Tucked away along West Michigan's apple ridge resides the fourth generation Gee Orchards currently owned by C. Thomas (Tom) Gee and his younger brother Bradley (Brad) Gee. The farm got its start in the early 1900's with their great-great-grandfather, Leslie Gee, who settled in Bailey, MI by purchasing 70 acres to farm row crops as a family farm. Noticing the climate and soil was conducive to fruit trees, Leslie added tart cherries and peach trees to the farm in the 1920's.
The family farm was transferred to Charles, Leslie's son, in the 1960's who was the first to add apple trees to the farm. Charles realized that the apples grew exceptionally well in the area and in the 1970's he increased the acreage to 160 acres and added more varieties of apples. During this time Charles eldest son, Tom, left the farm and received a degree in engineering. After a year in the work force, the farm drew Tom back and he worked side by side with his father.
Tom's engineering background and new commitment to the farm brought great advances to Gee Orchards. During the 1970's, the farm grew to 6 satellite farms. They added the first controlled atmosphere (CA) rooms to the farm extending their apple storage, which in turn, allowed them to extend their selling season. Brad, ten years younger than Tom, started working on the farm in the early 1980's after his time at Michigan State University. Both brothers worked together to break ground on their current 25,000 square foot facility in 1988. Business was growing and the Gee's were looking for new opportunities to strengthen the farm and to reduce their footprint on the earth. With this in mind, the Gee's built the first mesh bagging system east of the Mississippi which significantly reduced plastic production and offered their customers an attractive option to display Michigan apples in retail stores. They added an additional 290 acres of harvesting land and removed the last of the cherry and peach trees.
In 2001, Tom and Brad became part of the North Bay Produce family, a Michigan based grower owned cooperative. Finding an exceptional fit between the two, the partnership increased the shipping range for Gee apples and North Bay receives high quality fruit they can depend on year after year. Tom is part of the original executive committee for North Bay and continues to be an influence with the cooperative and the Gee farm. Gee operates the largest apple pack house in the North Bay group.
Tom and Brad's boys, Andrew, Aric, and Randall make up the 4th generation of growers at Gee Orchards. Facility expansion is a future endeavor due to the increased efficiencies of the crop and the consumer demand for high quality Michigan apples. The addition of Tom and Brad's sons ensures Gee Orchards will be a part of the Michigan apple community for generations to come.