Years in Industry: 31
Family: Wife Becky, son James and daughters Rochelle, Bridget, Sonja and Nicole Sunniva
Memberships: Michigan Apple Research Subcommittee, MACMA, Farm Bureau, Michigan Tree Fruit Commission
Jim’s father planted the first apple trees on their family farm in 1950 and in 1956, he built a cold storage. A year later his father installed a fresh packing line and the first apples that were packed were sold by “Ma” Brown. Jim’s fresh market fruit is currently sold through Jack Brown Produce and the processing apples are sold to Sill Farm Market. Growing up into a farm family, Jim has worked full time on the farm since graduating from Grandville High School in 1983.
As Jim looks to the future, he says that J Engelsma Orchards, Inc. will continue to be a family farm that stresses high quality standards rather than focusing on growth that would create a need for large volume at the expense of quality. Jim believes, while the fruit industry offers many new challenges each year, it offers the opportunity to accomplish new tasks every day. He truly enjoys the progressive nature of fruit production.
A large, legal work force that will do manual labor, is what Jim believes is one of the largest challenges growers face. Another challenge he says would be the cost of implementing the newest methods of fruit production, industry wide, to ensure consistently high quality fruit. Jim is always open to new technology, although he feels that it must always be more efficient and create a better bottom line.
Jim and his family love to spend time on Lake Michigan and downhill ski in the winter. Three of his children, James, Sonja and Nicole Sunniva are avid tri-athletes.