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I hope you enjoy reading about some very hard-working families living in the tri-county area who are featured in our Agriculture section in this weekend’s edition of the Times. I certainly enjoyed interviewing them and learning about their passion for family and their dedication to the agriculture industry in Michigan.

 This is the Times’ first Agriculture section and we reached out to a few local families to see what their day-to-day operations are like and how they rely on their families for support. I do admit that prior to this featured section, I had not given much thought to where our crops, meat and milk come from other than knowing we have some of the best sweet corn and farmers markets in the area.

 Learning how the entire Gramer family comes together to run a large dairy farm is inspiring to me. While other businesses shut down because of the pandemic, I learned a dairy farm cannot shut down as Albert Gramer Jr. said the cows always need to be milked. Add schooling and sports to the mix and that is a very busy family.

 I was unaware that Byron schools has a well-respected Future Farmers of America (FFA) program and nearly half of the student population at the high school actively takes courses in the program. While 4-H Clubs across the country are community based, the FFA is school based. To hear Jenna Anderson, a junior at Byron High School, talk about her experiences with raising animals and taking on leadership roles, it’s apparent why there is so much enthusiasm with this program.

 Speaking of 4-H, I was excited to learn that my co-worker Coreena Storms’ brother Jim MacCaughan of Fenton has been involved with 4-H his entire life. His parents were involved with every aspect of 4-H, including just about every life skill a person needs, from financial planning, sewing, cooking, maintaining farming equipment and raising healthy animals and plentiful crops. Jim’s children are now involved and from the number of awards they have already earned, they are headed in the right direction for a successful future.

 I also interviewed Dwight Eichelberg, who owns and runs Eichelberg Farm in Fenton Township. Every summer we routinely buy our sweet corn and tomatoes from his vegetable stand. It’s definitely a full-time job for the retired teacher.

 Please take a few minutes to read and learn about our neighbors and their families who are part of the second most diverse agriculture industry in the nation just behind California.

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