The great escape of gardening grows during pandemic

GARDENING ESCAPE: The COVID-19 crisis has boosted public interest in gardening. We hear from the creator of Kalamazoo’s “U-Pick Garden,” where she grows thyme, basil, oregano and other herbs, and the manager of the New North Greenhouses in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. By Anne Hooper. FOR STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, SAULT STE. MARIE AND ALL POINTS.

Midwest fertilizer runoff adds to low-oxygen zone in Gulf of Mexico

FERTILIZER RUNOFF: Fertilizer runoff from seasonal heavy rainfall on Midwestern farms is traveling down the Mississippi River and creating a “hypoxic zone,” or low oxygen zone in the Gulf of Mexico, a recent study warns. The Great Lakes face a similar threat from nitrogen runoff. We talk to MSU Extension experts in Hillsdale and Gratiot counties and to the lead author of the study. For news and agriculture sections. By Lillian Young. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, ALCONA, HILLSDALE AND ALL POINTS

A sign at the Meridian Farmers Market in Ingham County reminds shoppers to mask up.

Michigan farmers markets adjust to the pandemic

FARMER MARKETS PANDEMIC: Most of the state’s 240 farmer markets not only survived the pandemic, they provided a sense of normalcy for people stressed about it. While customers and vendors were down at some venues, shoppers who did visit bought more. Some markets experienced a wave of new customers with food assistance. We talk to market managers in Cadillac, Holland and a maple syrup vendor of the market in Coldwater and a statewide association based in East Lansing. By Judy Putnam. FOR LANSING, HOLLAND, CADILLAC, COLDWATER, MICHIGAN FARM BUREAU, BENZIE, MARQUETTE, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS

Family members operate a cherry shaker at the Hart-based DeRuiter Farms, Inc.

Cherry growers want to get in on the snacking trend

TART CHERRIES: Struggling Michigan cherry farmers hope to cash in on a growing consumer trend during the pandemic: We’re eating more snacks. The DeWitt-based Cherry Marketing Institute will use a $125,000 federal grant to promote the benefits of cherries to manufacturers of snack food and beverages. An April survey of just over 1,000 adults reported that 32% said they are snacking more since the start of the pandemic. The annual survey also found that COVID-19 had altered the way we eat: 85% reported changed eating habits with 60% reporting they were eating more at home. By Judy Putnam FOR TRAVERSE CITY, OCEANA HERALD JOURNAL, PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, LEELANAU, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! AND ALL POINTS

Study suggests rural strategies help economies of shrinking cities

RURAL CITIES: You won’t find barns and silos in Detroit. Or herds of cattle. Or fields of soybeans, sugar beets or wheat. Even so, much of the city is now “ruralized,” a new MSU study says, a phenomenon also visible in Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw. Study says Detroit isn’t actually rural but recommends that economic development approaches used in rural areas be used there rather than traditional urban top-down strategies like tax breaks and focus on large employers. For news and business sections. The authors explain. Includes references to Ionia and Clinton counties. By Eric Freedman. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP!, IONIA, GREENVILLE, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

The Michigan Farmers Market Association lists 225 markets on its website.

What drives farmers to join farmers markets?

FARMERS MARKETS: New farmers markets in low-income, urban areas of Michigan face challenges in recruiting and retaining vendors, a new study finds. Farmers motivated by their love of gardening or the desire to build community are least likely to drop out of those urban markets, the study concludes. Four farmers markets were canceled this year because of the pandemic in Benzonia, Munising, Lansing and Grayling. We talk to a study author and the Michigan Farmers Market Association. By Eric Freedman. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, LANSING CITY PULSE, CORP! BENZIE, MARQUETTE, CRAWFORD COUNTY, MANISTEE, TRAVERSE CITY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS AND ALL POINTS.

New grant funds study of Great Lakes aquaculture

The federal government awarded a $1 million grant to help the Great Lakes states promote aquaculture, including consumer education and correction of misinformation about the health and environmental aspects of fish farming. We hear from Sea Grant exports in the Western UP, Wisconsin and Minnesota. By CarinTunney.

Eastern Market implements new guidelines, business models to cater to the health, safety of guests

Courtesy of Samuel MorykwasShoppers attend the Flower Day Market in Eastern Market

Eastern Market has been one of Detroit, Michigan’s most prominent tourist destinations for over 150 years. With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, the market has remained open, but with new safety measures implemented. Sam Morykwas, marketing manager for Eastern Market, explained that Eastern Market wanted to ensure the safety of its guests and to make sure that they were complying with the state and city’s safety initiatives. Eastern Market uses several safety measures to limit face-to-face interactions and to keep the vendors and guests safe. These measures include sanitizing services and handwashing stations for the staff and guests, a taped 6-by-6-foot grid for a visual guide to help maintain social distancing, no longer allowing sampling from vendors, contact-free payments, additional signs to encourage people to distance themselves, required masks upon entry, temporary fencing around the market and a north and south entry point into the shed to regulate the flow of traffic.