Cherryland April 2023

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Big Blue Business MICHIGAN’S BLUEBERRY INDUSTRY COUNTRY LINES April 2023 MICHIGAN Cherryland Electric Cooperative The New Model-T What It Takes To Be A Lineworker Energy-Efficient Upgrades For Spring

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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933.

Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors.

Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS.

Association Officers: Tom Sobeck, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op, chairman; Gabe Schneider, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Chris O’Neill, HomeWorks TriCounty Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.


Instagram contest winner

Nature’s masterpiece on display at the Eben Ice Caves. @dougjulian (Doug Julian)


Why these fossilized formations 350 million years in the making are in such high demand.


Vegetarian: Meat-free and delicious recipes.


Ideal terrain, a generational legacy of farmers, and the Michigan Blueberry Commission help these tiny berries make a $500 million impact.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Instagram Contest

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. One-Pan Meals due May 1; Chocolate due July 1

Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit to submit.

Win $200 for stories published!

Contents April 2023 Vol. 43, No. 4 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines




David Schweitzer, President


Melinda Lautner, Senior Vice President


Gabe Schneider, Secretary 517-449-6453

Tom Van Pelt, Treasurer


Valarie Handy, Director 231-392-4705

Terry Lautner, Director 231-946-4623

Dean Adams, Director


General Manager: Tony Anderson

Co-op Editors: Rachel Johnson

Courtney Doyle:


Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.– 4 p.m.


231-486-9200 or 1-800-442-8616 (Mich.)


P.O. Box 298, Grawn, MI 49637


Cherryland Electric Cooperative office

5930 U.S. 31 South, Grawn MI, 49637

Cherryland Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Cherryland Office Closed Good Friday

The Cherryland office will be closed Friday, April 7, in observance of Good Friday. Regular business hours will resume Monday, April 10.

Line crews are on call to respond to any outages or emergencies. You can report an outage by texting OUT to 800-442-8616, logging into SmartHub, or calling us at 231-486-9200. Visit our website’s Outage Center for more details.

April 18 Is National Lineworker Appreciation Day

When the lights go out, so do Cherryland’s line crews. Thank you to Cherryland’s lineworkers for all they do to keep northern Michigan’s lights on! Check out pages 8 and 9 to learn more about what it takes to be a Cherryland Electric Cooperative lineworker!

Members Donate To Local Nonprofits Through Cherryland Cares

You can help local nonprofits by contributing to Cherryland Cares. Cherryland Cares is funded by members who voluntarily round up their monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. A member’s average annual contribution is approximately $6. The funds collected through this program are then distributed by the Cherryland Cares Board: a five-member volunteer board that reviews grant applications and allocates the funds to nonprofits seeking assistance.

If you are interested in participating, call the Cherryland office at 231-486-9200 or sign up through SmartHub.

Members Earn Rebates With Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

Cherryland members are eligible to receive rebates for energy-efficient upgrades in their homes or businesses. For a guide to our residential and commercial rebate programs and a complete listing of rebates available on Energy Star-qualified appliances, visit our website at

Cherryland’s 85th Annual Meeting Scheduled for June 15

Cherryland’s 85th Annual Meeting will take place Thursday, June 15, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Incredible Mo’s in Grawn. Cherryland will provide updates regarding the 85th Annual Meeting in Michigan Country Lines, and on our website and social media.

4 APRIL 2023

Today’s Model T

At national meetings over the past couple of years, I have listened to rural folks everywhere talk about electric vehicles. Most of the skeptics are older than me. This isn’t a generational comment. It is simply a statement of fact as I sit listening in the room. So many are boisterous to the point of anger in their disdain for the new technology.

For me, I think back to the time Henry Ford rolled the first car off an assembly line. The horse and carriage guys had to be similarly skeptical and loud. There were no gas stations. There were no mechanics. Heck, the country barely had a road system that wasn’t continually rutted up with wagon tracks. How could this technology take off with no infrastructure to support it?

Well, we did what Americans do—we figured it out. A network of refueling stations was mapped out over time. Farriers and blacksmiths purchased new tools to care for the iron horses. Roads were built to improve movement around the country. This didn’t happen overnight. Families who purchased a Model T didn’t let go of their horses right away.

