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Section 3 Thursday, February 9, 2012


Consumption sets record




Returning to a



‘Red’ campaigns raise consumption By Eric Carlson Of The Enterprise staff

It’s been six years since the advertising guru who originated the highly successful “Got Milk?” campaign for the California Milk Processing Board came up with a new marketing plan for Leelanau County’s top agricultural commodity, red tart cherries. No, the campaign wasn’t called “Got Cherries?” Instead, the unique tagline that ad executive Jeff Manning came up with in 2006 for the Cherry

Thanks to our sponsors It takes a community to grow and market cherries, and the sponsors of this tribute to National Cherry Month certainly qualify as members. Collectively they have helped to right an industry that suffered through some tough times in past years. Following are the names of sponsors. You’ll also find their advertising messages on pages 7-10 of this salute to cherries.

Marketing Institute (CMI) was “Cherries — not just another berry.” While the phrase drew mixed reviews at the time, the marketing campaign has evolved — and, apparently, worked. More important than taglines that can come and go, Leelanau County cherry growers can take heart in the fact that sales and consumption of red tart cherries have continually grown since the new marketing campaign was launched. Through the continuing efforts of CMI, Manning and the national marketing and advertising firm Weber Shandwick, public awareness of

the health benefits of cherries has increased demonstrably, and so, too, have sales of the fruit. According to CMI president and Leelanau County native Philip J. Korson II, sales of red tart cherries have been on an upward trend since 2006 – growing about 22 percent over the last five years. According to figures available through the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB) — the industry organization that issues the national cherry marketing order every year based on sup-

Alpers Tree Sales B&Z Well Drilling Blarney Castle Oil & Propane Bonek Agency Bramer Auto Supply Cherry Bay Orchards Cherry Growers Cherry Marketing Institute Cherry Republic Cherry Stop Cherryland Electric Cooperative Chimoski Bakery Crop Production Services Ellen A. Fred, Esq. Gillison’s Variety Fabrication

Ginop Sales Gray & Company Greenstone Farm Credit Hamilton Agronomy Honor Onekama & Frankfort Building Supply Ice Cream Factory Kasson Sand & Gravel LaCross Farms & Receiving Larkin Group Leelanau Conservation District Leelanau Fruit Louis Gelder & Sons Morton Buildings Nevill Supply

Inside, read about the amazing cherry! • One man says cherries can cure cancer, improve fertility. Really! • Gregory brothers have evolved with the industry. • Our pick for five new cherry businesses. • Great combo: cherries, chocolate. • Recipes!

(Concluded on Page 3)

Northern Lumber Northport Building Supply & Ace Hardware Northwestern Bank Pure Water Works Riske Brown & Associates Runge Industries Send Receiving Station Stallman Chemical Star Truck Rental Traverse City State Bank Voelker Implement Sales Wheelock & Sons Welding, Inc. Wilbur Elllis Chemicals

Page 2, Section 3


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Here are five businesses, all starring cherries, of course, that we’d like to see start up in Leelanau County:

CHERRY SCULPTURES CHERRY SCULPTURES It seems that every year a few cherry orchards in Leelanau meet their demise. The wreckages of aged trees are piled into a heap, and burned on a day when the wind is blowing toward a neighbor’s open window. Creating beautiful wooded carvings from them, especially some of their complex root systems, seems like a fine way to recycle mother nature. (And, yes, we know ash makes a fine fertilizer.)

CHERRY DEMOCRAT OK, maybe Cherry Republic wasn’t started by Glen Arbor entrepeneur Bob Sutherland as a political statement. In fact, word has it that Sutherland’s political persuasion may lean somewhat left. We’re just saying that another business is needed to ensure neutrality during an election year.

The Cherry Phosphate Bottling Company THE CHERRY PHOSPHATE BOTTLING COMPANY We’re aging ourselves here, but recall with joy the taste of a cherry phosphate served at a drug store soda fountain. Now you can’t find them. Retro is in, right?

eet Ch w S

err y

THE SWEET CHERRY Initial reaction may be, “Yea, like we need another restaurant in Leelanau County.” Well, we do, but one whose speciality is local foods. Of course, the king of eats in Leelanau County has to be cherries, with whitefish coming in a close second. Come up with a recipe that combines the two to win the hearts of visitors and residents alike. (Our apologies to the Cherry Hut in Benzonia. You really belong north of the border.)


CHERRY WIPES Anyone whose eaten too many cherries at one sitting understands the needs for these.

Leelanau County Native:

Dr. Heather Rhoads Pfefferle

231-935-1948 3287 Racquet Club Dr. Suite C • Traverse City, MI 49684


EXTRA COPIES OF THIS CHERRY EDITION are available by calling the Leelanau Enterprise at 256.9827


Located in Logan Place West on South Airport Rd.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Section 3, Page 3

10 cherries a day keeps doctor away from this 84-year-old By Amy Hubbell Of The Enterprise staff

At 84 years of age, Wayne Neal could be a “poster boy” for red tart cherries. Neal, who lives in suburban Cincinnati, has been eating nine or 10 frozen cherries at bedtime for more than 20 years and believes it has prolonged his life. The retired electrician was diagnosed in 1991 with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer most often associated with exposure to asbestos. “They told me, ‘It will probably take you before long,’” said Neal, who had begun eating cherries years earlier after learning of the health benefits of cherries in a newspaper article given to his daughter. “They had worked for a couple tradesmen I knew who had had gout so I thought I’d give it a try.” Rather than go the route his wife had in the 1980s fighting lung cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, Neal opted for a more holistic approach which included vitamins, a healthy diet and a handful of red tart cherries each night. The disease which was confirmed by three separate radiologists 20 years ago has left him. “I don’t know what cherries have. All I know is that they work 10 times better than chemo or radiation,” Neal said. “You have a better chance of surviving.” The retired electrician’s position is based on anecdotal evidence. In addition to eating cherries himself, Neal has reached out to others — some total strangers — to share the good news about cherries. He read about a young mother in his area who was fighting cancer. Armed with a cooler with his fivepound bag of Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) cherries, Neal went to the woman’s house to tell his success story to the woman and her two adolescent children. “I went to get her on ‘the cherries,’” Neal said. He returned two months later to check up on the woman, who by that time could not get out of bed to answer the door. “The cherries were still in the freezer. She never opened the bag,” Neal said. “There was nothing in it for me except knowing that I tried to save that woman. Ten cherries is all you need.” As disappointing as this was, the cherry lover’s successes have outweighed failures. Years ago, Neal was at his local senior center and realized that he hadn’t seen the regular janitor for a few weeks. Staff told him the man had been layed off after receiving a colon cancer diagnosis. “I went down to Gordon Food Service and got him on the cherries,” Neal said. “They’re magic.” Four months later the man returned to work — “cured” with no treatment other than red tart cherries, according to Neal. Closer to home, he has shared the good news about the fruit with a sister, diagnosed at age 79 with lymphoma, cancer affecting the lymph system. “The doctors told her she’d need chemo and radiation two times a week. She said, ‘no’,” Neal recalled. “I got her a five-pound bag of cherries and she didn’t eat any more. She’s 85 now.” But perhaps the most interesting cherry “miracle” observed by the Ohio man was his involvement in helping his longtime hair stylist conceive a child. “I went in for a haircut and the girl was really down in the dumps,” Neal said. The stylist told him that she had her husband had been to fertility specialists for 11 years and spent thousands of dollars trying to get pregnant. “I told her, ‘I know how to take care of that,’” Neal recalled. “She said, ‘I bet you do.’” He told the woman to buy red tart cherries and take them every day and within three or four months she’d be pregnant.

WAYNE NEAL says there’s magic in red tart cherries and he tells everyone he can about the benefits of the fruit. “It worked. She’s got a little girl and is so happy,” Neal said. “It’s unbelievable.” While continuing to spread the gospel of cherries to those in need, Neal has continued his regimen of consuming nine or ten cherries daily — frozen. “He eats them each evening with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream,” said his daughter Cindy, who lives with Neal. “He doesn’t let them thaw because he believes the perillyl alcohol in them is one of the things that helps the body.” Science has supported this theory. Cherries contain a significant amount of perillyl alcohol (POH), a chemical that may play an active role in slowing or stopping programs of certain types of cancers. A 1998 review by James T. Belanger which was published in the Alternative Medical Review suggested that POH may prevent the formation or progression of a number of cancers and may be useful in cancer treatment. Dr. Russel Reiter of the University of Texas Health Science Center has

done extensive research on the health benefits of red tart cherries. “Tart red cherries contain several ingredients that have been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells under experimental conditions and, in some cases, clinical studies have been performed with these individual ingredients with some success,” Reiter said. “Whole red tart cherries, however, have not been specifically tested for their ability to forestall cancer.” The researcher when on to provide an example. “Several individuals suffering with mesolthelioma have been treated with melatonin, an ingredient in tart cherries, with some evidence of partial success; but those doses of melatonin given to these individuals were greater than the amount of melatonin that would be available following the ingestion of cherries even on a daily basis,” he said. “It would be nice to have some clinical trials in which tart cherries were tested for their ability to modify cancer progression.”

