Buurma Farms on track for mid-May harvesting
Buurma Farms, originally founded in 1896, is run by a dozen family members, and has farms in Gregory, MI, and Willard, OH. It grows about 30 different crops on approximately 2,500 acres. Those crops include radishes, beets, lettuce, parsley, southern greens, sweet corn, green onions and celery.
The company packs its fresh produce under both the Buurma and Holland Brand labels, shipping around 2 million packages annually, mostly to customers in the major metropolitan areas east of the Mississippi River, from Florida to Boston and west into Chicago and Wisconsin.
A snowstorm that brought nearly three inches of snow in late April has kept the Ohio farm from harvesting anything yet, and most of 2021 has been spent getting equipment ready and going over schedules and customer relations.
“We’re about three weeks ahead on planting because we had a nice jump in March, and by mid-May, we usually are harvesting some radishes and mustard greens, dill and cilantro by the first of June and we think we’ll be even earlier this year,” said Chadd Buurma, president of Buurma Farms and a fourth-generation farmer. “Snow actually acts as a little bit of an insulator and will give the ground some much needed moisture.”
During the pandemic, the company saw retail business rise, foodservice decline, but overall, it balanced out and it was able to ride out the challenges.
“This past year was a different road, that’s for sure, but we survived,”Buurma said. “We took one punch at a time and worked through it and it was quite the experience.”
This past winter, as it does every year, the leaders of Buurma Farms went over its customers’ needs and looked at trends, determining a strategy for the year ahead.
“We look at a 3-to-5-year average on things and adjust accordingly,” Buurma said. “We never make major adjustments because that’s a knee-jerk reaction. That being said, we threw 2020 off to the side since it was so unusual. So, we’re not doing anything much different than we did in 2019 and the start of 2020. Just some minor tweaks.”
The Ohio farm has been in the family since 1896, and the Buurmas have come to appreciate the land and see the value of working in the state.
“We can do overnight delivery to over 50 percent of the nation,” Buurma said. “We can get down far south to Atlanta, up and down the East Coast, so the location is certainly to our advantage,” he said. “Where we are, there’s 4-5 shippers out of Ohio, and the rest of the state has some Amish-type growers, but they don’t have the size or capability to load up a truck and deliver like we can.”
Many of those smaller growers work with Buurma Farms and the company helps them move it. Buurma Farms has relationships that goes back several generations and continue to establish new partnerships.
“You have to be open and honest, offer a good, quality product at a competitive yet fair price,” Buurma said. “Our reputation goes back a long time, and we grow a very quality produce.”