I believe we are at a very similar time in the history of the automobile in the United States. EVs are being manufactured by all the large car manufacturers. Every year, more and more models will be available (in all colors, not just Henry’s basic black!).

Yes—we want a longer driving range. In time, we will have it. Early adopters with two cars will keep one combustion engine, and the other will be electric until technology and consumer confidence evolve. Trust me; it will evolve. Americans will get a taste of driving past a gas station and want more. Manufacturers will meet the demand. They always have.

Yes—rapid charging will be a problem. We are shutting off generation and not replacing it fast enough at a time when the EV movement is growing. This is not ideal. Talented engineers and political leaders will solve this problem in time. It is simple math. It is simple construction. We will make the numbers work. We will build. It is what America has always done.

Yes—the average person will struggle to afford an EV. The market will demand a lower price. As more

people who can afford it purchase the new technology, the price will drop. History tells us this will happen. Skeptics will disagree. They will be proven wrong.

Yes—your local electric cooperative can handle the load. We will find ways for members to charge their EVs at home during off-peak hours. This will better utilize the transformers we have in place for today’s traditional peaks. Instead of wasting extra capacity used only three hours a day, the capacity will be used to charge cars after the peak and throughout the night with minimal extra investment. Electric revenues will increase. This will keep electric prices stable and help to avoid bigger rate increases in the future.

The key to all of this is time. The evolution of EVs will be gradual. This will allow for measured and steady improvement in all the areas of concern listed above. When you hear a skeptic say, “The grid can’t handle an EV in every home,” remain calm; there won’t be an EV in every home tomorrow. We have time.

The cautious should be cautious. The skeptical should remain skeptical. The early adopters should adopt. New technology has seen them all before. This moment in time is no different. Somewhere, Henry Ford is smiling. The circle has been completed. Gradually, we will all step on the accelerator of an EV. We will be smiling then too.

“The cautious should be cautious. The skeptical should remain skeptical. The early adopters should adopt. New technology has seen them all before.”


Petoskey Stone

When you think of searching out fossilized rock formations, you’re likely to conjure movie icons like Indiana Jones, Dr. Alan Grant, or Lara Croft. But along the coastlines in northern Michigan, you’ll see plenty of regular people flocking to the beaches and shoreline to do just that, in search of the state’s favored Petoskey Stone.

As told by the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, well before dinosaurs roamed the earth, over 350 million years ago,

the land we know as Michigan was located near the equator. Covered by a warm, shallow, saltwater sea, the colonial coral hexagonaria percarinata thrived with other marine life in tropical reefs. The earth’s plates moved and pushed Michigan north to the 45th parallel and above sea level, which created dry land formations. More recently, about 2 million years ago, glacial action scraped the earth and spread the fossils across the northern Lower Peninsula, depositing major concentrations in the

Petoskey area. The prehistoric fossil is called the Petoskey Stone, and it became Michigan’s official state stone in 1965.

While the history lesson is cool, what makes the Petoskey Stone such a coveted treasure by visitors and residents alike?

“Petoskey Stones are unique looking, and actually quite easy to spot on the beach,” said Jim Powell, the bureau’s executive director. “But I tell

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“While you’re busy looking down at the sand, rocks, and waterfront, don’t forget to look up every once in a while. There’s so much natural beauty to take in all around you.”

you, once you find your first one—you get hooked.”

Both the stone and the town that is home to this geological treasure are named in honor of a local chief of the Odawa Nation and well-respected businessman, Chief Ignatius Petoskey, and symbolize the area’s rich history. Whether people are walking along the water’s edge or visiting the town from out of state, the sheer number of gift shops and stores offering the stones or trinkets made out of the fossils speaks to the demand for the keepsake.

“We’ll get people in at the visitor’s center on a drizzly day wondering what to do,” said Powell. “I tell them, consider it good luck because that’s the best time to look for Petoskey Stones.”

With the faint outline on the stone, you can sometimes miss the intricate

fossilized coral imprint. However, the outline becomes clearer and easier to find when the stones are wet. Which often leads to the question—are Petoskey Stones hard to find? Powell says, “no.”

“Each spring, after the ice recedes, the weather, wind, and waves bring new stones to the surface,” said Powell. “By the end of summer, they may seem pretty picked over, but one good storm can always stir up more.”

