Mar 10, 2024
Michigan Vegetable Council honors industry experts

The Michigan Vegetable Council has chosen Main Farms, Six Lakes, Michigan, as the recipient of the Master Farmer Award and Dr. Rebecca Grumet as the Master Farmer Associate Award honoree for 2023.

The Main family and Grumet received accolades at the annual Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO banquet Dec. 6 in Grand Rapids.

Main Farms

The fourth-generation family operation grows chipping potatoes, corn, soybeans, wheat, green beans and peas on 15,000 acres. Paul and Joan Main and their children Dan and Joe, along with their wives, run the diverse farm.

Main Farms is a family operation, including Paul and Joan Main (back row center) and their sons Dan (left) and Joe (right) and their families. Photos by Aaron Boak, Michigan Farm Bureau.

Main Farms is about 40 miles from Fremont, Michigan, home to baby food maker Gerber Products Co., which buys the farm’s green beans and peas. Chris Falak, Gerber’s category manager and field representative, has worked with the Main family since he started in 1992.

“I’ve learned a ton from Paul, and now from his son Dan and his brother Joe,” Falak said in a video from Michigan Farm Bureau on Main Farms that was shown during the awards ceremony.

“Our specifications are the toughest in the world, and Paul and his boys and their farm have always been on the edge of trying to do something new and doing the right things,” Falak said. “They’ve been great partners, being innovative, even though (the specifications are) tough, they’re helping us find ways to do it.”

Main Farms grows more than 100 million pounds of potatoes each season, storing them on site until needed by potato chip companies.

The Main family takes pride in using the latest technologies and techniques in farming, using resources efficiently to be the best caretakers of the land they can be, according to the Michigan Vegetable Council. 

Dr. Rebecca Grumet

Grumet, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University (MSU) since 1987, is retiring after a successful career. She specialized in reproductive development in cucumbers and melons, regulation of sex-expression, disease resistance, biotechnology biosafety and cucurbit genomics.


“I’m kind of a data junkie,” Grumet said in a video before accepting the award. “I love doing experiments and looking at experiments and I’ve had wonderful people — graduate students, post-docs, visiting scientists — over the years, working in the lab.”

Grumet’s lab recently focused on fruit development and disease resistance in Cucumis (cucumber and melon) crops using molecular genetic, genomic and transgenic approaches. This centered on early stages of fruit growth and factors influencing fruit size, shape, cuticle and surface properties and resistance to phytophthora capsici.

Grumet thanked the Michigan pickle industry, which contacted her for help on diseases early in her MSU career, and her lab has worked with that industry over the years.

In the video, Katie Hensley, chief financial officer at Ravenna, Michigan-based Swanson Pickle Co., said she represents the third generation of her family that’s worked with Grumet. Hensley said Grumet’s work on phytophthora is important.

“It’s not only impacting individual farms like our own, but also more broadly, all of the seed companies work with her program,” Hensley said.

— VGN staff

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