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      Trial begins in Forsyth Township farming dispute

      Tuesday marked the first day in the Forsyth Township's case against the operations of a Gwinn family's farm.

      Before the trial began Tuesday afternoon, nearly a dozen pro-farming activists stood outside with signs showing support for Randy and Libby Buchler and Shady Grove Farm U.P.

      The plaintiff called four witnesses, including a township assessor and zoning official, recounting various commission meetings and complaints filed since 2009.

      The township argues Shady Grove violates zoning limits around Johnson Lake. The defendants argue Shady Grove adheres to strict environmental practices and is covered under the Michigan Right to Farm Act.

      During Libby Buchler's cross examination, there was confusion regarding the exact number of animals living at the farm.

      "Do you have any understanding or expectation on your part, based on your current level of operation, what the carry capacity of that parcel is for sheep and chickens?" asked Thomas Solka, Marquette Circuit Court Judge.

      "I do not," replied Libby Buchler.

      If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the township will request Shady Grove be shut down.

      The trial resumes Wednesday morning.