Kevin VerSnyder, Young Grower from Lake Leelanau, Michigan
TJ Mullinax // Apr 23, 2014
age / 37 crops / cider apples, peaches and manage about 200 acres of vineyard business / VerSnyder Fruit with parents Jim and Wendy VerSnyder education & experience / Learned during high school working part-time at Red Path Orchards then went full-time after graduation. His first crop adviser encouraged him to go into farming.
Q: What was your path to farming?
Ever since I was a young boy I was really involved in gardens and horticulture. I like working with plants and being outside caring for them.
I just love driving down the row on the tractor and seeing the beautiful fruit hanging. There’s just a sense of accomplishment and reward from farming.
Q: What challenges have you faced?
I guess when I started, I thought I would do a little better financially at it. Running a small farm is a challenge, so I have to work a full-time job too. I work [full-time] for a friend of mine managing vineyards, then I get out of work and work on my farm.
I’m hoping I get to a point where I can just work my farm (laugh). I don’t know if that’s gonna happen or not—it’s tough.
Q: How do you achieve that goal?
When working with standard trees, everything is tough. The trees are so big and half the fruit isn’t the greatest quality.
So my driving force is to keep renewing my orchards. Get smaller trees with more per acre and make this thing work. It’s what I want to do.
Q: What things have helped you start out?
Networking with other growers and conferences where you can ask questions. I travel around looking at cutting-edge orchard designs. It’s the best thing you can do.
TJ Mullinax joined Good Fruit Grower as digital producer and photojournalist in 2013. He photographs and edits visual stories for the print magazine and online publishing spaces. Along with editorial production, TJ develops and maintains the magazine’s digital products. -- Follow the author: Phone: (509) 853-3519 -- Email