TALLMADGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Moelker Orchards near Grand Rapids has reopened with a new name.
Hudsonville-based Farmhaus Cider Co. bought the orchard at 9265 Kenowa Ave. near Riverbend Drive in Tallmadge Township after the Moelker family closed it at the end of 2022. The orchard, first opened in 1907, had been run by the Moelker family for more than a century.
The orchard has been renamed Farmhaus Farms.
Farmhaus president John Behrens and co-owner Megan Odegaard said they’d always wanted to add an orchard to their business.
“We’ve been looking for many years for just the right kind of thing,” Behrens said. “This ended up being a lot bigger and more than what we were expecting to find. But it was such a great location, such a beautiful property and so close to what we were already doing that it was kind of too good to not try.”
He said they’d heard about development interest in the property and felt they had to save what had been a family farm for generations.
“We kind of said, ‘If not us, then who to try to save this?'” he said. “So we dove in head first and here we are.”
The two said they’ve learned a lot already as they take on the farm. Not much will be changing on the property as they focus on getting through the first year. After that, they’ll evaluate where they should go from there.
Behrens said they would like to introduce new apple varieties and plantings. The couple said they would also like to see the property’s bakery continue to thrive and they’re working on adding new recipes, including a Norwegian apple cake.
“One of the most exciting things for me is getting to make apple cakes, which is something that my great grandmother used to make for us,” Odegaard said.
They need to figure out what to do with the apples, which were in the past sold at the farm’s market and sold to packing houses. With a second consecutive year of a good apple crop, packing houses aren’t buying apples from new growers.
“It’s kind of the first year in in history, according to a lot of other growers, that there have been two really big apples years back-to-back. And so there’s some growers, they’ll have 10,000 bins of last year’s crop in storage,” Behrens said.
They hope to continue to grow the market and get fresh apples to the community.
“There’s nothing better than having a fresh apple from the farm,” Odegaard said.
The community’s response to Farmhaus saving the orchard has been “overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
“It’s great to be able to join this community. It’s very much a tight-knit community and people who have been coming to this farm for years or even generations,” she said. “So being able to continue that legacy is a real honor for us.”
It’s not the first family farm for Behrens and Odegaard, who both started out as accountants. Farmhaus Cider was started almost a decade ago on a farm that had been in Behrens’ family for around 150 years.
“The goal was just to keep it in the family,” he said.
Farmhaus Cider is located only about 15 minutes away from Farmhaus Farms, on Stanton Street near 48th Avenue in Hudsonville. The family establishment offers fun for everyone, they said, from 3-week-old infants to a 91-year-old who recently celebrated their birthday there.
Farmhaus Cider is known for doing things differently, Behrens said, something they’ll continue to do at the farm.
“We think there’s lots of other people out there doing great things in both of these types of businesses. But we really strive to do things differently and in a unique way and with our own spin on everything,” he said.