February 2023 - 14
GREAT LAKES EXPO
Veg council honors family farm,
MSU weed specialist
he Michigan Vegetable Council honored a family
farm that has raised vegetables for nearly 100
years on muck soil and a Michigan State University
professor who specializes in weed management.
The awards ceremony at the 22nd Annual EXPO
Banquet on Dec. 7, during the Great Lakes Fruit,
Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO, honored Brink Muck
Farms and MSU's Dan Brainard.
The Master Farmer Award is given in recognition of
outstanding farming practices, as well as cooperation with
MSU researchers and Extension educators and leadership
roles in the vegetable industry and local community.
The Master Farmer Associate Award is given to an
individual who, while not directly involved in farming, has
had a significant effect on the well-being of the vegetable
industry in Michigan.
Master Farmer Award - Brink Muck Farms
Brink Muck Farms, Grant, Michigan, is on famed muck
soil of the Grant Marsh. Dave and Nate Brink farm on
some of the same 80 acres where the farm was started by
earlier generations of the family. The older generations of
the farming family received the same recognition in 1966,
according to the Michigan Vegetable Council.
Dave and Nate Brink continue the legacy, and are more
than deserving of the award, according to the Michigan
The farm originally grew celery, onions and other cole
crops. Today, the farm focuses solely on onions, which are
packed at B&P Packing House.
Brink Muck Farms plays a role vital to the Michigan
vegetable industry, according to the council. The
cooperation that Dave and Nate Brink have with MSU helps
not only their farm, but all vegetable farms in Michigan.
Stemphylium, a foliar disease, is causing problems in
the Michigan onion crop, and Brink Muck Farm works
closely with Mary Hausbeck and Ben Werling of MSU. Past
seasons have allowed for research trial plots at the farm
to better understand maggot and weed problems.
Local part-time labor is employed on the farm to help
harvest the onions. Throughout the growing season, there
is only one tried and true method that gets rid of all the
weeds, and that is hand labor. Kristen Brink helps manage
weeding on the farm. The three Brink children and other
local youths are employed to tackle weeding as well.
The Brink's are part of a wonderful community and
should be celebrated for all they bring to Grant, Michigan,
and beyond, according to the council.
14 | FEBRUARY 2023
BRINK MUCK FARMS
Master Farmer Associate Award -
Brainard has said that he probably took a less-thannormal
route to become an associate professor in the
MSU department of horticulture. He grew up in the city,
went to college in Ohio and then joined the Peace Corps,
where he was introduced to international agriculture.
Brainard received a doctorate in Horticulture with a
minor in weed management from Cornell University.
As an MSU professor, he is involved in teaching,
research and Extension, and he teaches the vegetable
production course at MSU.
Weed management is critical in vegetable production,
and Brainard knows that manual labor and herbicides
cannot be the only tools available for growers. While
on sabbatical leave in Europe in 2021, he spent time
researching autonomous robotic companies that have
automated weeding products on the market. He brought
back knowledge and tools to be researched through
grants he received.
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