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Dec 10, 2021
Michigan vegetable growers honor Horkey family, Todd DeKryger

Michigan vegetable growers gathered Dec. 8 to honor individuals who have given back to the industry over many years.

Horkey Brothers received the Master Farmer Award from the Michigan Vegetable Council. Brothers Doug and Travis Horkey, with their father, uncle and other family members, farm more than 1,000 acres of vegetables near Dundee, Michigan.

Todd DeKryger received the Master Farmer Associate Award. He is the Regional Supplier Development Manager – Agriculture at Nestlé Nutrition North America (Gerber) in Fremont, Michigan.

The 21st Annual EXPO Banquet was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO.

– Stephen Kloosterman, associate editor

Below are some official biographies and video tributes of Gut and Oxley submitted to Fruit Growers News. 

Master Farmer Award – Horkey Brothers

Horkey Brothers is a farm in Dundee, Michigan. In fact, thousands of people drive by some of the Horkey Brothers’ fields each and every day and probably do not realize the extent of produce being grown so close to a highway.

Three generations of the Horkey Family.
Three generations of the Horkey Family. Photos: Stephen Kloosterman

Doug Horkey recently spent 9 years on the Michigan Vegetable Council and finished up his terms as the council’s president. Doug’s brother, Travis, is a full-time farmer at Horkey Brothers. Doug and Travis along with their father, George Jr and their uncle Carl are owners of Horkey Brothers. There are several other family members that all put forth their hard work to make Horkey Brothers a successful operation.

The Horkey Brothers farm grows a variety of produce, such as round white potatoes, sweet corn, bell peppers, cabbage, pumpkins and hard squash. Horkey Brothers raise vegetables on over 1,000 acres in and around Dundee. Horkey Brothers harvest, wash, pack and cool all of their own produce.

One of these days either Doug or Travis might have to take over the role of getting up before the night even gets started. The Horkey Brothers have a family wholesale terminal market at Eastern Market. This means that many nights a week, the distribution of produce happens for the different food channels that feed the population of greater Detroit.

Master Farmer Associate Award – Todd DeKryger

Todd has been named a recipient of the 2021 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.

Todd DeKryger
Todd DeKryger

Todd is the Regional Supplier Development Manager – Agriculture at Nestlé Nutrition North America (Gerber) in Fremont, Michigan. In a nutshell that means that Todd is invaluable to both the fruit and vegetable growers in Michigan that grow produce for Gerber baby foods.

Todd has worked at Gerber for a long time and he has succeeded by building a network of growers, employees, and extension.  His passion seems to be this network, which allows him to find solutions to the needs of Michigan’s produce industry. Todd spends more time in the office these days, but relishes the occasions when he can get out and scout the fields, like at Crystal Valley Organics.

Two projects Todd has provided great knowledge and leadership in are vital to vegetable production.  Marketable carrots cannot taste woody.  Aster Yellows is a plant disease that can cause woodiness in carrots. Aster leafhoppers carry this disease and infect plants.  Todd’s work with Michigan State University research scientists has helped improve our control over this disease. Gerber baby products feed the youth of this nation.  Todd is leading the way to make sure that these products contain safe ingredients without any natural contaminants.

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