Macomb farm changes with times during 2 centuries

6/29/2013 1:15 AM
By Associated Press

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A sixth-generation farm in northern Macomb County is celebrating two centuries of operation.

The 188-acre Westview Orchards Adventure Farm & Winery is among the oldest in Michigan, according to a story in the Detroit Free Press ( ). The farm's bicentennial celebration is Saturday.

"Oh, my God, these cherries are almost ready," the sixth-generation owner, Katrina Roy Schumacher, said recently as she drove through the farm's orchard on a golf cart. "Oh, oh, oh."

Schumacher, 58, also pointed out century-old apple trees before returning to the farm's 1850 barn and its modern cider press. An 1869 one-room schoolhouse is now an ice cream shop.

"I guess it feels like it's in your blood, so to speak. It's a lot of hard work but there's a lot of rewards in farming," co-owner and Schumacher's sister, Abby Jacobson, 60, told the newspaper. "It's not just your livelihood, it's your life."

Schumacher said the farm's success is a result of each generation's ability to adjust to the times.

"I think you have to embrace change," Schumacher said. "We changed with the times."

Ken Nye, a commodity specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau, said the state has about 50,000 farms, including 4,000 to 5,000 fruit and vegetable farms.

The state's oldest farm is Westcroft Gardens in Grosse Ile, which was established in 1776 by Alexander and William Macomb, said Kellie Bolste of the Centennial Farm Program.

Schumacher said her great-great-great-grandfather, Michael Bowerman, started Westview Orchards in 1813 with peach pits he brought from New York state.

The sisters and their mother, Katherine Roy, took over the farm in 1981. Their mother has since died, but the daughters have continued the family tradition. They work with Michigan State University Extension to try new farming techniques. They also offer tours for youth groups and help charities.

They next plan to finish a wine tasting room and renovate the family house.

But other than that, the farm's future is uncertain.

"We don't know where the next generation will take it," Schumacher said.

Should U.S. farmers be permitted to grow nonintoxicating hemp for industrial uses?

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