass guitar and sings—expressions of elemental connections and fundamental rhythms of the world. Her work at Groundwork shares a similar ethos. “I have a deep respect and admiration for farmers who are stewards of the land and are feeding our communities,” she says.

Good to know

Education

Bachelor’s of Arts in Industrial Design at University of Michigan. Further studies at Archeworks.

In her spare time...

Jen plays bass guitar and sings in three bands and is also a fan of the DIY ethic (one example: mending clothes to extend their life). She also has done small-scale farming, with a side focus on seed-saving and heritage grains. “I love my sickle,” she says.

Favorite spots in northern Michigan

The side-yard at her home, thanks to a newly installed rain garden (with help from Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council) which is creating a nice little haven to enjoy in her down time. A favorite beach is on Little Traverse Bay near Petoskey State Park.

Why the prop?

"Music has been a part of my life since I can remember ..."