The Operation Gridlock protest in Lansing, Michigan, today was a huge success. The protest was to call attention to the strict stay-at-home order by the Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer:
NBC reports: Michiganders aren’t allowed to travel to in-state vacation residences. They are not permitted to use a motorboat. Business restrictions have been tightened, including that large stores must close areas “dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint,” among other measures. Violators could be fined or charged with a misdemeanor, though the practicality of strict enforcement was unclear.
The governor of Michigan has locked down all landscaping and garden centers that have been in business for decades. These businesses are sadly dying because this is their busy season, and they are unable to sell plants and seeds. Landscapers can’t work, and fertilizer companies cannot come out and apply an application for the grass. Since this is a seasonal business in Michigan, these people are desperate to open now.
Michigan Farm Bureau is now asking members and supporters to tell legislators and the state agriculture department that we need their help telling Gov. Whitmer to clarify plant sales are essential agriculture!
One of the businesses that is suffering was featured in Michigan Farm News:
Chad Christians of Christians Greenhouses began in 1972:
At Christians Greenhouse in Williamston, safety is top of mind, and brothers Jeremy and Chad Christians want to keep their customers and employees safe. However, the window to sell their annual crop of plants is quickly closing up fast. For Christians, the month of May sees 70-80% of their annual sales.
The brothers were hoping Governor Whitmer would allow greenhouses and garden centers to open up similar to EOs in Ohio, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina, where the retail sale of plants has been deemed essential infrastructure. Under a new section of the EO, Whitmer imposed new restrictions Thursday, saying, “large stores must also close areas of the store that are dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint.”
“As residents continue dealing with impacts of Coronavirus on their lives, many would turn to gardening to cope with stress, no different than those who turn to puzzles, reading or music for similar benefits,” said MFB’s horticulture specialist, Audrey Sebolt. “If we can’t get flowers, vegetable plants, or nursery stock into their hands, they, unfortunately, lose an avenue and outlet to help them handle our current situation.”
Sebolt indicated the retail value is estimated between 580-700 million and employs over 9,000 people in Michigan. “We are different than a lot of retailers because we are not just losing 4-6 weeks of income; we are losing an entire year. The repercussions of this could be catastrophic to the greenhouse industry”, said Chad Christians.