Courtesy Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc.Volunteers for Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank helped pick the first apples of the season for Riveridge Produce Marketing in Conklin, Mich., Aug. 27 as the grower-shipper marked 25 years in business.Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc. marked 25 years in business with a pick of the season’s first apples at its original farm in Conklin, Mich.
Assisting staff with the harvest of early gingergold apples were children and their grandparents who volunteered through Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.
The 25 bushels of apples picked Aug. 27 were donated to the food bank.
“That should provide almost 600 meals to the families we serve,” Katie Auwers, food sourcing specialist with Feeding America West Michigan, said in a news release.
Riveridge Produce Marketing, with sales offices, orchards and a packing facility in Sparta, Mich., plus orchards elsewhere, began as a three-person apple sales agency in Grant, Mich. The founding partners were Don Armock, Roger Geers and the late Dan Rock, Sr.
Over the years, the company aligned with 117 apple growers across Michigan and seven apple packing facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin. Riveridge growers are spread out from southern Michigan near Berrien Springs to orchards north of Traverse City, as well as to Wisconsin.
In most seasons, Riveridge represents nearly 40% of Michigan’s fresh apple crop, according to the company.
“Our three founding partners, who all had a background in the produce and grocery business in west Michigan, saw an opportunity to create a different kind of sales organization,” Justin Finkler, Riveridge operations manager, said in the release. “We began by trying to match very progressive growers who were often introducing premium varieties, with customers who wanted that level of apple.”
Feeding America West Michigan has received 214,000 pounds of apples from the company since 2011.