Cherry harvest is a time of year when our other life activities must get put on hold. Our fruit is so perishable, we work 24/7 to harvest, deliver, and pack the best cherries to be processed into maraschino cherries, ice cream cherries, frozen tart cherries, and cherry concentrate.
Many times that means we must decline invitations to great summertime events with our non-cherry family and friends. But sometimes, we must take a few moments, break our routine, and do things that become special memories for us.
Ben received a call one evening during harvest from a man named Mike. Mike’s friend, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, was vacationing in Leland, and they wondered where they could get some tart cherries. Ben has had the opportunity to get to know the Governor over the past 4 years, and so we invited the whole group of vacationers, Governor and all, to tour our plant the next day.
Governor Snyder has had a great impact on the state of Michigan since he took office in 2012. His first piece of legislation signed into law was the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program, a law that allows farmers to verify they are using best practices and improving their environmental stewardship. For a Governor who comes from a tech background, Governor Snyder appreciates the value of agriculture and value added processing in our state.
The Governor had never been inside a cherry processing plant before. He was amazed at the laser sorting equipment, our pitters, and the technology involved in our process. We talked to him about our workforce, how challenging it is to hire 75-100 employees for 4 weeks in the summer. He asked questions, ate cherries fresh from the orchard, and got a firsthand look into our business.
Mike, the governor’s friend, runs a large bread business. Mike and his wife, Stacey, were very interested our techniques and processes. We were proud to give them a deeper appreciation for the cherry industry.
Governor Snyder and friends left that day with cherry pie from Chimoski’s Bakery, plenty of cherry concentrate, dried cherries, and maraschino cherries. We made sure they took plenty of fresh, pitted tart cherries right off the pitting line. We stocked them up with LFC logo gear.
But the most important thing we gave the tour group was an experience. When the Governor thinks about cherries, I have no doubt, he will think about Leelanau Fruit Company!