Custer Township’s Pine Ridge Farms will receive Outstanding Conservationist Award Thursday.
SCOTTVILLE — The Mason Lake Conservation District will present Pine Ridge Farms, LLC, the 2016 Outstanding Conservationist Award during the district’s annual meeting Thursday evening at the Scottville Optimist Center. The 240 acre farm is owned and operated by Dan and Allyson Wolf.
Dan’s family has resided in Mason County for 150 years with farming being a notable part of that heritage. The current farm raises 100 acres of asparagus and 5 acres of hops, with plans to expand more acreage. In 2016 the farm started a hops processing facility.
“We did some research and took some Michigan State University classes to decide if this is what we wanted to do,” Allyson says. “We planted our first acre in 2012.”
Dan’s grandfather, Louie Van Bergen, was one of the first farmers to grow asparagus in Mason County. Before school, Dan and his brothers and sister would walk down the rows and put the asparagus in five gallon buckets. Several years later that system was improved by Louie, who constructed a sled from old refrigerator doors and pulled it behind the tractor. Today, the farm has seven self-propelled asparagus pickers to meet the requirements for hand-harvesting over 40 acres per day.
The ingenuity and work ethic that Dan grew up with has helped him in not only working on the farm with his grandfather but also working for local area farmers. Those experiences led him to starting his own dairy herd while he was still in high school. From there he continued his education by enrolling in the welding program at West Shore Community College.
While making strides to purchase more land and improve the farm, Dan has always worked off off the farm at different area businesses. He has continued to work outside the farm and is currently employed at Marquette Rail. Dan and Allyson have been married and business partners since 2000. Allyson’s part in running the farm business is taking care of office duties. She attends both asparagus and hop meetings and other ag industry seminars. She also oversees the field labor and seasonal migrant housing units needed for harvesting the 100 acres of asparagus.
“To be chosen from the qualified farms and individuals from both Mason and Lake counties as the 2016 Outstanding Conservationist is a great honor for us,” Allyson said.
The meeting and dinner banquet begins at 6 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m.
Mason County Farm Bureau President Seth Earl, and his wife, Lyndsay, a Farm Bureau board member, will give their presentation from the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture competition, where they were awarded runners-up.
Mark Garrison, regional coordinator for the Michigan State University Institute of Agricultural Technology, will present on the program’s initial year at West Shore Community College. The evening will also include the Outstanding Conservationist Award and announcing results of the Board of Director’s election.
Tickets are $13 per person and will be available at the Conservation District Office, or by calling (231) 757-3707 ext 5 for a reservation.
Ballots will be available at the door and results announced at the end of the evening.
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