August 2nd, 2022

The Oceana County Economic Alliance & The Right Place assist local fruit farm with new technology

N J Fox & Sons earns $75,000 grant to convert former cold storage room into pear ripening room

Food Processing & Agribusiness Oceana County

The Oceana County Economic Alliance (OCEA) and The Right Place, Inc., in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced that family-owned fruit farm, N J Fox & Sons, will be expanding its capabilities in Shelby, Mich. The new technology will allow 16 growers plus N J Fox and Sons to avoid shipping pears to Arkansas for ripening. In addition to investments made by N J Fox & Sons, funds were secured via the MDARD Value-Added and Regional Food Systems Grant in the amount of $75,000.

Founded in 1947, N J Fox & Sons is a fifth-generation family-owned farm and distributor with 2,000+ acres of farmland. Around 1,500 acres is dedicated to growing fruit and some asparagus. In addition to farming, N J Fox & Sons also specializes in storing, weighing, and shipping of local produce such as: asparagus, cherries, pears, apples - to clients such as Gerber. In 2008, the family branched out further by planting a vineyard, now wine and cider can be purchased at their local farm market located at 500 S 18th Ave, Shelby, MI 49455.

N J Fox’s investment in this new technology comes as a result of seeking to improve their capabilities while eliminating shipping costs and improving the overall supply chain in Michigan. The company will be purchasing heating and cooling equipment that will rapidly reduce the temperature of their ripening room from 80 degrees to 35 degrees, this steep change in the climate accelerates the ripening process.

The new technology will allow N J Fox’s customers to return pear processing back to Michigan. A former customer of N J Fox & Sons stopped processing pears in Michigan approximately 15 years ago. Since that decision, pears from Michigan have been shipped south to Fort Smith, Arkansas to be ripened and processed. Technological investments like this will create increase market demand for Michigan pears and provide a local source for ripening to Michigan farmers.

“This is a great example of a local business solving a problem that will help not only themselves, but also, many other farms across West Michigan” said Ron Maynard, the Executive Director of Economic Development for the Oceana County Economic Alliance at The Right Place.