Mark W. Youngquist
If there’s a farm poised to meet the growing demand for premium-quality apples, it’s Youngquist Farms on Fruit Ridge near Kent City, Mich. The unique parcel of land, fortified by generations of apple growers and an unwavering commitment to family and community, has proven fertile ground for success.
Family owned and operated for five generations, the Youngquist’s 180-acre orchard is situated just 30 miles from Lake Michigan on a ridge paralleling the lakeshore dunes, providing an ideal elevation for growing a full spectrum of high-quality apples.
The Youngquists grow nine varieties, including Fuji, Ginger Gold, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Redcort, Rome, four different strains of Galas and five different variations of Red Delicious.
“What we produce has to be excellent, rather than just good enough,” says owner Mark Youngquist, who has witnessed rising demand for high-quality apples in his 30 years in the business. “The apple needs to be premium, from the seeds to the skin.”
Mark says they continue to meet consumer demand, just as his family did before him. While his great-grandfather originally purchased the land, it was his grandfather, Carlton, who planted the first orchard. Mark and his father, Wayne, worked the farm together for years, and now Mark’s son, Jordan, has taken an interest.
“Jordan has the unique opportunity to see three generations working side by side,” Mark says. “He and his wife, Laura, are fully active on the farm, and their six-year-old son has recently been telling people he is working on the farm, as well.”
Mark says he feels privileged to be in the apple-growing business, working alongside family to provide a healthy product – and jobs for many in the community. Mark currently is the vice chairman of the Michigan Apple Committee, and serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association.