Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company, Inc. is a 5th generation family farm located just minutes away from lake Michigan's pristine south west lakeshore in South Haven, Michigan. The lake protects the farmland that was founded in 1899 by Herschel Adkin one of the original pioneers of the southwest lakeshore area emigrating from England via Canada. Starting out as a peach grower, Herschel started with 240 acres and 5 employees working the land. Within a few years, Herschel became one of the most successful peach growers in Southern Michigan.
Herschel's son, Roy took over the farm adding cherries, pears, and apples but struggled during the Great Depression. Through perseverance Roy was able to keep the farm profitable enough to pass it along to his son, Glenn in the early 1950's. Glenn was a prolific vegetable farmer along with tree fruit and harvested 500 acres of cauliflower along with 500 acres of tree fruit. In 1958 Glenn planted the first blueberry bushes at the farm and found that the sandy soil and mild lakeshore climate was perfect for his new crop. By the early 1960's Glenn increased the blueberry acreage with the advent of the mechanized harvester. The farm was re-named Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company, Inc. in 1965. As blueberries grew in popularity, the farm flourished and Glenn built the first commercial blueberry packing line in the state of Michigan.
Glenn passed the farm on to his son Randy who saw continued opportunity with blueberries and planted additional acreage phasing out tree fruit. By 1981, Randy picked the last cherry tree by bulldozer paving the way to the farm's future success. To streamline production of the fruit and keep up with demand, Randy integrated a state of the art sorter and packing machine to help increase frozen and fresh blueberry production. As blueberry harvest increased, Randy noticed the need to make sure his customers were receiving the safest fruit available from his farm and took the initiative in 1993 to become AIB (American Institute of Baking) certified and received an excellent rating. The farm has maintained its excellent rating for the past 21 years. Since then he has added GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) to their safety certifications along with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) to make sure all employees are picking, packing, and storing the safest fruit possible. Also in 1993, Randy looked into additional ways to distribute the farm's ever expanding blueberry crop and became the first blueberry shareholder at North Bay Produce, Inc. a Michigan based cooperative of grower/shippers that distribute fresh produce throughout the world. Randy has been an influential member of the North Bay Produce board of directors for over 20 years.
Ten years ago Randy brought his son, Bart into the family business. Bart has been instrumental in increasing the technological protocol of the processing line adding Laser Color Sorters and incorporating Controlled Atmosphere packaging for storage of harvested berries. With his keen eye for future breakthroughs in harvesting, packaging, and fruit storage, Bart will successfully bring the farm into the next century.
As one of the largest blueberry farms in southwest Michigan, Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company, Inc. currently has 650 acres of cultivated blueberries and employs 250 workers each year. Adkin innovation and vertical integration of blueberry farming has led them to master the process of growing, harvesting, processing and packing high quality fruit that the family is proud to call their own. Their passion has brought success to this 5th generation of family farm owners making them key players in the industry for years to come.