Denise Ruwersma

Aug 3, 2021
MSU research technologist Denise Ruwersma honored by Michigan Pomesters

A valued research worker was honored by the Michigan Pomesters group July 29 at its RidgeFest 2021 farm tour event.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator Phil Schwallier presented his former staff member Denise Ruwersma with the Michigan Pomesters’ Fruit Person of the Year award.

Ruwersma, a research technologist, now works for Todd Einhorn who is the MSU Department of Horticulture’s Bukovac Endowed Professor in Tree Fruit Physiology. MSU has hired Schwallier’s successor, Anna Wallis.

Schwallier said he’s always appreciated Ruwersma’s work ethic.

“She’s always willing to help, stays right to the end to help people set up things, willing to do any job I ask of her or anybody asks of her,” Schwallier said.

He described her as a “diamond” and told a hilarious tale about Ruwersma being told to measure tree trunks when it turned out the orchard had recently been fertilized with turkey manure.

“Guess what? Denise continued to measure the trunks, even with turkey manure on the trunks” he said. “I came over when we were almost done and I said, ‘Gosh! It smells terrible out here.’ She said, ‘Yeah. I’m almost done.’”

Ruwersma joked she’d had some “shitty” jobs but said she was “more like a diamond in the rough,” and told a story about once needing a “rescuer” after dumping a bin of apples in the middle of the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Fruit Ridge Avenue. She’s loved working with the apple growers.

“I couldn’t think of better group of people, and I’m so honored to work with the best people in our country,” she said.

According to the Michigan Pomesters website, the organization started decades ago when growers in the state came together to discuss tree fruit crops and share best practices.

“Through the years it’s evolved into a community of growers, marketers, and industry professionals,” according to the website. “The goal is to share knowledge and set the Michigan tree fruit industry apart from the rest.”

Previous individuals to be honored by the group include Al Dietrich, George Sundin and Phil Pitts.

Demonstrations of equipment and cutting-edge technology complemented a cheery social setting as the Michigan Pomesters’ RidgeFest 2021 farm tour event was held July 29. Kicking off with lunch, the event included demonstrations of computer vision technologies and sprayers. The wagons drove through orchards in the Grand Rapids area. Apple cider was in plentiful supply, and the event ended at Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market where apple grower Gunnar Nyblad & The Grizzly Boys performed music.

 Stephen Kloosterman, FGN Associate Editor

Above, Michigan State University Extension educator Phil Schwallier presented his former staff member Denise Ruwersma with the Michigan Pomesters’ Fruit Person of the Year award. 

View more photo coverage of the event here.

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