Traverse City, affectionately known as the "Cherry Capital of the World," is a region in Michigan renowned for its high-quality cherry produce. From deep red, tart Montmorency cherries to sweet, yellow Rainier cherries, Traverse City offers a variety of flavorful and nutritious cherries that excite the taste buds.
But the cherry experience in this region extends far beyond simply eating them. Traverse City is well-known for its "U-Pick" cherry farms, where visitors get the chance to walk among the blossoming trees and pick their own cherries. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to this unique experience.
Cherry History and Importance in Traverse City
Cherries have been integral to the local economy and culture of Traverse City since the late 1800s, when the first cherry trees were planted. Today, the region is one of the largest producers of tart cherries in the United States, contributing around 75% of the total cherry production.
This prominence is celebrated yearly during the National Cherry Festival, an event that brings in visitors from all over the world. However, the cherry experience is not limited to this grand event alone. A visit to a U-Pick cherry farm is a delightful summer activity that offers a hands-on connection to this local tradition.
When to Visit
Cherry blossoms start to bloom in early May, and by July, the cherry harvest season begins. The exact timing varies slightly each year depending on the weather conditions, so it's advisable to check with local farms for the most accurate information.
Choosing the Right Farm
There are several farms in the Traverse City area that offer the U-Pick cherry experience. Some notable ones include:
Rennie Orchards: Located in Williamsburg, Michigan, in addition to offering u-pick cherries, the orchards offer U-Pick raspberries, apples and pumpkins.
Friske Orchards: This farm is a great way to spend the day. Enjoy the farm stand, playground, online market and more. They offer sweet and Montmorency cherries.
Jacobs Farm: Spread over 1000 acres, this farm offers picking experiences for multiple fruits, including tart and sweet cherries.
Edmondson Orchards: This farms offers lots of cherries to pick. They also offer other U-Pick fruits, too.
- Morrison Orchards: Located in Elk Rapids, this is an enjoyable experience. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the farm stand, ice cream and more.
- Traverse Bay Farms: While you're out enjoying the U-Pick Traverse City orchards, stop by and visit us in Elk Rapids and Bellaire. Pick up some cherry juice concentrate, tart cherry capsules, fresh-picked cherries and more.
The U-Pick Experience
The U-Pick cherry experience is more than just harvesting cherries. It's about enjoying a beautiful day outdoors, bonding with family, and learning about the hard work that goes into growing this wonderful fruit.
Here's what you can expect:
Arrival: Farms typically provide parking spaces for visitors. Once parked, head to the farm stand to get information about where to pick, what to pick, and any other rules you should be aware of.
Picking: The farm will provide you with a bucket or bag. From there, it's a self-guided experience where you can roam the orchards, carefully selecting the cherries you want to take home. Remember to be gentle with the trees and only pick the cherries, not the stems or leaves.
Payment: After picking, head back to the farm stand where your cherries will be weighed and you'll pay based on the total weight.
Post-Picking Activities: Many farms offer more than just picking. You might find picnic areas, farm shops selling cherry products, or even farm-to-table restaurants where you can enjoy a meal made with fresh, local produce.
Tips for a Successful U-Pick Day
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, as you'll be walking and possibly climbing ladders.
Bring sun protection – a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Remember to stay hydrated. It can get hot out in the orchards!
Check the weather forecast before you go. Picking cherries after a rainfall can be difficult, as the cherries may be damaged.
Try to arrive early in the day. This gives you more time to pick and also helps beat the midday heat.
Whether you're a local or a visitor, a day out picking cherries in Traverse City is a delightful way to enjoy nature and participate in a unique local tradition. So why not take a trip to the cherry orchards this summer? With a little planning and the right mindset, you're sure to have a fantastic U-Pick experience.
Cherry Picking in Traverse City