Michigan Agriculture - Van Buren County

Michigan AgricultureThe state of Michigan produces over 300 commodities on a commercial basis, second only to California in terms of agricultural diversity.  In 2011, Michigan’s annual agricultural exports generated nearly $2.8 billion. Further, our state leads the nation in the production of 18 commodities and ranks in the top ten in 56 other commodities. In Van Buren County, agriculture is a key driver in our local economy with over $195,000,000 in annual sales.

While Van Buren County has a wide range of agricultural products, fruit is where we take our greatest pride. Apricots, peaches, pears, apples, sweet and tart cherries and, of course, our berries are among our many varietals. Van Buren is most proud of its blueberries, often considered the best in the world and celebrated in festivals across the county. Van Buren County is nicknamed “Michigan’s Fruit Basket” for it superior fruit production.

Shelly Hartman of True Blue Farms in Grand Junction shares her thoughts on the growing conditions in Van Buren County:
 
“Dennis and I have been lifelong residents, blueberry producers, and are current business owners of True Blue Farms in Van Buren County which is situated in the middle of the region   known as the Michigan Fruit Belt. Fruit production in the Fruit Belt would be impossible without its unique environment. Climate is moderated in the region by what is referred to as “Lake Effect”. This Lake Michigan weather phenomenon keeps the area warmer when it’s cold and cooler when it’s warm. If you think the best blueberries, peaches, or grapes you’ve ever tasted have come from Southwest Michigan, you may rest assured it is not just your imagination running wild… IT’S A FACT!
 
We are blessed to have the benefits of the “Lake Effect” to help us grow the biggest best tasting blueberries second to none.”
 
Key Products Details
Corn, Soy and Wheat
 
76,760 Acres (51.42% of cropland)
 
Revenue from Corn, Soy and Wheat $58,293,000
Vegetables
 
7,280 Acres (4.88% of cropland)
 
Revenue from Vegetables $28,891,050
Fruit and Tree Nuts
 
307 Operations
 
Revenue from Fruits, Tree Nuts and Berries $60,033,000
Diary Farms
 
14 Farms
 
Revenue from Dairy Farms $18,673,000
All Animal Operations 272 Operations


Did you know?
 

  • Michigan’s blueberry industry is concentrated in southwest Michigan where there are abundant, naturally acidic “blueberry soils”. Typical sites are in low topographic positions, with a shallow water table. Soils are mostly acidic sandy loams and loamy sands. These mineral soils form on sandy outwash plains or ancient lake bottoms. Some blueberries are on acidic muck soils formed when small lakes filled with organic matter. Many of these soils are poorly drained."
     
  • Small fruit programing is provided by Mark Longstroth based in the Van Buren MSU Extension office in Paw Paw. Mark’s programing focus is blueberries, Van Buren County’s major fruit crop at 10,000 acres. Most fruit farm visits in Van Buren County are made by Mark Longstroth.
     
  • Michigan leads the nation in growing blueberries, producing over one-third of all of the blueberries eaten in the U.S. In 2011, the state produced 72 million pounds and over 20 varieties of the sweet, round, cultivated berries. Michigan blueberries are grown, harvested, and processed by over 600 family farms, contributing nearly $118.7 million to the state’s economy. Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa, and Van Buren counties comprise the state’s primary blueberry growing region.
     
  • Michigan ranks third in the nation for asparagus production, producing up to 25 million pounds annually. In fact, in 2011 the Michigan asparagus production was valued at over $1.7 million. Michigan growers harvest approximately 11,000 acres annually. The long green stalks are one of Michigan’s first crops to appear in the spring. Much of Michigan’s asparagus is grown near the Lake Michigan shoreline where the moderate temperatures and soils make for excellent production conditions. Michigan asparagus, unlike asparagus from other states, is hand-snapped above the ground. This method yields a more tender and flavorful product.
     
  • Michigan utilized 94,400 tons of grapes for production of wine and juice in 2011, with a total value of $31.5 million. Michigan has 14,600 acres of vines, making Michigan the fourth-largest grape producing state in the nation. About 2,650 of those acres are devoted to wine grapes, making Michigan the fifth state for wine grape production. Michigan has more than 100 commercial wineries producing more than 1.3 million gallons of wine annually. Michigan wineries make many varieties of wine, including red, white, and specialty wines such sparkling, fortified, fruit wines, and brandies. Concord and Niagara grapes are grown primarily in the southwestern Michigan and are used for juice production.
     

Local Food & Farm Guide

Why should you buy local?
 

Local Food Farm Guide

Help spur economic growth Simply put, when you spend your dollars locally, the money circulates locally, positively impacting several businesses before it leaves the area. Spending the same amount of money at a large national chain has very little positive impact on the local economy.

Know what’s in your food! Buying straight from local farmers gives you the opportunity to ask them important questions about how the food was grown, what farming practices were used and what’s really in your food.

 Local food can taste better and have more nutritional benefit! Studies show that the distance food travels from farm to table affects attributes like taste and nutrition.

Help preserve open space and keep local farms in business! Buying form local farms helps keep smaller farms in business. This helps maintain our rural character and helps farmers afford to keep their farms operating and local jobs in place.
 
Download a printable 2015 Local Food and Farm Guide
Fruit & Vegetable seasonal availability guide, click here
2015 Food & Farm Guide Map
Online interactive & customizable google map
Michigan State University

To pick up a print copy of the guide, visit the Conservation District office or any of the Farms or Businesses listed in the Guide!

Advertise Your Farm and Farm Market in the Local Food and Farm Guide

Click here to view the 2015 Advertiser info and pricing

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Work distribution in Van Buren is 57% blue collar and 42% white collar.
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