Strawberries, Blueberries and Blackberries. Once again featuring products from many of our favorite Michigan farmers. In this case the Blueberries come from the farm of John VanVoorhees and Joan Donaldson in Fennville, Michigan. They are an inspiring couple that put a great deal of love and dedication into what they do. From living off-the-grid to being certified organic long before it was a household word (17 years when I met them many years ago), they make a fine example sustainable family farming.
In Joan’s words, “Thirty years ago, my husband, John Van Voorhees, and I returned to his family fruit farm. His grandfather and uncles had set out the original planting of blueberry bushes in the late 1930′s, and just after we married, John and his parents planted several more acres of berry bushes. While John’s parents had taken over the land in the 1950′s and developed it into a diverse, thriving farm, John and I were influenced by the writings of Louis Bromfield and Wendell Berry and we decided to work towards a smaller, sustainable organic fruit farm. John had also witnessed some of the negative effects of traditional chemical farming and wanted to focus on working with nature to enhance the life of the soil. Although organic farming proposes numerous challenges, thirty years later we are still dedicated to working for healthy soil and the best quality fruit we can nurture. As Wendell Berry says, “Farming is an art” and as artists we are always learning.”