Truesdell advocates creating ag epicenter

Published 10:54 am Thursday, May 11, 2006

By Staff
NILES - Creating an epicenter is a way to preserve the tradition of Southwest Michigan agriculture and expand economic opportunities Judy Truesdell told a group of Farm Bureau members from Berrien and Cass counties Monday night. Truesdell, who is running as a Democratic candidate for state representative of the 78th District, was invited by the Farm Bureau to present her position on agriculture at the Bureau's Berrien County office in Berrien Springs. In her opening remarks, she stated, “If people are willing to pay more for Idaho potatoes and Washington apples because of their good quality, why wouldn't they do it for our produce, some of which are considered the world's finest?” 
During a question and answer period, Truesdell told the members “we live in a specialty crop region and we're unique and special because of that.” She stated that branding the produce of Southwest Michigan, providing local access to residents for locally grown products and working with small batch processors to preserve the region's produce for year around consumption were three value-added efforts that she believed could impact agricultural development in a positive way. 
To emphasize her point, Truesdell, an elected Lake Michigan College trustee, successful business woman, wife and mother and long-time Niles resident, served a white peach jam that she makes every fall from locally grown peaches.
Truesdell used to have white peaches shipped in from up state New York until 15 years ago when she met Larry Eckler, who, along with his wife Lucy, own Eckler Farms on Barron Lake Road. Eckler had recently planted some white peach trees and agreed to reserve the yield of one for Truesdell to make her jam.
Holding up a copy of Michigan History Magazine, she pointed out that the latest edition is devoted to Berrien County history and is titled ‘Savoring the World's Finest Fruit.'  “We have such an incredible resource and not only a wonderful past but an excellent future in farming, which is second in economic importance in our state,” Truesdell told the members. 
During her closing remarks, Truesdell recounted a story about a 17-year old young man participating in the recent Entrepreneur Day at LMC, at which she served as reviewer.
When asked at the conclusion of the session what state legislative committees she would like to serve on if elected, Truesdell replied “Of course, Agriculture is one of them.  After all, I think it's about time we add more women perspectives to the subject.”
Truesdell is running to be the first ever Democratic woman elected to the state legislature from the 78th District in Berrien County.
A native daughter of Michigan, she lives in Niles with her husband Terry, where together they run IDI Design Group, a display design business located in Niles Industrial Park
Truesdall also operates along with their daughter Meg, a small on-line company called that sells tiered cardboard displays around the world. Meg and her husband, Steven Johnson, have a three-year-old daughter, Laura.