(Editor’s Note: Erin Gartland praises Peninsula Township and Planner Jen Cram in their efforts to support farmers in a variety of ways. -jb)
The fact that Peninsula Township Planner Jennifer Cram is pursuing the creation of an ordinance section to allow new retail opportunities and improve the current means of retail marketing of farm produce comes as promising news.
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Peninsula Township farmers need to have the capability to create a farm market or farmers market to fill a gap that has existed for too long. Being able to do more than just a roadside stand will give farmers another outlet for sales and another opportunity to let their creativity and entrepreneurship lead them to a better future.
Having received considerable input during many hours working through options last winter with a committee of citizens and agricultural operators, Ms. Cram is continuing to take input from agricultural operators before unveiling the proposed language.
This significant effort to support agriculture by the Township will be followed up with Ms. Cram’s recommendations for reworking the roadside stand ordinance to make it more useful and fully compliant with Michigan’s Right to Farm Act, and with exploring other forms of agritourism to ensure all agricultural operators have the advantages they need to compete and succeed.
During last winter’s committee meetings, Ms. Cram also heard other suggestions to make operating farms easier. Her list of tasks is long, but she is dedicated. With time and the support she has from the Township Board, she can help our agriculture operators create a better future.
It is important that the Township moves forward with efforts to support agriculture now, while we all wait patiently as the winery lawsuit continues to make its way through the courts.
We cannot let that unfortunate conflict get in the way of finding and implementing better ways to support other forms of agriculture.
As a board member of Protect the Peninsula, I can confirm that Protect the Peninsula supports agriculture and wants to see new ways for agriculture to compete and succeed. Processing and retailing of produce from the farms in our community should be for all farmer entrepreneurs.