Vans Pines Nursery, Inc. is a Third Generation nursery located in West Olive, Michigan. The Van Slooten family has been providing growers with superior quality plant material for over 80 years. The company started as Vans Pines, which was a fruit orchard and corn farm when Frank Van Slooten returned from naval service in World War I. Due to extremely light sandy soil, the orchard was not productive and was later removed. That is when Frank decided to plant some pine trees on the property for timber and pulp. Sometime during the early 30’s Michigan State University convinced Frank (among other Ottawa County farmers) to try planting a new introduction from Europe ‘Scotch Pine’ which grew well in light soil.
After World War II Frank’s sons, Marion, John and Bill came home and continued the Christmas Tree business. By this time, it had expanded into Kalkaska County where land was cheap and had plenty of the newly preferred light soil. Here they continued to plant Scotch Pine, growing their own seedlings in an effort to provide a superior quality tree. In 1968 alone, 100 million trees had been planted by the budding Christmas tree industry. Frank Van Slooten retired in 1958. John took his ¼ share of land and trees in Kalkaska area, while Marion and Bill continued the Vans Pines Christmas Tree and Nursery operations. After a few years, Bill spun off his share of land and Christmas trees in Muskegon and Ottawa county areas, leaving Marion with just the nursery operation. Marion expanded the nursery operation quickly, including field potted nursery stock as well as balled and burlaped plants.
Marion Van Slooten’s son, Gary, came back to the nursery in 1989 after selling Mc Vans Nursery, a successful nursery he had started on his own in Watervliet. Gary and his wife Sharon later purchased the nursery from Marion in 1998, incorporating to become Vans Pines Nursery, Inc.
Since Gary’s acquisition of the nursery, Vans has changed in numerous ways. First and foremost, were many improvements in the nurseries production of seedlings in plugs. He implemented a complete change over from Styro Block plug production to Jiffy Pellets. He developed a new irrigation system using ‘mini-wobblers’ to replace booms from greenhouse plug production, and expanded the plug growing season by 2 months by using a new Cravo open roof greenhouse design.
As we go forward, we will make the commitment, as we always have, to adjust to and implement the latest developments in the industry. We look forward to receiving input from you, our loyal customers, so that we may continue to provide the best plant material possible and continue our growing relationship with you for many years to come.