Cherry Growers made claim to anemia benefit back in 1949 Cherries prevent anemia. Winifred Rauschenbush, in the march Ladies Home Journal, says that they contain exactly the proper percentages of iron and copper to have this effect. Oliver Behymer, East Leland grower, on Monday night brought this claim to the attention of Michigan Cherry Growers, Inc. Next in order are currants, liver and shrimp(s). Neither iron nor copper along will produce the desired healthful results, the article points. The two minerals also must be their proper proportions to one another. This discovery has caused cherry processors to consider a plan to print on all cherry cans that they contain the two essential minerals. The matter will be discussed further at a stockholder meeting of Cherry Growers tonight.

Use of this new selling point could result in a demand for millions of additional pounds of cherry crop, many growers believe. They are asking medical authorities for a professional report on the subject. Michigan Cherry Growers who are placing six electric-eye sorting units in their Traverse City plant, explain that this will be an experimental installation. The units are expected to pick our fruit with blemishes automatically and to separate it from that which goes into cans. Usually such work is done in laboratories before installations are made in commercial plants. However, because of the perishable qualities or cherries, there is no time for this and the tests much be made in actual packing plants. Leelanau Enterprise March 31, 1949

‘Red’ campaigns raise consumption Continued from Page 1 ply and demand — sales and consumption of red tart cherries increased seven percent between 2009 and 2010. In fact, the year 2010 saw an all-time record for sales of red tart cherries at 268 million pounds. “For the 2011 crop we are expecting sales to be at 260 million pounds, down just slightly,” Korson told the Enterprise last week. “This is a great success story for the promotion program as we are seeing sales increase overall.” Korson presented a briefing on CMI’s efforts to growers and others in the industry on Jan. 25 at the annual Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard Show in Grand Traverse County. He was joined by Weber Shandwick executives Cathy Calhoun and Michael Wehman who provided their own program on how the cherry marketing campaign has evolved since 2006. Titled “Journey of a Super Fruit,” the briefing outlined how effort was put in to increasing awareness of the health

benefits of cherries, beginning with the 2006 “Cherries — not just another berry” campaign. At that point in history, the ad executives noted, consumer research had shown little awareness of red tart cherries as something other than pie filling, and routinely confused fresh sweet cherries with cherries in general. Considerable marketing emphasis also shifted not to the people who actually or could be persuaded to eat cherries, but to food processors and institutions with the power to include red tart cherries as ingredients in their products. Included are cereal and beverage manufacturers. In the second year of the marketing campaign, a new tagline emerged — “Eat Red. Choose Cherries.” Under that campaign the benefits to heart health became a focus of cherry marketing. Efforts continued to improve awareness of dried and frozen cherries as well as tart cherry juice. In the third year, the notion of “super fruits” grew in the public conscious-

ness — with fruits such as grapes and cranberries leading the way. That led cherry marketers to adopt the new tagline “Choose Cherries — America’s Super Fruit” as part of an effort to increase market share. Then, a new tagline emerged for the next two years – “Powered by Red.” While many previous marketing efforts continued, the campaign added a number of high-profile promotional events at marathons and other athletic venues. That effort was designed to show how red tart cherries could help promote physical recovery and relieve pain. The “Powered by Red” campaign remained at the forefront until year six when “Go red instead” emerged as the new tagline — to differentiate cherries from competing “super fruits” that also had a long list of health benefits. In a recent item in Fruit Grower News, Korson wrote that a centerpiece of the 2012 cherry marketing campaign will be a new set of data titled “The Red Report — the science behind tart cherries.”

“The Red Report will highlight how tart cherries’ nutrition, unique flavor and naturally functional properties are right on target with today’s food and beverage trends and consumer demand,” Korson wrote. “We will partner with longtime cherry advocate, author and nutrition expert Wendy Brazilian to reveal The Red Report during a major media blitz in New York City, which will include a satellite media tour with Wendy touting tart cherries’ unique advantages via interviews with local TV and radio stations across the country,” Korson wrote. Korson told the Enterprise last week that the use of “free” media coverage has proven to be a winner for the cherry industry over the years, and that approach will continue in 2012, as will the use of “social media” such as Facebook and Twitter. Cherry farmers pay for the marketing campaign through a surtax placed on their crops.

Page 4, Section 3


Tarts win growing battle with sweets By Eric Carlson Of The Enterprise staff

When you say the word “cherries” to people who visit Leelanau County in the summer, the image it tends to conjure up is that of the sweet cherries they can buy at any number of roadside stands or farm markets in the county. To most year-round locals and some longtime Leelanau visitors, however, it’s widely known that tart cherries — not sweet cherries — are the real mainstay of cherry industry in our neck of the woods. “I’d say that a good 60 percent of the acreage we have in cherry trees are tart cherries, with the remainder sweet cherries,” Suttons Bay fruit farmer Juanita Send said. “That seems to be pretty much the average throughout Leelanau County.” Figures available through the Michigan State University Extension indicate that about 3,500 acres were devoted to sweet cherries while 8,150 acres were devoted to tarts. The proportions have fluctuated over the years, however. In 1997, for example, 4,050 acres were devoted to sweets and 7,850 to tarts. “One of the reasons we don’t grow as many sweets in Leelanau County is that they’re not as hardy as tarts,” Send explained. “Sweets are a little more susceptible to winter freeze damage and they’re just harder to grow here. They’re also more susceptible to disease because of our moist climate.”

But they’re also very popular. Sweet cherries are usually eaten out of hand while tarts taste better when they’re an ingredient in certain foods, perhaps as canned pie filling, dried cherries in salads, or frozen cherries in smoothies, for example. Some varieties of sweet cherries produce larger fruit than tarts, with a roughly heart-shaped cross section. Varieties include Emperor Francis, Napoleon and Schmidt which is similar to the Bing variety that is not generally grown in Michigan. Michigan is the largest producer of tarts, but not sweets. Sweets are more commonly grown in Oregon and Washington State. Nonetheless, Michigan is among the top four producers of sweet cherries in the nation and harvests about 17 percent of all sweets grown in the country. “But the biggest market for sweets does not include the varieties that people buy at roadside stands,” Send added. “We also grow a lot of light brine sweets. These are processed as maraschino cherries.” Most of the “brine sweets” retain their stem when picked. Light in color, they are generally dyed bright red during processing and end up as garnishes in drinks or fruit salad. By far, red tart cherries are Leelanau County’s top crop. In fact, the county leads Michigan as number one in terms of cherry trees and cherry acreage. According to the Michigan State University Extension, Leelanau County

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tart Cherries 8,150 acres

SWEET Cherries 3,500 acres

The latest Michigan State University Extension figures for Leelanau County show about 69 percent of the acres of cherry trees are tart. has 26 percent of Michigan’s tart cherry acreage, 48 percent of Michigan’s sweet cherry acreage, and 30 percent of all Michigan cherry trees. While the price of red tart cherries is subject to a complex “cherry marketing order” which is set by the industry every season, the process of setting prices for sweets is far more flexible, resulting in a wider range of prices depending on the market year-to-year. Tart cherry trees produce smaller,

rounder fruit than sweet cherry trees. Tart cherries are also somewhat softer in texture than sweets. In addition, tarts generally blossom and ripen later than sweets. The harvest for both generally occurs in July and early August, with sweets coming first. Although the health benefits of red tart cherries have been extensively documented through scientific research, less of the same kind of research has been done on sweets. However, it is

widely believed that beneficial substances in tarts are also present in sweets. Nationally, Michigan dominates the red tart cherry marketplace, according to the Michigan State University Extension. The state produces about 75 percent of the U.S. crop. Of some 37,000 acres in red tart cherries nationwide, about 30,000 of them are in Michigan.

Michigan is second to none in tart production By Chris Olson Of The Enterprise staff

GLENN LACROSS poses with a new tractor at the Northwest Michigan Orchard & Vineyard Show on Jan. 25.

Brine cherries a bright spot for fruit company By Alan Campbell Of The Enterprise staff

In the past few years, brine cherries have provided a sweet spot in the industry. Glenn LaCross, fruit farmer and owner of Leelanau Fruit Company in Suttons Bay, said Michigan has begun to usurp some of the brine cherry production from the West Coast, and state producers have developed tighter relationships with food manufacturers who use brine cherries in ice creams, fruit cocktail, muffins and other products. Brine cherries are immersed in a salt solution that preserves them while removing their colors. Before being used in food production, a dye often is applied to turn them red. Leelanau Fruit, with plants in Suttons Bay and Buckley, processes 5-7 million pounds of brine cherries every year. Once confined to sweet cherry varieties such as Napoleon, Emperor Francis and Gold, more recently Balaton cherries — a semi-sweet variety that until a few years ago was mostly grown in Europe — have been added to the mix. On the fresh market, Balatons can command a higher price because of their distinctive taste and longer shelf life. While LaCross said Leelanau Fruit does not pay a higher price for the Balatons used as a brine cherry, higher overall sweet cherry prices have helped to make up the difference. He explained that food

manufacturers started to turn to European markets for Balatons rather than pay a higher price for the variety when grown in Michigan. So two years ago Leeelanau Fruit started moving locally grown Balatons into brine. “It has saved that cherry variety,” LaCross said. “Brine has been a bright spot for Leelanau Fruit. “It (uses) those types of cherries we find mostly grown in northern Michigan — southern Michigan has never been as successful.” But growing good cherries is only one half of the equation for the cherry industry. Consumers are also needed. “We are creating markets. We might be displacing brine cherries from the West Coast states, which makes sense, as we are closer to the Midwestern markets than they are,” LaCross said. How have cherry growers benefitted? LaCross said the price paid by processors for sweet cherries has increased in recent years from 20 cents to about 30 cents per pound. Leelanau Fruit is also doing well, LaCross added, and plans to continue with its workforce of 50 employees at its Suttons Bay plant located off M-22. “There has been some discussion about adding people,” he added. LaCross said Leelanau Fruit is the second-largest processor of brine cherries in Michigan, handling about 25 percent of the state’s production.

