Van Buren County is located in beautiful southwest Michigan and
is considered "Michiganís Fruit Basket." This area was originally
inhabited by Potawatomi Indians, who traded with early European explorers.
Organized in 1837, the County was named after then Secretary of State and later
President Martin Van Buren, settled largely by Dutch Immigrants from New York.
It was not long afterwards that the value of the soil was realized to be
excellent for fruit growing, including grapes.
In the late 1860ís grape growers formed a coalition to organize marketing,
which included the strategy of not more than one farmer bringing their grapes to
the same market on the same day. This proved highly effective, and wineries
began to flourish. Today, some of the best grape stock in the nation can be seen
growing around Paw Paw and Lawton, while orchard fruits, especially peaches,
blueberries, pears and apples also appear in abundance just to the west.
Van Buren County also generates a lot of tourism, with a scenic coastline on
Lake Michigan that includes rolling sand dunes and the historic port of South
Haven, complete with the bright red Pierhead Lighthouse. It is also an
historic area, with many of its towns preserving turn-of-the-century
architecture - including the County Building at
Paw Paw, listed on the State Historical Register.