The late 1800’s and early 20th century saw plenty of scientific innovations. The Experiment Station was established in 1889 by Theodatis T. Lyon at his farmstead and he appropriately served as the first superintendent of the Station. While the development of peaches and blueberries receive most of the attention from historians, credit is also deserved for the development of strawberries, raspberries, pears. At one time South Haven had the best collection of pear varieties in the United States.
Stanley Johnston became the superintendent of the Station in the 1920’s and further revolutionized the development and growth of peaches in the area. He aided in the development of eight varieties of the Haven peach: Halehaven, Kalhaven, Redhaven, Fairhaven, Sunhaven, Richhaven, Glohaven, and Cresthaven. The Haven varieties were unique in the fact that the harvest period for them was seven weeks in comparison to the usual three-week harvest. Johnston also attributed to the development of the high bush blueberry, leading to the radically populated blueberry industry we still know today in South Haven and its surrounding areas.
The fruit industry has effects that are still highly visible today. The National Blueberry Festival is celebrated annually in honor of these achievements, which has been celebrated for over fifty years and counting. South Haven is a known part of Michigan’s fruit belt and produces millions of pounds of blueberries each year. Many farm markets are set up selling local produce every summer, and the ample amount of production provides jobs for many people in the area. It is important to recognize where the city began, having experimented and developed over time to get to where we are today – a hub for delicious fruit and an industry that benefits the local economy.