Michigan Farm Bureau asks members and agricultural stakeholders to send a message to Gov. Whitmer, asking her to issue a clarification to Executive Order 2020-21, deeming the retail sale of plants as essential infrastructure. To act, simply text the phrase MIGREEN to the number 52886 or visit https://bit.ly/sayyestoplantsales.
Retail garden centers and greenhouses across the state are brimming with nursery stock, flowers and vegetable plants — ready for customers to purchase for their home garden and landscaping needs.
Unfortunately, unlike much of the food and agriculture sector, retail garden centers were not deemed essential to operate under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21.
In response to grower concern, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski on April 3 sent a formal request to Whitmer to “ask for a reconsideration of retail garden centers to be included as essential infrastructure workers.”
According to MFB’s horticulture specialist, Audrey Sebolt, the industry with estimated retail value of $580 to $700 million, and 9,000-plus employees, has much at stake.
“For many growers, if they’re not allowed to sell the plants already growing in greenhouses, it will mean a complete loss and an entire year without income for both the owners and their employees,” Sebolt said. “We’re hopeful Governor Whitmer will take the lead from Ohio Governor DeWine who on April 2 designated retail garden centers as essential infrastructure.”
Bednarski’s request to Whitmer also indicates the industry is “willing to comply with increased reasonable restrictions to provide for social distancing, such as curbside delivery,” so they can sell product.
Many studies have shown mental health benefits from being able to plant flowers, curate landscaping or grow vegetables.
“As Michigan residents deal with direct or indirect impacts of Coronavirus on their lives, many like to turn to gardening to cope with stress, no different than those who turn to puzzles, reading or music for similar benefits,” Sebolt added. “Because of Coronavirus, there has been a large increase in sales of vegetable plants to home owners occurring in southern states. and we’re expecting this to occur in Michigan too.
“Our growers simply would like to be able to get their product into the hands of those who need it.”
Michigan Farm Bureau and Michigan Farm News are committed to providing its members and readers with the latest news and information on the COVID-19 pandemic. For news, updates and resources, visit https://www.michfb.com/MI/Coronavirus/. The page will be updated daily as more information becomes available.