Powell adds, “While you’re busy looking down at the sand, rocks, and waterfront, don’t forget to look up every once in a while. There’s so much natural beauty to take in all around you.”

This is just one of many tips the Visitors Bureau can offer. Powell has several helpful suggestions if you’re a newbie rock hound.


Always be careful and mind your surroundings— especially if you’re walking on rocks, which can be slippery. Also, keep an eye out for wave action, and don’t get too close to the breakwater.


Be aware of your location. While public beaches and parks offer full access to visitors, make sure you haven’t wandered onto someone’s private property. Bayfront Park or Magnus Park are good places to start.


Is there a limit if you’ve gotten the hang of Petoskey Stone hunting? According to the Michigan DNR, you are only allowed to remove 25 pounds of stones per year. So, unless you’ve got some massive plan for making a Petoskey Stonehenge—consider leaving some for other rock hunters.


As we said, spring is the optimal season, but you might find some newly turned rocks after a big storm. Bring along a bucket or other container to carry back your finds. Also, pack a garbage bag to pick up trash along the way. It’s the best way to thank the land for your treasures.


Petoskey Stones are beautiful just as they are, but they can also be sanded or polished with rock polish or mineral oil. Never put a Petoskey Stone in a rock tumbler. They are highly porous and will disintegrate— putting all your hard work to waste.

If you’re planning on being in the area, check out the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau website to help make it a trip to remember—



It takes a special kind of person to be a lineworker. They work long hours in harsh conditions, often putting the needs of others ahead of their own. So why do they do what they do? What does it take to be a lineworker? We asked Cherryland lineworkers to explain it in their own words.

“I like being part of a good group of guys that work hard and get stuff done.” Brandon Hartley, Journeyman Lineworker Serving Cherryland Members Since 2011


Working with electricity takes a lot of discipline and training. Apprenticeships are the first step toward becoming a journeyman lineworker.

7,000 hours of on-the-job learning.

600+ hours of classroom and hands-on training at the Joint Michigan Apprenticeship Program training facility in Lake City, Michigan.

3–4 years of committed work to graduate and become a journeyman lineworker.

12 journeymen, 1 apprentice

145 cumulative years of experience across Cherryland’s 12 journeymen.

Back Row: Eric, Bruce, Brad, Jeff, Nick N., Nick G. (materials clerk) Middle Row: Kyle, Jake, Chad, Joe Front: Phil (retired), Dustin, Brandon, Dave
8 APRIL 2023

“A good job to do a variety of different things in a variety of different environments.“

Chad Cordner, Journeyman Lineworker

Serving Cherryland Members Since 2020

“It takes a sense of pride to do a job that’s behind the scenes, with the goal of being unseen and to make people’s lives seem uninterrupted.”

Joe Bennetts, Journeyman Lineworker

Serving Cherryland Members Since 2012

“I can say that, so far, it is a humbling experience because of all the things I don’t know. I’m proud to be doing what I do and getting to work with and learn from a good group of guys.”

Eric Brown, Apprentice Lineworker

Serving Cherryland Members Since 2018


When the lights go out, Cherryland lineworkers are always ready to respond. Someone is on the job 24/7/365, even if that means sacrificing time with their loved ones to make sure they get the lights back on as quickly and as safely as possible.

“A lineworker is dedicated, has determination, they’re a risk taker. We’re willing to sacrifice family time to go work outages in the worst weather. “

Nick Newell, Journeyman

“To me, being a lineworker is putting aside your personal comfort to provide an essential service to others. When most would rather be warm during a winter storm or dry during a summer storm, we are out doing whatever it takes to make sure they have electricity. It’s not just our sacrifice though. Our families sacrifice not only time with us, but we also miss birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and other major life events to make sure others have what they need in terms of energy.”

Kyle Griffin, Journeyman Lineworker

Serving Cherryland Members Since 2018

“Being a journeyman lineworker means you will have to work when you don’t want to at times, and constantly work to find ways to balance family time with work.”

Dave Bott, Journeyman Lineworker

Serving Cherryland Members Since 2005

Every lineworker spends a total of 9 weeks/year on call.

Every lineworker spends an extra 5 weekends/year on standby.

Every lineworker spends a total of 73 days, or 20%, of the year ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

The most common reasons crews are called in while on call include weather, equipment failures, animals, and accidents.



