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Michigan apple-growing family makes cover of Scholastic News

Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

(Berrien Springs, Mich.) – An apple-growing family from southwest Michigan is being talked about and used as a textbook lesson on apples in classrooms across the country this fall.

Bryan and Jennifer Bixby of Berrien Springs and their children Alyson and Clayton are featured in the September issue of Scholastic News Editions 1 & 2, a magazine read by first- and second-graders throughout the U.S.  The edition is devoted entirely to apples and photographs of the family are included throughout the publication.

“We are very pleased and have had nothing but rave reviews from teachers and other parents at our kids’ schools since the issue arrived,” said Jennifer.  “Everyone absolutely loves it!”
Laine Falk, editor of Scholastic News, said an apple lesson is usually highlighted each fall.

“We try to do a feature on apples every September. It is a big part of the first- and second-grade curriculum, and our advisory board of teachers always requests an apple-related topic,” said Falk.  “We chose Michigan because it is such a big, famous apple-growing state, and because the Michigan Apple Committee was the fastest in helping us find a family who could help with the article!” Denise Donohue, executive director, said the Bixby family came to mind almost immediately when Scholastic contacted the MAC staff for recommendations.  

“The Bixbys are truly a textbook example of A-plus standards in business and as a family,” said Donohue.  “Their multi-generational orchard is thriving due to the attention each and every member of the family devotes to the business.  The family works not only on their business, but to help increase awareness of the Michigan apple industry in general, and that says a lot about them.”

Jennifer has appeared on Chicago television to talk about the many different Michigan apple varieties, while Bryan has been involved in several boards associated with the industry, including chairman of the Michigan Apple Committee, and current trustee with USApple Association. 

The photo shoot for the Scholastic issue took place last September and lasted about five hours. Alyson attends third grade at Sylvester Elementary and Clayton is in first-grade at Mars Elementary.  Both schools are located in Berrien Springs.  The children sometimes help out on the weekends during the fall when the farm market is busy. 

“Michigan apples are great because my Daddy grows them,” said Clayton. 

Alyson adds, “Michigan apples are great because they are juicy and are really good!”

Bryan’s family owns the farm, where they grow fruits and vegetables for wholesale.  Apples are their largest commodity and currently grow 16 different varieties.  Bryan’s father, Paul, runs the wholesale operation, while his uncle, who will turn 91 in October, still works on the farm.  They are both featured in the Scholastic issue as well.

Published by Scholastic, the largest publisher of educational magazines with 32 publications for grades PreK-12, Scholastic News Editions 1 and 2 are read in classrooms across the country by students with their teachers.  The topics of science and social studies are covered with the ultimate goal of encouraging kids to learn to read through exciting topics, said Falk.

Michigan is the third-largest apple producing state in the nation, behind Washington and New York.  Typcially the Great Lakes State produces about 20 million bushels of apples each year, contributing an estimated $700 million of annual economic impact.

There are approximately 950 family-run apple orchards throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, covering some 37,000 acres.   The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to market development, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world.