It is strawberry season in Michigan and we wanted to highlight our farm neighbors, Bardenhagen Berries, and all the hard work they have done for the past 150 years.
The long-standing, family-run farm was started by Johann Bremer, current owner Steve Bardenhagen’s great-great-grandfather, when he came to the United States from Hanover, Germany in 1845. In search of a better life for his family, Johann and his family moved to Leelanau County in 1863 before he was drafted to serve in the Civil War as a Union Soldier.
After a stint serving in the Civil War, Johann returned to his family in Leelanau County in 1865 and started developing a homestead on the land. Several years later, he built the farmhouse that still stands on the property today and has served five generations of family farming. A fourth generation Bremer, Christi, purchased the farm from her parents in the 1970s with her husband, Gary Bardenhagen – who she met on the farm while he was working for the spring/summer.
Beginning in 2006, the family has been working with the Leelanau Conservancy to protect he lands and prevent further development since the farm sits on ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg. The farm is Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, or MAEAP, certified.
The current owners, Steve and Pam Bardenhagen, purchased and took over operations from Gary and Christi Bardenhagen in 2008. Since then, the pair has spearheaded many changes including focusing more direct marketing from the farm. In 2014, the first Hoophouse, which helped extend the growing season from February to November, was built. In 2018, the farm had solar panels installed which provide nearly 80% of the electricity needed for daily operations. Two years later, 30 acres of cherry orchards were removed to make room for new crops including raspberries, apricots, peaches, gooseberries, and other specialized fruits.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the farms, Bardenhagen Berries recently started offering guided tours to the public. The tours are every Friday through July starting at 2:30 p.m. In collaboration with Bardenhagen Berries, Aurora Cellars will also be featuring our signature cocktail, Luminous Lemonade, with Bardenhagen strawberry puree for those who attend a tour.
If you’re looking for a local, refreshing drink offering for your next family gathering, Aurora Cellars’ Sparkling Strawberry Dream signature cocktail is sure to be a hit! It features our Serata Demi Sec and a Bardenhagen Berries strawberry! You can also try this Strawberry Bellini recipe courtesy of The Food Network.
By: Aaron McCargo, Jr.
- 1 pint of strawberries, stemmed, plus 8 long-stemmed strawberries for garnish
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup (recipe follows)
- 2 parts sugar
- 2 parts water
- Place strawberries and simple syrup into a blender. Strain strawberry mixture. Pour into glasses and top with champagne. Garnish each with a long-stemmed strawberry.
- Bring sugar and water to a boil. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.