The History of Klackle Orchards
The Klackle family fruit growing heritage started in the early 1900’s in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area of Michigan. At that time, the area was known as the fruit and produce hub of the Midwest. The Stevensville farm was where the first generation of immigrants began their homestead. This was also very close to the Benton Harbor Wholesale Market where crops could be sold. Horticultural skills were mastered by growing apples, peaches, pears, berries and grapes. It was in the 1940’s when Ray Klackle, the oldest son of Frank Klackle, decided to purchase his own farm in the then emerging new fruit growing area of Belding, Michigan. He also became manager of a cider/vinegar production operation, which marketed their high quality products under the Indian Summer label.
It was at the Belding farm that the second generation of family fruit growers began to put down their roots in the Central Michigan area. In the late 1960’s the Ore Ida Potato Company began to reduce their land holdings in the area as they shifted more production to Idaho. Because of this, Ray Klackle seized the opportunity to purchase some land for sale directly west of Greenville on Hwy M-57. In 1970, Ray planted his first fruit trees on the land while the Belding Orchards helped support his increasing fruit growing endeavors.
On his new farm, he planted a new type of tree; known as a “semi-dwarf” tree. In the early 1970’s the Greenville orchard became known as one of the largest in the state with these smaller, “semi-dwarf” trees.
Steve Klackle entered the family orchard business officially in the late 1970’s having left a job in the field of civil engineering. Ray Klackle had passed away several years before and if the orchard tradition was to continue, it was up to Steve to do it.
Luckily, it must have been in his blood. Today, the orchard’s 300 acres of apples and other crops keep our orchard staff busy all year round. We start harvesting our 100,000+ trees with our first variety, Paula Red, in mid-August, and we keep going until the Braeburns arrive in early November. Annual production can be nearly 200,000 bushels of apples.
The Orchard Today
When Steve entered the business he brought a desire to sell more of the apples directly to the customers as well as to share the excitement of the harvest season. Because of this desire, Klackle Orchards Family Fun Farm was developed. The Cornucopia retail farm market followed soon after. Both of these aspects of the operation grow a bit each year based on what our customers are asking for in orchard experiences and products. Thank-you for your support of our family farm!
Today, Steve and his wife Rosemary are still very active owners of Klackle Orchards. But true to their family tradition, their children Natalie and Ryan are now investing more of their time and energy into growing Klackle Orchards.
We invite you to visit our 600-acre farm and enjoy our rich heritage of fruit growing mixed in with some good old fashion country fun! We look forward to hosting you at our farm and market.