Kristin Kubiszak is being honored as a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change.
I am blessed to work with my family and community on our family farm.
With the birth of my young daughter, Brookside Farms is now a 6th generation farm. This farm has been an integral part of our local community since 1876, when we started out as a dairy. Brookside Farms is situated in the heart of our small town and our family is known for having big hearts for the community. That passion has carried forward throughout the years as we have invested time and effort into a variety of community organizations.
My grandfather planted the first blueberry bush on our property in 1956. Unknowingly, he created an opportunity for our family to not only support ourselves for many generations, but also to reach further into the community through the growth of our farming operations. In 1964, we joined Michigan Blueberry Growers Association (our local blueberry co-op), which has become known as MBG Marketing – or, “The Blueberry People,” the world’s largest grower-owned marketer of blueberries. Being a member of MBG Marketing allows us to spend more time with family while growing our farming business (as they handle most of the marketing and distribution of our berries). At the same time, they provide the means for us to help other blueberry farmers through combining efforts to obtain the best sales for our local farm products. MBG also provides an opportunity for young farmers to grow their leadership skills through their new Young Cooperators program, where both my brother and cousin are involved.
As the farm changed and our family grew, all the young generations of my family all thought we had goals in life that were different and would send us in different directions – away from the farm – as many do when they are young. However, after going our separate ways, we all felt drawn back to our roots and the family farm. In our recent history, the farm was being run by two of my grandfather’s sons, my father and uncle. As my generation came back to the farm, we learned our strengths and weaknesses and filled the farm roles in our own niches. Through our efforts, the farm has grown exponentially in the last decade.
Six years ago, I felt drawn to educating the community about agriculture and decided to join the local Farm Bureau. About a year into my participation in the Van Buren County Farm Bureau, an opportunity arose for me to take a more dedicated position in agricultural education. Now, as the Promotion and Education Chair, I organize and participate in trips to local schools, youth fair Ag-Venture Tent, and other educational programs. Our local school outreach is completed during National Agriculture Week. Our “Ag in the Classroom program” utilizes the “Farmer’s Care Kit” created by Michigan Farm Bureau. This kit allows us to engage the youth in the classrooms in learning about the origin of the food they eat. The Ag-Venture Tent at the Youth Fair offers interaction for children of all ages to engage in a variety of agriculture activities that also teaches various agricultural facts. Children leave with a bag full of goodies about agriculture in our area and tasty treats to match each of the activities completed in the tent.
I am passionate about agriculture and my position as the Retail Manager at Brookside Farms as it allows me to continue my education efforts through constant conversation with customers in our face-to-face environment. This education is not just about agriculture, but also about how family impacts the agriculture on our farm – about how important it is to continue family farms. Our goal is to continue our family heritage of providing excellent produce, not only for our own family, but for our loyal customers and their families for many years and generations to come.
Kristin (Fritz) Kubiszak is the retail store manager for Brookside Farms a 5th generation Michigan farm. She is the Promotion and Education Chair and on the board of directors for the Van Buren County Farm Bureau and is dedicated to educating others about agriculture as it impacts community.