MSU to open new AgBioResearch Center in Hart

In partnership with West Central Michigan Horticultural Research Inc., MSU will lead research on tree fruit and vegetable agriculture in west Michigan

Michigan State University will open a new AgBioResearch center in Hart, Michigan, in partnership with West Central Michigan Horticultural Research Inc., a nonprofit organization established in 2019 to support agriculture in Oceana, Mason and Newaygo counties.

The Earl & Linda Peterson West Michigan Research Station will conduct research related to the specific growing environment of the region, with an emphasis on tree fruit (apples, peaches, pears, tart cherries and sweet cherries) and asparagus. The 68 acres of farmland are specifically designed to help better understand the soil and micro-climate specific to west-central Michigan. 

“This new partnership has allowed us to establish a new center to conduct research related to the unique growing conditions of the area, while also establishing an AgBioResearch station in a region of the state where we previously had little presence,” said MSU AgBioResearch Director Doug Buhler.

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Earl & Linda Peterson West Michigan Research Station

A grand opening event is planned Aug. 5 from 5-7 p.m. at the center, located at 5185 N. Oceana Dr. Tours of the building and facilities and a presentation on the center’s mission and research goals will be offered.

MSU and West Central Michigan Horticultural Research Inc. are partnering with the Peterson Farms Inc., Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, and a host of other stakeholders to establish and support the new center.

Peterson Farms, Inc. is one of North America's premier fruit processing companies, serving some of the world's most recognizable brands. Headquartered in Shelby, Michigan, the business operates six facilities encompassing over 1.5-million square feet of processing and storage space, including individual quick-frozen fruit packs, fresh apple processing, juice, sauce, controlled atmosphere storage, as well as the largest freezer storage facility in the Midwest. 

“With Peterson Farms’ history of farming in Oceana County and our connection to growers throughout the region who supply to Peterson Farms, it was essential to be involved in helping bring this project forward,” said Grant Boring, Peterson Farms marketing and communications manager.

In total, $1.5 million was donated for the center through the fundraising efforts of the West Central Michigan Horticultural Research, Inc.

“The Earl & Linda Peterson West Michigan Research Station is not only a tremendous asset for the agricultural community of West Central Michigan, it’s a resource to be used to help educate and develop future generations of farmers in Oceana, Newago and Mason county communities,” Boring said.

The center will also serve as a community gathering spot for events and social functions, such as meetings, banquets, weddings, graduations and other events. To request availability, visit westmichiganresearchstation.org/events-meetings/.

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The center provides a community gathering space for events and social functions.

“The facility conference room, which has a seating capacity of 230 people, is a representation of generations of agriculture in the west Michigan area. The conference room is surrounded with photos taken from the 1800s through the 1900s,” Boring said.

Support from local and state stakeholders will remain vital to the center’s success.

“With the kickoff of the project, the Founders Club was established,” he said. “The Founders Club consists of individuals or companies who donated $1,000 or more. In addition, the project received donations from community organizations, corporations and grants. While the initial goal was met to build the facility, the Defenders Club [a second group] was established as there is still a need for ongoing donations to maintain the legacy of the West Michigan Research Station.”

A full list of partners can be found at: http://westmichiganresearchstation.org/partners/.

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