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Sparta, MI-based Riveridge Produce Marketing's compliance with the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program has been verified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, signifying Riveridge’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The firm has become an advocate of the MAEAP program (www.maeap.org) and is strongly encouraging its many partner farms to follow its lead.

MAEAP is a voluntary program created to help farmers assess operations and implement sustainable business practices that benefit surrounding communities, the environment and the financial viability of the farm.

"Sustainability has always been one of our top priorities," Don Armock, president and partner of Riveridge Produce Marketing, said in a Dec. 17 press release. “Through the MAEAP, we collaborate and share with other Michigan farms to improve our industry’s environmental footprint.”

Recent sustainability initiatives include new sprayer technologies, natural pest-management techniques, eco-friendly packaging, recycling and composting, all of which help reduce emissions and waste.

“Riveridge has recognized environmental sustainability as being important to themselves, their growers and neighbors in the community, as well as their customers,” Denise Donohue, executive director of the DeWitt-based Michigan Apple Committee, said in the release. “Earning the MAEAP designation through the Michigan Department of Agriculture is the public stamp of approval that farming is being conducted in an environmentally friendly way.”

Earning MAEAP verification requires completion of a three-phase program beginning with an educational session. Then, an on-farm risk assessment is administered. Finally, a third-party verification guarantees the farmer has instituted environmentally sound practices.

“The reason the MAEAP program works is the people involved are doing it for all the right reasons,” Josh Appleby, MAEAP verifier and resource analyst of the MDA, added in the release. “Riveridge genuinely cares about their farm and the environment, both now and in the future. They want to raise awareness for sustainability.”