Jayson Otto
Lecturer of Anthropology
AB 24


Jayson received his Master’s from the Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resources Studies program [now Community Sustainability] at Michigan State University. His Bachelor’s degree is in Anthropology from Grand Valley State University. Jayson’s specializations include food systems, cultural studies, and women’s history. His current research looks at the role of municipal markets and community gardens as public services during the Progressive Era in Michigan, and more specifically, the political role upper and middle class women played in these institutions. Some of his research is found in a chapter of Cities of Farmers, a textbook on urban agriculture from University of Iowa Press. He also presents his work in many venues around Grand Rapids and beyond.

As a long-time resident of the Midtown Neighborhood, Jayson spent the last two decades working with multiple community organizations, including the Midtown Neighborhood Association, Fulton Street Farmers Market Redevelopment Committee, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, and the César E Chávez Farmers Market Committee. He also managed the Fulton Street Farmers Market for three seasons between 2005 and 2007. Jayson continues his work on women’s history in Grand Rapids with plans to broaden his gaze to Progressive Era farmers markets in the State of Michigan as an example of female political maneuvering during and after the suffragist movement. When not researching local history, he can be found wrenching on old cars, salvaging and restoring old things, and cooking/enjoying good food.


  • M.S., Michigan State University
  • B.S., Grand Valley State University