Meet the Michigan Apple Growers

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J Engelsma Orchards, Inc.
Jim Engelsma’s grandfather George bought an 80 acre farm in 1920 and began farming 18 dairy cows and 35 acres of raspberries and other vegetables on the land that is now called J Engelsma Orchards, Inc. Jim’s father was the first person to plant apple trees on their land. Currently, Jim farms 145 acres of apples and peaches and his fresh apple cider has won many awards over the years.

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Travis Bratschi and Family

Travis Bratschi started working on his grandpa’s cherry and apple farm every summer beginning at age seven. Farming all the way through high school, Travis learned the key components to good farming practices and found himself back on the farm after graduating college and working at a pest control company for two years. He says he has a passion for working in the fruit industry and hopes to keep expanding his farm in the future.

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Joe Rasch Orchards, Inc.

Growing up on an apple farm, working in the apple industry seemed like second nature to Joe Rasch. Joe Rasch Orchards, Inc. now has two locations in Conklin and Sparta, where he harvests apples and cherries every season. His five children, Jessica, Rob, Katie, Emily and Liz, get to experience the same everyday lifestyle that their dad had growing up on an apple farm.

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Chris Kropf

Chris and his wife, Kim, purchased the 135 -acre family farm, all in apples, about five years ago.  A fourth-generation apple grower, Chris has a long history with the land which is ideally situated for apple production with nearby lakes.

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Steve Tennes

Steve believes that the inclusion of the picking-the-apples-yourself option is one of the biggest draws to the Country Mill.  Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of consumers who want to visit the orchards for a first-hand experience.  Consumers today want to see how things work and where their food comes from.

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Al Dietrich

Dietrich Orchards was started by Al Dietrich's great-great grandfather Joseph Dietrich five generations ago and the family business has remained intact ever since.  However, Al, his brother Joe and his cousins Mike and Jim, have split the business into two operations.  Al and his brother run Ridgeview Orchards and his cousins run Leo Dietrich and Sons.  The two operations still operate through Dietrich Orchards, the packing, storing and shipping portion of the business.

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Roger Umlor

Roger's grandfather, Walter Umlor, bought the land in 1930 and started the farm with 80 acres, which has always been heavy in fruit production.  Today, there is one main farm in Conklin, as well as two satellite farms in the Hart and Shelby area, consisting of about 600 total acres and over 340 acres of apples.  Roger, along with his father Bob, uncle Ray, brother Mark and cousin Steve run the farm together.

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Joe Klein and Joe Klein Jr.

Joe Klein and Joe Jr. are a father-son team who own and operate two farms in Sparta, along with a satellite farm in Hoover. Joe is the second generation to own Royal J Klein Farms, which was founded in 1940 by Joe's father and uncle.

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Ed Wittenbach

The family farm was started in 1900 by Ed's grandfather, Fredrick Wittenbach. It began as a dairy farm, with a small apple orchard. After receiving his horticulture degree from Michigan State University, Ed returned to the farm and took over the family business. He decided to get out of cattle and focus on apples. Ed's vision paid off. His orchard has blossomed to 225 acres and continues to be a profitable family-run business.

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Where to Find

Learn more about where to go to find Michigan Apples

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