Meat-free and delicious.

Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

One-Pan Meals due May 1; Chocolate due July 1

Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to



Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy

1 tablespoon olive oil + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 (16-ounce) package shelf-stable gnocchi

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup white wine or vegetable broth

2 cups baby spinach

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (use fire roasted for a little kick)

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

½ tablespoon dried parsley

½ tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• vegan mozzarella cheese, optional

• fresh basil, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi, stirring often, and cook until plump and starting to brown, 7–10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion and carrots to the pan. Stir often over medium heat for 4–5 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add white wine or vegetable broth; stir to deglaze pan. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, parsley, oregano, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then add gnocchi back to the pan. Cover and cook about 3 minutes. Serve immediately with vegan mozzarella and/or fresh basil on top as desired.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

MI CO-OP Recipes
by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe editor Christin McKamey
10 APRIL 2023


(“Bending” the traditional with a few flavorful additions...) Dwain Abramowski, Great Lakes Energy

3–4 tablespoons organic margarine, coconut oil, or olive oil (do not overheat olive oil)

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 large celery stalk, finely chopped

1 medium onion, medium chopped

4–5 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons minced ginger

1–2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon sugar (enhances tang of the lime)

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1–2 (14-ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes

1–1½ cup dried lentils (whatever kind you have on hand)

2½ cups water + 3 tablespoons veggie bouillon mixed in

1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk (or coconut cream, but may need to add more water)

¼–½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (several grinds)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1–3 tablespoons lime juice

In a skillet over medium heat, add margarine and/or oils, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables are a bit soft (don’t overcook). Add onion and a bit of salt; cook until onions are soft. With heat on low, add garlic, ginger, curry powder, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, 2–5 minutes. Add the cans of tomatoes, lentils, water/stock, coconut milk, salt, black pepper and turmeric. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until the lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. If soup is too thick, stir in a bit more veggie stock. Or for a thicker soup, add more coconut milk or cream to your desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Experiment to get your favorite blend of spices. Don’t skimp on the lentils (I like my soup thicker). Store leftover soup in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it thickens too much in the fridge, stir in a little more liquid while reheating. Can be frozen. Enjoy!


Kathi McGookey, Great Lakes Energy

1 cup dried portobello mushrooms

2 cups boiling water

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 (32-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen vegetable crumbles (I use Boca or Morningstar)

2 teaspoons mild chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use Knorr), crumbled or chopped into pieces

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen corn (no thawing necessary) or 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained

Break dried mushrooms into medium pieces and put in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms, cover, and set aside to soften for about 20 minutes. Put all remaining ingredients, except the corn, into a 7-quart pot; also include the water that the mushrooms have been soaking in. Stir well to distribute the spices evenly. Place the pot on the stove, and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the carrots and mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the corn at the end of the cooking time. If you like a thinner chili, add a bit more water at the end of the cooking time. If you double this recipe, only one bag of veggie crumbles is enough.


2 cups marinara sauce

Kathryn Ross, Thumb Electric

9 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed

15 ounces cottage cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F. Ladle about 1 cup marinara on the bottom of the pan. Cook noodles according to package directions. Combine spinach, cottage cheese,

Parmesan, egg, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure the noodles are dry. Take 1–2 tablespoons of the cottage cheese mixture and spread evenly over noodles. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles. Ladle remaining sauce over the noodles and top each one with mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls. To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.


Efficiency Upgrades to Help You Save This Summer

Spring and summer are opportune times for home upgrades and DIY projects. If you plan to improve your home, consider upgrades that promote better efficiency.

Here are a few projects that can help you save energy and money—and increase the comfort of your home.

Installing a smart thermostat is one of the simplest ways to manage home energy use and keep summer bills in check. Smart thermostats are easy to install and allow you to control your

heating and cooling system from your phone. You can purchase an ENERGY STAR® -certified smart thermostat for as low as $100. This upgrade will quickly pay for itself, and you’ll gain insight into better ways to heat and cool your home.

