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April 23 • 07:48 AM
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Lights, camera, carrots!


Store chain puts spotlight on produce grown in area


September 02, 2009
IMLAY CITY — Pam Makedonsky couldn't have imagined her job description at the family farm, Lindy's Pre-Pack Carrots, would include appearing in a television commercial but when the cameras showed up in late July for filming, Pam said they were grateful for the opportunity to tell their story and show off their fields.

Pam, husband Gary Makedonsky and her brother, Gary Brandt are featured in a Kroger Stores advertisement that's aired around the state. They are also one of several local growers the grocery chain has used in print advertisements.

"We were really happy that they wanted to promote us and our product," Pam said.

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Kroger television commercials airing across Michigan have put Gary Makedonsky, Pam Makedonsky and Gary Brandt of Lindy’s Pre-Pack Carrots and their expansive Imlay City fields in the spotlight. They also appear in print ads with other local growers from Imlay City and Almont.

"We are happy to have our carrots in Kroger stores."

The 30 second spot shows Pam and husband Gary strolling through the ready to harvest carrots while Gary Brandt's behind the wheel of a tractor, shown rolling through through the muck field. Pam narrates the commercial, telling how her grandfather was drawn to Imlay City for its mineral rich soil, which is ideal for growing great carrots. There's also a scene from the packing plant that shows the bright orange vegetables making their way into a Capac Chiefs-labeled bag. At Kroger the carrots are sold in one and three pound bags.

Pam explains that when her dad, Lindy, and grandfather, Al Brandt Sr. started the Eastern Michigan Vegetable Market in the early 1960s, they sold their carrots under the Capac Chiefs label.

"Our salesmen tell us buyers look for that brand for its reputation...it's a tradition," Pam said.

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Deciding to put the spotlight on Michigan growers was an easy choice for Kroger, said Dale Hollandsworth of the store's communications department. Their shoppers, especially in today's economy, want to support their neighbors.

"The public is very receptive and asking for Michigan products," Hollandsworth said.

"I think there was a natural tendency for people to do that anyways but with the current state of affairs they are more aggressive when it comes to buying local...not just fresh fruit and vegetables."

Hollandsworth said that the advertising campaign is also meant to bring agriculture, the state's second largest industry, out of the shadow of the state's automotive industry. The print and television ads can be seen throughout the state.

He said the campaign also aims to show the diversity of fruits and vegetables that are grown in Michigan, citing statistics that show only California and Florida surpass Michigan in the variety of produce grown.

"We're so far north yet we're so prolific," Hollandsworth said.

Other local growers featured in the print material include Hoeksema and Jager Farms and Van Dyk Farms of Imlay City, Ken Campbell Farms of Almont and the Wolak Farms of Armada.

Hollandsworth said that Kroger has plans to continue featuring local growers in their promotional material and are looking forward to next year's growing season.

Obviously, shoppers are taking notice. Wendy Smith, a manager at the Imlay City Kroger location said customers wheel their shopping cart into the produce aisles and ask for the carrots, lettuce, squash and other vegetables that come from the Imlay City and Almont fields.

Of the many comments they've received, Pam said so many viewers were impressed with the quality of the commercial. She credits Kroger and their affiliates who were "great people to work with."

Harvest of their 430 acres and packing will continue at Lindy's Pre-Pack Carrots until Thanksgiving, Pam said.

In addition to Michigan, Capac Chief carrots are shipped across the country—from New York and Florida to Chicago, St. Louis and even further west.

Carrots are also sold at their packing plant at Weyer Rd. and M-53, just north of Imlay City, including 25 pound bags which are ideal for canning, freezing and juicing.

Although a statewide deer baiting ban has been in effect for one year, Pam said that their sales are still strong when it comes to carrots for livestock feed.

"We feel really blessed that God has put things in place for us. To pick our product and to promote Michigan...it makes us really happy," she said.

"We hope shoppers look to buy other Michigan-grown produce too."

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