Michigan is the No. 1 producer of tart cherries in the country. The question is, who is No. 2? New York? No. Not even in the ballpark. It only produced 5.8 million pounds of tarts in 2011, which makes them fifth. How about Washington? It has a good climate for growing cherries; it’s on the Pacific Ocean. Nope, at 20.9 million pounds produced in 2011, it is No. 3. The No. 2 state for producing tart cherries in the good ol, U.S. of A? Utah! That is right. Utah, the state founded by Mormons, and the land of the Great Salt Lake. In 2011, Utah’s fruit growers processed 34.5 million pounds of tart cherries, which according to figures released from the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB) was well above the 24 million pounds the board had estimated the state would produce. Now 34.5 million pounds of cherries sounds like a lot, and it is. However, the counties in northwest Michigan alone produced 92.5 million pounds in 2011, the single largest area of tart cherry production in the country. In total Michigan produced 156.6 million pounds of tarts in 2011, which accounts for 68 percent of the 230 million pounds of the fruit produced in this country. Looking at these numbers you would think Michigan is the undisputed

Cherry King. Some Utah fruit growers may disagree. While it’s true Michigan does easily produce the most tart cherries in the country, some people claim Utah cherries are sweeter. According to Robert McMullin, a fourth generation fruit grower and head of McMullin Orchards based in Payson, Utah, there is a difference. “I think it has something to do with the altitude,” he said. “We’re a little higher up than Michigan, and we’re a little closer to the West Coast.” Perry Hedin, CIAB executive director, said generally Utah cherries have a higher “brick” level, which is a measure of the sugar content in the fruit, than Michigan cherries. “It’s simple,” he said. “Utah has a longer growing season than Michigan. The longer you can leave the fruit on the trees, exposed to sunlight, the higher concentration of bricks in the fruit.” Does this make Utah cherries better than Michigan cherries, the Utah fruit being sweeter? “It depends. All cherries have some sweetness to them,” Hedin said. McMullin said he wasn’t concerned about which state’s fruit was the sweetest. His family has been growing fruit in the mid-Utah area since 1927, when his great grandfather, also his namesake, planted the family’s first fruit trees. “We have 500 acres planted in cherries, mainly Montmorency for processing,” he said. “We do have some acres in sweets for fresh sales at our markets,

but most is in tarts.” Last year was a good one as far as production for the McMullin orchards. He said the company produced about 75 percent of what they normally do in tarts and sweets. Utah and Michigan’s cherry growing seasons start at different times, with the bloom on Utah cherry trees occurring at the end of April, and at the latest in early May. The bloom for Michigan trees generally occurs in mid May. McMullin said Utah fruit starts appearing in mid- to late-May, while the fruit in Michigan doesn’t form until late May, early June. “We harvest our tarts generally in mid to late July,” he said. Michigan’s tarts generally are harvest at the end of July. Since tart cherries are under a federal marketing order, McMullin is an alternate grower member of the CIAB. “I’m a member of the Cherry Central Co-op based in Traverse City,” he said. McMullin is also a member of the Utah Tart Cherry Marketing Board. Being both a member of the CIAB and Cherry Central Co-op, he and his family make the trip to northwest lower Michigan three or four times a year. Which state really is the Cherry King? Michigan produces the most tarts of any one state, but Utah’s fruit is sweeter. Maybe the tie-breaker should be state fruit. Give it to Utah where the legislature in 1997 approved a bill declaring the cherry as the official state fruit.

Top Tart Cherry Growing States 2011 totals in millions of pounds 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

1. Michigan 156.6

2. Utah 34.5

3. Washington 4. Wisconsin 20.9 6.5

5. New York 6. Pennsylvania 5.8 3.1

7. Oregon 2.6

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Section 3, Page 5

New trial tree plants are root for futurist orchards with high density tart cherries Dr. Nikki Rothwell District Horticulturalist and NWMHRC Coordinator

The tart cherry orchard of the future may still be a few years away, but Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have moved a few steps closer to growing high density tart cherries. In fruit growing regions around the world, horticultural innovations are rapidly impacting cherry indusDr. Nikki tries and Rothwell orchards. Namely, new dwarfing rootstocks have facilitated high density sweet cherry orchards by instigating earlier initial and peak production than trees on standard rootstocks. These more intensive orchards also impact the efficiency of production, improve fruit quality and are harvested more easily. With the success of high density sweet cherry orchards, such concepts need to be investigated further for Michigan tart cherries. Moving to high density tart cherry production systems for fruit used in the processing market is easier said than done as several production components will require changes. The MSU team is concomitantly evaluating rootstocks, cultivars, tree spacing, irrigation, and fertilization strategies for this new system. Tree training and pruning strategies also will be developed to optimize yields without sacrificing fruit quality. In spring 2010, we planted a high density Montmorency block at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural

Research Center (NWMHRC) where we are evaluating the dwarfing, precocious Gisela® rootstocks currently used by growers around the world for sweet cherry production. To gain a better understanding of Montmorency on dwarfing rootstocks planted at a high density we planted Montmorency on its own roots, and also grafted it onto four commercial rootstocks: Gisela® 3, Gisela® 5, Gisela® 6, and Mahaleb. All five rootstocks are being managed with two pruning systems: multiple leader bush and central leader axe. This past spring, two more plantings were put in at the NWMHRC. The first planting is a new rootstock trial where we are looking at elite rootstock selections from the MSU germplasm bank. Dr. Amy Iezzoni has been breeding rootstocks for use in sweet cherry, and many growers were interested to see how they do under tart cherry. The NWMHRC Foundation purchased the trees in this trial as they thought evaluating these new rootstocks was critical to the success of our futuristic orchard. This planting also includes new Russian rootstocks from the Krymst series. Growers and nurseries in the west have used Krymst rootstocks for sweet cherries, but there is little information about these rootstocks under tart cherry. A second new planting of Montmorency-type tart cherry varieties was planted in early May. The new cultivar planting will include five elite selections from Dr. Amy Iezzoni’s tart cherry breeding program. At this stage, these cherries still have numbers rather than names, but members of the Tart

Cherry Advisory Committee can confirm that these fruits have promise for commercial marketing. Dr. Ron Perry has also been instrumental in bringing some of the tart cherries bred in Saskatchewan, Canada to Michigan. These fruits have beautiful names like Crimson Passion and Carmine Jewel. We hope to also obtain some of their newest releases, and these names are downright romantic: Cupid, Romeo, Juliet, and Valentine. We have also been investigating different harvesting systems for this futuristic orchard. The primary goal of this research is to allow growers to harvest trees earlier than the fiveseven years traditionally required for trees to mature enough to withstand trunk shaking. This earlier harvest would allow growers to receive an earlier return on their investment. Using high density apples as a model, we would like to begin harvesting tart cherries at two or three years old rather than five to seven; therefore, if we continue to harvest cherries mechanically, we need a harvester that does not ‘shake’ the trees. We have evaluated continuously moving harvesters in tart cherry that were designed for other crops, such as olives, citrus, grapes, and blueberries. Many of these machines look promising for use in a high density tart cherry orchard. With a rootstock, cultivar, and high density Montmorency trials in place, and by continuing to look at harvesting systems, we are poised to make some inroads into this new system. The MSU team working on this project includes myself, Iezzoni, Perry, Lang, and Flore.

STEVE KALCHIK fixes a cherry shaker on a lunch break at his Gills Pier Farm during last year’s cherry harvest.


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The Leelanau Pages Community Directory does more than put businesses and consumers together, although that’s an important outcome of a local publication. The Leelanau Pages devotes 50 pages to the Leelanau community, providing residents and visitors alike with all the tools needed to navigate through the county’s natural resources, governments and service providers. Included is a page devoted solely to agriculture in Leelanau County. There are 49 other pages with useful information. Want to call your county commissioner? Attend a village council meeting?



OMMU 2011 C



au Ag ricultu re

© 2011

Leela e na

u Page


Sign up for Commission on Aging services? Then the Leelanau Pages community directory is your place to start. The staff of the Leelanau Enterprise is just now finishing work on the 2012 edition of the Leelanau Pages. Please give us a call at 256-9827 to update or add information about organizations and governments — or to ensure that your private phone listing is included and accurate. Thank you to Leelanau County for helping the Leelanau Pages community directory to serve your needs.

