Dec 8, 2017Growers, researchers honored at Great Lakes EXPO banquet
Growers and researchers were honored for their contributions to the industry Wednesday, Dec. 8 at a formal banquet at the Great Lakes Fruit Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO in Grand Rapids.
Allan Overhiser, a fifth-generation tree fruit grower from Allegan County’s Casco Township, and Rufus Isaacs, a Michigan State University (MSU) entomologist, received distinguished service awards from the Michigan State Horticultural Society.
Overhiser and his family grow sweet cherries, tart cherries, peaches and apricots, pears, plums, apples and pumpkins. Overhiser Orchards includes a u-pick operation, fishing pond and farm market. Allan Overhiser graduated in from Western Michigan University in 1982 with a major in agribusiness and a minor in business administration. He and his wife Kim, have been married 35 years and have five children – four of them quadruplets. Two of the sons, Alan and Adam, may continue in the farming after graduation from college. In addition to farming, Allan is also active in local government, and has held positions in the American Farm Bureau, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Agricultural Commodity Marketing Association, Michigan State Horticultural Society, Michigan Plum Advisory Committee and Al-Van Soil and Conservation District.
In accepting his award, Isaacs gave a “confession:” he wasn’t the son of a grower. He said that he was, however, interested in plants and insects from an early age. He studied applied biology, and later a Ph.D. in Entomology, at the University of London, finishing that degree in 1994. He initially came to the University of Arizona to work on integrated pest management (IPM) for cotton growers. He later was employed by MSU to work as a study mating disruption of apple pests, and in 1999 was hired to be MSU’s Small Fruit Extension entomologist. He and his wife Cassandra, who he met in Arizona, have an 11-year-old daughter, Ruby. His research program at MSU has received more than $10 million in competitive funding, and his research has been published in more than 150 research publications. In 2013, he was awarded the 2013 Outstanding Extension Specialist award from the Michigan Association of Extension Agents and the 2017 Excellence in IPM award by the regional branch of the Entomological Society of America.
The Michigan Vegetable Council awarded a master farmer award to Vogel Produce of Holton, Michigan, which is owned by Glenn Vogel and his son Scott. The farm originally grew a large carrot crop, but in recent years has diversified its crops in recent years, now growing just 80 acres of carrots for the fresh market. They now grow more than 200 acres of onions, 1,200 acres of vegetables for processing including pickles, green beans, peas and butternut squash — and 1,00 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat as rotation crops. The company has a long history of cooperation with MSU for on-farm research plots and onion variety trials.
The Michigan Vegetable Council awarded a master farmer associate award to MSU Entomology Professor Emeritus George Bird. Bird, who grew up on a poultry and dairy farm in Vermont, received a doctorate degree from Cornell University, and has served on the MSU faculty since 1973. He teaches and researches nematode diseases of vegetable, fruit and agronomic crops, and participates in grower extension events. He also served in Washington D.C. for two years as the first Director of the U.S. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. He and his wife, Anne, live in Holt, when they grow vegetables and fruit.
The Michigan State Horticultural Society gave a dedicated service award to Allyn Anthony, a fourth-generation grower of fruits and vegetables near Hartford. Anthony graduated from MSU in 1966 – he sold 120 acres of this farm in 2002, but he continues to farm 20 acres with 10 acres planted to high-density apples. He has led the Michigan State Horticultural Society for the pasted 15 hears hand has managed the funding of more than $1 million to research projects directly benefitting the Michigan fruit industry. He also has coordinated the awarding of more than $100,000 in scholarships to students working toward a career in a fruit-related field.
The Michigan State Horticultural Society gave a dedicated service award to Eric Hanson, an MSU professor and extension agent. Hanson grew up in Connecticut and earned a doctorate degree from MSU involving plum nutrition before being hired at MSU in 1984 as an assistant professor. Hanson’s extension work has primarily been with blueberries and other small fruit. His research interest cross many topics and crops., from fertilizer use and weed management to challenges for organic production of blueberries and raspberries.
Photo, top: Overhiser Orchards grows peaches in addition to supplying apples. Owner Allan Overhiser, center, is shown with his sons Alex, left, and Adam. Photos by Stephen Kloosterman