First MSU affiliated student-run business focuses on land grant roots
Land Grant Goods, which was founded by environmental studies and sustainability sophomore Alex Marx and education senior Bethany Kogut, sells honey and herbal teas with the hope of producing jam and cosmetics.
Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment, or RISE, director Laurie Thorpe said the name of Land Grant Goods came from her veteran experiences with being a part of several land grant institutions.
"We're a public institution that was established to educate citizens of Michigan at the time, very much around food and agriculture," Thorpe said. "I really believe in what the land grant mission is."
By establishing the business through RISE, Land Grant Goods became the first student-run business affiliated with MSU.
"The people that chose this business saw that these students have heart and they have passion and they care about sustainability and its really unique in that regard," Thorpe said. "It's supporting students taking care of the planet ... that it's in contact with some really important things that matter right now in an era of climate change."
Kogut said the tea was first served at the Kellogg Center and is now starting to gain attention all around campus.
With the business's growth, it caught the attention of the Eli Broad College of Business and the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
"They were really trying to meet the president's values in incorporating innovation into what we're learning as students," Kogut said. "They kind of grabbed us and were like, 'Hey we want make this big, we want to make this happen.'"
Part of the company’s operation takes place in the Bailey Greenhouse on campus, which Marx has been working in for two years and Kogut for four.
This allowed Marx to accumulate the skills needed to run and produce the products for Land Grant Goods, but Marx also saw this as an opportunity to mesh work with his major.
Kogut followed a similar path and started interacting with the Bailey Greenhouse when she was a freshman, while she was looking to get involved on campus.
But something Marx wants to help bridge is the gap between the producer and consumers at MSU.
"We're one of the pioneer land grant universities and we have the ability to produce products," Marx said. "I think it's a great opportunity to get this product out into campus, into the community and to the alumni and preach our values of sustainability and ethical production."
Marx said the plan for the future of Land Grant Goods is to expand to other products, such as cosmetics and pork.
For Kogut, she said she hopes Land Grant Goods will eventually move into stores such as Whole Foods, even if it happens when her time at MSU is done.
"The company is going to stay on campus long after myself and Alex graduate," Kogut said. "New CEOs will come in and take over the company, so that's how it's going to stay educational and focused on academics."