Buurma begins Michigan transition

Willard, Ohio-based Buurma Farms Inc.’s Michigan operation is in the process of transitioning from the fourth to the fifth generation of Buurmas, said co-owner Loren Buurma.

Loren Buurma’s cousin Rick Buurma, the current president of the Gregory, Mich., operation, plans to retire in the next three years, Loren Buurma said.

Rick Buurma’s brother Greg Buurma will likely follow a years after that.

Other key positions in the Gregory office are currently held by men nearing retirement, Loren Buurma said.

In the meantime, Rick Buurma’s sons Dustin and Derek and their cousin, Ryan Buurma, are being groomed for their eventual role in running the company’s Michigan unit.

“It’s good to have the young guys on board,” Loren Buurma said. “It gives some new energy to the facility.”

Dustin and Derek Buurma, both Michigan State graduates, are working mostly in the field as they learn the ropes from their father and uncle.

“They’ll have a few years under their belt so the transition goes smoothly,” Loren Buurma said.

Buurma Farms sources all of its celery, most of its radishes, and greens, beets and other vegetables from its Gregory operation, Loren Buurma said.


E. Miedema & Sons revamps office

As part of a company reorganization as it passes the baton from one generation of Miedemas to the next, Byron Center, Mich.-based E. Miedema & Sons is remodeling its office.

The company is keeping the exterior of its old office but completely redoing the interior, said company co-owner Dave Miedema.

The new office, the completion of which has been delayed by the long, cold, snowy winter and sluggish start to spring that has followed, will include room for a receptionist, a new position at the company.

In mid-May, the company was in the middle of its search for the position, which could be full-time or part-time, Miedema said.

The new office also includes a new entrance and more room for printers, a necessity given new GTIN labeling requirements, Miedema said.

A new door to the office from the plant will provide easier access.


Miedema expands value-added radishes

Due to strong demand, Miedema Produce Inc. is expanding its value-added radish packs.

The Hudsonville, Mich.-based company introduced its matchstick and radish chip packs in 2012. Now, in their third year, the company wants to expand their presence at foodservice, said Todd Miedema, marketing director and a principal.

“They’re a great alternative to tomatoes” in vegetable trays, Miedema said.

That’s because radishes store better at the same temperature as other traditional tray items, he said.

The 8-ounce retail bags are perfect for people who don’t want a big bag of radishes, or for those who don’t want to eat a whole radish at a time, Miedema said.

The matchsticks are 1½ inches long and are perfect for salads, sandwiches and stir-fries, Miedema said. The chips have ridges for holding dips.

In other company news, Miedema Produce has added a salesman.

Eric Miedema, who had worked at the company in shipping and receiving for several years, started in sales earlier this year, Todd Miedema said.

“He walks in with a lot of knowledge already,” Todd Miedema said.

“He’s very familiar with handling and receiving, and he has an understanding of all the different growers and packs.”


Mike Pirrone boosts cukes

Mike Pirrone Produce Inc. has boosted its cucumber acreage and switched to trellis production.

Capac, Mich.-based Pirrone grows a full line of summer and fall vegetables, and for the most part, acreage is similar to last year, with the exception of cukes and pickles, said company president Henry DeBlouw.

Cuke and pickle production is expected to rise as much as 20% this year, and the vast majority will be grown above ground on trellises, DeBlouw said.

“It was a very expensive investment, but it’s definitely in our best interest,” DeBlouw said.

Five levels of strings hold the cucumber plants to their stakes on the trellises, DeBlouw said.

With trellises, he said, cucumbers grow straighter and are less susceptible to “yellow bellies” — they have dark green skin all around.

In addition, because they’re off the ground, cucumbers have more room to breathe, are less susceptible to diseases and other problems, and as a result have longer shelf lives, he said.


Todd Greiner Farms adds staff

Holt, Mich.-based Todd Greiner Farms has added two staff members.

Darren Gilbert was hired in February as sales and logistics manager, and Aaron Fletcher in March as sales and logistics associate, said Todd Greiner, the company’s chief executive officer.

Gilbert has more than 20 years’ experience in the horticulture industry.

Most recently, he worked for the Biltmore estate in Asheville, N.C.

Fletcher grew up on a farm near Holt.