The Leelanau Pages . . . MORE THAN A PHONE BOOK


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Industry research turns to cherry health benefits

Weather worrisome to growers As of last week, Leelanau snowfall was less than half its average and temperatures were averaging 4 or so degrees warmer than a typical winter. So how will Leelanau’s winter without a winter affect the 2012 cherry crop? It’s way too early to tell, according Francis Otto, crop management specialist with Cherry Bay Orchards in Suttons Bay Township. It’s his job to keep cherry trees healthy and able to produce bumper crops — weather permitting. As snow has given way to rye in Leelanau orchards, weather may play a role sooner than most years. So far, noted Otto, trees are doing fine despite having their sap start to run a couple weeks ago when temperatures moved into the 50’s. “When 50’s came, sap moved into trees,� said Otto. “But it didn’t stay there because we got to almost zero there for awhile. We had a couple weeks when it cooled down so we escaped that one. “If we have an Alberta clipper come in next week and get to 5 below zero, then you can get a real quick temperature differential, that’s when the damage occurs. The trees had fulfilled their chilling requirement by the time the warmup came. So now every time you get a warm up, they will naturally try to break

FRANCIS OTTO, crop management specialist with Cherry Bay Orchards, said the warm winter has had no negative impact on cherry trees, but has left grape vines vulnerable to a cold snap. their buds. When you get the warm weather, the tree thinks it’s the natural warm-up from spring.� Otto is no relation to the Otto family from Leelanau County that claims a road as a namesake in Bingham Township in the heart of fruit-growing country. Instead, he grew up in Niles before working on a fruit farm in Antrim County and then owning a fruit farm in East Jordan. He’s been working for Bob and Don Gregory with Cherry Bay Orchards for 20 years. The lack of snow could have a bigger impact on grape vines, Otto noted, which require snow cover for insulation against cold temperatures. Without snow, vines can be killed by cold temperatures in Leelanau County, which is at the northernmost point of their natural range.

For cherry trees, however, the biggest concern is that an early spring will bring on bud development, which would be susceptible to killing frosts. Then again, all this pleasant weather could change as quickly as a front moves across Lake Michigan. “March can come in with a bunch of snow storms, and you could have a late spring. The longer we can hold off that spring, the better off we are,� said Otto. One way orchardists guard against damage to trunks produced by warm sunshine reflecting off snow is to paint the trunks white to reflect the heat. Otherwise, cherry tree trunks can pop and separate, especially on their southwest sides facing an afternoon sun, Otto added. The result is called “southwest� injury or sunscald.

Consumption has industry smiling By Alan Campbell of the Enterprise staff

Each year near the end of January, the Grand Traverse Resort is abuzz with cherry farmers offering tales of the past growing season and, if prodded, some rather rough comments about their favorite industry. They’re usually willing to grumble about price, which is always too low, and consumption, which isn’t much better. Funny thing about the 2012 Northwest Michigan Orchard and Vineyard show. Orchardists, in general, were pretty happy, at least for their take in 2011. It’s amazing what a few extra cents on each pound of tart cherries will do for a Leelanau farmer’s disposition. And that makes Perry Hedin, director if the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB) very happy. So is the cherry industry verging on the healthiest time since the CIAB was established in 1997 with the price for tart cherries stuck at about 16 cents a pound? “The healthiest?� asked Hedin. “We were having some pretty good years early in our history. For us to be getting back to positions we saw in the early part of the marketing order is a very good, positive step.� While the CIAB has not released the average price paid for tarts in 2011 — in fact, many growers are still unsure how much they’ll reap from a crop that was average, at best, in size — the price most mentioned within the industry is about 30 cents a pound. If that price holds, it will represent a solid gain over 2010 (21 cents) and 2009 (19 cents), but down from 2008 (37 cents). That much fluctuation in a commodity is unusual, and the main source of heartburn among cherry growers. The other source is crop size, and of course the two are related. Only 210 million pounds of tarts were picked in 2008, compared to a whopping 355 million pounds in 2009 when the price fell by 43 percent. The per-pound price stayed low in 2010 despite a small crop of 189 million pounds while the bumper crop from the previous season moved through the market. But 2011 seemed solid in both worlds, with prices moving up substantially along with production at 266 million pounds. One season, however, does not a career make for a cherry orchardist. Hedine said perhaps the most impres-

U.S. Tart Cherries

Price (per lb.) vs Production (per mil. lbs.) Price 40¢

355 mil. lb.

37.2¢ per lb.

Prod. 350


30.0¢* per lb. estimate


268* mil. lb.

300 250

25¢ 20¢

210 mil. lb. 19.4¢ per lb.

189 21.1¢ per lb. mil. lb.

200 150



10¢ 5¢




2008 2009 2010 2011 * Figures not in for 2011 Crop Source: Cherry Industry Administrative Board

sive number to come out of 2011was in consumption, which increased to 268 million pounds — a steep rise from the 227 million pounds recorded in the year earlier. In fact, consumption has increased every year but once since 2004. “What’s nice about it is the trend line is pretty steady for froth. It offsets a little bit with that periodic ebb and flow we have on our supply line, but suggests the consumer interest is growing fairly strongly,� Hedin said. People within the industry point to a marketing campaign aimed at pushing the healthy benefits of eating tart cherries as the reason for an uptick in demand, especially in concentrate cherry juice. The industry is in the midst of funding a slew of university studies to put the ability of cherries to help against a number of ailments, including joint pain, arthritis, diabetes and perhaps even gout, into scientific findings. That increasing demand for cherries has helped to nearly clean out the cupboards of carry-over cherries, which bodes well for strong prices next year. “Going into 2011, we had a carryover of 57 million pounds. It was a little higher than ideal, but that was OK. What happens is that if you have that carry-over, it impacts the degree of restriction (placed on the size of crops growers can harvest) the following season. We certainly don’t want to see that happen,� Hedin said. Other changes approved by the federal government in the formula used to determine how many cherries may be sold in the open market will also help. The changes will effectively put less pressure on orchardists to find new

markets for their crops. Last year, the “set-aside� of the 2010 crop was set at 20 percent, which with the formula change cut the set-aside in half. “I think demand is strong enough, though, that we’ll release all those cherries that were left,� said Hedin.


Michigan State University, established in 1855 as the first land-grant college in the country, has continually been at the forefront in the agricultural sciences. So why has the University of Michigan in the last few years played such a pivotal role in cherry research? That’s because cherry research has taken in new tact, putting emphasis on the fruit’s health benefits, according to Phil Korson, director of the Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI). The institute recently published a pamphlet outlining 11 collegiate studies now underway or soon to be started dealing with the cherry’s seemingly amazing way to keep people healthy. “There is a University of Michigan component in every one of them,â€? said Korson. “Actually, they volunteer their time, feeling that it’s part of their role as a university that helps the state of Michigan. They’ll take all the technical issues a researcher may have, and they’ll find solutions for them. They feel they are a Michigan university predominantly, and they feel a responsibility to serve their community.â€? Of the 11 projects, Louisiana State University has its name on three of them. LSU professors are leading studies that explore the: • Effect cherry powder has on diabetes and kidney function. It’s the first model set up to look at the health benefits cherries might offer to diabetes patients. • Connection between a tart cherry pigment extract and inflammation near the aorta. Possible benefits could include lower blood pressure. • Effect of tart cherry juice on a good night’s sleep. Why LSU for three projects? Korson said no direct connection exists between cherries and LSU — other than a prevailing thought within the cherry industry that spreading research dollars across the nation will help to spread the word about cherry benefits. “We want these other universities

engaged,â€? said Korson. “Our goal is to increase interest across the country; it broadens our net and promotes cherries nationally. When a researcher from LSU says, hey, here’s my work and here’s what it shows, that has a lot of credibility.â€? Perhaps the most important of the studies — and certainly the largest — would be undertaken by the Boston University School of Public Health, which is seeking funds from the National Institute of Health to determine if tart cherries can help prevent gout. Boston University, with help from U-M, has been working for 1 1/2 years on the grant proposal, Korson said. A similar gout study — albeit, on a smaller scale — is underway in North Umbria, United Kingdom. University of Michigan professors have their names directly on two of the studies: • Dr. Ara Kirakosyan is using a rat model to determine if tissues in the heart, muscle and brain can absorb chemicals from tart cherries that create health benefits. Kidneys and livers have already been shown capable of absorbing the chemicals. • Dr. Sarah Warber is concluding her study on the effect of daily tart cherry consumptions in humans with metabolic syndrome. Humans with the syndrome are at risk for diabetes. In all, the Cherry Marketing Institute spends $300,000 on research related to the benefits of cherries. But before the Kleenex comes out for MSU, it’s time to talk about monies spent to study better ways to grow cherries. CMI reserves about $160,000 annually for production research, and most of those funds end up in East Lansing. In fact, of 16 proposals for production grants, 15 were generated from MSU. The 16th came from Wisconsin, Korson said. Remember, MSU’s original name was the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan.

