Michigan Food & Agriculture

Northern Michigan is shaped by food. Our orchards, farms and vineyards create the landscape. A burgeoning culinary scene defines many of our downtowns. And the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries dominate our economies. 

Aaron Selbig

If you’ve picked up a box of fresh strawberries recently from a local grocery store, there’s a good chance they were handpicked by a migrant farm worker.

The workers have been coming up from their homes in Mexico or Texas for generations. But in recent years, local farmers have noticed there are fewer workers coming to northern Michigan. They’re saying the problem is likely to get much worse.

Steve Bardenhagen grew up on his family’s farm in Leelanau County.

Traverse City Whiskey Company

Small distillers in northern Michigan would get a big tax break under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last week by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI).

He visited Traverse City Whiskey Company on Tuesday to promote the legislation, which would lower the federal excise tax on liquor from $13.50 per gallon to $2.70.

Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center

May 17th, 2002 was the official date when tart cherry trees reached full bloom in northern Michigan that year. The orchards looked normal but most of the cherry buds had been destroyed in April by freezing cold.

The Leelanau Enterprise ran a headline that summer that said “No Cherries.”

Ben LaCross is a second generation grower on a farm north of Cedar. He says nobody could recall a cherry crop failing so completely.

Aaron Selbig

The Grand Traverse Butterfly House opened last weekend – a couple of weeks later than planned. When the first group of butterflies was introduced to the garden, they were killed by plants that contained a deadly chemical.

Now the owner of the butterfly house is concerned that local home gardeners may be unknowingly killing butterflies with the same chemical.

Cyndie Bobier says it was a chemical in the flowers she had planted that caused the first group of butterflies to die.

Fruit growers in northern Michigan grow apples, peaches and wine grapes. But the big crop here is tart cherries.

More than half of Ken Engle's 140-acre farm is planted with what he calls sour cherries.

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