GTPulse: Green Bird Organic Cellars and Farm Makes For a Perfect Day Trip
Green Bird Organic Cellars and Farm is a Northport gem owned and run by Betsy and Tim Hearin.
Betsy grew up in Traverse City but she met Tim while they were both working as public school teachers in New Orleans. They fell in love with each other but grew disillusioned with teaching. The challenges were difficult to navigate and programs like No Child Left Behind made the administrative pressure to perform intense.
“We were kind of doing 90 to 100 hour weeks. Public school teaching became more administrative and less about the kids.”
They both left teaching to pursue a simpler life of raising a farm in Tim’s hometown of New Orleans. They had chickens, grew fruits and veggies and distributed their farm goods through providing CSA boxes.
“So we became urban farmers in New Orleans on our property. There were some abandoned lots around us so we used those to grow vegetables, raise chickens, sell chicken meat, eggs and vegetables to customers. We said if we didn’t go into debt farming for four years, then we would move up here where she’s from and start a family.”
Green Bird Farm was established in 2005, and the winery was added in 2014 by the original owners. Tim and Betsy bought the 67-acre property in March of last year. Their intention had always been to buy a farm when they moved to northern Michigan, the winery was a welcome and unexpected surprise.
“We didn’t know it would look like a winery, but we came upon this place, loved the wine. The former owner was a contractor with three young kids, and so it was always a passion project that required full-time work.”
Less than 500 cases of their wines are made a year, and all wines are produced on-site from estate-grown vineyards. The wines aren’t distributed, so if you want Green Bird Winery wine, you have to go to their tasting room. They also make ciders and homebrews as well.
All of the wines, ciders and brews are made from ingredients grown on their farm, making them the only organic winery in the state.
The unsung hero of an excursion to Green Bird is the drive. I was lucky enough to go on a sunny Sunday afternoon. From where I am in Traverse City, it was a 40-minute drive. I wasn’t excited, but the drive truly was an experience all in itself. Being next to the coastline, sunlight breaking through winter woods, and uncorrupted farmland is a perfect drive any day of the week or time of the year.
The hours are shortened up for the winter season, with this last February weekend being the last time they’ll be open both Saturday and Sunday for the remainder of the winter season. They’ll switch over to be open on Saturdays from noon to five for March because they’re doing what they planned on and dreamed of when moving to northern Michigan; starting a family. The new life joining Betsy and Tim will keep the two busy before starting the hustle and bustle of entering a fresh summer season. The summer season gives customers more opportunities to tour the farm so they can enjoy the land, sunshine and animals as much as they enjoy the wines and ciders. Is there anywhere in the world more beautiful to grow up?
“We’ve always been pretty hippie, back to the land. This was a way for us to put our dreams in action.”