Cherry surcharge up for grower vote The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI), which is based in Haslett, is funded largely through two $10 per-ton fees paid by cherry growers. One surcharge is levied by individual states. The Michigan Cherry Committee collects the surcharge in this state with authority from a five-year order approved by growers. They will vote in March to determine whether to renew the surcharge. It raised $911,000 last year. State surcharges are also collected in Utah, New York and Wisconsin, netting $121,910 for CMI. In particular, Utah, Wisconsin and Michigan have worked to pool their dollars for the biggest benefit, Korson added. A surcharge is levied nationally by the Cherry Industry Administrative Board,

Landsc ape


and has been approved through 2014. It raised $987,000. CMI had $2.4 million in 2011 to spend on research and promotion. Some $1.3 million was spent on marketing in the US. Another $150,000 was spent in international promotion, with CMI turning its attention toward China in 2012. “China is our proposal this year because we’re seeing an uptick in sales to China,� said Phil Korson, CMI director. “Two years ago we saw a big blip on the radar screen, and last year was a bigger blip. The bulk of remaining moneys were spent on research to better the industry.



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Thursday, February 9, 2012


Section 3, Page 7

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

E V I L G N LO 2-3-11 CS

Or maybe that’s backw should read, “Live Lon

As the tart cherry industry r fruit needing to be hand picked have cherries evolved again. Now they are known as a hear preventing fruit. A super hero, suit, ready to add taste, nutritio And that’s without saying Grandma’s cherry pie still tast The transformation has the in bright future. So long live cherries. And liv

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Thursday, February 9, 2012



Section 3, Page 9

LEELANAU CONSERVATION DISTRICT “Promoting Wise Use of Natural Resource” • • • • • • •

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Leelanau County is one of the largest tart cherry processing counties in the state. Northwest Michigan produces almost half of the U.S. supply of tart cherries year after year. Over the past fi ve years the cherry industry has been working hard to re-create the image of tart cherries as today’s hottest new Superfruit. After years of investing in health benefit research, today it’s clear that cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that are all natural and good for you.

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More importantly cherries are part of the fabric of Leelanau County. From blossom time (around Mother’s Day) to harvest (July) growers work hard to cultivate and grow their crop. Their goal… to deliver to you the very best fruit they can – packed with Antioxidants and Anthocyanins for good health. For more information on the health benefits of tart cherries and some great recipes check out our website and don’t forget to eat your cherries today!


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Page 10, Section 3


Thursday, February 9, 2012


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Thursday, February 9, 2012


Section 3, Page 11

BOB, left, and Don Gregory seem to always want to talk about the cherry industry. They’re pictured at the headquarters for Cherry Bay Orchards off Jacobson Road in Suttons Bay Township.

Don and Bob Gregory were born with the wrong names. They would more accurately be called

The Cherry Brothers Brothers Don and Bob Gregory have become stalwarts of Leelanau County and cherry communities, starting in the industry with their Cherry Bay Orchards property in Suttons Bay Township nearly 40 years ago. Staff writer Alan Campbell spent some time with the Gregorys last week, seeking out their views on a number of subjects of interest for cherry followers. The Gregorys’ business interests have grown to include fruit production on 2,200 acres in Leelanau County and 400 acres in Van Buren County; Shoreline Fruit, a cherry processing business with an office in Traverse City and production facility in Acme Township; and Great Lakes Packing, with pitting plants in Hart and Kewadin. More recently the Gregory family purchased Chateau de Leelanau, a winery in Bingham Township. The Gregorys have also brought their children into the business. Emily is the daughter of Don and Ann Gregory; her husband, Mark Miezio, helps manage the orchards. They have two children. Bob and Dianne Gregory have two sons. Andrew, who is starting his work experience with Shoreline Fruit, is married to Julie; they have one child. And Matt manages the tasting room at Chateau de Leelanau; he is married to Megan. Enterprise: Family farms are thought of as a thing of the past, giving way to corporations and bigger companies. Yet, the Gregory brothers seem to be getting along fine, growing their farms along with their families. What’s been your key to success? Bob: It depends on what the perspective of family farm is. If it’s a single family operation, it’s a tougher road to go down as far as keeping all the balls in the air at once. The regulations are the same no matter what scope of operation you are in. If you have to dedicate 10 hours a week for all the regulator forms and employment forms that have to be sent to the government, that time is going to be spent whether you have five employees or 50 employees. Don: We view ourselves as a family farm, but it doesn’t just include the Gregorys. We have key employees who also have ownership in Cherry Bay Orchards, and we consider them as family members, too. Are there days when we would like to be in a sole proprietorship situation, and make decisions completely independently? Absolutely. But we view this set-up as a win-win situation. Bob and I grew up on a dairy farm situation in the thumb, and my dad and his brother-in- law were in a partnership. So we at least knew the idiosyncrasies of working together in a farm operation when we got started. Bob: And we also knew some of the benefits of working within a family. Don: Fifteen year ago, we brought in some long-term planners to work with us and our children. We told them within 5 or 6 years we needed to know whether any of them wanted to come into the operation so we could do some long-term planning. If we didn’t have any kids interested in coming back to the operation, we needed to figure out what to do with this monstrosity we’ve created. Enterprise: How often do people get confused over your identities?

Bob: The only time we recognize being called by the other’s name is when there’s a complaint being voiced. Compliments never bother us. Don: Everybody always thought Bob was older and better looking than me, and they were wrong on both counts. Neither of us put pressure on our kids to become part of the farming operation. In fact, in my family, what I tried to instill in my kids is they needed to get at least a four year college education, and before they came back to the operation they had to work for two years somewhere else. Enterprise: You grew up in Sebewaing, in the Thumb. What brought you here? Don: After college, Bob became a fruit farmer, and I became a teacher in Frankenmuth. Bob: Dad said I never became a farmer; he became a gambler in the fruit industry. Don: Our parents were to a point that they wanted to be debt free farmers, and not expand the operation. So Bob became involved in the Velliquette family in the Elk Rapids area, and came north. Bob: They had actually purchased this farm (the farm off Setterbo Road where the Orchard Bay offices are located) in 1969 before I started working for them, and owned it for two years before I became involved. Enterprise: You’ve both been major players in the cherry industry for decades. What was the low point in your cherry-growing careers? Don: There have been lots of low points and high points for various reasons. But I think when we came in, the industry was going through some major changes, because mechanization was taking place. Bob: There had been some particularly tough years before then, so growers weren’t willing to update. A lot of owners of 5- and 10-acre orchards were willing to lease their acreage to get their fruit off on time.

Don: They didn’t have an interest in purchasing the harvesting equipment that was becoming available. Sometimes we were viewed as silly college boys who didn’t know any better because we would harvest cherries all night. But we had this equipment, and the only way we could pay for it was to do that, and it worked for us. We continue to harvest cherries 24-hours a day, even today. Bob: The price started to improve in the late 70’s, when we saw the price of cherries increase up to 50 cents a pound at the gate. You’re going to have to go back to your inflation charts, but you can probably double that value, a least, to put it in today’s numbers. Don: At that time we had some good years. We’d been able to buy some additional acreage. So we expanded our operation. Bob: But the industry as a whole at that time made substantial plantings with their revenue streams, and that’s what led to the horrendous times in the 80’s when we had high volumes of fruit and low value. We got all the way down to 5 cents a pound in 1985. Don: I’d say the bottom was in 1985, when the growers lost money and the processors lost money. Everybody lost money. Enterprise: Are we now entering the high point? Don: I won’t go that far. Bob: We’ve seen a stabilization in the industry, and it is moving in an upward trend versus the extreme volatility we saw in the 80’s and 90’s. We had a year in 1991 when farm gate value was 55 cents a pound, then four years later it was a nickel a pound. We have not seen the extreme price swings here since the early 21st century. Don: Supply appears to be much closer with demand than it was 10 years ago. What’s going to change, we don’t know. There are so many dynamics and changes in the tart cherry industry that the future is really difficult to predict. The whole world has changed, and there’s no way we could get the inflated $1 a pound for cherries they got in the 70’s in today’s market. Enterprise: How has consumption changed? Don: I think the biggest single change as been the value asserted to food for its health factor. Tart cherries have been given high value because of their melatonin and anthocyanin. Enterprise: Did you have a clue about those benefits when you started? Don: No. There’s no question that the consumers stomachs continues to change. And as they have, some of the changes took a long time. When sugars became an issue, we watched consumption dry up for cherries in pies and pastries. As the way people eat changed, dried fruit fit with some of the new changes and the way people are eating. As

we’ve lost consumption on the dessert side, we’ve found a niche for cherries in the dried form and the juice market with concentrates. Who knows where we’d be today if we were unable to build on the health benefit side of cherries. And the canned good areas of stores continues to shrunk. I can remember walking into a grocery store in Traverse City when two or three aisles would be nothing but canned food.... you walk into a major store today, and you may find four rows of cherry pie filling out of a display of fruit filling that’s only two feet wide. That market changed as our eating habits changed. There’s a old story told years ago that the only ones to eat canned prunes were kids who had to for the school lunch programs and old people. Every time a hearse went buy, the story went that the prune industry had lost a customer. Enough hearses went by that now there isn’t much of a prune industry in Michigan. Enterprise: What has been the most difficult part of growing your cherry company? Don: I guess, as you grow, probably the toughest thing has been to realize that you can’t do everything, and learn to depend on others and put others into decision making positions. Letting go is pretty hard, but it becomes pretty evident that if you are going to succeed, you can’t micromanage the whole operation. Bob: I think that’s probably hitting the nail right on the head. Enterprise: One step taken by your company has been to move more into other areas of the cherry industry beyond growing. How essential has that been for your success? Don: Moving beyond growing cherries was probably the necessity for the mother of invention. Bob: In 1971, we were purely a grower and delivered tart cherries to 11 different processors that season. Everyone wanted the early cherries and the late cherries, and no cherries during the height of the season. It led us to decide we needed to pit the cherries, then we would have a home for them beyond the duration of the harvest season. We moved the cherries from a perishable form to an extended form. That avoided the pitfalls of losing a crop based on someone else’s willingness to pit the product. In the 70’s and 80’s, it was our objective to produce agricultural products that would become ingredients for the food manufacturer industry, or in the case of apples, to be an item that the consumer desired — but we did not necessarily want to become involved in all the packing and shipping of those products. Then going into the late 90s and early 21st century, it became evident that (Concluded on Page 12)


