Jan 27, 2023In the muck and weeds: Michigan veg experts honored
The Michigan Vegetable Council honored a family farm that has raised vegetables for nearly 100 years on muck soil and a Michigan State University professor who specializes in weed management.
The awards ceremony at the 22nd Annual EXPO Banquet on Dec. 7, during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO honored Brink Muck Farms and MSU’s Dan Brainard.
The Master Farmer Award is given in recognition of outstanding farming practices, as well as cooperation with MSU researchers and Extension educators and leadership roles in the vegetable industry and local community.
The Master Farmer Associate Award is given to an individual who, while not directly involved in farming, has had a significant effect on the well-being of the vegetable industry in Michigan.
Master Farmer Award – Brink Muck Farms
Brink Muck Farms, Grant, Michigan, is on famed muck soil of the Grant Marsh. Dave and Nate Brink farm on some of the same 80 acres where the farm was started by earlier generations of the family. The older generations of the farming family received the same recognition in 1966, according to the Michigan Vegetable Council.
Dave and Nate Brink continue the legacy, and are more than deserving of the award, according to the Michigan Vegetable Council.
The farm originally grew celery, onions and other cole crops. Today, the farm focuses solely on onions, which are packed at B&P Packing House.
Brink Muck Farms plays a role vital to the Michigan vegetable industry, according to the council. The cooperation that Dave and Nate Brink have with MSU helps not only their farm, but all vegetable farms in Michigan. Stemphylium, a foliar disease, is causing problems in the Michigan onion crop, and Brink Muck Farm works closely to Mary Hausbeck and Ben Werling of MSU. Past seasons have allowed for research trial plots at the farm to better understand maggot and weed problems.
Local part-time labor is employed on the farm to help harvest the onions. Throughout the growing season, there is only one tried and true method that gets rid of all the weeds, and that is hand labor. Kristen Brink helps manage weeding on the farm. The three Brink children and other local youths are employed to tackle weeding as well.
The Brink’s are part of a wonderful community and should be celebrated for all they bring to Grant, Michigan, and beyond, according to the council.
Master Farmer Associate Award – Dan Brainard
Brainard has said that he probably took a less-than-normal route to become an associate professor in the MSU department of horticulture. He grew up in the city, went to college in Ohio and then joined the Peace Corps, where he was introduced to international agriculture. Brainard received a doctorate in Horticulture with a minor in weed management from Cornell University.
As an MSU professor, he is involved in teaching, research and Extension, and he teaches the vegetable production course at MSU.
Weed management is critical in vegetable production, and Brainard knows that manual labor and herbicides cannot be the only tools available for growers. While on sabbatical leave in Europe in 2021, he spent time researching autonomous robotic companies that have automated weeding products on the market. He brought back knowledge and tools to be researched through grants he received.
The Michigan Vegetable Council and Michigan State Horticultural Society present the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO each December and MSU Extension is at the front of the sessions. For many years, Brainard was the coordinator for all education sessions related to vegetable production, according to the Michigan Vegetable Council.
First photo: David Brink, left, and his son Nate, second from right, are joined by family members after receiving the Michigan Vegetable Council’s Master Farmer Award. Photos: Kristin Kazarian