ROOTED: Exotic vegetables are Thomas’ Natural Roots forté

A visit to Kevin and Tammy Thomas’ farm business, whether in person or virtually, is an experience for the senses — and the vocabulary.

“Carmel Reaper,” “Buena Mulata,” “Peach Scorpion” and “Death Spiral” are just four of the 60 varieties of peppers — from super hot to sweet — the couple grows as Thomas’ Natural Roots.

ROOTED: Ailing Ionia County farmer has help he doesn’t expect

When farmer Craig Denny had a health crisis earlier this summer, right in the middle of harvest season, his community rallied.

Although Denny, who owns Denny Farms Farm Market and Bakery in Saranac, was out of circulation at one of the most crucial points in the year, everything that needed to be done to keep his farm and market operating happened, thanks to family, friends, employees, neighbors and customers who stepped up to help.

Michigan Ag Council receives grant to promote specialty crops

The Michigan Ag Council has received a $125,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The program offers federal funding to a state department of agriculture to support the specialty crop industry. Several organizations partnered with the Michigan Ag Council received funds as well.

October is Farm to School Month in Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed October as Farm to School Month in Michigan to highlight the important connection between Michigan agriculture and healthy school lunches.

Farm to School is a national program enriching the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and childcare education settings.

USDA expands local, electronic communication options for producers

Agricultural producers in Michigan can now sign up to receive email and text messages directly from their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center for information related to loans, farm disaster assistance, conservation programs, crop insurance and other USDA programs.

USDA is expanding the service that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has used for years to now include local information from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and other USDA agencies.

From cattle farm to Lavender Vista

The plants lie dormant now, not much to see but spindly brown stalks, but come next summer, Lavender Vista will be awash with color and the distinctive sweet fragrance of the herb that is its namesake.

Owners Susan and Ed Hancock used to raise Aberdeen Angus, a smaller-framed beef cattle, on their farm on Lincoln Lake Road, as well as Shetland sheep and a llama that stood guard to protect the flock from coyotes.

Farmer Veteran Coalition digs into soil health

Hoop house soil health was the central topic for a workshop held at Full Circle Farm in Lakeview on Sept. 16. The event was organized by the Michigan Farmer Veteran Coalition chapter and the Montcalm Conservation District.

The event specifically addressed building a healthy soil in the controlled environment of a season-extending hoop house. Full Circle Farm offered their facility to explore the topic using their hoop house system where they raise produce to complement the sale of meats which they raise using grass-fed and organic practices.

MCC student Henry Ravell embraces technology in agriculture

Henry Ravell has always been intrigued by farming and all that goes into growing a successful crop.

The Howard City man’s interest was truly piqued a few years ago when he received one of Montcalm Community College’s promotional materials in the mail. It mentioned the Michigan State University Institute of Agricultural Technology’s certificate for a remote pilot’s license. Ravell took the courses needed and is now a licensed remote pilot and can fly drones and other small, unmanned aircraft. 

Montcalm MSU Extension Office gets new field crops educator

Samantha Daniel is the new field crops educator for Montcalm County’s Michigan State University Extension Office in Stanton.

Grand Rapids-area students learn about agriculture careers

Gear Up Program Wyoming visits MCC

In the fall of 2019, Steve Beauclair of Gear Up Wyoming met with Rob Spohr, vice president of academic affairs with Montcalm Community College.

It was a networking meeting to help high school students in the greater Grand Rapids area learn about career and educational opportunities post high school graduation.