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I've lived in St. Joseph County all my life, and love many things about it. We have small, very close communities, numerous public parks, many inland lakes, a vast Amish community, and plenty of farm land. Farming is a huge part of St. Joseph County. As a teenager, I detasseled corn. My husband works at Mendon Seed Growers, a local seed corn company who plants thousands of acres of seed corn each year. We also farm 20 acres ourselves. My Amish heritage has influenced me greatly, so I truly appreciate their way of life. They are a great community of people with very strong values. There are many Amish and Mennonite businesses in our county, ranging from handcrafted furniture to homemade baked goods, and anything in between. Yoder's Store in Centreville is a prime example of the pride they put into their work. It has thrived and grown in recent years, and they specialize in homemade goods and deli service. St. Joseph County has many public parks-my favorite being King's Mill in Leonidas, as that is where I grew up and I spent a lot of time at the park growing up. It is a gorgeous setting and great for picnics, fishing, canoeing/kayaking. It is also the setting for many weddings throughout the summer months. There is also Covered Bridge Park in Centreville (great for fishing and picnicking), Meyer-Broadway Park in Three Rivers (great for winter fun-snow tubing, and summer fun-volleyball, disc golf, picnicking), Cade Lake Park in Sturgis (great for camping, fishing, swimming and picnicking), Other parks are Hoshel Canoe Park in Centreville, and Jim Timm Park South of Centreville.The area has so much to offer for every walk of life, from skiing at Swiss Valley (just outside the county to the west), to the Magic Week in Colon. We have some of the best fishing lakes around, including Lake Templene, Klinger Lake, Fish Lake, Fisher Lake, Corey Lake, and Palmer Lake, among many others. In addition, we have the St. Joseph River flowing through our county, which offers great opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking (which I've also experienced many times from different access points, and highly recommend it.) There are also many golf courses in the county, including Island Hills, Klinger Lake Country Club, St. Joe Valley, and Sauganash, among others.We have several businesses which offer freshly picked fruits and vegetables: Eicher's Blueberries in Findley is actually my family's blueberry patch-this was started by my great- grandparents. Eicher's offers freshly picked blueberries, or you are able to pick your own, homemade jams, and sometimes other treats. I grew up picking blueberries here, and it holds a special place in my heart. Nottawa Fruit Farm in Nottawa has seasonal fruits and vegetables, you-pick strawberries, fall family fun activities, hayrides, pumpkin patch, and field trips for local pre-school kids. I went on this field trip with both of my kids, and they loved it. Corey Lake Orchards in Three Rivers has apple and peach picking, strawberry, cherry, and blueberry picking. I have canned red haven peaches from Corey Lake with my Grandma, and they are divine. Also, Riverside Apple Farm is located on Hackman Rd. North of Sturgis. St. Joseph County also holds one of Michigan's best County Fairs each year in September. We have the 4-H Program, which I was involved in as a kid and I think it is a great program for kids to be involved in. It teaches many great values. Kids bring their farm animals, craft projects, garden projects, or other projects to the fair each year to be judged. They earn ribbons and trophies depending on how they place. The fair also has concerts, motocross, tractor pulls, a midway, and lots of fair food. Our local MSU Extension office does a great job of being involved in the 4-H program, and in organizing/running the fair. We also have three camps for area kids, with a variety of activities, including the obvious (camping), horse-back riding, canoeing, fishing, swimming, sports, and more. Camp Fort Hill and Camp Amigo are both near Sturgis, and Camp Eberhart is near Three Rivers. All are excellent experiences for children, and also offer adult activities from time to time.
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