Cherry season is in full swing, and the crew at my family’s farm, Johnson Farms, are busy bees shaking cherries ’til the cows come home. I took these photos this morning on the home farm (about a half-mile north of Mapleton on Center Road), as the crews were working the orchard next to the barn.
While they have several shakers in the orchards this year, including the one-man and, I believe, the older roll-out model, these photos are of the fancy new side-by-side shaker they bought last year.
There are two parts to this machine – a “shaker” driven by someone down one row, and a “tarp” driven by someone else on the other side of the row. The cherries fall onto the tarp, are rolled onto a conveyor belt, then transported into a tank on the back of the “shaker” part. Someone driving a forklift then transports the tanks to a truck or, in the case of today, directly to the cooling pad, where they’re cooled before making the trip downstate.
Word has it there are a lot of cherries this year, and these cherries have a home with Peterson Farms, a family farm in Shelby, Michigan. They produce a lot of fruit products, including for food service, brewery/cidery, and fresh-cut apple slices and apple sauce products to schools all across the United States.
Peterson Farms is also a marketing leader of frozen fruits in the United States, marketing more than 150 million finished pounds of frozen fruits and seven million gallons of single strength apple juice/cider and juice concentrates.
They seem like a great home for Old Mission Peninsula cherries.
Here are a few more pictures, including one of my brother, Dean Johnson. I joked that I thought they’d promoted him beyond forklift driver by now. He said nope, he just keeps getting demoted. Honestly, I think he just can’t keep himself off whatever tractor happens to be close by.