2016 Edgebrook Farmers Market Vendor: Klug Orchards
Klug Orchards is the family farm of Kevin & Cathy Klug along with their sons Ben, Dan & Ethan who each have enjoyed various roles in farming their bountiful crops. Arnold & Clara Klug ran the farm till 85 when they transitioned it into his care. For over 60 years they raised their 5 children and grew various fresh fruits and vegetables on this same 160 acre farm located on beautiful rolling hills in southwestern Berrien County, Michigan. Though each of their 5 children had enjoyed aspects of farming through the years, only Kevin and his wife Cathy have dedicated both their lives full time to farming since their marriage in 1988. Prior to the Klug families' stewardship of the farm it was a family Dairy, dating to the earliest known platt book of Berrien County in 1842, when the farmhouse was merely the smaller portion of the family's home which still has the original bark log underfloor over hickory and poplar planks of Abraham Lincoln era simple construction. Even the "New addition" 2 story block portion dates to 1908. While technology has changed throughout the years, many simple farming techniques have stayed the same here at the Klug's Orchards; such as the natural grazing of their horses, sheep, cows or chickens on their certified organic pasture, to the old fashioned pull behind metal wheeled 1 row "Flinstone" planter for longer stemmed plants, seeds and bulbs - which could have been drawn by a horse once upon a time. Hand hoeing acres of crops and hand picking of their fresh produce at the peak of ripeness to bring to customers at Farmer's Markets are also timeless traditions that carry on, improved by coverings for weeds, flame torch or mechanical weed elimination.
For over 45 years Kevin's parents had faithfully taken their sweet fruits and vegetables to Benton Harbor's wholesale market and the South Bend, Ind. Farmer's Market where countless families have become more like familiar friends than customers as produce and pleasantries commingled through the years. Kevin and Cathy also as stockholders sold at the S.B. Market while raising their expanding family, growing field and greenhouse crops as they renovated the old family farmhouse in the center of the farm through the early years of their marriage. Back then, the family's old fashioned Cider Press saw many hours of Dad with Kevin, Cathy and others blending bushels of apples in the fall to produce fresh, natural Cider. Since then, Mich.Cider has had to be pasteurized, putting the mill to the side, but in 2016 youngest son (now almost 20) may revitalize this equipment ! Springtime kept the two active hauling buckets of Maple sap to be boiled into sweet syrup, but that too is an art available to be "tapped into" yet by the next generation....
When the folks broached their 70's , Kevin realized two members of the their same family farm selling at the same market was both confusing and counterproductive to the customers and to the atmosphere of the market itself. That is when he and Cathy agreed to launch out to try taking the farm's produce to distant Chicago neighborhood markets in the summers and the parents could spend their golden years tending the S.B. Market solely, while Kevin operated their booths through the winters with their apples and squashes etc. Several restaurants also purchase Klug Orchard's items to incorporate into menu recipes. Kevin & Cathy additionally donate fresh produce weekly to several area Food Pantries both locally & in Chicago. The unexpected relationships which have developed at both the South Bend and Neighborhood Illinois markets are the most rewarding aspect of marketing to them - and all because of a simple dedication to carrying on the parents traditions of family farming and continuing to provide quality delicious homegrown Michigan foods to people who appreciate their fresh, local, and Organic produce.