Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 27, 2012

Ag Forum: Farmers get boost with donation

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — In late August, the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Foundation announced a generous donation from Cherry Republic to its "Keep Our Farmers Farming" campaign.

To date, some of those funds have been used for Michigan State University Extension, Greenstone Farm Credit Service and the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) to collaborate on an important educational event that assisted regional growers in preparing for the newly available disaster loans. The funds will also be used to support ongoing research conducted at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station as well as educational programs to help growers in the following areas: short- and long-term financial sustainability, labor administration and recruitment, intergenerational farm transfer planning, and stress management. An in-depth workshop on financial management is already in the works for winter 2013.

In addition to these educational programs, a portion of the funds will go toward lifting the spirits of the agricultural community after a particularly challenging year. In collaboration with Bob Sutherland and his terrific team at Cherry Republic, the Northwest Michigan New FARM Program will host an industry party at the Park Place Dome on Saturday, Nov. 3. The event offers a way for growers, their families, crew members and industry partners to ROAST 2012! We are inviting the agricultural community to kick off the season and to kick up their heels. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and run until midnight. Appetizers, beverages and live music will be sponsored by Cherry Republic.

This event also will include a silent auction to raise money for the Jeremy Jelinek Family, and we are currently accepting donations of any size for this important fundraiser. Products do not need to be available at the time of donation — gift certificates are an option. For those interested in contributing to this worthy cause, we ask that donations be dropped off at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station, 6686 S. Center Highway, by Thursday, Nov. 1. Items will be available for bid throughout the evening of Saturday, Nov. 3. Those interested in making a donation to the silent auction should call the NWMHRS or drop off the item by next Thursday. Growers or industry partners that want to attend the Nov. 3 Industry Party should call the NWMHRS to RSVP as soon as possible at 946-1510.

Again, we want to say thank you to Cherry Republic for their generous donation; the gift will be used to further ongoing fruit research and grower education. The funds also will be used for all those that had a difficult year to come out and have fun with other members of the agricultural community — we hope to see you Nov. 3.

Nikki Rothwell is Michigan State University Extension district horticulturalist and coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station.