Fruit research station construction progressing. 

September 28, 2020

Fruit research station construction progressing. 

The Land is series telling the stories about local agriculture. It is a presentation of Peterson Farms, Inc..

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

WEARE TOWNSHIP — Construction is progressing on the West Michigan Research Center, a 6,000 square feet facility located on North Oceana Drive next to the Michigan State University asparagus research field. 

The non-profit group building the facility includes representatives from Oceana, Mason and Newaygo counties and will include a farm manager/researcher from Michigan State.

WCMHR President Andy Riley of Riley Orchards in Mears recently gave MCP/OCP a tour of the building, which is expected to open in spring 2021. The primary purpose of the facility is to provide a location for fruit growing research. The facility will include a laboratory where researchers can study the fruit grown on the 68-acre orchard that surrounds it. 

The facility also includes a training room that will be capable of holding 120 people. Riley said the training room will be available for community groups and nonprofit organizations. Various offices will also be located at the facility along with an additional building that will serve as a bunkhouse for visiting students. 

“Our area offers a very diverse micro climate and soil properties,” Riley said. “We offer a rich fruit growing climate with rolling hills a short distance from Lake Michigan along with sandy soil. Our uniqueness, however, often means that data obtained at other research stations do not reflect the issues our growers experience. Farmers in Muskegon County, for example, can see completely different issues than a farmer in Oceana County.

“Michigan is the second most agricultural diverse state in the union and our specific counties are some of the most agricultural diverse counties in Michigan.”

The group is forming partnerships with Michigan State University Extension, Michigan State Horticulture Society, the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), Michigan State AgBio Research, and local conservation districts to ensure the exploration of alternative energy and environmental best practices in agriculture, Riley said. The group plans to work with local historical societies to preserve agricultural history in the area.”

The facility is still in need of donations. It is currently about $150,000 short of its financial goal. While any donation is welcome, donors who contribute $1,000 or more will have the option to have their company, farm, or individual name engraved on a plaque that will be placed on the building recognizing the contribution as part of the Founders Club.

Riley said equipment donations are also needed, particularly tractors and implements that would be used on a fruit farm. 

For more information, contact Patricia Parsons, administrator, at 231-861-6333, extension 294 or email

Contributions can be sent to West Central Michigan Horticultural Society, Inc., attention Patricia Parsons, PO Box 115, Shelby, MI 49455. Contributions are tax deductible. Donations can also be made to the group’s website here as well as to the Community Foundation of Oceana County. 

If you have a suggestion for a Land story, please email

For information on Peterson Farms, including careers, visit

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.


Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks

Area Churches