We have been family owned and operated for four generations.
Country Dairy had it’s beginnings in the 1880’s when Andrew Van Gunst came to West Michigan as a boy from the Netherlands and has enjoyed continual family ownership through four generations. Andrew’s father and sister died on the journey, and his mother died shortly after arriving in Michigan. That left Andrew to be raised by his maternal aunt and uncle, the Andrew Vander Ploeg family.
In 1907, Andrew married Jane Grinwis and bought approximately 80 acres of property at the current site of Country Dairy from Rudolph and Margaret Kemink, of Spring Lake, MI, for $1200. That site was next to the coal kilns that made charcoal. The railroad came right past the farm bringing wood and picking up charcoal. They raised their five children on the farm. At that time, Andrew milked between 8 and 12 cows, whose milk was picked up daily, had an orchard of cherries, some asparagus, and potatoes.
In 1936, Andrew’s son, Henry, married Ellen Postema, and they raised seven children in a second house built on the farm. Henry took over the ownership of the farm in 1956.
In 1964, Henry’s son, Wendell, married Ruth Fisher and moved into the original farm home where they raised their four daughters. Wendell had spent two years at Michigan State studying dairy science and in 1968, 4 years after returning from the army, Wendell took over the ownership of the farm from his father. Because of Wendell’s particular interest in dairy cattle, he began to focus the business solely on Holsteins, expanding the herd from 30 to about 80 cattle.
In 1983, Wendell took a significant step in expanding the business to include a dairy processing plant in which the milk from his herd was processed, bottled, and distributed to stores in west Michigan.
Currently, Country Dairy milks about 1,000 cattle, processes milk, makes cheese, ice cream, and butter, employs about 70 people, and in 2004, opened its first retail store. The Farm Store and adjacent Moo School are the destination for tourists, school children, and guests from all over the world. It offers a restaurant menu, ice cream, Country Dairy products, gift items, tours, and information about Country Dairy.
Country Dairy is now moving into the fourth generation with Amy Van Gunst, Paul and Betsy Arkema, Rob and Teresa Eekhoff, and Matt and Trudy Ash. The Van Gunst family is grateful for the long history of God’s faithfulness that has extended throughout the generations.