Everyone is familiar with Traverse City cherries, but many people are unaware that Michigan is also the nation’s leading producer of cultivated blueberries — with the majority of production done on family farms in Southwest Michigan.
Most of these farms are located within Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren counties and contribute to the roughly 100 million pounds of blueberries produced each year.
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, who represents Allegan and Van Buren counties in the state Senate, recently discussed how important blueberry production is to the economies of both Southwest Michigan and the entire state. Blueberry production alone injects nearly $122 million into the state’s economy.
The senator encouraged residents to help continue making these numbers grow by purchasing berries from a local farmer, a store that sells local produce or a bakery that uses blueberries from nearby farms.
Schuitmaker also noted the $122 million does not include tourism revenue generated from the state’s several blueberry festivals. Tourists from around the nation flock to Michigan to attend the National Blueberry Festival in South Haven.
The 48th consecutive National Blueberry Festival is underway and runs from Aug. 11 to Aug. 14.
For a list of events, directions, parking and other information for this year’s festival, visit www.blueberryfestival.com.