MSU Extension made a difference in the lives of Iron County residents in 2018

Michigan State University Extension supports families, youth, community development and more.

Eight youth gardeners participated in a Garden Camp at the Green Thumb Community Garden sponsored by the Crystal Falls Contemporary Center and coordinated by MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture staff.

Consumer Horticulture 

Smart Gardening programs focus on providing earth-friendly, sustainable practices that gardeners can use in their own yards and gardens. Participants learn about creating healthy soils, protecting pollinators, water conservation while learning about growing vegetables, tending their lawn, and other landscape plants. In 2018, three Smart Gardening outreach booths were provided in Iron County reaching over 500 people and provided free Smart Gardening tip sheets. Two Extension Master Gardeners assisted with these events. Five different hands-on workshops were offered. These reached over 200 youth and adults.

Lawn & Garden Questions

Residents seeking answers to their lawn and garden questions can call the MSU Extension’s Lawn and Garden hotline at 888-678-3464. Over 40 Iron County residents received assistance through this resource. Consumer Horticulture staff and specially trained Extension Master Gardeners assist callers with proper plant identification, soil test results, and providing solutions to plant problems. Advice provided assists gardeners in reduction of pesticides and/or nutrients and protecting pollinators.

Over 103 youth and teachers from Forest Park Schools partic-ipated in a garden tour provided by MSU Extension staff.

Supporting Family Health & Nutrition

Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They add vitamins, minerals and fiber to the diet, and are low in sodium, fat, and sugar. Fruits and vegetables can be used as main meals, side dishes and snacks. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, known as Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH in Michigan, provides older adults who qualify with unprocessed, Michigan-grown products from authorized farmers markets and
roadside stands throughout Michigan. Qualified older adults receive coupons that are used to purchase Michigan-grown produce at registered roadside stands and farmers markets. Eligible items include: berries, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, beans, honey, and more. The program is free for both the participant and the farmer. It's truly a win-win for Michigan farmers and older adults! Become a participating market or farmer. Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH originates from U.S. Department of Agriculture funding. It is part of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and these
federal dollars come out of the federal Farm Bill. The program was designed to benefit both farmers and seniors.

Food Safety 

Sixteen people attended the eight hour course in Iron River. Beth also proctored the ANSI certified exam for certified food safety managers; the exam session immediately followed the course. Topics included were personal hygiene, forms of contamination, food allergens, monitoring time and temperature, food safety during purchasing and receiving, preparation, holding, reheating, and serving, pest management, emergencies that affect food safety in the facilities and cleaning and sanitizing.

Agriculture & Agribusiness

Monica Jean, Field Crops Educator, covers this region and serves as a conduit for this community to all the agricultural research and educational programs MSU offers. Programs available to the farming community in this region include business management, crop production, animal production and social-emotional health. In 2018, a cover crop research project took place on a farm in Hardwood, MI investigating the integration of millet into a potato rotation for soil health (Figure 1). MSU Extension is also working hard to provide opportunities for youth to get involved in agriculture. An example of this in your region is a land-based learning center with Slagle’s Family Farm and Iron Mountain High School.

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