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Benton Harbor Fruit Market circa 1950

Benton Harbor Fruit Market circa 1950

Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown. Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
— Pink Floyd

There is a reason why this corner of Michigan is renown for producing great fruit.  Take a look from a few miles up and you can see that we have the advantage of a maritime climate in a continental location.  Being in the southwest corner of the state gives us the longest growing season possible.  The lake keeps things a little warmer in the coldest winter, and a little cooler in the hottest summer.  The best sites are on high, sandy hills that were once beach dunes a few millennia ago.  Once upon a time most of the Chicago area was getting their fruit and vegetables from this region.  For decades in the early to mid 1900's the Benton Harbor Fruit Market was like the New York Stock Exchange, only every stock weighed 40 pounds and had to be unloaded by hand.  Growers would converge on the market with truckloads of fresh produce that would be auctioned off, cooled and loaded on trucks for Chicago and other points.  With the advent of interstate highways, refrigerated trucking, massive consolidation of the grocery industry, and the subsequent rise of industrial strength agriculture, the region has shrunk to a fraction of the fruit acreage that existed in the 1950's and 60's. The great sites are still here, still producing the best flavored fruits and vegetables anyone could ask for.  Today, much of this bounty still finds its way to Chicago farmers markets and restaurants less than two hours away.  Eat and drink local movements signal a new renaissance for small farms.  We are the agriculture counterculture.  Small is the new big.  It's about flavor.  It's about creativity.  It's about passion.  

It's about time.  

 

Chicago, about 60 miles across the lake

Chicago, about 60 miles across the lake