Courtesy Naturipe FarmsFrom left, Archie Armino, southwest Michigan market manager for Wal-Mart; Peter Fritz and Carly Fritz Parsley, Brookside Farms growers; and Bob Hawk, president and chief executive officer of MBG Marketing, mark an early pick of Naturipe Farms blueberries in Bloomingdale, Mich.As Michigan blueberry harvesting gets underway, plants have rebounded somewhat from an unseasonably cold winter.
“Certain varieties fared better than others,” Bob Hawk, president and chief executive officer of MBG Marketing, said in a news release. “However, we are pleased with how the bushes have bounced back this spring and are looking forward to another great year.”
MBG, a grower cooperative, is a founding partner in Naturipe Farms.
Hawk joined South Haven mayor Bob Burr and Archie Armino, southwest Michigan market manager for Wal-Mart, on a first-pick tour and celebration at Brookside Farms in Bloomingdale. Growers (and cousins) Peter Fritz and Carly Fritz Parsley showed off the operation, established nearly 60 years ago by their grandfather George Fritz and since expanded.
Wal-Mart plans to double sales of locally sourced U.S. produce and will feature 11 MBG Marketing member family farms with in-store signage throughout Michigan stores this summer.
“Wal-Mart is committed to the farmers who grow our food and supports the in-season locally grown products such as these,” Armino said in the release.
Michigan is the top producing state for highbush blueberries — more than 100 million pounds annually, fresh and frozen. MBG represents many of the roughly 600 family farms growing the fruit there.
Naturipe Farms and MBG continue to work with the Michigan Ag Council to sponsor the Pure Michigan program.
“The locally grown movement has made tremendous strides to highlight the importance of supporting our local agricultural sector and the positive impact it has on our economy,” Hawk said.