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.
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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.