Michigan Small Farm Council Co-Founder Killed In Collision, Activist Communities Pull Together To Support Grieving Family

Communities around Michigan and online have pulled together to honor 34-year-old Michigan man, Michael A. Beers. Beers, a co-founder of the Michigan Small Farm Council, was killed Friday morning in a head-on collision. Mike was just a couple of miles from home headed to work at the Macomb County Department of Roads when another vehicle crossed into his lane.

Beers leaves behind a network of activists that reaches far beyond the small farming community, but his first passion was for his wife and children, friends say. His 6-year-old daughter Eisley called him her best friend, and his infant son Oliver's favorite pastime was tugging on his full beard, says his wife Nicole. Nicole says that her husband supported her dedication to attachment parenting. They had plans for their future that involved growing all their own food using sustainable farming techniques and had just purchased a successful existing business that centered around midwifery and natural parenting.

Friends say Beers was so proud of his wife's mothering choices that he became involved in online attachment parenting communities himself in order to spread awareness. Beers was looking forward to his role in their new family business. The natural parenting community, both in the Macomb county area and online, are devastated by Beers' sudden passing.

Michigan Small Farm Council executive director Mike Beers.
Mike Beers with his infant son Oliver. [Image via Facebook]Jill Reiter of Macomb County's postpartum doula service known as The After Baby Lady says that Mike Beers voluntarily helped spread the word about her important, relatively unknown local service.

"Thanks to Mike helping me to spread the word, more families had support in their early days of parenting their new babies," says Reiter, adding that Mike also helped support her husband's local business, Crystal Clean Car Wash in Fraser, Michigan.

"Just last week he checked in at my car wash and I contacted him to get his opinion on the functionality," Jill's husband Matthew Reiter said of Beers. "He was a great not-so-secret shopper and resource for me."

Nicole will now raise their two children without him, but says that she has been shown tremendous emotional and financial support from each of the communities that were strengthened by her husband's presence while he was alive, according to the Macomb Daily. A fundraiser for the family was initiated by one of Nicole's Medstar Ambulance co-workers. In just one day, the initial financial goal was met with donations from over 200 people. The page had over 2,500 shares as of Tuesday morning.

"I so, so wish that I could just take all this money and trade it back for his life. Because there is no amount of money in the world that makes up for having him by my side to parent our children together," Nicole wrote. "But at least he can rest easily knowing that his children will be able to stay warm this winter and continue to live in our house that he worked so hard for us to have."

"The funds that have been raised speak volumes to the character of Mike and his family," says Lisa Murphy from Tawas City on the fundraiser page. Mike's reach extended far beyond Macomb County.

Mike had a passion for networking, his friends say. He was able to connect people all around the country to various resources and took great pride in being able to connect two people that might benefit each other. One network of people that Mike was most proud of involved members and supporters of the Michigan Small Farm Council, the non-profit organization of which Beers was a founding member and one of four executive directors.

Michelle Brejnak, secretary and fellow executive director of the Michigan Small Farm Council, says she first met Mike in an online community that supported backyard chickens, and together with a small team, they built the state's small farmers a strong resource and network.

"He was one of the executive directors, social media committee co-chair, and headed fundraising campaigns," says Brejnak of Beers's role in the non-profit organization. "He was dependable, kind, and would always take the time to add insightful information. His ability to be a calming voice and offer productive suggestions helped our group dynamic stay focused. Mike kept our membership and supporters updated through our social media Facebook page."

Last year, Beers actively helped an Air Force veteran in Bay County Michigan protect his right to maintain his nine acre homestead. Beers worked tirelessly to defend farmers rights after major changes were made by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development affecting Michigan's "Right-To-Farm."

Mike Beers's obituary indicated that memorial contributions should be made to the Michigan Small Farm Council. Brejnak said that Beers was an inspiration to others in the group to live life from the heart.

"Mike Beers was a genuine, caring and unselfish person. As a founding member and fellow director of the Michigan Small Farm Council, he played an instrumental role in working toward maintaining our Constitutional Right to Farm, produce and procure the foods of our choosing," says Randy Buchler of Shady Grove Farm U.P. in Gwinn, Michigan.

Mike and Nicole implemented their beliefs into their lifestyle. They raised animals on their backyard farm at the home they recently purchased together. Last spring Mike got milkweed from the Macomb Conservation District in order to help support the monarchs. The fate of the nation's pollinators was important to him. He denounced genetically modified seeds and neonicotinoids on a regular basis. The morning he was killed, before he left for work, Mike was trying to locate media attention for a development at Baker's Green Acres, a farm in Marion, Michigan. Saturday, Mark Baker uploaded a moving video to his YouTube channel asking for financial support for Mike's family."Mike wasn't just a talker, he was a doer. He will be greatly missed, on many levels," says Buchler.

That sentiment is evident in each of the hundreds of social media posts left by advocates of sustainable farming or one of Mike's other interests for which he advocated.

Mike was also a member of Intact Michigan. Jen D'Jamoos, national director at the Intact Network, facilitator of the Livingston County Birth Circle and owner of Earth Mama Birth, says that Mike was most comfortable communicating ideals of human rights with a calm reason. The Earth Mama Birth website is maintaining a page devoted to indexing ways Beers' network of activists can help out the young family he left behind.

"Often times, when a male voice was needed, I would call on him," says D'Jamoos. "His words were insightful and impactful, and educated many on the issues surrounding male genital cutting."

Mike Beers was active in Intact Michigan.
Mike and Nicole Beers at a meet-up for Intact Michigan. D'Jamoos is pictured standing, second from the left. Nicole holds daughter Eisley while Beers stands beside them. [Image via Intact Network | Facebook]Mike's father-in-law, Joe Giannosa, says that Mike lived life with a passion for helping others. Giannosa says that Beers worked to make the world a better place on a daily basis. Jamie Benoit Stec succinctly says on the Mike Beers Memorial Page on Facebook, "He was always connecting people to what they liked."

Michael Beers was the son of Al and Noreen Beers, brother of Jennifer Beers, father of Eisley and Oliver, and beloved husband of Nicole Beers, according to The Macomb Daily. Beers built a network of activists devoted to making the world a better place for his children, and according to this network of activists, as a "champion for food freedom and human rights" in the state of Michigan, Beers demonstrated in only 34 years exactly how to leave a legacy worth being remembered.

[Photo by Toni Piluso | Facebook]