In 1998, REAP was established to counter the depressed agricultural economy on the “Ridge.” The economic situation was due to the greatly increased import of apple juice concentrate from China and the loss of markets for Michigan apple juice concentrate. In addition, a May, 1998 windstorm did millions of dollars of damage to trees, homes, and farm buildings on the “Ridge.”
A Steering Committee made up of farmers, local government officials, agri-business and representatives of the Michigan Cooperative Extension Service worked together to develop solutions for the local economy. A value-added economic agent of the Cooperative Extension Service was hired with grant funding from Project Greeen, the Frey Foundation and the Urban Cooperation Board for a period of three years. Value-added Extension Agent, Dianne Novak, was effective in developing programming particularly in the value-added area, fresh apple slice research, and in creating the Fruit Ridge Country Market Guide, as well as this website.
At the end of the grant cycle, the Steering Committee took over the organization, developed bylaws and Articles of Incorporation and elected a Board of Directors. REAP is now a 501 (c ) (3) charitable, educational organization enabling it to apply for and receive grants. REAP is now licensed under Michigan State law and assigned the number MICS/CT 30647.
Continued education programming is planned. Membership dues are $15 per year. Persons wishing to contact REAP can write Gordie Moeller, Secretary, 3775 Crystal Waters Ln N. E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525, call (616) 293-4727, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.