Oldest Family Cherry Farm On Old Mission Peninsula Still Growing Strong
The National Cherry Festival is this week and for many people it’s their favorite time of year.
It has changed and grown over the years, but the heart of the festival has stayed the same: celebrating cherries grown in the Grand Traverse area.
Island View Orchards is the longest running cherry farm under the same family name, Lyon, on Old Mission Peninsula.
The farm started in the 1880’s as a general farm but slowly changed.
“My grandfather, he decided, along with a lot of the other farmers here in the twenties and thirties, that hey, cherries grow really good here. So they started growing cherries and they grew three different kinds of cherries,” says John Lyon, owner.
Now the farm is on the fourth generation of Lyons.
“I always thought I would be running the farm with my brothers. And that’s basically what’s happened. And then the family for harvest all comes and helps and drives trucks, tractors and we do the harvest as a family,” says John.
The same three varieties of cherries still grow on the farm: black sweet cherries, maraschino cherries and pie cherries.
“The pandemic, believe it or not, has really helped the production. People are buying and making more cherry pies. So that’s great. And that’s helped the cherry pie business,” says John.
And the legacy of island view orchard’s looks bright. The fifth generation of Lyons say they’re ready to take it over when the time comes.
“It makes me feel fantastic. They all love doing it. You have to grow up doing hard work. You just can’t take anybody off the street and say, let’s go farm, because it’s not for everyone,” says John.