US (MI): Growers have figured out a new source of green to pay bills

Longtime farmers Craig and Kim Denny were growing more vegetables than they had room to sell from their roadside wagon in Ionia County's Saranac.

To meet demand, the couple decided to open a retail farm market and bakery 10 years ago. And they've been expanding ever since, said Craig: "It's evolved. Every year, we add something new out there."

Denny Farms began growing hydroponic lettuce within the last year after expanding greenhouse space to 13,000 square feet to stretch out the farming season. In addition to growing a variety of vegetables in the greenhouses and fields, they continue to operate the farm market and bakery.

Across Michigan, farmers like the Dennys are breathing new life into their agriculture businesses by diversifying their products and entering niche markets. They're pushing to do things differently to help bottom lines battered by such rising production costs as fuel and fertilizer, said Theresa Sisung, Michigan Farm Bureau industry relations specialist.

"Some of the reasons are just the volatility in some of the markets for their crops or whatever they're producing," she said. "They're trying to sort of level out their income stream, trying to make things a little bit more stable instead of having constant up-and-down spikes of prices.


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