Greetings Michigan farmers and friends,

I would like to share this with you if you have not seen it already.
This month's MSU Extension newsletter features several farmers including
an new farmer in the UP selling greens from his new hoop house.

Read on and enjoy




From: MSUE ALL EMPLOYEES [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Coon, Thomas
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2007 1:34 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: MSUE Spotlight - June 7, 2007


June 7, 2007


MSU Extension Spotlight 


Let's garden!

It's hard to go anywhere or talk to anyone this time of year without
gardens creeping into the conversation. Drive down any road and you'll
likely see flowers blooming, people hoeing and some leafy greens
starting to pop out of the soil.  These images always remind me of the
many hours I spent with my father in our family garden, working from the
time he got home from his job until bedtime.  It's a wholesome
experience-preparing the soil, planting the seeds, nurturing with
watering, going on bug patrol and weeding until the crop was ready to
harvest. And then-the best part-enjoying the fruits of your labor in a
salad during dinner or making a BLT for lunch with a REAL tomato that
soaks the toast with juice.


In the past few weeks, I've had several opportunities to learn about
others' gardening experiences. And, of course, all of them have an
Extension connection.  


The first was a visit to Senator Irma Clark-Coleman, who lives in an
historic district in Detroit.  In the process of establishing the
historic registration, she and her neighbors converted an old alley
behind her house and two adjacent lots into a long, narrow green space.
After we discussed important policy matters, I mentioned something about
gardens and our conversation quickly turned to the unique garden she put
in along that green space. She describes it as being "two feet wide and
three lots long" on a raised bed that took "ten truckloads" of soil to
fill.  She spoke of the pleasure she takes in spending every free moment
in her garden, clearly serving as nourishment for the soul as well as
for the body.  She also spoke of her appreciation for the work MSUE
staff members are doing to help youth in Detroit learn the pleasures of
gardening (see pages 6-7 of our latest MSUE Report to Our Partners).


More recently, I visited Mike Mulders, whose family farms 480 acres near
Essexville, and produces a variety of vegetables for fresh markets. It
was fascinating to learn how their business has grown and expanded as
they have found ways to market not only through their own family farm
market, but also through a number of groceries across central Michigan.
Mr. Mulders is clearly an entrepreneur-a risk-taker, a deal-maker and a
very market savvy producer.  I often speak about how sophisticated
farmers are today-many of whom have advanced degrees and tap deeply into
information technology. Mr. Mulders is a great example. It's clear that
MSUE has some great opportunities and challenges in working with growers
like the Mulders as we seek to make our educational programming as
current, relevant and accessible as possible.  One issue that intrigued
me was the challenge of how MSUE can work with Michigan Department of
Agriculture and Michigan's vegetable growers to access markets beyond
Michigan and beyond the north central region.  Southern state markets
often lose access to fresh produce in August and September, just when
Michigan fields are most bountiful.  There may some great opportunities
for us in these fields.


Just yesterday I visited the Moore family. They grow salad greens
YEAR-ROUND just outside Engadine, a small town just off Route 2 in the
UP's Mackinac County. The Moores partnered with the C.S. Mott
Sustainable Agriculture Group to assess the feasibility of growing fresh
produce all year using hoop houses-those clear plastic-shrouded
greenhouses that we see popping up across the state. Walking through
their hoop house was the ultimate memory jog for me. They have row after
row of fresh greens-spinach, black-seed lettuce, romaine lettuce and
this beautiful mix of red, yellow, rust and green leaf lettuces that
reminds me of the first crop my father harvests from his garden each
year. The simple technology of the hoop house allows them to have fresh
lettuce to harvest through the coldest winter months.  They just
finished their first growing season in the new hoop. It started last
October and ended in March. It's probably too early to measure the
feasibility of the operation, but when I see the plants they have grown
and hear that the produce manager at the grocery in Newberry tells them,
"I'll take as much as you can bring me," I can't help but think that
this is definitely going to be feasible.  David Conner and others with
the C.S. Mott Group, along with Chippewa County CED Jim Lucas have
helped with funding for this feasibility study and with information to
help develop the production system.  


From all three of these encounters, what lingers strongest in my memory
is the passion that each person had for their "gardening"
ventures-whether it was the Senator and her pleasure in losing herself
in her garden, Mr. Mulders' drive to find and open new markets for his
high quality produce, or the Moore family's immersion in the business of
building raised beds and trouble-shooting those funny-looking louvers on
the end of the hoop house.  There's something special, wholesome and
familial about working with the soil that connects us all. And it's a
delight for MSUE to be a part of it. 


Kids, cameras and history - what a great combination!

It's always nice to take a gander at something guaranteed to make you
smile. Recently, 4-H teamed up with the Michigan Department of History,
Arts and Libraries (HAL), Michigan History for Kids magazine and the
Michigan Barn Preservation Network for the 2007 Michigan Week Youth
Photo Contest. 

This event is sponsored by the Michigan 4-H Global, Cultural & Arts
Education Program with more than a helping hand from five 4-H staff
coordinators including Sheryl Schrot (Menominee) Barb Duvall (Leelanau),
Dave Thomas (Midland), Connie Lange (Branch) and Judy See (Monroe

Here are the results. Enjoy!,1607,7-160-17447_18630_23112-168865--,00.h



New site helps manage wildlife damage

Some of you may remember Dr. Glenn Dudderar, who was MSU's extension
wildlife specialist for many years and a good friend and colleague for
me.  Glenn defied the term "specialist" in that he was expert in many
different facets of wildlife management. By far, his most common calls
were for expertise on wildlife damage to crops, landscaping, house
siding, electrical wiring and many other human artifacts.  With Glenn's
retirement nearly 10 years ago, we've not had that kind of expertise
available in MSUE on managing wildlife damage.  


We now have two alternatives for seeking assistance on wildlife damage
management.  One is the Michigan office of the USDA Wildlife Services,
located at 2803 Jolly Road in East Lansing, and available at
517-336-1928.  They are very helpful and customer-friendly.


The other alternative is a new Community of Practice (CoP) site at  You may recall from an earlier Spotlight that eXtension
is the national web portal that is under development for use by
individuals seeking Extension information on the internet. The
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension serves as the host for the
Wildlife Damage Management CoP, but it includes resources from Extension
programs across the nation.  It gives consumers instant access to
research-based solutions for helping humans and wildlife coexist. It
includes a series of illustrated pages featuring 65 wildlife species
that are a nuisance or cause damage in North America. The interactive
site allows you to navigate through life histories, behavior, damage
identification, economics and legal issues, and offers a complete list
of methods for managing wildlife damage.


It's an excellent resource to pass on to clients. To take full advantage
of the site, register at <>
and choose Wildlife Damage Management.




Thomas G. Coon, Director
Michigan State University Extension
108 Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
517-355-2308 (voice)
517-355-6473 (fax)
[log in to unmask] 


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