Jim Nugent and his wife, Toddy have operated the Leelanau County cherry farm called Sunblossom Orchards for over 30 years. For most of those years, Jim was also employed by Michigan State University (MSU), first as the Extension Director for Leelanau County and then, as the Coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center. Following his retirement from MSU in 2007, he has maintained a leadership role in Michigan’s cherry industry.
As this short video shows, Nature Change caught up with Jim just as the last of his cherries were being harvested this year. At the end of a long day, we sat together in his backyard to talk about the changes he’s witnessed over his career, including some recent challenges.
As Jim noted, the industry is under pressure from changes in climate as well as a particularly damaging invasive insect pest known as the spotted wing drosophila. You can learn more about the Spotted Wind Drosophila right here on Nature Change.
Jim describes they ways cherry farmers are experiencing the changing climate and speaks with optimism about the future. Just click the video above to learn why he thinks West and Northwest Lower Michigan will continue to be leaders in fruit production for years to come.
SPECIAL NOTE: Nature Change sends out a heartfelt “Thank You!” to Jon Richter and his cherry harvest crew for participating in this video and letting us “ride along.”