By Janelle Walworth
Agriculture Week happens every year around the third week of March, kicking off on the 20th this year with Hillsdale County Farm Bureau members geared up to outdo last year’s festivities.
Membership Captain Allison Grimm, President Kayla Lewis and directors Joe Draper, Mark Kline, Amber Kohler and Ron Oates all met with Hillsdale Market House staff to spice up the collaboration from last year, which included hanging commodity signs around the store to showcase quick facts and link to additional resources to help inform customers about the food they’re taking home to their families.
The signs were enhanced with additional information about what customers were eating at Sharon’s House of Pancakes, located inside Market House:
- More than half of all Michigan blueberries are shipped to fresh market; the rest are frozen, pureed, concentrated or canned for use in various products.
- Why do some onions make us cry? Because they release enzymes and sulfur, which combine to form sulfenic acids, which releases into the air when they’re cut, irritating the eyes and triggering protective tear production.
- There are over 10,000 known mushroom species but not all are edible.
- Michigan farms supply eggs to most McDonald’s restaurants east of the Mississippi River.
- Toast: It takes five bushels — about 60 pounds — of wheat to make 210 loaves of bread!
County Farm Bureau members and Market House staff discussed a multitude of ideas, all clearly excited about the adventure returning to the store.
In addition to the commodity fact signs, “Michigan Grown” tags were displayed to encourage customers to shop local and help them identify products produced in-state. Market House owner and county Farm Bureau member Brett Boyd has been a huge supporter of local growers and carries honey, syrup, mushrooms, jerky, apples, cider, popcorn and caramel corn — all produced nearby.
On National Agriculture Day (March 22) the committee was joined by several other members to offer a celebratory afternoon event at Hillsdale Market House. Commodity groups representing Michigan cherry, poultry, pine trees, dairy, asparagus, carrots and sheep producers donated give-away materials for customers, who could enter a drawing for gift baskets full of Michigan-produced products.
Kohler Strawberry Farm in Jerome sponsored the member basket with local products like bread, spices, honey, bread, a Stormy Kromer hat, local restaurant gift certificates and much more valued at $350.
Hillsdale County National Bank sponsored the non-member basket with local products like honey, maple syrup, beef sticks, caramel corn and gift certificates valued at $250.
Brent Williams won the Kohler Strawberry Farm basket and Kellie Hendershot won the County National Bank basket. WCSR was on site to speak with members about their farm operations and roles within the county Farm Bureau.
Membership Captain Allison Grimm surprised Farm Bureau Insurance agents Mike Neely, Brent Leininger and Kelsey Caldwell with gift baskets full of locally produced products donated from members’ farms. The baskets were given in appreciation for the agents’ support in writing new members and directing them to program opportunities. Contents included:
- Beef snacks and charcuterie meats from Ferry Farms in Litchfield
- Snack sticks from Pleasant View Dairy in Jonesville
- Local restaurant gift cards from Welden Farms in Jonesville
- Meckley Cider & Beer from Steve Meckley of Cement City
- Maple syrup from the Young Farmer and membership committees
- Seeds courtesy of the Hillsdale County Conservation District
- Hand-crafted wooden spoons from Ransom Chicken Lady in Osseo
- Butter cookies from Jonesville Bakery
- Spoonful of Granola from Powers Clothing in Jonesville
- Raw honey from O’Brien’s Bees in Waldron
Agriculture Week ended with a Family Rodeo Night at ProEdge Arena for regular members and their families, hosted by Allison Grimm and Young Farmer Chair Cody Birdsell.
About 120 members walked through the door to enjoy a night of bull riding and socialization. A member discount was sponsored by ProEdge Arena in addition to the discount sponsored by the membership and Young Farmer committees, which also included pizza and water.
The membership committee sponsored a bull named The Harvester which tied for second place when members arrived to cheer him on.
You can take part in celebrating agriculture or many other activities by contacting the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau 517-437-2458 or visiting us online at hillsdale.michfb.com or HillsdaleCountyFarmBureau on Facebook.
Janelle Walworth is administrative manager for the Hillsdale County Farm Bureau.