This was written in July 2018 for the fall issue of MNFGA News:
I am still laughing! Some of you elected me President of Michigan Nut & Fruit Growers Association. Why me? Probably because of my willingness? Possibly, as I am willing to do what I can to help keep MNFGA going forward. I really enjoy the extraordinary knowledge base and experience of our membership. We have members in the planning stages of growing fruits and nuts, members who are expanding their already-huge orchards every year and members with all sizes of orchards in between.
As I write this, I am still enjoying a few mulberries from our trees, having put over 20 pounds in the freezer and my wife having made several quarts of mulberry jam. The black currants are ripening nicely and I am still trying to determine if it is a flavor I enjoy. This is our first year of currants. It is great to see that we will shatter the previous two years of one paw paw each year with possibly a dozen or so this year. The young trees are doing well. And persimmons? The one female seedling from Oikos is full of green fruits and several of the seedlings I grafted in 2016 and 2017 have fruits. I will never have as many persimmons as Hank and Nghi, but that does not stop me from trying to have some for the freezer. English walnuts and kiwis are not faring as well this year, despite no late frosts. I think that the kiwis might need some bees. We had lots of blossoms but I did not see many bees. I need another project like I need more deer, but maybe it is time to get a hive? I know that Clay (1st VP) would strongly encourage me to do so (did you know that he is a beekeeper and a VERY active member in the South East Michigan Beekeepers Association?).
I know, enough drivel, let’s get to the nut meats: The August 25 meeting starts with a noon potluck at Hartmann’s Plant Company, 310 60th Street, Grand Junction, MI 49056. Dan Hartmann will tell us about his greenhouse operation and then tour us through the greenhouses and the tissue culture lab. We will also hand out the 1,131 plants that were ordered and have an auction. We are meeting inside their huge shipping barn, out of the sun or rain (wow, some rain would be nice right now…it is quite dry here in mid-Michigan). Thank you to Dan Hartmann and crew for opening on a Saturday for MNFGA!
The Michigan State Fair MNFGA booth still needs some support. Please contact Marc Boone or myself to get signed up if you are not already signed up. And, please, do not think that you need to be a subject matter expert to staff the booth. If there is something you do not know that someone asks, let them know that we can get back to them. Believe me, I am not an expert and yet I enjoy talking with the interested people and hearing their comments. As you know from your own experience, there are a lot of people interested in growing their own. Let’s help them! The Fair is from August 30 to September 2, 10 am to 10 pm each day, and then on September 3 from 10 am to 5 pm. We have set up staffing slots in 4-hour blocks so that no one has to get too much of a good thing if we get enough volunteers. Please volunteer to help.
Thinking ahead to 2019, we are all set with having Chris Wright tell us about mushrooms for the spring meeting. We will strive to set up a large, discounted group order with Chris so that those interested can begin/expand their mushroom plantings. The members at the Summer Meeting supported having a grafting class separate from the 2019 spring meeting in April. Jackie Smith has kindly offered her farm for the grafting meeting, but I am wondering if we might be better off (especially in the spring, muddy, rainy season) having the meeting at an indoor venue, possibly Clarksville or Jackson? Tom Wilmoth has offered his farm for the summer meeting and the fall is still open. I am already excited about MNFGA in 2019.