This past November, with necessary paperwork completed, Glei’s Orchards and Greenhouses partnered with Bon Appetit as a local provider of apples and apple cider. The partnership comes as Bon Appetit attempts to achieve their goal of purchasing 20% of their products from locally sourced providers through their Farm to Fork initiative.
With the partnership, Glei’s joins the list of multiple other local food providers that have partnered with Bon Appetit through the initiative including Zingerman’s Coffee in Ann Arbor, Blue Hat Coffee in Coldwater, and Gunthorp Farms in LaGrange, Indiana.
“We’re looking to expand partnerships where it makes sense and is strategically beneficial to both parties, “ Hillsdale Bon Appetit General Manager David Apthorpe said. “It’s a challenge to purchase 20% of our food locally, but it is a goal.”
Marketing Coordinator Wiliam Persson believes the Farm to Fork program is important for the many benefits it provides to the consumer and the provider.
“The food is fresher and it supports your local communities,” he said. “A lot of times there is also a lot of waste behind food in a grocery store that is typically reduced when you’re buying from a farmer.”
Crop waste can occur when farmers feel the pressure to only sell the best-looking fruit to grocery stores, and dump the ugly parts of their crops that grocery stores won’t buy.
“We don’t really care about that,” Persson said, “If they have a weird looking potato, we’ll buy it.”
“Just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean it’s not good,” he said.
Buying local products often yields fresher ingredients because preservatives are not necessary to transport over short distances.
Glei’s has been a local family run business for 101 years, and is currently run by the grandson of the original owner.
Just over three miles from campus, the orchard uses safe methods to keep apples fresh all year round.
By replacing the oxygen with nitrogen in controlled atmosphere storages, Glei’s can store apples all year long after harvesting.
“You basically put them to sleep and can store them year-round to keep them just as fresh as when they came off the street,” owner and general manager Damon Glei said. “Some arguably taste better after they’ve been stored for a while.”
After a recent census with the USDA, the orchard now has 75,000 trees in production, and Glei anticipates a much larger crop coming soon.
“We put our name on it, and you don’t make it 100 years by putting your name on a bad product,” Glei said, “I don’t want someone to have a bad experience; if I have my name on it, that’s on me.”