By Justin Satawa

On September 21, 2022 fall officially made its way onto campus justifying all of Southwest Michigan’s fall favorites such as tailgates, football and cider mills. Fifteen minutes from Western Michigan University’s campus Verhage Fruit Farm & Cider Mill has been serving the WMU community since 1960.

Dick and Marline Cottell are living proof of this. The couple graduated from WMU together in the class of 1973. They have been coming to Verhage, located at XXXADDRESS in Kalamazoo, for longer than they could remember. And they usually can’t leave without enjoying a cherry donut. Walking around the property, many of the visitors people had some connection to WMU — they were alumni, related to alumni, or had kids attending the school. The WMU attire attested to the connection between the community and the campus.

A bag full of cherry, pumpkin and buttermilk doughnuts.

The wide variety of doughnuts is nothing short of impressive. Fruit flavors range at Verhage range from fruit with cherry to apple pumpkin spice. With the use of local ingredients, the farm bakes the doughnuts daily resulting in a lethal combo of flavor and feel.

Nazier Koubaitry smiles at a costumer as he pours them some fresh cider.

Nazier Koubaitry is a biochemistry major from the class of 1976 at WMU. He loves what he does, it makes him happy and he feels a part of the community. Koubaitry works the cider press spending his days having lighthearted chats while he pours the cider or presses apples.

10 red delicious apples glistening in the sunlight.

The farm features a wide selection of apples from Red Delicious to Granny Smith. These sweet apples are used for a variety of things such as eating, pies, caramel apples and cider. The U-pick is not just for apples;  pumpkins and gourds are also available for everyone’s fall enjoyment.

Madison Strachan picking out a caramel apple doughnut.

Madison Strachan, a second year student at WMU, picks out her half dozen donuts.  “Last year my roommate came back with these donuts, and I loved them. They were so fresh I couldn’t wait to get my hands on more. Now it is Kalamazoo staple for me and my friends.”

Madison Strachan enjoying her doughnut on a sunny day.

Strachen enjoys a caramel apple doughnut on a sunny Sunday afternoon. “This place has that family feel you look forward to, you can really tell they care about the community and the product the community receives.”

The cider barn with a tractor driving over the hill in the back.

In addition to cider and doughnuts, the farm has a huge downhill slide, an inflatable ground pillow to jump on and tractor rides. Paul Haase, a father of two boys, says enjoying seasonal activities to learn social skills and interact with a positive community is vital for his boys’ growth.

Jack Williams walking around the property enjoying the fall air.

A Verhage visitor who only gave his first name, Jack, says he had only been in Kalamazoo for a month now, but the surrounding community feels extremely relevant to life at Western. “It really feels that way a lot of places I go to I feel judged or out of place as a young adult,” says Jack, “but here young and old there is a sense of warmth and enjoyment here.”


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