Cherry farming in Leelanau County
My mother grew up the baby of four kids on a cherry farm near Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the sweet and sour cherries my Grandpa Kahrs raised, Grandma sold butter from their few milk cows, plus eggs and chickens. She was a stoic woman – I can picture her trudging through six feet of snow in the middle of the night to stoke the fire in the brooder for the baby chicks.
After 30 years of raising kids and the same fragile crop, Grandpa, who struggled silently most of his life with anxiety and depression, couldn’t abide the unpredictable elements and vulnerable cherry blossoms any more. When my mom was 12 they sold the farm and moved to town where Grandma became the school secretary and Grandpa the country club grounds keeper. He believed he was a failure and didn’t have the resources to learn differently.
Many of you know we started our Lazy Eight CSA program after losing 80 young steers to a viral outbreak, less than a year into our marriage and while I was pregnant with Jack. It was a scary season, and I cried when Bryce did. But my wise mother reassured me that a farmer (and a husband) who can grieve is a person who can thrive.
This time of year is thrilling on the farm. All things are new. But within the seed is the promise of death, too. A business model that honors the risk of planting and growing makes learning how to abide the seasons not just manageable but blessed work. We are grateful to our CSA members for making it possible.