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How did Monday's frost affect apple farmers?

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- 2012 was not a good year for Michigan apples; an early spring followed by late frost caused one of the worst crop yields in years. When temperatures dipped below freezing Monday morning, farmers became worried.

With honey bees buzzing all around him, Phil Schwallier inspects his apple orchard. Walking to the first tree you can see thousands of petals. "Obviously these flowers were frozen-- they are tinged. You can see the slight discoloration," explains Schwallier.

Schwallier pulls out his knife and checks the inside. "These flowers are dead," says Schwallier. He does not have the voice of someone who is very upset. "There are about 3,000 buds killed on this tree." That sounds like bad news, but... "I still have 2,000 left and only need 300 to survive."

In other words, the tree is in pretty good shape.

Local farmers take measures to protect crops

SPARTA (WZZM) - Monday morning's cold temperatures have area farmers on edge, as the frost threatens fruit crops.

Phil Schwallier, a local farmer and MSU district horticulture agent, say farmers spent the night taking measures such as burning and running heat fans to fight off the frost.

He says the crops are most vulnerable when temperatures drop below 27 degrees,  With temps getting as low as 25 degrees, Schwallier says some loss is likely.

Farmers will know the extent of damage after Monday's warmup.  Schwallier does not think the damage will be too severe.

Church holds car wash fundraiser May 11

Church holds car wash fundraiser May 11

SPARTA, Mich.-- Support the Holy Family Youth Ministry by stopping in for a car wash on Saturday, May 11.

The car wash benefit runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Holy Family Church parking lot, located at 425 S. State St. in Sparta.  For more information, call  (616) 887-8222.

Help needed to clean up Nash Creek May 20

SPARTA, Mich.—The Sparta Rotary Club is looking for volunteers to join their annual Nash Creek Clean Up Monday, May 20.

The club says recent floods pushed lots of garbage and debris into the Nash Creek area, making this year’s clean up even more important.

The Nash Creek clean up will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Volunteers are asked to meet at the gazebo behind Rogers Hardware in downtown Sparta.  Participants should wear pants and shoes suitable for walking in the woods and along steep embankments.  Trash bags and tools will be provided.

For further information, contact the Sparta Chamber office at (616) 887-2454.

Specialty beer on tap as Grand Rapids defends Beer City USA title

Specialty beer on tap as Grand Rapids defends Beer City USA title


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Ten area breweries are teaming up to create a new beer, as Grand Rapids defends its title of Beer City USA.

The new rye IPA, called #55555513, will be available on tap starting Sunday, May 5.  The beer received its creative name because it contains 5.5% alcohol, 55 International Bitterness Units (IBU), and is being released on 5/5/13.   

Participating breweries include:

Outdoor Market opening Saturday features nearly 70 businesses (list included)

Outdoor Market opening Saturday features nearly 70 businesses (list included)


Grand Rapids’ long-awaited Downtown Outdoor Market opens Saturday, May 4, with the help of many businesses from West Michigan.

The 25,000 square foot site is the first LEED-certified market in the country.  When the market’s indoor space opens this summer, it will include a restaurant, brewery, farmer’s market, retail shops, commercial kitchen, rooftop greenhouse, and the country’s first hands-on kitchen for children.

The outdoor market will be open Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  It is located at 435 Ionia SW.

According to the Downtown Market’s Web page, this year’s vendors include:


WAVE Award nominations open

WAVE Award nominations open

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Experience Grand Rapids and the Kent County Lodging Association have opened the 6th Annual WAVE Award nominations.

The annual awards program recognizes outstanding service providers in the Grand Rapids and Kent County hospitality industry. Nominations will be accepted from employers and guests from April 30 to Oct.7, 2013. One award will be presented in each of the following categories: Transportation, Retail & Service, Attractions/Events, and Nightlife. New categories to the 2013 awards program include: Restaurants/Breweries, Lodging, and Volunteer in Hospitality.