The French Connection

This project, A Michigan-French Partnership to Strengthen the Global Competence of Students, Researchers, and Extension Educators in Agriculture and Tourism, was funded by a grant from the International Science & Education Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Building upon MSU’s exchange agreement with the International Center for Higher Education in Agricultural Sciences in Montpellier, France (SupAgro-M), the project fostered collaboration between MSU and SupAgro-M faculty in order to learn about and incorporate French approaches and techniques in value-added food, agriculture and agri-tourism into courses and MSU Extension Educator programs.

The project supported student internships to increase the competencies of MSU students in the field of value-added food, agriculture, and agri-tourism. Workshops and exchange visits with agri-entrepreneurs helped to build the capacity of MSU Extension educators to adapt French value-added agriculture techniques and approaches to improve the market opportunities and competitiveness of Michigan farms, agri-food and agri-tourism businesses.

Collaborative, applied research and teaching in value-added food, agriculture, and agri-tourism between MSU and French researchers was encouraged. These exchanges helped to identify state and local development policies that could foster more economic opportunities for value-added agriculture and agri-tourism in Michigan.

More broadly, project activities sought to stimulate statewide attention by private businesses, public agencies and non-profit groups to the ways in which new approaches to value-added agriculture and agri-tourism could contribute to revitalizing the Michigan economy.

societe Photo by Barbara Jenness

Cheesemaking in France

An artisan cheesemaker from Michigan traveled to the Languedoc area of France to learn and report on her observations of some cheesemaking going on there. Read her report.


The French have very strong aspects of identite culturelle de population, or numerous ways which they define themselves through food. They have a strong desire to reconnect with their food, as expressed by the recent boom in the agro-tourism industry. Consumers want an experience; to visit farms to learn about their food. Now, farms such as the olive farm are a prime demonstration of value-added agriculture, as they are not only able to market their product, but also their lifestyle and facilities.

Read the full report by Chelsea Keeler.


This study looks into the cultivation practices, marketing, and agritourism of several vineyards and wineries that can be found in Mediterranean region of southern France, Northern Italy, and the Northeast corner of Spain. All of the visited locations included in the report are considered to be small commercial size with production less than 25,000 cases a year. These wineries will be compared to similar wineries found in Michigan and will provide lessons on possible improvements on both sides.

Read the full report by Jake Emling.


At the Chateau de Flaugergues, the mission of the family is to provide a historic experience that demonstrates the family’s passion for wine and their family history. Their goal is to preserve and, if need be, restore the property to what it once use to be. For instance, the family replanted over twenty olive trees to provide a true sense of what the gardens looked like back in the 1600s. They want to be able to illustrate to visitors what this land once signified back in time, since much of Montpellier is now devoted to new development that does not represent the true age of the city.

Read the full report by Kathryn Kota.