Caledonia Packing is owned and operated by 3rd generation butcher, Mike DeVries.
Before World War II Mike’s grandfather, Klas DeVries raised and butchered animals from his farm in the village of Ureterp in northern Holland. (Fig. 1) Mike’s father John DeVries continued in Klas’ footsteps by taking on this trade as a young man of 17. Soon after John began to work in his father’s shop, war broke out and John was forced to oppose the Axis powers by joining the Underground Resistance. After the war, John went on to graduate from Erste Nederlandse Slagersvakschool or Dutch butchering school as was required to work in that profession. (Fig. 2, Fig. 3)
Not long after graduating, John married Grace Kuperus in Beetsterswaag Friesland where the two of them made plans to start a new life in America. (Fig. 4) In February of 1952, John and Grace sailed to the USA aboard the Mauretania. Their journey took them through Ellis Island (Fig. 5) and then eventually to Hoboken, New Jersey. John worked on a farm at first but yearned to return to butchering which led him to rescue a declining business in Newton, New Jersey. Through the hard work of John and his loving wife, the DeVries butcher shop began to grow and flourish.
In 1973 this thriving business was then purchased by John’s butcher brother, George DeVries. The John DeVries family (of 7 by this time) decided to follow other family members to Michigan where another butcher shop was available for purchase in Coopersville.(Fig. 6) Included with the butcher shop was a small farm where the family raised pigs, lambs, chickens, and rabbits. The quaint farm also included ample acreage for growing a variety of crops. The devoted children supported their father and mother on the farm and in the family business which today is directed under the enduring family legacy of Mike’s brother Ken. (Fig. 7)
Mike gained experience and wisdom through working for his dad but sought out the noteworthy challenges of the large corporate scale meat company. He has worked for major food giants such as Tyson, IBP, Sara Lee, Hillshire Farms and Michigan Turkey to which he credits many of his acquired abilities. Eventually the nostalgic lure of running a family meat business, like his father and grandfather did, led him to purchase Caledonia Packing in 2013.
Building from nearly the ground up, Mike, his wife and their three daughters are turning Caledonia Packing into a much needed link in the chain of the locally grown “Farm to Fork” market. Through hard work, valuable knowledge, and much prayer Caledonia Packing is committed to the growers in the surrounding communities and the emerging number of customers that are concerned about their food sources.