Berrybrook Enterprises – A culture of innovation
Influenced by time spent on his uncle’s farms while growing up in the 1940s, Joe Hassle and his wife, Harriett, bought land and became first-generation farmers shortly after they married in 1953. Not having been raised on farms, Joe and Harriett thought “outside the box” and began a culture of innovation that continues today. The Hassles’ original farm was 80 acres of cherries, strawberries and raspberries, located just outside Dowagiac in Southwest Michigan. A few years later, they got into raising green beans and acres of traditional row crops including field corn and soybeans. Growing green beans in the 1960s and 1970s greatly expanded the farm and its custom-harvesting business, a feat that was followed by new acreage in cucumbers, asparagus, peaches and cherries.
In the 1990s Joe and Harriett’s three sons Joe Jr., John and Scott officially joined the family farm, bringing additional expertise to the Berrybrook family enterprise. The farm now encompasses nearly 10,000 acres of grain, 580 acres of asparagus, 780 acres of apples and 300 acres of cucumbers. “Because we have such a large and diverse farming operation, we’ve been able to bring all three of us into the business. My role has evolved to manage our fruit farm” Scott says. In 1968, the Hassles planted their first apple trees. “Today we grow 14 different varieties of apples, yet I really consider our strengths to be Fuji, Gala, Golden and Red Delicious,” Scott says.