Kropf apple farming legend

Kropf apple tradition continues with a Hershey’s swirl


EW Emma’s Writings

 Lowell, MI -The legend of Kropf family continues to live on.

The fourth generation of Kropf apple farmers opened the Red Barn Market located on the family farm in Vergennes Township this week.

Owner Barbara Roth is looking forward to this full-time venture.

“I can see the market from the house,” she said surrounded by digital technology and a big ice cream parlor inside the market.

Great grandfather Christian Kropf came to the area from Switzerland in the early 1900s before the war.

“We’re still farming the same acreage,” she said, “and living in the same house.

Fourth generation apple farmer Barb Roth in the newly opened Red Barn Market
Fourth generation apple farmer Barb Roth in the newly opened Red Barn Market


The family now grows apples on approximately 180 acres. The apple varieties run the whole gamut from the earlier Macintosh to the late Red Delicious.

Roth’s father Roger Kropf runs the main apple wholesale company Core Farms based in Hartford, southern Michigan. The company grows, packs and ships apples.

So, it was only natural that the market opened with five varieties of apples including the popular Honey Crisp.

Three generations of Kropfs are currently working on the farm. These include Roger Kropf, brother and sons. The Kropf family survived the crisis caused by the dumping of cheap Chinese apple juice on the brink of millennium.

At the time, apple orchards were turning into developments haunted by their former owners.

A sign made for a convention in the 1980s
A sign made for a convention in the 1980s

“We’re a fully operational apple farm,” said Roth.

A colorful photo in the apple orchards known as the “Summer of 2013” depicts Carl Kropf, Barb Roth, brother Steve Kropf , dad Roger Kropf nephew Mark Kropf and son Noah Roth.

Standing near a crate with painted words, “Pure Michigan”, Kropf spoke passionately about the family business.

“The barn needed a facelift,” Roth said. “How could we meet the community needs on our own level? Different places have different niches like donuts and bakeries.”

Since, the Red Barn is located near the Murray Lake and the Murray Lake Elementary, serving ice cream was the obvious niche.

Roth decided to pair up 12 different flavors of ice cream with the produce base.

“We’ll have the basics and we’ll rotate through fun flavors like praline, pecan, and cookie dough,” she said.

Soft serve will feature flurries, sundaes and shakes.

Among food and drink selections will be certified Angus beef hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and chicken salad sandwiches, soft pretzels, slushies and coffee.

“We will have Wi-Fi and we will be adding a gluten free line of baked goods,” said Roth,

Since, there is nothing in the near area quite like the Red Barn, the market will have seating outside and inside plus a public restroom.

“We’re hoping to serve the community with great produce and fine environment,” Roth said.

The idea of turning the 20 by 40-foot square barn into a market snowballed from a conversation that started approximately two years ago.

The old Kropf apple market in the 1980s
The old Kropf apple market in the 1980s

“We began dreaming about what to do with this huge barn on our property,” she said. “We wanted to keep it tied to our 100 year-old apple farming business but also find our own unique niche in the Murray Lake area.”

Well, this week it all came to fruition

“There is nothing here for the Murray Lake community. You have to go seven to eight miles to get ice cream or fresh produce.”

There actually used to be a store in the 1980s on the corner of 4 Mile and Lincoln Lake Road.

While remodeling the barn, the family came across a color painted and engraved sign made for a late 1980s convention. It says it all:

Kropf Fruit Company Michigan.

Come and visit. Make it your destination. The market is nestled amid the apple orchards, close to lakes, accommodations and the vibrant Lowell community.

Red Barn will be opened year round. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Sundays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. The phone is 1-

The Red Barn Market is located at 3550 Alden Nash NE, Lowell, MI 49331. Visit the website at or Facebook page at

Also stay tuned for Canning Diva Diane who will teaching canning classes, and feature her jams and salsas. Go to

Accommodations available in the near area.

Related links:

Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

Farm and Country blog

Main Street Inn

Witt’s Inn

Franciscan Life Process Center

Candlestone Resort

Copyright (c) 2014 story and photo by Emma Palova, family photos courtesy of the Kropf family



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