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Oakland's last farmers


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Michigan really had three great tracts for farming, he said. Those include the thumb area in Saginaw, the west side of the state for the state's fruit belt, and Detroit and Monroe.

"Now Detroit is under concrete," he said. "That's how Garden City got its name. Urban farmers in Detroit probably aren't using the same ground anymore."

Scramlin worked for the Michigan Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau in Washington, D.C., before returning to the Holly area and the family business, which includes Scramlin Southdowns, where the family produce sheep. He also works with his cousin to grow hay and straw at Scramlin Feeds, also in Holly. His uncle, Marvin Scramlin, also operates Centennial Farms, which has been in the family for more than 100 years.

"The biggest difference for our family is that until 1986, my dad and uncle Marvin milked cows full time, and did a lot of cash crop farming, like corn, soybean and wheat," he said. "Some was sold in 1986, and then we started the feed, which is primarily horse feed."

Matt Scramlin's father, LC Scramlin, said he and his brother took over their parent's dairy and worked on the Centennial Farm growing up.

"My brother (Marvin) lives on the family farm, where we were all raised," he said. "I started a second building about a mile-and-a-half away. We took over in 1970 when I got out of Michigan State University, and for the next 16 years we milked cows. Dairy farming was good to our family and had been for years. In the 1980s, the milk market became saturated, and we started the feed store. We got rid of the dairy farms in 1986, and farmed about 1,700 acres. My nephew and son make a living farming. There's not too many anymore. There are a lot of horticulture and greenhouse people."

LC Scramlin said it's exciting to have another generation continue the family's farming tradition.

"The farmers here have adapted," he said. "Cook's is probably the only dairy left. A lot have taken on niche things. The Mitchell's do a greenhouse and tours in the fall for children, and things like that. Glenn (Mitchell) does taxes at this time of year. You'll find a good share of people that do agriculture in this county have adapted to the amount of land available, but they still find a way to be relevant."

For example, Scramlin said, there are new farmers such as Katie Flickinger, who owns and operates Garden Hoard, which propagates heirloom seeds for fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs on small acreages of land in the Commerce and Walled Lake area.

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Tags: LONGFORM

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