Speaking of smart, additional devices like smart LED bulbs also offer convenient control and help boost energy savings at home. With smart lighting, you can schedule when and how your lights should be turned on or off. And the next time you head out to run errands and realize you left the lights on, you only have to turn them off through your phone. Smart lights come in a variety of shapes, colors, and brightness levels—and you can purchase bulbs for indoor or outdoor use. Schedule outdoor smart lights to illuminate your home at night and when you’re out of town for better security.

Sealing air leaks around your home is a simple, effective way to save energy and lower your bills.

Smart thermostats offer convenient control and help boost energy savings at home.

While it’s not as trendy as incorporating smart technologies, sealing air leaks around your home is a simple, effective way to save energy and lower your bills. Applying new (or replacing old) weather stripping around doors and windows can instantly make your home more comfortable and reduce energy waste. Applying caulk to fill gaps can also improve the seal of your home. Caulk can be applied to a variety of areas, including windows, doors, bathtubs, and sinks.

If your home feels too warm during summer (and too chilly during winter) even after you’ve sealed it with weather stripping and caulk, your home may need additional insulation. Insulation is considered a more expensive efficiency upgrade; however, extra insulation can significantly impact energy use and costs if your home is under-insulated. The cost of new insulation depends on various factors like materials, the size of the home, and whether you use a contractor. Typically, the project costs can be recouped

If your home feels too warm during summer and too chilly during winter, you may need additional insulation.

in a few years, and your home will immediately feel more comfortable.

Of course, additional efficiency upgrades can significantly impact energy use, like replacing old appliances with ENERGY STAR® models or replacing old, leaky windows with new, energy-efficient windows. But these upgrades can be a bit pricey.

If you want to make your home more energy efficient but are unsure where to start, your best bet is to enlist the help of an expert to conduct an energy audit of your home. Cherryland offers free home energy assessments with our energy use advisor. An energy audit can quickly identify areas to boost efficiency, and then you can determine the projects you want to tackle first based on your budget and needs. We’ll also show you how to use your SmartHub app to track your energy usage in real time. Head to, or call us at (231) 486-9200 to get started!

Smart bulbs come in a variety of shapes, colors and brightness levels. 1. 2. 3. 4.
12 APRIL 2023

Practice Work Zone Safety

When your power is out, our line crews are hard at work on restoration. Help keep our crews, and you, safe by following these tips around utility work zones:

• SLOW DOWN AND MOVE OVER. According to AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, a person has a 50% chance of suffering severe injuries when struck by a vehicle going just 31 mph. Please slow your speed when passing our work zones and move over when possible.

• DO NOT DISTURB. If you see our lineworkers working, please leave them alone to do their jobs. Stopping them to ask questions delays restoration and could put the crew and you in danger. For updates on the status of an outage, please call us at 231-486-9200.

• RESPECT ROAD CLOSURES. Sometimes safe restoration work requires that we close a portion of a road. When you see road closure signs, please find an alternate route. Bypassing these signs is extremely dangerous.

Additionally, always avoid downed lines. Assume any line you see is energized and stay 50 feet away. Don’t drive over any lines, and please call us at 231-486-9200 to report the location.



before you post that sign! Staples, nails, and tacks used to hang signs and fliers create dangerous obstacles for electric lineworkers. Their jobs are dangerous enough –help us keep them safe!

Big Blue Business


Over 13,000 years ago, tiny azure berries were located on leafy bushes and enjoyed by indigenous Americans gathering food. Back then, blueberries were referred to as “star berries” or “star fruit” because of the five-point star that is created on the blossoming end. They were eaten fresh, as well as smoked—in order to keep for the less “fruitful” winter months. The blueberry that we know and love in our pies, muffins, and parfaits has a rich history in our country as one of the few fruits indigenous to North America.

That history continues here in Michigan, which is one of the largest growers in the United States. While final numbers from 2022 are not yet available, our 20,000 bearing acres produce somewhere between 75 and

100 million pounds annually. Those pounds of fresh fruit are grown and harvested on the nearly 600 familyrun farms across the state—many of them overseen by third- or fourthgeneration growers.

“The generational legacy of blueberry farms in Michigan is pretty impressive,” said Nancy Nyquist, executive director of the Michigan Blueberry Commission. “These growers have such an amazing commitment to the land, their communities, and to this relatively close-knit industry.”

While geographically, the blueberry industry may feel cozy, the impact on our state is far-reaching. Nyquist says blueberries have about a $500 million impact on our state’s economy.

