Mar 16, 2012
Fruit Growers News founder Barry Brand dies

Baert "Barry" DeVos Brand of Sparta, Mich., founder of Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News, died March 14.

Brand’s interest in journalism came early, starting with a visit to his father at work at the Detroit Times. He began a school newspaper while an elementary student, going on to serve as sports editor for his high school paper and to write for the Michigan Daily while attending the University of Michigan to earn a degree in journalism.

After graduating in 1955, he took a position as an administrative aide for then-U.S. Rep. Gerald R. Ford in Washington, D.C. Returning to Grand Rapids, Mich., he worked for an advertising agency for a time, but was drawn back to newspapers and joined the staff at the Jackson Citizen Patriot before going on to purchase the Sparta Sentinel Leader in 1961.

In 1963, Brand began publishing the Great Lakes Fruit Growers News, which then had circulation in 48 states and 21 countries. Shortly after, he founded the Great Lakes Vegetable Growers News, also with nationwide and international circulation. He went on to publish several other newspapers, including Michigan Potato Industry News, West Michigan Farm Bureau News, West Central Farm Bureau News, Michigan Food News and the Michigan Travel Trailer Club News.

Brand sold Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News to Matt McCallum in 1996.

Besides serving as executive secretary of the Michigan Christmas Tree Growers and publishing the group’s journal, Brand was a founding member of the Michigan Vegetable Council and served on the state’s Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board. He also was vice chairman of the Michigan Horticultural Society Trust Committee.

With a continuing interest in politics, he often hosted meetings between state legislators and farmers. Upon his retirement in 1997, he enjoyed world travel with his wife, Jean, and summers at their northern Michigan cottage.

In recognition of his service to agriculture, Brand received numerous awards and honors over the years. In 1997, he was the National Cherry Festival’s Industry Person of the Year – the only journalist to be selected in the festival’s 85-year history.

Services are planned at Sparta United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 17, at 1 p.m. Memorial contributions can be made to Faith Hospice of Grand Rapids, Mich., or to the Michigan State Horticultural Society Trust Fund. Arrangements are being handled by Hessel-Cheslek Funeral Home in Sparta.

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
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