SPARTA — An apple here. An apple there. An apple everywhere.
Dozens of Michigan Farm Bureau and Sam’s Club volunteers picked Gala apples Tuesday at J&J Morse Orchards in Sparta. In total, volunteers picked an impressive 20,000 pounds of apples — enough to fill 30 totes.
Earlier this year, the Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies created the For-Purpose mission, which aims to end childhood hunger in Michigan. The organization’s staff previously donated time to help bag apples, meat and other products at food banks across the state.
“Part of our For-Purpose mission is making sure all the entities in our organization — farmers, employees and agents — come together and get behind one mission, and that’s to end childhood hunger in Michigan,” said Cassandra Sinadinos, community engagement specialist for Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan.
“We were fortunate enough to partner with one of our West Michigan farmers and West Michigan Food Bank and organize this really incredible shift today. We were able to pick apples, and we will get them distributed to local food banks.”
Michigan ranks third in apple production in the county, with producers expected to harvest 30 million bushels of apples in 2022, up from 15 million bushels in 2021.
“Our weather conditions this year were just fantastic, which has created a fantastic apple product,” said Dawn Drake, general manager of the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association (MACMA), an apple-grower association. “Because we have such a bountiful crop this year, it seemed like the right thing to provide people with some fresh apples.”
According to Diane Smith, executive director of Michigan Apple, apple growers didn’t expect a record crop this year.
“But now it’s amazing to see how many apples are out there,” Smith told Michigan Farm News.
“There’s definitely a record crop, which is not a bad thing considering last year was a down year, and there’s also a smaller crop from the folks out west this year. Hopefully, that will mean some great returns back to growers from retail.”