14 APRIL 2023

“A half a billion dollars generated from this tiny berry is pretty impressive,” said Nyquist. “Especially because blueberries are only being harvested for a few months out of the year in Michigan.”

While there are blueberry farms across the state, the densest areas of growth are in the southwest part of the Lower Peninsula, where the sandy soil and climate, which are moderated by the lake, produce perfect growing conditions. Of course, there is the hope that conditions will continue to be optimal and that there may be room for growth in the industry.

This is where the Michigan Blueberry Commission comes into place. It helps to leverage funding to support testing, research, and projects that can support the industry. The organization has been able to invest back into the blueberry industry to the tune of $900,000 through research grants. They assess certain challenges like a recent spotted wing drosophila influx, an insect that damages blueberry crops. They then determine how to limit the chemistry that is used to control the pests. Nyquist says the commission is starting to see the results of its efforts.

“The commission was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan Blueberry industry—and we are

“ The commission was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan Blueberry industry---and we are doing this by supporting research, education, and promotional programs to ensure that Michigan has the best blueberries.”

doing this by supporting research, education, and promotional programs to ensure that Michigan has the best blueberries,” she said.

While the commission is making efforts to grow the industry, Nyquist notes that blueberry lovers can help as well by reading labels in their local grocery store for Michigan-grown berries, grabbing fresh pints at the farmer’s market, or heading out with friends and family to enjoy a local U-Pick farm.

“We want our blueberry growers to succeed,” said Nyquist. “They go out every day with generations of experience and knowledge, and they put it all on the line because they have a passion and a desire to provide food for the families they serve. They’re proud of their work, and they should be.”


Your Board In Action

February Board Meeting

• Cherryland’s chief financial officer reported January revenue was under budget due to mild winter weather. However, the cooperative’s operations and engineering manager reported that mild weather also meant excellent reliability, resulting in very few outages in January.

• The board received property tax totals for 2022. The cooperative paid $1.45 million in property taxes to communities served by Cherryland.

• The board decided to move forward with a $1.28 million USDA pass-through loan to help a local wine producer with a significant business expansion that will support several local wineries. With the required support from an electric cooperative, the wine producer will now apply for the loan through the USDA.

Munson Manor Family Dinner Volunteer Program

Every month, Cherryland employees participate in the Munson Manor Family Dinner Volunteer Program to prepare a home-cooked meal and a warm smile for those going through a hard time. Munson Manor offers a comfortable and affordable place to stay for family members and caregivers of out-of-town patients, located just a short walk from Traverse City’s Munson Medical Center. By providing a little comfort food prepared with a whole lot of love, we hope to make these visitors feel cared for by our close-knit community.

16 APRIL 2023

Furry Friends

Enter to win a $200 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Backyard Farming” Photos By April 20! Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines, along with some of our other favorites. Our April theme is Backyard Farming! Photos can be submitted through April 20 to be featured in our June issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit or visit for a link to the current photo contest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2023, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2023 bill.


1. “Brotherly love.” Sarah Sullivan

2. “Gunnar and Groot.” Matthew Leddy

3. “Up north lake life with Willow and Ranger.” Mark & Linda Berlin

4. “Lazy days of summer.” Maria Klimaszewski

5. “Golden retriever or alligator?” Cara Beld

6. “It’s a dog’s world and we just live in it.” Brandey Albarado

4 5 1 2




Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate.

No Barriers is a five-day, all-expenses-paid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting, and hiking).

If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please complete the form on our website:

have VA disability rating to be eligible.

Geother mal Made Affordable




Attaches to your home’s existing heating system, it does not replace it.

Delivers 90% on average of your home’s heating needs and 100% of your home’s cooling needs.

If you have a well, simply add a Well-Connect to reduce your heating costs associated with traditional energy sources while enjoying a more comfortable home.

Financing, 30% tax credit, and rebates up to $2,000 available. GET CONNECTED TODAY 1-833-GEOWELL

Installs in one day, any time of year. No drilling or excavation is required. DEPENDENCY ON PROPANE, FUEL OIL, OR WOOD
ADD TO YOUR EXISTING FURNACE IN ONE DAY the Power Behind Your Power. Lineworker Appreciation Day | April 18, 2023

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