GLEXPO Awards Banquet 23

Dec 11, 2023
Michigan Vegetable Council honors Main Farms, Rebecca Grumet

The Michigan Vegetable Council has chosen Main Farms, Six Lakes, 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 their honors 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 and children, run the diverse farm.

main farms master farmer award
Courtesy of 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, category manager and field representative for Gerber, 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 on Main Farms that was played 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, 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.

Courtesy of Michigan Farm Bureau.

“I’m kind of a data junkie,” Grumet said in a video on her career 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 most 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, Mich.-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.

Top photo: The 2023 GLEXPO awards banquet. Picture by Debbie Eisele.


Current Issue

VGN April Cover

Tech allows growers to ‘eavesdrop’ on insects

Managing wildlife on the farm

Southwest Florida’s Worden Farm manages challenges

Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association says farewell to leader

Southeast Regional Show recognizes leaders

Veg Connections: Biopesticides and beneficial insects

Business: Why do most succession plans fail?

60 years of advocating for agricultural employers

Keeping CSA members engaged and loyal

see all current issue »

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

produceprocessingsm Organic Grower