Feb 13, 2018
Greg Bird named executive director of Michigan Vegetable Council

Michigan Vegetable Council recently named Mason’s Greg Bird as its executive director.

Bird graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. He previously worked as a project manager for the state of Michigan and the manufacturing industry, but said that in the last five years he’s developed an acute interest in agriculture.

“I’ve become more interested in it at this point of life,” said Bird, 48.

Bird will replace current director Dave Smith effective April 1, 2018. Smith, who has served as the council’s director for 20 years, will remain on the council for another year.

“What really came through for us, from Greg, is, he had a real passion for getting involved with the agriculture industry,” Smith said.

Bird has volunteered to spend personal time working in community gardens and farm markets, and in recent years has become more involved with a hobby farm he shares with his father, Michigan State University Professor Emeritus George Bird. Together, the family has about 100 apple trees, a garden, a chicken coop with a solar panel on the top, and plans to add a hoop house during the summer of 2018. The farm has earned Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program certifications for cropping and farmstead.

All of that hobby work simply shows Bird’s passion for the industry.

“I still have much to learn from vegetable growers in Michigan, so that I can help support the industry,” Bird said. “I’m most excited to gaining this additional knowledge by spending time visiting vegetable council members.”

Ben Kudwa, who has served the council on a part-time basis as director of external relations since 2014, is also stepping down from his position. From mid-February through March 31, Smith and Bird will work together to ensure a smooth transition.

Doug Horkey, a vegetable grower from Dundee, Michigan, currently serves as president of the Michigan Vegetable Council’s Board of Directors.

“We appreciate Dave’s service to the Council and our industry over the years he served as Executive Director,” Horkey said in a released statement. “We are excited about what Greg is bringing to this position in terms of his abilities and interest in working on behalf of vegetable growers.”

Smith said he’s enjoyed working for the council and the growers it represents.

“I have had the pleasure over the years of working with many good people on our board, as well as working with many others involved with or connected to our industry,” he said. “I think the Council’s activities have been beneficial to the growers we represent. I have especially enjoyed working with Ben Kudwa in recent years. We both feel the Council is at a good point for transitioning to a new Executive Director to lead its activities.”

Prior to serving as the council’s executive director, Smith worked for the St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives in Minnesota and then was a partner in a family farm business, Smith Brothers Farms in Erie, Michigan. The farm grew potatoes, other vegetable crops and field crops on 1,600 acres.

— Stephen Kloosterman, Assistant Editor

Above: Dave Smith, left, and Greg Bird

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