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About Apples » Meet our Growers

Steve Tennes

Orchard: Country Mill

Location: Charlotte, Michigan

Crops: apples and pumpkins

Being proactive is something Steve Tennes strives to do. Deciding to apply for MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) verification, an environmentally-friendly certification program, is just one example. Steve knew becoming MAEAP verified would be a positive step for his business - the Country Mill in Charlotte. The MAEAP program requires farmers to take precautionary measures to protect the land and water around their farm, reduce any possible negative effects and protect from accidents.

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Mark W. Youngquist

Orchard: Kent City, Michigan

Location: Sparta, Michigan

Crops: apples, corn, soybeans

Mark Youngquist can still remember the moment he realized that carrying on the family farm was what he wanted to do. Farming had always been his first choice and more than 30 years since that moment occurred, that’s still the case. Mark has always been grateful for the chance to learn the industry from his father and the patience his father showed him. Now Mark has the chance to continue to work with him, while passing on lessons to his son, Jordan.

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Al Dietrich

Orchard: Ridgeview Produce

Location: Conklin, Michigan

Crops: apples, cherries, asparagus

Coming from a large family and having a large family of his own, Al Dietrich says that anything less than half a dozen children is considered a crop failure for a farmer. Dietrich is proud to see some of his children taking an interest in the family business by taking on responsibilities. A fifth-generation apple grower, Al says he's pleased that someone will be willing to take over the farm when he retires; or at least when he stops working as much.

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Chris Kropf

Orchard: Hart Farm

Location: Lowell, Mich.

Crops: Apples

Chris Kropf enjoys not only operating a family apple orchard, but getting out and meeting others in the industry as a state sales rep for a company that provides pesticides and plant growth regulators. Having this variety of work gives Chris a well-needed change of pace and flexibility to do something different on most days. He enjoys being on the road and visiting different parts of the state and country, and meeting new people at almost every turn.

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Joe Klein and Joe Klein Jr.

Orchard: Royal J Klein Farms and J K Farms

Location: Sparta, Mich.

Crops: Apples and sweet cherries

Joe Klein and his son Joe Jr. realize just how fortunate they are. Not all families have the chance to remain close, run a business together and live within a mile of each other. The Kleins enjoy and appreciate life on the Fruit Ridge - the heart of Michigan apple country, where they grow apples and cherries .

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Ed Wittenbach

Orchard: Wittenbach Orchards

Location: Belding, Mich.

Crops: Apples, corn and soybeans

Never one to shy away from change, Ed Wittenbach has traveled great lengths to understand and learn more about the apple industry. He has a vast collection of stories, photos and knowledge that have helped him run a successful business. Along the way, he has managed to collect several honors and distinctions for his work.

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Roger Umlor

Orchard: Centennial Fruit

Location: Conklin, Mich.

Crops: Apples, cherries, peaches and asparagus

Having spent his childhood growing up on apple orchards, Roger Umlor knows how important it is to have a good support system, as well as experience. His family has been in the business over 75 years. Now it's up to Roger, his brother and his cousin- the next generation to step up to the plate and run the family business.

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Richard Koziski

Orchard: Dexter Cider Mill

Location: Dexter, Mich.

Crops: Apples

Dexter Cider Mill has been in operation since the end of the Civil War, and while it may not look exactly like it did more than 120 years ago, owner Richard Koziski has made a concerted effort to maintain the authenticity of the mill. Much like a baseball fan that looks at the days of Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams with a certain sense of reverence, Richard relishes the historical significance of the mill which he believes can never be overshadowed by any modern technique or accomplishment. A sense of history is evident in every aspect of the mill, reflecting Richard's strong belief that the past is so important to the future.

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