Lee­lanau Fruit Com­pany

Farm & Ranch Living - - SPECIAL SECTION - By Ben LaCross


Life in North­ern Michi­gan con­tin­ues to be a bowl of cher­ries. My wife, Kelsey, and I wel­comed our third child, a son named Cameron, in 2012. Cam was born with sagit­tal cran­iosyn­os­to­sis, a fu­sion of skull bones that pro­hibits an in­fant’s skull and brain from grow­ing nor­mally.

In April 2013, a team of doc­tors at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan’s C.S. Mott Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal per­formed a cra­nial vault re­con­struc­tion on Cam. His surgery was an as­tound­ing suc­cess, and he is now our most ac­tive child, a 5-year-old boy with no fear. He brings joy to our home and is the cause of some new gray hairs on our heads.

Our daugh­ter, Lau­ren, is 7 and in sec­ond grade. Lau­ren loves rid­ing horses, read­ing and do­ing her school­work. Keaton, 10, is in fifth grade. He loves sports, and is in­volved in many base­ball and bas­ket­ball teams.

Kelsey, my par­ents and I con­tinue to grow our busi­ness. In 2012, we ac­quired a com­pany that pro­duces in­gre­di­ents for hol­i­day fruit­cakes. Now, di­rectly af­ter our cherry sea­son con­cludes in mid-Au­gust, we en­ter fruit­cake sea­son. We pre­pare mixes that in­clude our cher­ries as well as pineap­ple, or­ange peel, le­mon peel and other fruits for large-scale bak­eries around the U.S. and in Canada. If you have a Costco nearby, you can buy a Kirk­land fruit­cake made with our cher­ries. We also pro­mote our tart cherry juice as a su­per fruit to help ath­letes with mus­cle re­cov­ery.

In 2017, we planted al­most 11,000 cherry trees, the most in our farm’s his­tory. The or­chards look beau­ti­ful.

Check out prod­ucts:


Some of Lee­lanau's cher­ries are dried, while oth­ers are cov­ered in choco­late or turned into juice.

Freshly picked ripe cher­ries (top). A visit from the 2015 Na­tional Cherry Queen, Danielle Bott (right).

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