Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 12, 2013

Farm Focus in Brief: 01/12/2013


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Small Farm Conference

GRAYLING — Small farmers, homesteaders, farm interns, students, chefs and consumers will gather Jan. 26 to share ideas, gain new skills and make plans for the 2013 growing season at the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference.

Now in its 14th year, the conference features 27 breakout sessions covering such topics as alternative fruit crops, dairying without antibiotics, farmland preservation, viticulture, Internet marketing, water conservation, heritage breed sheep and home meat curing.

Keynote speaker is Jason Rowntree, assistant professor, beef and cattle forage utilization at Michigan State University. A trade show will present more than 70 vendors from across Michigan.

Young people are encouraged to attend, with special youth track sessions on getting started in farming. The full schedule may be found online at

For more details and to register, visit or call 838-8093.

Master gardeners

TRAVERSE CITY — The Michigan Master Gardener Program will hold annual local training at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center starting Feb. 27.

The horticulture education and volunteer leader training program offered by Michigan State University Extension is aimed at adults who have a strong interest in gardening and enjoy sharing their knowledge through volunteerism. To become an MSU Extension Master Gardener, individuals attend the training sessions and then volunteer in the community. Examples of volunteer activities include teaching gardening classes, gardening with children or providing leadership to community garden-related projects.

Classes will run Wednesdays through May 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. Cost is $300, which includes an 800-page training manual, speakers and facilities. Financial aid is available upon request.

Deadline to register is Feb. 18. Call 256-8323, email or visit

Club names officers

TRAVERSE CITY — The Friendly Garden Club has named officers for 2013, its 90th anniversary year.

Club officers are President Sue Soderberg; First Vice-President Jill Stiltner; and Second Vice-President Jean Spagnuolo. Arlene Beall will serve as chair of the Garden Walk, coming up July 18. Linda Burkey and Jean Spagnuolo are co-chairs of the Geranium Sale.

Founded and chartered in 1923, the club provides flower arranging, horticulture, conservation and landscape design information to members and the community. Members perform many hands-on projects including the Logo Garden planting and maintenance at the Open Space, Senior Center plantings and landscape, overseeing planting and maintenance of the Children's Gardens at Traverse Area District Library.

Dairy conference

FRANKENMUTH — Herd nutrition and industry sustainability will be the featured topics of the Thursday sessions at the 2013 Great Lakes Regional Dairy Conference Feb. 7-9 at the Bavarian Inn and Conference Center in Frankenmuth.

With widespread drought and the resulting economic fallout dominating Michigan's dairy industry in 2012, sessions will focus on feeding cows and increasing efficiency in 2013, with sustainable practices in mind.

A free preconference session, "Good, Safe Food: Producing Antibiotic-free Milk and Meat," will kick off the event at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 7.

Visit for the complete conference schedule. Deadline to register online is Jan. 25. Direct questions to 517-353-3175.

Nature education

TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative is offering a full day of professional development for teachers at the Boardman River Nature Center on Thursday, Jan. 24.

From 8 a.m. to noon, Kate Hofmann from the National Wildlife Federation will offer a workshop for kindergarten to sixth-grade educators called "Nature Literacy and an Introduction to National Wildlife Federation Programs for Educators." From 1 to 5 p.m., Tom Wessels will present a workshop for fifth- to 12th-grade educators called, "The 5 E's of Inquiry-Based Instruction."

The Grand Traverse Conservation District will also hold an Educators' Open House Jan. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Workshops are free to GTSI teachers, or $45 per session for other educators and administrators. To register for workshops, call 941-0960, Ext. 15 or email To register for the open house, dial Ext. 24 or email