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gregorys on cherries Continued from Page 11 we needed to go further. Particularly with cherries, we needed to get more involved in the dried arena, and more recently in the juice arena. Don: Our companies have also been involved with drying and selling cherry pits (for home heating), as well as creating a cherry powder for the nutraceutical industry. A lot of our success has been brought about by being able to be in the right place at the right time. The other has been with working together with others. There’s no question that our continued relationship with the Velliquette company in the Elk Rapids area has been beneficial. When you have to sit down at a table with people to work out issues, by the time you discuss things out you learn what you have to tweak and the things to let go. I thoroughly believe that by working with others, we’ve made less mistakes. We haven’t gotten everything right. Enterprise: Please tell readers about the prices paid growers for cherries today, and where you see that going in the future. Don: I think in order to market cherries in the future, we’ve got to be competitive with other fruits. Cherries continue to be a good value; we as growers know we need to continue to increase the on farm value of cherries in order to make the living that we should. But a consumer looks in the store and looks at the dried fruit display. We have to convince consumers to pay a significant amount more for dried cherries as opposed to dried cranberries ... the American stomach is only so big, and most people only have so much money for food. Still, I expect that grower prices are going to have to continue to go up for people to stay in the cherry business. Bob: Grower prices have to be sustainable for the producer in order for consumers to have cherries on the shelf tomorrow ... Enterprise: What are prices today? Don: I’d say in the high 20’s to the mid 30’s (per pound). Enterprise: Is that a sustainable number? Bob: For some growers it is, for some growers it’s not, depending upon their cost of production and the yields they’re generating on a peracre basis. Don: What’s happened to the cherry industry in Leelanau County is you have the large farming operations, and then you have the other farming operations where not necessarily all the family income comes from growing cherries. As the industry has changed, the area that hasn’t been able to compete has been

the small full-time farmers. That’s where the greatest exodus has come in the cherry industry. People have found outside income and continued to farm, or tried to get larger and more efficient. It’s the same reality that has happened with most aspects of making a living. Enterprise: In Leelanau County there has been somewhat of a resurgence of young people returning to the farms still run by their parents. Are present prices high enough to sustain that trend? Don: At some point, those of us who are in the industry want to slow down, and probably not work as hard and take some of the investment we’ve put in and turn it into a retirement. So the farm has to be prosperous enough not just to make a living, but also prosperous enough for the next generation to start buying us out. They have to be able to generate the income to buy us out so we can retire. Enterprise: The purchase of development rights has been touted as one way to lessen the cost of farm land. Good or bad? Bob: It’s been good for the community as a whole, because purchase of development rights is going to maintain some of the wide open spaces and the agriculture opportunities for the area. Should it cover every productive acre in the county? No. But it is a positive tool that can have good long-term effects. Don: We’re firm believers. We’ve seen what it’s been able to do on Old Mission Peninsula, where it’s been a win-win for the community and the growers. Leelanau County wasn’t ready yet when the effort was made to get the whole county ready for the purchase of development rights program, probably because we haven’t experienced the level of pressure from development that occurred on Old Mission and in Acme. But there’s no question that the Leelanau Conservancy is going to have a long lasting, positive effect on the Leelanau Peninsula — forever. Bob and I have been blessed to be in a position to take care of this property during our lifetimes ... In general, I think most farmers are pretty preservationminded, and it’s only when farmers have found themselves in economic straights that they have started selling off acreage. But it’s been their retirement program, their 401k, and at some point they have to cash that in to provide for a retirement. The Conservancy has allowed farmers to keep land in agriculture, which will allow farming operations to remain efficient and competitive with the global economy. A few years ago when land prices were getting so high in Leelanau County, we started to buy some orchards in

The Gregory Brothers speak about:

southern Michigan. At that time we could buy good fruit sites in Hartford for about one-third what we had to pay for sites up here. The actual prices of the first stuff we purchased was probably $2,000 an acre, with orchard on it. Prices have continued to go up down there, but with the prices up here so high it allows us to expand with land values we can afford to farm on. Enterprise: Is there a conflict between residential growth and orchards? Bob: It’s funny how the response has changed. We used to get questions, it was mostly over spraying, and the noise at night. But then the development started, and the response (from people living next to orchards) changed. People enjoy the open space and appreciate having it as a neighbor. It took awhile for people to understand that if you are going to have rural farms, there are some things you have to live with. Enterprise: You’ve even ventured into the grape and wine business. How is that going? Don: Do you want my standard answer? If you want to make a little money in the grape business, start off with a lot of money. Grapes have a place here in Leelanau County. Are they going to replace cherries and apples here in Leelanau County? Not in my lifetime, I don’t think. I don’t see the economics of our grape industry taking over that many acres of land. Yes, we’re in the grape industry, and the next generation is in the wine industry, but grapes only make up 3 percent of our total production. Bob: The area was very fortune that the wine industry came in when it did, expanding in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, because it helped offset the intense pressure from the development at that time. The fruit industry could not compete with the development pressure, and the grape has kind of put a hold on that whole scene. It was probably due to the romanticism of those who came in at the time, and they had the money to compete for the high dollar associated with grape site properties. We see it as the natural progression of agriculture in the county. We’ve been told that it started with the hardwood forest, then went into general farming, to potatoes and livestock, and then to cherries. We see grapes as another process in that transition for the county. Plus it’s allowed Don to get some of that romanticism out of his life. Enterprise: And what are the future plans for the Gregorys? Bob: Our plans are to continue to transition the operation to the next generation of farm managers. Included in that transition will be to

Cherry prices

Bob: Grower prices have to be sustainable for the producer in order for consumers to have cherries on the shelf tomorrow ...

Secret to business growth.

Don: realize that you can’t do everything, and learn to depend on others and put others into decision making positions.

The future for tart cherries:

Bob: We anticipate over the next 10 years that the tart cherry operation will be maintained and have some growth, some expansion.

Good looks

Don: Everybody always thought Bob was older and better looking than me, and they were wrong on both counts. continue to look in participating in the apple industry, adding new varieties into production. We anticipate over the next 10 years that the tart cherry operation will be maintained and have some growth, some expansion. Don: Farming has always been

my favorite hobby, and will continue to be. It is exciting, helping the next generation getting involved. It may create some new stresses that we haven’t had in the past. But it is exciting to see them continue on a learning curve, and to see the next generation get involved.

BOB, left, and Don Gegory were once known in Leelanau County as those “crazy college” kids who worked their cherry shakers all night.

is coming March 1st Featuring stories and photographs recalling Leelanau County’s colorful past. Whether your business is old or new, your participation is invited!

Advertising Deadline is February 23rd!



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Thursday, February 9, 2012


Section 3, Page 13

NICHOLE AND DREW Warner of Lake Leelanau get ready to bag their most popular snack mix at the Just Good Chocolate kitchen facility, the Tart Cherry Almond Cacao Mix. The couple got hooked on chocolate-making after Nichole took a “bean to bar” chocolate class.

