Dec 6, 2018EXPO the setting for award presentations
Awards and scholarships were handed out Dec. 5 at the 18th Annual Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO Banquet held at the Amway Grand Hotel’s Ambassador Ballroom in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Bernard Zandstra, who has been a vegetable Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University (MSU) since 1977, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Michigan State Horticultural Society.
Zandstra has concentrated his research efforts on developing season-long integrated weed control programs for all crops. He has worked with IR-4 (USDA Minor Use Registrations), chemical companies, EPA and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to obtain many new federal, state and local herbicide registrations for Michigan fruit growers.
Zandstra and Patricia Erwin have two daughters, Sarah and Rebecca, and a son Jacob.
Distinguished Service Award
The late Josh Wunsch was posthumously awarded Michigan State Horticultural Society’s Distinguished Service Award. Prior to his death on April 26, 2018, he was a well-known third-generation cherry and apple farmer from Peninsula Township, Michigan.
Wunsch was credited for being relentless when it came to Michigan agriculture. He was involved in many agriculture organizations in leadership roles that impacted producers in Michigan and across the country. He served on the Michigan Farm Bureau board of directors, the Michigan Processing Apple Growers Division of MACMA and the Grand Traverse Growers Council. He also served on Great Lakes United, the Grand Traverse Conservation District and the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. He was a board member of Shoreline Fruit Inc., Sleeping Bear Co-op, Traverse City Cherry and Cherrco Inc., a tart cherry cooperative.
In 2012, Wunsch was the recipient of the Michigan Processing Apple Grower Distinguished Service Award. He received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the Leelanau Horticultural Society. He also received posthumously the Distinguished Service Award for Michigan Agriculture from the Michigan Farm Bureau.
Golden Stock Farms – Master Farmer Award
Golden Stock Farms of Mears has been named recipient of the 2018 Master Farmer Award by the Michigan Vegetable Council. This award is presented annually to an individual or farm business actively engaged in vegetable production in Michigan. It recognizes well-managed and innovative farming practices, as well as leadership roles in industry and community organizations and support of vegetable crop research.
Golden Stock Farms, owned by Dick and Marcia Walsworth, has been in operation in Mears since 1932. Primarily a dairy farm for many years, but has transitioned to vegetables over time. In fact, this is the 50th year of farming asparagus for Golden Stock Farms. Golden Stock Farms is the largest grower for Todd Greiner Farms. Greiner appreciates his relationship with Golden Stock Farms and says that he can expect: “quantity with quality.”
Golden Stock used to grow 28 million pounds for processing, but now grows 8-10 million pounds for processing and 10-12 million pounds for fresh market. This change was due to Michigan now having the infrastructure to support fresh market asparagus.
John Bakker, the executive director for the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, said that Golden Stock Farms is known for its dedicated service and leadership in the industry.
Family members have been actively involved and held leadership roles in many agricultural groups here in Michigan, including the Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board, the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association, and the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board.
Mark Mayer – Master Farmer Associate Award
Mark Mayer of Arbre Farms in Walkerville has been named recipient of the 2018 Master Farmer Associate Award by the Michigan Vegetable Council. This award is presented annually to an individual or business actively supporting the vegetable production industry in Michigan. It recognizes leadership roles in industry and community organizations and support of vegetable crop research.
Mayer is the director of field operations at Arbre Farms in Walkerville. Arbre Farms is a processor of frozen vegetables and cherries. Prior to Arbre Farms, Mayer worked at Central Produce Sales. As for the vegetable season, Mayer works with all crops that come through the facility, starting with asparagus, then peas, next green beans, many squashes and carrots.
It is widely known that green beans are Mayer’s specialty. He has the ability to help growers figure out why a crop of green beans is doing poorly and often can help improve the yield for that season.
Mayer spends his days working with growers to help get the different crops to the plant at Arbre Farms. He will often go out and do field scouting, looking for disease and insect problems.
Being in the industry for a long time, Mayer has established working relationships with many, none more important than those with MSU Extension.
Currently, Mayer exchanges information with Ben Werling, the current MSU Extension vegetable crop educator in the area.
Michigan Vegetable Council Service Achievements
The Michigan Vegetable Council recognized Dave Smith, the organization’s retired executive director, for his 20 years of dedicated service to the council and Michigan agriculture.
The organization’s annual scholarship will now be known as the Dave Smith Michigan Vegetable Council Scholarship. During Smith’s career as executive director, he played a key role in merging the annual fruit and vegetable industries annual education program and trade show into the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO. His role in planning, coordinating and managing the EXPO continued his entire career with the council.
The annual event now attracts 4,000 guests, includes 70 educational sessions, hosts 450 exhibitors and creates an opportunity for special events, receptions and valuable networking.
The EXPO is the largest agricultural specialty crop even in the eastern United States.
“We wish him well in retirement,” said Doug Horkey, council president. “Additionally, we extend our best wishes and thanks to Sue Smith for her willingness to provide valuable help at the EXPO as well as her assistance over the years in running the home office of the council.”
The Michigan Vegetable Council also extended service achievement recognition to Sue Smith, Betty Elder, Roger Brook and Ben Kudwa.
Photo at top: Bernard Zandstra, who has been a vegetable Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University since 1977, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Michigan State Horticultural Society. Photo: Gary Pullano