Phil Schwallier, a fourth-generation fruit grower, met Judy, the brown-eyed daughter of a dairy farmer, at a dance where he and his siblings were the band. His guitar pickin’ must have impressed her because two years later, the pair married. Together they bought their farm on the Ridge, planted the orchards, opened the market and raised four children—Jody, Katie, Becky and Timmy. “It was a great way to raise kids,” says Phil. “They grew up getting fresh air, working hard, learning excellent life skills.”
Today, all four Schwallier “kids” still help around the farm and market—the family’s fifth generation of fruit growers. And the family keeps growing! Katie’s husband Justin is the farm’s beekeeper, while Becky’s husband Adam, a chef, can be seen on select weekends conducting cooking demos at the market. The very best part of having children, according to Phil and Judy? Grandchildren! They delight in their wonderful grandchildren, including two new additions to the family in the past year—Sophie and Tyler, who join cousins Lucas and Louisa in bringing joy to the whole family.
Other family members (and friends who are like family) pitch in to make the farm and market hum. Grandpa May (Judy’s dad) can often be found in the market, greeting guests with a warm welcome, while Grandpa Schwallier (Phil’s dad) works behind the scenes to keep things running right.
While we love all our in-state schools, our family has strong ties to Michigan State University. Phil received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from there, and for the past 34 years has worked as a District Horticulture Agent for MSU Extension, helping apple growers across the state solve problems with their crops. In addition to his work with MSU Extension, Phil Schwallier is also the current president of the International Fruit Tree Association.