Local company mixes cherry and chocolate — and it’s good By Chris Olson Of The Enterprise staff

Cherries and chocolate are rich treats. But do they make a good combination? Yes is the resounding answer from Drew and Nichole Warner, owners of Just Good Chocolate based in Lake Leelanau. The couple started up their cacaobased business in October, but it is something they have wanted to do since moving to Leelanau County in August, 2007. “Right now we have three snack mixes and a hot chocolate mix called Mug O’ Love,” Drew Warner said. Of the three snack mixes the Warners offer, the Tart Cherry Almond Cacao mix is the most popular. “The tart kick really sets off the cacao,” Drew Warner said. “When cacao is in its raw state, it’s really bitter and the dried tart cherries mellows the bitterness.” Chocolate covered cherries is the next product they want to make. “We plan to use North Star Farms organic dried tart cherries and combine it with our chocolate,” he said. They also plan to put out chocolate covered espresso beans, with the beans coming from High Grounds Coffee. Warner said his favorite cherry, the one he likes to eat, are balatons. Cacao is the raw state of a what most people consider cocoa. The Warners eventually want to produce different chocolate products from their own facility in Leelanau County. Right now the couple make their snack mixes and hot chocolate mix from an about 500 square-foot space they rent from the Way North Foods center in Traverse City. Warner works full time for a software company, putting in four 10-hour days a week. “On Friday my wife and I work producing our products, and on the weekends we do product demonstrations at stores,” he said. Nichole Warner also puts in at least a couple hours a day at the facility while the youngest of their five children are at school during the morning. In the next three months, the Warners are looking at moving their manufacturing to leased commercial space on Cherry Bend Road in Elmwood Township. “We’d like to have place with more space to make our products and have an office,” he said. The ultimate goal for Just Good Chocolate is to have a 3,000-4,000 square foot facility on some acreage in rural Leelanau County. “We’d like someplace where kids can go ice skating in the winter, then come inside and have some hot chocolate,” Drew

Warner said. The couple would also like to offer event tie-ins with wine tours and have the place run on energy produced by wind and solar power. The Warners are part of a growing trend in the country of artisan chocolate makers. They acknowledge existing chocolate-based businesses, like Grocer’s Daughter Chocolates in Empire which they say produces “excellent products.” “Our goal is to do everything here,” he said. “We want to buy the raw organic cacao beans straight from the farmer cooperatives, roast the beans ourselves to produce the cupiture, which we could then turn into different chocolate products.” The snack mixes are a health food as the couple uses fruit, like cherries and blueberries, and nuts to cut the bitterness of the cacao, instead of sugar. The mixes are vegan friendly and gluten free. “On the other end we have the hot cocoa mix which is sweet, rich and decadent,” Drew Warner said. Just Good Chocolate products are in 35 stores around he state including the Leland Mercantile and Sisson’s Mainstreet in Leland, NJs Grocery in Lake Leelanau, and soon to be in five Tom’s Food Markets in the area. “We are in talks to place our products with the Whole Foods markets in Ann Arbor and the region,” Warner said. For more information about Just Good Chocolate you may e-mail Warner at info@justgoodchocolate. com. Following are recipes for combining chocolate and cherries in different ways: From the Choose Cherries website,, comes this recipe for a Choco-Cherry Smoothy: Ingredients, three 4-ounce containers of chocolate mousse-style yogurt; one cup of frozen tart cherries; 1/4-cup lowfat milk; two tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate; one tablespoon orange blossom or alfalfa honey; and a 1/2-teaspoon vanilla extract. Directions: Place yogurt, frozen cherries, milk, orange juice concentrate, honey and vanilla in blender container. Cover and blend on high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth. To serve, pour into glasses and serve immediately. Makes two one-cup servings. If a smoothy isn’t what you want, offers this simple recipe for chocolate covered cherries: Ingredients: Twelve ounces milk chocolate, chopped; 10 cherries with stems; eight fluid ounces milk. Directions: Using a double boiler, heat the chocolate until its melted. Stir in the milk, using enough to make the

chocolate smooth. Holding the cherries by the stems, dip them one at a time into the chocolate mixture. Place the

coated cherries on an already prepared wax paper surface until the chocolate has dried.

For more fund recipes the combine cherries and chocolate, go to

THIS MIX OF cacao, dried cherries and almonds is a delight of taste and texture for Just Good Chocolate customers.

More cherry recipes Cherry Soup Ingredients: 1/2 cup frozen tart cherries 1/2 cup frozen sweet cherries 1 cup custard-style yoguart 1 cup sour cream 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 cup dried tart cherries 1 Tbls. grenadine 1 Tbls. granulated sugar or to taste 1/2 tsp. groun nutmeg

Directions: Thaw tart and sweet cherries, reserving their juice. In an electric blender or food processor containter, puree tart and sweet cherries with juice until smooth; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream and dried cherries; mix well. Add pureed cherries, grenadine, sugar and nut-

meg; mix well. Serve chilled. Delicately flavored, this cold soup goes well with main course salads. Martha Schaub, Lake Leelanau from Thyme and Tradition, St. Mary parish/school cookbook

Cherry Chicken Salad Ingredients: 2 lbs. chicken, cooked and shredded 3 ribs celery, chopped 1 bunch green onions, cut 3/4 dried cherries 2 cups cooked bowtie pasta 1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard dash pepper pinch tarragon Directions: Mix chicken, celery, onions, pasta and cherries in a bowl. In a spearate

bowl, mix mayonnasie, mustard, sugar, pepper and tarragon. Add to chicken mixture, mixing well. Refrigerate, Recipe from Tasty Treasures, Immanuel Lutheran Ladies Aid cookbook

Fresh Cherry Dumplings Ingredients: 1 quart red sour cherries 2 cups sugar 2 cups water Dumpling batter* Wash, stem and pit cherries; put into a large deep skillet. Add sugar and water. Cover and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Drop dumpling batter by spponfuls on top of cherries. Cover and cook gently

for 30 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 4 to 6. Batter 1 cup sifted flour 1/4 cup sugar pinch of salt 1 tsp. baking powder 3 Tbls. butter grated rind of 1/2 lemon 1/4 cup milk

Directions: Mix and sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter. Add lemon rind and milk, mixing quickly until just combined. Do not beat until smooth. Canned cherries can be used. Recipe from Remembering Empire with Recipes-Another Visit, by the Empire Area Heritage Group

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

E M P L OY E E S FROM the Glen Haven Canning Company, which was established in the mid-1920s, stand outside the cannery in this undated photo. Photo courtesy of Empire Area Heritage Group

Cherry plants once provided lots of seasonal employment By Amy Hubbell Of The Enterprise staff

Fruit processing plants provided great employment opportunities in Leelanau County in the 20th century. At one time the plants dotted the Leelanau Peninsula providing ample seasonal employment in the communities where they were located. Although there have been many processing plants in the county, this article focuses on three in Northport, Suttons Bay and Glen Haven. ••• Cherry Home, the first of its kind in the county, was the brainchild of Francis H. Haserot, a Cleveland man who was in the wholesale grocery and canning business and Gilman Dame. According to A History of Leelanau Township, the need for a processing plant grew from an ample supply of fruit which came from the 14,000 Montmorency trees planted in 1912 and 1913 on 200 acres three miles north of Cathead Point. The orchard, known as “Cherry Home” was owned by Herbert F. Boughey and Dame. In 1916, the Northport Leader detailed news about the processing plant. “There’s a probability of a canning factory being established ... Work on the canning factory is being pushed, machinery will be installed by the first of July.” The plant was built near the corner of a orchard as close as possible to Grand Traverse Bay to provide a deep-water dock for larger ships to come in and out. North of the cannery there was a store and a post office with a dormitory where female workers spent time when they weren’t in the plant sorting and filling cans by hand. However, after a severe storm damaged the dock in 1927 and 1928, plans were put in place to build a new “modern factory” in Northport. The plant, located at what is now Haserot Park, was built in 1929 by Samuel & Sons and included a cannery and freezer. The first crop was processed there the same year. By 1947-48, technological improvements were made to modernize the plant, where a whopping four million pounds of fruit was processed. Leelanau Township Fire Chief Hugh Cook was among the locals who earned money at the plant. “It was my first job in 1964. I was 14,” Cook recalled. “ It probably employed 20 percent of the people. There were ladies on the line and fathers with kids.”

Cook said the younger workers rotated from task to task. “We never had one specific job. One day you’d be labeling and the next day, you’d be doing something else,” he said. Whatever job was assigned, Cook said he was sure to get dirty. “Whether from the ink on the labeling machine or from fruit stains, we got dirty,” he said, adding that many shifts were followed by a cool dip in the bay. “It was just part of growing up in this town. “ The convenience of having a local plant was not lost on Gary Fredrickson, who recalls driving fruit by tractor to the plant. “We never had to load them on a truck,” he said. In 1970, the factory and Cherry Home was purchased by Checci & Company and equipment from the

cannery was sold to Morgan-McCool, which operated a facility along the bay in Traverse City. The property changed hands and the site of the factory itself was sold to the Village of Northport. The site is now identified as Haserot Park. ••• At the other end of the peninsula, also near the water, the Glen Haven Canning Company was established in the mid 1920s. Now part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the structure for fruit processing was built at the direction of David Day Jr., and opened for business. “The cannery was very utilitarian with many windows to provide light for the workers,” said Laura Quackenbush, a National Park Service museum technician. “Inside, local girls and women sat at a conveyor

belt sorting the incoming fruit to remove stones, leaves and bruised fruit. Former workers relate it was hot and sticky work — but a welcome source of temporary employment.” The cannery used resources already at hand. Local orchards, including those at the D.H. Day’s Oswagotchie Farm, produced an abundance of fresh cherries, peaches, apples and other fruit. Quackenbush said Day also solicited fresh fruit from other growers in the county including Harry Harrison at Redpath Orchards in East Leland. Farmers trucked their fresh truit to the cannery in wooden lugs. The canned fruit and juice was shipped from the Day Dock on its regular schedule of steamers and, after 1931, by truck. A wood-fired boiler with a tall brick chimney was located in a

