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U-pick: Middleton Berry Farm tradition continues



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From left, sisters Stacy and Carrie Janiga purchased the Middleton Berry Farm on Oakwood Road in Brandon Township on April 3. They will continue the tradition of offering "u-pick" strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and more at the farm. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
April 16, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- After 30 years, Bill and Barb Middleton have sold their berry farm, but the u-pick tradition in the community will continue with a new family.

Carrie and Stacy Janiga, sisters, have purchased the Middleton Berry Farm with the support of their parents, Edwin and Elizabeth Janiga, and they will carry on farming the 40-acre property located on Oakwood Road near Hurd Road.

"We wanted to keep the farm in the community," said Stacy, an Ortonville resident. "We just want to keep a community-based business that provides healthy produce and a family experience."

Carrie recalls picking berries at the Middleton's farm in Lake Orion when she and her sister were children, and now is ready to continue growing strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and more, under the same Middleton Berry Farm name.

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"We would like to try some other produce— blackberries, zucchini and eggplant," said Carrie. "For this year, we're looking at cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries and we're going to try to do some pumpkins. Berries are the most important."

Barb and Bill Middleton built their successful farm on berry crops, but decided it was time to retire last fall due to a medical issue.

"I feel good about retirement— relieved, really," said Barb. "The Janiga sisters are very ambitious and excited about doing it...Everybody's excited, it's good for the community."

Carrie and Stacy closed on the property on April 3, but because they didn't purchase the house, they will have a new driveway and address. The drive, they said, is planned to be almost directly across from Times Square Riding Academy. Once the driveway is established, park-ing will be, too, and the iconic Middleton Berry Farm sign will be reinstalled marking the entrance.

While Carrie notes they only have a couple months to get everything together, they have a tractor, are off to a good start and are planning on having strawberries ready to be picked around the first week in June.

Stacy, who has a degree in landscape architecture from Michigan State University, has started about 150 tomato plants in an atrium at her home, and plans to put in roughly 1,000 tomato plants at the farm, including heirloom varieties. She adds that she would like to have not only heirloom tomatoes, but also peppers and beans. An herb garden is another possibility. While they won't be certified organic, she hopes to use mostly organic farming practices and deliver really quality products.

"We have to thank Barb and Bill, they've gone the extra mile in making the transition easier," said Carrie. "They are two amazing people and we have big shoes to fill. I think the Middletons' reputation was always for a quality product and a friendly and helpful staff. The key aspect of their business and success is being family-oriented and that is what we plan to be as well."

Middleton Berry Farm has a new phone number, 248-831-1004. Call in May for hours of operation, or visit them at the Middleton Berry Farm Facebook page.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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