Career center expo sheds light on importance of local agriculture

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 3:27 pm on Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Montcalm Area Career Center greenhouse featured dozens of plants for people to check out at the “All Things Green” Expo on Tuesday. At top, locally grown herbs raised by agriculture students in the MACC greenhouse were available for purchase. — Daily News/Cory Smith

SIDNEY — With 60 degree temperatures and the sun in the sky, it was a perfect day Tuesday to take a tour through the Montcalm Area Career Center (MACC) greenhouse during the fourth annual “All Things Green” Expo.

Students and area residents toured the greenhouse as well as 27 vender booths from area agricultural specialist at the MACC, featuring products grown right in Montcalm County.

“This is our fourth year of a collaboration between the Montcalm Area Career Center Agricultural Science Program and the Montcalm Master Gardeners,” said Merry Kim Meyers of the MACC Future Farmers of America Chapter. “We wanted something that would showcase what we are doing in our county that is reflecting the new trends towards sustainable agriculture. It’s an opportunity for people to come and see and participate and for my students to see what is out there. They are our future leaders.”

Candice Fishburn, 10, of Vestaburg, holds a baby chick in her hands during the “All Things Green” Expo. — Daily News/Cory Smith

One of Meyers’ students in the Montcalm Community College animal science class, Tiffany Fishburn, stressed the importance of spreading the knowledge of the impact agriculture has in the local area.

“We have different agricultural businesses set up, just to educate the community,” Fishburn said. “Agriculture is rather big in this area and people need to be more aware of this. People need to realize agriculture is more than what you think it is. It isn’t just about farming, it involves greenhouses and environmental and other things like that.”

Another student, and current senior at Central Montcalm High School, Mitchell Beach, took the time to create a brochure that was on display to educate people about the seriousness of oak wilt in Montcalm County.

“It was in The Daily News a few months ago so I decided to provide a little information about it to everyone,” Beach said. “It’s not very common in Montcalm County or Michigan for that matter, so I thought it was very important to get people educated on the issue.”

Jeremy Sova, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said he was very impressed with Beach’s drive to educate at such a young age.

“We love to see the youth getting involved in natural resources and taking some pride, furthering their own knowledge,” Sova said. “He’s giving back in a big way. There was not a lot of information out there on this. Most land owners didn’t know what was going on with their trees. This brochure is now something we have available on our counter. The symptoms, the effects, it’s all there.”

According to Meyers, the expo has grown significantly now in its fourth year and she hopes for an even bigger turnout next year.

“If we don’t stand up and say what we are doing is important, no one else will,” she said. “Every year the event grows. We had someone here who makes soap with their own goat milk. It’s just incredible what so many of these people do here locally.”

At the conclusion of the event, all guests and venders were invited to listen to Brad Morgan, a dairy farmer from Evart, who spoke on the importance of agriculture. “Make sure you realize there have been major changes in agriculture throughout the years,” he said. “It’s incredibly important to keep agriculture close to heart as it has more of an impact in all of our lives than anyone could know.”

Guest speaker Brad Morgan, a dairy farmer from Evart, stressed the importance of local agriculture to visitors of the fourth annual “All Things Green” Expo. — Daily News/Cory Smith

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