OLD LABELS from canned cherries packed by the Glen Haven Canning Co. Above is a label from the Sleeping Bear brand of black sweet cherries. Below is the Glen Haven brand of red sour pitted cherries. Artwork courtesy of Empire Area Heritage Group

separate structure to the east of the existing cannery building. It powered the assembly line and cookers. Business continued, though in slow decline, until the early 1940s. The Day family found a final use for the cannery building as a garage and repair shop for the Sleeping Bear dune mobiles. ••• Back on the east side of the peninsula, just north of Suttons Bay, was Frigid Foods Product Co. Currently the site of the defunct Bayview housing development, the plant where fruit was frozen and canned, was also a large employer. Owned by the Roth family since 1947, Frigid Foods was part of the community for decades providing employment to generations. Indeed, anything that happened at the plant was news to the Leelanau community. Past issues of the Enterprise chronicle not only the development of each season’s cherry crop, but developments in the industry which impacted residents. The top story in the July 28, 1949 issue of the paper is an example. The headline reads: Suttons Plant Uses Local Labels on Cans. “… Frigid Foods, for the first time, this year is putting out cherries by the hot packing method. It expects to use in this way one million pounds of tarts, with the selling campaign beginning in Leelanau County,” the story said. By using the new “hot pack” method, the company expected to “equalize” the market and keep the plant busy longer. New labels at the plant read “Suttons Bay Canning Company,” although the company was actually a subsidiary of Frigid Food Products, Inc. of Detroit. Like today’s paper which announces the arrival of the harvest season, in 1949 the Enterprise recorded the end of “the pack.” That year, processing was wrapped up by the end of the first week of August. Evelyn Livingston of Suttons Bay, 72, worked at Frigid Foods for 10 years before the plant closed in the mid-1980s. “There were at least 60 or 80 people working there during harvest,” said Livingston, adding that she looked forward to the seasonal work. “It kept me busy.” Livingston did everything from the pitting line to stitching boxes at the plant, working long days during peak harvest. “I couldn’t do that now,” she said.


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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mr. Cherry blossoms, looks for handler The National Cherry Festival is 148 days away, but time is of the essence if you are interested in getting up close and personal with Mr. Cherry, the festival’s mascot. The festival is looking for a volunteer handler for the lovable icon, who was born in Leelanau County and spends many a day at special events in Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties. The handler speaks for Mr. Cherry and carries his books. The applicant would begin work immediately, starting with monthly event director meetings through August. The first meeting is this Tuesday. The job requires two or three hours of work a week as the festival nears as well as a daily commitment during the festival, July 7-15. Applicants should contact Mandy De Puy at the festival office, 947-4230, ext. 115. Recently the Enterprise talked with Mr. Cherry through his staff of interpreters using our “Talk of the County” format. Name: Mr. Cherry. Birthdate and place: July 7, 2004 at the Michigan State University Horticultural Research Station in Bingham Township. He fell from a tree that had 7,000 cherries so has quite a few brothers and sisters. Occupation: Volunteer at local schools and special events, including holding the Queen’s hand at the festival. Marital status: Single ... but available. I wouldn’t mind having a Mrs. Cherry to help with some of my workload.

MR. CHERRY, the National Cherry Festival’s mascot since 2004, hangs out at Westwood Elementary School with his most famous book, “Hidden Cherries.”

Last good book read: “Hidden Cherries” a book by Mackinac Island press. OK that’s really my autobiography, but it is a best-seller. The last good read was Life is a Bowl of Cherry Pits. It’s about a kid who is sent out to a cherry farm and finds out

that life is not the pits, but a lot of fun. It really took me back to my roots. If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would that be: The festival Queen. I’ve always wanted a crown. And then I could get even more hugs. I love hugs. Things important to you that you have accomplished so far: Volunteering at school. I love bringing smiles to kids faces and watching them as they learn about cherries and life. What do you hope to be doing in 10 years? Get clearance from the Transportation Security Administration to fly out of Cherry Capital Airport. Being healthier, maybe running a few more road races and expanding my Facebook page and growing my fan base. And perhaps being the National Cherry Festival’s executive director. Things you lose sleep over: The price of cherries. I think they are priceless. If you could change one thing in Leelanau County, it would be: My family tree. It’s really misunderstood. And the bad reputation of shakers. They are actually awesome. It’s like a massage and then I get to hang out in the cooling pad and bathe. Favorite dessert: Anything cherry ... pies and ice cream ... and with whipped cream. If you had more time, you would: Visit family and friends in the orchards and hang out with the Queen. The words that best describe you are: A lover, not a fighter. And sweet, especially when I’m around the Queen. -By Mike Spencer

New interim Cherry Festival director has many local connections By Mike Spencer Of The Enterprise staff

The interim executive director for the National Cherry Festival may not have cherry farming experience, but he has a lot of history with the festival. Trevor Tkach, a Traverse City native, grew up with festival. “It’s such a part of the fabric of the city that you couldn’t avoid it growing up,” the 35-year old Traverse City High School graduate said. Tkach was a Cherry prince in elementary school, rode on a couple of floats here and there. He was a drum major in the high school marching band and marched in a few parades. He also had some first festival dates with his high school sweetheart, Elmwood Township’s Trisha Ansorge whom he later married. He also remembers turning 21 and getting his first chance to enter the festival beer tent. “I have a lot of connections back to the festival, but never at any point in my life did I ever think I’d be back doing this,” Tkach said. “It’s an honor. “I love it and it’s fun.” While the 86th Cherry Festival is still five months out (July 7-14), Tkach has gotten little rest since his promotion Oct. 1. Currently he’s busy with the upcoming Cherry Festival’s Winter WowFest that runs Friday, Feb. 17 through Sunday, Feb. 19. “It’s been non-stop, it’s been just crazy,” said Tkach, who has filling the void created when Tim Hinkley retired. “When we redesigned the job position, my pie was carved out between finance, strategy and managing. “But by the end of the day, it’s really anything and everything. I’m the type of guy that is not going to wait for somebody else to do the job. I’m going to pick up the shovel and do the job if I

have to.” Tkach said the two-page job description leaves out the best attribute of heading the $2.2 million operation, which includes about $500,000 of inkind money and seven staffers. “It’s all about leading the best volunteer organization in the area and it’s about keeping people excited about things coming up,” he said. “You’re keeping the volunteers engaged, the community engaged. “It’s not your traditional executive director’s position. It’s definitely handson and entrepreneurial in nature” Tkach, who wants to expand the festival’s social and digital media efforts and expand year-round events, said it’s not a 9-5 job. “You never take off this hat at the end of the day,” he said. “No matter where, I go, I’m always the executive director of the Cherry Festival.” Tkach was the senior account executive for the Grand Rapids-based West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball team until June of 2006, when he returned to Grand Traverse County and did sales for a local radio station. “We wanted to be close to family and the quality of life was important to us,” Tkach said. His parents live in Traverse City; his wife’s family resides in Elmwood Township in Leelanau County. Tkach joined the festival board of governors in September 2006 and started working for the festival in January 2007 as the business development manager. Although his parents weren’t into farming, Tkach’s grandparents farmed during the Great Depression. His grandfather was also a merchant. “You’re never that far away from the farms,” Tkach said. “They’ve had an impact, but I wasn’t one of the ones out

TREVOR TKACH, shown at the National Cherry Festival office in Traverse City, is the interim executive director. there doing the hard work.” “I missed it by a generation.” Tkach is credited with development and growth of the festival’s expanded event programming, re-tooling the Bay Side Music Stage venue and enhancing the festival’s vendor relationships and festival of races program. He has also been instrumental in shaping the festival’s cutting-edge web strategies and on-line marketing and ticketing programs. One of the new marketing ideas was the development of the Leapin’ Leprechaun 5K Road Race. The second annual event is scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. “Although we’re a non-profit, we’re like any other business in that if you’re

not growing, you are probably dying,” Tkach said. “We’ve tried to be aggressive in finding the opportunities that can get us to the next level “The festival has always stayed fresh and continues to grow.” Tkach said the festival, which draws an estimated 500,000 people annually, has gone through a number of eras. “The eras have come with different executive directors, but sometimes it has more to do with the nature of where is the city in its evolution and the brand,” he said. Parades still are a big hit. “When I was a kid, the parades were the biggest thing and they probably still are for kids,” he said, recalling the Heritage Parade which was retired six years ago. “I can remember

the Heritage Parade and being on a wagon with my folks. “It always rained on the Heritage Parade.” The jet air show is also a huge draw. “It’s one of the highest rated things and probably because it’s unique and free,” Tkach said. “We can’t ticket people for that so it’s hard to quantify. “They don’t all walk through the Open Space, but there are a lot of people lining the beaches.” Tkach said the festival is always trying to reach new demographics and tweaking events and moving them to the Open Space so there can be synergy. And it’s always promoting cherries. “The cherry is a magical fruit,” he said. “We love it and we like taking it with us. “And it’s a healthy lifestyle.” Tkach is a Northwestern Michigan College and Eastern Michigan University graduate. He also has a masters from the University of Michigan-Flint. Tkach and his wife have three children: Lauren, 5; Camden, 3; and Carson, 10-months. The biggest challenge facing Tkach this year will be getting good weather and having local cherries harvested in time. “I could have built everything right — the perfect budget and staff and the best event directors ever — but if it rains, my hands are tied,” he said. “And as far as local cherries, it was a challenge last year. “I’m more confident we’ll have them this year as the festival goes into mid-July. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t ripe fruit from Grand Traverse or Leelanau counties.”


2012 Cherry Section