President’s Letter

This was written prior to the July 13, 2019 Summer Meeting:



Welcome to the growing season!


Did you do some grafting this spring…or still planning to do some in the case of walnuts? I am happy to report that some my Sault Saint Marie crabapple scions are growing. This was a test of a pre-dormant harvest of scions. My wife and I were in Sault Ste. Marie in October when the leaves were still green. With the owner’s permission, we cut some living scions. They were put in water and stayed in water until December. The scions seemed to undergo normal, fall leaf drop and then were cut to scion storage length, ends dipped in wax and put into the refrigerator with a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. They survived the ordeal and are now growing on my rootstock this summer. Yay!


The summer meeting is Saturday, July 13, 2019 at the Charles and Wilma Leik (rhymes with like) Farm at 9339 S. Keefer Highway, Portland, MI 48875. If you drive west of Portland via I-96 or Grand River Avenue, you know that there is a large John Deere dealership west of town. Charles’ farm is about 1 ¼ mile south of the dealership. Charles has spent considerable time and energy restoring this historic family farm and has been planting fruit and nut trees as well. It is a beautiful farm and MNFGA is grateful to have the summer meeting there. Please plan to bring a dish to pass for the noon potluck start. It will also be helpful if you can bring your own chair and table service. Coffee and water will be on tap. We already have several items for the auction and you are encouraged to bring additional items. After the potluck, we will have a short business meeting, the auction and then the farm tour. What a great time to see your MNFGA friends, historic buildings and some interesting tree plantings.


Regarding the auction items we already have: you are probably aware that long time MNFGA member, MNFGA Director and auctioneer Gordon Barlow passed away on March 12, 2019.   Gordon died with thoughts of planting more nut trees and he had requested that he be buried with a black walnut in one hand and an English walnut in the other hand…and so he laid in the casket at the funeral home with a walnut in each hand. It made me smile despite my sadness at seeing him pass. When we get there, God willing, I believe Gordon will have expanded (or started?!) the walnut grove in heaven! Toward his earthly goals, his wife, Jane, has donated Gordon’s nut growing and processing equipment to MNFGA for the auction. We have a black walnut husker (this is a large, electric-powered unit and will require transport in a pick-up or trailer…I can send you photos if you wish or you can see it on the MNFGA Facebook page), various Rootmaker© pots and air rooting containers, hand-powered nut crackers, 7 pairs of drying screens, some books and grafting glue and a homemade chestnut slicer (made by Gordon’s son-in-law). Thank you, Gordon and Jane, for all of your contributions to MNFGA, both recently and through the years.

Auctions are a fun and beneficial way for MNFGA to raise funds and thereby keep our membership fees low. Where else can you get all of this for $8.00 per year?! We learned about mushrooms in the spring, we had a grafting class in April and now we have two farm tours coming up. Tell your friends about us. They can get to know us on Facebook: Michigan Nut & Fruit Growers Association or at


The fall meeting will be on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at the Tom and Kathleen Wilmoth Farm in Howell, MI. Tom has been working on some very interesting growing projects in his controlled environment greenhouses at 7891 Wiggins Road, Howell, MI 48855. We will see some new twists on growing, compliments of a guy who is willing to try new things. Another great thing about the fall meeting is that so many of you are very creative and generous with the Michigan nut and fruit dishes that you bring for the potluck. If only we could bottle some of that deliciousness to share with anyone who is on the fence about growing their own fruits and nuts…our membership would grow like crazy. However, I do admit that I like the current size where we can meet in small venues and chat and have fun. Potluck starts at noon and the meeting, auction and tour follows.


Thank you, Charles and Tom, for volunteering your farms for our 2019 farm tours. The farm tours are a treasured part of MNFGA. If you would be willing to host MNFGA in 2020 or beyond, please contact a Board member.


There were a couple of volunteers for the Adopt-A-Highway cleanup this spring, but the cold, rainy weather made it difficult to coordinate. The summer and fall pick-ups (July 13-21 and September 21-29) will hopefully have better weather and make it easier to coordinate volunteers. Please let me know if you can help. There were 79 bags of trash for the spring clean-up after the long winter. The summer and fall pick-ups will be much lighter duty. This will be our last year of this endeavor.


Hank Frechtling will bring the Roger Miller Memorial Library collection to the summer meeting. You are most welcome to check books out of the library to read until the next meeting. If you have one/some on lone presently, please plan to return them to the July meeting if you can.


As it has been a challenge for our secretary, Dan Foster, to keep up with his very busy career AND MNFGA secretary duties, Dan has asked that this be his last year as secretary. So, if you would like to nominate someone for the spring 2020 elections as secretary (you can self-nominate!), please contact a Board member. Dan would relinquish his duties sooner if someone offered!


MNFGA has displayed at the Michigan State Fair for the last 4 years. It has been a challenge to gather enough volunteers for this Labor Day weekend event. Consequently, coordinator Marc Boone has been at the Fair from 10 am to 10 pm most all of the days of the fair and has been there to set it up the day before the fair as well. If we are going to continue the Michigan State Fair display, we must have more volunteers. Please look at your calendars prior to the July 13 meeting and be prepared to sign up for some blocks of booth staffing. If we cannot get enough staffing, we will not be at the Michigan State Fair. If you cannot be at the July 13 meeting but are available to volunteer, please let me know via phone or email ( It is not mandatory that MNFGA has a booth at the Fair. If we cannot staff it sufficiently, we will not have a booth. If you are a member because of Marc’s generosity of time spent on the Michigan State Fair, please let me know. We curious to know if the Fair is a good event for getting new members. The Fair is August 28 to September 2, 2019.


I look forward to seeing you all at the Leik Farm on July 13 for the noon potluck and more!


Happy growing.


Dennis Strahle

MNFGA President

Eagle, MI