Orchards of crisp apples and juicy peaches can make for a sweet life. But fruit farmers like southwest Michigan’s Bill Schultz face growing risks and uncertainty. Schultz, a third generation farmer, says that growing fruit in the Midwest has always been challenging, but the effects of climate change are making it even tougher today.

Schultz Farm sign

Schultz: “Those extremes have always existed, but they seem to be more prevalent these days.”

Last winter’s deep freeze was fatal to many of the fruit trees at Schultz’s Fruitridge Farms – trees that also experienced destructive heat waves and extreme rains in the summer. So to increase his odds of success, Schultz is cultivating a wider variety of crops. In addition to the standards – apples, peaches, pears, grapes, and berries – his farm now produces asparagus, honey, maple syrup, craft cider, and even bison meat. So if one crop fails, hopefully another one will do well. But variety and versatility can only take farmers so far.

Level of education does not matter ... 'the weather is above us all.' Click To Tweet

Schultz: “In 2012 we lost all of our crops. It does not matter what level of education or skill set I possess, the weather is above us all.”

But Schultz remains optimistic that by hedging his bets with a diverse menu of products, his farm can make it through the bad years and thrive.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Evan Lowenstein.
Photo source: Schultz Fruit Ridge Farm website.

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Schultz Fruit Ridge Farm

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