2017-09-10 / Insight

Introducing Ben Phillips:

Commercial vegetable production agent

LAPEER TWP. — Ben Phillips is Lapeer County’s commercial vegetable production Extension agent. His job is to forward the Extension’s Land Grant mission by facilitating the flow of information between Michigan State University, commercial vegetable growers, industry players and consumers.

Phillips spends his time visiting growers, facilitating research, planning grower meetings, diagnosing issues, giving advice, writing, and teaching Master Gardener classes about vegetable production across 12 counties in the Bay and Thumb region.

He lives in Lapeer, has an official office in Saginaw, and drives 30,000 miles per year to do his job. Phillips also helps with the St. Paul Community Garden near the Lapeer County Animal Shelter and leads freshwater insect identification clinics for the Lapeer County Flint River Watershed Coalition in cooperation with Peter McCreedy at Chatfield School. This was his first year helping to clear stretches of river for canoe and kayak passage.

The 2012 Ag Census recorded nearly 3,000 acres of vegetables produced on about 70 farms in Lapeer County for direct fresh market sale at farm stands and wholesale. Lapeer County is home to the largest lettuce producer in the entire state, and the headquarters and sole processing facility of Vlasic Pickles.

Vegetables grown at a commercial scale in and around the Imlay City valley include: beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, collards, celeriac, celery, chard, cucumbers, dill, Egyptian spinach, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, lavender, leeks, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, tomatoes, turnips, spinach, summer squash, sweet corn and winter squash.

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