2019 Distinguished Service Award

Ed and Alicia Robinette

Edward J. Robinette II is the oldest of 3 brothers, the 4th generation of the family to farm the orchard in Grand Rapids that is called home.  Ed grew up working with his grandfather Edward and father James, and brothers Bill and John.  Ed learned to love growing fruit, as well as following their example of serving their community and fellow fruit growers.  Ed followed both grandfather and father to Michigan State University to earn a BS in Horticulture degree in 1985.  Ed began dating Alicia Weaver in High School and asked her to marry after she earned her BBA degree at the University of Michigan.  Ed and Alicia have two sons, James II and Allan.  Both sons are married.  Allan works at the farm full time, while Jim helps on key weekends, and both their wives are involved when they can be.

Ed came back to the farm from MSU and helped continue its growth as a farm market, u-pick, bakery, and winery.  Ed was joined by brothers Bill and John as they completed their educations at MSU.  The brothers, their wives and children all work together at the farm.  Alicia joined the farm full time after the birth of son Allan and assumed management of the business side of the farm.

Both grandfather Edward and James served as Township Trustees as well as board members of the Michigan State Horticultural Society, with Edward as its President in 1950.  Ed followed their examples by being elected as Trustee of Grand Rapids Township in 1996, and as Township Clerk since 2012.  Ed also serves on the Kent County Agricultural Preservation Board.

Ed joined the Kenowa Pomester Club in 1985.  Thus began the opportunity to serve fellow fruit growers on various boards and committees such as the Michigan Pomesters, the Michigan Cider Task Force, Michigan Cider Makers Guild, Michigan Apple Committee and U.S. Apple, and the Michigan State Horticultural Society as its President in 2012.  Ed has served since 2013 on the Trust Committee of the Horticultural Society, currently as the chairman of that committee.

Ed and Alicia love to travel, enjoy camping in the great outdoors, and both have served in children’s ministry at their church almost every Sunday for the last 20 years.  They both work with family every day and are thankful for the opportunities they have had to serve outside of the farm as well.

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the 2019 Distinguished Service Award to Ed and Alicia Robinette.

Jim Laubach

Jim Laubach has been involved in the Michigan fruit industry his whole life, starting with working in plums at Triple D Orchards in Empire, working on his family’s cherry farm and owning and operating an orchard consulting business.  In 1985, Jim purchased HortSystems, Inc.  For 35 years Jim has worked as an independent crop consultant. This included developing and implementing new pest management practices, conducting and collaborating on applied research projects with university faculty as well as industry stakeholders. The primary focus of his work was helping fruit growers in Northwest Michigan manage insect and disease pests in their orchards using principles of integrated pest management.  This successful, thriving business has now been passed to the next generation.

Jim met his wife Sally while studying Horticulture at Michigan State University in 1977. Upon graduation in 1979 Jim moved on to his family farm in Benzie County. Jim and Sally were married in the fall of 1979 and together developed a small farm growing cherries, apples and asparagus.  Jim graduated MSU with a bachelor of science degree in Horticulture and several years later went back to continue his education.  He graduated with a master of science degree in entomology from MSU in 1995.

Within HortSystems, Inc. Jim developed a network of weather monitoring stations that were placed in area orchards. This allowed for more site-specific weather data for use with insect and disease models. This network of stations and information delivery models were eventually used in a much larger weather monitoring system developed by Michigan State University’s Enviroweather program. This system is widely used by Michigan agriculture to help manage weather related challenges.

Jim has been involved in many industry related boards and was awarded the 2019 Cherry Industry Person of the Year presented by the Cherry Marketing Institute.

The Michigan State Horticultural Society is pleased to present the 2019 Distinguished Service Award to Jim Laubach.

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