Mar 11, 2013
Jim Robinette named Fruit Man of the Year

Jim Robinette was named Fruit Man of the Year by the Michigan Pomesters March 8, during the group’s spring meeting.

Jim’s son, Ed Robinette, presented the award. Ed is the current president of Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery, the family business based in Grand Rapids, Mich.

It was an honor to present the award to his father, who helped steer the family business, which has been around for more than a century, toward retail sales and direct marketing, Ed said.

Now 85, Jim served in the U.S. Merchant Marine in 1945, right out of high school, and was drafted into the Korean War a few years later. Between stints in the military, he earned a degree in horticulture from Michigan State University, Ed said.

Jim started leading the family orchard in 1971. At the time, it was mostly a wholesale fruit operation, but Jim was an early adopter of the on-farm market. Robinette’s was one of the first two farms with an on-farm cider mill in Kent County, Mich., Ed said.

Today, the business includes the market and cider mill, and also a bakery, lunch counter, winery and gift shop. There’s also a corn maze, horse-drawn wagon rides, a mountain biking trail and an area for cross-country skiing, according to the farm’s website.

Over the years, Jim has been a member of many industry groups, including the Michigan Pomesters. He also spent a lot of time helping others in the industry make the transition to retail, Ed said.

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