Cedar Valley Packing is based out of Grant, Michigan and owes its roots to the farm that Michael and Nancy Bouwkamp began in 1978. This farm, originally growing only onions and carrots, did not develop their passion for potatoes until the early 90s. Looking at that market trends at the time, the Bouwkamp family decided to try a nitch market of providing potatoes in a smaller more consumer friendly package. They formed the company Cedar Valley Packing in 2000 with a primary focus on consumer size 3 lb packs of potatoes. Cedar Valley Packing wanted to be able to provide smaller bags of specialty potatoes, such as red skinned, to consumers.
Today, Cedar Valley Packing provides numerous different sizes of bags with 50% of their production going into the consumer size packs. Kyle Bouwkamp (2nd generation) stated that “Our specialty product is red potatoes in the consumer size packs but we also provide some russet and white potatoes at all sizes.”
A strong aspect of Cedar Valley Packing is environmental stewardship. In order to ensure that their operation is using the best environmental practices, Cedar Valley packing is certified in the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program. MAEAP is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. MAEAP‘s mission is to develop and implement a proactive environmental assurance program ensuring that Michigan farmers are engaging in cost-effective pollution prevention practices and working to comply with state and federal environmental regulations. GAP is practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products. These certifications mean that Cedar Valley Packing meets or exceeds the most up-to-date regulations on food safety, employee safety and efficient management.
Another important aspect of Cedar Valley Packing is community involvement. They are actively engaged in both their local Feeding America and Name of Christ programs where they donate potatoes to those in need. Kyle reflects that he feels this involvement is an excellent way to give back to his community.
Kyle's passion for growing potatoes came from his father, Mike, who started the farm. Kyle says “Farming is a fantastic lifestyle for myself and my family. It has instilled a hard work ethic into myself and my kids which is something that is hard to put a value on”.
In his professional opinion, Kyle said the best way to eat potatoes is “Twice baked potatoes, Mom has the greatest recipe of all time.”