Hillside Orchards is a small family owned farm started in 1836. My husband and I operate our business along with our two daughters. We are now one of the largest chestnut growers in the state of Michigan. We belong to the Chestnut Growers, Inc and Michigan Nut Growers. These organizations promote growing, marketing, and product development. The chestnuts are certified organic under the Global Organic Alliance. We have fresh chestnuts, peeled and frozen chestnuts, dried chestnuts, and also a Gluten Free chestnut flour.
We were one of the first in our area to use a sprayer that uses a laser to measure the tree and spray the tree not the empty space. We use integrated pest management and are environmentally verified with the State of Michigan. This is the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, MAEAP. We keep our land, water, and air as healthy as the food we produce. We use pruning and other practices to produce high quality good-tasting fruit. We use insect pheromones and insect growth regulators and organic materials first. We use other materials second and only the ones that are safe to people, safe to the environment, and are short-lived low leachibility, safe to wildlife.
We only apply these materials late at night or early morning to reduce drift. We also use buffer areas to prevent drift. We use approximately half of the farm for production. The open land is allowed to rest for several years to build up the soil. We have a five acre woodlot for wildlife. Brush piles are allowed to dry one year to provide wildlife cover and food for the winter. Open fields are not mowed until after pheasants have hatched and left the area. Through the Food Alliance, we are certified sustainable.
In 1998, my husband Paul, was named Conservation Farmer of the Year by the St Joseph River Conservation District. In 2002, Paul was given the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship award for ground water protection practices applied on the farm presented by the St Joseph River Conservation District.
My husband has an MBA from Western Michigan University and I have a Masters in teaching also from Western Michigan University. My oldest daughter has a MAT in teaching from Western Michigan University and my youngest has a BS in Finance from Florida State University. We are full time farmers and our business stands by our quality and customer service.
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