The Story of Moelker Orchards and Farm Market
For more than a century, the Moelker family has grown fresh fruit on the same farm just west of Grand Rapids, and is today still a family farm, owned and operated by Tom and Bonnie Moelker. They are ably assisted by their three children.
Travis Moelker assists in orchard management, and oversees the marketing aspects of the farm including the overall online presence.
Tressa Moelker manages the bakery and is responsible for all bakery operations, purchasing and employees.
Taylor Moelker works in the farm market and assists wherever needed.
But the story of the orchard begins long ago, when in April of 1888, Hubrecht Moelker and his wife Adriana immigrated to America from the Netherlands. They lived on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 10 years until Adriana’s death in 1898. Hubrecht and son John then moved to a small dairy farm on Breton Avenue where John established a milk route in town. John married in 1901, and he and continued to live in Grand Rapids with his wife, Elizabeth, until 1907. They then purchased a farm west of town that is now known as Moelker Orchards!
John and Elizabeth had a diverse farm, as many were in that time, with livestock such as cows and chickens and many field crops. John began planting fruit trees as well and soon realized that this location was great for orchards. John also had a small vineyard and made communion wine for the local churches. One by one their children grew up and moved off the farm until only the youngest, Jim, was left. Jim married and continued to farm and expand the orchards with his wife Donna. They started their own family and purchased the farm upon John’s death in 1956.
As their children grew, Jim and Donna worked hard to expand the orchard plantings and Jim drove to Grand Rapids to sell fruit at the Fulton Street Market for many years. All 5 of the children were expected to help out as they could and it became a family venture! In 1970, Jim and Donna had a refrigerated apple storage constructed on the farm. They now had room to sell fruit in the front room of this building so Jim stopped going to market in town and began selling his fruit right on the farm instead. However, as the children grew up they too began to move off the farm. By the early 1980’s, the farm was thriving and the youngest son, Tom, stayed on with Jim to operate the business. After Jim passed on unexpectedly in 1986, Tom and Donna continued operating the farm.
Tom married in 1990 and, with his wife Bonnie, purchased the farm, and began to expand the on-farm market. In the following years they added more orchards and new activities for families including horse-drawn wagon rides, U-pick pumpkins and cherries, and fall tours for school children. After a devastating frost wiped out their fruit crops in 2012, Tom and Bonnie and their 3 children Travis, Tressa, and Taylor spent the summer constructing a bakery in the farm market and began selling homemade donuts, cookies, pastries, caramel apple, apple dumplings, and fudge.
Modern Day at the Orchards
Today, the Moelker Orchards grows a large variety of fruits, including cherries, apples, peaches and plums, which are all sold at the farm market in additional to seasonal vegetables such as sweet corn and fall squash. The farm market also makes homemade fudge, and produces a variety of donuts and baked goods in the Old Bell Bakery. All this in addition to a fascinating assortment of jams, salsas, dressings, honey, syrup, and much much more!
Our family loves being a part of the community, and we look forward to meeting you personally and getting to know you. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about the farm, sustainability, or growing your own fruit trees!