Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 1, 2012

Garrett Coggon: Antrim greenhouse verified

Program ensures farms use highest standards

WILLIAMSBURG — Mischel's Greenhouses recently became the first greenhouse in Antrim County to be Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program-verified.
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WILLIAMSBURG — The program works with local farmers to ensure that verified farms represent the highest standards of environmental stewardship practices and are the pinnacle of responsible agriculture.

Mischel's Greenhouses has been operating a family-owned wholesale and mail-order retail greenhouse since 1985 — first from Byron Center, and since 1995, from their location nestled between Elk Lake and East Grand Traverse Bay. From azaleas, geraniums, petunias, mums, poinsettias and dozens of other flowering annual plants, the greenhouse stays busy in every season.

Owner John Mischel and his staff are a team of excellent horticulturalists who take pride in producing high-quality plants in the most environmentally responsible manner. He approached the MAEAP process as a way to ensure that his operation is environmentally responsible and proactive by preventing pollution or other negative impacts on our landscape.

"At first the job seemed daunting, but as we followed the plan, step by step, we were able to change some of our equipment and practices," he said. "(Now) we feel very good that we are MAEAP certified." Mischel's work can be found across Michigan and beyond at the Grand Traverse Resort, the Grand Hotel, Fruit Basket Flowerland and select regional grocery stores including Tom's and Oleson's. Mischel's horticultural products are also sold online at www.mischelsgreenhouses.com, with customers throughout the country.

In addition, area farmers have gained a new ally in conservation with the addition of Jessica Rasch, a MAEAP technician at the Grand Traverse Conservation District. Rasch grew up as a sixth-generation farmer on a large apple orchard in west Michigan and earned a bachelor of science degree in natural resource management from Grand Valley State University.

For the past seven years, Rasch has been involved in research trials with Michigan State University's Tree Fruit Entomology Department. During these trials, she has emphasized Integrated Pest Management practices targeting moths using insecticides and pheromone mating disruption. Rasch has worked directly with growers in west Michigan as a liaison for these trials by providing support and building a connection based on trust and common goals. She is an excellent resource and is looking forward to providing northern Michigan growers assistance in advancing sustainable agriculture and protecting our natural resources through the MAEAP initiative.

She can be reached at the Grand Traverse Conservation District, 941-0960, Ext. 23.

Garret Coggon is food safety and MAEAP technician with the Grand Traverse Conservation District.